Gargoyles, Ghouls, Ghosts and Goblins?

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From 1987 to 1992 my wife and I lived in Salzburg, Austria. As a Canadian, one of my first vivid impressions was made by the many churches in that and other cities. It seems every church I saw had frighteningly ugly, contorted faces protruding from the outer walls and eaves of the church. I was told that these were gargoyles and demons. They depicted the evil spirits abandoning the building. Churches were considered holy sanctuaries. The presence of God drove out all evil spirits. The faces had gaping mouths and frightened, fearsome eyes. A person who entered the church entered “hallowed ground”.

Centuries ago, people were firm believers in the existence of evil spirits. Those fears and beliefs were all too often exploited by those in power. People were held in the virtual stage of serfdom and slavery for centuries by the power that was wielded by the church and ruling gentry. Great trust and faith was put in the church. Most people entrusted their eternal lives to the dictates of the church leaders. Kings sought the blessing of holy men and almost all crowns showed this endorsement from God by having a symbolic cross or gem placed on top of the crown. The symbol showed that this king was there by the authority and permission of the church - which meant permission of God. It was proclaimed that anyone defying that rulership was not defying a man, but was defying God. I Samuel 8:7 was probably the root of the thought that was nourished. Israel did not want God to rule and asked for a king. These rulers twisted that to include God in their coronation and position.

Evil spirits were sent shrieking from the holy and sanctified places. Scriptures such as Exodus 3:5 Exodus 3:5And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground.
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pointed to the reverence one was to feel when on “holy ground”. The description of the temple which had specially hallowed areas such as the holy of holies also gave grave meaning to the inner sanctuaries. One could also use scripture that state that God dwells with men to great advantage (Psalms 9:11 Psalms 9:11Sing praises to the LORD, which dwells in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
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).  In each of these edifices one can find the tombs of bishops and priests, of kings and queens of those who wanted their remains to be inside of the holy ground.

In our modern cities, we no longer see the gargoyles and ugly faces of those spirits supposedly fleeing the holy places. We ascribe this to an age of superstition and misuse of power - a method used to control the masses. We have advanced to the point of disdain when it comes to evil spirits and ghosts - or have we? There are major businesses that thrive on the realm of the unknown. Modern, educated and successful people still keep an eye out for signs of their horoscopes, Tarot card readers, seance groups, mysterious rites and rituals all flourish in our modern world.

There is a recent spate of movies that reflect a fundamental belief in the supernatural that still fascinates people. Harry Potter movies and fantasies about the unknown have huge followings and are almost instant successes. All seem innocent and fun on the surface, but the roots and origin of this fantasy world lies elsewhere in a past history of belief in a spirit world. Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
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states that these were also problems in the early church. The concept of witchcraft is so heinous to God that He states that those who practice these things will not receive eternal life. That is serious.

Sometimes people speak of premonitions they have had, and some children are afraid of the dark, Halloween has grown in popularity and is a huge business season. Ghouls, ghosts, spooks and gargoyles have not become a thing of the past. They are still with us today. Religious people may approach the subject in a seemingly light hearted way - but deep within many hearts is that core of belief in evil spirits that does affect our lives today. Sometimes things happen that frighten us and can leave a deep impression in our minds. There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl 1:9).

We have much good reason to believe in a spirit world. The Bible is full of statements about angels and demons - good spirits and evil spirits. Witnesses have spoken of direct encounters. Jesus cast evil spirits out of people and gave that ability to His followers. We read in Luke 8:1-2 Luke 8:1-2 [1] And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, [2] And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
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of women who had been healed of evil spirits. Seven demons were cast out of Mary Magdalene.  Luke 10:17 Luke 10:17And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through your name.
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records the joy the disciples had that even demons were subject to them in Jesus name. The evil beings do exist and so do angels.

Magicians and mysterious workers in the spirit world sometimes are only using tricks to create impressions. These seem harmless enough; however, there are also many unanswerable things that occur. Unnatural and unfathomable, be it UFO's or rings appearing in a farmer's field. There are also always humans who will exploit the fears of people and make merchandise of them.

We have a natural curiosity and that can get us into trouble. Hosea 4:11-13 Hosea 4:11-13 [11] Prostitution and wine and new wine take away the heart. [12] My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declares to them: for the spirit of prostitutions has caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. [13] They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit prostitution, and your spouses shall commit adultery.
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is one of the passages that show how Israel asked counsel from wooden idols. God's people are not even to ask about these things, because curiosity about evil opens us up to influences that can creep in. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 2 Timothy 3:1-9 [1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [6] For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, [7] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. [8] Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. [9] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest to all men, as their's also was.
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cautions us about the times we live in. There is a form of godliness and people are gullible. Evil creeps into society and into our lives and therefore just as we ought to stand on guard for our freedoms, we ought to stand on guard against evil thinking that can creep in and capture us. Clean house mentally, so to speak.

Jude is a short, but frightening book near the end of the Bible. Jude describes the infiltration of the church by ungodly men who preached licentiousness. Evil people are put into a category right along with evil spirits that are set on destroying the people of God. In 2 Corinthians 10:1-7 2 Corinthians 10:1-7 [1] Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: [2] But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, with which I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. [3] For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: [4] (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) [5] Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; [6] And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. [7] Do you look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.
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, Paul warns Christians that they are in a spiritual war - a battle of the mind and for the mind.  Examine yourself Paul tells us and keep your guard up. Flee that which is evil and do not mess with the spirit world.

For more information regarding the spirit realm, please read the free Bible study aid Is There Really a Devil?