(Mat 14:26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.
It was a common belief among of people of old that the spirits of people frequently appeared to the living after death. Even the disciples thought Jesus was a spirit or an apparition as He was approaching them on the water during the storm. This kind of thinking is traced throughout history. Think about how this theme fills literature and movies. How about at Halloween time or going on the Haunted House ride at Disneyland? Someone is stuck in an intermediate state. Perhaps he’s being punished. Maybe he’s trying to escape, or he has to do some good deed to set him free. You can hear Marley call out the name of Scrooge as he drags his chains across the floor. (Dickens in “A Christmas Carol”) Concepts of limbo and purgatory can certainly fit into this way of looking at things.
Every now and then I get asked the question regarding what I think about ghosts. Are they real? Do they haunt homes? Can they communicate with people? Can we communicate with them? I guess we ask a question like this because we have had an experience ourselves or maybe someone has told us about theirs. Maybe it was something we saw on TV or read in a book. Things like this make us curious. As Christians we are always trying to sort out fact from fiction because we want the truth. So what does the Bible say about ghosts?
Nothing in particular. But . . . we can do a little Bible study and come up with a good line of reasoning. Let’s start with this verse: (Heb 9:27) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment . . . Okay, so this says we die once and then there is the judgment. Anything in between death and judgment, though? Can a person be a ghost? Well, here’s another verse: (Luke 16:22-23) "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 "And being in torments in Hades . . . Notice the spirits of the departed either went to God or to a place of suffering. If you go on in the chapter you find out it was a permanent state. No roving around. No caught in the middle. You are assigned a place in the hereafter and that’s your permanent address. And we know as believers it all relates to if someone is born again or not (John 3:3; 2 Cor 5:8).
So how do we explain bumping noises in the night, or things that move, or whispering voices? The natural explanation is it could be our very active imagination playing tricks on us. Or it could be someone else playing a trick on us. The supernatural explanation is it could be demonic in nature. Satan can mimic the voice of loved one or do something to make it look like a ghost. This way a person gets distracted, gets caught up in a spirit of fear, and loses his focus on the Lord (Col 3:2; 2 Tim 1:7).
Do I believe in ghosts? Let me just say I believe in the Holy Ghost! He is my Comforter and my Helper, and He helps me to keep my focus on Jesus!!