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Ghosts and Spooky Spirits

Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

An awful lot of our lives are eclipsed by decorations in the stores, and you can almost tell what season it is without ever looking out the window or checking the newspaper. Just walk up the isles in the super market or in a Walmart or something like that. It’s only halfway through September before all the orange colors begin to appear, and the candy, telling us that Halloween is on its way.

In our neighborhood, we have some very creative neighbors, and there you have the ghosts and goblins. One of our neighbors has the tombstone stuck in his front lawn, little artificial mounds, and others have the skeletons hanging strategically around the house, and of course the spiders, the pumpkins and all the trappings. You think about it, and since that’s there for a month before the holiday and it’s usually a couple of days after the holiday before you get all of it taken down, there’s like a month of our year that is devoted to these things that just seem to be surrounded with ghosts and spooky spirits, which is the title of our sermon today. Ghosts—it seems like there is a lot of attention given to this.

I was collecting amazing facts a few years ago, and I ran upon one that I really did think was amazing, about a gentleman by the name of John Porter Bowman, who lived during the time of the Civil War. He actually made a fortune during the Civil War. He was a tanner, and he developed a factory providing leather goods for the Northern armies, and that was very lucrative, and he made thousands—became a very wealthy man.

But someone once said, “Lucky in money, unlucky in love; lucky in love, unlucky in money,” and while he was very fortunate in wealth, he was very unfortunate with his family. First child died at about 8 months of age, a daughter. Then a few years later, after the war, in 1879, he lost another daughter, Ella. Then a few months later, his wife died, wiping out his family. This was devastating for him. He found it very hard to deal with the idea that they were gone. They were buried in a cemetery there in Vermont, the Cuttingsville Cemetery.

He wanted to do something to recognize them, to try and do something for them even in their death, to make them feel comfortable. So he invested some of his vast wealth in building a mausoleum. I think you see it there on the screen right now. He had the best sculptors in the country come, and they carved replicas of his family on the walls inside. He put mirrors up inside to give it a more spacious feeling. Then at the door, he carved an exact likeness of himself. That’s what you see there at the door, kneeling, peering with yearning inside, waiting for the day he could be reunited with his family. And he has a key in his hand as though he wishes that he could unlock the portals of the grave.

This was actually sculpted by one of the greatest sculptors in North America at the time (done some work in New York City), and 750 tons of granite, 50 tons of marble were put into this. It became such a spectacle, people began to come by the hundreds and just wanted to see and peek inside. He thought that was fine, and he actually hired someone to give little tours, and they signed a guest book.

But John was still not satisfied. He wanted to be closer to his loved ones. So he bought the property across the street from the cemetery, and he built an elaborate house—a house that was designed, really, for a full family, but he was the only one in it. He had a vestibule that looked right across the street to the mausoleum in the cemetery. And he lived there, he finally moved there, so he could be closer to the graves of his loved ones. And he created an odd trust. He felt there’d be enough money to have the foundation provide for it forever, but he had the resources of this trust care for the house. He had full time people work in the house that would change the sheets every week, supply fresh food in the pantry every week, and clean and dust the house as though someone was living there. They did that for fifty years after his death. Well, as you’ve probably guessed, that’s now considered to be a haunted house.

If you type the word “ghost” into Google, you will get 120 million hits. You can tell what people are interested in by what kind of programs are on television because they market to whatever people’s interests are. Do you know how many TV programs there are that deal with ghosts? Respectable channels like the Discovery Channel has a program called “The Haunting.” MTV has a program called “Fear.” The Travel Channel, of all things, has two programs on ghosts! They have one called “Ghost Adventures,” and one on “The Most Haunted USA,” I guess the houses in the USA that are supposed to be among the most haunted.

Just a little bit of trivia. When I was growing up, my mother was good friends with Evelyn Keyes. She played the sister of Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.” Evelyn Keyes’ third husband was Artie Shaw, a big band leader. Some of you remember Bennie Goodman and Artie Shaw. They were friends of ours and we would vacation with them. They had a house they bought from somebody who had murdered their family. I remember Artie Shaw loved to spook me with stories with, “Yeah, this man went crazy, murdered his family, and committed suicide,” say the house was haunted, “Good night, Doug!” And here I’m just a little kid. That really would give you creepy feelings, especially if you don’t have a Christian background. How many of you grew up looking under your bed for the Bogeyman?

Well, I’m not done yet. Arts and Entertainment has a program called “Paranormal State.” The Sci-Fi Channel has two ghosts programs, “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Hunters Academy.” And this is just the beginning! There are many more that aren’t even listed here. People are very interested in the subject of ghosts.

