The house that my mother lived in is about 200 years old. It is one of the oldest homes in the county. There is not a level floor in the house. Thirteen foot ceilings. Cold in the winter and hot in the summer. However, the house has a rich history: At one time a prominent physician lived in the house. The story goes that the doctor had a son who went “mad.” The insane son was locked in one of the bedrooms upstairs. The house’s claim to fame is the spiral staircase. Legend has it that this insane son got out of his room, and killed Dr. Nuttall on the spiral staircase. Legend also has it that his ghost wonders up and down the staircase. I lived in that house all those years as a youth and I never saw, heard or met that ghost.
According to tradition a ghost is a spirit of a dead person that visits the living. In most of the stories about ghosts they report the ghost as resembling humans, only as transparent, shadowy or white sheets. Look in our own American tradition: Casper, Ghost Busters, The Movie “Ghost”, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. Many American Indians, tribes in Africa and people on Pacific Islands believe in spirits (ghosts) influence our lives. Tradition talks of two types of ghosts: The ghost bent on evil. Usually the spirit of a person who was murdered or done great harm. The ghost returns to get vengeance and to correct the wrong. William Shakespeare’s plays Hamlet and Macbeth. The ghost that does good. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, has a good ghost that tries to help Ebenezer Scrooge. A ghost that haunts a place by making strange noises and causing doors and furniture to move we call “poltergeist.”
People have always feared ghosts, whether real or not. Ghosts are always associated with darkness, rarely the daylight. People have gotten exorcists, reburied corpses, put stakes in corpses and even prayed. Even the Old Testament has added to this concern.
Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.” “Bring up Samuel,” he said. “I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.” “What does he look like?” he asked. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said. Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.”
Such ideas have been long standing in religious history. While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” THIS WAS FOLLOWING THE RESURRECTION. They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. (Luke 24:36-40)
Jesus understood their fear and their superstitions, but does not give credibility to the belief in ghosts. Scripturely, these type of ghosts do not exist. When Paul writes, EPH 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Paul writes about angels and demons, not ghosts.
When a person dies, good or bad, the spirit returns to God. The spirit of the dead do not return to inhabit the earth. The spirit returns to God to be a part of the Great Resurrection. Even the unbeliever will stand before God.
In scripture the demons never try to possess buildings or furnishings, but always people. It is that which is living that is important. The demons never take on human form, or become transparent, shadowy or white sheets. The demonic comes from Satan not vengeance of the dead.
Angels in scripture take on two appearances. The supernatural, white robed, winged creatures. They look like people.
There is only one ghost in scripture – the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. This Ghost is like the “wind”, it goes and comes as it pleases. This Ghost is part of God. It is the part of God that moved over the face of the deep in creation. It is the part of God that has always been with God’s people. It is the part of God that now lives in the believer.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. “They have had too much wine.” These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “`In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
This Ghost brings salvation. This Ghost brings hope. This Ghost takes away fear. With this Ghost, Revelation says, The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”