First let’s distinguish the fact that we can pray to God in any state we find ourselves in, even in the bathroom. The topic in issue is not about praying in the shower, it is about ritualistically stripping naked to pray. Some believe this makes a prayer potent, especially when it comes to invoking curses and judgments on “enemies.” Psalm 35 is the preferred instrument in such circumstances; only that Psalm 35 is not the spirit of the New Testament. When the disciples of Jesus were offended at the inhospitable treatment meted out to Jesus by a Samaritan village, they sought permission to command fire from heaven to consume them – just as Elijah did to the emissaries of an ancestral king of the Samaritans, King Ahaziah. (2 Kings1: 9-16) (The disciples had a curious sense of history). But Jesus rebuked them: “You do not know of what sort of spirit you are, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them from the penalty of eternal death.” (Luke 9: 55-56 AMP) The crude desire to terminate lives is not the spirit of Christ however culturally pervasive it has become. It’s a spirit of vindictiveness. The New Testament Christian cannot operate in the spirit of Elijah. Jesus said so. Our job is to save men from eternal damnation not annihilate them. This is a difficult thing for some to accept but the words of Jesus are incontrovertible.
Jesus contrasted the spirits of the old and new testaments in this passage of scripture: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5: 43-44) This on the surface makes no sense. But it is yet another counter-intuitive teaching of Jesus. It only begins to make sense when we read the book of Proverbs: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he’s thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, AND the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25: 21-22) So there’s a reward from God for doing good to your enemy. This apart from the heaping of coals of fire on his head. David had written about these coals of fire in Psalm 140: 9-10: “Those who are fencing me in raise their heads; may the mischief of their own lips and the very things they desire for me come upon them. Let burning coals fall upon them…” Proverbs 25: 21-22 is therefore a progression of the words of David in Psalm 140: 9-10 being written by the son of David. Paul also referenced Solomon: “Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble in the sight of everyone. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I WILL repay, says the Lord. BUT if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he’s thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome and master evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21 AMP) And so we see a progressive revelation of the subject of vengeance in scriptures – from Moses, to David, to Solomon, to Jesus, to Paul. Some people are stuck in the past – they can’t see beyond David. They’re stuck in the Psalms. When we do vengeance against our enemies the Bible says we allow evil to master us; that we do not make room for God’s wrath, but rather our own. And the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20) You can’t establish God’s righteousness with vigilante wrath. It is a contradiction in terms. You merely play into the hands of the enemy and allow evil to master you. In so doing, you become just like your enemies and you lose legal standing for demand for justice before God. And that apart from the presumptuousness of assuming the sovereign role of God to execute vengeance.
God has exclusive jurisdiction on vengeance. We must not buy into the culture of retribution, decreeing the death of people. That’s not the spirit of Christ. Jesus prayed for even his enemies on the cross. (Luke 23:34) And so did Stephen. Stephen prayed for his murderers – which incidentally included a prominent character named Paul. Stephen asked God not to lay his sin to his charge. (Acts 7: 60-8:1) God obviously heard him. Today we’re all blessed with the life of the man now known as Apostle Paul. The only franchised agent of God’s vengeance is government. Paul wrote: “For civil authorities are not a terror to people of good conduct, but to those of bad behaviour. Would you have no dread of him who is in authority? Then do what is right and you will receive his approval and commendation. For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, you should dread him and be afraid, for he does not bear and wear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant to execute his wrath, punishment and vengeance on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3-4)
But here’s the real problem. Some Christians want to syncretize Christianity with African traditional religion. They Christianize the vindictive philosophy of pagan religion, fashioning the Old Testament into a retributive implement. It’s a trilateral harmonization of Christianity, pagan beliefs and the Old Testament. Unfortunately for the Church this syncretism is becoming a normative culture, especially in Africa. And we see streaks of this normativeness in many comments made by Christians on social media. When a Christian rejoices in the misfortune of others it is that retributive spirit in expression. And yet the Bible tells us to mourn with those that mourn, weep with those that weep. (Romans 12:15) And the Bible specifically tells us not to curse people: “Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not.” (Romans 12:14) So how can a Christian curse his fellow man and wish him death and misfortune? That malicious hatred is gratuitously extended to those who dare to challenge this spirit of vindictiveness, and those who dare to speak up against popularly held but erroneous and terrible doctrines. At this the paganized Christian assumes the toga of “Prophet Elijah,” raining down curses on a child of God, and this without a trace of irony. How can you curse that which God has blessed! (Numbers 23:21-23) Every child of God is blessed in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3) Christ has been made a curse for us. The curse causeless shall not come. (Galatians 3:13, Proverbs 26:2) But what a terrible spirit! Those who teach grace are of course vilified as “preachers of heresy” and “enemies of the body of Christ,” even “Satan’s agents” – just for insisting on the truth of God’s word. We have developed a vicious culture of cowering people into silence with insults, denigration and outright abuse. So much so those who know the truth would rather keep quiet, afraid of retribution of the mob. And so the church wallows in ignorance under the hegemony of the vindictive. The Bible is unequivocal about the doctrine of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Yet some insist we’re not saved, that we’re going to be saved “on the last day.” They insist we can only be saved by our good works and the standards of our morality. But if we’re not saved, upon what terms then did we receive the Holy Spirit? And how can we perfect in the flesh that which was begun in the Spirit? (Galatians 3:3) Those who insist we must live in trepidation of hell forget we’re ALREADY justified through faith and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus. (Romans 5:1) They forget the righteousness of Jesus is a gift that cannot be earned. (Romans 5:17) They forget a Christian is not a morally improved version of himself but a new creature altogether. There can be no reverse engineering. (2 Corinthians 5:17) They forget we’re SEALED with the Holy Spirit of promise, therefore we cannot be unsaved. (Ephesians 1: 13) They forget our critical guarantee is that God himself is at work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) They forget God is able to complete that which he began until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:13) They forget Jesus said, “Now, this is the will of the one who sent me – that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father – for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6: 39-40 NET) The spirit of paganism in the Church is fuelled by devotion to the doctrine of works, an unbelief in grace.