Nine percent of Americans report to having been in the presence of a ghost. People are spooked in our country! Now, before I delve a little deeper in what the Bible has to say about the subject of ghosts and these spooky spirits, maybe a definition is in order. Just going from <_____Merriam Webster’s dictionary_____> “ghost” is a noun, “the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons.”

Now, you may or may not know that there are three ghost stories in the Bible. We’re going to talk about them, but we’ll start with the most famous one perhaps. It’s about King Saul when he has this experience with what he thinks is a ghost. If you turn in your Bible, I want to go to 1 Samuel 28 and give you a little background. This is the end of King Saul’s reign. King Saul, originally chosen by the Lord, but he began to be proud, rebelled against God, would not listen to God, and finally began to live in open defiance and rebellion against God.

The Philistine army all gathered against Israel during the time of the end of Saul’s reign. That, again, is 1 Samuel 28:3. “Now Samuel [the prophet] had died, and all Israel had lamented for him and buried him in Ramah, in his own city. And Saul [the king] had put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land.” Mediums and spiritists supposedly talk to the dead and would conjure up these spirits and ghosts to communicate with.

According to the Bible, Moses said they should all be evicted, that they were of the devil. It gives you this little piece of information to prepare you for the rest of the story. But they’d not all been kicked out of the land.

Now “the Philistines gathered together, and came and encamped at Shunem.” They encamped against Israel. “So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa,” right opposite each other, big armies en massing—the Philistines greatly outnumber Israel, getting ready to engage in battle. All their troops were being en massed, and their supplies were being gathered on these two respective mountains, and “when Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.” He’s now a very different man than when he had God’s Spirit and he led much smaller forces against the Philistines with victory. Now he’s driven the Holy Spirit away and he’s afraid, greatly afraid. “And when Saul inquired of the Lord” (now, in fear, he turns to God, not because he wants to surrender to God, but just because he’s afraid he inquires of the Lord), “the Lord did not answer him” (the Bible says if you turn away your ear from hearing the law, then your prayer becomes an abomination), “either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.” That means the priests or the articles they would inquire by on the priest’s garments or the temple or the prophets, there was a deafening silence. God would not speak to Saul. He had evidently grieved away the Holy Spirit.

“Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’”

Well, that was sort of like the black market. They’re thinking, “Saul, you’ve kicked all the mediums and spiritists out of the land; now you want us to find you one.” They did a little digging around, found there was still one or two around, and they said, “There is, in fact, still a woman left who is a medium, a witch, at En Dor.”

Saul disguised himself because he couldn’t go in and talk to this witch when he was the one who had been putting their “wanted” posters all over the community. Everyone knew Saul was evicting them all, but that had been many years earlier. So he has to disguise himself.

“So Saul disguised himself” so he doesn’t look like the king, “and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night.” That’s when the ghosts do their best work. “And he said, ‘Please conduct a séance for me’” (this is, by the way, the New King James version), “‘and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.’”

“Then the woman said…, ‘Look, you know’” (she’s being very guarded)—you know “‘what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?’” Are you trying to trap me?

“And Saul swore to her by the Lord.” Isn’t that interesting to make a vow in the name of Jehovah to someone who serves the devil? Can people serving the devil invoke the name of God? Yes. “Saul swore to her by the Lord, saying, ‘As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.’” And the woman looked to the right and she looked to the left and rolled up her sleeves and said “Okay.” “Whom shall I bring up for you?” I guess she’s admitting that she does still have a business card that says “Medium.”

“‘Whom shall I bring up for you?’ And he said, ‘Bring up Samuel.’” Everyone knew who Samuel was. He was the prophet of the Lord. Samuel would never have tolerated witches in the land, let alone wanting to be supposedly brought back from the dead by a witch or medium!

“When the woman saw Samuel”—well, she’s claiming to see Samuel, or something that looks like Samuel, “she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, ‘Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!” Well, she’s gotten some supernatural enlightenment there, hasn’t she?

By the way, did the devil know who Saul really was that day? “For you are Saul; you’re the king!”

“And the king said to her, ‘Do not be afraid. What did you see?’

“And the woman said to Saul, ‘I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.’

“So he said to her, ‘What is his form?’

“And she said, ‘An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.’”

Well, that was common. All the priests and everyone knew Samuel, so she’s describing what Samuel would look like, “‘covered with a mantle.’ And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped down with his face to the ground and bowed down’” as though the ghost of Samuel was there now.

Now Samuel, or whatever it is claiming to be Samuel, says to Saul, “‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’

“And Saul answered, ‘I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.

“Then Samuel said: ‘So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy?’” If God has departed, why would you ask the prophet of the Lord? Is he going to give something that God wouldn’t give? Simple logic. “‘And the Lord has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David,’” who by the way, Saul had been hunting like a dog for years. “‘Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.’”

