Helping Christians worldwide strengthen their relationship with God, so they can be part of the Great Commission:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20 *
One day, God Himself will take your face In His Hands and gently wipe away your tears as He reassures you there will be no more suffering.
[The women] asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the
entrance of the tomb?" Mark 16:3, NIV
The women who had been so faithfully vigilant at the Cross during the long
hours of Jesus' suffering returned together first thing Sunday morning to
complete the embalming process that Joseph and Nicodemus had hastily done late
Their voices could be heard on the brisk early morning air as they discussed
the problem of how they would roll the stone away. They knew it would be
impossible for them to accomplish, even if all of them pushed together. What
stone, what obstacle is ahead of you that you think you can't move or get
around, that blocks you from fulfilling your commitment to the Lord?
Is it the
If we steadfastly cling to our faith in Him, persevering in our commitment
with obedience to His direction and call in our lives, He will roll away the
stones for us!
Blessed be the . . . God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our
tribulation. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV
How could Mary bear to watch her Son tortured? Yet how could she tear herself
Her entire body must have quivered as though from an electric shock as she
heard Jesus calling to her from the Cross. Surely her breath caught as she
strained to hear His words, yet He spoke clearly, "'Dear woman, here is your
son,' and to the disciple [John], 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this
disciple took her into his home" (John 19:26-27, NIV).
somehow, even with the horror of the scene before her, and the weight of agony
pressing against her chest, she knew everything was going to be all right. She
didn't understand, but in the midst of the anguish only a mother knows as her
heart is shattered by the pain of her child, a quiet peace must have stolen its
way within when God spoke directly and personally to her from the Cross. God had
singled her out, He had noticed her, He had cared for her, and she was
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in
paradise." Luke 23:43, NIV
Even in the blackness of hate and evil swirling around the Cross, the love of
God broke through like the rays of the sun on a stormy day. That love shone down
on the two thieves crucified on each side of Jesus. Their agony and fury boiled
over and spewed out in a venom of curses and taunts hurled at Jesus, challenging
Him to save Himself and them.
But one of the thieves grew quieter and quieter, until finally he rebuked his
partner in crime, "We are punished justly, . . . but this man has done nothing
wrong." And then, in one of the most moving conversion scenes in human history,
the thief turned his face toward Jesus and pleaded in humble faith, "Jesus,
remember me when you come into your kingdom." And Jesus turned his face toward
the thief and promised, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in
paradise." In the twinkling of an eye, that thief changed his eternal destiny;
he passed from death to life.
you ever felt unsatisfied, let down, even inexplicably empty, after you got
what you thought would make you happy?
not alone. This perplexing feeling has been known to strike the most
accomplished and wealthy people as well as the less accomplished and less
wealthy. In fact, King Solomon had it all—a kingdom, untold wealth, and
profound wisdom and knowledge—yet after pondering his life, he said that there
was nothing new under the sun, and that everything was vanity.
It’s as if
something compels us to find the elusive missing piece that would bring lasting
satisfaction. We may pursue a successful career, meaningful relationships,
material possessions, or fun and entertainment. But nothing cures that
mysterious empty feeling way down inside. Why do we feel this way?
turns out that to have this sensation is to be human.
shows us that God created us in a certain way. We can easily realize we have a
body, the part of our being that enables us to contact the physical world. But
we’re not just a physical being made up of so many atoms. We also have a soul,
an inward part that enables us to experience things in the psychological
realm. This, however, isn’t all there is to us.
First Thessalonians 5:23 says, “May your spirit and soul and body be
It is clear that besides our body and soul, God made every human being with a third
part—our spirit—the deepest and most hidden part. This God-designed third part has a specific capability:
our spirit can contact, receive, and experience God. Because He is the intended
content, our spirit can’t be satisfied with anything other than God Himself.
famous French scientist and mathematician Blaise Pascal said that within
mankind is a “God-shaped vacuum.” Only God can fit into this vacuum. As long as
our spirit is empty, without God, we cannot obtain true satisfaction; only He
can answer the longing of our third part. When God gets into our spirit, He
fills its aching emptiness with Himself as our real enjoyment, wealth, and
meaning. We are finally and lastingly satisfied with the eternal and divine
life of God.
some monumental steps so that He could enter our spirit. He became a man named
Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect human life on the earth, died to take away
our sins, was buried, and then rose from the dead. When He resurrected, He
became a life-giving Spirit and can now enter our human spirit. He is waiting
for you to open to Him.
be filled in this third part—your God-created spirit—right now. Just turn your
heart to God and pray this simple prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I confess that I am a sinner.
