This essay is part one of a two-part series responding to a meme. The meme in question suggests that since supernatural and ritualistic elements are in the bible, magic and witchcraft can’t be sinful and that the bible is contradictory. Part 2–>
God was completely against people using gemstones as charms because it was deceptive. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 makes it clear that God was against, fortune-telling, sorcery, looking for omens, witchcraft, casting spells, or functioning as mediums or psychics calling forth the spirits of the dead. In Ezekiel 13:18-21 God curses those who use these things to deceive his people. Revelation 21:8 and 22:14-15 both have a list of sins that will prohibit people from inheriting the kingdom and among them are sorcery, witchcraft, and such. Most of the other things listed are completely out of context or the result of bad denominational theology.
Spell Book Psalms:
The book of Psalms is praise and lament poetry. It praises how great God is, laments human sin, and leads us to repentance to God. About 70 of them were written by David, and others by choir directors and poets. Most of the Psalms are about thanking God for his mercy and deliverance from bad circumstances, as well as praising God for his faithfulness to his covenant promises to protect, provide for, heal, and forgive his people. These are not spells that one repeats out loud to make something happen, they are songs that remind us to trust in God’s promises and stay humble and in awe of him. The ones David wrote often reference his personal experiences, other psalms remember the events of the Torah. Some Psalms are prophecies about the Messiah. Speaking bible verses isn’t occult magic, a true believer already trusts that the work is finished and is simply reading or repeating them as reminders for meditation or focusing on trusting God. These are NOT to be used to invoke our will on the universe. Meditation on God’s word is just reminding yourself of God’s promises when you are in doubt or are struggling in life.
Bible believers don’t pray by reciting mantras as other religions do. Jesus says not to d that in Matt 6:7-8 when talking about the Lord’s prayer, “7 When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! The lord’s prayer follows this (Matt 6:9-13), it is an example of how to pray, Jesus taught us not to pray in mantras mindlessly but pray with trust and faith.
Law of Attraction:
Furthermore, the law of attraction stuff is not what the bible actually teaches about Faith. God had Abram change his name to Abraham which means “father of many nations” and God said the world would be blessed through his lineage, even though he was childless (Gen 17:5). Is this “speaking things into existence”? No, he was already promised by God to be “a father of many nations” before that in Gen 12:1-3, so he wasn’t willing the universe to bend to his desires, he already got a promise from God and his new name was a reminder of the promise, even when he failed to trust God and got into sin (giving away his wife out of fear). So his faith was in God’s promise, he didn’t invoke his will on the universe. Everything the Bible says about faith is based on believing God’s promise, not commanding the universe to bend to our will. We can’t tell God what to do or how things should be done, he determines what he is going to do and we have to trust in his judgment and strategies in executing his will and fulfilling his covenant promises. Our will is governed by our sinful desires because of our sinful nature and is always at odds with God’s will (Rom 5:12-17, Rom 7:14-25, James 1:13-17). Biblical Faith is trusting in something God said either through his word or from the holy spirit. Only believers have the holy spirit and are qualified to receive the promises consistently because they are in his covenant (John 14:15-21, Rom 8:5-17).
Scriptures that say things like, “call things to be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17), are often used out of context to invoke “faith-craft”. It actually says God calls things to be not as though they were. Paul is referencing how God did the impossible and gave Abraham a child even though he and his wife were old and she was barren. Rom 4:17 says it was GOD, that called things to be not as though they were when he [GOD] changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abraham never had the authority to conquer Canaan, he only sojourned and Moses would conquer it 400 years later (Gen 15:13-15). Christians are supposed to speak what God said and believe in it because God said it. The whole “manifest my blessing” thing is often used as a form of modern sorcery by non-believers. People like Alister Crowley (a new age sorcerer from the 1800s) started the “do thine own will” mantra and taught that we can manipulate the universe to bend to our will. Cults like the Free Masons and Rosicrucians have a version of the KJV bible where they treat God more like a force of nature rather than a person. This is why modern new-age people call God the “universe” and talk about “vibes and energies” in an attempt to syncretize Dharmic religions and western religious ideas. Teachings like “The Secret”, “The Silva Method” and “The Law of Attraction” are based on ideas like this. God’s word is from a being that made us, loves us, and judges us, but there are deceptive ideologies that will redefine God as a substance or resource to be manipulated for personal gain. More on this topic of “Manifesting” here.
