Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints #2 Ghosts

 


Zombies, Ghosts, 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 people?

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 Ghosts.

 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 next week.

 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 scare you.

 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 breeze.

 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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