Forgive me of all my sins. I open to You. Come into my spirit and fill me with
Yourself. Lord Jesus, I receive You. Thank You, Lord. Amen.”
made His way through the throngs of people surrounding Him, He suddenly stopped
and asked, “Who touched Me?”
obvious to His disciples, so they answered that it was the crowds pressing upon
Him. But Jesus insisted, “Someone touched Me.” He knew a particular someone had
touched Him, because at that moment, divine power had gone out of Him.
stepped out of the crowd and confessed to Jesus that it was she who had
deliberately touched Him, and something wonderful had happened to her.
twelve long years she had been suffering from an uncontrollable hemorrhage,
year after year losing more blood. She had seen many physicians and spent all
that she had, but nothing helped. She knew she was dying. Then she heard about
Jesus. Desperately making her way through the crowd, she came close enough to
touch Him, believing that if she touched even just His garment, she would be
healed. And as she touched Him, her flow of blood stopped. His divine power had
been transfused into her. With loving kindness Jesus said to her, “Daughter,
your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be well from your affliction.”
woman is a picture of all of us, showing that we too are afflicted with a
disease that will eventually issue in death—the inward disease of sin. How much
suffering and damage this sickness has caused us! Try as we might, we cannot
get rid of it. Nothing can cure us—no moral philosophy, self-help program, or good works. Instead,
our frail and limited life is leaking away. One day it will run out completely.
We need the healing of Jesus and His life to save us.
Jesus is the very God
who became an approachable and even touchable man to be our Savior. He not only
came near to us, but as a sinless man, He died on the cross for our sins. The Bible
tells us that He “Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree, in order that we,
having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose bruise you were
healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). His redeeming death heals us of our affliction.
Not only so, He resurrected. Today the Lord Jesus is waiting for us to touch
Him in order to receive His redemption and His unlimited, death-conquering
Being content merely
to hear about Jesus or to be among the crowd around Him will not save us. If we
come to Him in faith and touch Him by believing in what He has done for us, He
will heal us and impart His eternal life into us. We will have peace. You can
touch Him in faith right now. Just pray this simple prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I need
You. I am a sinner. I believe in all You did for me on the cross. Thank you for
dying for me so I could be healed. Save me now. I receive You as my Savior and my
6:16–21 is an account of an event that happened two thousand years ago,
we can all relate to it today.
The night was dark. Jesus’
disciples were alone in the middle of a rolling sea. The wind was blowing, the
waves were tossing their boat, and there was no land in sight. For all their
arduous rowing, they had advanced only three or four miles. To reach the destination
seemed humanly impossible.
Such a setting depicts the all too familiar conditions of
our human life. Most of us would have to agree that we are often beset with
problems—relationship problems, family problems, school problems, work
problems, financial problems, health problems, and so on.
troubles are like the churning of the sea. Yet, if that had been the end of the
disciples’ story, we also would be the most hopeless of people—putting on a
brave front while struggling on, all the while inwardly aching, worn out, and
such a situation of darkness and despair, Jesus came walking on the sea and
approached the boat. He is the unique One who can walk on the stormy sea of
human life, ruling over all the waves. All the troubles are under His feet.
You may be afraid of
Jesus, just as His disciples were when they first saw Him walking on the water. But then He spoke to them—“It is I. Do not be
continues: “Then they were willing to take Him into the boat; and immediately
the boat was at the land to which they were going.”
words continue to be good news to us today. The Lord Jesus wants to come into
our turbulent life as the One who can give us peace and bring us safely on our
journey. We, just as the disciples did, simply need to take Him into our boat,
struggle to row against the churning sea, Christ is here, waiting for you to
take Him in. You can invite the Lord Jesus in right now. Just open your heart
and pray this simple prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I need You! Thank You for coming as a lowly man to
this troubled world. Thank You for dying for me. Forgive me of all my sins.