Totally discouraging message! No grace, no hope at all, is in this message. “Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground.” He just fell out flat “and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him.” He was overcome with fear. He also had not eaten anything all that day and night.

Finally they urged him to eat, and he drug himself out to the soldiers in the battle, and there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t just run for the hills, so he led his men into battle. When you have a heartless king leading an army, it’s hard to inspire… I wonder what the pep talks sounded like that day, coming from Saul to his troops.

The Philistines did overwhelm them. Many were killed, including Saul’s three sons, and ultimately King Saul fell on his sword and died that next day.

So, was this the ghost of Samuel? Does the devil have the ability to bring back from the grave, and resurrect, even if it’s partially resurrect, God’s prophets? This is a troubling story for people.

Well, first of all, if you look in 1 Chronicles 10, describing this experience, 1 Chronicles 10:13.

“So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also” (now why did Saul die?) “because he consulted a medium for guidance.”

So, the medium, or this thing that claimed to be Samuel the prophet, gave a totally discouraging message. It almost sounds like one reason that he died was because he went to the devil, trying to talk to the dead.

In our scripture reading God said, “Why would you try to talk to the dead? If you want information, speak to the Lord. Why are you going to try and consult the dead?”

What does the Bible tell us about life and death? Are the dead where you can talk to them now? And if not, who are all these ghosts that people see? We’re going to explore that, based on the Bible.

Let me just finish something off. In that story about Saul and Samuel the prophet, supposedly coming—, I don’t believe that was Samuel the prophet. I believe that the Bible is recording what the woman said it was and what Saul thought it was, but when you look at the message that is given and you look at all the other principles in the Bible, who do these witches and mediums conjure up? Can they conjure up Christians who are resting in their graves? Or are they conjuring up devils that can masquerade? Can Satan even transform himself to appear as an angel of light? Doesn’t the Bible say that in 2 Corinthians 11?

When Satan appeared to Jesus in the wilderness and he tempted Him, do you think that he suddenly appeared to Jesus wearing his red leotards and his black bat wings and his horns and his goatee and his pointy tail and his pitchfork and said, “I’ve got a proposition for you”? Would Jesus be tempted by anyone that asked Him to do something, looking like that? Of course I don’t think the devil really looks like that, but he probably came as an angel of light, just like Paul said. The devil can be transformed into an angel of light. The devil can create illusions. I believe these demons created an illusion of Samuel, to utterly discourage Saul. By the way, when you start consulting the devil, in cases like that, you place yourself on enchanted ground, and it’s possible then that even the devil’s prophecies will come true on you, because you’re laying yourself open to him at those times.

What does the Bible say about life and death? What’s the Biblical example of life and death? First of all, to understand death and what happens, you need to understand what life is, something about a soul and a spirit.

The Bible says in Genesis 2:7 [KJV], when God first made man, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

So you can see here that biblically, God made Adam. He formed him from the elements of the earth. And I think we all know that when a person dies, they sort of return to the elements of the earth. There was Adam perfectly formed, and let’s assume that he was anatomically perfect. Heart’s in place, lungs are in place, everything is moist and ready to go, but he was dead. Until God breathed into him the <_____ruwach_____>—the word there is “the breath of life,” and then his chest began to rise and fall and he began to inhale. There was this glint of recognition as he opened his eyes. It’s like when you first boot a computer, all the software is there.

Adam knew how to speak; he knew how to walk. He didn’t have to start crawling or learning to suck his thumb before he could eat. God miraculously created a man. I know some people have a hard time with that, but it’s no problem for me to believe it. He’s God. I still see miracles every time I look at people today. It’s just a miracle how people exist and are made in the image of God!

When someone dies, after living their life, it is creation in reverse. “The spirit [returns] to God who gave it.” By the way, that’s Ecclesiastes 12:7. “Then the dust [returns] to the earth as it was,” it goes back to as it was, dust to dust, “and the spirit [returns] to God who gave it.” Now, notice it does not segregate there, speaking of when something or someone dies in Ecclesiastes; it’s saying when any life dies, the body of that life, whether it is a mosquito or whether it is a person or a dog or a cat, it will turn back into the elements of the earth, it returns to dust, and the spirit (and that word there again is that “breath of life”) returns to God who gave it.

It’s not saying that a little ghost called a soul jumps out of a person when they die and flutters off like some etherial butterfly to be with God. It’s saying that power of life that God gives all of His creatures returns to Him. It’s like if all of a sudden we should unplug (and don’t try it) the master switch in this sanctuary, where does the power go? It goes back to the power company. But you don’t see it animated in anything if you were to break all the light bulbs and all the projectors and things happening here.

