SHOULD WE “PLEAD THE BLOOD OF JESUS?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
It is a phrase wildly popular in Charismatic (“spiritual-gift”) groups. Decades ago, it was common to hear or read of someone declaring, “I plead the blood of Jesus!” Today, that expression has largely fallen into disuse—restricted to older people. You are most likely to hear the modern parallel: “Satan, the blood of Jesus is against you!” Another variation is, “I put the blood of Jesus against it!” To what purpose are these declarations made? Should we utter such pronouncements? Is there any biblical authority for this? Or is it merely religious fervor? We shall see!
SOME BACKGROUND—PAST AND PRESENT
“Pleading the blood of Jesus” goes back to the early 1900s, the beginnings of Pentecostalism. Adherents claim that God so wants to support us, we should call upon Him for help, protection, and deliverance. Yea, they contend that God will assist us by setting us free, guarding us, healing us of bodily illness, and so on. They argue that just as the hymn says, “There is Power in the Blood,” we need to claim that power and activate it by declaring, “I plead the blood of Jesus over ____.” They plead the blood of Jesus over sickness, poverty, “demon” spirits, spirits of fear and torment, et cetera.
“Plead the blood over everything, every aspect of your life,” they tell us. We are to plead the blood over our family, finances, house, health, car, church, and so on. They say we must make that declaration in order to erect a “hedge of protection.” “The devil cannot cross the bloodline,” they say. “It is like putting up a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, telling Satan he has no authority!” One such preacher talked about he and his wife, when moving into their new house, went into every room pleading the blood of Jesus, driving out the evil that the previous tenants might have engaged in! Despite their strange behavior, they are adamant that they have Bible verses for support. We now move on to addressing their primary “proof texts.”
IS THERE A SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR “PLEADING THE BLOOD?”
Various key Bible verses allegedly undergird the practice of “pleading the blood of Jesus.” Proponents contend that it is founded upon the passages of the Passover lamb in Egypt, and the consecration of the Levitical priests.
Exodus 12:13 says: “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” It is argued that this “blood for protection” typifies the alleged “New Testament” practice of “pleading the blood of Jesus to receive protection.” Yet, Scripture does not say that any Jew applied the blood to the door and then chanted incessantly, “I plead that blood on my door! Devil do not dare come in!” No, they applied the blood by faith and God took care of the rest. God would pass over them once He “saw the blood” (Exodus 12:13). He was not interested in them “pleading the blood.” The very verse they claim supports their system actually weakens it—God was interested in seeing the blood! Furthermore, there was no prayer for deliverance. God had already promised them that He would deliver them.
Leviticus 8:30 records the ordination of Aaron and his sons into the Levitical priesthood: “And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons’ garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.” This was the blood of consecration. Aaron and his sons were now divinely-appointed priests in the nation Israel. Where in the Bible did these priests “plead the blood?” There is no such verse!
In addition to the two main proofs, the “plead the blood” advocate appeals to various and sundry lines of thought. It is a mixture of verses and speculations, as you will notice. Since Satan constantly accuses us Christians of past sins and failures (Revelation 12:10), it is said that we must continually fight those condemning thoughts by “pleading the blood of Jesus.” Without pleading the blood, they say, we will have no victory over the Adversary. We must “plead the blood” to overcome temptation to sin. When we “lay hands on others for them to receive the Holy Spirit,” we are to “plead the blood.” We are to “plead the blood” for grace and mercy to be activated in our lives (1 Peter 1:2). We are to “plead the blood” to have a clean conscience (Hebrews 9:14). We are to “plead the blood” to come boldly into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19-20). Yet, if we look at those verses, there is no person “pleading” or reciting anything. The blood of Christ is there, yes, but where in these verses is the pleading? Completely absent!
