Urban Legends examines widely held myths from a Biblical perspective.
There are so many stories and experiences about the paranormal. And some people have physical marks and bruises from encounters with spirits. There are psychic mediums doing spirit-channeling, séances have become TV programs and our movies are full of scenes with apparitions. Even classical literature is full of tales of apparitions. In Macbeth the ghost of King Duncan haunted Lady Macbeth to insanity. But what does the Bible say about these phenomena? Are the dead hanging around, haunting houses as claimed? Who are ghosts?
We can actually resolve the question of the dead hanging around by asking ourselves, what does the Bible say happens immediately after death. Though we must also quickly point out there’s no story of ghosts haunting houses in scriptures. Not one story. And the Bible covers thousands of years of human history. The story of Lazarus and the rich man easily resolves the question of what happens after death. It’s found in Luke 16:19-31. Unlike many of the parables of Jesus this was an event narration. It actually took place. Briefly, there was this rich dude who was self-indulgent; and then there was this wretched fellow called Lazarus. He survived on after-dinner scraps from the rich man’s table. He was a repulsive sight, had sores all over. Well, they both died and Lazarus went to a place called Abraham’s Bosom. But the rich man went to hell and it wasn’t because he ate lamb shank. So we do know hell is real. Jesus told us. And he didn’t describe hell as a condition on earth but a geographical location in the afterlife.
Now, hell isn’t a funny place as anyone can imagine. The rich man was in torment from the heat and fire. He desperately longed for water to assuage his agony. And so he called out to Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue. But Abraham explained the impossibility of fulfillment of such a request. There was a huge chasm between them. No one can cross it. In response the rich man made an altruistic request – that Lazarus be sent from the afterlife to his five brothers to warn them away from hell. To which Abraham replied his brothers have access to God’s word. The rich man counterpointed that it would be more compelling if someone goes from the dead to talk to them. Abraham totally disagreed. If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, it’ll make no difference someone rises from the dead to preach to them. And so Abraham spoke about resurrection not descent of the spirit of the dead. Barring extraordinary and very rare intervention by God like on the Mount of Transfiguration, resurrection is the only mode for accessing the earth after death. And from the story we see God has custodial authority over souls after death. The story reinforces the assertion by the writer of Hebrews that “people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Which in turn is in consonance with what Paul wrote that for Christians, to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8) There’s no hanging around after death. So we do know humans are not and cannot be the ghosts hanging around after death.
Before we go to the question of identity of ghosts let’s look at the theological challenge posed by the idea of the dead hanging around as ghosts. It contradicts a major tenet of Christianity – the doctrine of accountability for life lived on earth. It also circumvents Bible teaching on God’s custodial authority over dead souls. It means a ghost can effectively evade God’s judgment by hanging around, spending time wandering and haunting houses. God can’t judge such a dead. He has no custodial authority over him. He’s a renegade out of God’s jurisdiction. The implication of the dead being ghosts hanging around is that we can choose not to go to the afterlife after death, choose to stay out of God’s jurisdiction in the afterlife. We can hang here forever. Yet what the Bible teaches is that every man will give an account of his life on earth. That God will judge living and the dead. (2 Timothy 4.1)
But then we come to another challenge: When does the “haunting” stop? Who determines the timeframe for haunting? It can’t be God since the ghost is out of his jurisdiction. The dead man is therefore autonomous, able to determine when he wants to surrender himself to God’s jurisdiction. That’s antithetical to scriptures. The idea of spirits of the dead haunting houses does not accord with and cannot accord with Christian theology.
But what about séances? Aren’t the spirits of the dead regularly conjured up from the abyss to speak? Truth is, that’s not exactly what happens. Channelers use “spirit guides” who give them information and knowledge. You can’t explore the spirit realm without a guide. God’s recommended guide is the Holy Spirit. There’s so much deception out there. We don’t have a map. (John 16:13-14) Channeling occurs when a person’s body is taken over by a spirit for the purpose of communication. So it’s not actually your late aunt (or family member) speaking, it’s a “spirit guide,” a demon. The demon is the one reeling out the information. The Bible calls these intelligence agents familiar spirits. Very appropriate terminology. They act familiar and use familiar information for deceit. Your late aunt is in God’s custodial domain. The Bible never recommends mediums as communication consultants. Jesus said the Spirit of God will deal DIRECTLY with you, and he will glorify Jesus. (John 16:13-14) And the message given by God’s Spirit is directly from the Father, not a supposed dead human. Don’t be deceived by evil spirits. It is telling that Paul cast out a demon from a psychic in Acts: “One day, on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl ran into us. She was a psychic and with her fortunetelling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her…” (Acts 16:16-18 MSG) Even more instructive is the fact that she was affirming the ministry of Paul and Silas: “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you.” That it’s supernatural and affirming the gospel, even authenticating a minister doesn’t mean it’s of God. Beware of psychics who preach the gospel and tell fortunes.
The Bible makes it very clear God is against séances, mediums and the occult: “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them.” (Leviticus 19:31) The word translated “familiar spirits” in that passage is the Hebrew word, ov. It points to necromancy, a spirit of divination, a conjuring ghost or spirit. Mosaic legislation prescribes death penalty for mediums. (Leviticus 20:27) Divination, enchantment, wizardry and necromancy are “abominations unto the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) In Acts 19:19, many of those who had practiced curious, magical arts burnt their scrolls before everyone after they got born again. Christianity and necromancy don’t go together.
