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Ghosts and Goblins
by Wayne Blank
The Bible plainly states that the spirit world is teeming with life. God Himself of course is Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God (called the "Holy Ghost" in earlier translations of the Bible) is Spirit. God also created countless billions of angels, the majority of whom remained obedient to God, but there are also angels who rebelled and sinned, known now as demons (or "devils" in older translations). The chief among these is Satan himself (see Did God Create The Devil? and That Old Serpent and What Does Satan Look Like?)
But what are "ghosts"? Are they angels of some sort? Or are they spirits of humans who have died?
There is only one recorded incident in the Scriptures of the spirit of a dead human seeming to appear to someone, that of Samuel appearing to Saul. It's important to note that, if it was somehow actually the spirit of Samuel, as it seems to have been, the rare incident was to deliver a Godly message, not to scare or haunt anyone:
"The king said to her, "Have no fear; what do you see?"
It's also very important to note that Saul used a witch (1 Samuel 28:7) to consult that spirit, something that God commanded never to do:
"There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer [see Witchcraft]. For whoever does these things is an abomination to The Lord; and because of these abominable practices The Lord your God is driving them out before you." (Deuteronomy 18:10-12 RSV)
Are ghosts angels then? Well, angels did appear to humans quite often throughout Bible History, but they never did it in a "haunting" or obscure manner. They usually appeared in the form of humans, who identified themselves in a clear and dignified manner, while bringing a message or on a mission from God. There was no nonsense.
So, if "ghosts" do exist, and they're not humans (see What Happens When You Die?), or God's angels, what's left? Demons.
Demons are fallen angels who have become warped in thought and behavior. The very small number of "unexplainable" incidents (keeping in mind that most sightings are honest misperceptions, deliberate fabrications, or unhealthy delusions by the mentally ill or those impaired by alcohol or drugs) are very likely demons. And they are nothing to worry about for the converted Christian.
Fact Finder: Who has the greater power, humans with God's Holy Spirit, or demons?
This Week's Bible Quiz
True or false?
1. The Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel (the "Lost Ten Tribes").
2. The Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom of Judah.
3. The Babylonian empire was conquered by the Persian empire.
4. The Persian empire was conquered by the Greek empire.
5. The Greek empire was conquered by the Roman empire.
6. The Roman empire ruled the land of Israel during the human lifetime of Jesus Christ.
7. Pontius Pilate was the governor who gave the final order to crucify Jesus Christ.
8. There was more than one ruler named Herod.
9. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon a dream that described the return of Jesus Christ.
10. After Jesus Christ returns, He will rule all nations, all kingdoms.
For the answers to this October 30 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page