The doctrine that we are naturally immortal came from pagan philosophy. In the darkness of the great apostasy it became a part of the Christian faith, where it has now replaced the truth that “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Many people believe that the spirits of the dead are the “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
The belief that spirits of the dead return to help the living has prepared the way for modern spiritualism. If the dead are entrusted with knowledge far beyond what they had before, why not return to earth and instruct the living? If spirits of the dead hover around their friends on earth, why not communicate with them? How can those who believe in human consciousness in death reject “divine light” that comes through glorified spirits? Here is a channel that people think is sacred but which Satan uses. Fallen angels appear as messengers from the spirit world.
The prince of evil has power to bring before people the appearance of departed friends. The counterfeit is perfect, reproduced with amazing exactness. Many take comfort in the assurance that their loved ones are enjoying heaven. Without suspecting danger, they open their lives “to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).
Those who went into the grave unprepared claim to be happy and to occupy high positions in heaven. Pretended visitors from the world of spirits sometimes give warnings that prove to be correct. Then, as they win people’s confidence, they present doctrines that undermine the Scriptures. The fact that they speak some truths and at times foretell future events makes them appear reliable, and people accept their false teachings. The law of God is set aside, the Spirit of grace despised. The spirits deny the deity of Christ and place the Creator on a level with themselves.
While it is true that the results of trickery have often been presented as genuine manifestations, there have also been clear exhibitions of supernatural power, the direct work of evil angels. Many believe that spiritualism is nothing more than human fraud. When they come face to face with happenings that they cannot explain as anything but supernatural, they will be deceived and will accept them as the great power of God.
With help from Satan, Pharaoh’s magicians counterfeited the work of God (see Exodus 7:10-12). Paul testifies that before the coming of the Lord we will see “the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10). And John declares: “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do” (Revelation 13:13, 14). This is not predicting mere tricks. People are deceived by the miracles that Satan’s agents actually do, not that they only pretend to do.
Satan’s Appeal to Intellectuals
To cultured and refined people, the prince of darkness presents the more refined and intellectual aspects of spiritualism. He delights the imagination with entrancing scenes and eloquent portrayals of love and charity. He leads people to take such great pride in their own wisdom that in their hearts they despise the Eternal One.
Satan deceives people now as he deceived Eve in Eden, by  stirring up their ambition to exalt themselves. “You will be like God,” he says, “knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Spiritualism teaches “that a human being is the creature of progression… toward the Godhead.” It claims, “The judgment will be right, because it is the judgment of self…. The throne is within you.” “Any just and perfect being is Christ.”
In this way Satan has substituted a person’s own sinful human nature for the law of God as the only rule of judgment. This is progress, not upward, but downward. Men and women will never rise higher than their standard of purity or goodness. If self is their highest ideal, they will never reach anything higher. The grace of God alone has power to exalt them. Left to themselves, their path will be downward.
Appeal to the Pleasure-loving
To people who are self-indulgent, pleasure-loving, and sensual, spiritualism appears in a less subtle disguise. In its grosser forms they find what agrees with their inclinations. Satan notes the sins each individual is inclined to commit and then makes sure that opportunities come along to gratify the tendency. He tempts people through intemperance, leading them to weaken their physical, mental, and moral power. He destroys thousands through indulgence of passion, brutalizing the entire nature.
And to complete his work, the spirits declare that “true knowledge places a person above all law,” that “whatever is, is right,” that “God does not condemn,” and that “all sins… are innocent.” When people believe that desire is the highest law, that liberty is license, that they are accountable only to themselves, who can be surprised that corruption flourishes everywhere? Great numbers of people eagerly accept the urgings of lust. Satan sweeps thousands into his net who profess to follow Christ.
But God has given enough light to detect the snare. The very foundation of spiritualism is at war with Scripture. The Bible declares that the dead know nothing, that their thoughts have perished. They have no part in the joys or sorrows of those on earth.
