Christianity and theology

Of Anointed Water, Stickers, Handkerchiefs etc

There is one dangerous thing I have lately observed in the African Church, more especially, in Charismatic and Pentecostal circles and would like to raise an alarm. Some ‘men of God’ are giving or selling out anointed water, stickers, handkerchiefs and what have you so that people can use them to receive various miracles from God. The miracles include jobs, special favors, success, healing, deliverance from demons  etc.

The most dangerous thing I have noticed concerning this development is that these anointed objects are slowly and steadily taking the place of Christ in the lives of people hence ending up being idols. John Calvin once remarked that ‘the human heart is a factory of idols’ and indeed due to our fallen nature, we easily make idols of many shapes and sizes and worship them thereafter.

The anointed items are fast becoming idols for many. What is happening with this anointed stuff is that people are told to use them whenever they want to experience a miracle or blessing from God. Recently, I met a relation who is a Christian and he greatly boasted about a certain anointed sticker bearing a face of ‘man of God’ and said:

“You know, this sticker is very powerful. I always travel with it in my car and if the devil had plans for me to get involved in a road accident, it doesn’t work. I am also told that next time, I am invited for job interviews, I should just put it in my shirt’s pocket and before entering the interview, I should pull it out, gaze at it for a while and then say a prayer and I will be successful.”

It is evident that my relation’s life is revolving around this anointed sticker. To him this sticker is his life. Now, where is the place of Christ in his life?  Are not our lives supposed to revolve around Christ? I hope you get my point.  I will not mince words here: placing our faith in this anointed stuff is superstition and nothing else.  It is not different from relying on charms or ‘small pillows’ (zithumwa) from witchdoctors.

My fellow Africans will understand this better. For most Africans who are not Christians, they rely on witchdoctors.  For instance, when one wants to get a job, they might go to a witchdoctor who would give them some charms which they are to put in their trouser’s pocket when going for job-interviews. The charms, they are told, will guarantee success in the interviews.

I believe this is similar to how some Christians are treating these anointed objects.   Only that this time around we have sugar-coated them with the name of Christ. Please, fellow Christian, think twice about your involvement with these anointed objects.

But some will quote for me Acts 19:11, 12 which reads: “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” They will then ask, isn’t this passage supporting the use of these anointed items?

No, it isn’t. A couple of things need to be pointed out here. First, Paul never asked for any amount of money  for the handkerchiefs and aprons. But the ‘’men of God’ today are asking for a certain amount of money for one to have these anointed stuffs.

Secondly, Paul never sat down and packed these aprons and handkerchiefs and sent them out to be used for miracles rather it was the people who came to Paul who took these  items and used them on the sick.  As a matter of fact, these aprons and handkerchiefs were used ones. New Testament historians tell us that the handkerchiefs were wore around Paul’s head to absorb the sweat as he worked as a tent-maker while the aprons were used to cover Paul’s clothes to protect them from dirt and dust(The Acts of Apostles: The Daily Study Bible ©1966, The Saint Andrew Press).

Thirdly, let me borrow the words of R.C. Sproul and point out that “This was not Paul’s doing; because of their pagan religious background, the Ephesians were used to employing superstitious means (v.19). God accommodated His gracious work to their ignorance” (Reformation Study Bible, Ligonier Ministries © 2005).

Fourthly, it is very important to note that what is recorded for us in Acts 19:11, 12 was never a trend. You don’t read this anywhere else apart from this passage which means that this was not a regular occurrence and I, strongly, believe that this was done in Ephesus only.

However, some ‘men of God’ today have made the giving or selling out of anointed items a trend, thereby leading our fallen nature to turn these objects into idols.  It’s very heartbreaking to see that some Christians can’t live without this anointed stuff. Oh Lord, may you deliver us from these idols.





40 thoughts on “Of Anointed Water, Stickers, Handkerchiefs etc

  1. ImLovedbyHim2 says:

    So true. I actually throw them away when I get them for free!

    I figure, if you don’t have the anointing or faith to heal or agree with me in prayer when I’m in your presence, what good is your rag?

    • ImLovedbyHim2, thanks for visiting the blog and for your comment. I believe that when we know that our personal relationship with Christ is all that matters most, some of these things will surely matter less.