Our bodies, with the spirit of life, create a soul. God breathed into Adam the breath of life. He became a soul. Something like, if I got a chair here, and that chair, let’s just suppose, is a combination of wood and nails. And I put the wood and I put the nails together, and you’ve got a chair. Now what if I should pull out all the nails and put the nails in one pile and put the wood in another pile and ask you, “Where is the chair?” Well, it ceases to be a chair when you separate the two.

That’s exactly what happens when a person dies. They’re not a soul flying around, disembodied somewhere until the resurrection, and then they come back into existence again. So just understanding that is very important.

How does Jesus refer to death? Do you all believe Jesus? Everyone here believe Jesus? Well, what does Jesus say? John 11:11, speaking of His friend Lazarus when he was sick and he ultimately died, He said, “‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’” “Don’t wake him up.” “However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said … plainly, [He] is dead.’”

Over and over in the Bible, New and Old Testament, over 30 times, the words rest and sleep are used to refer to death. You ever seen a tombstone that says R.I.P? What does that stand for? “Rest in peace.” You’ll see a lot of cemeteries where it says “Our beloved sister, brother, father, mother, are sleeping in Jesus. They’re resting in the Lord.” That’s what the Bible tells us, that they’re sleeping until the resurrection; they’re sleeping until the judgment day. Those are all still future.

Another verse, Job 14:10. I thought people could come back and haunt their houses. Job 14:10, “But man [lies down] and is laid away,” speaking of death; “indeed he breathes his last” (the spirit of God goes out), “and where is he? As water disappears from the sea and a river becomes parched and dries up, so man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more…” When are the heavens no more? When Jesus comes, the heavens will pass away with a great noise. Man lies down and is no more “till the heavens are no more.” When Jesus comes again, then there’s a resurrection. As a matter of fact, three times in John chapter 6 (verses 39, 40, and 44) Christ says, “I will raise him up the last day.” The last day. “I will raise him up the last day.”

There is a resurrection; the dead will live again. Jesus said the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves will hear His voice. They that have done good—resurrection of life, and they that have done evil—second resurrection, resurrection of damnation or judgment.

It says the hour is coming; it is future. So the idea that all these people who die are making it difficult for you to walk through a cemetery at night, is just really your own fears and the devil exploiting that.

Bible says the dead don’t know anything. Where do the dead go when they die? Job 21:32 [KJV]. If you believe the Bible, “Yet shall he shall be brought to the grave, and shall remain”—he’ll remain “in the tomb,” until when? Until the heavens are no more, the resurrection, the great judgment day. They’re not roaming around like Ebenezer Scrooge, dragging chains, spooking people. They’re not waiting outside of their graves or by some wishing well, waiting for some kind of redemption or resolution to happen, as so many of these ghost stories tell us.

If you believe the Bible, someone’s going to say, “What about all these spiritual, supernatural phenomenons that take place? People are kind of preoccupied with the paranormal in our society, aren’t they?

2 Peter 2:9, Where do the dead go? “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,” till the judgment day.

Job 17:13 [KJV] says, “If I wait, the grave is mine house.” While they’re waiting for the resurrection, while they’re waiting for that great judgment day, where’s their house? The grave. What are they doing in their house? They’re asleep—dreamless sleep, and the devil cannot wake them up. Only Christ has the power of resurrection. The devil cannot give life. Do we all understand that? The devil cannot resurrect.

So here’s the big question. (I’ll get to ghosts in a minute. There are ghosts, so to speak. They’re not disembodied people. But I’ll get to that in just a minute.) Do the dead interact with the living? Job 14:21, “His sons come to honor,” speaking of someone who dies. After they die, it says their sons come to honor, “and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he does not perceive it.”

People don’t die and go to heaven, and they don’t start spying on those here on earth, like they’re looking over some balcony down on us to see what we’re doing. Job said their sons might come to honor, they might be brought low—they have no idea.

Again, Psalm 115:17, “The dead do not praise the Lord.” Now, if you are a believer and you die, and you go right to heaven, or you’re in Abraham’s <_____allegorious_____> bosom, wouldn’t you be praising the Lord? It says the dead do not praise the Lord.

Psalm 6:5 [KJV], “In death there is no remembrance of thee.” They’re not remembering anything when they’re dead.

Again, Isaiah 38:18 [KJV], “Death can not celebrate thee.” We don’t have time for me to go through all of the scriptures that are exceedingly clear, that tell us the dead don’t know anything, they’re not thinking anything, they’re not singing, they’re not praising, and they’re not celebrating. They’re dead. They’re sleeping a dreamless sleep, if you can imagine what that is like.