Lord Jesus, I believe in You, and I receive You right now. Fill me with
Yourself as peace and be with me on my life’s journey. Thank You, Lord Jesus.
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Who says tattoos are sacrilegious? Does the bible? Definitely
So why do many good Christians condemn us, those who have tattoos
or who want to get tattooed?
Unfortunately, I think many Christians do not fully understand
the saving grace that was offered to us through the humanity, death, and
resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
As devout, tattooed Christians, it is incumbent upon us to
educate other Christians about:
1.The context of Leviticus 19:28
2.The Old law and the New Law established by Christ and how
Leviticus 19:28 relates to the New Law
3.The context for 1 Corinthians 6:19…Your body as a Temple
4.Certain imagery in the Bible
5.Our duty to evangelize
We also need to prove to our critics that our faith is based on
more than just tattoos; it is supported by good works as well. And we must pray
as often as possible that divisive but trivial issues (such as body art) are
cast aside in favour of more pressing problems: Christian unity, the onslaught
of relativism, and difficulties in evangelization...
The context of Leviticus 19:28
It seems every Christian anti-tattoo argument is based primarily
on one thing...a single verse from Leviticus:
"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of
the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the LORD."
Does this verse really
Read properly, no!
Leviticus 19:26-31 deals with pagan practices and God's
prohibitions against adopting those practices. In verse 28, God is warning the
Jewish people about a pagan practice at funerals, where pagans would
mutilate/mark themselves to appease their false gods. The pagans hoped that by
cutting themselves and marking images/symbols of idols on their bodies, that
they would obtain favour in the afterlife from their false gods, both for
themselves and for those who just died.
See the Matthew Henry
Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible, the New John Gill Exposition of the
Entire Bible, the Adam Clarke Commentary, and the Commentary Critical and
Explanatory on the Whole Bible for more detailed analysis.
As no one with a Christian tattoo is trying to pacify a pagan
deity, it is safe to say this verse is not relevant to us.
The Old law and the New Law established by Christ and how
Leviticus 19:28 relates to the New Law
Still, many who read the Bible will not take into account
historical considerations or the full context of Leviticus 19:28.
Yet, there is a very real problem with using this verse in an
anti-tattoo argument. One cannot believe that Jesus is Lord and He came to save
the world through grace and love and still accept this verse as applicable to
us today. It sounds harsh, but it is true. Why? The answer is simple. Christ
gave us a New Law, one that supersedes the Old Testament Law, which includes
By answering the following questions, we will see that Christ's
New Law frees us from the fetters that kept us captive to rituals and
observances such as Leviticus 19:28.
What is the Old Law?
Why was it necessary?
If we had a Law, why did we need a New Law?
How do we know there really is a New Law?
Does this mean the Old Law is null and void?
What is the Old Law? Why
was it necessary?
Before we explain the New Law and its freedoms, we need to look
at the Old Law, its nature, and why it was necessary in salvation history.
Before Christ embraced humanity and became man, the world was in
disarray: it was divided and people did not understand that we shared a common
Father, that is, the one true God. The bible tells us this much. In fact, we
know that men were spiritually childlike, immature, and unable to comprehend
their sinfulness, and divided as we were, there was no quick solution for
unity. It was at this moment, with the coming of Christ already a part of His
Divine plan, that the Lord our God took to himself a people who would be set
apart and made ready to receive the Redeemer.
For you are a people holy
to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his
own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. -Deuteronomy
To prepare for this moment, the fullness of time when Christ
would appear, God gave Moses and the Israelites certain laws that awakened
their consciences and, at the same time, set them apart from the pagan nations,
a kind of "barrier" that ensured the Israelites remained free from
Thus we have the Old Law, as outlined in the books of Exodus,
Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. The Old Law is divided into two parts, the moral
code and the civil and ceremonial precepts (ritual observances). The moral
code, summed up in the Ten Commandments, is a natural law, the law of the
conscience, gathered by reason, and the foundation upon which man is to realize
his vocation to live in the image of God. The commandments make plain what is
against the love of God, and therefore they show us our sins. The second part
of the Old Law, the observances, was necessary to ensure the Israelites
remained united as a people and apart from the pagans.
If we had a Law, why did
we need a New Law?