  2. OSCAR says:

    I hav understood ths link now,coz a friend jst posted a portion of it and I missunderstood the post.Coz here ur not saying it wrong to use ths mediums bt to take them as God it is wrong.Coz God used various mediums to reach pple in the bible.Act 19 paul used handkerchiefs aprons.Jesus gave the desciples anointing oil to anoint those sick Mark 6 v12,JAMES 5v14-15.However we hav to trade carefuly on these,coz we can turn them unto God,stop other christian essentials like prayer,holiness,fasting and entirely rely on ths mediums like stickers and handkerchiefs.God can use any medium to touch hs pple.

    • Oscar,
      Thanks for your comment. I wouldn’t boldly stand and say that this is unbiblical. However, I have concerns as I have raised in the article. First, as you have rightly put, when this anointed stuff takes the place of Christ in our lives, then we have a very serious problem. Secondly, when we make this a trend, then we also have a problem. The example of Paul you have cited was never a trend as I have already pointed out in the article. Furthermore, the example of disciples and elders in Mark 6:13 and James 5:14, 15 need to be understood in the light that in those days, olive oil was commonly used in medicine. Of course, in these verses, we cannot rule out the fact that the oil also represented the healing power of God.

      Once again, thanks for your comment. Please visit again the blog whenever you can.

      • Timothy Muzgatama says:

        I have just come across this very well articulated article and I totally agree with you. I have since shared it on my facebook page so others can also read it and am sure you don’t mind. I am from Lusaka, Zambia.

  3. thank you for turning us all back to what has already been fully given, the finished work of the cross of Jesus. We already have everything we need. “Christ in us is the hope of glory” We all have the finished work of Christ within us; we all have all the fullness of God in us if we just believe and receive. I believe; I receive! We thank you Father!

  4. Tidimalo says:

    Thanks a lot, this is so true. in the bible where there was something els used besides the laying of hands it was a once off thing, this to demostrate the power of God in the individual concerned. People will bring theier hankerchiefs to Paul because of the power of God that they saw in Paul but not neccessarily Paul saying bring your stuff to me.Jesus would use what is there at that time. what we are seeing today in most cases is the water being fetched from some places known only to the users.My challenge is if you believe in water get water from the tap at home or in your church and use it dont bring water fom somewhere els.

  5. Precious Balone says:

    This is very good information, it is much clearer, the thing my brother is that some of the people who use those mediums don’t even have a relationship with God, now instead of them seeking God, when they feel pressed, they run and expect miracles to happen, in a nut shell, they want short cuts and instant answer, God does not operate like that, how can you desire to have materials from someone you don’t have a relationship with, the bible clearly says”seek yee first the kingdom of God and everything else shall be added unto you”. Now we have reached a stage where we treat God like a traditional doctor, we pray emergency prayers, we put pressure on God(am not even sure if he can be pressurized) because he says he knows how deceitful the heart of a human is….but at the end of it all, King Solomon asked ” what then is the conclusion of the matter”, when he realized he has blundered….Solomon concludes that “and whatsoever mines eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor…..Then I looked on all the works of that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun….Ecclesiastes 2 4- 18…..this self proclaimed prophets also, have a contribution, just to be praised over their “good work”…..i would rather if they preached the truth to the people…yes they are true men of Gd out there but some mmmmhh, church we need to reconcile with God, nowadays we learn from our own wisdom like King Solomon, but look at how it all ended with him……he says it is vanity and vexation!! God bless us all.

    • Thanks Precious for your comment. You have indeed pointed out a very important thing namely that some of those who seek these mediums don’t have any personal relationship with Christ. So, they seek Christ not because of who He is to their life but what he might give to their life. Very sad indeed. Christ is the greatest need of every human being and preachers should spent more of their energies proclaiming Christ than producing anointed staff. Once again thanks for leaving the comment, please write again when you can.

  6. Christopher Skosana says:

    I agree with what you say. Many unrecorded miracles were performed, have you ever wondered what are they! What is I want is your take on these mediums sales; CDs, DVDs and Books (music, teaching, preaching) which most sell very expensive. Where in scripture is these allowed?

    • Thanks Christopher for visiting the blog and leaving a comment. To be brief, I cannot give an explanation on why some preachers sell their CDs or DVDs expensively because I don’t know. However, I would safely say that Christians CDs or DVDs books are sold because to produce them, there is a cost involved and selling them helps recover the cost.

