Question: "What does the Bible say about sorcery?"
Answer: Sorcery, the use of spells, divination, or speaking to spirits, is clearly condemned in the Bible. The word sorcery in Scripture is always used in reference to an evil or deceptive practice.
For example, in 2 Chronicles 33:6, King Manasseh is condemned for his many evil practices, including sorcery: “And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.”
The apostle Paul lists sorcery as one of many sinful practices that mark the lives of unbelievers: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife . . . and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Interestingly, the New Testament Greek word translated “sorcery” is pharmakeia, which is the source of our English word pharmacy. In Paul’s day, the word primarily meant “dealing in poison” or “drug use” and was applied to divination and spell-casting because sorcerers often used drugs along with their incantations and amulets to conjure occult power.
Sorcerers were common in the culture of ancient Egypt (Exodus 7:11; Isaiah 19:3). We also see sorcery in the kingdom of Babylon, especially in association with King Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 27:9; Daniel 2:2).
Sorcery is an attempt to bypass God’s wisdom and power and give glory to Satan instead. God has no tolerance for sorcery. In Deuteronomy 18:10-12, sorcery is listed among the sinful practices of the nations surrounding Israel. God calls it an abomination: “There shall not be found among you . . . anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you.”
Malachi also speaks of God’s judgment on those involved in sorcery: “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers” (Malachi 3:5).
Apparently, sorcery will still be practiced in the end times. Spiritual Babylon, representing the false religious system of the last days, will deceive “all nations” with sorcery (Revelation 18:23) before judgment falls.
The book of Revelation says that sorcerers “will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8; see also Revelation 22:15).
Sorcery is clearly sinful and is not to be part of Christian living. There is a wisdom that is “earthly, unspiritual, of the devil” (James 3:15), and this is what sorcery offers. Our wisdom comes from God (James 3:17), not from deceiving spirits. The power of God is much greater than the power of sorcery (1 John 4:4).