ASH WEDNESDAY AND LENT – PAGAN
Let me say right up front that if you already know the origins of ‘Shrove Tuesday’, Ash Wednesday, the Forty days of Lent and Easter Sunday but still stubbornly insist on observing them, then you show yourself to be nothing but a nominal ‘Christian’ like the Roman Catholics, The Church of England or any one of the majority of ‘Baptist’, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches who have a name that they live but are dead! [Rev 3:1] [Note: Not all Baptists observe these Pagan Practices]
For those real Christian Brethren who have just come to know the Lord and are searching their Bibles diligently to find whether these things be so [Act 17:11], I must tell you that you will not find them in the BIBLE. Neither the Apostles nor the Early Church observed these things. So WHERE do they come from?
‘Shrove Tuesday’ or Mardi Gras as it is commonly known literally means “Fat Tuesday” in French [called Pancake Tuesday in England] and is associated with the Roman Catholic custom of Lent. But is it taught in the Bible? Would God want Christians to observe it?
The idea behind Mardi Gras or carnival celebrations is that people overindulge before giving up something for Lent, which begins the following day with Ash Wednesday. [Lent is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.]
Lent was a time of penance, of fasting, of abstinence. Folks abstained from all sorts a good stuff including meat. They also gave up eggs and dairy products. So on Tuesday, the day before the start of the Lenten fast, folks cleared out their cupboards of all the foods they could not have for the next 40 days. They cooked them up and ate like pigs. In essence THEY FEASTED BEFORE THE FAST.
Unlike New Year’s, Christmas, Halloween, St. Valentine’s Day and other pagan holidays that are celebrated by the secular, non-religious world, the Lenten season is observed by dedicated religious believers.
From Ash Wednesday to Easter, many solemnly mark their foreheads with ash, “fasting” [or abstaining from certain foods or physical pleasures] for 40 days. This is done to supposedly imitate Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness [Matt. 4:1-2]. Some give up smoking. Others give up chewing gum. Still others give up over-eating or cursing. People vow to give up anything, as long as it prepares them for Easter.
People who observe Lent may be religious, dedicated and sincere—BUT THEY ARE SINCERELY WRONG!
Let us examine Lent, its practices and customs, its historic and religious origins, and its true meaning from the Bible’s perspective, not from the “traditions of men” [Mark 7:7-9].
The Purpose of Lent
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ…the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be. One can effectively relive the mystery only with purified mind and heart. The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.”
On the surface, this belief sounds sincere. However, IT DOES NOT AGREE WITH THE BIBLE, GOD’S HOLY WORD, the only source of true spiritual knowledge and understanding [John 17:17]. God, through the apostle Paul, commands Christians to “continue you in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; and that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” [II Tim. 3:14-17].
First, understand that the “celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ” to which the preceding quote refers is so-called “Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday”— HOLIDAYS DEEPLY ROOTED IN ANCIENT PAGANISM. They were instituted by mainstream Christianity in order to counterfeit and replace the Passover season.
Second, the Bible says that we are purified—cleansed, set apart and made pure in God’s sight—by the shed blood of Jesus Christ [Heb. 9:11-14, 22; 13:12]. This, along with faith [Acts 15:9] and humbly submitting to and obeying God [James 4:7-10] through His truth and prayer [John 17:17; I Tim. 4:5], makes us clean before God. NO AMOUNT OF FASTING, ABSTAINING FROM PHYSICAL PLEASURES OR ANY OTHER FORM OF SELF-DENIAL CAN PURIFY US!
Pagan Origins of Lent
Lent was never observed by Christ or His apostles. He commanded His disciples to “Go you therefore, and teach all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Matt. 28:19-20]. And Lent or Easter was not one of them!
Alexander Hislop wrote in his book The Two Babylons: “The festival, of which we read in Church history, under the name of Easter, in the third and fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish Church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter…That festival [Passover] was not idolatrous, and it was preceded by no Lent. Lent was not observed by the first century Church! It was first addressed by the church at Rome during the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, when Emperor Constantine officially recognized that church as the Roman Empire’s state religion. Any other form of Christianity that held to doctrines contrary to the Roman church was considered an enemy of the state.
