Ghosts, spirits, demons.

Discussion in 'Spiritual Warfare' started by Free Christian, Aug 12, 2014.

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  1. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi everyone. Recently I heard a discussion on ghosts and demons which is something I had not thought about too much in the past.
    I had always thought that demons were not visible and yet heard some say that what people see as ghosts are visible demons. Also that what some see as aliens are demons also.
    I read in the New Testament where Jesus convinces those who saw Him after the crucifixion that he was not a spirit, or as some may say today a ghost.
    So my questions are, can demons appear visually? Why if they appear to fool people into thinking the dead can appear as ghosts, don't they appear when requested by mediums who claim to be in contact with them? If they can appear when they want, then wouldn't them appearing on cue give greater power to their lies?
    As I see it, all who are asked to conjure them today fail (unlike that in 1 Samuel 28) so was it that in those days it was different? That they appeared back then but don't have the power to now?
     
  2. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    I dont have answers to most of your questions but i do have an opinion on this :
    I don't think back then it was common either.
    1)Because the medium was freaked out when Samuel did appear. If it was a normal thing, she would have stayed calm.
    2)When Samuel appeared on the scene, Saul no longer needed the medium. Saul and Samuel had their own conversation with no help or need of the medium.

    This is my :2cents:

    I am excited to see other people replies to your questions. They are very good!
     
  3. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    Only those born and raised in Western society don't believe in demons. They are a reality in Asia and Africa, something most pastors deal with at least on a weekly basis. The devil is pleased with Western unbelief in this regard. He can get away with more. Yet, even here, demons are more heard and felt than seen visually. This is similar to the NT where there were effects but no visual manifestations. The nature of spiritual reality has not changed over the millennia. It's just that Western denial/unbelief has developed.
     
  4. MichaelNZ

    MichaelNZ Puritan Board Freshman

    The Bible says that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). If he disguises himself, who is he disguising himself for? It would have to be humans (as presumably angels and demons would be smart enough to tell the difference).

    I believe all ghost phenomena is caused by demons. Why? Because, if spirits seem to linger on earth after death, that casts doubts on the Bible's teaching that the souls of the departed go to either heaven or hell. People say that some departed spirits have trouble "crossing over". If that is true (which it isn't) then that sort of weakens the Christian teaching of all departed souls going to either heaven or hell and sort of leaves other options open.

    When I was a Romanist, I remember asking a question on a Romanist forum about ghosts. They have another possible explanation - ghosts can also be spirits of human being in Purgatory. There is a "Purgatory Museum" in Rome which consists of artefacts supposedly touched by purgatorial spirits when they appeared to humans, presumably to ask for prayers to get them out. During the Borley Rectory hauntings in Britain, the words "light mass prayers" were supposedly written on the wall by the spirits. I've also heard accounts of "ghost priests", the so-called spirits of papist priests who promised to say Masses for certain people/intentions but forgot to do so on earth. One such account, recounted by Samuel Lover in Legends and Stories of Ireland, can be read here.

    Ron Rhodes' book The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums and Psychic Phenomena is a good resource on ghosts.

    With regard to aliens, they are most likely demonic too. I've heard Matt Slick mention on his radio show that some people who were supposedly abducted by aliens reported that the aliens were teaching them new-age theology. He's also heard of accounts of alien abductees calling on the name of Jesus and being back in their bedrooms.
     
  5. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Woah
     
  6. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Be patient and wait for others to respond for there is much superstition that abounds. :)
     
  7. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    Michael, very helpful. Please let us avoid the word "superstition." The basic meaning is something that you believe, for which I hold you in contempt. It implies insult. I propose rational and scriptural.
     
  8. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I hope you hold my belief in this area in contempt and not me personally. :)
     
  9. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am almost compeled to allow Joshua's post speak for itself and I will attempt to answer this from what is ABSENT in scripture. No fallen human being has ever seen a demon much less smelled or felt one.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  10. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    So Jesus, who treated demons as real, had an erroneous worldview? O.K. He was accomodating. Like a pastor accomodates to his children about Santa Claus. But He preached a whole sermon on the subject, Luke 11. An accomodating pastor doesn't preach a sermon on Santa Claus. Moreover, He had no compunction against correcting the disciples' erroneous beliefs on other subjects.

    O.K. ghosts, goblins, aliens may not exist. Then again they may. A principle of exegesis is that it is not valid to argue from the silence of scriptures. If we did, we would maintain that motor vehicles don't exist. The scriptures DO speak affirmatively of the reality of demons, what they can do, what they can't do, what their effects are, and what believers can do about them. Read Luke 11. Throw that out as fairy tale, and the infallibility of the scriptures goes right out the window. What you 21st century Western clergy are saying is that the entire church for two millennia has had an erroneous worldview, but you are smarter and wiser than all previous generations combined. Maybe slightly arrogant?
     
