Is Meditation a Sin?
- Tessa Emily Hall Contributing Writer
- 2020 21 Dec
Have you experienced a rise in your stress level in 2020? If so, you may have found yourself partaking in activities that reduce the stress—such as drinking chamomile tea or taking long bubble baths. Perhaps you’ve even considered practicing meditation. This activity has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, and yet it is often associated with New Age practices and eastern religions. This is why Christians often ask the question, is meditation a sin? Or is it a harmless way of introducing stillness into your daily routine?
What Is Meditation?
In July 2018, a group of young guys from a soccer team in Thailand went missing for several days. When they were found trapped in a cave due to monsoon rains, the entire world was on the edge of their seats, hoping and praying that the high-risk rescue would turn out to be successful.
After the boys were miraculously saved and nursed back to health, people began to ask questions about how the boys survived both physically and mentally while in the cave. Their response?
That’s right—meditation. Their coach, who was with them in the cave, had previously been trained as a Buddhist monk and led them into these meditations.
This practice typically involves emptying the mind and centering one’s entire being on a specific concept. Mantras are often repeated—specifically sounds or phrases that claim what one wishes to claim, such as happiness. People also utilize visualization techniques while meditating in hopes of manifesting the life they desire.
Why is this practiced? To put it simply, meditation brings one into a state of total relaxation. This is probably the most popular reason why people choose to meditate. Here are other proven benefits:
· It reduces anxiety and depression.
· It cultivates kindness and compassion toward others.
· It allows one to become closer to their “inner self,” more in tune with their heart.
· It increases focus.
Sounds harmless, right? Not just harmless, but perhaps even life-saving, as in the case of the boys in the cave.
But the fruit in the Garden of Eden looked pretty harmless to Adam and Eve, too, before they found out pretty soon just how dangerous it actually was.
Is Meditation Biblical?
It’s interesting how the world—the enemy—often counterfeits things that are actually biblical. The reason he copies God is because, well, he wishes to become him. Isn’t that how he became the fallen angel? (See Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.)
One of these attempts of counterfeit, I believe, comes through meditation. Because believe it or not, the Bible actually has a lot to say about meditation.
Only it looks different than the world’s version.
Yes, meditation can be beneficial to mental and physical health; so if that’s true, don’t you know that biblical meditation is even more fruitful than the world’s copycat?
The reason meditation decreases stress levels is frankly because it involves a process of doing nothing and remaining in stillness, as well as pondering on positivity. And since our minds are directly connected to our physical bodies, there’s no doubting that this kind of meditation would lower the heart rate. After all, Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
The Bible doesn’t deny the power of thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to capture “rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” This indicates that we do, in fact, have power over our minds, in this sense. So, yes, it is biblical for us to capture our thoughts.
It is also biblical for us to enter into stillness. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God!” The verb “know” used in this verse denotes that we are to remain aware of God, centering our mind, will, and emotions on Him.
In Isaiah 26:3, we see the value in keeping our minds on Christ: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
We are also reminded, in Philippians 4:8, to think praise-worthy thoughts: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
In the above verse, “fix your thoughts” sounds a lot like meditation, don’t you think? You may even be surprised to know that the Bible uses the word “meditate” specifically in numerous accounts—but when used, it is never once implied that we are to meditate on our flesh.
Instead, Joshua 1:8 says, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
God’s Word is life-giving. Yes, our thoughts may be powerful, but Hebrews 4:12 says that “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
So when we apply Joshua 1:8 by meditating on the Scripture, I have no doubt the results are far more beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing than worldly meditation.
Biblical meditation also suggests that we meditate on God Himself. Psalm 63:6 says, “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.”
We can meditate on God’s ways, too, because Psalm 119:15 tells us, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” And David, in Psalm 145:5, chose to “meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.”
When we are bombarded by the chaos and stress of life, we can also follow David’s example when he wrote Psalms 121:1-2:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
The process of lifting our eyes to God involves looking away from the stresses of life and fixing them on our Maker, the One who strengthens us to face our difficulties. God doesn’t want us to focus on the worries of life. This is evident in 2 Corinthians 4:18:
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Is it Dangerous to Meditate?
