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Scripture is quite clear on this subject, for in the Old Testament we see on several occasions that Israel was expressly forbidden to have any contact with those who claimed to communicate with the dead. Consider these solemn commands from Deuteronomy 18:9-11,When you enter the land which the LORD thy God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead” (NASB).

There are eight things mentioned here that deal with the occult and the last three speak specifically of those who seek to consult the dead.  The heathen nations that God drove out of the land practiced these abominations and God warns His people to stay clear of them. The seriousness of this sin is seen in Leviticus 20:6,And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set My face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” The very act of turning to those who attempt to communicate with the dead would result in God excommunicating them from the people. The punishment for the actual spiritist, which is a séance leader, was even more pronounced, as seen in Leviticus 20:27,A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death…”

We have an example of this evil practice in 1 Samuel 28. The prophet Samuel had died and King Saul, who had always sought counsel from Samuel, ordered his servants to find him a spiritist so he could talk to Samuel. Verse 7 says, “Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her.”  The irony here is that prior to this Saul had, in obedience to the LORD, driven many occultists out of the land. We see this in verse 3,And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.” A woman was found and in verse 11 she asks Saul “Whom shall I bring up unto thee?” and Saul replied “Bring me up Samuel.” The next few verses are very instructive for when Samuel did appear the woman was shocked, teaching us that spiritists are not accustomed to seeing the true spirits of dead people. Rather, they are used to seeing “familiar spirits,” which are “demons” who impersonate the spirits of those who have died. This true account does not justify the practice of consulting the dead; God, in His sovereignty, allowed Samuel to appear to Saul in order to announce His judgment upon him for his rebellion and unbelief, yet His condemnation of trying to speak to the dead remained and it still remains today.

Perhaps a word about “praying to the dead” is in order. Though one may not employ a spiritist for this, it is still another form of trying to communicate to the dead and thus the Word of God forbids it. Besides this, what would be the purpose of praying to those who are unable to talk back to us or to help us in anyway? There are those who “pray to saints” or “pray to the Virgin Mary,” believing their prayers are not only heard, but are answered in miraculous ways. As privileged as Mary was to have been the earthly mother of Jesus, she was never prayed to while on earth and there is no indication she is to be prayed to now. I have often thought of the last mention of Mary in Scripture. We read of this in Acts 1:14, These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.” Instead of Mary being prayed to, she was just one of many who were praying to God as they awaited the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. She was a simple, lowly believer who showed her dependence on God by approaching the throne of grace as Jesus had encouraged His followers to do. Those who do seek to pray to Mary or saints say they are “mediators” between God and man, but what does Scripture say? 1 Timothy 2:5 declares, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  Christ Jesus is the only “go-between,” the one and only “middleman” who can stand between God and men and communicate with both. As God, He can and does, represent God before us, and as Man He represents us before God!  (142.2)  (DO)