Evangelist Billy Graham has warned against dabbling in witchcraft and occult practices to communicate with the dead, as they can "harm you spiritually."
The 98-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association recently responded to a question posed by a reader, who wrote:
"I lost my wife to drugs last year, and it's like I have a hole in my heart that will never heal. Recently a friend told me about someone who says she can put me in touch with my wife's spirit. My sister says to stay away, but what do I have to lose?"
Graham first encouraged the reader to listen to their sister, as tempted as they may be.
"[It would be] wrong in God's eyes, and nothing good can come from it," he explained. "The Bible's command is clear: 'Touch no unclean thing!' (Isaiah 52:11)."
There are two key reasons Christians should not go down this road, the Baptist pastor said.
"One reason is because many who claim to have powers like this actually are frauds," he contended. "Although they may appear to be sympathetic and say they want to help you, in reality they can't deliver what they promise, and they're only interested in your money."
Second, "others have committed their lives to spiritual powers and demonic forces that are opposed to God, and they actively seek to use those occult powers in ways that can only harm you spiritually," Graham said.
"This is why the Bible commands us to stay away from any kind of occult activity, including attempts to communicate with the dead. The Bible solemnly warns, 'Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord' (Deuteronomy 18:12)."
It's important to remember that God knows all about your hurt and wants to help you - because he loves you, the evangelist said.
"He wants to fill the empty place in your soul, and He wants to give you hope for the future," he said. "Don't turn to false paths, and don't give in to hopelessness. Turn instead to Jesus Christ, and open your heart and life to His love today."
According to a survey conducted by the Barna group, a majority of Christians - two out of three - believe that a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces, such as demons or evil spirits.
Earlier, Graham warned that even "amusing or harmless" things like ouija boards and palm reading is spiritually dangerous.
"The Bible is very clear, however: occult practices of any kind are directly opposed to God and His will for our lives," he said.
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, adding that the Bible repeatedly warns us against doing anything that might open the door to the influence of demons over us.
"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.