What are they? Can they help or harm us?
What are ghosts? Various sources, from religious leaders to psychics, give conflicting information on this subject and, it may seem difficult to establish exactly what ghosts are and, if they do in fact exist. There are some who say that believing in ghosts is harmless, that it is simply curiosity about death and the “afterlife“. Others say that it is very important to communicate with ghosts because they can tell us many important things and can provide comfort for the bereaved. Yet others warn against contact with ghosts but, they don’t really explain why.
What is the truth about Ghosts? Are they the spirits of dead people? Can they help us or, even, hurt us? There is a way to find out, once and for all, just what these entities are. We need to go back to the ancient source of information that provides clear details about such things.
One of the reasons people believe the things they do about ghosts is because the churches and other religions have always taught that human beings have an immortal spirit which survives when a person dies. This is the basis for the general perception of what a ghost is. But, ask yourself, from where do the churches and other religious organizations get this information? You may answer, “From the Bible”, but you may be surprised, or even shocked, to learn that the Bible does not say anything of the kind!
According to the Bible, when a person dies, they cease to exist. To quote just two scriptures from the Bible, it says;
“The living are conscious that they will die but, as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all” (Ecclesiastes 9.5)
“The dead themselves do not praise God, nor do any going down into silence” (Psalm 115.17)
But, some may point out that the Bible speaks of a “soul” or “spirit”, and this is true, but not in the way that religions have taught. Consider the word “soul” (Hebrew “Nephesh”). This word means “The life” or “The person.” It does not mean something that is separate from the physical body. The Bible tells how God created Adam and it says that he “Became a living soul.” Notice that the man did not come to “Have” a soul but that, he “Became” a soul. This meaning is further confirmed in the Bible at Ezekiel 18.4 where it says;
“The soul that is sinning, it itself will die”.
So the soul, the living person, can die. What then is the “spirit”?
In the Bible, the words for “spirit” (Hebrew - “Ru-ach”, Greek- “Pneuma”) basically mean “Breath.” This carries the thought of God breathing life into a body and it becoming a living person, a soul. Once again, the word “spirit” is not identified as being a separate living identity to the body. It could be likened to an electrical gadget which is motionless until it is filled with a power source, like electricity. Once the gadget is turned off, the electricity returns to the main source of power. The electricity itself cannot take on a form or perform a function, like the gadget, because it is simply non-personal energy. The spirit is the life-force, or energy, which animates the human body.
But, if ghosts are not the spirits or souls of dead people, what are they and, how come they can communicate with, and help, the living, as some claim? For the answer we need to consult the Bible again. But before that question is answered, it is important to reveal another fundamental truth contained in the Bible, a truth which affects the future of every person who has died and, also, everyone who is living today.
According to the Bible, death was never intended for the human race. God warned the first man that, if he disobeyed and stole from the tree of knowledge, which represented God’s right to decide what is right and wrong, then he would die (Genesis 2.17). But what if Adam and Eve had been obedient and had not eaten the fruit? What would have happened to them? Logically they would have continued living, indefinitely. God commanded them to “Fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1.28). This meant extending the paradise conditions of Eden worldwide and taking care of the earth on God’s behalf. This could not have been done in a normal lifetime. All through the Bible we see accounts of people living much longer than we do today. Adam lived for nearly one thousand years. But as the generations proceeded to come and go, the human lifespan grew shorter and shorter until Moses’ time when he was inspired to write “The days of our years are seventy years. And if because of special mightiness, they are eighty years” (Psalm 90.10).
The Bible makes the connection between imperfection (sin) and death (Romans 5.12). The situation is clearly summed up at Romans 8.20 where it says that “The creation (mankind) was subjected to futility” (deterioration and death). None of us can escape the inevitability of death. Adam did not go to Heaven or Hell but he returned to the ground as the Bible says “For out of the ground you were taken. Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3.19). This has been the fate of all since then. Jesus confirmed this when he said “No man has ascended to heaven” (John 3.13). So is there no hope for those who have died?
There most definitely is hope, and it is the gospel, the good news, proclaimed in the Bible. That good news is discussed in my article entitled “A Gift for Everyone.”
God never said anything to Adam, Moses or anyone else about having an immortal soul or becoming a ghost, in fact, the word “ghost” is not found in the Bible. So then, what are “Ghosts”?
The Bible tells of beings, who operate outside the normal laws of physics. The fact that the Bible does say that there are such things as spirits and that some of these are malevolent, is no reason to dismiss it‘s contents on other matters. Scientists acknowledge that there are many mysteries in this universe, some that may defy the laws of physics. It is acknowledged that there may be life forms that transcend our understanding. In fact some governments spend billions of dollars on projects to communicate with extra-terrestrial life forms, forms that, it is assumed, will prove to be vastly superior to ours. Why then is it so incredible to believe that the creator of the universe is capable of producing more than one form of life or that, that superior life form can influence the lives of the inferior form? It is inconsistent to dismiss the possibility of spirit life forms.
The foremost of these “spirit” creatures was given the title “Devil” meaning in Hebrew “liar” or “slanderer.“ In fact Jesus called the Devil “A liar, and the father of the lie” (John 8.44). If a person believes in Jesus, then they have to believe in the Devil as well. The first lie the Devil told was when he claimed that, if Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she “Positively will not die.” She did die. So this manipulative, remorseless creature then concocted a new lie, namely that, when humans die, they exist in a spirit realm and they can contact the living. To reinforce this idea, the Devil and his spirit accomplices (demons), masquerade as dead people. The Bible warns that the Devil “Keeps transforming himself into a minister of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers (fallen angels, demons) also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11.14) and that he is “Misleading the entire inhabited earth“ (Revelation 12.9). So serious is this deception that the Bible warns against any form of spirtism, including trying to contact the dead (Deuteronomy 18.10-12). The final book of the Bible denounces fake religions that have promoted this lie about dead people. In symbolic language it says that fake religion has "Misled all the nations with her spiritistic practices."
Ghosts are not the spirits of our dead loved ones. Those that we have lost are at peace, awaiting the fulfilment of God’s promise.