We see a common debate about whether it is right for a Christian to have tattoos. Of course we are not talking about tattoos a person has before coming to Christ, but rather, choosing to get tattooed AFTER giving your life to Christ. A point commonly made is that the prohibition of tattoos is an Old Testament command. Like the other OT bans of eating pork or shellfish, or cutting corners on your beard, it doesn’t apply to New Testament believers right? Well, not so fast. In this lesson, we will focus mostly on the NT and find that tattoos are still absolutely forbidden.... and yes, this includes tattoos of Christian symbols.
Leviticus 19:28-29, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.”
The first verse condemns tattoos, but we often fail to continue on to the next verse which prohibits prostituting one’s daughter. There is no equivalent verse in the NT. Does this mean prostituting one’s daughter out to earn some side income is okay? I doubt anyone would try to argue that. We think we can pick and choose with following God’s commands, and erase the first verse out of our minds. Just because an OT command is not repeated in the NT, does not mean it somehow becomes annulled. The change is that we now follow the spirit of the law instead of being bound to the letter. Apostle Paul shows us this principle in the following passage:
1 Corinthians 9:9-10 “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.”
So Paul has just quoted from Deuteronomy 25:4 “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” He accepts the law as valid, spiritually interpreted. Rather than follow the exact letter of the law, he uses the Holy Spirit to interpret the principle as it relates to humans. The idea that full time ministers deserve to be financially compensated for their ministry work, just as the OT law specifies oxen must be allowed to graze as they plow.
Deuteronomy 22:8 “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.”
This verse prescribes building a low wall at the end of ones roof to prevent people from falling off. In warmer climates, people would often spend plenty of time on their roofs which were flat and easy to walk on. Surely this is an example of an outdated OT verse that no longer applies right? Not so fast. It indeed does apply. Not in the letter, but in the spirit. We need to put up guardrails and have fall-protection for persons and workers. These safety standards have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. They all derive from following the spirit of the OT law. To throw out the Old Testament is senseless. God did not write it just to erase it. We need to respect that everything is put there for a reason.
Revelation 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
It is no wonder scripture says the antichrist would deceive “even the elect if possible.” When the elect are taking the mark of the tattoo artist, contrary to God’s will and to the plain meaning of scripture, it is only a small stretch for them to move on to take the mark of the beast. You get desensitized to these things when approaching so close to a sin. Whatever happened to the common wisdom that it is better to err on the safe side? Instead the question is “how much sin can I get away with without going to hell?” Keep markings out of your flesh! Branding is a sign of ownership. Marking the flesh is for animals, not humans.
Graffiti on the Temple
Would you be happy if a stranger sprayed graffiti on the side of your house? What if it was a very skilful artist that did it? You would still be furious regardless. It is considered vandalism regardless of whether it looks good or not. Similarly, getting “Christian” symbols such as the cross, or Bible verses tattooed is still vandalism against the temple of God. If you really like a certain design, just buy a poster and hang it in your room. There is no need to have it engraved on your body forever.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
Ezekiel 8:9-10, “And [God] said unto me, Go in [the temple], and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.”
Your body is the temple of the Lord. OUR SKIN IS OUR TEMPLE WALLS. Just as in Ezekiel’s time the temple walls were covered with these images, the modern lukewarm Christian thinks they can cover themselves with these tattoos of creeping things, images of nature and animals, demonic artwork, and such and think that God will just look the other way. Be not deceived. God is not mocked. This is abominable idolatry to cover the walls of your temple (skin) with these images. Some repentance is in order.
Ephesians 5:27 “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Christ wants a bride with no spot or wrinkle, so why are you letting these clowns put ink into your flesh such that you will carry their mark forever? Doesn’t make sense does it? There is no place for tattoos on king’s kids.
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Here we are copying everything the world does. The Philistines had a king so Israel wanted one. World does heavy-metal music, Christians come up with metal bands. The world comes up with tattoos, believers think they have a God-given right to one as well. Whatever happened to being the “peculiar people” the Bible calls for? What happened to being the city on a hill? There is nothing more pathetic than the cowardly Christian who tries to fit in with and copy the world.
