Ghosts and Spirits
Updated: Jun 16, 2019
Popular opinion concerning ghosts is that they are the spirits of dead people who have not “crossed over”. Psychics and mediums make millions by helping people speak to the spirits of the dead, but many are frauds who take advantage of vulnerable people. There are a few who do seem to be able to contact the dead. Is that possible? According to the Bible, it is not.
… it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment … -- Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
In a parable, Jesus describes a great chasm between hell and heaven. Those in hell cannot cross over.
… between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ -- Luke 16:26 (ESV)
The Bible teaches that there are two types of spirits that inhabit the world, angels and demons. Originally, they were all angels including Satan himself. When he rebelled against God, he was cast out of heaven along with 1/3 of the angels who also rebelled. These fallen angels became demons.
Popular culture wants us to believe that demons are ugly, hideous creatures that always urge evil, but the Bible describes Satan as an incredibly beautiful creature of light. To the human mind, demons are beautiful and beguiling creatures. That is why they are so successful at deception.
“You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, ,,, You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you….Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; … -- Ezekiel 28:12-17 (ESV)
… for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. -- II Corinthians 11:14-15 (ESV)
People who see ghosts and claim to speak to the dead are not necessarily lying. Supernatural occurrences can be very real, but not what they appear to be. Demons do have the ability to appear in physical form, speak and manipulate emotions.
Eastern and New Age philosophies teach that it is possible to receive guidance from spirit guides. Using various techniques, they teach how to empty your mind and allow these supernatural entities to bring you to a higher understanding and peace. The Bible agrees that humans can be filled with and influenced by spirits, but this is not a good thing or something to pursue:
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. -- Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. -- I Peter 5:8 (ESV)
People who claim to have spirit guides do not consider them evil because they are helpful and give good advice, but demons can manipulate emotions and appear to be a positive and powerful force. They are deceivers and very dangerous. At the very least, they will distract a person from accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. They can distract a believer from focusing on Christ and seeking God's will in the Bible, and cripple them from achieving what God has planned for them. At the very worst, these practices can lead to possession or distract a person for so long that they miss the chance to accept Christ.
Another misconception is that angels can be spirit guides, but that is not their purpose. We have no need for the filling of angelic spirits if we already have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Angels would never usurp the role of the Holy Spirit to guide us. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born-again. If you are a believer, you do not need to empty your mind to be filled by the Holy Spirit. He is already there. Any spiritual practice that encourages emptying of the mind and thoughts is dangerous.
God has given us a specific way to tell the difference between demonic manifestations and spirits sent from God:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. -- I John 4:1-6 (ESV) (emphasis mine)
Christians involved in spiritual warfare ministries say that this passage should be applied literally. A demonic spirit will not be able to state, “Jesus Christ came in the flesh”. Keep this in mind if you encounter supernatural activity.
Even if you are a born-again believer, it is possible to be deceived. A believer cannot be possessed by demons but can be oppressed by them. There are many ways that demons can gain a foothold in your life including: exploring non-Christian religious practices; sexual sin; any behavior that causes you to lose control, and persisting in practices and attitudes that the Bible clearly calls sin.
You cannot lose your salvation, but by allowing spiritual oppression into your life, you can suffer depression, anxiety, physical pain and addictions. (It is important to note that these things can occur for other reasons and are not always spiritual oppression). We need to guard against allowing deception to take root in our lives.
We are told that there will be an increase in supernatural phenomenon in the last days:
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. -- II Thessalonians 2:9-10 (ESV)
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. -- I John 4:4 (KJV)