Have any of you gone to sleep and you’re so tired you kind of crash at the end of the day, and the next thing that you know there’s an alarm clock, and you think, “How did that happen?” You look, and six hours went by, and you had no knowledge of that time.

So when a person dies in the Lord, their next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord. For them, it’s instant. But for us who live in the dimension of time, in the history of the world, it hasn’t happened yet. How else are you going to reconcile all the scriptures in the Bible that tell us that the resurrection is in the future? The judgment is in the future.

Why take a person right up to heaven before they’ve been judged? Why take them to heaven and then come back to the earth for their body? If you’re giving them a new body, you don’t even need to come back to earth. None of it makes sense unless we understand what the Bible teaches about this.

One more famous verse. It’s a long one. Write this one down. Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10, “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing.” How much do they know? Nothing! “They have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” That means their memory is forgotten. “Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished.” If someone was mad at you when they were alive, and they die, they’re not haunting your house, coming after you for revenge. You’re home free, at least until the resurrection.

“Their hatred… [is] perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.” That means in this life, they never, nevermore come back in this life. So the idea of the dead coming back to haunt is not Biblical.

Go to verse 10. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom”—there’s no knowing anything, “in the grave where you are going.” So if you’re going to do something, do it while you’re alive! The dead aren’t doing it.

“All right, wait a second, Pastor Doug. But I had a heart attack and I was dead on the gurney, and they had to shock me back. And I had an experience in that interval, when my heart stopped beating, and I died. And I was transported, and I realized I had been reincarnated as fifty other people. And I found out who those people were. It all came to me at that moment.”

Or, “I was hovering in the operating room, and I could see myself down on the table, and then an angel told me, ‘There’s been a mistake. It’s too soon for you. Go back.’”

Or, “I was in hell, and God said, ‘This is where you’re going unless you behave yourself. I’ll give you another chance.’”

Or, “I was in heaven enjoying everything, and an angel said, ‘Go tell people what a wonderful place this is.’”

There is no end to the books and articles that are written about the kaleidoscope of different near-death experiences people have had when they ostensibly died at a traffic accident or during heart surgery or during some kind of head trauma, or whatever it is. But in reality, the vast majority of them did not die. Their heart stopped beating, and they were deprived of oxygen. Studies suggest that between 10 to 25 percent of heart attack survivors report having a near-death experience—10 to 25 percent!

British researcher Dr. Susan Blackmore, author of the book Dying to Live: Science and the Near-death Experience, notes that many near-death experiences, such as euphoria and the feeling of moving towards a light, are in fact typical symptoms of oxygen deprivation. There are books and books and books, and people have changed their theology based on somebody’s hallucination when they didn’t have enough oxygen in their brain. I don’t want to be derogatory because, do you know what? God is big enough, where your near-death experience, God could have spoken to you through whatever it was that you saw when you were oxygen deprived. God could have said something to you; I’m not denying that. God can use anything if He wants, right? God can speak to you through providence; He can speak to you through others; He can speak to you through nature; He can speak to you… I know people that had a dream while they were drunk, and they gave up drinking! You wonder who gave them that dream. Anything is possible with the Lord, right?

But please, please, let’s not build our theology on “near-death experience 316,” because you’re going to have all the goofiest… Everybody’s got their own experience, and they all contradict each other’s theology about what death is about. Some fit into the Bible mold, some fit into New Age re-incarnation, and they’re all different. Some say, “I had a near-death experience, and I was on another planet, and I found out how life started in this world. We were all planted here by aliens, and I finally was in tune with my alien origins, with my near-death experience.”

So which near-death experience are you going to believe? The only safe thing is to go with the Bible, not with people’s hallucinations, as sincere as they may be, when they died on an operating table. Again, I’m not questioning those and what they went through.

Psalms 146:2-4 [KJV], “While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being,” while I’m alive. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth” (he stops breathing), “he returneth to his earth” (decomposes); “in that very day,” that day, “his thoughts perish,” he stops thinking, anything. It’s just as clear as it can be from the Bible.

So, with that foundation then, how many of you have experienced something that you felt was supernatural or paranormal? I have. You have, too. Have you ever been tempted by the devil? Is he a spirit? Aren’t we wrestling against spiritual powers in heavenly places? We’re surrounded by good and bad angels all the time. We don’t have to make a religion about it.

Who are these spirits that we read about? Go to Revelation. This explains it all. Revelation 12:7-9 [KJV], “And there was war in heaven.” There’s a war in heaven. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.” Who’s the dragon a symbolic word for in Revelation? It’s the devil. “And the dragon fought and his angels.” Now, Michael has angels. Let’s assume they’re good angels because they’re fighting against the devil. But it says the devil has angels too. How many angels does he have? A lot! Whatever God has—let’s assume God has many billions. The devil probably has a billion or two himself, of evil angels.