There is no clear formula anywhere in the “New Testament”—or even in the Old Testament—to “plead the blood.” The priests of Israel never said, “We plead the blood” (and yet, they were offering the animals’ blood that typified the blood of Christ!). On the night of the Passover in Egypt, the Jews had no such formula to pray. The blood was already applied, and they need not be concerned with doing anything other than trusting God to keep His promise. When we find the Apostles performing miracles in the “New Testament” Scriptures, never once does the Bible record them saying, “We plead the blood of Jesus over this evil spirit/sickness/difficulty!” Let us deal with this in greater detail.
THE SCRIPTURES THAT CORRECT THE ERRORS IN THE PRACTICE OF “PLEADING THE BLOOD OF JESUS”
Let us begin by saying that the power is not in our words, or in something we pray, or in something we repeat over and over as heathen (unbelievers) do. The Lord Jesus warned in Matthew 6:7: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Listen to the “plead the blood” crowd long enough, and you will see they are engaging in “vain [empty, pointless] repetitions.” Moreover, we never read about praying, “I plead the blood of Jesus,” anywhere in the Bible. There is certainly no power in words and phrases we make up. Bible verses must be quoted in context if they are to profit us. We can pray for God to give us strength and resources to build a boat, but will He give us them as He did Noah in Genesis chapter 6? It is Biblical to build an ark you know! Why should we not claim Genesis chapter 6 for ourselves too?
Just so there be no misunderstandings at this point, it is important to note the following. We are very much aware that Christ’s shed blood provides our redemption (buying back) and forgiveness (sin debt cancellation). Colossians 1:14 says to that point, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Through His Son’s shed blood, Father God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (verse 13).
Satan is already defeated; we just rest, or trust, in Colossians 2:13-15: “ And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” As Jesus Christ was victorious over Satan at Calvary, so we are victorious over Satan at Calvary. There is no chant or prayer involved; there is simple reliance on (trust, faith in) the “cross of Christ” Bible verses we read.
Should we “plead the blood” when we are tempted to sin? No, we simply remember and believe Romans 6:7: “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7). “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (verse 11). Verse 19: “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” Finally, Galatians 5:24-25: “ And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
The power is in the Word of God, not in our prayers. Hebrews 4:12 is quite clear: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Holy Spirit will take those Bible verses we study and believe, and He will put them to work in our lives. The way we apply the blood of Christ to our daily lives is not to chant, “I plead the blood of Jesus!,” or to pray repetitiously day after day, “I plead the blood of Jesus over this, over that, over all!” Scripture will work in us who believe, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 says: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” We either believe these divine words, or we do not!
Ephesians 5:18-19 says to us members of the Church the Body of Christ: “ And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord….” Colossians 3:16 is the parallel passage: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The way we are “filled with [controlled by] the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) is if “the word of Christ dwell[s] in [us] richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).
Colossians 2:6-7 says that, however our Christian life began, that is how it will function on a daily basis: “ As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” How did our Christian life begin? By we “pleading the blood?” No, “faith in Christ” (verse 5). Faith, not “pleading,” is the issue. Trust, not declaration, is what matters. Christ’s blood was imputed (applied) to our account for soul salvation unto eternal life, when we had faith in the justification verses that we heard or read.
Romans 4:5 says: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Justification was not reckoned to our account by we saying, “I plead the blood!” God wants to see faith in what He says about His Son; He does not want to hear “magic” words uttered. Likewise, in daily Christian living, we have faith in those same verses. The death of Christ was our death to sin, and His resurrection was our resurrection to new life (righteous living).
Religious people desiring success, fortune, good health, and so on, “plead the blood of Jesus” to try to manipulate God to do what they want. They say Christians should not be sick, should not be poor, and so on. We are “plead the blood” to get ahead in every aspect of life. Are they correct in these assertions? What if God can use us mightily without giving us material riches, without providing us with good health, and without all the other things such “prosperity gospel” people say God ought to give us His children? Nay, we are not rebellious. We pray according to His rightly divided Word, what He is doing today, not what He did in time past or what He will do in the ages to come. The authority is in the Word of God. When we understand that the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, are what God is doing today, we will by faith claim those verses. There is nothing in Paul’s epistles about “pleading the blood” for healing miracles, exorcisms, prosperity, and so on. In fact, we read the exact opposite.
