What’s wrong with mediums?
I’ve noticed that a lot of people where I live are into mediums. The local community centre runs a regular (or semi-regular) night with a medium coming in. Not long ago I saw a ‘psychic fair’ being advertised. I’ve seen friends on Facebook keen to have palm readings and other things – some of whom I wouldn’t have thought were into that kind of thing.
What I find surprising about all this is how most people seem to think that mediums do actually work, at least sometimes, and that there isn’t really any harm in using them.
The traditional Christian understanding is that mediums are not just harmful but expressly forbidden. Let me try to explain why.
Who’s in charge?
I think most people would say the spiritual world is real, but we don’t know much about it. A lot of people have a view that the recently departed ‘hang around’ in this world, for at least a period of time after death, and are able to communicate with the living through mediums. One of the biggest reasons for using a medium in the first place is to try and communicate with a loved one who is dearly missed (a perfectly understandable response to grief).
But the question I have is – who is in charge of these spirits? Do they have free reign to roam anywhere? Can you be sure it’s genuine, or could it even be a harmful and deceiving spirit? There are forces of evil as well as good. How do we know what we’re dealing with in the spiritual realm?
And is there anyone in charge of this whole mess? Is God there, is he in control, and does he have anything to say about it? This is where the Bible comes in.
What the Bible says
In the book of Deuteronomy, part of the Old Testament, God says this to his people:
Let no one be found among you who … is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord … You must be blameless before the Lord your God.Deuteronomy 18:10-13
Now I haven’t gone into all the context, but I think the message is pretty clear – and it’s a message which is repeated several times throughout the Bible. God’s people are forbidden from consulting mediums etc. But why? We find the answer to that in the New Testament.
Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Ephesians 6:11-12
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood – it is against ‘spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’. What the apostle Paul is saying here is that we face a struggle every day against evil, but that’s not just because evil exists on a human level – it is because evil exists on a spiritual level. In other words, Satan and demons really do exist and they are in opposition to God and everything good.
When people turn to mediums and the like, they are opening themselves up to a world of pain. It says elsewhere that Jesus came “to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8) – not to encourage people into it!
Let me spell it out: if through a medium you speak to the spirit world, you will not be speaking to the spirit of someone recently departed. You will be speaking to evil, a spirit who intends you harm, a spirit who intends to keep you from the truth and keep you from God. In fact, I would say the best possible outcome with a medium is that they’re actually lying and using psychological tricks (like Derren Brown).
Nothing good will ever come from using a medium or spiritist.
What should we do instead?
Most people look to mediums for comfort and reassurance. I can sympathise with that. A few years ago my Mum died of cancer, and it was a very difficult time. I can understand the reaction that people have when losing someone close! But for me, in the case of my Mum, I am 100% certain that I know where she is.
The Bible says:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.1 Thessalonians 4:13-15
I know that Mum is with the Lord, the Lord she loved and served her whole life, and one day she will be raised to life in the new creation – along with all those who love and trust in Jesus. I don’t need to consult a medium, because I know where Mum is.
And that’s the thing: anyone who has died is now in the hands of God. They are not spirits floating around this earth until they move onto the next plane. They do not have liberty to speak to whoever they would like to speak to. They are with God. And if you want to be comforted in the face of death, you need to speak to the one who overcame death, to the one who holds our lives in his hands, to the only one who can grant eternal life.
I’m going to finish with some words of Jesus which we often speak on at funerals.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through meJohn 14:1-6
The answer to suffering and death is not mediums, but rather Jesus Christ. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. He alone can forgive us of our sins (including using mediums), can bring us to God and assure us of our eternal destiny.