Examining the use of the anointing oil

God has given to his church a wonderful gift, a precious gift, something greater than the anointing oil. At the mention of the name of Jesus Christ every name, and every knee shall bow. In spite of this wonderful gift that God has given us, many people continue to use what they call “spiritual materials” in their prayers and worship to God. This article will examine the use of the anointing oil throughout the several dispensations of the Bible times.

God permitted the use of the anointing oil in the ceremonial and religious activities for the children of Israel under the old covenant until the fullness of the time should come when we would have a clearer light shining through a complete Scripture.

In the Old Testament, the anointing oil was used in some occasions, such as when a new King was anointed to assume the throne (1 Sam 16:13; Psa 89:20, 1 Kings 1:38-39), and during the consecration of the priests to their priestly office and duties (Exo 29:7-21) etc.

Several miracles and signs and wonders were performed in the Old Testament which did not involve the use of the anointing oil, because the anointing oil was not given for the purpose of initiating miracles. The deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the miraculous provisions of manna, meat, and water for the multitudes of the children of Israel in the wilderness, the crossing of the River Jordan, and the possession of the promised land did not involve a single use of the anointing oil. The miracles that occurred during the reigns of the judges, such as Gideons victory over the Midianites, Samsons victory over the Philistians, Jepthah’s victory over the Ammonites, (and so on) did not involve a single use of the anointing oil.

If we come down to the times of the prophets in the Old Testament, we shall find that the miracles that were performed under their ministry did not involve a single use of the anointing oil.

When Elijah put the prophets of Baal to open shame on the mount of Carmel, when he prayed down the rain after three and half years of famine and drought, when he raised the widow’s son (and so on), there was not a single use of the anointing oil. The same could be said of the ministries of other Prophets like Elisha, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc. We would search the whole Old Testament in vain to find a single place where the anointing oil was used with the purpose of working out a miracle. The multitudes of miracles recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures did not involve a single use of the anointing oil, yet this seems to be the chief reason why so many people use the anointing oil today – to work or bring about a miracle.

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus performed the miracles he did without a single use of the anointing oil. He used spittle, mud, five loaves of bread and fishes, to restore blind eyes, feed multitudes, and so forth, but there was no single use of the anointing oil.

But when he sent out his disciples, and gave them power over unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all mannner of sicknesses and diseases, the Scripture records that “they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13).

Only in the ministry of the Apostles of our Lord do we find the use of the anointing oil for healing; and the reason that can be annexed to it is that they were specifically directed to do so by the Lord at the time he sent them out to preach. There can’t be any other reason. They could not have used the oil if the Lord had not specifically directed them to do so. And another thing noteworthy in this account of the Apostle’s use of the anointing oil was that it effected the desired result at the time they used it, which serves the more to prove to us that their use of the anointing oil was a specific direction from the Lord at the time he sent them out to preach. Divine and immediate efficacy went forth as they applied the oil to the sick, proving the Lord who sent them and directed them to the use of it was present with them to bring his word to pass.

The testimony that followed their use of the anointing oil is nothing like what follows when the Pentecostals apply the anointing oil to the sick. In the case of the Apostles, there was an immediate effect of healing taking place, for we read, “and they anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:13). The healing was instantaneous upon the application of the oil, so that the inspired record did not stop at saying they anointed with oil many that were sick; nay, it goes even further to add, “and they healed them.”

But when the Pentecostals and Charismatics use the anointing oil, what follows is utter disappointment as the same sick persons that were anointed goes back to their seats exactly as they were, only to hear the healing Evangelist (who had promised them much, but now delivers nothing) say to them, “Take heart, believe you have been healed and your healing will manifest soon.” They applied the oil, but they did not heal the sick.

The reason the Apostles used the oil and had an immediate result attending their ministry was because the Lord specifically directed them to it upon sending them out to preach the gospel, and the reason why the Pentecostals use the oil without a single result of healing attending their work is because the Lord has not directed them to it! Compare this to what they LORD said to Jeremiah, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” ( Jer 23:21).

After the record we have in Mark 6:13, there was no mention of the use of the anointing oil throughout the course of our Lord’s ministry, and throughout the ministry of his immediate Apostles. Throughout the Acts of Apostles, we will find Peter healing the sick as his shadows fell on them (Acts 5:15-16), and Paul healing the sick both by the laying on of hands (Acts 28:8), and by other means such as aprons and hankerchiefs (Acts 19:11-12), falling on the dead to bring them back to life (Acts 20:9-12), and so on; but there is no mention of the use of the anointing oil in their ministry. Let the Christian reader search his Bible diligently to see if the things we assert are not so.

The next occurrence of the anointing oil in the Scripture is in the General Epistle of James, the fifth chapter, and the fourteenth and fifteenth verses: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

This verse is the bedrock of the Pentecostals, and if they have been beaten in everywhere else, they will run to this verse to ground all their practices on it. But this verse of the bible, if properly understood, will immediately overthrow their false theology.

First, let it be observed that the Epistle of James was directed to the Jewish church, and some of the things written there, while they are as much inspired as the other epistles, demand our strictest attention and humble approach to them, lest we fall into error.