1 Peter 5:8 says we must “Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
If we empty our minds and are not abiding in Christ—but instead we are focused on our self and our flesh—I believe we are opening ourselves up to potential danger. After all, we must remain “sober-minded,” and we know from John 10:10 that the thief “comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.”
It’s interesting how secular meditation has followed the principle laid out in Psalm 46:10, yet instead of knowing that “I am God,” they have chosen to direct their awareness inwardly instead—becoming self-conscious rather than God-conscious. I believe this is demonic, simply because the Bible makes it clear that we are to die to the flesh (Romans 8:13). We also know that our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).
In addition, Romans 8:7 tells us “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.”
Is Meditation a Sin?
Was it a sin for Eve to fall for the trap the serpent had set for her?
Genesis 3:3 tells us that, even before Eve fell for the trap, she knew it was wrong to eat the forbidden fruit. She even tried telling this to the serpent—but then he swayed her into questioning God’s command.
Questioning whether or not eating the forbidden fruit was sinful preceded the fall.
Once Eve was caught in her sin, she blamed the serpent, claiming he had deceived her (see Genesis 20:12). But we know that the fall was ultimately caused by Eve’s action. She chose to fall for the enemy’s trap.
This is why we must know God’s Word inside and out; that way, we can clearly discern a trap of the enemy when we stumble across one. We are told that he will continue attempting to “deceive the whole world” until the end of time (see Revelation 12:9). He will cause us to question, “Does the Bible really say that?”
But how can we know if meditation is a sin—or whether or not it’s safe for Christians to use meditation the way eastern religions practice it?
Let’s review the list of reasons why people choose to meditate (as addressed earlier). In doing this, we see that the main reason is because it invites happiness, calmness, life, security, and self-awareness, and it can be a way to attain fleshly desires (such as wealth). The process of meditation involves centering our entire being on a concept or idea, maximizing it in our minds and emotions for a long period of time until it is attained.
Sounds a lot like worship, don’t you think?
As God’s children, we should know better than to seek anything apart from God that promises peace, security, and joy. We should know better than to center our entire beings on anything other than the One who gave His life for us because it is in Him that we find all that we are searching for.
In fact, it was the desire to find wisdom in something other than God that initially lured Eve into sinning. Genesis 3:6 tells us, “She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it.”
That’s sad if you think about it! Eve could have found perfect fulfillment and wisdom in her intimacy with God, and yet she chose instead the fruit that led to death.
Matthew 6:33 tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” It’s only in God’s presence that true, lasting peace and joy are found. Psalm 16:11 says,
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
So instead of asking, “Is meditation a sin?” let’s instead ask, “Am I hoping to receive from this activity something that can only be found in Christ? Does this activity involve that I center my entire being on something I desire rather than the One from whom all blessings flow (Psalm 103)?”
If our answer is yes, then it is likely that meditation is, in fact, an idol. 1 John 5:21 tells us to “keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”
As children of God, let’s know the Word so that we can clearly discern when the world attempts to set a trap for us. Let’s heed the warning that Paul gives us in Colossians 2:8:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
The chaos of this world is often intolerable—and frankly, our bodies were never created to take on the weight of these burdens. It’s no wonder that those who don’t know Christ are searching for calmness, restoration, and happiness! We are simply unable to cope with life through our own strength.
But, you see, this is why Christ died for us. His life-giving power that abides within us can equip us to face the stresses of life (see John 15), and apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). We have the privilege to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4) for the rest of our lives and into eternity.
Corrie Ten Boom couldn’t have said it any better when she said,
“If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God you'll be at rest.”
I don’t know of anything, or any one, who is more worthy of our meditations.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Nazar Rybak
Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who wrote her debut novel when she was sixteen. She is now a multi-published author of both fiction and non-fiction inspirational yet authentic books for teens, including her latest release, LOVE YOUR SELFIE (October 2020, Ellie Claire). Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as a Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She is guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, teaching at writing conferences, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is to connect with readers is on her mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of Christian practices and disciplines important to the Christian faith. From speaking in tongues to tithing & baptism, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about Christian living.
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