Your Problem Isn’t an Evil Altar but God Is the Solution

This blog was originally written by Wanjiru Ng’ang’a and posted on TGC Africa.

In certain charismatic and Pentecostal movements, the concept of “breaking evil altars” holds significant sway. Often presented as a diagnosis for the various challenges and struggles faced by believers, this belief has spurred many on a mission to dismantle supposedly malevolent spiritual altars in search of a solution to woes such as poverty, sickness, relational strife, and infertility. Given how pervasive this teaching has become, I believe it’s about time we subject it to the biblical test.

What Are Evil Altars?

Let’s begin by defining the term ‘evil altars.’ Typically, evil altars refer to a physical structure or place where rituals or ceremonies are conducted to worship or invoke malevolent spiritual entities or forces.

However, in many teachings today, they are explained as “places” in the spiritual realm that allow evil spirits to influence or orchestrate harm against believers. These altars are thought to be established through occult rituals, curses, witchcraft, evil covenants, or the worship of false gods. They are believed to be responsible for various problems such as depression, premature death, barrenness, fear, poverty, and divorce, as well as various sins. Consequently, breaking these altars becomes a spiritual endeavour aimed at dismantling the influence and power of evil forces.

Does the Practice Have Biblical Support?

One of the primary issues with the teaching on breaking evil altars is the absence of any clear biblical support. While the Bible indeed mentions altars many times, it associates them with worshiping either the one true God or false gods.

In 2 Chronicles 33:15-16, for example, Manasseh took away the foreign gods, idols, and altars from the house of Yahweh and cast them out of the city. He then built up an altar to God and offered sacrifices of peace offerings and thanksgiving. This was in obedience to God’s command in Deuteronomy 12:2-3, where God instructs the Israelites to “destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire.”

This example, among others, highlights the destruction of altars dedicated to false gods as a stance against idolatry and for the exclusive worship of Yahweh. Nowhere in scripture is the notion of “breaking” altars found as a specific ritual to overcome sin or life’s challenges. Those who use Old Testament passages to support the idea of breaking evil spiritual altars misinterpret and misuse those texts.

Moreover, you will be hard-pressed to find any passage in the New Testament endorsing the notion of breaking evil altars. On the contrary, the Bible unequivocally states that God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Four Problems With This Teaching

1. It Leads to Superstition

Assigning mystical significance to evil altars can be dangerous as it leads believers to treat them as sources of evil or gateways to oppression. This creates a mindset where they attribute every misfortune or setback to the influence of some evil altar. As a result, they may overlook personal responsibility for sin and the complexities of life in a fallen world.

Additionally, believing that certain rituals hold inherent spiritual power to break evil altars can encourage behaviours that border on witchcraft. Yet the Bible warns against engaging in practices rooted in superstition, according to human traditions (Colossians 2:8; Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Instead, it emphasises a relationship with God based on faith, obedience, perseverance, and trust in his sovereignty.

2. It Distracts Us From Christ

This teaching implies that believers need to supplement Christ’s sacrifice with additional works to overcome sin and oppression. In doing so, it undermines the sufficiency of the cross and diminishes the centrality of Christ in the believer’s life.

Furthermore, it leads to spiritual bondage, as believers become ensnared in legalistic practices that ultimately fail to deliver the freedom they promise. Quite the opposite, it robs believers of the true freedom found in Christ by replacing it with a burdensome and ineffective approach to sin and life’s struggles.

3. It Downplays True Spiritual Warfare

In the New Testament spiritual warfare involves resisting the devil, standing firm in faith, and putting on the armour of God (James 4:7; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Peter 5:8-9). As such, engaging in rituals aimed at dismantling evil altars is a distraction from using God’s ordained means. Furthermore, when breaking evil altars becomes the primary focus of a believer, it distorts their priorities and perspective on what it means to live out the Christian life.

Rather than focusing on prayer, God’s word, obedience, and proclaiming the gospel, they become fixated on fighting perceived spiritual battles. Hence believers end up neglecting the essential aspects of their walk with Christ, necessary for sanctification.

4. It Tends Towards Exploitation

In most cases, individuals who claim to possess special anointing or spiritual authority exploit this teaching for selfish gain. These self-proclaimed “men of God” often manipulate believers into paying money for special prayers, anointing oils, or rituals to break supposed curses associated with these supposed evil altars.

They often request significant sums of money in exchange for their services as they prey on the desperation of individuals seeking relief from perceived spiritual oppression. This exploitation not only perpetuates financial exploitation but also fosters a culture of fear and dependency. Where believers become reliant on these individuals rather than on God for their deliverance and spiritual well-being.

Look to Christ, Not for Evil Altars

Upon examination, it becomes apparent that many are lured into this deception by first embracing the prosperity gospel. This false gospel suggests that Jesus’ sacrifice not only addressed sin but also guaranteed health, wealth, and prosperity for believers. However this misinterpretation of the Bible overlooks the consistent theme of suffering found throughout.

The truth is that suffering is an inescapable part of life, in this fallen world. This side of glory. As believers we must recognise that God redeems suffering for our benefit. He uses it to refine our faith, deepen our reliance on him, and ultimately orchestrate all things for our good (Romans 8:28).

While the prosperity gospel may promise a life devoid of hardship, the Bible presents a very different picture. One of enduring trials and finding assurance in God’s presence and providence amid adversity. So let no one defraud you through teachings that offer easy solutions or false promises. Instead, trust in God’s sovereignty, knowing that the finished work of Christ on the cross secured your ultimate victory.

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