Second, there were some things God allowed the Jewish church until the time of the reformation be completed, and some of those things included the use of the anointing oil, worshipping in the Temple, and the observation of the ceremonial laws. While James, in his epistle, directed the Jewish church to use the oil for the bodily healing of the sick, Paul, on the other hand, wrote to the Gentile church to use home remedy: not even Timothy was directed to use the anointing oil, nor did Paul labour to send him any blessed apron or hankerchief. The direction for Timothy’s healing was not for the elders to anoint him with oil, but for him to apply to home remedy for his health: Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23).

It is not for us to seek out feeble reasonings to try to defend the use of the anointing oil, but for us to direct our reasoning to this simple inquiry, Why did Paul give Timothy a different direction for the care of his health, contrary to the direction James gave for the sick? The answer is that James’ direction for the Jewish church to use the anointing oil was only for the Jewish church then, and only during the time that the sign gifts lasted. As soon as the miraculous and sign gifts had served their purpose, the use of the anointing oil would be nothing more than blind idolatry. For a proof of this, we adduce 1 Cor 13:8-12 where Paul emphatically told the Corinthian Church that the gift of tongues, prophecies, and supernatural knowledge shall cease and vanish away.

Thirdly, James’ direction to the Jewish church to use the anointing oil for the sick showed that while it was still legitimate for them to use the anointing oil, the desired effect, which is healing, was sure to follow. James words were to the intent that immediate healing surely would follow the application of the anointing oil on the sick: “anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” Immediate healing followed the application of the oil as surely as it followed that of the Apostles when they were sent out to preach the gospel in Mark 6:13.

If the Pentecostals and Charismatics argue that the application of the oil on the sick is still valid for the church today, the burden of proof lies on them: they should give a reasonable and scriptural explanation why a single person on whom they apply the anointing oil never gets healed at all.

Again, James’ direction to use the oil was strictly restricted to only the sick; James never wrote to use it in casting out devils, anointing the four tyres of the car to prevent accident, anointing pregnant women before they go into the labour room, anointing the rooms and corners of the beds against witchcraft attacks in dreams, and all such practices as the Pentecostals have extended it today. We have witnessed them anointing graves, anointing the trees within the compounds and so forth, all in the name of using the anointing oil to break the yokes. This is foolishness and idolatry, and the attendant failure and disappointment they meet is proof of it.

The question then is, What should the child of God do when sick? Should he turn to the deluded Evangelist and submit himself to be anointed with the oil? What should he do?

The answer is not far fetched: “Let him first search himself for every known sin, praying intently that the Holy Spirit would convince him of the reason why the Lord has brought his heavy hand upon him. The inspired Psalmist said in Psalm 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” The Lord will not grant us the blessing of health if we willingly turn aside from him to go astray.

The humbling of our hearts to search for any secret and known sin should be the first remedy for the child of God who has fallen from health to sickness. But as somebody once said, “the whole aim of the Pentecostal gospel is to make men focus more on the state of their body and neglect the state of the soul.”

If I have enjoyed sound health for six years, it becomes me to know that it is a gift from the Lord; and if I suddenly fall from enjoyment of that gift of health to a state of sickness, common sense should teach me that I have broken the hedge for the serpent to bite me (Eccl 10:8).

The second step I should take towards my healing is to repent and turn, as soon as the Holy Spirit has convinced me of some specific sins. It is not enough that I be convinced and pricked in the heart; true repentance and a radical turning from sin to holiness must follow, if we hope to receive the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

The third step should be for me to apply myself to the ordinary means of healing available within my reach, such as taking the necessary drugs, visiting the hospital, and so forth, while hoping and trusting the Lord to be merciful to me and restore my health, and determining within me that even if the Lord does not heal me, I shall not turn aside from him to seek help and healing in a way contrary to his word. See the resolution of Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego to continue with God even if the Lord did not deliver them out of the burning fiery furnance of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 3:17-18).

Conclusion

  • The original purpose of the anointing oil was not for miracles as the Pentecostals say.
  • All of the miracles of the Prophets and Judges in the Old Testament did not involve a single use of the anointing oil in any way.
  • The Miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ never involved the anointing oil.
  • The Apostles used the anointing oil at the time they were sent out to preach in Mark 6:13 because the Lord specifically instructed them to it; and immediate, instantaneous healing followed upon the application of it as a proof that the Lord ordained the use of it at that time.
  • The Apostles never used the oil throughout the recorded account of their ministry in Act of the Apostles, though they healed many sick people through the laying of the hands, shadows, aprons, hankerchiefs, etc.
  • The Epistle of James saying to use the oil for the sick was directed to the Jewish church while the miraculous sign gifts of the Apostles lasted.
  • The reason why Modern Charismatics and present day Pentecostals meet with utter shame and disappointment in their use of the anointing oil is because the Lord has not directed nor sent them to use it: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” (Jer 23:21).
  • The gospel preached by the Pentecostals aims at occupying men with the thoughts of the state of their body so that they never think of the state of their souls.
  • The child of God should examine his ways to see anywhere he has erred, and the reason the Lord has brought his heavy hand upon him.
  • Repentance and practical righteousness should follow the convictions of the Holy Ghost so they times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
  • There should be a firm resolution in the heart to continue with God even if the Lord does not heal (See Dan 3:17-18).
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