by John Owens
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Our son came home with a tattoo, his second. I didn't care for the first and this one really repulsed me. It was on his upper left arm, a round hideous hate-filled face like a demonic mask a witch-doctor would wear to summon evil spirits. How could he want to display such a thing permanently on his body? Adopted at birth, he had been raised in a Christian missionary home, had attended a Christian school and professed Jesus as his Lord. How could he be so blind to the ugliness of the image? Questions hammered from within with no breakthrough, no resolve. The thing even had fangs.
"It was free," he proudly declared. "I even sketched it myself for the artist. He liked it so much that he added it to his book of designs. And if anyone else wants one, he will pay me a commission."
Oh God, I thought. The thing came out of our son's own mind. How could he be so sick? It was now obvious that deliverance was needed, or counseling, at least something far more than family devotionals. What to do? Could I even relate to him? Welling up inside was anger, frustration, even pity for his inability to see.
All I could focus on was this demonic face that would not be washed away, but would be with us and him for the rest of our earthly existences a glaring horrible reminder of the evil that invaded our home. It seemed as though the enemy was winning the spiritual battle by hitting us in the eye.
A day passed. Upon struggling with the issue, I was reminded that God is able to take that which was intended for evil and turn it around for good (Romans 8:28). And after some seeking He showed me a treasure- a revelation of divine truth.
He reminded me of my own fleshly nature, the carnal man that wars against His Holy Spirit. How vile God sees it. Far worse is such a thing to Him than the tattoo to us. While we feel betrayed by the rebellious acts of our son, how much more strongly does our heavenly Father feel toward our self-seeking ways? Is not the inner heart condition worse than the outer mark? Just because I have no tattoo does not free me from the God who sees all. Only the Blood of Jesus Christ does that!
Do I waste time with entertainment without regarding the time in which we live, with signs of last days judgments thundering around me. "Woe to those who seek ease in Zion." Am I ignoring the cries of help from those blinded and in bondage who pass me by during the week while feeling good about myself on Sundays? Do I look askew upon those addicted to drugs while justifying an appetite that borders on gluttony? Has freedom in Christ become a license to sin?
God demonstrates His love toward us, even in our sin (Romans 5:8). How merciful the Holy Spirit is to convict us of righteousness, sin and judgment, then to allow us to exercise 1 John 1:9 by confessing our sins and being completely cleansed. Of course, my son and I have had some conversation about choices. And I still hug him.
Yes, I believe that our Sovereign Lord allowed that little tattoo into our house for a purpose- redemptive at that, that we might seek His face, and be reminded of His grace and Way of forgiveness.
In the book of Leviticus, it is true that tattoos and such body markings were not allowed among the Israelites. But neither was trimming the corners of the beard - so, what do we do with that law? The only solution I have found is to walk humbly in love (in the light of Jesus Christ), obeying the Holy Spirit, and to be free from all condemnation.
Now, when I see that tattoo, I am reminded of God's love for the unlovely - that's me and you.
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John, a very powerful message my friend. I recently had a very similar experience. A great lesson on how mercy triumphs over judgement. Thank you for this timely meassage. very well written.