  11. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Stop the name calling and seek to understand what each is saying/asking. :judge:
     
  12. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have always believed that demons are not seen by anyone and that they cannot materialise or disappear at will. In Samuel 1 Saul asked the medium what the person looked like, If the demon or whoever it was had materialised then Saul would have not needed to ask the question, he would have seen what they looked like himself. Correct? I do not see anywhere in the Bible where demons are seen, such as those who were possessed in Jesus time where He dealt with them.
    What seems to restrict demons and aliens and ghosts that people see to only appearing at night, why not in the daytime as well? I notice too that Sauls encounter was at night also, whether there is any significance to that I don't know or are implying. Just mentioning it.
    To me evil spirits have no visible form, they are spirit, so how can they give themselves form?
    I think of this too. If they can materialise as some think, then they have the power of themselves to do so at will. If they can, then why do they not do so more often and wreak havoc on the world of unbelievers? If as some might suggest, not here but some people I might be talking to, that God limits them to how they can do what they do, then why and for what purpose would God allow demons to appear as aliens or ghosts? What purpose would that serve. Its questions like that which make me believe they do not and cannot materialise on will. Surely if they can materialise they would do so in more prove-able ways? All so called evidences I have seen are done with shonks and charlatans, none where the viewer is left in awe at what took place.
    People speak of haunted houses but I cannot fathom why an evil spirit would posses and inanimate object. In the Bible it was people they did this to, and a herd of swine on request.
    Maybe Im going on too much with my questions though and I don't want to incite any ill feelings between people here so, what is the reformed view on the ability of demons to materialise in any way shape or form?
     
  13. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Classically "demons" are identified as deities. Christians worship one true God. If people in the Western world have stopped believing in other deities it could only be because Christianity has had a beneficial influence over the Western mindset.
     
  14. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    I would like to frame the question(s) this way:
    1) Do demons exist (i.e., really, and not metaphorically)?
    2) If so, where do they exist (i.e., are they - ever - 'on earth')? and
    3) If they do exist, and they are 'amongst' us, what do they do?
    In response to #3, Matthew Henry notes, "The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labor to deface the heavenly image in our hearts."
    How, exactly, do they ('the devils') do this?
     
  15. Tirian

    Tirian Puritan Board Sophomore

    :wwbd:
     
  16. MichaelNZ

    MichaelNZ Puritan Board Freshman

    The same could be said of angels. But the Bible has many incidents of angels appearing to people.

    Numbers 22:31 specifically said that the Lord opened Balaam's eyes to see the angel. So since demons are under God's control too, then couldn't God allow people to see demons the same way He allowed Balaam to see the angel?
     
  17. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I should have added also that I do not believe in ghosts and aliens. Hope no one thought I did!
     
  18. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Below are some answers I gleamed from past posts on this subject at the PB.

    No one here said they did not. :) The contention is that no one has seen, felt, or smelled any demon other than Jesus and Eve.

    They were on earth as seen in The Book of Job. Notice all the events they caused were nothing like what people think and report today. Now in the NT we see reports of "possession" written in a way as observed by the superstitious thinking of that time as we see in the testimonies of people today.


    They do plenty now a days. What they do we do not see,hear or smell directly. This I do know....The tempting work of Satan in the garden and the result of the disobedience of our first parents we can see, feel and taste.
     
  19. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    Could you clear this up? Are you saying that the way the NT accounts were written (that is, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit) was reflective of the superstitious thinking "of that time"?

    Then, please respond to Henry's quote (or reject it) and my question:
     
  20. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The New Testament uses descriptions by which the people of that time could identify a specific phenomenon. E.g., Acts 16:16; 1 Cor. 10:19-20. At the same time, the phenomena are denied any claim to divine power and honour which men give to them, 1 Cor. 8:4-6. This requires the reader to understand some terms and descriptions in a nominalist sense, Gal. 4:8.
     
  21. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    I certainly would not ascribe to demons honor nor "divine" power, nor do I contend that they are by nature "gods" (Gal. 4:8) - and I'm not sure who on this thread has suggested that or why you even make that point by quoting me; however, back to the context of my post, at any rate, I do believe the girl in Luke's account really had a "spirit of divination" and that the other descriptions of possession in the NT, while certainly contextually accessible, were nonetheless accurately assessed by the authors (e.g., Matthew 8:16; Mark 5:1ff; Luke 11:14, etc.) - are you arguing that the subjects of their narratives were, in fact, not possessed by demons/spirits and that they employed this terminology simply so that "the people of that time could identify a specific phenomenon"?
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  22. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    But you could not believe that the god Apollo or his oracle possessed the divine power of knowing and telling the future, surely.

    The narratives are certainly accurate, but narrative is not normative and the descriptive is not prescriptive.
     
  23. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    I do not believe that any foreknowledge can be had, save that which is given to man by God to serve the purposes of His will, such as when false prophets perform “great signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24). As Calvin notes in his commentary on the verse referenced earlier (Acts 16:16):

    “But the question is, why God doth grant Satan so great liberty, as to suffer him to deceive miserable men, and to bewitch them with true divinations? For, omitting the disputations which some men move concerning his foresight, I take this for a plain case, that he doth prophesy and foretell things to come, and which are hidden only through God’s sufferance. But God seemeth by this means to lay open men who are reckless or careless to his subtilty, so that they cannot beware. For seeing that prophecies breathe out divine power, men’s minds must needs be touched with reverence so often as they come abroad, unless they contemn God. I answer, that Satan hath never so much liberty granted him of God, save only that the unthankful world may be punished, which is so desirous of a lie, that it had rather be deceived than obey the truth.”
     