In 1 John 4, John says that not every spirit is of God, and that false spirits and prophets are gone out into the world, so we need to TEST things, and not be deceived by everything claiming to be of God. In Col 2:4-8 Paul says something similar and even Jesus himself warned about false prophets and messiahs (Matt 24:5, Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8). In order to submit to God’s will, we need the holy spirit to transform our hearts. The nonsense in pop culture with people going crazy by “catching the holy ghost” isn’t biblical, that’s mostly people just showing off at a church service. The holy spirit was promised to circumcise our hearts (Deut 30:6, Jer 4:4, Ez 36:25-27, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-21, Rom 2:29, and Col 2:11) and give us the power to overcome sin nature so that we could accomplish the task of keeping God’s commands. This was all a part of the promise to save humanity from sin and Satan’s traps. All humans are filled with sin nature that we inherited from Adam (Rom 5:12-17), and the holy spirit helps us overcome sin nature. Walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16-26), those who sow into the flesh reap corruption but those that sow into the Spirit reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-10). The fact that there is a CHOICE between following the spirit or not proves that the holy spirit does not take control of someone’s body and move them. The only examples of a spirit causing uncontrollable movements are in Mark 9:14-29, and that was the result of DEMONIC Activity, not the holy spirit. Plus Paul says in 1 Cor 14:28-29 that, “people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.”
Jesus explained the purpose of the advocate (the holy spirit) in John 14:15-17 and John 15:26-27, to help believers overcome the world, remind believers of his teachings to they can overcome sin nature, and share the gospel effectively by testifying about him. In addition, he says the holy spirit speaks to his people while he is away in heaven, and believers are supposed to follow the holy spirit’s instructions (John 16:5-15). Paul reiterates that only those living by God’s spirit are children of God, and are joint heirs of the kingdom along with Jesus (Rom 8:14-17).
In Deut 30:6 Moses says that the Israelites will never keep God’s commands until their hearts are circumcised, in other words, the hardness of their hearts must be cut away. Jeremiah 4:3-4 God says that the hearts of the people of Judah need to be circumcised so that they can repent of their sins. Ezekiel 36:25-27 says that God will transform the human heart by pouring out his spirit on humanity. This is prophesied in Joel 2:28-32 and fulfilled in Acts chapter 2. Paul confirms this heart circumcision is by the Holy Spirit in Romans 2:29 and Colossians 2:11. God’s spirit is what transforms people. His spirit dwells in the bodies of believers, just like he dwelled in the temple and tabernacle built by the Jews in the old testament. Only this time the “temple” is the bodies of the people who are in covenant with Jesus, rather than a building in Israel. And the Holy Spirit is only available to those who received Jesus as Lord (John 14:15-17, Rom 8:5-11). Believers have God’s spirit inside of them because they were made pure by the sacrifice of Jesus. They don’t need to be in a ritually clean state to enter God’s presence in a building in Israel anymore, because we are the building (temple). Paul says our bodies are the new temple in 1 Cor 3:16-17, 1 Cor 6:19-20, & 2 Cor 6:15-18.
Believers don’t go to church to “catch the holy spirit”, believers ARE the church, and are inhabited by the holy spirit when they get saved. If the Holy Spirit’s job is to help us overcome sin, and he had the authority to hijack our bodies, why would he make us dance in church? Wouldn’t the top priority be to make us sinless? If the Holy Spirit had full control, Christians would never sin. Nothing wrong with dancing before God, but the spirit doesn’t make us do it.
Herbs & Oils:
The Bible doesn’t actually condemn the use of medicine, so this one is legit, but some may take it out of context to abuse drugs. Anointed oil had a specific purpose in the old covenant, it wasn’t just about healing, but ritual purity for objects dedicated to the Temple/Tabernacle. As well as anoint the Levites so they can work in the temple as a priest, or pronounce a former unclean person (like a leper) clean after being healed.
