Jamal Bryant is New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s senior pastor. Burning sage (inset). | Facebook/New Birth; Instagram/dirtworks_ceramics
Calling sage burning “witchcraft” and “satanic aromatherapy,” Pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia, warned his members on Monday to stay away from the practice.
In a teaching session with the women of his church streamed on YouTube, Bryant explained that he had to dive into some research on the practice after two members of his church gifted him sage for his new home in Atlanta.
I “was amazed because two saints gave me sage for my new house. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was unsure of it. And all the more, why they’d feel comfortable giving it to a pastor. Then I began to research and study it and found out that the sales of it have gone up by over 200% in the last four years and have to be constantly placed on restock in natural health stores.”
After researching the practice, however, Bryant has concluded that it is a demonic New Age practice that Christians shouldn’t be involved with.
“Another word for burning sage is smudging. The thought of the Native Americans is that certain herbs carry spirits in them … and when you burn certain herbs you’re calling on those spirits to dispel evil or vexing spirits or energies from a space, from an object or person. And so it is their contention that when I am burning sage, I am then calling down a spirit or calling up a spirit to then wrestle with that energy that’s in a room, that’s in a car or in a person,” Bryant argued.
“So are those who burn sage and then put it around themselves saying that they don’t want any negative energy around them or negative energy approaching them? … It is highly practiced now by the New Age movement,” he said.
The New Age movement, which currently attracts the “largest amount of African Americans in our history,” Bryant argued, does not bring glory to the God of the Bible but seeks to make humans like gods.
“They are spiritual. They just do not believe or submit to authority … They believe through the doctrine of New Age faith or New Age theology, that mortals or humanity through the right wave of devotion and meditation can ascend themselves to become a deity. So they become their own gods,” he noted.
“So church or religion becomes a problem because it demands accountability and submission to authority for a generation who does not want to submit and has a problem with authority figures. So these same people who ascribe to New Age theology or have praying hands tattooed unto their chest will have the word ‘God’ tattooed on their neck but you can’t assume it’s the same God or that the prayers are pointed in the same direction,” the megachurch pastor said. “Gotta be careful when people believe that they are their own god.”
Bryant further argued that Christians have a hard time identifying people who see themselves as their own god because they subscribe to a limited definition of demonic possession.
“The people who believe that they are their own god, we don’t know how to approach them or even how to attack it because we have minimized demonic possession as those who are foaming around their mouth, eyes are roaming in the back of their head and they are squirming on the floor. That’s how we’ve recognized demons,” he said.
Demonic possession, he argued, can be reflected in a number of ways, including when someone cannot apologize or is unwilling to submit to the leadership and order of their church.
“A demonic possession can be someone quite frankly, who doesn’t know how to apologize. Demonic possession can be, I can take no authority for my error. ‘It was you that made me hit you.’ That’s a demon. ‘I wouldn’t have cursed you out had you not made me. Had you just given me what I asked for the first time then we wouldn’t have gone through all of this.’ That is a demonic principality and a demonic order,” Bryant said.
“The spirit of the anti-Christ is now slithering into our children and the next generation by putting a seed plot of rejection of authority and order. God is a God of order. God is a God of authority so you can see where demons show up in church,” he said. “…Satan never wants to fall in line to authority and order so people who are out of order are operating out of the spirit of satanic principalities.”
He noted that people who burn sage in their home to ward off bad energy or evil spirits to usher in more positive vibes are practicing “satanic intercession” because they are not operating under God’s authority.
“I’m practicing satanic intercession ‘cause I am invoking these spirits that are not holy, that are not sanctified to reveal themselves. To reveal themselves and I am telling weeds and grass and herbs you have authority over the spirits in my house. And nowhere in there am I calling on the name of God. Nowhere in there am I calling on the name of Jesus,” he said.
Christians who depend on burning sage to complement their faith, he argued, are devaluing the power of Christ’s anointing in their life.
“This level of witchcraft is in-depth … I’ve so questioned the strength of my anointing that I believe who comes into my presence can contaminate my spirit. How weak am I that I can’t be in the presence of somebody whose spirit is off. If I am anointed … and somebody who is not like God comes into my presence I shouldn’t be the one backing up. It should be them backing up ’cause they sense what’s on me,” he said.
“Satan is cunning because he is a deceiver. Isn’t it amazing that we’ve got throngs of our friends who will burn it, who will practice it, who will utilize it but if you talk about casting out demons they call you spooky or you’re too spiritual? They don’t want you to cast out demons but want you to push away spirits. I’m pushing them away, I’m not killing them. The role of those of us who are in the body of Christ and traffic in the supernatural is not to give Satan and his imps a restraining order, we’re supposed to give him a death sentence.”