“Familiar spirits” – sounds kind of friendly. In America today, psychic spiritualism is gaining popularity. In television and movies there is a plethora of angels, ghosts, witches, wizards, fortune tellers, psychics, and mediums, all of which are presented in a friendly, familiar way. Currently, one of the most popular cable TV reality shows stars an ordinary house wife as a medium who supposedly contacts the spirits of departed loved ones. What she does seems to be so comforting, so soothing for those who are steeped in grief and questions. She is not scary or weird or off-the-wall, and this makes her appealing to many, perhaps even to those who normally wouldn’t trust such things. Because she can describe in great detail very personal and private things about people and/or their dead family members, she wages great credibility.
But make no mistake, this is a deadly manifestation of evil, which the Bible denounces, forbids, and duly warns of its consequences. God said through the prophet Isaiah: “When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter, should not a people seek under their God? for the living to the dead?” (Isaiah 8:19).
The term peep means “an unearthly sound; to speak out of the ground.” Isaiah 29:4: “…Thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be as of one who hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.” The term mutter refers to “incantations of the Babylonian and Egyptian rituals, magical words.”
God said, “Should the living seek unto — go to the dead?” This is a strong warning against going to mediums, psychics, etc. He further declared: “To the law and the testament, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (v.20). This means there is no truth in them. What they speak is darkness and lies. Scripture is clear: “What communication has light with darkness?” (1Corinthians 6:14).
Yet many are fooled by their “gift”, which is actually a familiar spirit. Familiar spirits are knowledgeable, because their master, Satan has been around for ages. They know history, because they have existed during it. Also, many prefer to attach themselves to families. They know a family’s history well, so when a familiar spirit prompts the medium to say: “Did your Aunt Lucy have a cat named Shakespeare?”, it is not because they are channeling — speaking to that dead person and relating messages from him/her, but because they existed during Aunt Lucy’s life and observed things.
Certainly some psychics are phonies, that is, they speak in generalities, and they are able to judge human behavior and to pick up on people’s traits, weaknesses, and fears. Body language and facial expressions can reveal a lot about a person. Some fortunetellers can make very good assumptions and guesses about a person just based on these. They are adept in leading the client suggestively and baiting them to actually divulge information about themselves without coming right out with it. Others use horoscopes based on astrological signs and events to give so-called predictions.
Warning: These open a person up to the demonic! Many have a familiar spirit working with them. None of these are “good spirits” from God. They are impersonating, imitating spirits and often have knowledge of the dead, because they have observed them during their lifetime. They tend to attach themselves to families. When a host dies, the spirit does not die, but moves on to another host, often within the same family, but they are not family-friendly!
I personally know of an unsaved family who began to indulge in psychic phenomena and going to a psychic. It began when a dear loved one died, and in their grief, they wanted to try to make contact with that person. Believing the psychic was actually putting them in contact with their loved one, they went so far as to have a séance in their home. They were convinced they were making contact with the dead, because of personal details the psychic passed on which she could not possibly have known. This cost them hundreds of dollars, but they paid it because they thought it was for real. I watched the health of several members of the family deteriorate rapidly, and several have died young, including tragic deaths. I tried in vain to convince one member of this evil, but his wife persisted with it. Sadly, his health declined and he too has died.
God Forbids His People to Seek Psychics
“Regard not them that have familiar spirits…. Seek not after wizards to be defiled by them” (Leviticus 19:31). The term familiar is necromancer, which refers to “one who pretends to communicate with the dead.”
“The soul that turns after familiar spirits and wizards, I will even set my face against that soul and will cut him off from among his people” (Lev.20:6). The term cut off means “to kill, to execute.”
“A man or woman that has a familiar spirit or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones” (Lev.20:27).
“There shall not be found among you anyone that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a necromancer. For all these are an abomination to the Lord” (Deut.18:10-12). Again, these refer to those who use astrology and horoscopes, fortunetellers, sorcerers who cast spells, and those who impersonate the dead.
King Saul was Israel’s first monarch, and when he became king, he put out of the land of Israel all the wizards and those who had familiar spirits (1 Samuel 28:3). Later in his life, he disobeyed the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Samuel, and usurped his authority to offer sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel. And he failed to slay all the Amalekites as instructed and spared the life of their wicked King Agag. Upon this, Samuel prophesied that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to another (1Samuel 15).
From that point, Samuel no longer came to counsel Saul, and Saul lost all contact with God. After the death of Samuel, Saul became more and more desperate for counsel, but there was none. Finally, he sought out a witch who had a familiar spirit. He disguised himself and asked her to call up the prophet Samuel from the grave. When she realized who Saul was, she feared for her life, but he assured her that no harm would come to her (1 Samuel 28).
The sad commentary on Saul’s life is that he died on the battlefield next to his dead sons when he fell on his own sword to avoid capture by the Philistines. “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, and inquired not of the Lord” (1Chron. 10:13).
Saul lost his kingdom because he disobeyed the word of the Lord regarding the Amalekites, and he lost his life because he sought counsel of one who had a familiar spirit.
The Spirit of Python
In the New Testament, Acts 16 records Paul and Silas’ missionary tour which took them to the city of Philippi, and there “a certain damsel was possessed with a spirit of divination which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying.” The term divination is python, and means “to prophesy by a demon spirit.” It originated in Greek mythology as the serpent that guarded the Oracle at Delphi (a temple where prophecies were given), who was later slain by Apollo, after which the serpent possessed him. Thus, the utterances came from “out of the belly.”
To soothsay means “to give an oracle — speak forth from a spirit of divination.” The spirit that used this young girl endeavored then to deceive the people of its legitimacy by pretending to agree with Paul and Silas, calling them great men of God. Paul realized this would cause the people to think that the spirit was of God, and finally, he cast it out in Jesus’ name. Paul spoke directly to the spirit — not to the girl — she was only a vessel for the demon to possess and use. The slave girl’s owners were upset, because they made a lot of money off of her fortune-telling.
This girl was set free by the authority and power of God, but the spirit that possessed her would have gone forth seeking another vessel to possess. Anyone who goes to such fortunetellers, psychics, tarot card readers, may very well open the door for evil spirits to harass, oppress, and even possess them. They are forbidden in Scripture for a reason. God is not trying to curtail your fun. This is why the “friendly façade” put on psychic phenomena by movie and TV producers is so dangerous. It creates a false message that such things are harmless fun and even beneficial.
The serpent is crafty. The forbidden fruit of Eden is no less poisonous today. He lied to them, and he still lies, because he is the father of lies, and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). The spirits he employees are “imitating and seducing spirits that deceive many” (1 Timothy 4:1). This is why we are told to “try — prove the spirits whether they are of God…. whether it is a spirit of truth or a spirit of error (1 John 4:1&6). Some are famiLIAR spirits!