Superstitions have moulded the thinking of many people for centuries. In the West, breaking a mirror, seeing a black cat or Friday the 13th, are all linked with bad luck. In Japan, houses are built without doors or windows facing the northeast because of the belief that demons from that direction won’t find the entrance.
In the Philippines, shoes are placed beside the dead before burial so that “St.” Peter will welcome them. In some parts of Nigeria, months ending with “ember” are often linked with tragic events or ill-luck. These are superstitious beliefs rooted in fear and ignorance. Thankfully, science has helped dispel some of them.
During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church used “bleeding wafers” to fool people into believing that they do change into the real flesh of Christ. But when microscopes were invented, the supposed “blood” on wafers was found to be red pigment produced by a bacterium (Serratia marcenscens) which grows on wafers kept in damp places.
In Acts 17 when Paul visited Athens, Greece, he saw that the whole city was given to idolatry. Verse 21 described their lifestyle: “For the Athenians and foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or hear some new thing“.
Apostle Paul said to them: “in all things you are very religious” (v. 22). The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that the Greek word rendered as “religious” is deisidaimon which also means “superstitious.” It refers to fear of the supernatural; a practice that was all-embracing and non-discerning, with a reference for all kinds of deities, religious notions, religious fads and religious claims.
The Athenian culture lacked all discretionary thought. It was a system of mindless reverence and mindless religion with a love for newness and novelty. Athenian religion ministered to art and amusement, and was entirely destitute of moral power. Taste and excitement alone were gratified.
The Christian world today resembles Athens where people chase after novelties and religious fads. These are like “bandwagons” many jump on and circulate all through the Body of Christ until it crashes into a ravine or a more exciting wagon rolls in. If you are in doubt, just read through 5 popular Christian magazines.
Truth has been sacrificed for what is sensational and exciting. Will it sell? Publish it. Is it groovy? Bring it on. Will it appeal to people’s superstitious mindset? Say it and call it “revelation knowledge.” All through church history, this weapon diverts people from the simplicity that is in Christ.
“Christian” Superstitions come in different forms:
1. Prophetic manipulation
This is when people are made to comply with a certain belief or act because it’s coming from a prophet/teacher who must never be questioned. This trumps out Biblical discernment and breeds superstition and mind blindness.
In 2014, pastor Daniel Lesego of South Africa ordered his congregation to feast on grasses like a bunch of cows. Video footage later show Lesego walking on the bodies of his members like doormats and ordering them to drink fuel allegedly turned to apple juice. They all happily obeyed. If his members are not under a demonic spell, they are close to it.
Manipulative folks usually have a ready-made answer to every criticism of their awkward and cruel dictates: “The Holy Spirit told me to say/do it.” There was a Nigerian prophetess belonging to a syncretic (“white garment”) church who doused her daughter with petrol and burnt her badly. When she was interrogated, she said “She is a witch and the ‘Holy Spirit’ said I should do it.” Methinks this woman is the real witch.
Many Christian ladies in their gullibility have allowed fake pastors and seers to sexually assault them because “the holy spirit” told him that’s the only way such prayers can be effective. Any gathering where you are told to wave your underwear to the Lord or allow “the prophet” to kiss you, bathe you at a stream or caress your body parts in the name of “prayer” is not a true Christian gathering.
2. An obsession with supernatural revelations
This is when every spiritual experience or information from the spirit realm is dogmatically accepted as divine and sometimes as the only yardstick of authenticity.
Whether it’s Mr. Bunick who wrote in The Messengers that angels visited him to tell him he is the reincarnation of Apostle Paul or Prophet Hinn who tells his audience of how he received directions for his ministry from a dead Mrs Khulman in a vision, these experiences are never tested, but blindly followed.
In fact, once some Christians hear the word “visions” or “revelations” they are ready to swallow whatever they hear without considering that spiritual revelations can be fabricated by individuals or counterfeited by the enemy.
One of the ways superstitious ideas flow into the church is by interrogating demons speaking through people during deliverance. One thing I must let you know is that demons are liars and it’s dangerous to believe everything they say. We don’t need to rely on them for knowledge when we have the all-knowing Spirit of God who can tell us what we need to know.
Interestingly, there are some churches today that adhere to certain doctrines on the basis of someone’s vision or a demonic confession without a shred of Biblical or historical authority.
3. Reliance on tokens and talisman
This is a dependence on physical objects or amulet for spiritual protection. Some Christians put their faith in crosses, aprons, “holy” rings, medals, or rosaries believing these will protect them from danger or enemies.
Some drink or bathe with perfumed water; others use pictures of “saints,” “Jesus,” angels or a clove of garlic to supposedly ward off evil spirits. There are Christians who also place a baby’s head on an opened Bible and pray “to God” with candles or incense.
There are some churches that bury the dead with crucifixes and bibles. One member of such a church said, “We bury the dead with bible so that he/she can read it on his/her way to heaven.” The ignorance in that statement is huge enough to choke a horse.
The whole idea of using crosses or crucifixes for protection is quite old. It came about when Constantine’s mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326 A.D. and found 3 crosses alleged to be those of Christ and the two thieves. The cross of Christ was supposedly identified when it worked miracles.
