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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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Spirits of the Dead​—Can They Help You or Harm You? Do They Really Exist?

Spirits Have Not Lived and Died on Earth

Spirits Have Not Lived and Died on Earth

Spirits exist! Within the invisible spirit realm, there are both good and bad spirits. Are they persons who have lived and died on earth?

No, they are not. When a person dies, he or she does not pass on to the spirit world, as many people think. How do we know this? Because the Bible says so. The Bible is a book of truth that comes from the only true God, whose name is Jehovah. Jehovah created humans; he well knows what happens to them when they die.—Psalm 83:18; 2 Timothy 3:16.

Adam came from dust, returned to dust

The Bible says that God formed Adam, the first man, “out of dust from the ground.” (Genesis 2:7) God put him in Paradise, the garden of Eden. If Adam had obeyed Jehovah’s law, he would not have died; he would still be alive on earth today. But when Adam deliberately broke God’s law, God said to him: “You [will] return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.”—Genesis 3:19.

What does this mean? Well, where was Adam before Jehovah created him from the dust? He was nowhere. He was not an unborn spirit in heaven. He did not exist. So when Jehovah said that Adam would “return to the ground,” he meant that Adam would die. He did not cross over to  the spirit realm. At death, Adam once again became lifeless, nonexistent. Death is the absence of life.

But what about others who have died? Are they also nonexistent? The Bible answers:

  • “All [both humans and animals] are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.”—Ecclesiastes 3:20.

  • “The dead . . . are conscious of nothing at all.”—Ecclesiastes 9:5.

  • “Their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished.”—Ecclesiastes 9:6.

  • “There is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [the grave], the place to which you are going.”—Ecclesiastes 9:10.

  • “[Man] goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”—Psalm 146:4.

Only the living can do these things

 Do you find these scriptures hard to accept? If so, think about this: In many families, the man earns money to support his household. When the man dies, his family usually suffers hardship. Sometimes his wife and children do not even have enough money to buy food. Perhaps the man’s enemies will abuse them. Now ask yourself: ‘If that man is alive in the spirit world, why does he not continue to provide for his family? Why does he not protect his family from bad people?’ It is because the scriptures are correct. That man is lifeless, unable to do anything.—Psalm 115:17.

The dead cannot help the hungry or protect victims of abuse

Does this mean that the dead will never come to life again? No, it does not. We will talk about the resurrection later. But it does mean that dead people do not know what you are doing. They cannot see you, hear you, or talk to you. You need not fear them. They cannot help you, and they cannot harm you.—Ecclesiastes 9:4; Isaiah 26:14.