God On The Net

Reincarnation —
Satan's Second-Biggest Lie


(Satan's biggest lie is that we can become gods or be like gods.)

"What is incarnation?"

Incarnation is the process of a soul entering a fetus at some point before birth.  Most religions, including Christianity, believe that this occurs and it is what distinguishes man from all other animals.  Incarnation is a normal process, part of the regular human life cycle.

"Is incarnation either spiritual possession or demonic possession?"

No.  Spiritual possession, also called demonic possession, occurs when a demon spirit (one of the angels that followed Satan) takes possession of a body that already has its own soul.  The original soul is still in the body but does not have control of the body.  The demon can be cast out by the power of Jesus' name used by a believer.

Mark 5:2-13  [2] When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. [3] This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. [4] For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. [5] Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.  [6] When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. [7] He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" [8] For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"  [9] Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"  "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."  [10] And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.  [11] A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.  [12] The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them."  [13] He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Acts 19:11-16 [11]  God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, [12] so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.   [13] Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."   [14] Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.  [15] One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" [16] Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

Side Note: Mental illness is not demonic possession.

We need to be clear that demonization (a person under the influence of a demon) can lead to mental illness.  For example, a person under demonic influence may engage in self-destructive behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse which may result in mental illness. But a demonized person is not controlled by demons.  In North American and Europe, demonic possession is quite rare, for two reasons: (a) It is real obvious that something very weird is happening. (b) Disbelief is Satan's best weapon. Most Americans and Europeans don't believe in demons, devils, evil spirits, etc.  If lots of people were demon-possessed, the general public would have to accept the reality of evil spirits.

Mental illness is not demonic possession.  For example, see How to Differentiate Demonic Possession from Schizophrenia by Pastor Dr. Steven Waterhouse.

In the late 1990's, a demonized woman attended services at our church for a few weeks.  I'm not one of those people who can "see spirits", etc., but even I could tell almost immediately that something very strange was going on—she kept writing constantly through two-hour services!  She never would recite the Apostles' Creed, and every time the preacher did the "invitation to discipleship", inviting people to accept Jesus, she would almost run out of the sanctuary.

(If she had been demon-possessed, there is no way she would have voluntarily come to Holy Spirit-filled church services on a regular basis!)

"What is reincarnation?"

Reincarnation is a core doctrine of many Eastern religions, such as Hinduism.  It is the belief that a single soul goes through many physical lives, that when a person's body dies, his soul enters a new body prior to that body's birth.  When that body dies the soul enters a third body, etc. Eventually, the soul reaches Nirvana.

Buddhism believes this is accomplished by following the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment, and that when a soul reaches Nirvana the soul ceases to exist. (The idea of reincarnation is not limited to a single religion and the concept varies.  Technically, at least Tibetan Buddhism teaches that man does not have a soul.)

Hinduism believes that Nirvana involves a reunion with Brahm, the all-pervading force of the universe which Hinduism considers to be god.  This is like a drop of water rejoining the ocean. The soul loses its individual identity when it rejoins Brahm but does not cease to exist.

Understand that a lot of "teaching" about reincarnation in the United States is "pop theology" thrown together from various TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and horror movies and is simply the imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters, with no basis in any historical religious or philosophical tradition or belief system.

Another term for reincarnation is the Transmigration of Souls.

Another term for reincarnation is the transmigration of souls, "migrate" meaning to move from one place to another and "trans" meaning "across".

"What is karma?"

Karma is another core doctrine collateral to reincarnation.  Karma is essentially a "spiritual track record."  The belief is that each person has a sort of spiritual record of everything good and everything evil he has done in every incarnation he has ever had.

"What is the relationship between karma and reincarnation?"

Religions which espouse reincarnation teach that  the karma track record follows from one lifetime (reincarnation) to the next.  Which body you get for your next incarnation depends on your total track record when you die.  In other words, you may have a sickly body, be poor, and be the victim of a lot of violence in this lifetime because three lifetimes ago you murdered two people.

Reincarnation religions teach that incarnations are not limited to human bodies.

Reincarnation religions claim that a soul is not always reincarnated as a human.  In other words, if you are really horrible this time around, the next time your soul might go into the body of a chicken, a dog, etc. Some versions believe that a reincarnation might not even be an animal, e.g., the soul could be reincarnated as a tree.

"What does the Bible have to say about reincarnation?"

The Bible does not expressly talk about "reincarnation."  However, it makes it clear that "you only go around once in life."

Hebrews 9:27-28  [27] Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, [28] so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

"Which is better, reincarnation or salvation by grace?"

a) The one that's true!

b) Reincarnation would require each person to work out his own salvation—and when he finally did he would simply cease to exist!  Jesus already paid for all of our evil deeds.  All we have to do is accept the salvation He offers as a free gift!

"I've heard people say that Jesus was reincarnated, not resurrected."

This contradicts both the Bible and religions that teach reincarnation.  Jesus came back in a different kind of body, as an adult human.  A resurrection body is incorruptible and is not restricted by natural physical laws.  After He was resurrected, Jesus walked through a wall without injury and without damaging the wall.  He also "popped into" the middle of a group in a locked room and then "popped out."

Luke 24:30-36 [30] When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. [31] Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. [32] They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" [33] They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together [34] and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." [35] Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. [36] While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."

John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

John 20:26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

Reincarnation (as it is claimed) always involves a soul entering a new body while that body is still a fetus.  A resurrection body is always an adult body—if a three-month old child dies of a disease, he does not get resurrected as a three-month old child, but as an adult.

