Burning incense is not a sin but the reason for burning it can be sin. In some situations, burning incense becomes superstition and idolatry.
Incense is burned mainly for religious reasons. In various religions people offer incense to their gods to please them. Some people also burn incense to create a mystical and spiritual environment. Burning incense for these reasons is a sin because it is used to worship false gods – idolatry ( 2 Kings 15: 4 ).
Many places that sell incense promise that it has magical properties. They say that incense X brings joy, incense Y helps love life … Whoever burns incense for these reasons is practicing witchcraft , which is a very serious sin.
See also: What does the Bible say about witchcraft?
Incense is aromatic and has a pleasant smell. Burning incense just for the smell is not wrong. This is like using an air freshener to scent your home. When it has no superstitious motives or is linked to other religions, burning incense is not a sin.
It is also important to think about the people around you. Will burning incense be a bad testimony? If burning incense in your community is always associated with superstitious or other religious practices, it is probably not a good idea to burn ( Romans 14:16 ).
Burning incense in the Bible
The Bible talks a lot about incense. In Bible times, burning incense was a very common practice. In the Bible, incense was used to:
- Worshiping God– incense was one of the sacrifices that the Israelites offered to God; the pleasant smell represented his will to please God – Leviticus 6:15
- To worship other gods– a form of idolatry was to burn incense to please other gods; the Bible condemns this practice many times – Jeremiah 1:16
- Perfuming places– incense was also used without religious reasons, as perfume to make a place more pleasant – Song 3: 6-7
In the Bible our prayers are compared to pleasant incense. This does not mean that we need to offer incense to God. Sincere prayer pleases God, as if it were a good perfume ( Psalm 141: 2 ; Revelation 8: 3-4 ).