The Bible teaches that the dead sleep in their graves till Resurrection Day (Psalm 13:3; Daniel 12:2; Acts 7:60; Job 14:12; 1 Corinthians 15:18). Jesus Himself called death a sleep (John 11:11-13). There is no consciousness of time in death (2 Corinthians 5:6-8), so for the believers, the next conscious thought from death is their awareness of their glorified bodies at Christ’s coming.
After death a person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) till the Resurrection.
The dead receive their rewards at the second coming and not at death (Revelation 22:12). They will sleep until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, … and the dead in Christ shall rise … and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53). There would be no purpose in a resurrection if saints were already in heaven after their death.
So, who are these entities that resemble the dead and appear to people?
The Bible tells us that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) and, even more shocking, as Christ Himself (Matthew 24:23, 24). By the “spirits of devils, working miracles” (Revelation 16:14; 18:23) that pose as spirits of the dead, the devil will deceive the world (Matthew 24:24).
For this reason, God commanded, in the OT, that mediums, wizards, and others with “familiar spirits” (who claimed to be able to contact the dead) should be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:27) to protect His children from demonic contacts and deceptions.
So, any “spirit” appearing or claiming to be a deceased loved one is really a devil!
For more on what the Bible states about death, check out The Intermediate State.
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In His service,