Ghosts, Spirits. What are they?

The question about ghosts often comes up in conversation and people have different views on whether ghost are real, do they exist, if so what are they, what are they doing, are they harmful, do they haunt places etc?.

As Christians, how do we perceive ghosts, do we read of them in scripture, what does the bible tell us concerning ghost. When people say they have seen a ghost, a spectre or an apparition, a ghoul, what have they seen.

First question, what is ghost?
According to the Bible, a ghost is never referred to as the spirit of someone who has died. The word ghost is only ever used in two ways.
1. To give up the ghost, which means to die physically.
2. It is used as a title of the Holy Ghost, the 3rd person of the Trinity.

In two other places the term used is ghost or spirit.

Matthew 14:25-27
 King James Version: 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
New International Version:  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
New King James Version:  2
5 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

The Bible refers to the ghosts or spirits of the dead as “familiar spirits,”

Lev 19:31  Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. 

Deu 18:11  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 

2Ki 21:6  And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 

Isa 8:19  And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 

There is an account in Matthews Gospel that speaks about when Jesus was crucified, when the some of the dead arose but notice it was not their spirits but their bodies that arose.

Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

In another passage of scripture after Jesus resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and they were terrified.

Luke 24:37-39 (NIV) They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 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."

So, the spirits of past relatives do not appear as ghosts. Ghosts in this sense do not exist.
However if there is a manifestation it will be a familiar spirit, a demon manifestation pretending to be someone who has lived and died.
They are the spirit part of fallen angels, (the ones that cohabited with human women before the flood.) these are demons who are trying to deceive us.

2Co 11:14  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 
2Co 11:15  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. 

Do ghosts hang around the earth or stay in certain places, buildings, do they have unfinished business.
ob 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."
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.”
Psalm 146:4, ESV. "When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”


The answer to this is no.
When the body dies it goes to the grave and the spirit of man goes either to an awaiting place of judgement or in the case of a Christian, the spirit goes immediately to God.

2 Cor 5, 6 – 8  So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.  
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
In the case of an unbeliever:

Heb 9: 27 “It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement”.

Should we attempt to consult the dead?
Should we try to get in touch with our dead relatives?

What does the Bible say?
Deut 18: 11. 10 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 
11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 
12 "For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.…
8:19. “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?”
Isaiah vs. 20,  “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Leviticus 19:31, "Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God."

Many people try to talk to their dead family members by seeking mediums, necromancers (those who consult with the dead). What they don’t know is that they will not be speaking with their dead family members, they will be speaking with demons who pose as them. It is extremely dangerous because they are opening up their body to demons.

When someone dies it’s either they go to Heaven or to an awaiting place of judgement. They can’t comeback and talk to you it is impossible.
Jesus tells us this in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

Luke 16:19-31 

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Catholicism teaches praying to dead saints and throughout the Bible, Scripture teaches that speaking with the dead is an abomination to God.
Spiritualists teach that you can contact the dead.
The Bible tells us that this is forbidden practice and an abomination unto God.

2. 1 Samuel 28:6-11 He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots or by the prophets. Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.” His advisers replied, “There is a medium at Endor.” So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men. “I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?” “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?” But Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord and promised, “As surely as the Lord lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.” Finally, the woman said, “Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?” “Call up Samuel,” Saul replied.

 King Saul was put to death for contacting the dead.

1. 1 Chronicles 10:9-14 So they stripped off Saul’s armor and cut off his head. Then they proclaimed the good news of Saul’s death before their idols and to the people throughout the land of Philistia. They placed his armor in the temple of their gods, and they fastened his head to the temple of Dagon. But when everyone in Jabesh-gilead heard about everything the Philistines had done to Saul, all their mighty warriors brought the bodies of Saul and his sons back to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones beneath the great tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days. So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium instead of asking the Lord for guidance. So the Lord killed him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.


What does the Bible say?

Exodus 22:18 You shall not permit a sorceress to live.

Leviticus 19:31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.

Micah 5:12 I will put an end to all witchcraft, and there will be no more fortune-tellers.

Deuteronomy 18:10-14 For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you are about to displace consult sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things.


 As we move closer to the last days, this kind of thing will increase.


2 Timothy 4:3-4 For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.


Are ghosts harmful, should we be frightened of them?
We can only turn to scripture again to find out.

Psalm 27:1-2  The psalmist, who described the Lord as the stronghold of his life, wrote: “He is our light and salvation, whom shall I fear?

Knowing that those who die cannot come back.
Our fears should be seen as illogical in light of the gospel truth.

Hebrews 9:27  Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

 Furthermore, the Holy Spirit within us is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4). God is living in us, is always with us, and is greater than any other spirits.

Matt 10:28  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

No matter how powerful Satan and his demons are, “Greater is He who is in you, than he that is in the world”

John Macarthur Quote: The Ultimate Victory of the Lord.
However strong demons might be, they also have serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities:

  1. They unwittingly serve God’s purposes (Judg. 9:23).

  2. They were terrified of Christ and the gospel (Matt. 8:29; Mark 1:24; James 2:19).

  3. They obeyed Christ (Matt. 8:32).

  4. They obeyed the Twelve (Matt. 10:1–8) and the Seventy-Two (Luke 10:17–20).

  5. They cannot separate believers in Christ from the love of God (Rom. 8:38).

  6. They can be restrained by the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:6; 1 John 4:4).

  7. They have been judged already by God (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) and will be again in the future (Rev. 20:10).

End of Quote.

As Christians we should be obedient to the scriptures and not involve ourselves in anything to do with things of darkness.
We should avoid Spiritualism, Mediums, Clairvoyants, witchcraft, fortune tellers, Ouija boards and anything that has anything to do with the occult.

Col 3:1  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 
Col 3:2  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 

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