Dealing with the loss of a close relative or friend is one of the most traumatic things someone can endure. We sense the loss of their physical presence and the ability to talk with them frequently. If they were a source of encouragement and guidance their absence will make us yearn for their leadership. In desperate situations, some people have wasted money on mediums and others who claim to communicate with the dead in order to receive some final message or to maintain contact. I fear that many Christians are practicing this in a more subtle way and are, without realizing it, taking glory from God.
Some eastern religions have a custom of lighting candles and preparing food to appease dead loved ones. They will pray to their loved ones for help in their life. Christians have long answered this with an exhortation that such people pray to God who can truly help them. However, I am witnessing more and more Christians asking dead relatives and friends to intervene in the matters of this world. I have heard Christians attributing the strength they had to overcome a certain obstacle to a departed loved one—not that the loved one was an inspiration to them or something they were taught helped them but that the loved one was actively helping them. They may even pray for them to intervene with God on their behalf.
We must acknowledge that nowhere in Scriptures are we commanded or encouraged to ask dead loved ones to intervene with God on our behalf since Jesus is our intercessor and He “ever lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25). Nor do we find authority to ask them to watch over us daily or during a special time of need. Again, it is Jesus who can sympathize with our weaknesses and is the only at the throne of God’s grace that we can “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:25).” We should not make requests to departed loved ones, Bible characters, or other faithful brethren that alone should be addressed to the Father through Jesus.
Since this is the case, if we go to our deceased loved one–or anyone who lived on this earth–to ask help in a time of need, we are not only doing it without authority but it is an unintended insult to God who really can assist us. In the Old Testament God considered it an insult! Isaiah 8:19 says, “… should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?”
Those who are deceased have no power at all in this world. In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31, the rich man was concerned about the spiritual welfare of his brothers. However, he could do nothing about them (v.26 says it was impossible for him to return). He could not teach them or lead them to truth. Even Lazarus was not permitted to return to help them. The clear teaching of this passage is that we sever our relationship with the world at death. Ecclesiastes 9:6 says we no longer share in the things of this world. Any person who lived on this earth does not have the power of God upon their death, do not have his divine knowledge, and no matter how much they loved us, God loves us infinitely more!
I do not want to be insensitive and and know firsthand the depth of pain one feels when grieving a loved one, but to say that the dearly departed are working among us reflects an ignorance of God’s word on this subject and takes much deserved glory away from God. We cannot honor our departed loved one by dishonoring God.
Do our departed loved ones become angels when they die? The next article will address this.