The Apostle Paul himself was poor. Paul himself was ill. Paul himself suffered immense persecution by evil spirits and wicked men. If anyone should have “pled the blood of Jesus,” surely it should have and would have been Paul! (Yet, as the Bible shows us, he did not do it.) Moreover, when writing to us Gentiles and the Church the Body of Christ, never once did the Apostle Paul instruct us to “plead the blood.” When he had difficulties in 2 Corinthians chapters 11 and 12, never once did he “plead the blood of Jesus.” Neither did he do it for ill Timothy, infirm Trophimus, or sick Epaphroditus. There was no “blood pled” for the devil-possessed girl at Philippi—and yet she was delivered. No blood was “pled” for the 12 Jews on whom Paul bestowed the Holy Spirit by laying hands on them. If the Charismatics were correct concerning this topic, all of these verses would read differently. Lest you take my word, take God’s Word for it!
The Bible says in Acts 16:16-18: “ And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:  The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.  And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.” This devil-possessed girl was indeed delivered from satanic captivity, and yet, the Bible never says that Paul declared over her, “Devil be gone—I plead the blood of Jesus!”
Acts 19:4-7 says the following: “ Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.  And all the men were about twelve.” Did Paul “plead the blood of Jesus” here? The verse is silent on that subject—yet, the Scriptures say these 12 men received the Holy Spirit. Evidently, “pleading the blood” was not on the Holy Spirit’s mind when He penned these verses. Why?
Read Paul’s directions to chronically infirm Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” Was there no blood pled for Timothy? Obviously not—if we believe the verse, that is. Was not Paul performing healing miracles? No, not anymore. As we can see, with the close of the Book of Acts, the healing miracles have passed away. Timothy cannot receive any type of physical healing from God; the Apostle’s pen, bearing the Holy Spirit’s stamp of approval, says that he must resort to medication.
Philippians 2:27 says of Epaphroditus: “For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” This Christian, Epaphroditus, was deathly ill, but Paul says that he recovered. Was there any blood pled for him? Again, if you have noticed the pattern forming, the Bible is silent on that theme. If “pleading the blood” were such an important issue, as the Charismatics claim, surely it should be appearing in the Scriptures. So far, we have not seen it in these most pertinent passages.
We read in 2 Timothy 4:20: “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” Why did Paul not “plead the blood of Jesus” for Trophimus? Is it because that practice is a tradition of men? Furthermore, how could Paul leave Trophimus ill? Could not Paul heal Trophimus here? No. Again, with the close of Acts, the spiritual gift of healing has passed away. With the Acts transition period concluded, Paul’s provoking ministry to Israel has been permanently suspended. By the way, the Book of 2 Timothy was Paul’s last epistle, written shortly before his death. Why did the Holy Spirit, in his final epistle to the Body of Christ, not exhort us to “plead the blood of Jesus?”
Second Corinthians 12:7-10 is the Apostle Paul’s own struggles with life’s difficulties: “ And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
What did the Lord Himself tell Paul while he was suffering? “Plead My blood, Paul, plead My blood! You will be delivered from all your problems if you plead My blood?” Certainty not! Certainty not! Certainty not! Rather, dear friends, God gave Paul the grace, the strength/capacity, to endure those trials. Again, read: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9). No “plead the blood” was employed in 2 Corinthians 11:22-28—look at all that suffering of Paul there!
Second Timothy 2:24-26 says on the topic of Christians being delivered from satanic oppression and deception: “ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” According to the Scriptures, “ensnared” Christians are recovered not by “pleading the blood!” Such saints are delivered by being taught, instructed, to the intent that they use that gained knowledge of the truth to think differently. They should let sound Bible doctrine renew their minds; in doing so, they will relinquish false teaching and abandon faulty thinking.
