What does the Bible say about extrasensory perception (ESP)?

extrasensory perception, ESP
Question: "What does the Bible say about extrasensory perception (ESP)?"

Answer:
Extrasensory Perception (ESP), also known as “sixth sense” or “second sight,” is defined as “the ability to receive information mentally, through the mind, rather than through the physical senses.” Intuition, telepathy, psychometry, clairaudience, clairvoyance, and precognition or retrocognition are all psychic abilities that fall within the definition of ESP. The scientific community largely rejects the legitimacy of ESP due to the lack of evidence base, reliable experimental techniques, or even a theory that would explain it. As Christians, we can turn to the Bible for answers on how we should respond, if at all, to the purported existence of ESP.

The Bible recognizes that there is a spiritual realm we can interact with, and there are spiritual forces of evil against which we must fight (Ephesians 6:12). But God’s people are warned against seeking wisdom or participating in spiritual activity apart from God (Leviticus 19:31; 20:27). The Holy Spirit of God provides guidance, convicts of sin, and brings comfort to the Christian’s heart and mind (Romans 8:9–11; John 16:13). This is not ESP but the presence of God within us. The believer’s connection with God should not be confused with human psychic ability.

If ESP could be proved by science beyond a shadow of a doubt, we could still be assured that such a thing would not be of God but rather from demonic forces (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). To claim ESP ability is foolishness and a rejection of God’s ultimate power and authority (see 2 Chronicles 33:6). Demons are real, and they are liars by nature: “In later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Christians must be on their guard against being led astray by bogus wisdom, false ideas, and deceptive visions. ESP, intuition, emotional impressions, or voices in one’s head are no replacement for God’s Word. We must reject all that downplays God’s special revelation in the Bible (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Timothy 3:16–17).

Instead of relying on mystical, psychic powers such as ESP, Christians ought to rely on God’s wisdom and power (Isaiah 8:19–20; James 1:5; Psalm 28:7). God has spoken, and He has spoken clearly (Micah 6:8). The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). The perception we need is only “extrasensory” in the sense that it comes from God, and the goal of having perception is to understand the eternal, unchanging, written Word of God.

Believers should not try to develop their ESP “skills” or hunger for mystical knowledge apart from what God has granted in His Word. We are to develop Christlikeness and hunger for righteousness (Matthew 5:6). We must strive to become good servants of the Lord, having nothing to do with irreverent, selfish, or occult practices. We must train ourselves for godliness through obedience to Christ, because godliness benefits both the present life and the eternal life to come (1 Timothy 4:7–8; James 4:7).

Recommended Resource: The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, and Psychic Phenomena by Ron Rhodes

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