“And [he] prevailed not.” The devil didn’t win that battle. “Neither was their place found any more in heaven.” They were evicted. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan.” No confusing who this is. That dragon is that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, this wicked power in the cosmos, “who deceives the whole world.” He’s deceiving the whole world. One thing he deceives them about is ghosts. “He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” He didn’t come down here alone.

So, a lot of people that are seeing things go “bump” in the night, and shadowy forms, and eery things that cannot be explained, it might be fallen angels that are posing as a broad spectrum of evil manifestations. They can pose as the spirits of the dead. They can pose as demons and goblins. They can pose as good angels or bad angels. They can pose as ghosts, and it’s unlimited, whatever suits them. Gargoyles, whatever they want to look like, they can look like. Bogeymen, they can look like anything they want to look like. These are spirits that have the ability to sometimes manifest themselves. The earth is the devil’s haunting ground.

The devil comes to a heavenly meeting. There was some committee meeting in heaven; it was not on this world. The devil shows up, and God says to the devil, “Where did you come from?” Not that God didn’t know, but it’s so we would know. And the devil answered and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, from walking back and forth on it.” Now is he going to and fro, back and forth by himself, or are his angels with him—his fallen angels?

Yes, there are devils out there. Now, what can they do? What is the extent of their power? How can these evil spirits affect the physical realm? These are Bible examples I’m going to give you of the ways that they can actually influence our physical world that we live in.

One thing, they can possess and control animals. Did it happen with the serpent? Did it happen with Balaam’s donkey? Can angels speak through a donkey? Did it happen with the pigs that were possessed by the devil, that all ran off a cliff? Alright, so I think there’s scripture for that.

They can appear and disappear without warning. Joshua 5:13, Luke 2:9-15. They can interact with and influence humans. Daniel 10:13, Hebrews 13:2. These fallen angels can interact with and influence people. They can exhibit great power against mankind. 2 Kings 19:35, Isaiah 37:36. They can move and control physical objects. Matthew 28:2.

They can influence wind and water. You remember the story in Job where the devil went forth from the presence of the Lord and with fire coming down from heaven and a tornado that struck the house where Job’s sons were, influencing the elements. I’d like to see that in an insurance form someday, “Act of the Devil.” It always says “Act of God” when there’s bad weather, right? Well, sometimes it might be the Lord, as in the case of Noah’s flood, but we’ve seen that they both can. Good and bad angels seem to be able to do these different things that cross the veil in our world, and they do have an effect.

We know good angels can appear, can’t they? Why do we think that bad angels lost that power? They can appear like whatever they want.

Do these fallen angels know what your relatives were like before they died? They know their little mannerisms. I think God has good angels that study people, that protect them, that guard them, and know them pretty well. Let’s assume they have photographic memories. They don’t grow old; they’re not physical like we are, where the brain cells deteriorate; they’re spiritual powers. They know your relatives, your grandma, your grandpa. They could appear and look just like them. Little idiosyncrasies, memories only you and they would have—what their favorite dress was—they know all that. So, can devils masquerade as the dead and deceive? And they do!

So what was that ghost that King Saul saw? 1 Kings 22:22, “The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So He said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all of his prophets.’” Are there lying spirits? That spirit that appeared to Saul was just a big old lie, masquerading as Samuel.

Revelation 16:14, “They are spirits of demons, performing signs [and miracles], which go out to the kings of the earth,” just like those fallen devils appeared to Saul to deceive him, performing signs that “go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day.” Isn’t that interesting? A devil appeared as Samuel the prophet to gather Saul together to a battle where he would die.

In the last days, these fallen angels are going to masquerade as spirits of the dead, we’ll think they’re ghosts of the dead, and they’ll use that power to deceive, to gather all the lost together to a battle where they will be destroyed. That’s why we have to know not to listen to these spirits.

Now, I might stop right here and just share with you. I am not scared of demons and ghosts. And I had to grapple with this, because before I was a Christian, I was always getting spooked by things, and I was really into the… I did the Ouija Board and the séances—the whole thing, we did in our family. We really believed in ghosts. I was sure that I’d talked to Abraham Lincoln! I really was. We got one of those—isn’t that strange that, is it Milton Bradley, or which one owns the Ouija Board? One of these toy companies! Who? It is Milton Bradley owns the Ouija Board? It’s one of their best selling games that they have. That you’d be selling this as a game for children, to learn how to be a medium, a spiritist, talk to the dead! And who’s going to show up when you start trying to contact the other world? Well, if there are no dead people talking to you, then the devil is going to capitalize on that, and he’ll be happy to talk to you. But when you do that, you get on enchanted ground, and you’re giving him permission then to manipulate your life. Don’t go anywhere near that kind of stuff.