Without a doubt many pastors believe in salvation by grace. And they believe in eternal salvation. They KNOW no man can be saved by human effort, or by morality. But they dare not teach the truth for fear of the mob. We must of course ask ourselves whether we should fear God or the people. (Acts 4:19-20) Should the law not go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem? (Isaiah 2:3) Should Christians live in fear of death when Jesus came to “set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death”? (Hebrews 2:15) A popular refrain about the certainty of our salvation is often, “Only God knows!” But if that is the case why did he give us his word? We seem to have developed comfort with the mystic quality of the darkness of ignorance. But God does not want us to wallow in darkness. We must walk in the light of his word. (1 John 1:7) So pervasive is the culture of mystical ignorance that many Christians believe science is anti-God. But how can science be anti-God when Jesus is the Logos? In him “are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) He created science! The irony is that those who say science is anti-God are reading the Bible on their mobile phone! Though again some believe the Bible can only be in printed book form. They cannot intellectually discern the essence of the Word from the medium of expression.
The spirit of anger, hatred, malice, retributory vindictiveness… These are not the attributes of a Spirit-controlled life. The curious thing is that these people cannot see the contradiction in a Christian cursing people and decreeing the death of those Jesus died for. And all for personal issues, many pedantic. They are in a trance-like state of unconscious. The desire to control people through intimidation and fear is the hallmark of paganism, not Christianity. So pervasive is the spirit of African traditional religion we now invoke adaptations of incantations in our worship service instead of using the word of God to praise God. We’ve introduced the pagan concept of “mystic head” as a determinant of destiny. The philosophical base of our prayer meetings is increasingly paganistic. Pagan theology is what is driving the belief in mystic acquisition of wealth without industry and hard work, the mistaking of this for faith. It is this same dynamic driving the concept of divination for marital partner, the anointing of desks and chairs in the office, the anointing of car engines to ward off accidents, the preparation of food with “anointing oil” etc. Some people wear “Christian” amulets. The body of Christ in certain African countries is increasingly ritualistic.
It is within the context of African traditional religion that one can situate the practice of stripping naked at midnight to invoke the power of God. The arguments and justifications are most interesting. Some believe stripping naked to pray at midnight signifies “total submission,” though how is still an alarming wonder. The Bible definition of submission is yielding to the Spirit and obedience of the Word of God, not nakedness. (Psalm 143:10) They say nakedness is a sign of humility, but the Bible says humility is not thinking inordinately of ourselves. (Romans 12:3) They say stripping naked to pray “removes shame,” but the Bible says those who believe in Christ will never be put to shame. (Romans 10:11) We do not have any instruction to strip naked to pray in the Bible. There’s not one instance of God demanding physical nakedness as a precondition for invocation of his power in scriptures. This is pagan spiritism not Christianity. Even in the cherished Old Testament God would not allow nakedness on the altar. He told Moses: “You’re to cloth them – your brother Aaron and his sons with him – and anoint them… Make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked bodies; they must cover form the waist to the thighs. These must be on Aaron and his sons when they enter to the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so they bear no iniquity and die.” (Exodus 28: 41-43 NET) If God is recommending the wearing of underwear for Old Testament priests how come we’re recommending removal of underwear for New Testament priests!
There’s only one way to invoke the power of God: it is by the word of faith. “Jesus said to them, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, if someone SAYS to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and DOES NOT DOUBT in his heart but BELIEVES that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, BELIEVE that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24 NET) He said this after demonstrating proof of concept drying up a fig tree through confession of faith. (Mark 11:20-21) Faith is the way to invoke the power of God, not ritualistic stripping at midnight. It has no place in Christianity. There is a righteousness that is by faith. But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” that is THE WORD OF FAITH we preach)…” (Romans 10:6-10) We invoke the power of God by the confession of faith.
The word is near you, and is in your mouth and in your heart… Speak God’s word, believe it. It will come to pass.
If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: “Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I know that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for me and that you raised him from the dead. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Christ is Lord and I receive him as my Lord and my Saviour. I am now born again. Amen.”
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