One of the jobs of the priesthood in the Bible was to teach God’s “people the difference between the holy and the common, and to show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” (Eze 44:23)
The LORD gives honor to “the consecrated priests, the sons of Zadok, who did not go astray when the people of Israel went astray, as the Levites did.” (Eze 48:11)
Today we have many church leaders who are not preaching the whole Word of God, not teaching the difference between the holy and the common, perhaps in ignorance, or perhaps in order not to offend anyone.
But “am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?” (Gal 1:10)
IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH
When I first was delivered out of the cult that I had been in for almost ten years, there were a lot of things that I did, not knowing that I shouldn’t. I actually went back to a cult meeting and was chanting with them. I knew I didn’t need to chant any longer but I hadn’t yet realized the inherent evil in it. It only took that one time, though. The LORD convicted me. I came to understand that this was NOT a practice I should continue if I wanted to please the LORD.
There are actually Christian denominations that practice a form of chanting. This is NOT God’s way. Yet, it is advocated by some churches. The rosary as an example. Now, there are many sincere, devout Christians practicing the rosary. I do NOT judge their sincerity, nor their motives, nor their heart, nor even their love for God. However, the rosary is a pagan practice at its root. For example, counting beads are used in some sects of Buddhism. But is there any mention of the rosary in the Scriptures? To the contrary, Jesus cautioned just before He gave the LORD’s prayer as a model, that we should not use “vain repetitions as the heathen do.” (Matthew 6:7) Is not the rosary a “vain repetition”?
There are plenty of models for prayer in the Scriptures. The psalms of David particularly show an honest, heartfelt communication with the Father. That is in stark contrast to repeating the same phrases over and over fifty times! Is God deaf? However, some think they are pleasing the Father by saying a rosary. While the Father does graciously look on the heart, should we not seek to worship Him in the manner He has prescribed? God equates loving Him with obeying Him. (1 John 5:3) He wants us to worship Him “in spirit and in truth.”
Jesus did NOT tell the women at the well (John 4:19-26) that their Samaritan way of worship was acceptable. They had set up their own version of Judaism in Samaria. They were doing it their way. They were probably quite sincere. But they were sincerely wrong. Jesus told her plainly,
“You worship what you do not know.” (John 4:22)
Does this statement mean that they were not even in fact worshipping the God of Israel by doing it their own way?
“You worship what you do not know…. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
God wants us to worship sincerely but also in line with His Word, the Truth.
So if something is specifically forbidden in the Scripture, should we think that it is all right to use that as worship? That would not be in truth!
The God of Israel and His prophet Elijah defeated the priests of Baal. The priests of Baal cried all day to their heathen god but he did not answer them. But notice:
“And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on… ” (1 Kings 18:28-29)
Should a Christian cut themselves? No way! This is not God’s way. This is heathen.
“A law against the superstitious usages of the heathen…. They must not make cuts or prints in their flesh for the dead; for the heathen did so to pacify their infernal deities.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)
Leviticus 19:26-28 is addressed to the congregation at large and the context is now refraining from superstitious pagan practices (witchcraft):
“You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying. You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead , nor tattoo any marks on you: I AM the LORD.” (Lev 19:26-28)
Notice it says “any marks” NOT “unless it’s an Israelite symbol or Scripture”. Some Christians have tattooed their bodies with Scripture. They have done this zealously, maybe meaning to glorify God. But is this what God asked them to do? Did the Holy Spirit lead them OR was it a part of their culture? Maybe they thought it was cool.
We all make mistakes. This is NOT written to judge anyone, but to point out to others who might consider tattooing that it is NOT something that Christians SHOULD do. I once said the rosary zealously and in sincerity. Now I know better. Spirit AND truth.
The problem is that many do not recognize pagan practices for what they are!
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6
Many Christians unknowingly wear occult symbols. They wear symbols of death! Many emblems have pagan origins! Before you put some cryptic symbol on you, please know what it means! We inadvertently advertise pagan concepts by wearing them.
We should not look like the heathen. We are to be salt and light.
Having just last night watched a segment called “Tattoo Nation” on Fox News Channel (O’Reilly Factor), I’m even more convinced that there is an evil spirit and agenda behind the popularizing of tattoos. Again, Christians need to be salt and light in the midst of a perverse generation, not imitating their pagan customs!
I know and love many fine Christians who have tattoos. This is NOT a judgment on their characters. It is a presentation of the Scriptural arguments against tattoos that are not being addressed sufficiently. The leadership of the Church should be more influenced by the Word of God than by trends in the culture. All of the leaders in the Bible had their flaws and committed sin. That does not justify it. David committed adultery but he repented of it and did not “legalize” it to justify his own sin. Thank God for grace!
Matthew Henry’s Commentary clarifies why we don’t judge the heart: “Note, God judges of men by the temper of their minds. We know what man does; God knows what he is; we know what proceeds from man; God knows what is in man….” (from comment on Ex 33:3-5) So we can know by the Word of God that an action is WRONG, but we do NOT know the thoughts of a person in choosing that action. Even a right action can have a wrong motive.