Paranormal Activity

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“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons….Watch your life and doctrine closely.” (1 Timothy 4:1 & 16)

Years ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the (then) recently released movie, Paranormal Activity. For those of you who don’t know, Paranormal Activity (definition of “paranormal activity” is: phenomena unexplained by normal experience) was produced along the lines of 1999’s hugely successful Blair Witch Projectfilmed more in the genre of a documentary filled with raw footage. In other words, it’s hard to tell what’s fact—and what’s fake.

The movie centers around a young couple who begin to try and find out what all the creepy stuff is that keeps happening in their home at night. Little does the guy know that the girl has dealt with this creepy stuff most of her life. The guy gets curious and sets up a video camera during the night to try and “catch a ghost in the act” of pulling some kind of prank—much like you see on popular shows like SyFy’s Ghost Hunters. But, things go from mischievous to nefarious very quickly as this dark entity becomes more and more hostile and possessive.

This led to some great dialogue between me and my friend —who happens to be a born-again believer— regarding what the Bible teaches about “paranormal activity.”

According to the Bible, there are no “disembodied human spirits” (a.k.a. ghosts) roaming this earth. On the contrary, scripture teaches just the opposite:

2 Corinthians 5 reminds us that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Jesus told the repentant thief, Today, you shall be with Me in paradise.” Furthermore, in the only parable in Scripture that includes a proper name, Jesus describes the Rich Man in Luke 16 as going immediately to hell after he died, and Lazarus (not the “raised-from-the-dead Lazarus”) going immediately to heaven.

In other words, the Bible consistently teaches there’s no “roaming around on earth period” between life & the after-life.

“If that’s true,” you ask, “then WHAT is causing all the ‘paranormal activity’ that cameras appear to catch on film?”

The same thing that caused paranormal activity in the New Testament: demons. And they would love for believers to base their understanding of what demons can – and can’t – do on movies, documentaries, etc – anything but the Bible. 

Before I continue, C.S. Lewis’ warning in the preface to his Screwtape Letters is most appropriate here:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally please by both errors…”

That said, I will address this topic, but will not give Satan more “press” than he deserves.

There are nine recorded stories of demonic possession in the New Testament with numerous other stories related to demonic activity.  My point here is simply: according to God’s own Word, demons exist.

And horror flicks can plant within a person a “spirit of fear” which, we know, is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7).  Further (and Satan enjoys this immensely), even a believer, when gripped with fear, can begin to think Satan is more powerful than Christ.

But nothing could be farther from the truth.  For Jesus said about Satan, “He has no power over me.”

Indeed, Satan was helpless to prevent Jesus from uttering from the cross, “It is finished,” or preventing Christ from rising from the dead.

The biblical truth is clear:  Christ, over whom Satan has absolutely no power, dwells within the believer.  Hence, Satan has no power over one who has placed their faith in the power, risen Christ.  John comforted his readers,

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

In 1989, I had the opportunity to visit with a former Satanic high priest who had professed his faith in Christ.  I’ll never forget what he shared – creepy stories that made the hair stand up on the back my neck.  But he concluded by saying,

“I’ve seen some terrifying things within the realm of Satanism. But nothing satanic comes close to the terrifying presence and power of Almighty God.”

Back to my conversation about paranormal activity with my friend.  In addition to reminding them of their position/authority in Christ, I said,

“Be very, very careful not to develop your doctrine of demons/evil spirits on anything other than Scripture. When we do that—and a lot of believers do—we open our minds up to what the Bible calls “every wind of doctrine”. (Eph. 4:11-14)

Throughout the history of Hollywood, movies dealing with the paranormal (a.k.a. demonic activity) like The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Conjuring, the list is endless – are filtered through the minds of Hollywood directors and producers. Stick to the one true Script—the Bible.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

 

I See Dead People

“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” (1 John 4:1, NLT)

Years ago, while surfing through TV channels, I came across a “ghost expert” waxing eloquent. Educating the world on ghosts, he said, “Ghosts are spirits that weren’t quite finished completing their mission on earth. Hence, before they’re able to move on to whatever’s next, they’re here with us.”

Our fascination with ghosts & spirits is nothing new. One scholar stated, “Necromancy (communicating with the dead) is the oldest form of counterfeit known to man. Its roots go back to the beginning of time, as far back as ancient Egypt…The main idea behind it all is that the spirits of the dead have the capacity to communicate with people here on earth through mediums.” (Remember “Psychic Hotline?” a.k.a. Dial-a-Demon.)

Our culture, although not necessarily Christian, is extremely spiritual. And the idea of talking with deceased loved ones is a hugely emotional topic.