  7. A very good day

    I am currently writing a book about the church of today where see lots of emergent churches. I saw this article about churches who are selling cloths, anointed oil, salt, etc… Could you please give permission to add it in my book.

  8. Thanks for your very valuable perspective. I agree with you that in most cases these items have been turned into idols. People forget that before receiving the items, they lived and enjoyed God’s grace. In other words, when grace is experienced after receiving them, it’s not necessarily because of the mediums. All the same, I personally believe they are just a few (very few) genuine cases of men of God who are truly used by God in this manner. The fact that Acts 19 designates this phenomenon as “special” or “rare” miracles, suggests to me that this is special grace which was not given to all the apostles, but to Paul alone or maybe just a few others. We are still living out the book of Acts, and I believe such grace is still available, but to just a few as the case was in Acts 19. I was also totally skeptical about this phenomenon until I saw a certain man of God who, despite giving people such items, painstakingly teaches them not to idolise them. He teaches people that neither he, nor the distributed items, heals them, but it is God’s grace which can be transmitted to people through the items. He teaches people not to ever neglect personal Bible study, prayer, fasting, tithing, obedience and a holy lifestyle, thinking that the items will substitute God’s basic commands. Nevertheless, the proliferation of this practice reflects the emergence of counterfeits. As stated in the Bible, this is a special grace, so it cannot be as widespread as we find it today. The difference between the authentic and the counterfeit is in the fruits (characters) of the men of God. The counterfeits are boastful, pompous, greedy and full of pride. They do not teach people not to worship the prophet. In fact, they encourage it. They don’t preach repentance or godly lifestyles based on one’s personal relationship to God. Their doctrine revolves around fanaticism towards the “prophet” and the fetishes he distributes as a means of obtaining God’s benefits, regardless of whether one’s ways are pleasing to God or not. So then, while it is essential to be extremely careful concerning this emerging new type of idol, it is equally advisable to avoid the other extreme – that of stereotyping everyone negatively. If God did it in Acts, He can do it again today. Heis the same yesterday, today and forever. There are no hard-and-fast rules or formulae on how He would do it again this time, except the doctrinal guidelines He has provided. We cannot put God in a box. As it astonished people then, it can astonish people now. Finally, the fact that the Bible records a certain practice or miracle only once, does not necessarily disqualify it from becoming acceptable as doctrine. For example, how many times did Jesus die? Only once, isn’t it? But is it not the single most cardinal pillar of our doctrine? If it’s in scripture, we cannot afford to ignore it. Let’s strive to get proper understanding of it so we can know how to handle it. ALL SCRIPTURE (including Acts 19) is inspired by God and is useful / applicable / suitable for teaching and doctrine….

    • Thanks my brother, O’Brian. I appreciate your perspective. There are a lot of helpful insights which you have highlighted in your article. However, I would not equate or compare the miracle of Christ’s death and resurrection with that of Paul’s aprons and handkerchiefs. Christ’s death and resurrection forms the backbone of Scripture. It is told from Genesis to Revelation while Paul’s miracle is not. So, I don’t think to draw application from these two miracles on an equal equilibrium is doing justice to proper interpretation of Scripture.

