Demons, and Saints #2 Ghosts
Woooah. It’s October, which means Halloween at the
end of the month. So to get into the Spirit,
Holy Spirit that is. We’re looking into Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints.
Last time we considered zombies and zombie Christians. If you missed that teaching you can find it
on our website hbcc.life or YouTube channel hbcc life.
Today we are going to
be considering ghosts. We are going to
discover a real ghost story in scripture.
We are going to see that the King James Version of scripture can be
misleading when addressing the 3rd person of the Trinity. Finally, we are going to discover how to get
rid of the ghosts that are haunting us.
Ghost stories have
been with us a long time. My favorite is
A Christmas Carol by Dickens. Two modern
Ghost stories I thought were well done are
The 6th Sense, Cole Sear famous line is “I see dead people.” And
Nicole Kidman portrayal of Grace in the
movie “The Others” where she is sure her home is haunted. The folklore about
ghosts is that a ghost is the energy of a person who has died but for some
reason is dead, but not gone. That
energy can manifest in physical form, can act upon the environment, and in
those horrible ghost stories kill you. Scientifically the EM meter pegs, the
temperature drops, and then….nothing.
When it comes to this
idea of Ghosts Jesus made it pretty clear that they don’t exist. When it comes
to speculation about the afterlife there are four possible places a person goes
when they die to await the resurrection.
In Hebrew thought that place is Sheol, the descriptions of which sound
like being in states of semi-consciousness. (Genesis
37:35; Numbers 16:30; Jonah 2:2).
Jesus told us a parable in Luke that seems to indicate that those who do not have
faith in Jesus go to a place of torment (Luke 16:23), those who do have faith
in Jesus wait in a place of comfort (Luke 16:25). But it’s probably not the wisest to build
your theology around the literacy of a parable.
The Apostle Paul indicates that when our bodies die, the eternal part of
us is ushered into the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8). The fourth place
is mentioned in Revelation, those who died in service to Jesus go to a place
very close to God called under the altar (Revelation 6:9). So the question is
can someone come back from one of those places as a ghost and interact with
In the scripture,
there are two instances when someone who had died interacts with the living as
a ghost. 1 Samuel 28:15 tells us that on the behest of King Saul the witch at
Endor calls up the ghost of the prophet Samuel for advice. Leviticus tells us
not to do this ever (Leviticus 19:31). The séance, calling upon the dead, astrology,
tarot cards, was a practice of all the pagan cultures and not to be tolerated by
God’s people. Leviticus 20:27 instructs that mediums and necromancers are to be
put to death (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
Isaiah 8:19-22 (MSG)
When people tell you,
"Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into
the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?" Tell them, "No, we're going
to study the Scriptures." People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead
end! Frustrated and famished, they try one thing after another. When nothing
works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, Looking
this way and that, up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing, A blank wall, an
empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing.
Scholars all have
their biases, so we are left not knowing for sure what comes up from the place
of the dead. The dialogue is bad news. “Tomorrow
you and your sons will be with me” (1 Sam 28:19 (MSG). If there are any more instances of ghosts
popping up in the Hebrew Bible it has escaped me.
In the New Testament,
we have the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke
9:28–36). Peter, James, and John witness
Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. We
know Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:5-6), we’re not sure what Elijah's “being
caught up on a whirlwind means other than speculating the aliens came back to
get him” (2 Kings 2:1). Just
kidding. Moses represents the Law,
Elijah represents the prophets and again scholars are of mixed opinion as to
the ghost question. What we do know for
sure is that the message of the Law and the message of the Prophets are in
agreement with Jesus. Some scholars suggest that these are the resurrected
bodies of Moses and Elijah, others say this is a manifestation of the Spirits
of Moses and Elijah and differentiate between the meaning of Ghost and Spirit. One
thing is for sure, this appearance doesn’t fit into our folklore concerning
We are hard-pressed
to find mention of Ghosts in both the Old and New Testament (maybe Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49; Luke 24:37, 39) that look anything
like our folklore. But you might
say—Hey, wait a minute, what about the Holy Ghost? That there is a Holy Ghost
doesn’t that mean there must be other kinds of Ghosts? The original language is hagion pneuma; hagion means holy, different, set apart; pneuma means spirit, its
Hebrew roots means to breathe, a breathe has no body. When the folks back in
1611 translated hagion pneuma they
rendered it Holy Ghost because in the common thought of the time: Ghost meant
spirit. The Holy Spirit brings the breath of life. There are different kinds of spirits, but
they are not ghosts in the way we commonly think. We’ll take a look at this
You may confidently
conclude the Ghosts of our stories are not real. People do not come back from the dead to
haunt places or harass people. But there
is another type of Ghost that can haunt you; ghosts that rise out of our shame,
our regrets, our mistakes, and our sins. Many Christians are haunted by the
ghosts of their past. Some hauntings are well-founded, the Holy Spirit is reminding
you that you have “business” to take care of.
Some hauntings are founded in regrets; you wish you would have done
something different than what you did.
Some hauntings concern what someone else did to you. Some hauntings are because we did not allow
ourselves to grieve a loss properly. These
types of ghosts are stumbling blocks to living your life to the full. They can prevent you from growing deep,
growing up, and growing fruit. Like
fictional ghosts, these past mistakes, failures, and traumatic experiences
To banish the ghosts
of your past you will first need to pinpoint the event. You will have to bring it out of the dark
shadows into the light, set it on the table and examine it. You will need to do detective work: what lead
up to this incident? what happened in the event? what was my culpability in the
situation? what has resulted from that encounter? This is not easy to do, it is emotionally
draining, and best done with the help of a spiritual friend who will hold your
confidences (James 5:16) and hold you together, encouraging you, if you are
overwhelmed. Sometimes you need an outside observer to help you deal with the
reality of the situation. Speaking to a
woman who had been assaulted, she was haunted by the thought that if she hadn’t
worn that dress…, she needed someone to tell her that it was not her choice of
clothing that was responsible for what happened. It wasn’t her fault.