So the next question is, if we had a Law, why did we need a New
Law? The truth is this: the Old Law is incomplete. That is not to say it is
unholy or uninspired or not part of God's mysterious plan. The Old Law, with
its severe punishments and earthly rewards, was necessary for an obstinate
people who were both carnal and unspiritual. God wanted his chosen people to
develop an awareness of sinfulness so when the fullness of time arrived, God
would introduce a New Law that would allow each of us to know, in our hearts,
the love of God, who forgives our sins and raises us to eternal life. And
therein lies the weaknesses of the Old Law:
·It does not forgive sins (since only God's love can do this)
·It can suggest that our actions, in accordance with the Law, are
for eternal life (wrong, since only grace based on faith and our cooperation
with this grace can guarantee this)
·It relies on fear of punishment, rather than love, which is God
In truth, if the Old Law did have the power to make us righteous
and sinless, clean and perfect sacrifices for the Lord, then Jesus' death on
the cross, the sacrifice that opens the door to God the Father, would have been
"I do not nullify
the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died
to no purpose." -Galatians 2:21
"Christ has obtained
a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he
mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first
covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a
second." -Hebrews 8:6-7
It is clear that the Old Law alone does not have the power to
free us from the chains of sin, because only the grace of the Holy Spirit,
given to the faithful through faith in Christ, is able to remove the stain of
sin. Faith and forgiveness of sins are gifts that lead to eternal life, and
only Christ can give those gifts. The ceremonial and ritual observances of the
Old Law were only indications of a purer, more effective way of life, as seen
in the New Law, which, when instituted, rendered much of the Old Law
But how do we know there
really is a New Law?
The entire New Testament is a proclamation of the New Law, as are
the actions of the early church. We see the New Law in:
·the writings of the Apostles, the Evangelists, and St. Paul
·the actions of the Early Church
·Christ's words and actions
In the New Testament, St. John the Baptist is among the first
persons to acknowledge that there is a New Law we are to follow if we are to
obtain forgiveness of sins and gain eternal life.
"The next day he saw
Jesus coming toward him, and said,
'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" -John 1:29
In just one statement, St. John the Baptist makes it clear that
Jesus is the sacrifice (Lamb) that removes our sin, not the sacrifices outlined
in the Old Law. If the ritual observances held any weight at this point, St.
John the Baptist would have said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who, along with
circumcision and burnt offerings, takes away the sin of the world!'" But
St. John the Evangelist, in his Gospel, outlines the necessity of
faith—not simply observance of the Old Law—as the basis for the gaining of the
"For God so loved
the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not
perish but have eternal life."
St. John doesn't write that in order to gain the kingdom, we must
be circumcised or offer burnt offerings on an altar or refuse to touch lepers.
No, he writes that primarily we need to have faith, faith in Christ.
And St. Peter, first among the Apostles and leader of the early
Church, said that faith in Christ, and not adherence to the Old Law, is the
main requirement for the forgiveness of sins:
"To him all the
prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness
of sins through his name." -Acts
If some Christians believe that these expressions are too obtuse
and obscure and do not sufficiently describe the abrogation of the Old Law in
favour of the New Law, then I say that they should read what St. Paul had to
say about the Law that governed the lives of the Jews. St. Paul is prodigious
in his condemnation of the Old Law as the only necessary tool for the
attainment of salvation:
"You are severed
from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from
grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but
faith working through love." -Galatians 5:4-6
"But now we are
discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve
not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit."
"For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and
count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not
having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith
in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith" -Philippians
"Our competence is
from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a
written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit
gives life." -2 Corinthians
In addition to the writings of the apostles, evangelists, and St.
Paul, the actions of the early church indicate that a New Law was being
St. Peter, leader of the Church and Christ's proxy on earth,
shows by example while visiting the pagan Cornelius, who is astounded that St.
Peter would meet with him, someone considered unclean by the standards
expressed in the Old Law. Here, Peter tells those gathered in the house of
Cornelius that a New Law has been promulgated:
"You yourselves know
how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another
nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or
In the next few years, the early Church would become even more
adamant about severing itself from the ritual practices that enslaved the Jews
and kept them from loving all equally. In Acts 15, we see the leaders of the
Church (Peter, James, Paul, Barnabas, and many others) gather to clarify the
Church's position towards circumcision, one of the holiest (and most
separatist) laws of the Old Covenant established by Moses. The result should
surprise no one: the apostles abolished the requirement for circumcision and
almost every other law that bound the Jews. Why? The Holy Spirit told them not
to lay a greater burden than was necessary (Acts 15:28) because faith was the
first necessary element for a life in Christ.
