In Galatians 5 Paul gives a catalog of sins that will keep a person out of heaven. Among them is “sorcery” (v. 20). “Sorcery” is the English translation of the Greek word pharmakia. Though this term has to do with using medicine (our word “pharmacy” is derived from it), in biblical times pharmakia included drugs used in occult rituals and even poisoning. By the time the New Testament was written, pharmakia also included magic and sorcery in general, even to the extent that it is translated in our English Bibles as “sorcery” or “witchcraft.” As used in the Bible, “sorcery” is a broad term that would include hallucinogenic and poisonous drugs—even abortifacients—witchcraft, voodoo, palm reading, tarot cards, Oija boards, astrology, fortune telling, horoscopes, séances, and the like. God has forever frowned on sorcery. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 specifically forbade anyone from practicing divination, telling fortunes, interpreting omens, and from being a sorcerer, charmer, medium, wizard or necromancer. In the New Testament, Ephesus was a city where witchcraft was prominent. When the gospel began to make inroads in people’s hearts, many former witches brought their magic books and burned them in what must have been a huge bonfire (Acts 19:18-19). Getting rid of what God condemned was the natural response of a people newly impressed with gospel truth. Contrary to popular thought, there is no such thing as a good witch (at least, not in the Bible). There is no distinction between magic that is white or black. All sorcery is portrayed as evil. Witchcraft trusts in a power other than God. Since it is opposed to Christianity, its true origin is with Satan (cf. John 8:44). Ultimately, to be involved with sorcery is to shake hands with the devil. According to the Bible, Christians are in a war against “world-rulers of this darkness,” and “the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Some things are not to be toyed with, and witchcraft is surely among them. In fact, in the Bible’s closing verses, as though we needed one last reminder, God said it again—that those who will be left outside of heaven’s gate will include, along with murderers, liars and idol worshipers, the sorcerers (Revelation 22:15).
-Weylan Deaver, TBC Online Instructor