(Is It Right for Christians to Wear Angel Jewelry?)
Question: Karen asks, "Is wearing an angel around your neck, because you believe in angels from God protecting you, the same as idolatry, and wearing of a cross to represent Jesus?"
Answer: An interesting question! I’m not sure I can give you a definite answer, yes or no, but let me try to suggest some things to consider.
What I will deal with here are the holy angels, the angels of God. In contrast, we know that in ages past Satan was a good angel called Lucifer (Isa. 14:12-15), but he rebelled against God, and was cast out of heaven, taking some other angels with him (Rev. 12:9). These are now what the Bible speaks of as the devil and demons. They are evil, and are doing all they can to hinder or destroy the works of God. In the end, they face eternal punishment in hell (Matt. 25:41).
A discussion of these wicked beings will have to wait for another time. What we’ll deal with now are the angels of heaven, the loyal servants of God.
1) The Creation of God
God created the angels (Ps. 148:2, 5; Col. 1:16). They are spirit beings, with great supernatural powers. Though, as spirit beings, they are invisible, they have the ability to appear to human beings in various forms. Most often, they have appeared as men. The Bible, referring to Abraham’s meeting with the Lord and two angels in human form (Gen. 18:1-22), says “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels (Heb. 13:1).
As I say, when they find it necessary to appear, it is usually in human form. But they have taken other visible forms too: as flying creatures with six wings (Isa. 6:2-3), or as creatures with four faces and four wings (Ezek. 1:4-14). Uncertainty about their appearance is a problem.
Since we can't see them, and since they are spirit beings, it's logically impossible to make an image of an angel. We can only produce an imaginery likeness. The typical Christmas card picture of a glowing figure with wings appearing to the shepherds is based on someone’s imagination, not the Bible. (It’s interesting that the angel there is usually pictured floating in the sky, whereas the Bible says simply that he “stood before them,” Lk. 2:9.)
2) The Servants of God
The angels are God’s helpers, assigned the task of protecting and helping believers (Heb. 1:14). An angel protected Daniel when he was cast into a den of hungry lions (Dan. 6:22). The Lord also used a great host of angels to protect the prophet Elisha (II Kgs. 6:8-17).
Angels told Mary, and later some shepherds outside Bethlehem, of the birth of the Saviour (Lk. 1:26-33; 2:8-14) And there is some reason to believe that the Lord has assigned guardian angels to protect us each individually (Matt. 18:10).
3) Committed to Glorifying God
Even though they have great power, and are constantly at work on our behalf, the angels prefer to stay in the background, doing their work behind the scenes. They are ever conscious of the need to glorify God, and do not want us to glorify them.
On one occasion, the Apostle John was confronted by an angel. He was so awed by this experience that he bowed in worship. The angel’s immediate response was: “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and [the servant] of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Rev. 22:8-9).
4) The Purpose of All That God Has Created
The desire of the angels to honour God should be ours too. This is to be a key factor in all we do and say–including the jewelry we wear. “That in all things He [Christ] may the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (I Cor. 1:31). “Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:20). “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36).
Now, having laid that groundwork, let me make a few observations–personal opinions in some cases, but ones that I believe are based on principles in the Word of God.
5) Wearing JewelryIt is important to ask yourself: What is the reason I want to wear this piece of jewelry, be it a cross or an angel, or anything else?
I would hope the wearing of an angel decoration is not intended to glorify angels. As we have seen from Scripture, they would be horrified at the thought. They want all the glory to go to the Lord.
And I trust an angel image is not worn as a good luck charm. There is no basis in Scripture for expecting good fortune from a rabbit’s foot, a four-leaf clover, or an angel decoration. We are getting very close to idolatry there, trusting in the power of an image.
Is it simply intended as a decoration, with no particular thought about its meaning? That is a possible motivation, but it is a dangerous one, for a couple of reasons.
First, we need to ask what it will mean to others. Will they see it as sending a message that we would not want to send? Or is the person wearing it hypocritical in using a Christian symbol, when he or she is not actually a believer? There are many wicked people who wear crosses. To them it means little or nothing. It’s just decorative.
There is nothing wrong with a woman dressing attractively, provided what she wears is modest and tasteful. But we also need to consider the Bible’s reminder that women’s adornment should not be merely outward, but be the beauty of a godly character (I Pet. 3:3-4).
Another reason an individual might wear an angel decoration is as a personal witness. You allude to this in your question (a part not quoted above). Yes, it is a possibility. And if that is the reason, there is probably nothing specifically wrong with doing so. However, what will it suggest to people who see it? Will they get the message we intend to convey? Or will they see it as a good luck charm, or something else?
Based on Christ receiving the preeminence, I think a cross would provide a much better testimony. But perhaps not a crucifix (a cross with the Lord Jesus still hanging on it). Christ died, and was buried. Then He rose again from the dead. “It is finished!” Jesus cried (Jn. 19:30). Our debt of sin was paid in full.
The cross is empty now. “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Rom. 6:9). A cross can testify to the finished work of Christ, and our faith in Him. That is why this decoration often adorns our churches, Bibles, hymn books, and so on.
As I say, it's a possibility to use a decoration to honour the Lord--an angel, a cross, or something else. But we do need to be aware of our own motivation and of the message it sends. If that is kept in mind, I see no problem with the practice.
I respect those who differ with me on this–and who, perhaps, do not even feel right about wearing a cross. “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind....Each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:5, 12).