1 Kings 18:28 “And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.”
Failing in the battle, the priests were most likely engraving the name or occult symbol of their god Baal into their flesh to have more access to his power. They hoped that by doing this, they would create a stronger covenant with their god and that he would answer their prayers for fire. Many tattoos are of pagan symbols, even supposedly “Christian” ones. The Star of David for example, is the same symbol as a hexagram. A hexagram is a type of portal drawn by occultists for conjuring demons into this world. Not exactly something you want on your skin that is for sure. A common Trinity symbol actually originated as the binding for the Celtic god Odin, thus making you his personal property and possession when you are marked with his symbol. The upside-down cross is a major symbol of satanists and if you get a cross tattoo on your arm it will be hanging upside down when you lift your hands to God in worship, thus you commit blasphemy. Christian “fish” symbol also originated in Paganism as the “Vesica Pisces.” Early Christians used a variant on this pagan symbol because the Romans would not suspect it like they would a cross. You can get a “lion” design to signify the “lion of the tribe of Judah,” but satan who “walks as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” will be taking ownership of this one as well (1 Peter 5:8).
We cannot be putting these symbols and drawings on our bodies. Tattoos are a sign of ownership like a slave being branded. You open a gate big-time to demonic influence when unknowingly getting their symbols tattooed on you. Revivalist Todd Bentley is a classic example this. He set himself up for failure by getting tattooed up after being saved, and thus he opened himself up to demonic warfare. A leader in God’s kingdom already has intense warfare, there is no room for error in allowing extra gates for demonic attack. As Todd ended up having a major fall and scandal, by getting covered in tattoos AFTER being saved, he set himself up for failure and could no longer resist the added demonic attacks and temptations from satan.
It is a crime to deface a nation’s currency. In the United States such actions are punishable with up to six months of imprisonment. Are humans who are made in the image of God somehow less valuable than dollar bills? The tattoo artist is allowed to deface as many humans as he wants, even drawing on a person’s face. There is no law against his crime on earth, but it WE are God’s currency, WE are his valuable possessions. The tattoo artist is an enemy of the Lord who he will have to stand before to answer for his crimes against human beings.
Psalm 25:7 “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.”
It is one of the classic “sins of youth.” Being “in the moment” and getting a tattoo to remember a fun occasion. Getting one while drunk. Even worse, getting a tattoo of your relationship partner and not thinking about how there is a good chance you will be split up years from now. Yet that person is now stuck on your body and following you everywhere when you are trying to leave the past behind. You insult your new partner by carrying the tattoo of the old person. There is also the factor of aging to consider. The tattoo may look good now, but will it look good 30 years from now when it is sagged and wrinkled? Surveys show fully one-third of tattooed persons will come to regret their tattoos.
If you are still unsure
Even if you are still undecided on whether tattoos are a sin or not, you should still avoid them unless you have total confidence you are not displeasing God. As apostle Paul said, to participate in an activity that “might” be a sin, IS a sin for you if you are unsure.
Romans 14:23 “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat [pork], because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
So if you are unsure on whether God actually hates tattoos, according to Paul you are “damned” if you choose to get them anyways. Because whatever cannot be done confidently in faith is sin. So unless you are absolutely certain that you are not seriously grieving God with tattoos, there is no excuse for getting them.
Removal of the spiritual mark by true repentance and confession is the most important. Getting rid of the physical mark is even possible with today’s technology of laser removal. Money spent on tattoo removal will more than pay itself back in greater employment prospects. The important thing is removing the spiritual mark by repentance however. Turn the mistake into a testimony that will help others overcome their own casual attitude toward these things. In a lukewarm Christian culture it has become fairly normal to get tattoos after being saved. All God asks of you is to repent of this and share what you learned to help others avoid the same mistake; he will totally cleanse and restore you.