What Does Sorcery Mean In The Bible

What Is Sorcery In The Bible?

Sorcery is a spiritual practice found in the Bible and other ancient texts. According to biblical definitions, it is the use of supernatural abilities, advice or rituals to influence or manipulate events, or to gain power or knowledge. Although sorcery and witchcraft may seem like the same things, they actually have different origins and different purposes. Sorcery is often seen as a malevolent activity while witchcraft is mostly seen as a positive, natural practice.
Both practices, however, have been long present in the Abrahamic religions, and can be found throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the scriptures, God, prophets, and exorcists cast curses, blessings, and spells to manipulate nature. In other cases, a person’s enemies used sorcery for their own gain. All these activities fall under the umbrella of sorcery.

Biblical Examples of Sorcery

The Bible is full of characters engaging in sorcery, so there are countless stories where sorcery was used as a tool. One of the earliest examples is from the book of Genesis and it features Abraham’s servant, Eliezer. Eliezer goes to the city of Nahor to search for a wife for his master’s son, Isaac. Eliezer makes a wish, saying that the woman who offers him and his camels a drink of water would be the right bride for Isaac.
That woman was Rebekah, and Eliezer interpreted his wish as a sign from God and a form of sorcery. Other characters in Genesis also engaged in sorcery and divination, like Jacob or Jacob’s sons. Normally, God saw these activities as evil and punishable, which is why most of the characters suffer consequences for their actions.

Biblical Warnings Against Sorcery

Despite being referenced in the Bible, sorcery, especially in its more popular form of witchcraft, is often seen as sinful and shameful in the eyes of God. Throughout the scriptures, He warns His people about not engaging in sorcery and divination, as it is “detestable” in His sight.
The books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus are filled with warnings about the various forms of sorcery. In the book of Exodus, God sends Moses to warn Pharaoh about the power of God and its superiority to that of the magicians and pharaoh’s magicians, who resort to sorcery to compete.

History of Sorcery in Christianity

When Christianity made its way through Egypt and the Levant, it encountered a world filled with pagan and magical practices. The early Christians often blended the two, using sorcery as a form of evangelism and healing with holy symbols. This was the beginning of a millennia-long relationship between sorcery and Christianity.
The Early Church Fathers were two of the earliest Christian thinkers to speak out against sorcery. They warned believers of its dangers in books like Against Heresies and the Didache. They also made reference to the Bible, especially to the verses in Deuteronomy, which explicitly condemns engaging in divination and sorcery.

What Did Jesus Say About Sorcery?

Jesus had a lot to say about sorcery, but one of His most famous teachings is found in the book of Matthew. He said those who “practice magic arts will be thrown into the fiery furnace.” In other words, Jesus warned followers against using sorcery, as well as warned them of the punishment they would face if they broke this commandment.
It is also important to note that Jesus never mentioned gender or sex tied to the use of sorcery or divination. He only addressed the practice itself instead of the practitioners. Sorcery and divination, as well as other forms of magical practices, are seen as being heavily tied to a gender, but Jesus does not specify this in his teachings.

Sorcery in Modern Christianity

Nowadays, many denominations of Christianity have their own take on witchcraft and sorcery. Some more liberal churches hold more positive views about sorcery and embrace certain rituals, like divining, into their services.
Other branches of Christianity like Catholicism and Evangelicalism stand more firm against sorcery and witchcraft and are very vocal against any spiritual practice they consider “ungodly” or taboo. Regardless of each denomination’s perspective, most agree that sorcery is to be avoided.

What Are Examples Of Sorcery Mentioned In The Bible?

In the Bible, sorcery is mentioned in texts like Genesis, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Exodus, as well as the books of Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and 1 Samuel. Some of the most well-known examples of sorcery come from the book of Exodus and include Pharaoh’s magicians using their powers to turn a staff into a snake and other displays. In other cases, characters cast curses on their enemies or used divination to gain insight about the future.

What Is The Difference Between Sorcery And Witchcraft?

Although many people associate sorcery and witchcraft, they are actually quite different. Sorcery is a form of spiritual practice found in the Bible and other ancient texts, primarily used to gain power or knowledge or manipulate events.
Witchcraft, however, is more a nature-based practice, often for the purpose of healing and building good relationships between people and the environment. Witchcraft also tends to be somewhat gender-specific, with women tending to practice more. While sorcery and witchcraft were long used in the same contexts, as time passed they evolved into two distinct and separate practices.

How Should Christians View Sorcery?

Most Christian denominations take a staunchly anti-sorcery stance and believe it should be strictly avoided. The Bible warns believers against engaging in any spiritual activities like this and Jesus himself speaks against its use.
Although some more liberal branches of Christianity are beginning to see sorcery as a spiritual practice, not all agree on it and many are hesitant to adopt such stances. Ultimately, it is up to each individual believer to decide for themselves how they view sorcery, and whether or not they think engaging in certain spiritual practices is appropriate.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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