People say they want to read my palm. Don’t even play with that and say, “Oh, I’m curious to see what they’re going to say!” You’re putting yourself on the devil’s ground when someone is claiming those kinds of powers. Or they say, “You know, I’m really in tune with the spirit world and I’ve got a message for you from Eleanor Roosevelt.” Say, “I don’t want to hear it.”

Jesus said, “Go not forth if there are false christs out there.” Don’t even listen to it, because what you’re doing, is you’re doing like Eve at the forbidden tree. You’re lingering by that forbidden tree, and you can get swept up in all of that. That’s what happened to Saul. You wonder, would Saul, or at least his sons, have survived that battle if he hadn’t gone to the witch? Things could have turned out differently.

Now, I started telling you something. I’m not scared of ghosts. Yes, I might be in my room—as a matter of fact, last night after Karen and I went to bed, I heard “bump!” And I said to Karen, “What was that? Did you hear that?” I settled back down and thought, “Ah, I’m just hearing things.” You know, a lot of times when you think you’re hearing something, it’s not ghosts, it’s not devils; it’s the wind! It’s the plumbing. It’s a raccoon on your roof. It’s all kinds of things! Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s mice in the walls. Have you ever heard that sound? That’s bad news when that happens, too.

I settled back down again, and I heard “Thump!” I said, “I’m getting up!” It wasn’t because I was afraid of ghosts; I was afraid of burglars. That’s completely different from ghosts. It turned out Nathan was still awake. We thought he’d gone to sleep. He was banging around in his bedroom. There’s the ghost! (Sorry Nathan!)

So, sometimes we get all upset about ghosts, and you don’t have to be afraid of ghosts. So, suppose a devil does appear to you. Suppose some demon does appear and go “boo!” And you go “boo!” back. I mean, once you know that they’re there, what are you scared of? Just because the devil chooses to manifest himself to you, are you any less in the protection of God than as you were before?

If you’re walking with God, you already know there are devils out there; you know there are good angels out there. What are you scared of? Do you know what I’m saying? Just say, “Yes, I know you’re there, devil, but I’m busy reading a book. Leave me alone.”

You know what? Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. Some people are spooked. They live their lives constantly afraid and constantly spooked. We need to live by faith. All right, let’s admit it, there are demons out there. They would like to spook you; they would like to scare you. Just don’t let them. Admit they’re there and don’t be trembling all the time, worrying about some branch that’s rubbing up against your window, or some shadow that you saw. Sometimes you’re just going to have to pull the sheets back over your head and go to sleep and say, “All right, I’m not going to pay any attention to you,” and just go to sleep.

The devil can just manipulate with fear. Based on all the programs people are watching on ghosts, there must be a lot of spooked people out there. Can all supernatural phenomenons be attributed to demons? When something supernatural happens, we say, “Ah, it must have been the devil!” Not necessarily. Have sometimes people confused good angels with bad angels? Probably. One story in the Bible, Job 4:13 [KJV]. It sounds like a good creepy story. “In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up.” That’s talking about goose pimples. That’s the old way of saying it. “It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God?” By the way, he says man is mortal, not immortal. “Shall a man be more pure than his maker?” And you read on in the story, and it’s God talking to him. But he was spooked by this apparition, wondering what it was. The Lord was speaking to him there.

Are there any authentic ghost sightings in the Bible? I told you there are at least three ghost stories. Quickly, the other two. There were some dead people that appeared after the resurrection of Jesus. “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and,” listen, “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints,” not all. This is not a universal resurrection. It was a local, limited resurrection. “Many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves” (talk about zombies), “coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into [Jerusalem] and appeared to many.” What those people in Jerusalem saw were the spirits of the dead. These were some of the former prophets and patriarchs and kings around Jerusalem, who died in faith. They rose and they probably went into the city and they appeared to people and they said, “Jesus is the Christ, He raised me from the dead.” And then they ascended to heaven with Christ. They didn’t linger. It’s only mentioned in the story of Matthew. But technically those are real people who came back to earth and made a brief appearance before they ascended to heaven, and they’ve never been back since.

Then there’s one other story. On the mount of transfiguration (you find this in Mark 9:4), when Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus on that mountain, briefly dead humans appeared to Christ, Peter, James, and John. But in general terms, the Bible is very clear that when people die, they go to sleep, they don’t come back to their house, and they don’t haunt. God has cut off communication between those few who are resurrected and earth. God communicates through His good angels. The devil tries to manipulate and scare through his bad angels.