For the most part, it was just olive oil, however, in Ex 30:22-29 there is a recipe for a certain mixture that is reserved for Levites only. Some say the calamus oil mentioned in the recipe is cannabis oil. Don’t know if it’s true, but Cannabis oil is medicine so, like every other medicine it’s only bad if it is abused. Ps 104:15 mentions the use of olive oil on the skin. Uses of Oil in the Torah: Exodus 25:1-9, 27:20-21, 29:1-49, 30:22-33, 31:1-11, 35:4-29, 37:25-29, 39:32-43, 40:1-11, Leviticus 8:1-30, 10:1-7, 21:10-12, Numbers 4:16.
In the new testament, there are only a few references to anointing oils, and only twice involves healing. In Mark 6:12-13, the disciples cast out demons healed the sick, and anointed people with oils. In Luke 7:36-50, Mary’s sister of Lazarus came in and anointed his feet with oils as an offering of thanksgiving to Jesus. This was a gift for Jesus, just like the oils were given as gifts and sacrifices to the Tabernacle/Temple. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:34), the Samaritan treated the victim’s wounds with olive oil (to soothe) and wine (for sterilization). However, the new covenant doesn’t begin until after the resurrection of Jesus and the distribution of the holy spirit, so these references are really old covenant events since this is before the ascension of Christ.
James 5:14 is a new covenant use of anointing oil since it is after Pentecost in Acts 2. However in context (James 5:13-17), it’s more than just about physical healing, it’s also a means of rededicating a person to God after forgiveness of sin. This context shows that being sick and sin can be connected and once someone was healed they were to be rededicated with oils as part of forgiveness and redemption. In the old covenant, there is a special process that involves purification and reconciliation when people have unnatural bodily discharge disorders like perpetual menstrual bleeding (Lev 15:25-30) or skin diseases like Leprosy (Lev ch.14). That is because these diseases were caused by sin, so they required repentance. In Numbers 12, Miriam got leprosy from badmouthing Moses but Moses interceded and God healed her. According to Leviticus 14, when someone is cured of a skin disease (like leprosy) they must show go to the priest and go through both a process of purification (Lev 14:1-9) and reconciliation (Lev 14:10-32) by sacrificing three offerings, two male lambs and a female lamb. One male lamb was the guilt offering and the other two were the sin and burn offerings which could also be two birds instead of mammals if the person was poor. When someone was cured of a bodily discharge like the woman in Mark 5:24-34, they had to sacrifice two birds, although no oil was involved here. Therefore, in James 5:13-17 it is using the oil to enact these processes instead of sacrifices because Jesus already covers all sacrifices (Heb 10:1-18). The spirit of God does the work, but the oil could function as a contact point of faith for a person just like Jesus’ clothes for the bleeding woman.
The word aleipho (ἀλείφω) is used in Mark 6:13, Luke 7:38, John 11:2, and James 5:14, and according to the HELPS word studies it means, “… to rub or smear olive oil on the body. Aleíphō is the ordinary term used for physically anointing the body with (olive) oil. Anointing brought healing and relief and hence became synonymous with gladness (festivity)”.
Psychics vs Prophets:
Prophets are not fortune tellers, a prophet is a speaker, who simply says what God tells them. False prophets are people that claim to speak for God but are lying and they tell people what they want to hear, for money, essentially a con artists. No different than a psychic or medium. A lot of the “prophets” in the modern world probably don’t even know what a prophet is or don’t understand how prophecy works in the new covenant. Moses wrote how to discern between true and false prophets in Deut 13″1-5 & Deut 18:20-22.
If you read all the prophetic books, many of them aren’t about predicting the future at all like Malachi and Jonah who are just calling people to repentance. The prophets are called to tell Israel’s leaders God’s instructions in a specific circumstance. Also, they warned people to repent or face punishment, or they gave a promise of protection in the face of disaster. The Prophets are the ones who keep the Kings, Priests, and Judges in check. They are God’s last call against injustice and for repentance before he punishes a nation.
Prophets sometimes get messages about the far future beyond more immediate events like Babylonian exile, but those are specific books like Zechariah, or specific chapters of specific books like Isaiah (7, 9, 11, 50, 53, etc) or Ezekiel (34-48). There were also seers in the bible like Daniel, who wrote about the future, but Daniel was not considered a prophet because he only wrote his revelations down, he didn’t preach to the people about it. This is why Daniel is in the writing section (Ketuvim) of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and not in the prophet section (Nevi’im). Mediums who necromance, or claim to predict future spouses are false and it is sin to use them (Ez 13:18-21). Saul went to the Witch of Endor to talk to the dead Samuel (1 Sam 28:1-24). She referred to a spirit she saw as “gods”, and Saul assumed it was Samuel. It seems very unlikely that God, who was not answering Saul at the time would use divination, something that he himself condemned, as a means to proclaim his judgment. Also, it was a lying spirit since what it prophesied about Saul’s death didn’t come to pass, the way “Samuel” said. This was NOT endorsed by the bible. Paul even exorcises a demon-possessed medium in Acts 16:16-18.