Furthermore, God has forbidden all pretended communication with departed spirits. The Bible says that “familiar spirits,” as these visitors from other worlds were called, are “the spirits of demons” (see Numbers 25:1-3; Psalm 106:28; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Revelation 16:14.) God prohibited dealing with them under penalty of death (Leviticus 19:31; 20:27). But spiritualism has made its way into scientific circles, invaded churches, and found a welcome in legislative bodies, even in the courts of kings. This mammoth deception is a revival in a new disguise of the witchcraft condemned long ago.
By representing the most evil of sinners as in heaven, Satan says to the world: “No matter whether you believe or disbelieve God and the Bible, live as you please. Heaven is your home.” But the Word of God says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).
Bible Represented as Fiction
Lying spirits impersonate the apostles, making them contradict what they wrote when on earth. Satan is making the world believe that the Bible is fiction, a book suited to the infancy of the race but obsolete today. The Book that is to judge him and his followers he  puts in the shadows. The Savior of the world he makes to be no more than a common man. And believers in spirit appearances try to make it seem that there is nothing miraculous in our Savior’s life. They declare that their own miracles are far greater than the works of Christ.
Spiritualism is now adopting a Christian appearance. But it cannot deny or hide its teachings. In its present form it is a more dangerous and more subtle deception. It now professes to accept Christ and the Bible, but it interprets the Bible in a way that is pleasing to the unrenewed heart. It dwells on love as the chief attribute of God, but it degrades this love to a weak sentimentalism. God’s condemnations of sin, the requirements of His holy law, are kept out of sight. Fables lead men and women to reject the Bible as the foundation of their faith. Christ is denied as surely as before, but most people do not recognize the deception.
Few have a proper understanding of spiritualism’s deceptive power. Many tamper with it merely out of curiosity. They would be horrified at the thought of yielding to the spirits’ control. But they dare to go onto forbidden ground, and the destroyer exercises his power on them against their will. If he can get them to submit their minds to his direction just once, he will hold them captive. Nothing but the power of God, in answer to earnest prayer, can deliver them.
All who willfully cherish known sin are inviting Satan’s temptations. They separate themselves from God and the watch care of His angels, leaving themselves without defense.
“When they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19, 20).
If people had been willing to accept the Bible truth concerning our human nature and the condition of the dead, they would see in spiritualism Satan’s power and lying wonders. But so many close their eyes to the light, and Satan weaves his snares around them. “Because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” therefore “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11).
Those who oppose spiritualism attack Satan and his angels. Sa-tan will not yield one inch of ground except as the heavenly messengers drive him back. He can quote Scripture and will twist its teachings. Those who intend to stand in this time of danger must understand for themselves what the Bible teaches.
Understanding the Scriptures
Spirits of devils impersonating relatives or friends will appeal to our tender sympathies and will work miracles. We must resist them with the Bible truth that the dead know nothing and that they who appear this way are the spirits of devils.
All whose faith is not established on the Word of God will be deceived and overcome. Satan works “with all unrighteous deception,” and his deceptions will increase. But those who are looking for a knowledge of the truth and who purify their lives through obedience will find a sure defense in the God of truth.
The Savior would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His people than leave one person who trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan. Those who comfort themselves with the assurance that there is no punishment for the sinner, who reject the truths that Heaven has provided as a defense for the day of trouble, will accept the lies that Satan offers, the deceptive claims of spiritualism.
Scoffers ridicule what Scripture says about the plan of salvation and the punishment that will fall on those who reject truth. They pretend to have great pity for minds so narrow, weak, and superstitious as to obey the requirements of God’s law. They have yielded themselves to the tempter so fully, united with him so closely, and drunk so deeply of his spirit that they have no desire to break away from his snare.
Satan laid the foundation of his work in the assurance he gave to Eve in Eden: “You will not surely die.” “In the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4, 5). He will reach his masterpiece of deception at the very end of time. Says the prophet: “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs…. For they are the spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:13, 14).
Except for those whom God’s power keeps through faith in His Word, the whole world will be swept into the ranks of this deception. The people are quickly being lulled into a fatal security, and only the outpouring of God’s wrath will awaken them.