Is there such thing as ghosts? The idea that a broken spirit could remain here on earth has been a part of our culture since the beginning of time. We see fictional portrayals of evil spirits in popular scary movies, and there are many reality TV shows that claim they are ghost hunters. However the Bible has something different to say.
Just in the King James Version of the Bible, the word “ghost” appears 108 times. However of these, the word is never used in the sense of a returning spirit of someone who has died. It is only used in two specific ways. First, it is used in the phrase “to give us the ghost” which means “to die.” Secondly, it occurs as the title of “the Holy Ghost,” being the third part of the Holy Trinity.
Spirits, however, are often discussed throughout scripture. The Bible teaches very clearly that there are indeed spirit beings who can connect with and appear in our physical world. They can be both good and evil. The Bible identifies these beings as angels and demons, and not the type of spiritual ghosts we think of in mainstream culture. Angels are spirit beings who are faithful in serving God. They are righteous, good, and holy.
Demons are fallen angels, or angels who rebelled against God. Demons are evil, deceptive, and destructive. These are the very ones that Jude writes are the “angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6).
According to 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, demons masquerade as “angels of light” and as “servants of righteousness.” Appearing as a “ghost” and impersonating a deceased human being definitely seem to be within the power and abilities that demons possess. Perhaps it was a demon who knew this person well, and so these demons, who have “the cosmic powers over this present darkness,” imitate a lost loved one. They may even appear to be the same person who is deceased, having known their dress, nature, and even their voice. However, it’s important to note that they apparitions are not of souls that have passed. We would not be seeing the soul of someone who has died, rather a fake a deceitful manifestation of them.
Jesus had great experience with the spirit world. On one occasion, “they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick” (Matt 8:16). Later, “he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matt 10:1), so they too could cast our demons or wicked spirits.
The closest biblical example of a “haunting” is found in Mark 5:1-20. In the passage, a legion of demons possessed a man and used the man to haunt a graveyard. There were no ghosts involved in this situation, however. It was a case of a normal person being controlled by demons to terrorize the people of that area. Demons only seek to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). They will do anything within their power to deceive people and lead them away from God. This is very likely the explanation of “ghostly” activity today. Whether it is called a ghost, a ghoul, or a poltergeist, if there is genuine evil spiritual activity occurring, it is the work of demons, not that of a dead human.
While there are angels and demons, the Bible rejects the idea that the spirits of deceased human beings can remain on earth and “haunt” the living. This is because no human comes back to earth after they have been judged.
Hebrews 9:27 declares, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That is what happens to a person’s soul-spirit after death—judgment. The result of this judgment is heaven for the believer (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23) and hell for the unbeliever (Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:22-24). There is no in-between. They are judged and sent their respective ways.
No one returns to earth and makes appearances after death. Jesus made this fact quite clear in Luke 16:26. In the passage a rich man who wanted a chance to return to earth from Hell and warn his brothers, however Abraham tells him: “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” The simple fact is that our loved ones are not going to return as apparitions in our homes after they past. They have moved on completely.
The Bible very strictly warns us of trying to connect with the dead through mediums or other spiritual outlets (Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; Isaiah 8:19). These are false teachings, and they go against God’s true word. Psychics, tarot cards, and mediums are just looking to prey on innocent people and take their money.These individuals and businesses that claim to be “ghost-hunters,” who for a price will rid a home of ghosts, are only manipulating Christians. Sadly, instead of seeking the truth about the spirit world by communing with God and studying His Word, many people allow themselves to be led astray.
Interest in the paranormal is becoming increasingly common. However what you see in movies isn’t an accurate portrayal of what these spirits may be. While angels and demons can roam our earth, God is not going to allow a deceased loved one to come back into this world. If there are such things as ghosts, according to the Bible, they absolutely cannot be the disembodied spirits of deceased human beings. Rather, they would only come out in the forms of angels or demons.