The Point: Dabbling with evil is destructive; seeking direction from God brings life.
Get Into the Study
Use this story to discuss the importance of heeding the warnings given us in Scripture.
The U.S. Navy recently suffered its fourth collision in the Pacific this year. This latest collision brought this year’s death toll to seventeen sailors. While it is unlikely that this many accidents, in this short of a time can be a coincidence, those inside and outside the Navy have begun to look for a connection. With the collisions happening under different circumstances, the common denominator may be the human element.
The commanding officer of U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Scott Swift, said in a message to the fleet, “The phenomena that, ‘I am at the peak of my game because I have been operating’ leads to overconfidence, complacency and mistakes which in the best case leads to remedial training, and in the worst case of loss of personnel and equipment.” The public continues to wonder what warnings were missed or ignored.
It is easy to become complacent in our attitudes toward danger, especially when things are going smoothly. This week we will discuss the dangers of the paranormal and the warnings Moses gives. Although it may be tempting to consider many of these dangers to be archaic, it is more dangerous to ignore warnings, no matter how secure you may feel. Moses provides detailed warnings about specific issues that God does not want us to ignore. God warns us about dangers that bring death and provides us with direction that leads to life.
Nikki Wilbanks is a stay-at-home mom, writer, Bible study leader, and commercial real estate appraiser/investor. She graduated from Pepperdine University, and lives with her husband and two children in Murfreesboro, TN.
Study the Bible
Use the following article and discussion as an optional activity in the Deuteronomy 18:9-11 section.
According to the New York Times, in Norway, the paranormal is “enjoying a boom.” In an article published by the New York Times, Andrew Higgins highlighted the European country’s newly intensified interest in ghosts.
Read the following quotes from the article and briefly discuss contents and implications of each:
- “The Power of Spirits,” an unexpectedly popular television show in its 10th season (in 2015) has around half a million viewers every Sunday, more than twice the number of weekly Norway churchgoers. “We are bigger than the Norwegian church,” said the show’s presenter.
- Because of the rising popularity of the paranormal, Oslo (Norway’s capital and largest city) hosts an “Alternative Expo,” a “jamboree of the occult” featuring Tibetan eye readers, New Age crystal collectors, and hundreds of other practitioners of alternative faiths.
- Belief in ghosts has become so strong, the state church of Norway, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, has adopted a “ghost liturgy” to be used by preachers who are asked by parishioners to help cleanse haunted houses.
Use the following questions for discussion:
- What do you think people are seeking when they explore paranormal practices?
- What warnings can be gleaned from this information?
- How does this information explain the link between a gospel-absence and a paranormal presence?
Emily Jennings (Master of Arts, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary 2009) serves and lives in the greater Atlanta area. She is wife to Brian and mom to three wonderful boys. She teaches the Bible to 8th grade girls at First Baptist Church Woodstock and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @emilyejenn
What is the scariest or strangest paranormal experience you’ve heard about from a friend?
Why does the paranormal interest so many people in our culture today?
What are some examples of books or stories that promote interest in the paranormal?
Based on this passage, how different are paranormal practices today in comparison to the era when Israel entered the promised land?
What do you think of when you hear the word “paranormal”? How does it compare to the list in these verses?
How do Christians tend to water down or ignore the dangers of practicing paranormal activity?
Why do you think the practices of horoscopes, astrology, and séances have survived for thousands of years?
If a friend asked you why playing with the paranormal is dangerous, how would you respond?
In what ways does the paranormal take the place of God in our lives?
How has your faith saved you from confusion regarding paranormal influences?
How is the gospel a more reasonable spiritual channel for truth than dark practices?
Can you share with us some voices of truth that have led you away from evil and darkness and toward goodness, light and the message of Christ?
Share the following with your group members as either a devotional before the group study or as a follow-up devotional:
Here’s a brief five-minute teaching video about this session: The Dark Side, Session 3.