"Is there any evidence that reincarnation is true?"

There IS  false evidence that reincarnation is true.

Huh?  False evidence of truth?  What does that mean?

Suppose you are on a jury trying Smith for burglary, and Smith did commit the burglary. Smith gets on the witness stand and lies—he says he was with his girlfriend all day.  Smith has presented evidence.  It is false evidence, but it still is evidence.

But what if you believe Smith?  You think you reached the correct decision, but it's still false evidence.  You leave secure in the knowledge that Smith didn't and could not possibly have committed the burglary—after all, you have evidence.  But your decision is based on false evidence.

"A lot of people have experienced past lives.  Doesn't that prove reincarnation is true?"

Many people have reported "reliving" parts of "past lives."

These reports cannot simply be dismissed as hallucinations, psychotic episodes, hoaxes, etc.  In a number of cases, details have been verified.

In the early 1950's a book called The Search for Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernstein caused a great stir and great interest in reincarnation.  The author used hypnotic regression to regress Virginia Tighe mentally all the way back to the womb, and then before conception.  Much to his surprise, the hypnotized subject started describing life as another person -- a woman named Bridey Murphy, who had lived in Ireland in the 1800's.  Of course, the question arose whether there ever was an actual Bridey Murphy, etc.

According to the book, research eventually proved that there definitely was a Bridey Murphy.  Furthermore, she had been a "nobody."  No one had ever written any books, magazine articles, etc. about her.  There was no fraud and absolutely no way the hypnotized subject could have obtained the detailed information she provided.

(Note: In March 1998 I did a follow-up search on the Web and found some sites indicating that a later investigation by the newspaper Chicago-American turned up a woman named Bridey Murphey who had lived across the street from Virginia when she was a young girl and that no supporting evidence had ever been found in Ireland.  Obviously, I don't know whether the Bernstein book or the newspaper is correct.)

Similarly, actress Shirley MacLaine has described her experiences "reliving" parts of "past lives" and so have many others.  However, as astronomer, computer scientist, venture capitalist, prize-winning science fiction author, co-developer of the original Internet, noted author of over a dozen books, ufologist and occult researcher Dr. Jacques Vallee has noted, it is so hard to believe that all these people lived important past lives.  No one was ever a chambermaid who had to clean out "chamber pots" for the aristocracy before indoor plumbing was widespread in Europe, no one ever had a life as a slave, a 12-hours-a-day-7-days-a-week factory worker, or other horrible conditions most of humanity has had to endure for most of history.

It is not enough to say "reincarnation disagrees with the Bible."  To provide a credible refutation of reincarnation a Christian must offer an explanation for the "past lives" experiences and that explanation must be consistent with the Bible.

Many Christians feel that when confronted with information like this, all they have to say is "Reincarnation (or whatever) disagrees with the Bible."  Then they get annoyed when people say Christians are closed-minded and superstitious and their opinions on Christianity are not worth considering because Christians can't explain the evidence.

"Past life experiences" can be explained consistently with the Bible.

"Past life experiences" are genuine experiences with counterfeit contents.

It is important to realize that people like Shirley MacLaine (and many others) have had actual experiences.  The content of the experiences is the thing that is false.  Satan and his demons have supernatural powers.  They have the power to induce hallucinations and demonic manifestations.

Demon spirits have existed since before man.  They know details of earlier people's lives.

It is true that no person currently alive could have known details of the lives of people who lived in previous centuries.  But the same demons that were alive then are still alive now.  They saw what particular people did, how they felt, etc., they know the names of their friends, etc.

Demon spirits can induce hallucinations containing information from other lives.

A person having a hallucination thinks it is a real experience.  A demonic hallucination using information from someone else's life seems real.  Reincarnation is a reasonable explanation for these experiences—false, but nevertheless reasonable.

"Wait a minute!  You said that these past-life experiences can't be explained as hallucinations!"

There are different types of hallucinations.  One is caused by body chemistry, illness, etc.  The other is from an altered state of consciousness, brought on by things such as:

  • Hypnosis
  • Yoga
  • Eastern-religion types of meditation
  • Biofeedback
  • Various drugs
  • Certain kinds of electrical stimulation applied to the brain
  • "Going into a trance" to act as a spirit medium
  • "Channeling" (a term used by UFO researchers.  The activity involved is the same as medium practices.)
  • "Remote viewing" (a term used by the U.S. military to describe the same activity as channeling or medium practices.)
  • Contacting "spirit guides"
  • Typical activities of a medium at a seance
  • "Visualization" techniques
  • Any kind of occult activity that invites spirits to make contact, such as Ouija boards, Tarot cards, astrology, consulting a "psychic."

"Why would Satan bother coming up with a big lie about reincarnation?  What's the point?"

Mankind has an innate desire to commune with God.  It is in our nature, because God put it there.  Satan will use any means available to lead people away from God.  He doesn't have to get people to believe there is no god, he simply has to get them to not believe in the Christian God. A simple way for him to do this is with counterfeit religious experiences such as "reincarnation past-lives."

To get a better idea of Satan's motivation and tactics see Satan -- the Devil, and Demons -- the Fallen Angels.

God will judge us on our belief and our actions.  If we do not believe in Jesus and accept His gift of justification by faith we will be condemned. We cannot work out our own salvation by good deeds, lest any man boast.  But that is exactly what reincarnation teaches—if you screw it up this time, you simply have to do it again and again until you get it right.  The pernicious lie here is that the person dies and finds out too late that he doesn't get another chance.


(c) 1998-2011 by Rick Reinckens

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