Philippians 4:11-13 says of Paul’s contentment in all situations, good and bad: “ Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Paul said Christ strengthened him to endure all circumstances, good and bad. There was no mention of a “magic” formula such as “plead the blood” in times of difficulty. Rather, there was instruction from Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9) and Paul was victorious because he believed those applicable Bible verses.
Second Thessalonians chapter 1 says: “ So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:  Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:  Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;  And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels….” The Thessalonians were suffering immense pressure, extreme persecution, for being Christians. As you can read for yourself, friend, there was no “plead the blood of Jesus” here either. The Holy Spirit never instructed them to pray or chant in such a manner. Instead, they were to remember that God would pay back their enemies at the Second Coming of Christ.
Finally, we read in Romans 1:13: “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.” Satan hindered Paul from visiting the Roman saints. Once again, we see no “I will plead the blood so I can come to you at Rome.” Friends, if at this point we cannot see that “plead the blood of Jesus” is just a manmade idea, certainly not in the Bible, we have no interest in laying aside our traditions and embracing pure grace and genuine Christianity. We are therefore more loyal to fellow man than Father God!
The practice of “plead the blood of Jesus” is wrong in several points. Firstly, it is a cornerstone of Charismatic “worship,” the Charismatic Movement itself riddled with gross theological errors. Secondly, there is more emphasis on experience and emotions than on Bible verses. Thirdly, there is no clear apostolic practice of “pleading the blood” in the Scriptures; hence, it is nothing more than misguided religious fervor. Fourthly, people have reduced victory in the Christian life to nothing more than declaring a chant, “I plead the blood!” In such circles, there is no clear understanding of how the Christian life began and how it operates. Fifthly, these people should be walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)—demanding to see God’s visible workings is manifested unbelief. Lastly, they are mixing dispensations, grabbing Israel’s material prosperity and physical healing verses when they should be realizing that the Apostle Paul exclusively writes to and about us the Church the Body of Christ.
Paul’s Book to the Romans is meant to establish the believer in the grace of God in the Dispensation of Grace of God. Romans 1:11-12 says: “ For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;  That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” Justification (chapters 1-5), sanctification (chapters 6-8), basic dispensational principles (chapters 9-11), and practical Christian living (chapters 12-16) all discussed in the Book of Romans. If “pleading the blood” was so integral to victorious Christian living, why did the Holy Spirit not mention it in Romans? Yes, the blood/death of Christ is mentioned (Romans 3:25; Romans 5:6-11; et cetera), but it is never offered in Romans (or any other part of Scripture) as a formula to pray or declare in order to escape problems and receive material blessings from God.
Yes, victory is in the cross of Christ, we do know that to be true. Trusting day by day in that finished crosswork in our key to success in the Christian life. However, victory is not in us repeating rote magic formulas (whether it be the rosary, or the pleading of the blood, et cetera). In the Dispensation of Grace, God is not interested in manipulating our circumstances. He is more interested in transforming us from the inside out, the doctrine renewing our mind, and our heart believing that doctrine. Will we let God the Holy Spirit change our mind, or will we continue in our religious error? It is our choice!
One final comment is worth sharing. A proponent of “pleading the blood of Jesus” actually warned that, if not approached correctly, the practice can become “a superstitious exercise in which we are depending on the words rather than on the understanding that gives the words their power.” I would say that, right from the start, the very practice of “pleading the blood of Jesus” was invented and is advocated by those who have an extremely poor understanding of the Bible. Thus, inherently, “pleading the blood” is a “superstitious exercise”—it cannot “become” what it already is! There can be no “understanding” in something has misunderstanding as its very foundation! It certainly is not done in faith. There is no clear verse to support a daily repetition of that prayer, a continual declaration of that expression over every aspect of our lives, and so on. It is religious fervor masquerading as truth. Do not be deceived!