This article will discuss the type of magic used in the occult or black arts that attempts to gain supernatural power apart from God. The sleight of hand, illusionist, or escape artist tricks that professionals such as Houdini and countless others have done for the entertainment of the public is not the focus of this study.
There are at least thirteen known practitioners of Black Magic named in Scripture. Jannes and Jambres were Egyptian magicians who, at the behest of Pharaoh, withstood Moses and Aaron (Exodus 7:11, 2Timothy 3:8). The witch of Endor conjured up, for King Saul, a spirit pretending to be Samuel the prophet (1Samuel 28).
In the New Testament, Simon the Sorcerer (who practiced the black arts) attempted to BUY the power of God's Spirit from the apostles (Acts 8). Elymas (Bar-Jesus) tried to prevent the Governor of Cyprus from accepting the Gospel truth preached by the apostle Paul (Acts 13:6 - 8). The seven sons of Sceva practiced exorcisms (Acts 19:13 - 16). A Philippian slave girl made money for her masters through divination until the apostle Paul cast a demon out of her (Acts 16:16 - 18).
According to the Bible, there are only TWO sources of supernatural power that humans can access. The first is God, who allows those such as righteous angels or humans to circumvent natural laws ONLY with His permission and based on His will. The second is Satan and his demons, whom the Eternal (for a time and with restrictions) allows to use the power he gave them before they turned evil.
There does not exist a third, morally neutral or 'gray' source of occult powers as is portrayed in Hollywood movies and television. There is no generic 'force' in the universe (e.g. the Star Wars franchise) which humans can draw wisdom and power. This means there is no such thing as 'white' or harmless (as opposed to black) magic, except that which is strictly for entertainment purposes. Those who claim to be a "true" or "good" Psychic (or medium, witch, etc.) are either frauds or drawing their power from evil spirits.
Only three explanations exist for those who seriously claim to have supernatural abilities and knowledge that can affect the natural world or other human beings. The first explanation is that they are a fraud and deceive others into believing they have such power through humanly devised tricks. Such imposters were the target of Harry Houdini in the 1920s, who sought to debunk physics, mediums, and others who claimed other-worldly abilities. He wrote a book about his quest to debunk such people entitled "A Magician among the Spirits." The second explanation is that the source of their abilities is from Satan and the demons (cf. Revelation 13:13 - 14, 16:14; Deuteronomy 13:1; 2Thessalonians 2:9). The final explanation is that they are a TRUE prophet of God (cf. Revelation 11:5 - 6).
The use of supernatural power directly from, and with the permission of, the true God is called a miracle. It is therefore incorrect to equate miracles with any form of magic. True miracles are performed based on the HIS will, not the choice of any human being or righteous angel. They are always a manifestation of his perfect love, which seeks to benefit man, have him repent of sin, and reject Satan's self-defeating and selfish ways. Black magic, however, only seeks to promote the devil's agenda of chaos and confusion, death and destruction.
Why should it be rejected?
The reason that black magic and the occult are condemned in the scriptures is because of their involvement with disobedient spirits. These demons are spiritual guides to ways that are contrary to God's. They lead people into evil consequences and ultimately to physical (and possible spiritual) death. The Bible clearly condemns these types of practices.
10. There shall not be found among you anyone . . . that uses divination, or an observer of times (astrology), or a fortune teller, or a witch, 11. Or a charmer (person who uses spells), or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard (uses magic), or one who seeks oracles from the dead. 12. For all that do these things are an ABOMINATION (morally disgusting) to the LORD (Deuteronomy 18:10 - 12, HBFV)
Practices to avoid
The writings of Nostradamus, who used occult means to get information, should be avoided entirely. A believer should also avoid television shows, movies, and music with serious occult themes. Other black magic related activities to be avoided include holidays like Halloween, consulting the dead (séances), and so on. Notice what some people who repented of indulging in the 'dark arts' did during the time of the apostle Paul.
19. And many of those who practiced the occult arts brought their books and BURNED THEM before all (Acts 19:19)
Those who repented did not merely sell or give away their evil instruction manuals. They burned them so that these books would not wrongly influence others.
There does exist a realm of fallen angels whose purpose is to take control of the universe from God using any means possible. They seek nothing less than replacing all that He stands for with evil and destroying all that He created. Demons are more than willing to deceive humans through the promise of special knowledge and power in order to accomplish their goals. Pursuing and indulging in black magic or any of its manifestations is a one-sided, losing proposition that humans should totally reject.