Witchcraft and the Bible

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


  1. Hi Weylan, what about things like Harry Potter. Many years ago I read a couple of the books in the series and didn’t think too much about it. As a teacher, it was what all of the kids were reading and I wanted to check it out. My husband, is against it and so I have been thinking more about it. Was reading that book sinful? And how do we make those distinctions? Is that a matter of conscience?

    Sandra June Sconiers Miranda

    1. Hi Sandra—I’ve never read a Harry Potter book, but some of my family have. I don’t think I’ve sat through an entire Harry Potter movie, but some of my family have watched them multiple times. I do not think reading those books or watching those movies is sinful. Surely, there is leeway in what we can read, as long as we remain firmly grounded in a God-centered worldview. For example, if Christians could never read any fiction that involved ungodliness, then that would eliminate all murder mysteries (or even stories involving theft, or unkindness, or anything ungodly). Is it wrong to read an Agatha Christie novel? For that matter, much of the Bible chronicles evil doings. We’re supposed to be able to differentiate. If someone lacks the spiritual maturity to distinguish good from evil, or fact from fiction, they should avoid what might mislead them, and I would think it good for Christian parents whose kids read Harry Potter to make sure there’s a conversation about witchcraft and the Bible—to keep everything in perspective. If that dampens their enthusiasm for J. K. Rowling, so be it. Or, if parents think it best their kids avoid the series completely, that’s their prerogative. I’m not trying to justify all literature, by any means. A lot of modern fiction is just filthy with profanity and sex, and it seems Christians would want to steer clear of it. I can see someone objecting that there’s a difference between a book that contains evil that gets defeated, and a book that seems to promote evil. Maybe there’s a point to be made there that merits further thought, as it relates to the kind of stories we should be endorsing. C. S. Lewis crafted a magical story with the Chronicles of Narnia that had some depth of meaning to it, and he’s looked upon as an historic defender of Christianity…Weylan

  2. Your article is very intriguing and I have studied to find everything true. Further thought about this matter is, what should a Christians stance be toward Halloween? I’m now thinking as Christians I should be more weary of our involvement in Halloween. This article sure got my attention.

    1. Hi Susan, and thanks for taking time to read the post. When it comes to cultural holidays, there needs to be room among Christians for matters of judgment. Will we participate, or not? To what degree will we participate? Obviously, we never have the right to sin, and our guide is God’s word. It is also true that you may be comfortable doing something, but I am not, and both of us can be right, in that we are living within the parameters of what our consciences will allow, given our levels of biblical understanding. Paul addresses that in Romans 14. Personally, I’ve always liked Halloween, and see no harm in kids dressing in costumes and canvassing the neighborhood for candy. Our society does not see demonic undertones in Trick-or-Treating, so I don’t think the custom is an endorsement of some evil. But, maybe a witch is not the best thing to dress as…

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