God’s timing is so
amazing. It’s the end of June when I am
preparing this message and I got visited by a ghost. I had one of those straws that “breaks the
camel’s back” moments, and I choose to have what is best described as a two-year-old
temper tantrum. After I came back to my
senses, I got on the phone with a trusted friend and told him the tale. In the conversation, a light dawned as to
what this ghost was all about. It had to
do with events in my past. Ghosts always
are from our past. A current series of
events was piling up on me emotionally and something as light as a feather set
me off. It all had to deal with my need
for validation. God used the Ghost to
show me a problem that was holding me back from being completely free. My insecurities led me to unconsciously keep
asking the question “Am I doing good?”
My insecurity led me to consciously keep asking “How did I do?” When the
answer was no, all those old tapes of being bad, of being broken, of being
worthless, of not being able to get it right, all that negative self-talk would
flood back convince me that it was all about me and my shortcoming making me
miserably incapacitated and terribly angry at myself. God is so faithful, through fellowship and
confession the Holy Spirit pinpointed my issue.
Now that the Ghost was out of the closet it could be dealt with.
You find yourself
angry, depressed, anxious, exhausted, frustrated, maybe revisited a behavior
that you thought was dealt with, ask yourself why? What was the trigger? What lies behind my
reaction? Don’t waste your pain and your shame; use it as a stepping stone to
freedom. Ask God to help you see behind
the circumstances to the real offending problem. Talk it over your experience with a trusted
spiritual friend. Draw your ghost out of the shadows so you, along with God’s
help and banish it turning it into a learning experience.
When the Ghost is in
the sunlight first determine your culpability, that part you played in what
happened, you own it, you take responsibility for it. Remember you are the one who chooses your
actions. You determine how you can make
things right. I believed a lie about me,
I needed to replace that lie with God’s truth. My friend on the phone reminded
me of Dallas Willard's talk where we confessed his need for feedback and
replaced it with being content with doing his best in what God had asked him to
do and let God deal with the results. I
thought of the Keith Green song “He’ll Take Care of the Rest” the lyric reads
“do your best, pray that it's blessed and he’ll take care of the rest.” If your
actions caused harm to another then you’ve got to make it right (Matthew
5:23). Often trust has to be
rebuilt. You can traumatize someone
else, your actions being a trigger of something ugly in their past. You have to own your behavior and make
amends. If it was disobedience,
confession and repentance are called for, with a heavy emphasis on producing
fruit in keeping with repentance.
What you are doing is
learning from the past. Learning from the past you rewrite the past. You put a different spin on what
happened. It was traumatizing, most
Ghosts are the result of trauma. You
can’t change the past but you can take the power of the past to haunt you out
by reinterpreting the even into a lesson you learn from.
The past’s power to haunt
disappears when you mourn what should have been. Whatever occurred was not what God intended,
His will was ignored and you suffered for it.
Love was denied and you were pained because of it. You may have chosen the wrong path. Grieving can be a form of confession, a form
of complaint, and a form of request. It
helps to recognize that whatever happened to you should not have happened to
you. Grieving helps you realize that you are not the same person, that person,
you’re different now. You’ve grown,
you’ve matured, you’re stronger, you’re wiser, you would have done things
differently than if you were there now.
The past’s power to
haunt disappears when you actively take those lessons you learned and pass them
on to others. Maybe you can become an
activist shining the light of truth and justice on a situation and helping
others find liberation from similar situations.
I performed a
ritual. I put the lie I believed on
paper. Wrote it out, big and bold; I
wrote some of the more outstanding detriments this lie had caused in my life. I
wrote out again my need for achievement to win love, I wrote out my need for
validation to make sure I was worthy of being loved, validation that I was OK,
on the right track, doing good; my need for the praise of others more than the
approval of God. I wrote down the anger events, the depression episodes, the
embarrassing reactions when I didn’t maintain self-control. Then I consecrated
it to God and burned it in the flames. I
set that piece of paper on fire and watched the smoke being carried away by the
Will it be one and
done? Most likely not. I’m a slow learner and have had to go through
remedial training in the school of hard knocks.
I have made the sad discovery; “oh it’s the old ghost in a new
disguise.” But with recognition, there
is the power to overcome.
The ghosts of our
folklore and midnight tales around the campfire are not real. The Bible doesn’t
directly address the idea of the dead coming back to haunt the living, but it
does indicate that such is most likely not the case. We learned that the
rendering of the word spirit into the word ghost was a device of the
times. Just because we sometimes call
the 3rd person of the Trinity the Holy Ghost doesn’t mean that the
ghosts of folklore haunt us. We did learn that the traumatizing events of the
past can haunt our present.
We banish those ghosts
by pinpointing the creating event, the trigger that summoned the ghost. Our emotions are a great indicator of a
haunting. We determine culpability and make appropriate amends. We banish our
ghost by reinterpreting the past, learning from it, recognizing that we are not
the same person we were. Still, we may need to mourn the event giving it a
decent burial. We can then take what we’ve learned and pass it on to others,
becoming an activist. You may want to
create your fitting ritual to surrender what happened to God, letting go and
releasing it all to Him. Repeat as necessary.
You can be free of your ghosts from the
past. Jesus sets you free. The power is yours.
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