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At first glance, it seems pretty innocent to use incense. Other than a possible fire danger, is burning incense really a problem for the one who has put his or her trust in Jesus Christ? First, som...
According to Jer 6:20, Four things God rejects: 1. Incense from Sheba in south Arabia 2. Sweet cane from a far country 3. Burnt offerings of all kinds 4. Sacrifices-- sweet savor offerings The reason God rejected rituals, sabbaths, new moons, and other forms of outward worship, as here and in Isa. 1:13- 14 58:1- 5, was that these were substituted for personal holiness and morality (cp. 1Sam. 15:22 Isa. 1:13- 20 Mic. 6:6- 8). They were such a source of trust for justification that God predicted to do away with all of them (Hos. 2:11), and He did so by making the new covenant.
I do not believe God will "zap" someone for burning incense but, as stated in another answer, there was a specific recipe, manner, place and procedure for offering incense. Look what happened to two of Aaron's sons who were in violation. "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD." (Leviticus 10:1-2) If the intent is to enhance the spiritual experience and/or use in conjunction with mood music, repetitious chanting or the like, this is of the devil not God.
The NIV version of Jer 6:20 : "What do I care about incense from Sheba or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sarcrifices do not please me." If you read all of chapter 6 (we must never take verses out of context!) you see that the Lord is furious with the Isrealites because of her "wickedness, violence and destruction" vs 7. "Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it." vs 10 They are " greedy for gain" and "practice deceit". vs 13 They "have no shame" for their "loathsome conduct" vs15 God is not saying that burning incense and sacrifices are wrong and should stop. The Isrealites were doing what was right but with the wrong heart motives. Their hearts and souls were far from God. 1 Sam 15:22 Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of Rams. Ps 51:16-17 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, Oh God. Prov 21:3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. If a Christian is burning incense or going to church or singing in the choir with the wrong motives, with a heart that is far from the Lord, than it is not acceptable to God. If a Christian is burning incense because it smells good, there is no difference between that and burning a candle. We need to be careful that we don't get caught up judging others, focusing on the outside and imposing a list of dos and donts when what is important is what's in the heart...something only God can see.
We, Body of Christ, believers of Paul's gospel, living in the age of Grace, have the freedom to do what ever. That said, it is important to remember that we represent Christ and may be the only "Jesus" some folks ever see. Therefore we must always keep this in mind: Co 10:23 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." If whatever we do would cause some one to stumble, we should refrain. Keeping in mind the above passage. 1Co 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
The Orthodox and Catholic (both of which are Christian) Churches use incense based on the descriptions of worship in Heaven in the book of Revelations. For example: Rev. 5:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev. 8:3, 4 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood before the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand.
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