How should we relate to these things? Maybe I ought to ask you a question since it is October. How does a Christian relate to Halloween in light of all of this? Now I’m really stepping on toes. There are typically three views that Christians have about Halloween. One is “anathema,” that you ignore and object and oppose and stay away from anything that has any connection with Halloween. I remember years ago trick-or-treating for UNICEF in New York and someone opened the door, and they said, “We are Jehovah Witnesses. We don’t believe in Halloween.” Slam! I thought, “That wasn’t a very good witness!”

Then you have those who thing, “Just relax. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just cultural, candy, kids, holiday,” and they don’t really have any kind of qualms with it. They feel free to participate.

Then you have the kind of Christians that say, “Well, we’re in the culture where they’re doing it. While we may not send our kids dressed up like the devil, we’re going to try and overcome evil with good, and when they come to the door, we’ll give them a Christian tract or try and witness in some positive way,” and everything in between, I suppose.

So how should we be involved? You’ll have to decide this on your own. Pastor Doug is not up here because I want to be your conscience. But if you were to ask me what I think based on what I believe from the Bible, the history of Halloween is not a Christian history. It dates back to the Celtic holiday of Samhain. It was a harvest festival. Their year ended October 31st. They believed they were entering the season of darkness, and they would make these sacrifices, and they would have what we call bonfires (it really comes from the word “bone fire”), and there was all kinds of cultish stuff these druid priests would engage in.

Then gradually, the Roman Catholic Church had a day called “All Saints’ Day,” which was November 1st, and that made the day before All Saints’ Day, the “hallowed eve” of it, and that’s where we get the word. Halloween is a corruption of the word “hallowed eve” of it. They thought, “If we can’t beat the pagans, maybe we’ll make Christianity more attractive by taking this day and connecting it with the worship of the saints.” Wait a second. What did we find out about worshiping the dead? Are they alive? So even the holiday that the Catholic Church developed about veneration of the saints, where is that in the Bible that we’re supposed to worship the dead humans?

So no matter how you look at it, from my view, it’s untruth¬ and Christians should not support that. Ephesians 5:7. You ought to look this one up about the works of darkness. You might want to look this one up and follow along here. “Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)”—follow the truth, “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no,” not just a little bit of fellowship, but “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”

Again, Moses said in Deuteronomy 18:10, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire,” notice—child sacrifice, “who practices witchcraft”—that’s in the same sentence, “a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium,” who speaks to the dead, “or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.” He puts it in the same category as child sacrifice, and if you read the history of Manasseh, it talks about how Manasseh brought these pagan idols into the temple of the Lord, he made his children pass through the fire, and he consulted mediums and talked to the dead. All of this is sort of balled up together, and so, in my book, I don’t think Christians should have anything to do with Halloween. You just look across the street in your neighborhood and you see the bones and the tombstones and the witches.

Let me put it to you another way. There are some holidays that are cultural holidays that I think Christians can get behind. There’s no commandment to remember Thanksgiving, but if there’s a holiday we can get excited about, it would be Thanksgiving, right? And everyone has a broad spectrum of what do you do with Christmas and Easter, because after all, Jesus did rise in the springtime. But it used to be a fertility holiday, and Jesus may not have been born December 25th, but we’re remembering His birth, and so I’ve heard people all over the place on that.

But if there is one holiday that Christians should not endorse, I would think it would be Halloween. That doesn’t mean slam the door and say, “We don’t believe in Halloween” when those cute little trick-or-treaters come up dressed like ghosts and devils. Overcome evil with good. Amen? Pray God will give you some creative way. Just don’t give them anything that causes cavities. And if for no other reason you know it’s from the Lord, for all this candy! The week after Halloween you have all these kids in school looking like they’re spirit possessed, but it’s sugar possession is what it is. That ought to be evidence by itself. Well, I’ve said enough.

We don’t have to fear the dark, do we? Yes, there are devils out there that are trying to spook and scare. We don’t have to be afraid. Somebody told me they’re doing a rerelease of the movie Ghostbusters. Jesus was the ultimate one who busted up Satan’s game, and He tells us that when we trust Him we don’t need to worry about those spirits of darkness. 1 John 1:5-7, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” We don’t have to be afraid of those things that go bump in the dark, or of ghosts.

Do you know how you get rid of darkness? Turn on a light. And if you have the Light of the World in your heart, it dispels the darkness. You don’t have to be afraid of what might be creeping around under your bed. It can be taken care of with a vacuum cleaner. If you have Christ, you don’t have to live in fear. Amen? You don’t have to be afraid of ghosts and spooky spirits. Just make sure that your life is in the hands of the one who is the Light of the World.



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