Famed evangelist Billy Graham has said that one of the "main reasons" the Bible warns against engaging in occult practices - even "amusing or harmless" things like ouija boards and palm reading - is because doing so allows evil spirits to have influence over us.
The founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association shared his thoughts on witchcraft and occult practices in response to a question posed by a reader: "I saw an article in our newspaper the other day about a local group of people who say they believe in witchcraft and black magic and things like that. Do you think they are sincere, or are they just trying to get attention?" the reader asked.
The 98-year-old evangelist said that while he doesn't know the group's true motives, unfortunately, some people today do believe in occult practices.
"Furthermore, not only do they sincerely believe in them and practice them, but they often seek to persuade others to believe in them also," he said. "The Bible is very clear, however: occult practices of any kind are directly opposed to God and His will for our lives."
The main reason for God's opposition to occult practices, explained Graham, is because they have their origin in spiritual forces that do not come from God, but from the devil.
"Just as the devil is absolutely opposed to God and His people, so too are his demons," he said.
The Bible repeatedly warns us against doing anything that might open the door to the influence of demons over us, the Baptist pastor contended.
"One of the ways they gain entrance into our lives is through occult practices-even those that seem amusing or harmless," he said. "The Bible says, 'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against ... the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)."
Graham encouraged readers to pray for those who have been deceived into thinking that Satan is their friend-for he is not.
"In addition, make sure of your commitment to Christ, and make it your goal to grow stronger in your faith every day, as you read His Word and pray and draw strength from other believers," the pastor concluded.
According to a study conducted by the Barna Group called "Teens and the Supernatural," three out of every 10 teenagers have played the Ouija board, had their palms read, and eight out of 10 have read horoscopes.
Barna found that 29 percent of Christian teens said they did not see anything wrong with it, while 18 percent said they read horoscopes, but do not think it really predicts the future. Only one-quarter of churched teenagers (28 percent) recall receiving any teaching at their church in the last year that helped to shape their views on the supernatural world.
Earlier, Graham warned that the devil would "love" for people to get involved in occult practices - and that should be a "solemn warning" to everyone.
"The Bible is very clear: If we want to please God, we will avoid everything that has anything to do with the occult (even if it seems innocent or harmless on the surface)," he said. "The reason is because occult practices of any kind could involve you with spiritual forces that are opposed to God and are, in fact, in league with the devil."
"I know that is a strong statement-but I can't emphasize strongly enough how spiritually dangerous it is to follow Satan's way rather than God's way," he said. "When the Ephesians who had practiced the occult became Christians, they 'brought their [magic] scrolls together and burned them publicly' (Acts 19:19). They knew there could be no compromise between their old way of living and God's way."