But here’s the problem: it’s very doubtful Helena would have found the “real” cross of Christ in Jerusalem after 3 centuries because the Jewish law required crosses to be burnt after its use for hanging criminals.
The Encyclopedia of Religion says that while Helena’s pilgrimage was historically correct, her discovery of the ‘original cross’ and the alleged miracle were legendary additions because these details didn’t appear until 440 A.D. (14 years after the event). It was this fairy tale that made the Roman church endorse the use of crosses in churches and homes in the 6th century.
Since then, many people have looked up to crosses as sources of miracles and talisman to ward off bad luck and evil spirits. Even today, some Christians still place crosses on their lintels for these purposes without knowing the true origin of this superstitious idea.
The New Testament clearly shows that Jesus’ apostles didn’t hang crosses around their necks or carry it in their hands (like those priests in vampire movies). They saw it as a device of death and shame. Their faith was not in a wooden or iron cross, but in Christ and His work accomplished on the cross (1 Cor. 1:17-18).
4. Following weird traditions based on omens and “signs”
Many Christians are programmed to attribute certain things to either good luck or bad luck e.g itching hands, sighting wall geckos, spiders, black cats etc. Some are taught to avoid clothing with certain colours on certain days or abstain from cooked meat or fish during Easter.
I once read a piece where pastor said if one finds a strand of human hair or an insect in a food, it’s demonic. Some Christians will vehemently reject anything offered to them with a left hand. These are superstitious ideas.
There is no such thing as “good luck” or “bad luck” in Scripture. What the Bible teaches is blessings and curses. The former proceeds from obedience to God and the latter from disobedience. There is no “neutrality” of luck attached to an omen or “sign”. Just as belief in the truth of God’s Word is necessary to set us free, belief in the lies of the enemy is necessary to enslave (Jn. 8:32).
Satan enslaves people with fear which brings torment and it robs many Believers of their joy. Once the devil makes you believe you will die because an owl is hooting on your roof at night, he knows that fear can open the door to the demon of death or sickness. But as a believer, when you stand on the promises of God’s Word, you will be victorious.
5. Strange religious practices
These are certain practices – most are blatantly occultic – which are taught in some churches in a bid to “receive miracles” from God. These include: standing on a Bible during prayer, candle magick, prayers involving rubbing eggs on the body of the candidates and breaking it afterwards, praying nude, placing “prayer water” out in the morning dew for certain days and drinking it as a ritual, weird “prayer postures,” and ceremonial visits to “holy lands,” special mountains or “sacred rivers.”
Some folks will tell you that your prayers can’t be effective unless you visit a mountain. That is an error. God is not limited by geographical location. You don’t need to visit any “holy” mountain or valley or some cave before you can receive from God. I’ve seen Christians gleefully rolling in and drinking from dirty “sacred” streams at certain locations all because of desperation for miracles! May God cure them of this willful ignorance.
Other examples include: pouring of libation on new cars (an old pagan rite to honour earth deities); prayers with table salt or crystals plus strange usage of the Psalms; wild dances leading to trances, sexually suggestive body contacts (a “prophet” telling you to put your hands around his waist or fondling you during “prayer”); snake handling, spectres of people howling like wolves, purring like 600 pound cats, laughing hysterically like hyenas or braying like donkeys and they attribute them to “the Holy Spirit.”
When these practices start creeping in a church or are utilized by individuals in the name of “the Lord made me do it” or “that’s our tradition”, or “an angel told us so” etc., take note: what you have there are “Christian” superstitions and the door is wide open to the demon of error.
How can this issue be addressed?
I. Faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith should be in Jesus and His perfect work on the cross, not in physical objects (Rom. 9:33). A solid faith in the name and blood of Jesus Christ dispels fear of the unknown; fear of witches and demons (Prov. 18:10). It is faith in Christ that sustains a Christian in the time of trouble, not a chill in his spine or signs in the moon.
II. Faith in God’s Word. Our faith should not be based on our spiritual experiences or a human personality. You can’t be immune to deception if you exalt visions and dreams above Scripture. We have to stop venerating human personalities. God can use an ordinary church worker to minister to you just as much as a world famous prophet. “He sent out His Word and healed them and delivered them from destruction” (Ps. 107:20). God didn’t send out a personality.
III. Imbibe sound Bible doctrines. The Bible warns us to “teach no other doctrine. Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies which minister questions…” (1 Tim. 1:3-4) “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13) “Take heed unto thy self and unto the doctrine; continue in them” (1 Tim. 4:16). The antidote to falsehood is presenting the truth.
Show me a church that is not rooted in the truth of God’s Word and I will show you a church that be will be run over by human philosophies and demonic superstitions. It’s only a matter of time. Sadly, many Christians today crave after emotional experiences and ear-tickling messages instead of doctrinal solidity.
IV. Walk in discernment. No teaching or prophecy of a teacher or prophet should be blindly followed unless what he says or writes is in harmony with Scripture and the witness of the Holy Spirit in your spirit. You need to judge what people say: “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge” (1 Cor. 14:9; Gal. 1:8).
Not every vision, miracle or supernatural experience is from God and every doctrine or spiritual experience that is not from the Spirit of truth is from the spirit of error (1 John 4:6).