I was reading a history of folks in the Appalachian Mountains and was reminded that there are still some
churches that practice “snake handling”. Those of you who know me know that I am repulses by even a
drawn image of a snake…let alone an actual snake. So, I decided to read up on this nauseating practice
and try to understand the mindset of a snake-handling believer.
It stems from the passage in Mark, chapter 16, verses 15-18: “He said to them, “Go into all the world
and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does
not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will
drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when
they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they
will get well. ”After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the
right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with
them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.“
Most people who practice handling snakes actually see it as an act of obedience and a test of the
strength of their faith. “Jesus said to pick up snakes so I’ll pick up snakes”. It’s that simple to them. But
did Jesus actually command believers to pick up snakes…or was He prophesying that it would happen?
There is no denying that afterwards, Paul was bitten by a snake, and it didn’t kill him. On a couple of
occasions people spoke in languages that wasn’t native to them. So Jesus spoke the truth when he said
what He said.
But we must remember that the signs He spoke of happens as proof to the unbelievers that the Gospel
was true. Remember the world into which the disciples went to preach. It wasn’t even a semblance of a
civilized world. All kinds of religions…preaching unbelievable depravity as a way to their gods…were
widespread and common place. So yes, God used wonders and miracles to strengthen and confirm the
preaching. But the gifts Jesus prophesied in Acts were never meant to be actions that would edify or
bless believers in their worship services and gatherings. Nor were they meant as proof of a believer's
So, if a snake somehow made it into the sanctuary, I promise I will not be the one “handling” it in any
way. In fact, you’ll probably find me standing on top of the pulpit screaming like a little sissy girl; but it
won’t be because my faith is weak or wavering.
Say good things about your Savior and His church.
Bro. Tony