  24. Tirian

    Tirian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Mark 1:34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.

    Presumably Jesus did not allow the demons to speak, because if He had, the demons would have made fools of themselves because no-one would have heard them anyway!
     
  25. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    You seem to be saying that what is given to false prophets is "given to man by God." In which case you have removed the medium of demons altogether. Besides the confusing nature of your statement, I fail to see how this relates to the question under discussion.

    Calvin comments, "But Luke followeth the common custom of speaking, because he showeth the error of the common people, and not through what inspiration the maid did prophesy." He takes it as a nominalism, not as an attribution of reality. Calvin attributes the deception to the devil.
     
  26. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Why do you think this? The devils clearly spoke. The narrative does not tell us how they spoke. The mode of speech is a matter of interpretation, and one which depends very much on the way one already thinks about the phenomena being recorded.
     
  27. Caroline

    Caroline Puritan Board Sophomore

    The churches that I grew up in believed in visible demons and demonic possession even of Christians. It was often said that Satan was pleased with the unbelief in such things by other churches. I think there may be SOME truth to that (people who "believe in the basic good of all mankind" or whatnot). But the other side of it is that people become obsessed and paranoid. It was common practice to go through rooms of the house casting spirits out of them, and then worrying when illness struck that perhaps the spirits had returned. Clothes donated to our church had to be prayed over and anointed with oil lest they bring spirits in clinging upon them. People often claimed to see demons lurking around. I was once seized by the head by a woman visiting my home because she apparently saw a demon clinging onto me. My mother used to beat us under the impression that pain drove out demons. My hunch is that Satan is at least as pleased with that turn of events as he ever was with unbelief.

    People who live in fear see all kinds of things. Ever since I became a Calvinist and no longer believed that demons could operate outside the will of God, I stopped seeing demons anywhere. I believe now that they are all figments of fear-addled imagination. As previously noted on the thread, there is no Scriptural basis to suppose they are common sights. Sightings of "ghosts" and "aliens" are also likely mostly fear-addled imagination. The threat in my former church was that as soon as I denied such things, demons would show up in person to prove the point. I issued a challenge for that to go ahead as scheduled. I have no particular interest in the whereabouts of demons, as I believe in the protection of God. The greater threat is not from without but from within--the temptations Satan sets before us and the sin into which we fall.

    People prefer to believe in a completely externalized threat because it absolves them of responsibility, but alas, that is wishful thinking. I knew of more than one person who committed grievous sin and claimed that they were possessed by spirits and thus not responsible for their actions. It made a victim out of a villain in the eyes of others, who were just all the more spooked about "the power of the enemy to take over the body of Brother M and force him to do these things." All a lot of nonsense, really--excuses and blame-shifting. I don't much care what ghosts or aliens are, and if anyone says, "They forced me to commit adultery," I just don't believe it.

    PS For the record--although I issued my challenge twenty years ago, the demons have yet to materialize and prove their power in the manner I was told they would. I have not seen one. Nor a ghost nor an alien. I have seen some pretty scary people, though.
     
  28. One Little Nail

    One Little Nail Puritan Board Sophomore

    Buffeted

    noun
    1.a blow, as with the hand or fist.
    2.a violent shock or concussion.

    verb (used with object), buffeted, buffeting.
    3.to strike, as with the hand or fist.
    4.to strike against or push repeatedly:The wind buffeted the house.
    5.to contend against; battle.

    Earl your belief on the topic of devils is most humourous, you would make the Apostle Paul to be in a struggle with his own
    imagination, to be a most superstitious man, deceived, deluded, a fool & a crackpot.
     
  29. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    You brought up foreknowledge, not I; so, I responded with my thoughts on that (though perhaps I should amend what I said to read that foreknowledge is only ever given by God to men or angels).

    I would still appreciate a clear response to my earlier question: "are you arguing that the subjects of their [the gospel authors'] narratives were, in fact, not possessed by demons/spirits and that they employed this terminology simply so that "the people of that time could identify a specific phenomenon"? You agreed that the narratives were accurate, but then you seem to take back the substance of what they wrote by denying that the people were really possessed by demons [moving, as you did, from "accurate" to not "an attribution of reality"].

    If that is not your position, forgive me, but then I do not know why we are having this conversation! I entered this discussion simply to ask whether folks here believe 1) that demons exist, 2) that they are in our midst, and then - most significantly to me: 3) what is it that they do and how do they do it? I think we can dispense with 1 and 2. I would love to hear your thoughts (and anybody else's) on #3.
     
  30. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Robert. Webster's 1828 adds this definition:
    1. To beat in contention; to contend against; as, to buffet the billows.

    I don't know if there is any commentator that thinks Paul was physically beaten, and I doubt that is what the KJV translators meant.
     
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