The word of God tells us that before Jesus died, Satan had the power of death and kept people in slavery through their fear of death.
What causes men to fear death other than the judgment that follows after death? Many people are fearful of death because they do not know what will happen to them after death. Hebrews 9:27 remind us, Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.
Many religions have attempted to reassure their followers of a better after life, gained through their own efforts to live a good life here on earth. Others are told not to eat certain foods or touch certain things in order to gain Gods favor.
Let us hear what Paul told the Colossians concerning such beliefs, which were also prevalent in his time. Paul called them the basic principles of this world. Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch? They are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with false humility and their harsh treatment of the body(emphasis mine) (Colossians 2:20-22).
Flagellation (causing pain to oneself by whipping ones own body until the blood flows) is one of the ways that some people try to show God how sorry they are for their sins, so that when they die they will go to heaven. I remember once watching a program that showed people in a particular country involved in this mystifying practice. About fifty men were in a room and only had a piece of cloth around their waists. Their bare backs became the object of merciless whipping by their own hands! There was blood all over the floor as it flowed from the torn skin from their backs.
The commentator said that they were identifying with the suffering that Jesus went through for them so that they would eventually go to heaven. I did not hear the rest of what the commentator had to say, because I had to switch to another channel from the gory scenes! In a certain Asian country, certain people allow themselves to be crucified on wooden crosses every Easter in order to identify with Jesus and to pay for their own sins!
The word of God tells us that Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for our sins when He was crucified on the cross. We no longer have to fear physical death or spiritual death. Paul the apostle put it well when he said, For me to live is Christ and to die is gain (emphasis mine) (Philippians 1:21). We do not have to add anything to the suffering of Christ so that we can go to heaven. To imply that we can add anything to what Jesus did is to say that Jesus actually did not finish the work that He came to do by dying on the cross.
We no longer have to be held in slavery to the fear of death as the book of Hebrews affirms. He too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy he who holds the power of death that is the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). There are people who will sacrifice their own child if it assures them that the deity they are pleasing by sacrificing their child will assure them a passage way into the after life!
I did not know to what extent people could be held in slavery by the fear of death until our family went to live in a country in West Africa.
The first thing that I noticed when we first arrived in this country was the fact that a lot of people mainly men - hung around heir necks a picture of an older looking man who often wore a small round cap and dressed in flowing robes. When I enquired why this was so, I was told that those were their spiritual guides. In the country where I am from, we simply call them witchdoctors. These spiritual guides completely controlled the lives of the majority of people in this country whose population is 95% Muslim.
There was a general fear of being killed by ones neighbor or relative. Most of the population went to see the spirit guides to get protective portions and charms. Many of these charms were boldly and openly tied around the upper arm. Whenever a child was born, they would be taken to a spirit guide to prepare a charm that would be tied around the babys waist or upper arm. They would also get a special eye- liner pencil to draw a black line around the babys eyelids to keep away the evil eye from jealous neighbors who would want to kill the child. In the morning, the first thing a woman would do was to pour a line of water on their front door. This was to keep away evil.
The fear of death hung around this country like a dark and ominous cloud. Despite all these spiritual precautions, the death rate was still high. There are not very many local Christian converts in this country although there have been missionaries working there for many years. Unfortunately many of the local Christians still went back to their spirit guides whenever they or their children were sick. For them, Christianity did not address the issue of protection from Satan.
Many of the missionaries did not want to give too much attention to the devil and unfortunately failed to address an issue that was very real to the people they came to evangelize.
Nellie Odhuno Shani is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. Her first books are available on amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and on her author's websites.
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