«Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons» (l Timothy 4: l).
While I (L) was studying the Bible with a group of women inmates, one of them related an impressive experience. One of her nephews had died at the age of five. But on the day of his burial, while his body was lying in the coffin, the entire family was sure they had seen him running in the hallways of the house. This was enough for the young woman to believe that the child was still near them. But can you trust your personal perceptions? Can we trust the validity of our senses?
From a psychological perspective, it’s no secret that perception can be affected by numerous factors: emotions, physical conditions, expectations, and motivation. Experiments show that the places we want to get to seem further away when we are tired or when we carry a heavy burden. A mountain looks higher when we listen to sad music or when we are walking alone. On the other hand, what we long for appears to be closer. Perceptions can be affected even by physical or neurological problems or by substance use. We can definitely say that our senses can be easily deceived; so not all things are what they seem to be.
Beyond the fallibility of our perceptions, the Bible unmasks the prince of deception. He is «the great dragon . . ., that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world» (Rev. 12:9). He can masterfully pretend to be dead people. «And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light» (2 Cor. 11: 14) Scriptures warn us, «There shall not be found among you anyone . . . who calls up the dead» (Deut. 18:10, 11). When we invoke the dead, it means that we are searching for Satan who shows himself in the form of the deceased person. He offers instructions and deceptions that lead to disaster.
Believing that the dead remain conscious and can communicate with the living, opens up the door to the world of darkness. Just like he did in Eden, Satan still uses the same message, «You will not surely die» (Gem 3:4). But a sentence falls upon every sinner, «The soul who sins shall die» (Ezek. 18:20). Nevertheless, there is still hope for everyone who believes in God. Jesus said, «I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live» (John 11:25)