Another of the most sacred laws of the Old Covenant, the Sabbath,
was thoroughly eroded by the time St. Paul wrote his first letter to the
"On the first day of every week, each one of you should set
aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I
come no collections will have to be made." -1 Corinthians 16:2
The first day of the week during that time was Sunday, and this
verse clearly shows that this was the day that Christians met to celebrate as a
community (as opposed to the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday). How could the
Christians have abandoned the old Sabbath, one of the holiest of precepts, if
they did not have a New Law requiring faith and responding to grace?
But perhaps some Christians may say forget everything above: the
early Church misinterpreted what Jesus said and did during His ministry. How
far from the Truth this is! Jesus not only spoke about the New Covenant He was
establishing, He acted in a way so as to make it abundantly clear that His New
Law was a matter of fact:
·He calls apostles uneducated in the Law
·He forgives sinners almost exclusively
·He condemns the religious orthodoxy (Pharisees)
·His teachings and parables show examples of the New Law
·He breaks the Old Law
If Christ were concerned about perpetuating the Old Law, would He
not have chosen all of his apostles from among the Pharisees and Sadducees, who
were rigid in their confirmation to the Law? Instead, Jesus' choice of men is
the complete opposite of such a scenario. His apostles are fishermen, tax
collectors, and rebel fighters, hardly those who would be best to teach
adherence to the Old Law.
Furthermore, who can contradict the Gospels, which relate how
Jesus forgives the sins of pagans, unclean persons, and egregious sinners.
(John 5:1, Mark 7:24, Mark 8:22, Matthew 9:20) If God were so concerned with
rituals and observances, would Christ have bothered with these people, who
obviously did not adhere to the Old Law? No, obviously not. So what do these "sinners"
have in common? They have faith, the first necessary element for our union with
God. That is why Jesus tells those He healed, "Your faith has made you
Of course, Jesus not only saves the sinners, He also condemns
those who do follow the Law without concern for the Spirit, and this is very
important. The very people who epitomize the Old Law are the people for whom
Jesus reserves His most bitter condemnations. In several instances, Jesus
denounces the Pharisees, who pride themselves on their strict adherence to the
"How is it that you
fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees and Sad'ducees. Then they understood that he did not tell them to
beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and
Sts. Matthew and Luke also relate a vehement speech in which
Christ denounces the Pharisees, and by implication, the Old Law and its ritual
observances to which they are so dedicated:
"...But woe to you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven
against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter
to go in… And you say, 'If any one swears by the altar, it is nothing; but if
any one swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.' You
blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift
sacred? So he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it;
and he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it; and
he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon
it. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and
dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and
mercy and faith..."
-selected verses from Matthew 23 (see also Luke 11:39-52)
Jesus' denunciation of the actions of the Pharisees does not end
there. He also comments on their observances (part of the Old Law) and how
those observances have no power to save them. In the parable of the Tax
Collector and the Pharisee, the Tax Collector, who understands he is a sinner
but has faith that God will save him, is justified while the Pharisee, who
fasts twice a week and tithes all he gets, receives no justification (Luke
Even Christ's teachings, His parables, are filled with the
application and celebration of the New Law. In the parable of the Good
Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35), it is not the priest or the Levite—staunch followers
of the Old Law—who help the man who was beaten by robbers. Why didn't they help
him? Well, if he had died or was dead already, the priest and the Levite, being
followers of the Law, would have had to undergo a rigorous cleansing process.
Of course, this "process," part of the Law, left no room for
compassion. That is why it was the Samaritan, someone outside the Law, who
aided the helpless man. Christ is showing us here that love, working in us
through the Holy Spirit, is what's important, not adherence to a Law that puts
so-called cleanliness above compassion.
