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Jan. 27—There are two pointed references to ghosts in the New Testament and the question arises if there are such things.
The first reference is Matthew 14:26 where Jesus' disciples saw him walking on the Sea of Galilee "and were terrified. 'It's a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear."
The other is Luke 24:39 where Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection and said, "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."
Neither the Rev. Mario Martinez nor the Rev. Tim O'Neal believes in ghosts, but they do say humanity is plagued by demons.
"We cannot deny that Jesus and the disciples used the word 'ghost,' but that doesn't mean the Bible supports the idea," said the Rev. Martinez, pastor of Genesis Christian Church. "Jesus meant that he was not just a spiritual vision, he was a fleshly body.
"Some people think they see dead loved ones and call them ghosts, but I don't believe in that. I always tell them that Satan has angels called demons and demons can appear to people to confuse their minds, so they need to be very aware of that and be focused on God."
The Rev. O'Neal, pastor of Refuge Ministries, said the scriptural references "are to point out the difference between reality and superstition.
"I do think demons are out there," O'Neal said. "I don't know if they can appear, but I believe they can torment people with stress, fear and worry and try to coerce them into things they shouldn't be doing."
Citing Revelation 12:11, he said, "Christians are the enemies of the devil and are therefore under attack, so we have to go to God in prayer and his word.
"The way to defeat Satan is by the power of Jesus and blood of the Lamb and the praise and testimony of the believers."
O'Neal said demons are the fallen angels who were cast out of Heaven with the devil when the Archangel Michael defeated them.
Revelation 12:7-9 says, "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him."
"The sole purpose of the demons of Satan is to separate us from God and they continue to prey upon the lost in order to maintain control over them," O'Neal said. "When we give our lives to Jesus, he frees us from being slaves to the devil."