(I wrote and compiled this teaching in response to my own kids questions)
God has commanded His people not to consult mediums or those who conduct séances. It is a dangerous thing to try and contact the dead because you may be accessing an evil spirit. Even playing the board game Oji is trying to consult the future and inquire about things that humans have no business knowing. The same thing pertains to psychics that are said to foretell the future. Only God has all knowledge of the past, present, and the future. We are not told to ever seek the future. The prophets of the Old Testament were told by God Himself what was to come. They did not or could not know the future of their own accord. God has warnings for those who try to seek the future. Even trying to seek council through horoscopes is forbidden in scriptures. The future is for God alone to know. We have no business trying to seek what lies ahead for this is most certainly the prerogative of God and of Him alone.
From the example of King Saul we see that it is a dangerous thing to consult a medium. God commands this in Deuteronomy 18:10-12, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.” That is a very serious warning from God that leaves no doubt at all.
Do Ghosts Exist?
From my understanding in hearing from and the writings of theologian, evangelists, seminary professors, and pastors, any ghost that appears usually takes the form of a deceased person. They try to imitate their likeness and sometimes look exactly like they did when that person was alive, however the dead, once departed, can not come back to this earth (Luke 16:26-31). If a believer dies, they go directly into the presence of the Lord and if they die in disbelief, they are held in a place like the rich man in Luke 16 until the final Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation chapter twenty.
If you ever see a ghost, you can be assured it is not the deceased person you are seeing or someone who died that was unbeknownst to you; it is positively an evil spirit that is imitating the dead person. There are wicked spirits in high places that are under the sway of Satan, who is called the Prince of the Power of the Air.
These spirits have no power over the believer in Christ but they are a present threat and danger to those who are not saved.
So truly, there are no such things as ghost as we commonly think of them. They are fallen demons and nothing to mess around with. If you have not been saved, you are still in the realm of a fallen world, however if you choose to become a believer in Jesus Christ today, there is nothing in this world that can harm you. You are under the divine protection of God Almighty and greater is He that is within you than he (Satan) that is in the world (I John 4:4).
The church has been contemplating, and trying to explain, ghostly manifestations for a long time. Much of that has been done through the uniquely Catholic concept of purgatory, where Kreeft says many ghosts reside. The church formulated the doctrine of purgatory at the Councils of Florence and Trent in the 15th and 16th centuries. The catechism defines purgatory as a “final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.”
John Newton, a Catholic and a member of Britain’s vaunted 130-year-old Society for Psychical Research, has focused his scholarly research on Reformation-era theological beliefs about ghosts.
He claims that the idea of ghosts as spirits that cannot pass over into the next life because of unfinished business is an outdated one that has parallels in early medieval Catholic sources. Usually in such sources the ghost has committed some offense that has not been atoned for, or committed some sin that restitution needs to be made for. The ghost is unable to rest until that has been done.
The model for these sorts of stories is the tale of the deacon Paschasius in St. Gregory the Great’s Dialogues, according to Newton. Paschasius was widely held to be a very holy and learned man, but when Bishop Germanus visits the baths, he is surprised to see the dead Paschasius acting as an attendant.
The deacon confides in the bishop that he is there because he continued to support the antipope Laurentius even after the church had healed the schism with Laurentius’ party and universally accepted Symmachus as pope. Paschasius asks the bishop to pray for him, which he does with great fervor. When Germanus next returns to the baths, Paschasius is not there, presumably having entered into heaven.
“The theological point seems to be that purgatory can be undergone here on earth,” Newton says.
To put the ghost controversy in perspective, it’s important to understand the Bible’s teaching on life after death. Scripture says when people die, their spirit and soul immediately go to heaven or hell. We do not wander about the earth:
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8, NLT)
So-called ghosts are demons posing as dead people. Satan and his followers are liars, intent on spreading confusion, fear, and distrust of God. If they can convince mediums, like the woman at Endor, that they actually communicate with the dead, those demons can lure many away from the true God:
…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11, NIV)
The Bible tells us that a spiritual realm does exist, invisible to human eyes. It is populated by God and his angels, Satan, and his fallen angels, or demons. Despite the claims of unbelievers, there are no ghosts wandering about the earth. The spirits of deceased humans inhabit one of two places: heaven or hell.
Can the dead haunt houses?
It’s in the Bible, Job 7:9-10, NKJV. “As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave does not come up. He shall never return to his house, Nor shall his place know him anymore.”
Can the dead talk with the living?
It’s in the Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, NKJV. “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.”
If people die with unfinished business to care for, do they become ghosts and haunt the places and people they knew in life? It’s in the Bible, Psalm 146:4, ESV. “When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
Do good people become angels when they die? God’s angels are heavenly beings, not spirits of dead humans. Angels have existed before humans were created. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 8:4-5, NKJV. “What is man that You [Lord] are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.”
What does the Bible say about communicating with “familiar spirits”, or ghosts? It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 8:19, NASB. “And when they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter.’ Should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?” vs. 20, KJV. “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
What does the Bible say about those who communicate with familiar spirits? It’s in the Bible, Leviticus 19:31, NKJV. “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.”
There are evil spirits in this world that are the fallen angels who followed Satan in rebellion against God. It’s in the Bible, Revelation 12:9, NKJV. “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Are Ghosts Real?
Ghosts are real, but they are not angels from God or our dead loved ones. They are fallen angels trying to deceive us. It’s in the Bible, Ephesians 6:11-12, KJV. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, NIV. “And no
wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not
surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.
Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
Should we be afraid of ghosts?
We do not have to be afraid of Satan and his impersonations of the living and the dead, if we give our hearts to Jesus and stay away from all satanic activities such as séances, ouija boards, and other activities of spiritism. It’s in the Bible, 1 John 4:1,4, NKJV. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God. . . You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” It’s in the Bible, James 4:7-8, NKJV. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
God’s angels guide and protect us; they do not hurt us, play tricks on us, or lie to us. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 91:9-11, NKJV. “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
If we are true to Jesus, and obey Him by faith, we do not need to be afraid of Satan’s power. It’s in the Bible, Luke 10:19, NKJV. “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
It’s in the Bible, Romans 8:31, NKJV. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
It’s in the Bible, Romans 8:38-39, NIV. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Brian’s conclusion… The Spirit World is real. Ghosts (as society believes them to be), do not.
Evil Spirits can possess an unbeliever. The Bible gives several accounts of Jesus and the Disciples casting them out. But notice, there was no exorcism, no holy water, no smudging, no crosses held at arms length. There was Prayer and Fasting, then a command using the Name and power Of Jesus.
I believe Believers cannot be possessed, but we can be oppressed, depressed, distressed. And obsessed. The Spirit world is not a toy to be played with nor dabbled in. It is real, it is dangerous.
Things like scary movies are making entertainment of demons and devils. It is not something to be dabbled with. It is not entertainment.
The Christian needs to really stop and consider.