With clarity, Jesus rescinds the prohibition against eating foods
deemed unclean by the Old Law, because the prohibition has zero chance of
making someone holy and welcoming to God:
"And he called the
people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: not what goes into
the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a
man." -Matthew 15:10-11
Lastly, Jesus will BREAK certain precepts of the Old Law in order
to show that rituals and observances are nothing without the Spirit, which
moves us in unexplainable ways. Christ shocks and angers the Pharisees on two
occasions, when He disobeys the Law restricting work on the Sabbath, one of the
most revered of the Laws. In one instance, Christ heals a man with a withered
hand on the Sabbath (Luke 6:6-10, Mark 3:1-5), and, in another instance, He
allows His apostles to pick and eat wheat in a field on the Sabbath (Luke
6:1-5, Matthew 12:1-8). Would Jesus do such things if the Old Law were
sacrosanct? This is doubtful. Instead, it's more likely that He wanted to show
that observance means little if the heart, the Spirit, is not part of the
Then, there are those who
say, "What about Christ's proclamation that He did not come to abolish the
law and the prophets but to fulfil them?" (Matthew 5:17) It is true that
Jesus said that not one iota of the law will pass from the Law until all is
accomplished.But Jesus accomplished everything.His life, death, and resurrection
fulfilled the prophecies and brought to a conclusion the Old Covenant, opening
the way for a New Covenant governed by a New Law. So, when Christ is talking
about the Law remaining, he is saying to his contemporaries that they will not
see a change while he is alive.
Does this mean the Old
Law is null and void?
Without a doubt, we have shown that God, through Christ, has
instituted a New Law. Now what? Is all the Old Law null and void? Not at all!
We know that each of us needs to follow what is essential in the Old Law: the
Ten Commandments. How do we know this? Jesus told us so. When the lawyer asked
him to name the first (that is, the most important) commandment, Jesus
"You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your
mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You
shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the
law and the prophets." - Matthew 22:37-40
Here, Christ explicitly tells us that laws we need to follow are
those that deal with the love of God and the love of our neighbour. Therefore,
He is telling us to continue to practice the moral code (the Ten Commandments),
but do so because you are motivated by love and spirit rather than fear of
In fact, Jesus not only tells us that the only part of the Law
that is necessary is the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), He also takes those
commandments and gives us a new understanding, based on his New Law of love and
faith. He shows that it is not enough to follow the letter of the Law, there is
also an underlying Spirit:
"You have heard that
it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be
liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his
brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be
liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the
hell of fire."
-Matthew 5:21-22 (see also verses 23-48)
Conclusion: the New Law
It is true that we have a New Law that both fulfills and
abrogates the Old Law, by elevating the moral code (the Ten Commandments) and
rescinding the rituals and observances. Hence, we are not bound by certain
Laws, such as those that require our circumcision or the abstention from
certain foods. It becomes rather obvious that the prohibition against tattoos
in Leviticus is also one of those Laws. It is as simple as that.
The Context of 1 Corinthians 6:19…Your Body as a Temple
Of course, tattoo opponents also like to stress these words of
"Do you not know
that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have
received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore
honour God with your body."
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Unfortunately, the tattoo opponents have not read this verse in
context. Here St. Paul is not opposing tattoos but warning the residents of
Corinth about the dangers of sexual promiscuity, especially in the pagan
practice of having sex with ritual prostitutes. To put this into perspective,
Corinth during St. Paul's time was a thriving Metropolis, a rich city with two
ports. One of its main attractions was a massive temple dedicated to the Greek
Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Thousands of ritual prostitutes, used in
celebration of Aphrodite, congregated around the temple. Since a sizeable part
of the newly formed Christian community in Corinth was of pagan origin, the use
of ritual prostitutes was something of a habit that needed to be broken. In his
letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul shows that we belong to God, brought about
through His Son Jesus Christ's sacrifice, and that fornicating with ritual
prostitutes is tantamount to sacrificing to false Gods. He is also showing that
sexual immorality is a sin against the body, which houses the Holy Spirit, in
essence, sexual immorality is a sin committed directly against God.
Certain Imagery in the Bible
We know that religious tattooing before the time of Christ was
common for nearly everyone except the Jewish people (otherwise we would not see
the prohibition in Leviticus 19:28).
