There’s a picture making the rounds on Facebook — it is the arm of a man, inscribed with a tattoo of Jesus on the cross, where the Lord’s left arm artistically becomes the left arm of the man with the tattoo. Personally, I thought it was beautiful and reposted it so many could see it.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t well received by many Christians. I, and many others who reposted it, was lambasted and accused of endorsing or condoning sin.
Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. More often than not, I opt to ignore my critics but I felt this deserved a bit of special attention and a concise response.
Our detractors cited Leviticus 19:28, which for the sake of discussion is given in its entirety, here:
You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves:I am the Lord.
I opted to use the ESV rendition because it uses the word tattoo, specifically.
Pagan cultures frequently marked their bodies with ink or cutting markings, typically along tribal lines.
There was a specific reason for eschewing such markings — like there was a reason for circumcision: hygiene and physical sanctification — God was preparing a people for the advent of the Messiah.
Now, here’s a question: after the advent of Jesus, was there a continued need for this? Don’t answer just yet!
Here’s the deal, for the New Covenant saint, what’s in Leviticus stays in Leviticus, LOL! Paul wrote that we are no longer under the law but under Grace (Romans 6:14).
(You are welcome to read more on this at www.leabates.wordpress.com. My Sister in Christ, Lea Bates, has written an excellent article concerning this.)
Those who insist on upholding the law will say that Jesus came to fulfill, not abolish, the law. Jesus did, indeed, say He came to fulfill the law, so let’s look at what that means – Strong’s renders it thusly:
g4137. ?????? pl?ro?; from 4134; to make replete, i. e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.:— accomplish, x after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.
AV (90)- fulfil 51, fill 19, be full 7, complete 2, end 2, misc 9;
to make full, to fill up, i. e. to fill to the full to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally I abound, I am liberally supplied to render full, i. e. to complete to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim to consummate: a number to make complete in every particular, to render perfect to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, ( some undertaking) to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise of matters of duty: to perform, execute of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish to fulfil, i. e. to cause God’s will ( as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises ( given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment
Merriam-Webster defines it:
ful·fill verb \fu?(l)-?fil also f?(l)-\
: to do what is required by (something, such as a promise or a contract)
: to succeed in doing or providing (something)
: to succeed in achieving (something) : to make (something, such as a dream) true or real
In other words, He came to satisfy the requirements of it (thus rendering it unnecessary for the New Covenant saint), not to bring it into full-force. This is what angered the Pharisees – that Jesus was not stricter concerning the law than they were.
More to the point, many Roman Citizens and Greeks had tattoos and piercings and they were never under the law. If you’re not of the Jewish faith, the law was never applicable to you!
Truth is, if subject yourself law, you’re under religious bondage. Paul dealt with this quite harshly in his letter to the church at Galatia (see Galatians chapters 3 and 4). He also wrote that the ordinances of the law were nailed to the Cross with Jesus (Colossians 2:14). The law was the letter of God but did not possess the Spirit of God, which is how Paul was able to conclude that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Personally, I think tattoos can be a beautiful personal expression. I think that as long as they are not blasphemous, there is nothing wrong with them.
In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say that there’s nothing wrong with a Saint getting one! After all, God is not concerned with our outward appearance, rather it is the heart and mind of a person that God deals with.
I think the Body of Christ misses a tremendous opportunity to share the Gospel with the “tatted” because of individual prejudice.
I say this in love, praying that you’re able to appropriate the glorious liberty found in Christ Jesus. If you awaken to Grace, you’ll realize you’ve been made righteous in Christ because of His sacrifice and not of your works (2 Corinthians 5:21).
There’s nothing wrong with this tattoo – in fact, I have a few of them, myself…
And prayerfully considering getting more!
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)