Halloween is coming up. You can read my obigatory Halloween rant here; I want this post to be something else. Let’s examine the reality of witches, demons, evil spirts and ghosts. Let’s separate literal truth from literary fiction, because in this life “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorites, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Eph 6: 12
In Matthew 14, Jesus comes to the disciples walking on water. The wind is high and the seas are rough, so the they are probably already afraid. When they see Jesus walking on the water, the think he’s a ghost! He tells them it’s only him and to not be afraid. I’ve had Bible students site this passage as biblical proof that ghosts exist. I point out that this story doesn’t prove there really are ghosts, just that the disciples believe in them. If you are already afraid – as one might be sneaking into a cemetery in the middle of the night, or entering a supposedly “haunted” house – then one’s mind is more likely to play tricks. Fear plus adrenaline plus imagination could equal anything. On the other hand, one will note that Jesus doesn’t deny the existence of ghosts, only that he is not one.
I do not believe in ghosts. Death is the separation of body and soul. The moment your body dies your spirit will go to one of two places. In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus both men die. Lazarus is taken to Abraham in paradise, while the rich man opened his eyes in hell. For a person’s spirit to remain behind, unfinished business or otherwise, then God would have to make a mistaken. I am unwilling to concede that God could be mistaken or that the Bible is wrong. I do not believe in ghosts, whatever you saw in Grandma’s attic notwithstanding.
But what about evil spirits, witches, wizards and demons? Now those are things I believe in. When Lucifer was cast from heaven, a third of the angels fell with him. Where exactly was he expelled to? The devil is not a bright red imp with a pointy tail, pitchfork and horns. Nor is he in hell. Lucifer was the most beautiful angel in heaven, and we are warned in the New Testament to not be surprised that he appears to be an angel of light. The Ephesians passage above indicates this is the realm of the devil and his angels. We are living behind enemy lines! He tempted Eve to commit original sin, and has been at it ever since.
The first signs performed by Moses and Aaron (Exodus 7) could be imitated by Pharaoh’s magicians using their “secret arts.” When Saul wanted to consult with the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28) he found a medium. The first thing Samuel told him was basically “I’m dead, we shouldn’t be having this conversation.” Witches, wizards, mediums, fortune tellers, etc. do have real power. Their power comes from an unholy source. We are warned to have nothing to do with it, and that such will not have a part of God’s kingdom.
Speaking biblically, there are no ghosts. But demons, demon possession, witches, wizards, evil spirits and mediums: those things are real. There really is magic in the world, but there is no good magic. While the people of God are not to live in fear, there really are things out there to be afraid of.