Let’s play a game. If you do everything I say, I’ll give you a million dollars. If you don’t, I’ll kill you. This is a game with high stakes.
Now the game starts with me sitting in a tent that I’ve put up. That tent is special. Why? Because I said so. In this game, I define what special is. Now I want you to bring me special gifts. Outside of my tent there’s a picnic table with ordinary things on it: bowls, cups, cooking utensils, water, food, etc.. I want you to bring me some of those things. You see, the way this game works, you have to bring me something special every 30 minutes. I won’t take just an ordinary object, it has to be special.
So what makes an object special? Well, if you hop up and down on your right leg ten times in a row and then you touch one of the items on that picnic table, that thing will become special. But you can only make one thing special at a time, so you’ll have to do a lot of hopping. The first thing I want you to bring me is a special cup. That means you have to hop up and down on your right leg ten times, touch a cup to make it special, then bring it to me in my special tent. Now you’d better not try to cut any corners because I’m watching you. If you get tired and decide to skip the leg hopping step and just bring an ordinary object into my special tent, I will shoot you. I have a gun in my tent and I won’t allow anything ordinary to come in here. I’m special, my tent is special, and everything you bring to me had better meet with my definition of special. So get hopping.
In this little game of ours, what determined whether something was special or ordinary? You going through some silly ritual. Did the physical properties of the objects that you made “special” ever change? Not at all. When you hopped up and down and then touched a cup, it was still just a cup. I was the only reason the cup was considered “special”, because I had made up these silly rules. This whole game is nothing more than me making you go through a bunch of meaningless motions just because I said so. It’s just a means of me bossing you around. I don’t really need you to bring me things in my tent, I just want to see you submitting to my authority. What’s your motivation for bothering to play such a strange game? In fact, why should you bother with doing anything that I say? Because if you don’t, I will kill you.
As a Christian, you need to have a proper perspective of what the Old Covenant was about. When Yahweh ordered a special tent Tabernacle to be built for Him and when He came up with a bunch of complicated rituals that people had to do in order to gain atonement for their sins, He was just playing a game. He didn’t really need the blood of animals to forgive sins. He didn’t really need a physical place to be built before He could meet with people. He didn’t need the Ark of the Covenant. It was all just an elaborate game that He invented for one reason: to give people a means of demonstrating their submission to Him. You see, if people refused to play Yahweh’s game according to Yahweh’s rules, He said He would kill them. Not only would He kill them physically, He’d throw their souls into Hell. Now in the Old Testament people didn’t have a clear understanding of Heaven and Hell yet, but they were afraid of dying and they figured there could be eternal consequences for messing around with Yahweh. As time went on, Yahweh became more clear about what those eternal consequences would be. When Jesus showed up, He became even more clear and today we understand that defying God on earth results in some very terrifying consequences after death.
Now in the silly game that you and I played, I called things special. In the games that Yahweh invented for His people in the Old Testament, He called things holy. The Levite priests who worked in Yahweh’s Temple area had to make themselves holy before they started work. All the tools they used had to be made holy. All the special offerings that they brought into Yahweh’s special tent had to be holy. So how does a man make himself holy? By going through meaningless rituals that Yahweh pulled out of the air. Yahweh was a wellspring of nitpicky rules that He invented on the fly for His people to do. There were rules for how to make a bowl holy. There were rules for how to make a man holy. There were rules for how to make a holy animal sacrifice, a holy incense offering, holy garments, holy bread, holy vows. And the ONLY reason any of these things meant anything was because YAHWEH said they did. Yahweh is God. He calls the shots. If He says we all have to stand on our heads for four hours before we can receive salvation, then that’s what we have to do.
It’s very important to realize that this stuff is just a game—it’s always been just a game. There’s no such thing as holy objects gaining special powers. Holy is nothing more than a label, and labels can either be meaningless or important. If some stranger driving down the highway sticks his head out his window and calls you an idiot at the top of his lungs, is that a meaningful label? No, it’s irrelevant because that guy’s opinion means nothing to you. You write him off as a short-tempered fool and you go on with your day. But if GOD says you’re an idiot, then suddenly there’s a real crisis at hand. When GOD labels something, the label matters because GOD is speaking. You don’t want GOD to think you’re an idiot. Under the Old Covenant, believers didn’t want GOD to say that they were defiled or unclean. People who were wise understood that it was very important to stay on God’s good side, so they jumped through whatever hoops He invented in order to stay right in His eyes. Sacrifice a bull? You got it. Pay tithe? Okay. Don’t enter the Holy of Holies? Don’t touch the Ark? Whatever Yahweh says, His serious followers wanted to do. When GOD speaks, it’s important.
Remember the famous story of Moses and the burning bush? Moses sees a bush that appears to be on fire, yet it’s not burning up. How curious. He goes closer to check it out and suddenly the Voice of God speaks to him from the bush.
