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Does the Bible warn against Hypnotism?

19 Aug

The term “hypnosis” comes from the Greek word hypnos which means sleep. For centuries hypnosis was in practice from the Egyptian sleep temples to ancient shamans. Hypnotism was part of witchcraft training. The Bible gives strong warnings against all that is associated with occult. God desires His people to come to Him with their needs rather than to turn to occult practitioners.

God is displeased with those who involve themselves in the occult because of the demonic power, influence and control. Occult activities were practised by nations surrounding Israel during the time of Moses. Therefore God explicitly warned His people against them:

Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times. Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:26,31).

There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a counsulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. (Deut. 18:10-12).

The words from the Old Testament which are translated charmers and enchanters seem to indicate the same kinds of persons whom we now call hypnotherapists. Dave Hunt, author of The Cult Explosion and researcher in the area of the occult as well as the cults, says:

“From the Biblical standpoint, I believe that in such places as Deuteronomy 18, when it speaks of “charmers” and “enchanters”, the practice involved anciently was exactly what has recently become acceptable in medicine and psychiatry as hypnosis. I believe this both from the ancient usage of this word and from occult traditions.”

In various sections of Scripture, occult practices are listed side by side, because although one activity may differ from the next, the power source and the revealers of “hidden knowledge” is the same: Satan. Enchanters, sorcerers, wizards, charmers, consulters of familiar spirits, necromancers, soothsayers, and observers of times (astrologers) are grouped together as those to avoid. (Lev. 19:26,31, and 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:9-14; 2 Ki. 21:6; 2 Chron. 33:6; Isa. 47:9-13; Jer. 27:9. A singular word for those practising the occult is used in the New Testament: sorcerer.

There are some Christians who say they will support hypnosis as long as it is in the hands of a trained professional, especially a medical doctor. Just because hypnosis has surfaced in medicine does not mean that it is different from the ancient practices of charmers and enchanters or from those which have been used more recently by witch doctors and occult hypnotists.

One who treats a patient by the means of hypnosis leaves a person open to the evil forces. We would ask, is Satan afraid to interfere with science or medicine? When is hypnosis merely a medical or psychological tool? Where is the boundary between the medical or psychological and the occult? When does hypnosis move from the occult to medicine and from medicine to occult?

Many of the techniques used in hypnosis are shared by mystical, philosophical, and religious systems, including the occult. The “father of hypnotism”, Franz Anton Mesmer – from whose name we get the word mesmerize was himself a practitioner of the occult. His method of inducing a trance was very similar to the way a medium conducts a séance. Hypnotism, along with yoga and Transcendental Meditation, has always been linked to spiritual darkness. The newfound respectability of these practices has not changed their underlying nature.

Hypnotism is often promoted as a simply way of “refocusing” ourselves and finding the answer within us. As believers in Christ, our focus is to be on our Saviour, not on ourselves or anything else (Heb. 2:2). We know that the answers do not lie within us (Rom. 7:18); the solution we need is found in Christ. (Rom. 8:2).

The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). As we have follow the Spirit’s lead, He will give us the power to better control our own selves. Hypnosis involves the transfer of control away from ourselves to another person.

Hypnosis leads to an altered state of consciousness in which the mind is very susceptible to outside suggestion. That susceptibility is what the hypnotist needs in order to modify the behaviour of his subject. However, the word susceptible should concern us. Scripture says to be watchful, self-controlled and alert.

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:18). The hypnotist is not the only one who wants to modify our behaviour; Satan also wants to do some modifying, and we should be wary of giving him any opportunity to make his suggestions.

Hypnosis has been an integral part of the occult. Therefore a Christian should not allow himself to be hypnotized for any reason. Christians should avoid hypnosis even for medical purposes.

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