What is sorcery according to the Bible?

Sorcery is the practice of using occult supernatural means, such as incantations and/or spells, in order to control forces in the spiritual realm with the intention of influencing the physical realm. Sorcery was used, and still is used, in order to gain control of the environment and/or people, to foretell the future, to summon spirits, to harm others, and/or benefit one's self. It is often associated with magic, whether it be black or white. Black magic is the attempt to produce harm upon someone through curses and spells. White magic is the attempt to use incantations and spells for personal benefit. God forbade the Israelites to practice sorcery (Deut. 18:10) and instituted the death penalty for involvement with it (Exodus 22:18).

The reason that sorcery received the death penalty in the Old Testament is that sorcery is a means of direct contact with wicked spiritual forces and worked against the revealed will of God. Such forces are always intent on working against the Christian gospel and the people of God as well as the goal of bringing pain and suffering.

Finally, God had commanded that His followers worship Him in truth and to follow his teachings.  This is because His wisdom brings the greatest benefit to people and glory to Himself. To become involved in sorcery was a means to circumvent God's plans and bring glory to one's own self, as well as follow after false gods. This always leads to bondage and suffering.

The following are some of the verses listed in the Bible that deal with various aspects of sorcery and bad practices associated with it.

  1. Astrology (Isaiah 47:13)
  2. Divination, witchcraft, omens, sorcery (Deut. 18:10; 2 Chron. 33:6; Ezek. 21:21; Galatians 5:20; Rev. 18:23)
  3. Magic and Magicians (Gen. 41:8; Acts 8:9; 13:6)
  4. Mediums (Deut. 18:11)
  5. Necromancy (Deut. 18:11)
  6. Sorceries and spells (Isaiah 47:9)
  7. Sorcerers and magicians (Exodus 7:11; Jer. 27:9; Dan. 2:2; Rev. 21:8; 22:15)
  8. Sorcerers are to die (Exodus 22:18)
  9. Spells (Psalm 58:5; Isaiah 47:9, 12)

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.