Today, Lent is used for “fasting from sin and from vice…forsaking sin and sinful ways.” It is a season “for penance, which means sorrow for sin and conversion to God.” This tradition teaches that fasting and employing self-discipline during Lent will give a worshipper the “control over himself that he needs to purify his heart and renew his life.”
However, the Bible clearly shows that self-control—temperance—comes from having God’s Holy Spirit working in the life of a converted mind [Gal. 5:16, 17, 22]. FASTING—OF AND BY ITSELF—CANNOT PRODUCE GODLY SELF-CONTROL.
Paul warned against using self-denial as a tool to rely on your own will. He called it “will worship.” “Wherefore if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances, [touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;] after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh” [Col. 2:20-23].
GOD DID NOT DESIGN FASTING AS A TOOL FOR PENANCE, “BEATING YOURSELF UP” OR DEVELOPING WILL POWER: “Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh?” [Isa. 58:5-7].
God’s people humble themselves through fasting in order to draw closer to Him—so that they can learn to think and act like Him—so that they can live His way of life in all things. Notice what the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord” [9:23-24]. Fasting [and prayer] helps Christians draw closer to God.
Coming from the Anglo-Saxon Lencten, meaning “spring,” LENT ORIGINATED IN THE ANCIENT BABYLONIAN MYSTERY RELIGION. “The forty days’ abstinence of Lent WAS DIRECTLY BORROWED FROM THE WORSHIPPERS OF THE BABYLONIAN GODDESS…Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz” [The Two Babylons].
Tammuz was the false Messiah of the Babylonians—a SATANIC COUNTERFEIT OF JESUS CHRIST!
The Feast of Tammuz was usually celebrated in June [also called the “month of Tammuz”]. Lent was held 40 days before the feast, “celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing.” This is why Lent means “spring”; it took place from spring to early summer.
The Bible records ancient Judah worshipping this false Messiah: “Then He brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz” [Ezek. 8:14-15]. THIS WAS A GREAT ABOMINATION IN GOD’S EYES!
But why did the church at Rome institute such a pagan holiday?
“To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity—now far sunk in idolatry—in this as in so many other things, to shake hands” [The Two Babylons].
The Roman church replaced Passover with Easter, moving the pagan Feast of Tammuz to early spring, “Christianizing” it. Lent moved with it.
“This change of the calendar in regard to Easter was attended with momentous consequences. It brought into the Church the grossest corruption and the rankest superstition in connection with the abstinence of Lent” [The Two Babylons].
Before giving up personal sins and vices during Lent, the pagans held a wild, “anything goes” celebration to make sure that they got in their share of debaucheries and perversities — WHAT THE WORLD CELEBRATES AS MARDI GRAS TODAY.
Pagan Abomination masked as Christianity!
God is not the author of confusion [I Cor. 14:33]. He never instituted Lent, a pagan observance connecting debauchery to the supposed resurrection of a false Messiah.
God commands His people TO FOLLOW HIM—NOT THE TRADITIONS OF MEN. God’s ways are higher, better than man’s [Isa. 55:8-9]. Men cannot determine for themselves right from wrong or how to properly worship God. Why? Because “the heart [mind] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” [Jer. 17:9], and “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” [10:23]. God designed us and gave us life. He knows how we are supposed to worship Him.
To be a Christian and properly serve God, you must live “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” [Matt. 4:4], recognizing that His Holy Scriptures “cannot be broken” [John 10:35].
GOD COMMANDS CHRISTIANS TO FLEE FROM THE PAGAN TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS OF THIS WORLD [REV. 18:2-4], CURRENTLY LED AND DECEIVED BY SATAN THE DEVIL [II COR. 4:4; REV. 12:9].
Lent may seem like a sincere, heartfelt religious observance. But it is deeply rooted in pagan ideas that counterfeit God’s plan.
God hates all pagan observances [Jer. 10:2-3; Lev. 18:3, 30; Deut. 7:1-5, 16]. They cannot be “Christianized” or made clean by men. That includes Lent.
If you are a true Christian you would say with David- “Through thy precepts I get understanding: THEREFORE I HATE EVERY FALSE WAY”! [Psalm 119:104]