Does God forbid humans from trying to communicate with the dead?
By Pastor Ron Jones,D.D. © The Titus Institute, 2003
In answering this question, there are two important points the Scriptures tell us:
1. Humans are not able to communicate with the dead.
There are no human spirits wandering around the earth only demonic spirits.
Human beings are made up the material (the body) and the immaterial (the soul and spirit).
In 1 Thess.5:23, Paul tells us that human beings have a body, soul, and spirit.
Our body is of course, the physical part of us that we can touch and feel and that dies at the moment of physical death. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. Our spirit is that part of us which is able to relate to the spirit realm and to God who is a spirit.
At physical death, the soul and spirit are separated from the body.
If that person is a believer in Jesus Christ he or she goes immediately to heaven into the presence of Christ. We know this because Paul says in 2 Cor.5:4-8, “absent from the body present with the Lord.”
If he or she is an unbeliever, he or she goes to a spiritual place called “Hades.”
Jesus spoke of this spiritual place called Hades (Sheol, in the OT) in Lu.16:19-31. Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Both died and one went to a place called “Abraham’s bosom” and the other went to a place called “Hades.”
v. 23 says, “And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being tormented, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
Most conservative evangelical Bible teachers believe that during OT times, Hades was a place where the souls of the dead go to await the coming of Jesus Christ. Before Christ’s death on the cross, there was a good part of Hades for the souls and spirits of OT believers and a bad part of Hades for the souls and the spirits of those who were not believers. When Christ died he released the souls and spirits of these believers into heaven to await the resurrection of their physical bodies. The good part was gone because Christians don’t go to Hades when they die. Only the bad part remains.
There he or she awaits the Great White throne judgment with all unbelievers who have died before him or her.
Rev.20:11-14 talks about this judgment.
Once a person dies he goes to one or the other location and that's it.
The only exception would be physical resurrection, where God raises the dead body and reunites it with its soul and spirit. When God has done that in the Scriptures, it is only within a few days after death.
By the way, if a person is resuscitated, I believe that he may have been as close to death as any human being can be, but he didn’t die. If he had truly died only a resurrection by God’s power could bring him back.
Heb.9:27 says it is appointed for a man to die once.
There is no statement in the Scriptures that says that humans wander around, haunting various locations trying to communicate with their loved ones.
In fact, Jesus said in Lu.16 in the above passage about Lazarus that even if someone wanted to come back for the highest purpose of telling his relatives about salvation, it was not necessary or allowed.
However, there are spirits who are wandering around, demonic ones.
2. Demons can communicate with humans.
Demonic spirits exist in the spiritual realm that surrounds the earth and human beings.
In Eph.2:2, Paul calls Satan the “prince of the power of the air.” Later in Eph.6:12 he speaks of demons as “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
“Spiritual forces” reminds us that demons are powerful and forceful spirits. These demons are evil angels who have rebelled against God. Angels are spirits who are invisible and have no bodies although they are capable of taking on human form and inhabiting a human body.
Where do these spirits dwell? In the “heavenly realms” or the “spirit realm.”
The term “spirit realm” is a general word used in the NT of the realm where all spirits live.
In Eph.2:6 it is used of heaven where God and holy angels live and it is used of the realm where Satan and his demons live.
All spirits inhabit the spirit or heavenly realms.
The spirit realm can be divided into two major parts: 1) the realm of heaven where God and his holy angels dwell and 2) the realm above and next to the earth, called the domain of the “air.” This is where Satan and his demons dwell.
The domain of the air is the spirit region above the earth and next to the earth, but below heaven (where only holy angels are allowed to dwell with God).
The spiritual kingdom of Satan and his demons is the spiritual realm below heaven just above the earth and around humans. There are spirits moving around but they are not human.
The Scripture clearly indicates that there are demonic spirits who have lived and observed the earth from the beginning of its existence who can disguise themselves and appear as human spirits and give facts about a dead person's life. But they are not human spirits who have died. They are demons.
They attempt to deceive people into believing all kinds of things, one of which is communicating with the dead (called “channeling” today).
When people get involved with communicating with the dead, they are actually getting involved with demonic spirits.
This is why this is expressly forbidden by God
We saw last month that God forbids going to psychics and all activities involving "spirits." When the Israelites were getting ready to go into the promised land after they had been delivered from Egypt by Moses, God told them not to get involved in the "spiritistic" practices in that land because they were detestable to Him.
The following is a quote from Deuteronomy 18:9-13. I have defined the various activities in brackets.
It says, “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no on be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire [human sacrifice], who practices divination [obtaining knowledge of the future through spiritistic practices, i.e. psychics] or sorcery, interprets omens [signs of activity of pagan gods, i.e. palm readers, astrology], engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead [séances and those who try to speak to the dead]. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God."
These are all Satanic/demonic practices. People don't realize this, but it is true.
Channeling is certainly a form of demonic activity where demons can communicate with unbelievers.
Demons are not omniscient, but they certainly can see what is happening in the human realm and could certainly know about many facts of a dead person’s life. They can see what is happening in the physical realm. They have existed during man’s entire existence on earth.
And, although they cannot know the future (an attribute of God only), they are excellent guessers when it comes to predicting the future, but they are not always right.
That’s why a true prophet had to be 100% right all the time to be considered true.
“And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not follow, or come to pass, that thing is not what the LORD has spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously…”
If demons have been around since the beginning of humans. They certainly can predict human behavior with some accuracy.
All this means that if someone is attempting to communicate with the dead, he or she is either communicating with demonic spirits or it is a fake.
Recently on a major network in the evening, there was a “TV special” detailing the techniques that are used by “psychics” to deceive the audience into believing they are seeing all kinds of activities when they are not.
Of course, they brought up the techniques used by those who supposedly communicate with the dead relatives of audience members. There have been popular TV shows with this happening. The audience member comes up on stage and the “psychic” relates facts about this person and supposedly relays a message from the dead loved one to the audience member using references that only the audience member could know.
They then demonstrated how they did it. When the audience member was registering and/or standing in line, people who work for the “psychic” are planted in the area and strike up seemingly innocent conversations with various future audience members and later relay this information to the “psychic” who has pre-determined who he will choose once he has facts on them. If tickets for the show are applied for in advance, they may send someone to that person’s home pretending to be lost looking for directions or the like. Conversation is again developed and information solicited.
Much of what you see today in America is probably just fake, but some to be sure is demonic.
What should be our response as Christians? Stay away from the things that are abominable to the Lord as he told the Israelites in the OT.
Instead follow Jesus’ words in Matt.6:33 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…”