And although there are no scriptural references in which we are
told to "get tattooed" (and we wouldn't expect any), there are a
number of verses in which the writers, whom we believe were inspired by the
Holy Spirit, speak about permanent markings and outward physical signs of
devotion. In a very real way, religious tattoos are like those permanent
"And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a
memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your
mouth." -Exodus 13:9
"It shall be as a
mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes; for by a strong hand the LORD
brought us out of Egypt."-Exodus 13:16
A full reading of these verses shows that God is speaking
figuratively about a celebration of the day the Jewish people were saved and
brought out of Egypt. For the Jews, this celebration will be their unique mark.
Later, around the time of Christ, the Jews began to take these verses
literally, tying small leather boxes (phylacteries) on their arms and foreheads
and placing passages of Scripture in the boxes.
"This one will say,
'I am the LORD's,' another will call himself by the name of Jacob, and another
will write on his hand, 'The Lord's,' and surname himself by the name of
Israel." -Isaiah 44:5
"Behold, I have
graven you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before
Here Isaiah is speaking God's word to the more conscious
minorities of Israel who, during their exile, are worried about becoming lost
amidst the pagans of Babylon. Through Isaiah, God reminds His people that he
will never forget them because He loves them, and as proof that He will never
abandon them, He tells the Jews that He has graven [carved into...written
permanently] on his hands a reminder to save them.
"And the LORD said
to him, 'Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the
foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are
committed in it'." -Ezekiel
The mark in this verse refers to the letter T or the Hebrew
letter Tau, which appears as the shape of a cross, and which was painted in
lamb's blood on the door posts to save the "remnant" of Israel when
God wiped out all the first born of Egypt during the last plague. In this
instance, the mark will be placed upon believers who are saddened by the sins
committed in Jerusalem.
"Henceforth let no
man trouble me; for I bear on my body the brand marks of Jesus." -Galatians 6:17
Here, St. Paul is likely discussing the beatings and punishments
he endured for the sake of the Gospel of Christ (see 2 Cor. 11:24-28). This is
a pointed jab at those who believe they are justified by other marks, that is,
circumcision. Undeniable, though, is the tattoo imagery. Brand marks are what
Roman slave owners tattooed on their chattel to display ownership.
"Then I saw another
angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and
he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm
earth and sea, saying, 'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we
have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.'"
"On his robe and on
his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords."-Revelation 19:16
This last verse from Revelation is part of John's prophecy about
the destruction of the Roman Empire and the heretofore-invincible Roman armies.
The verse shows Christ as the "Master of the Universe" whose name,
which is the Word of God (and, in essence, everything), is more than just a
title on a royal garment. Instead, it is something that belongs to Jesus alone
and is intrinsically linked to He who is Lord of all...through a unique marking
on his body.
Now before you e-mail me, remember that these verses are not
tattoo proof verses. They only show that permanent markings and outward signs
of devotion, similar to our religious tattoos, are not foreign to God or His
Our Duty to
Finally, it's important that Christians realize that Jesus
doesn't want us to hide our faith or keep our faith to ourselves. Just the
opposite. He commands us to do everything within our power to let our brothers
and sisters know the one true Word, the Good News:
"Go, therefore, and
make disciples from all the nations."
"What I tell you in
the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the
housetops." -Matthew 10:27
In fact, even if we wanted to keep it to ourselves (for selfish
reasons or for fear of persecution), once the Spirit moves us, we can longer
"No one after
lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that
those who enter may see the light." -Luke 11:33
So, whether we choose stone tablets or tattoos, God, through the
Holy Spirit, lets us discover the different and dynamic ways we let others know
about Him. One thing is certain, though: as Christians, we need to fully
proclaim our beliefs, every day of our lives.
It is beyond doubt that tattoos are NOT sinful and that
Christians expressing their faith with some ink under their skin have NOT
succumbed to Satan's wiles (at least, not because of the tattoos). Yet, let us
remember that just because we are allowed to be tattooed, doesn't mean that
this is what is best for everyone. St. Paul tells us that we need to be careful
that our actions do not lead others away from the faith:
"Do not, for the
sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is
wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; it is right not to eat
meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble."
With that in mind, let us pray that, through the intercession of
the Holy Spirit, each of us may understand God's intention for us, and whether
or not that calling includes some permanent ink under our skin.
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