How should Christians view paranormal activity?
It would appear that modern culture is no longer content with fictional accounts of paranormal activity. Instead, people crave the real thing. On any given day, you can drive past a palm-reading shop, check into a haunted hotel, and flip on the TV to watch a ghost-hunting reality show. Evidence of witchcraft used to result in being burned at the stake—now it's money-making entertainment. Like the witch of Endor, however, (1 Samuel 28:1-25) no person can really know or control the paranormal, and to invite a power you don't know can be incredibly dangerous.
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"Paranormal" and "supernatural" describe that part of the cosmos that is not bound by the natural law that ordains the operation of the universe. There is no inherent physicality to the paranormal and the physical cannot create or control it—only the spiritual can. And the only spiritual powers are God and demons.
We see God's supernatural power every day. Acts 17:28 says, "In him we live and move and have our being." Life is impossible without the ever-present work of God. On occasion, God empowers His angels to interact with people on earth such that we may experience godly paranormal activity. But, like the witch of Endor knew, we cannot control or dictate God's supernatural work in our lives. We can only be surprised when it appears.
The other source of supernatural power is demonic. That's an important point to stress: if the paranormal activity is not of God, it is demonic. Period. There is no other type of paranormal activity and there is no neutral paranormal activity. There is God, and there are demons who want to destroy us. We cannot direct demonic power any more than we can control God's power—the Bible teaches that the whole world is under the sovereignty of demonic forces (1 John 5:19). But demons are above all else deceptive (John 8:44). They will allow us to think we are in command, when really they are drawing us further under their influence.
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). Interest in paranormal activity has always had a place in human history, but the Bible teaches that interest will increase as the end times approach.
We need to be alert. There are two ways the enemy can draw us into his world. One is by making old threats appear harmless. Astrology has become entertainment. Palmistry is seen as a lark. New age meditation is being used as a therapeutic device. Another way demonic power gets in is by coming from a direction we weren't expecting. Are hologram bracelets and magnet therapy demonic? They are if they lead people into the world of energy medicine and Eastern philosophy.
The Bible is clear what we should do in regards to ungodly paranormal activity: avoid it. Ephesians 4:27 says to not give it a foothold. James 4:7 says that confrontations with Satan are inevitable, but if we resist him, he will flee. We are not to seek out demonic paranormal activity, even for the purpose of defeating it (Jude 1:8-10).
This includes seemingly benign entertainment that references demons. No Ouija boards, no TV shows that claim to find ghosts, and no haunted houses. Demons are similar to the vampires of mythology—they can be difficult to find, but once they are invited in, they are nearly impossible to get rid of. The best defense is to follow Psalm 101:4: "A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil."
We cannot control paranormal forces, but God can. It is only through Him that we can be protected. In Ephesians 6:10-18, He tells us how. When confronted with a spiritual enemy, use spiritual weapons. The belt of truth will remind us Who is in control and how the enemy wishes to destroy us. The breastplate of righteousness will protect us because light has nothing to do with dark. The shoes of the gospel allow us to stand firm against attack, knowing that our foundation is Christ. The shield of faith in God will make Satan's specific arrows ineffectual, as we choose to rely on what God says instead of Satan's lies. The helmet of salvation protects us intellectually; our thoughts can be at peace when we remember Christ has already rescued us. And, like Jesus when He was being tempted, we can use the truth of Scripture to disarm the lies of the enemy.
That's a nice picture, but what does it mean? It means we can't be fully protected by God if we have not trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It means we need to know the truth of Who God is and who we are in Christ, and know Scripture so that we can use it to remind ourselves of the truth. And we need to act on what Scripture says—"Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good" (Romans 12:9), and "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil …" (James 4:7). If we refuse to hate evil and cling to good, we shouldn't be surprised if evil clings to us.
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