In days past, John Edward has been enormously popular. His web site states, “As a psychic medium, Edward has helped thousands with his uncanny ability to predict future events and to communicate with those who have crossed over to the other side.”

So, is Edward’s (and other “mediums”) legit? What’s the Bible’s take on this?  According to the Bible…

1. It’s sin.

The Old Testament passages of Lev. 20:6, 27, and Deut. 18:10-12, are strongly worded commandments from God, leaving no doubt as to where He stands on people foolishly trying to communicate with the dead.

2. It’s a lie.

Jesus tells a fascinating story in Luke 16:19-31 about a poor beggar named Lazarus (not the Lazarus Jesus raised from the dead), and an arrogant rich man. Both men die. Lazarus goes to heaven, while the rich man goes to hell. What Jesus makes perfectly clear is that (1) both men entered eternity (Lazarus in heaven, the rich man in hell) immediately after death. There was no “roaming around period” on earth as ghosts. And, (2) returning to earth was not an option.

3. It’s dangerous.

Former medium, Ralph Gasson, confesses that what he used to think was spirits of dead people was actually demons. This answers the obvious question, “If I’m not talking to my dead loved one, who am I talking to??” The biblical answer is simple: demons.  The Bible tells us that demons are real. Satan’s chief talent is “deception,” demons have no problem impersonating the dead. Jesus called Satan “a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Entertaining any “word” from Satan’s minions will only help to convolute and confuse the truth of God’s Word, which was exactly the serpent’s strategy in Eden.  The Bible actually includes a frightening story of people “messing with demons” in Acts 19.  Some Jews – who had not professed their faith in Jesus – were envious of the power God had bestowed on the Apostle Paul to perform miracles.  So….they decided to take on Satan’s kingdom in their own (Christ-less) power.  That was a very bad decision.  You can read the story here.

NOTE: There is an intriguing story found in 1 Samuel 28, where the Jewish King, Saul, desperate for help, rather than depending on God, sought out a medium in Endor. I bring this to your attention because proponents of necromancy use this passage as biblical support for what they do. What follows is a brief commentary on this passage by renowned theologian, Merrill Unger: (Upon Saul’s request), “the woman doubtlessly began her customary preparations for her control to take over, entering into a trance-like state to be used by her control or divining demon, who would then proceed to impersonate the individual called for. The startling thing, however, was that the usual occult procedure was abruptly cut short by the sudden and totally unexpected appearance of the spirit of the prophet, Samuel (who was dead). In other words, even the medium was shocked and terrified that someone from beyond was appearing! Transfixed with terror, the woman screamed out with shock as she perceived that God had stepped in. By God’s power and special permission, Samuel’s actual spirit was presented to pronounce final doom upon Saul.”

So, like parting the Red Sea, a virgin giving birth, and a donkey talking, this is simply an isolated instance when God, in his sovereignty, did what He wanted to do to fulfill His purpose.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

A Halloween Miracle

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Few people knew much, if anything, about Hunter “Patch” Adams before 1998. That’s when Universal Pictures cast Robin Williams in the lead role in a movie about Adams’ life.

In his book, Gesundheit!, Adams shares that, following a series of traumatic emotional experiences that caused him to become suicidal, he told his mother, “I’ve been trying to kill myself. You’d better check me into a mental hospital.” He continues, “My mom called the family doctor, who called a psychiatrist, who admitted me to a locked ward at Fairfax Hospital. I spent Halloween there.

Adams goes on to share about his roommate, Rudy, and the following two week period that became, in his opinion, the turning point of his life: “Talking to Rudy, I realized the importance of love and the people who loved me. I had been surrounded by love but hadn’t let it affect me. I perceived a deep personal truth: I needed to be open to receive love. Without it I was not a strong person. And I realized that if I continued living as I had been – without tender, human love – I would end up like Rudy. He represented the Ghost of Christmas Future that I would become if I refused to surrender to my [need for love.]”

In his book, Adams never indicates that he’s a believer. Nonetheless, his story is universal: he had spent his life underestimating both the power and inherent need of one thing: love.

Patch Adam’s miracle came at Halloween. As believers, our miracle came on a hillside outside Jerusalem on a cross, twenty centuries ago– a miracle resulting from supernatural love.

Have you, due to anxiety, anger, bitterness and the like, forgotten just how much God loves you? Don’t allow satan to steal the abundant life Jesus died to give you.

In 1973, Glenn Frey & Don Henley, of The Eagles, wrote their hit-song, Desperado, which concludes with this warning, “You better let somebody love you…..before it’s too late.” That’s good advice. Embrace the love of Jesus – His heart-pounding, infinitely compassionate love.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick