Burning Sage: Should Christians Practice Smudging?

What is Sage and What Does the Bible Say About It?

Sage is an evergreen subshrub that has somewhat gray leaves and purple flowers. It is part of the mint family and it can also be found all over the world. Scientifically named Salvia officinalis, this herb is a major ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine and is also used for medicinal purposes.

The name Sage is not directly mentioned in the bible. However, it is usually referred to as an incense that is used for fragrance and as offerings to the Lord, as it says in the Holy Bible in Psalm 141: 2, which reads:

“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

Psalms 141: 2 New International Version (NIV)

As an herb, Sage is also known to be beneficial when consumed as a liquid, a lozenge, or capsule, as it is purportedly able to alleviate some physical illnesses such as :

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Relief from headache
  • Relief from sore throat
  • Protection against infections
  • Dietary supplement, and many others

Even though using Sage as an age-old medicinal ingredient is already common practice, it still needs to be scientifically proven and studied for whatever benefits it is able to provide. Sage is also known to contain phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants and it reduces free radicals in the body.

Why Do People Burn Sage or Practice Smudging?

Burning sage is an ancient practice that has existed since biblical times. Mostly, it has a spiritual function as it gives off fragrant smoke that invigorates and pleases the senses. Even in the past, it was also used to please the Lord as an offering. Burning sage had been done supposedly for spiritual purification and healing purposes.

Smudging is essentially purification by smoke according to North American Indians who did ceremonial burning for cleansing and healing. It was their belief that the ritual drove away negative energy and restored balance and that practice is still being done today.

For one thing, incense is still used in some Christian religions and even the Catholic church still uses it in some of their ceremonies. The western church, however, has already stopped the practice associating it with paganism.

Apparently, we as a civilization already know that from a scientific standpoint being sick doesn’t come from evil spirits (although that is true to some extent) but mainly because of germs or bad bacteria.

So, burning incense eventually became a non-existing practice for Christian denominations, except for the fact that it may be done for recreational purposes.

One actual scientific study says that white sage contains receptor activating compounds that work on receptors which elevate mood, reduce stress, and even reduce pain.

Is Burning Sage Witchcraft?

Apart from doing smudging for health reasons, according to the New Age movement, burning sage is a way to purge your body of negative energy or in common language, bad vibes.

These rituals would sometimes involve “blessing” parts of the body like the eyes and the ears to open it up to the spirit world. In the new age ideation, the smoke drives out evil spirits and it could even supposedly purge past events in one’s life.

The main tenet of the New Age belief is the idea that people are gods in themselves. It says that apart from the Creator, humans are creators too which makes them equal to God. It believes that we as human beings can ultimately control our own destiny without the restrictions of the natural laws of God and His principles.

In the Christian worldview, however, this is inconsistent with the teachings of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and ultimately the salvation of Jesus Christ.

To the Christian believer, anything that expresses authority and power beyond God almighty as a higher being is a deception of the devil. Hence, burning sage to do spiritual rituals is considered sorcery.

Can a Christian Use Sage To Cleanse and Heal?

A Christian does not have to use smudging or the burning of sage to attain spiritual enlightenment. Doing so is considered an abomination according to the Lord in the bible, as it says in Psalm 89:11:

 “The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.”

Psalm 89:11 New International Version (NIV)

The verse above basically means that the Lord is the owner and creator of the universe and it is His alone. There are no such things as other deities that share space with Him.

On the one hand, it is not bad to burn an herb that has an invigorating and pleasant smell. This is for as long as one does not use it for anything else other than physical rejuvenation and relaxation. There are even instances that herbs and incense are used in the Bible, mainly as expensive gifts and offerings.

In addition to that, there is nowhere in the bible that says God hates herbs and spices. In fact, frankincense was one of the precious gifts of the three wise men who came to visit our Lord Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.

Mathew 2:11

“…and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

Valuable Advice To our Christian Brothers and Sisters and To Anyone Who Seeks Spiritual Enlightenment

Burning incense will not have you fall from grace for as long as it is done only for recreational purposes.

However, using incense as the focal point of worship while attempting to connect to God is not wise, and could even possibly open a portal to that which is not of God and His will.

Nevertheless, making a firm point about smudging as a prohibited activity in the bible, brothers, and sisters in Christ, we must also recognize the feelings of other believers who practice this ritual in the hopes of attaining spiritual enlightenment

We must avoid being derisive because of the danger that we see. Instead, we must have faith and be firm, remain in truth, and most importantly, be encouraging to our other brethren about the salvation of Jesus Christ. This is so that we, in turn, may lead them to it.

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