A ghost is defined as: The spirit of a dead person, especially one believed to appear in bodily likeness to living persons or to haunt former habitats.
Normally we state in this column that the Bible has a great deal to say about the topic being presented, however, in this case there is little found in the Bible about “ghosts” as defined above because the Bible doesn’t recognize their existence. To clarify, the Bible has much to say about the spirit of a deceased person, but nothing to say about the appearance of their spirit on earth between their physical death and subsequent resurrection.
According to the Bible man was created in the image of God, his creator.
“So God created man in His own image…” Genesis 1:27
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
These verses reveal that man was created with two parts, a physical body and a spirit. The physical body of a man returns to dust after death and the spirit returns to the One that created him awaiting their final destiny.
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
“Then the dust will return to earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
According to the Bible the spirit of man belongs to God and at the time of physical death it will either be preserved in paradise or reserved in hell until reunited with the physical body which will then live forever. A great truth is that there is no such thing as cessation of being for any man at death. A spirit preserved in paradise is protected, i.e. kept safe until the reunification of the body and spirit for eternal life in heaven. A spirit that is reserved in hell is kept under guard until the reunification of the body and spirit for eternal separation from God in the everlasting lake of fire.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:23
This verse reflects the preservation of those who are bound for eternity in heaven.
“…then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority, They are presumptuous, self-willed…” 2 Peter 2:9-10
And this verse reflects the reservation of those who are bound for eternity apart from God.
So the spirits of all men who have died are either preserved or reserved by the one who created them and there is no record in the Bible that any of these departed spirits have ever escaped God’s watchful eye to visit the earth in the interim as a ghost.
It may be confusing to some that there are several English words that are synonymous and may be used interchangeably in the scriptures. For example the words ghost and spirit are from the same Greek word pneuma which also can mean breath and wind.
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit (the ghost).” Matthew 27:50
“And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost (spirit)!’ and they cried out for fear.” But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:26-27
The above is a case where the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus especially seeing that He was walking on the water so they attributed what they saw to a ghost/spirit.
Many also confuse demons with ghosts. It is not known with certainty whether or not demons are the spirits of fallen angels, but it is known with certainty that they are definitely not the spirits of deceased men. They have power granted to them to enter and influence the lives of the living. They are also great imitators and deceivers because of their alliance with their leader, i.e. Satan.
One of their great deceptions is to cause people to believe that they can communicate with the spirits of the dead. This deception if vehemently warned against by God as are all attempts to communicate with the spirit world.
“Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them…” Leviticus 19:31
“A man or a woman who is a medium or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.” Leviticus 20:27
“There shall not be found among you…a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD…” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
Therefore, according to the Bible there are no such things as ghosts as defined above and we should let God take care of the spirit world in His own time and method.