Why getting a tattoo is NOT a sin

(Yep, I’m going get in trouble for this one!)

Apparently I’ve struck on quite a firestorm by beginning to teach on God’s symbolic language using tattoo interpretation. Lest I raise more eyebrows, I’m going to explain to you today from the Bible why getting a tattoo is NOT a sin.

People that say that getting a tattoo is a sin are basing their theory on Leviticus 19:28, which says:

“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.”

That seems pretty clear at first glance. However, in order to understand how it applies to us today, we have to view it in context. We have to look at the meaning of the entire passage–the verses and chapters before and after it. We also have to look at the rest of the truths taught in the entire Bible as a whole.

First, the context:
Leviticus 19:28 is part of the Mosaic Law–the Law given to the Israelites through Moses. It was a very comprehensive Law, containing moral, social, and ceremonial commands.

But in Matthew 5:17, Jesus gives us this startling statement:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

God gave the Law as a foreshadowing of Jesus. All of its commands, ceremonies, and rules foretold the Person of Christ. We know from Jesus’ own words, and from many other passages in the Bible, that Jesus was the complete fulfillment of the Law.

So then we have to ask:

How did Jesus fulfill the part of the Law that forbids tattooing?
It’s simple. God gave the Israelites this command to provide for an outer consecration and purity that would foreshadow the inner consecration and purity they would one day have in Christ.

If you read the entire Mosaic Law, or even the chapters surrounding our tattooing passage above, you’ll see many other commands with the same purpose. For example, the Law forbade:

eating pork;
wearing clothing of mixed fibers;
planting mixed seed, and
sexual relations between a husband and a wife during the wife’s menstruation.
God demands purity. He desires for us to be pure, because He is pure. That is why He sent Jesus.

First Corinthians 1:30-31 tells us:

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

“Sanctify” just means “to purify.” The Law could not purify men, because men were unable to keep it in its entirety. But Papa loved us so much that He still desired to save us from sin.

So He sent His Son, Jesus, who lived a perfect life, died on the cross for you and me, rose from the dead the third day, and ascended back into Heaven.

Jesus lived a pure life for us. He BECAME purity for you and me.
That is why, if you will accept Jesus as the Lord of your life, you can have a new start… no matter what you’ve done.

You can receive forgiveness for everything you’ve ever done that wasn’t just like God (things which are called “sins”).
If you’ve had an abortion, God will forgive you and heal you if you’ll just ask Him to.
If you’ve had sex outside of marriage, God will forgive you and heal your heart if you’ll just ask Him to.
If you’ve botched up your life in any way, God will forgive you and give you a new start if you’ll just ask Him to.
If you’ve lied, cheated, stolen, raped, murdered… It’s all sin to God, and if you will confess your sins, He will still be faithful and just to forgive you your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Romans 7:6 tells us, “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

So this is why getting a tattoo is not a sin:
The forbidding of tattoos was meant to be an outer sign of the inner consecration that would become available in Jesus.
Then Jesus came, and He fulfilled those laws completely.
Now Jesus gives us something far better than external rituals and observances: inward purity. Jesus gives us freedom from sin; true purity of the heart.
Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

So, we don’t have to depend on abstaining from tattoos for our purity anymore. Getting a tattoo is not a sin. Like many other things, it’s a personal choice that you need to work out between you and God. If you want one, knock yourself out. Make it a holy image that won’t misrepresent Jesus, and don’t let people judge you for it.

If you don’t want one, that’s fine too. But don’t judge people who have them, ok?

If you have a tattoo and have been criticized for it, what do you think about what I’ve outlined above? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below


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