      • Many thanks, man of God. I love it when we share perspectives and insights from God’s word in frankness, for iron sharpens iron. I agree with you that the value of Jesus’ resurrection far outweighs the miracles performed using handkerchieves and aprons. My intention in quoting this example was never to equate them, for indeed this would be a gross injustice. My purpose was to illustrate the fact that if something is quoted only once in the Bible, this doesn’t NECESSARILY disqualify it from being recognized or adopted as doctrine. Let me also indicate that right from the Old Testament, God frequently used both living and inanimate objects to express Himself or as conduits of His power. The continuity of this phenomenon into the New Testament is interesting. Much of the time some say that in Old Testament times this was because the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out on all flesh, so as some kind of “stop-gap” measure God had to use the items we see Him using. Nevertheless, in Acts 19, the miracles we read about came after Pentecost. This was happening at a crucial foundational stage in the development of the Christian doctrine, when it was also critical to clearly distinguish it from any other doctrines. In the same period the apostle Paul emerged as probably the most prominent voice of Christianity. His impact in articulating, expounding and practising the authentic gospel of Christ clearly eclipsed that of Peter and other apostles who had walked with Jesus. Obviously God knew how much influence Paul’s teachings and practical ministry would have on the church even in the forthcoming centuries. He knew how much damage the Christian doctrine risked incurring if such an influential apostle were to perform “questionable” miracles, because this would vindicate / authenticate heresies. In full knowledge of this,,God still decided to perform such miracles through Paul. Nowhere in scripture does Paul himself issue any “apologetic” statement explaining these miracles as being an Ephesus-specific phenomenon which should not be regarded as part of the generic Christian doctrine. To me the lesson is that God’s possibilities are unlimited. His wisdom is unfarthommable, and He can choose to use anything He has created. To those He has called, He reveals the modus operandi they are to follow, which is not necessarily bound by any rigid formula, except when it clearly violates scriptural principles. I totally agree with you that there is a disturbibg trend characterised by believers’ absolute turn of focus towards these things at the expense of the fundamentals of a personal relationship with God. The resultant substitution is therefore a form of idolatry. This is 100 % true and should be pointed out as a warning to all Christians. Even a simple and acceptable practice such as the laying on of hands, if not handled properly, can result in over-dependency and idolatry. However, in pointing it out, I believe it would be equally wayward for us to therefore condemn laying on of hands as wrong. Doing this would be like throwing out the baby together with the bathwater. Thanks..

  9. My brother, O’Brian, thanks for your comment again. I understand your concern. We agree that the anointed items can easily be turned into idols. We are both concerned with this trend. But I notice that we differ in regard to Paul’s miracle whether it was a one-time occurrence or can continue even today. I welcome this difference in opinion and I think it is then good to leave it at that. You might wonder why I believe that such miracles are not needed today. I believe that miracles as you have pointed out were used to authenticate the message of the apostles and those sent out to preach Christ in the early days of the Church but now I don’t think God’s servants need these signs for authentication since we can tell a true or false teacher by Scripture. So, today the teaching of the Scripture authenticates God’s true servants. But I will not attempt to solve this debate today because it is impossible to do so. This difference in opinion has been there in the Church for long and it will continue to be there until Christ comes. Once again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and views in a kind manner. God bless my brother. By the way, I still remain open to further discussion on this issue and others affecting the Church today. Feel free to write me any time.

  10. Kefilwe says:

    It is good to get people like u that still fully rely on God and not idolize anything. My homecel and i are on Discussion about it this season and it is quite a challenging yet sensitive issue. May God bring us back to our Savior and remind us of who we are in Him. Thank you Sir

  11. Apostle T.G. Mapiye says:

    The anointing cannot be sold. People can sell DVDs with music or sermons in them and people get healed by using these mediums or listening and watching the DVDs but this does not mean that they have bought the anointing. The anointing is God and God cannot be commercialized. Those who think they are selling anointed items are fooling themselves. Those who think they are buying anointed items are equally deceived. God can use mediums of any kind but such mediums are never meant to be worshipped. We cannot package God into a bottle and sell him to people. That line of thought is an error. People must be centered on Christ alone. It is weird really to see people buying healing from ministers yet Jesus sent us to cast out devils and heal the sick for free. He even said anoint the sick and all for free. It is wrong to make people believe they can buy healing packaged on an “anointed item”. God is God and cannot be sold. If people are getting healed, it is God healing the people and not the anointed item. The minister will incur guilt for selling the item in the name of an anointed item. A minister can be wrong in doctrine and still pray for the sick and they get healed. Supernatural works are not a sign of God’s approval.

  12. Akindolie Akinwumi says:

    Good message. Not only that Sir, looking at the economic values of these objects on the part of the stakeholders/ the seller/supplier. don’t you think the use of these objects have really boosted our societal and individual’s economy.

    • For sure, they have enriched those selling them. But should a Christian be happy and proud of the economic gains that have been made out of lies and at the expense of the poor and deceived?

  13. Collen misi says:

    Amen let us love God not loving his blessing we are living the time of the church at Laodocia becareful the kingdom of God is abt righteousnes not materials our God doest need help of water or oil we were given power even to rise the dead not with water or oil bt with the power of holy spirity all these things of annointed stuff are coming from wicth docters hiden in the church

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