But didn’t the medium at Endor bring up the spirit of Prophet Samuel from the dead? Well, here’s that story: Soon after ascension to the throne Saul began to do crazy. The straw that broke the camel’s back was his selective obedience of God’s command to annihilate the Amalekites including their livestock. Saul spared their king, Agag and appropriated the best of the livestock. Then he insulted Samuel’s intelligence by claiming he wanted to sacrifice the animals to God. So God tore the kingdom from his hand. The Philistines were soon arrayed in battle against him. The size of the army was so intimidating fear gripped him. He sought God’s counsel but God ignored him. Total radio silence. Desperate for mentoring, he decided to seek out a medium to contact his late benefactor, Prophet Samuel. The irony was, he himself had banned mediums. And so he had to disguise himself to go see the psychic medium at Endor. Of course the medium knew she couldn’t conjure the spirit of Prophet Samuel, that what mediums conjure are familiar spirits. It’s why she got a shock when the real Samuel showed up. She screamed! As sovereign God specially interjected in the situation. “And when the woman saw Samuel, she screamed and she said to Saul, Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!” (1 Samuel 28:12) Wasn’t difficult to put two and two together. The Hebrew word translated “scream” is zaaq. Means to shriek from anguish or a sense of danger. Samuel came as a “terrifying superhuman being” – an elohim. (1 Samuel 28:13 AMPC) The word “elohim” refers to a ruler or judge with divine connection. Séances are perpetrated deceit. It’s not the spirit of the dead speaking; it’s a familiar spirit, a demon.
But who are these familiar spirits? Who are demons? It’s not a question we can fully answer without a bit of conjecture. We don’t have full and direct information in scriptures. Contrary to popular belief however demons are not the angels that fell with Lucifer after the rebellion in heaven. The Bible says those are locked up in a place called Tartaros. “And you know the story of the angels who didn’t stick to their post, abandoning it for other, darker missions. But they are now chained and jailed in a black hole until the great Judgment Day.” (Jude 1:6 MSG) The Amplified translation says they’re “reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness.” So these angels cannot be ghosts or demons since they’re locked up. Concerning them Apostle Peter wrote: “For God did not spare angels that sinned, but cast them into hell, delivering them to be kept there in pits of gloom till the judgment and their doom.” (2 Peter 2:4 AMPC) The word translated “hell” is Tartaroo or Tartaros. In Jewish apocalyptic literature, Tartaros refers to a place even lower than hell where the wicked are punished. These angels were the ones who mated with women on earth in a strategic bid to pollute the human genetic code. They gave birth to giants called Nephils (Genesis 6:1-2). The word Nephil can also be translated tyrant or bully. These were vicious products. “The giants came from the union of the sons of God and the daughters of men.” (Genesis 6:4) Angels are sometimes referred to as “sons of God” in scripture to signify God created them. Angels are not supposed to marry or breed. (Matthew 22:30) It was this mating incidence that eventually led to the decision to wipe out creation, culminating in Noah’s flood. Creation was ruined. “The earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting – life itself corrupt to the core.” (Gensis 6:11-12 MSG).
The other reason these angels cannot be the demons is because they have bodies. They mated. Demons don’t have bodies. (Luke 24:39) It’s why they’re desperate for bodies. Remember the story of demons begging Jesus to cast them into a herd of swine? (Matthew 8:31) They were that desperate for a body. Demons are bodiless. And they’re so many Satan is practically ubiquitous. Satan is not omnipresent. (Job 1:7) He just has a large pool of intelligence agents. The commonly accepted explanation of the origin of demons is that Satan persuaded a pre-Adamic civilization on earth to revolt against God. These beings are said to have lost their bodies as a result of sin. (Loss of body is one of the consequences of sin. Even Adam lost his to death). It is inferred that these nations are the ones referred to in Isaiah 14:12, 15-17.
Hebrews 2:14 tells us Satan controls the power of death. It therefore makes sense that he controls séances and appearances of ghosts. Death is his area of specialty. Which is why he contested for the body of Moses. (Jude 9)
Ghosts are nothing but sfx creations powered by demons. Demons perform signs and wonders. (Revelation 16:14) People underestimate the power of Satan to do conjurations. But he’s an sfx specialist. This is a being who actually creates the illusion he’s an angel of light! It’s a quaint throwback to his former state as a luminous being in heaven. (Isaiah 14:12) Plausible deniability. “For Satan masquerades as an angel of light; so it is not surprising if his servants masquerade as ministers of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11 tells us Satan has capacity for “all sorts of pretended miracles and signs and delusive marvels – all of them lying wonders.” Deceit is native to Satan. It’s his technology. People get confused about ghosts that don’t do anything apparently evil. They can’t rationalize hauntings that don’t seem to fulfill the evil purposes of Satan. They don’t realize that that confusion is exactly the purpose of Satan, and it is to lure them into the realm of the occult. What does it take Satan to do a digital projection of Roman soldiers marching through a cellar in modern Yorkshire, especially if it will make the witnesses believe in the paranormal! People incredulously underestimate Satan’s capacities and capabilities. He’s intelligent, creative and powerful.
Should you participate in séances? No, you shouldn’t! You’ll open yourself up to forces of unknown provenance. That apart from deceit and dupery.
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© #Illuminare Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org