What does the bible actually say about ghosts? Well, virtually nothing, except a few New Testament references to His disciples thinking Jesus was one…
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. Matthew 14:26, NIV
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:39, NIV
Jesus did not deny the existence of ghosts; He simply said He wasn’t one. So really, what in the world are they? The Greek word used in each of these verses is “fantasma” which simple means “appearance” or “apparition, specter”. Well I know that wasn’t helpful, so let’s start with what they are not and work our way backwards from there.
“Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Hebrews 9:27. This is what happens to a person’s spirit after death; it is judgment.
The most well known account of a ghost in the bible actually takes place in the Old Testament. The Witch of Endor, great study subject by the way, is contacted by King Saul whose is in disguise to summon the spirit of the Prophet Samuel because he is just having a very rough go at war and doesn’t know what to do. So the Witch does her little incantations and this is what happens….
When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”
The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.”
“What does he look like?” he asked.
“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”
Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy? The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 1 Samuel 28:12-18
This account makes me laugh mostly because the Witch is as surprised and as horrified to see Samuel as any necromancer could be! But what is most important here is not that she was able to do it, but that Samuels spirit had to be summoned to come up. He wasn’t just roaming around; he was in his place of rest; Abraham’s bosom to be exact.
Now we are in the time of the New Testament; Jesus has already stormed the gates of Hell and retrieved those that belong to Him.
This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?) Ephesians 4:8-9
So what happens to the dead after the New Testament? We see in Hebrews 9:27 that they face judgment. The outcome of this judgment is either heaven (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23) or hell (Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:22-24). The Catholics believe in a purgatory or holding place until judgment, but again, this does not leave any room for simply wandering around and haunting cemeteries, taverns and houses.
The Bible clearly teaches that there ARE spirit beings that can appear in our physical world. Those are angels and demons. Holy Angels are righteous and good, while the followers of Satan are evil and deceptive. In fact we are told that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) in order to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10). It really should go without saying that these so called ghosts that go around causing mischief, but mostly scaring the life out of the people who encounter them, are in fact demons. Occasionally you will hear of one or two that seem to be harmless, but again, don’t let first impressions fool you.
There are many TV shows out there chasing ghosts around for the viewing pleasure of the audience. I think it is mostly curiosity of the unknown that make some of them so popular. In shows like Crossing Over with John Edward, featuring a modern day medium, he claims to speak to the dead loved ones of those in his audience. As heart wrenching as some of those moments are on his show and how accurate some of his “contacts” seem to be, it is something God tells us to avoid.
One very poignant question that I am often asked is: If these spirits that are contacted by these necromancers or by these ghost chasers are actually demons, how do they know the intimate details of that particular dead person’s life?
What makes going to a medium so appealing is their so called ability to contact someone in whom you had a deep abiding love and very significant attachment to, such as a father, mother, grandparents, sisters, brothers and even our dearly departed children.
Unlike this biblical account of Samuel, the truth is our loved ones are not the ones that are actually contacted. The demon’s that are contacted in most cases are the familiar spirits that lived their sad little existence either inside or around the dead person throughout their lifetime influencing their decisions and learning the most intimate details of their life. I’m sorry if that is disturbing to some of you, but that is the truth.
Either by research or contact with a medium, most apparitions of ghosts are mistakenly identified to be a dead person that lived around or near their place of encounter. We should be assured they are not, they are only demons seeking to deceive and possibly find a new host. It is not uncommon for people who encounter these creatures to feel like the ghost/demon desires to posses them and in some instances, an exorcism of some sort needs to be conducted as someone living around or near the point of contact has physically and emotionally changed indicating it has moved into someone else.
These creatures are not something you should mess with. If you or someone you know is having problems with a ghost/demon, then contacting someone very knowledgeable in this area is very helpful. Most importantly though, you should never invite a medium or psychic into your home or place of business to rid you of this intruder; only those who are true believers in Christ can safely and permanently rid you of this pest.
If we truly trust in God and really believe in the Word of God, we know our loved ones are safely on the other side.
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