Q: #249. Is magic a sin?
By: Steve Shirley
A: This question came out of a recent discussion I had with my daughter who is currently serving overseas on the mission field. I have thought about this in the past, but never decided to research it thoroughly until now. So what is the difference between say the magic the fairy godmother does in Cinderella vs the magic in the Harry Potter series? Is there a difference? How about magic in Christian works like the Chronicles Of Narnia? What about the magic in stage shows? How about games that involve magic like Dungeons And Dragons or Ouija boards? And on and on....
As I prayed about how to approach all of this, what I felt led to do was to look at every instance I could find in the Bible of what would be associated with "magic" that God condemned. The word "MAGIC" doesn't exactly encapsulate all of these "sinful" things in the Bible (and the word isn't even used in the KJV Bible), so I use the term loosely. But, what I want to do is list these terms, give a definition of them from the Webster's Dictionary (and a few from the Oxford Dictionary to help clarify), and list a few of the Bible verses saying they are a sin.
"the use of sorcery or magic, communication with the devil or with a familiar"
(Oxford)"the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells and the invocation of spirits"
(Gal 5:19-20)(2 Chr 33:6)(1 Sam 15:23)
"one that is credited with usu. malignant supernatural powers: esp. a woman practicing usu. black witchcraft often with the aid of a devil or familiar"
(Deut 18:10)(Ex 22:18)
"one skilled in magic, having magical influence or power"
(Oxford) "a pretender to supernatural knowledge and power, "a knowing one""
(Deut 18:10)(Lev 20:27)(Lev 19:31)(2 Kin 21:6)
"the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits esp. for divining: necromancy"
(Mal 3:5)(Acts 13:8-10)(Rev 9:21)(Rev 21:8)
(Interpreting Omens): [Enchant]- "to influence by charms and incantation: bewitch"
[Enchanter] - "one who enchants: sorcerer" [Omen] - "an occurrence or phenomenon believed to portend a future event: augury"
(2 Kin 21:6)(2 Kin 17:17)(2 Chr 33:6)
"the act of foretelling events" (some believe it might have been by cloud reading based on the Hebrew word)
(Acts 16:16-18)(Mic 5:12)
"conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events"
Observer Of Times:
(believed to be the same as a Soothsayer)
(Deut 18:10)(2 Kin 21:6)(Lev 19:26)(2 Chr 33:6)
"the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usu. by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers"
(Deut 18:10)(2 Kin 17:17)(Acts 16:16-18)
[Astrology] - "the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects"
Consulter With Familiar Spirits (A Medium):
[Medium] - "an individual held to be a a channel of communication between the earthly world and a world of spirits"
(Deut 18:11)(Lev 20:6,27)(Lev 19:31)(2 Kin 21:6)
"enchanter, magician" [charm] "to endow with supernatural powers by means of charms; also: to protect by spells, charms, or supernatural influences"
(Deut 18:11)(Isa 19:3-4)
Let me first make this admission. I have never seen nor read the Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, or Chronicles Of Narnia series. I have never played Dungeons And Dragons, but did mess around with an Ouija board as a kid for "fun" (don't do this!). I have never been into what some might call "satanic" types of music, although I did like a few of those songs when a teenager. Having said this, I do not really know a lot about what any of these movies, books, games, or music say or promote. So, what I want to do is give you a few things to consider as you partake of your entertainment choice.
I think we all (as Christians) can agree if the Bible says something is wrong, or sinful, we need to avoid having anything to do with whatever it is. God calls the things listed above sinful. Many of these things are kind of interconnected, so here is my condensed definition of "magic" from above.
"Trying to influence or control people or events using supernatural powers, usually with the help of demonic or satanic spirit beings. Calling upon and using these powers to do such things as: talk to the dead, reach the spirit world, predict the future, gain hidden knowledge, harm OR protect people, give "power" to inanimate objects (i.e. idols) or live beings (including oneself)."
I believe all of the above examples are TOTALLY Satanic in origin. Those practicing these things are always spoken of unfavorably in the Bible, and were considered to be opposed to God. They were often linked with idol worship; and their ability to perform supernatural, evil, Satanic "magic" (curious arts: Acts 19:19) was a big part of what made people believe idols had "power," when in actuality, it was Satan who had and has the "power." Many were tied to kings and rulers who God called "evil." They attacked and tormented God's people. Many of these things were also practiced by what the Bible calls "magicians" (Gen 41:8,24)(Ex 7:11,22, 8:7,18-19, 9:11)(Dan 1:20, 2:2,10,27, 4:7, 5:11). I should point out, however, that the "magic" these Bible "magicians" practiced is not the same as the kind of "magic" that is performed in MOST stage shows today (i.e. slight of hand, disappearing people, "sawing" someone in half), although I do believe some stage show "magic" should be viewed as evil (i.e. hypnotism, mentalists).
So, ask yourself this. Are the movies you are watching, the books you are reading, the games you are playing, the music you are listening to, the t.v. shows you are watching doing any of these things or promoting them as okay? If they are, I think you know what you need to do.
Let me close by making one more point I think is important. I felt like a good point was made by several people that I am going to try to keep in mind and ask myself about the "magic" in certain movies, books, or t.v. shows. Can that "magic" be "reproduced," or has it been "reproduced" in "real life?" In other words, is the ability to do it actually available to me or can I learn about how to do it? Are there examples of other people actually doing it? For example, can I really turn a pumpkin into a carriage, a frog into a prince, a mouse into a horse, fly or fly on a rug? Of course not, that is the stuff of "fairy tales." But, can I try to do such things as conjure up evil spirits, speak to the dead, attempt to cast spells, or try to predict the future? Yes I can, and there are books at the library and bookstore, and resources online that will tell me how. In short, is the "magic" fiction or non-fiction? If it non-fiction, it seems wise and Biblical to avoid it!