“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