“Do not come closer,” Yahweh said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Ex. 3:5)
Holy ground? What makes that particular patch of dirt different than any other? Nothing except the fact that God just said it was different. See how it works with this holy business? If GOD says it’s holy, then it’s holy. If GOD says you can’t wear shoes on holy ground, then that’s the new rule of the game, and you’d better hurry up and adjust. If GOD says you have to bring Him animals to pay for your sins, then that’s what you have to do. If GOD later tells you to forget about the animals and believe in His Son Jesus instead, then you’d better keep up. God changes His rules all the time. When He invented a whole bunch of new rules at once, He called it His COVENANT with Israel. Later when He massively revised those rules, cancelled most of them, and added some new ones, He called it a CHANGE IN COVENANTS. Today we Christians are living under the NEW COVENANT—that’s just what God calls the current game that He has set up between us and Him. What’s the point of these games? To test our submission to God.
Why do people end up in Hell? Because they refuse to abide by the rules of God’s game. God is the King. He isn’t going to put up with us spitting in His face. Under the current Covenant, if we don’t reverentially submit to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we’ll be eternally damned. When God speaks, we’d better listen. When He demands something of us, we’d better hop to it. This is how it works.
Now there are many religions in the world, and many of them use the same labels. When a Muslim talks about praying to his god, should we attach meaning to that label? No, Allah is nothing more than a delusion. He isn’t real. Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are real. So you see, it’s never about the words, it’s about WHO IS SPEAKING. Labels by themselves are meaningless. When a Mormon says he’s a Christian, he’s using a meaningless label. GOD says Mormons are going to Hell—they’re not Christians at all because they do not reverentially submit to Jesus as their GOD and Savior (to Mormons, Jesus is the created spirit child of the Father and Mother in Heaven). Today YOU can label yourself as saved, but YOUR label is meaningless, because you are just a human being. Unless GOD says you are saved, you’re going to Hell. It is only when GOD speaks that labels become meaningful, but their meaning is defined by HIM, and He changes His definitions whenever He wants to.
Today, God is no longer interested in playing games with holy and unholy. Today He has thrown out all the rules and rituals that He invented for how to make certain objects and people holy. So when a PRIEST prays over water to make it holy, is he doing something that GOD told him to do? No, he’s going through a ritual that was invented by PEOPLE. When PEOPLE invent rituals, those rituals are meaningless. When PEOPLE say water is holy, that label is meaningless. Something is only holy if GOD says it is holy, and today God doesn’t call any objects holy. Even when He did call things holy, those THINGS never acquired supernatural power. GOD is the only One with power.
The Church today loves to use labels to lead Christians astray. Instead of teaching you correctly about how all this labeling business started and how the only point of God inventing rituals for us is to test our submission to Him, shepherds deceive you by trying to make you think created things can acquire supernatural power if they are handled properly. This is nothing more than superstitious rot, yet because of all this bad teaching we have scores of Christians believing that there is supernatural power in the Communion elements. Why? Where did this power come from? What makes bread and wine that we bought at the local grocery store suddenly become powerful just because we serve it to the congregation in certain dishes? Because we think that by going through rituals that PEOPLE invented, we can capture the power of GOD in material objects. This is utterly absurd, yet people are so desperate for control that they refuse to admit how stupid they are being. A man prays over water boiling in a pot, then he declares it to be “holy water” and he says that anything he sprinkles that water on becomes holy or becomes something demons can’t touch. A man prays over a pewter cross and then he labels that cross as “anointed” and he says if he holds it up, demons will flee. Christians bind a collection of historical documents into a book then they call it their “Holy Bible”. They then say that the physical book has the power to ward off demons. They say that just by opening the Bible, they can make God speak to them. They say that the Bible guides them in life. They say the Bible is all they need. They are DELUSIONAL because GOD never said the Bible was holy. GOD never said the Bible has power, and until GOD uses a label, ALL LABELS ARE MEANINGLESS.
So then, should you be impressed with holy water, holy oil, sacred Communion elements, anointed humans or consecrated objects? Should you be impressed when you hear labels like “man of God” or “God’s anointed” or “Divinely inspired” or “God-breathed”? No, because unless GOD is using a label, ALL LABELS ARE MEANINGLESS. Are you seeing how this works? There has NEVER BEEN power in created things. God NEVER taught us to go down this road of revering objects as having supernatural qualities. He has only ever taught us to revere HIM and to worship HIM. If HE labels an object as “untouchable”, then we don’t touch it because we’re afraid of being disciplined by HIM, not because we think the object itself has the power to harm us.
Created things do not have supernatural power. Inanimate objects do not frighten demons. When you go waving your cross around in an exorcism, demons see you holding up some dumb piece of metal and they scoff. They aren’t intimidated by you or your cross or your Bible or your holy water or any other ridiculous toy that you’ve hauled into the room with you. It is GOD who has power. It is GOD who invents rules for us to follow so that we can prove our submission to Him. The whole point of you being on this earth is to decide how you are going to respond to your Creators. Are you going to respect Their Authority or mock it? Are you going to bow down or scoff? All the hoops that God invents for you to jump through—be it slaughtering animals or acknowledging that Jesus atoned for your sins on a cross—they are just about testing your submission. If you pass the test, you go to Heaven. If you flunk, you go to Hell. You only get one brief window of time in which to make decisions that will seal your eternal fate. God’s games are very serious business. His rules are very important. When GOD speaks, we need to pay attention. But when PEOPLE speak, and when PEOPLE make up labels and rituals and a bunch of religious hoopla, it is MEANINGLESS. We only listen to GOD.