In the new covenant, God reveals things to his people through the holy spirit, but sometimes a prophet speaks when his people aren’t listening or when he needs the world to hear his message. Prophesy is one of the spiritual gifts that come from the holy spirit. All believers who are born again have the holy spirit, so prophesy here isn’t explicitly unique to specific anointed people like in the OT. It is not something people can turn on like a switch, it is something God activates in specific circumstances, so it can not be abused for money as false prophets do.
Communion is a revelation of the true meaning of the Passover cedar. Transubstantiation, that is the idea that the wine communion wine transforms into Christ’s blood, is not a biblical concept. Blood drinking is not only forbidden in the Noahide (Gen 9:3-4) and Sinaitic covenant (Lev 7:26-27, 17:14, Deut 12:16-25, 15:23) but also in the Messianic covenant (Acts 15:19-21). This is a sin for everyone Jew and Gentile, for all time from the beginning to the end.
In Passover (Pesach), the Israelites put the blood of sacrificed lambs on the door to protect them from death and ate the lamb with unleavened bread. In the new testament, Paul gave a little insight into the meaning of unleavened bread when he compares false teaching to leaven that spoils the whole lump (1 Cor 5:6, Gal 5:9). Leaven represents sin and Jesus is the only “bread” (human) that didn’t have sin nature, qualifying him to be our sacrifice. The blood of the Passover Lamb, protected Israel from the messenger of death (Ex 12:23). Likewise, the blood of Jesus makes us right with God and washes away sin, protecting us from damnation. Also, Passover was the last plague on Egypt ushering in the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Likewise, Jesus’s sacrifice is the beginning of the new covenant, where he delivers the believers from slavery to sin.
It is not literal, it is a symbol in the context of Jewish Theology. The bread and leaven analogy of sin is an idiom that preexisted Jesus’s time on earth, and the blood of animals redeeming the Israelites was a foreshadowing of the Messiah’s method of saving the world. This mechanism is in the Levitical sacrifice system. Jesus simply revealed what the old testament symbolism was pointing to, which is that he is the Passover lamb. According to Heb 10:1-18, Jesus fulfills the need for sacrificing so that under the new covenant there wouldn’t need to be animal sacrifices or a temple since Jesus was sacrificed, and believers’ bodies are the new temple (1 Cor 6:19-21) because the holy spirit (God’s presence) dwells in the bodies of God’s people, rather than a man-made Temple.
Lastly, the bible says multiple times not to drink blood in the Noahide (Noah), Sinaitic (Moses), and Messianic (Jesus) covenants. Gen 9:4, Leviticus chapter 17, Lev 19:26, Deut 12:16, and 25, Ezekiel 33:25, and Acts 15:20 and 28. So why would God have us do something so sinful? Lev 17 explains that the blood belongs on the altar poured out for our sins. The blood of a sacrifice is to be splashed on the altar, or on its horns, or poured on the ground in front of the bronze altar, which was at the entrance of the Temple/Tabernacle (Ex 29:12, Ex 30:10, Lev 4:7-34, Lev 8:15, Lev 9:9, Lev 16:18, Deut 12:16-27, Deut 15:23). Hebrews 9:11-12 tells us that Jesus took his blood to the altar in heaven because the Tabernacle of God in heaven is superior to the earthly one. Hebrews says that Israel’s Tabernacle/Temple was only a replicate of God’s Tabernacle in heaven. Furthermore, Genesis 9 and Acts 15 show that all humans (including non-Jews), weren’t ever supposed to drink blood, not just those under the Mosaic Law. Jesus said in Matt 5:17-19, that he did not come to abolish the law (the Torah) and that not one jot or title would pass away even if heaven and earth passed away, so he would never break the law by having us do something forbidden so many times for Jews and Gentiles. More on consuming blood here.