We’ve all watched a scary ghost movie or told some classic ghost stories perhaps around a campfire or at a sleepover. I loved watching Ghostbusters when I was a kid. Ghosts have been a central figure in entertainment for centuries. Shakespeare had them in Macbeth and Hamlet. Even Charles Dickens used them to captivate audiences in his A Christmas Carol. Do you believe in ghosts? While they make for a good Hollywood movie, ghosts do not exist. Believing in ghosts means Christians must ignore and reject certain Biblical Scriptures. But pastor I’ve witnessed crazy things that just can’t be explained! If it’s not a ghost, what could it be?
Let’s define a ghost. The basic definition is, “The disembodied soul and spirit of a dead person.” According to Scripture, the soul of a dead person is not allowed to linger on this earth after they die. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” When we die, the fleshly body is left on this earth to decompose but the soul and spirit leave this earthly realm and go into eternity. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). There is no in-between place for the dead. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once then face the judgment.” Paul said when he departed he would be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). So if death on this earth brings instant eternity away from this earth (either in hell for the non- Christian or heaven for the Christian), how do you explain “paranormal activity.”
There are real spirit beings. Angels and demons are biblical. Angels (i.e. Genesis 2:1; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2, 5; Luke 20:35-36; Luke 15:10; Revelation 14:6) are spirit beings who are faithful to serve the Lord and His purposes being righteous and holy. Demons (i.e. Jude 1:6; Ephesians 6:12; Matthew 8:16; Matthew 10:1; 1 Timothy 4:1) are fallen angels who rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15). They follow Satan as their leader and are evil, manipulative, and intend harm. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 tell us they masquerade as angels of light to serve righteousness. They do have the power to appear in what one may call “ghosts” and can even impersonate dead humans. Jesus cast demons out (i.e. Matthew 8:28-34, Luke 11:14; Mark 1:34) and defeated Satan and his demons on the cross. Colossians 2:15 says Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Greater is the one in you (Jesus) than the one (the devil) who is in the world (1 John 4:4). In fact 1 John 3:9 says Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.
But what about 1 Samuel 28:7-21 where King Saul contacted the dead? Was that a ghost? It was a little shady – King Saul put on a costume/disguise (obviously knowing a séance and witchcraft was wrong) and went to a medium/witch to call up the dead prophet Samuel. Why would the king of Israel, selected by God, go in the first place to a witch? The same reason everyone does right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25): we sin and stray away from God. When Saul didn’t get an immediate answer from God (v. 6) he decided to take matters in to his own hands to get answers and contact the witch of Endor. He asked her to contact the dead spirit of Samuel. This, however in my opinion, was not Samuel as he was dead (1 Samuel 28:3) and the witch, by definition, was possessed by a demon (1 Samuel 28:7). God also warned not to consult the dead or those who try to contact the dead (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; etc.). Demons desire to deceive the living by impersonating the dead because they want you to doubt God’s Word and it’s warning about future judgments concerning eternity and salvation. Know what the Bible says about the afterlife because it has eternal consequences.