“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).
Deadly: (Gr. Thanasimos, from Thanatos): Fatal, i.e. poisonous; death
The Gospel of Mark says there are signs (supernatural, miraculous wonders) that shall follow those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Mark 16:17). Among these signs, Christ spoke of not being harmed by poisonous serpents, and swallowing poison. We have evidence in the Scriptures, specifically relating to the Apostle Paul who was unharmed after being bit by a viper (see Acts 28:1-5).
The referenced Scripture in the case of Paul is a good description of the literal meaning of the phrase “they shall take up serpents” which is: Take up (Gr. Airo): To lift up, take up or away, to raise, to sail away, to expiate sin, put away, remove. This is exactly what the Apostle did. He lifted up the viper attached to his hand and shook it off into the fire, suffering no ill effects from the bite. Is this just a nice Bible story, or is this a spiritual reality that the believer can live in by faith?
Now that is the key, isn’t it? “That’s crazy, you cannot live like that!” Ok, be it unto you according to your faith. I guess you will not be surviving any viper bites anytime soon.
But what if we did have faith to believe in the literal meaning of Mark 16:18. Can you think of any poisonous things in your life you would like to survive? What could they be? Carcinogens in our food supply? Pharmaceuticals? Contaminated water? James says “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. . .” (James 5:15). Faith in the Lord and believing His word is powerful. Laying hands on the sick is also powerful, along with the anointing of oil in the Name of the Lord (see James 5:14).
Jesus said, “Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). “Tread on serpents” means to trample under foot any serpent we encounter. Of course, the chief serpent we will encounter is the Devil (see Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12:9). He is our enemy, but we have power over him to keep him under our feet. Praise be to God!
There are many deadly things in the world. Things that are fatal to our spiritual life. Let us be very mindful of the deadly things that can destroy our witness, destroy our homes, destroy our nation. Let us exorcise them from our midst and exercise our faith in the Truth of the Word of God.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome the (spirit of Antichrist); because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).