The Old Testament Scriptures warned against any manner of dealings with those who seemed directly connected with any form of demonism or spiritism. We read in Deut. 18:9-12, “When thou art come into the land which the Lord Thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations … There shall not be found among you any one … that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Fortune-tellers and astrologers of today would come under this category. Years ago on the west coast at the close of an address on demonology, we contacted two assembly believers who were directly connected with the occult. One was earning her living in a large department store by reading tea cups, and the other went periodically to a fortune-teller. Neither thought that there was any harm in what she was doing, but both had lost the joy of salvation. It is always dangerous to toy with the ouija board, or to have one’s fortune told just for fun.
Some believers have been ensnared by “familiar spirits.” They had lost a loved one, and the idea occurred to them that they might be able to get into touch with and to communicate with their departed one. This is an utter impossibility. In Isaiah’s day God’s people were against any such practices. However, it is possible to get into touch with the “familiar spirit” of a departed one. A “familiar spirit” seems to be a demon who familiarizes itself with the living, so that it is able to reproduce the voice and imitate the very personality of the dead. Several years ago a New Zealand preacher who was known on several continents lost his beloved wife. They did not have a family; consequently, they had enjoyed the closest possible fellowship in the work of the Lord, and were much devoted to each other. It came to the preacher’s ears that the medium at a certain spiritsits church was able to put one into contact with his loved one. He began secretly to attend the seances and became fully persuaded he was in conversation with his beloved wife. The voice was the same and the questions put to her were all intelligently answered. However, the preacher did not give up prayer and the reading of the Scriptures; therefore, in time he became convinced that he was doing wrong in dealing with occultism. He was greatly tested and tried by the evil one, and almost lost his reason before he extricated himself from the snare of the devil (2 Tim. 2:26).
A Christian woman, now several years with the Lord, told me of her very trying experience with evil spirits. Her husband, a professional man, went to Europe to take a special course in his line. It was her habit constantly to pray for him although possessed of a deep jealousy for him. Some weeks after he had left for Europe, “voices” seemed to say, “It is no use of you praying for your husband for he has been unfaithful to you; your prayers are in vain.” These “voices” continued to pester her to such an extent that she actually gave up praying. One day the “voice” told her to visit a certain city, and to go to a certain man on such-and-such a street, and he would tell her all that her husband was doing. The city was a long train journey from where she lived, but she went, found the address, and knocked at the door which was opened by a man, an absolute stranger to her. This strange gentleman acted as though he knew her, and as he welcomed her, he said, “I was expecting you.” The man gave her an outline of all that her husband had been doing during the months he had been in Europe, and the story upset her in a dire way. However, she said nothing of this experience in her letters to her husband, but when he returned home she confronted him with the entire story. He confessed as sin all that was brought before him. He was fully restored to the Lord, but for many years his poor wife was under a severe nervous strain, and lost all spiritual joy.
When in Durban, South Africa, I addressed a company of believers from several parts of the city on demonology. A certain Mr. Clothier, the leader of the South African Evangelical Band was present. On the Lord’s Day following, Mr. Clothier spoke to a congregation of several hundred men and women and practically repeated all that I had said. At the close of the service he was asked to go to lunch at the home of a widow whose only daughter lived with her. Both the mother and the daughter were members of the congregation Mr. Clothier had addressed. In inviting him to lunch the widow told him that she and her daughter had a very difficult decision to make, and that perhaps he would be able to help them. “You know,” said the mother, “that my daughter is a very bright Christian and that she is ever seeking to lead souls to Christ. Well, in the business house where she works there is a young girl, a member of the spiritists church, whom she is trying to bring to the Lord. On several consecutive Sundays this girl accompanied my daughter to our meeting. After the service one evening, the girl said, ‘For several Sundays I have accompanied you to your church, and now I think it would be nice if you would come to mine.’ My daughter went with her the following Lord’s Day evening and the service took the form of a seance. During the proceedings the medium (a man) suddenly pointed to three different persons in the audience, saying, ‘I have three messages to-night, one for you, and you, and you,’ pointing directly to the three individuals concerned, my daughter being one of them. My daughter thought he must have been pointing to some one else so looked around. The medium saw her and called out, pointing directly at her, ‘It is you, Miss, I mean.’ After delivering one message, he turned to my daughter and said, ‘The message for you is from an old man with a very long white beard, who during his lifetime on earth was a preacher and was always antagonistic toward spiritualism, and constantly preached against it. However, since being on the other side, he has discovered how great was his mistake. His special message to you is that you try and undo the harm that he did in his preaching.’ My daughter came home very upset and described to me all that had taken place. I at once recognized the old man as my father who died before my daughter was born. He was a Wesleyan minister and had a long white beard. I told my daughter that I was convinced that it was her grandfather of whom the medium spoke, for I recalled hearing him again and again from the pulpit denounce spiritualism. Moreover, I added that perhaps he had been wrong, and that the Lord wanted us to try and correct the mistakes that he had made. At the same time, I suggested to her that we pray about it for two weeks, and that then we could come to some decision; the two weeks are up to-morrow. You may be able to help us in our decision.”
That servant of the Lord prayed with them, and from the Scriptures was able to persuade them that the entire thing was of the devil, and thus they were kept from being ensnared. The so-called Spiritualistic Churches are veritable “synagogues of Satan” (Rev. 3:9), and believers should be warned against attending any of them.
Speaking of “familiar spirits!” We seem to have an instance of their power in 1 Samuel 28. King Saul was supposed to have “put away those that had familiar spirits,” but that cannot be done by legislation. Later, however, when “Saul enquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” Saul ordered his servants to seek “a woman that hath a familiar spirit.” One was found, and Saul’s purpose was to get into touch with Samuel the prophet through her. When he stood before the woman, she said to the disguised king, “Whom shall I bring up to thee?” Saul answered, “Bring me up Samuel.” Now the woman, obviously expected to contact Samuel’s familiar spirit because when she saw Samuel actually appear, “She called with a loud voice,” and appeared filled with dread (1 Sam. 28:12). At the same time Saul recognized the form that appeared as none other than Samuel (Vv. 14-20). We know what judgment fell upon Saul because of his “transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it” (1 Chron. 10:13).