When Con Men Use the Bible to Sell Evil

Three_early_medicine_bottles

“Snake oil” medicine bottles. From Wikipedia.

It’s been interesting watching the presidential election unfold in the U.S. It is truly revealing the hearts and intentions of those who claim to follow Christ.

For example, I’ve seen articles and videos from so-called prophets and church leaders insisting that Christians should vote for a certain orange-tinted candidate. And not just insist, but actually shame those who have declared they cannot vote for such a person. A few days ago, I read an article by one gentleman who says Christians who dare oppose said candidate for moral reasons are Pharisees…just like the people who crucified Jesus.

Really?!

I want to address some of the arguments these men have made, because they are not new. Religious con men have been using these same arguments to get away with abuse, infidelity, heresy, and all manner of wickedness for years. These people prey on others’ ignorance of the Bible and use cunning speeches to manipulate well-meaning Christians into supporting their shady agendas. That ends today.

1.”God uses imperfect people. Look at David, Abraham, Paul, etc.”

Yes, these great heroes of the Bible were sinners. And, yes, God used them. But they had another crucial factor in common: they were repentant! When these people were confronted with their sin, they fell on their faces and cried out to God. They took responsibility for their actions, suffered the (often permanent) consequences of their wrongdoing, and turned from their wicked ways.

Remember, repentance is not saying “sorry.” It is not even simply ceasing to sin. In its fullness, repentance is turning to God and putting on His righteousness. It is marked by genuine compunction and humility, along with a willingness to right the wrongs. Those that were used to bring about the righteousness and blessings of God were, first and foremost, repentant.

  1. “Sometimes God uses evil people for His purposes, too.”

Yeah, about that. It rarely ends well for anyone. In the Old Testament, God would raise up a wicked person to inflict judgment on the sinful, then would later destroy the wicked person for daring to raise his (or her) hand against His chosen people. (Remember Pharaoh? And Judas? And Jezebel?) Those who rallied behind the wicked person were taken down, too. Beaten. Humiliated. Scattered. Sometimes killed.

Not one time in the Bible (that I can recall) does God command a prophet or His people to rally behind an unrighteous person. God’s people are called to repudiate the works of darkness. If God is truly using an evil person to reveal His glory*, take it as a sign to get out of the way and repent. Pray for your nation. When the biblical prophets declared that an evil person was coming to carry out God’s judgment, people wailed. People mourned. Cities burned. Things got ugly.

*As we are now under the covenant of grace, I don’t think God does this anymore.

  1. “You accuse this person of harshness, but Jesus and the prophets sometimes used harsh language.”

Yep, they did. But there’s a difference between said language being fruitful and unfruitful. There’s a difference between denouncing the abuses of power and insulting one’s opponents. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, not idiots. And he was the Son of God, so he had the authority to judge their hearts in that manner. Christians are commanded to tame their tongues, speak gracefully, and love their enemies.

  1. “Are your sins any better?”

This is a classic deflection used to shame discerning believers into silence. No, your sins aren’t “better.” The difference here, again, is repentance. Who has put on the righteousness of Christ? Who is demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit? Who is being made into a new creation?

Religious con men would have you believe that exercising discernment about another’s character is the same as “throwing stones” (i.e., condemning them). It’s not. In Bible times, condemning someone meant marking them for death. It was a form of harsh, merciless judgment that literally ended the sinner’s life. It usurped the role of Christ as final judge. That’s not what is happening here.

Don’t be played. Stand by your convictions.

  1. “You just can’t forgive.”

Forgiveness has nothing to do with allowing wicked, abusive people to function in positions of authority over you. The Bible says that anyone who desires to be an overseer should be held to a higher standard of character and will be judged more rigorously by God for their actions. It is spiritually irresponsible (and unbiblical!) to give leadership positions to people who are unrepentant and without grace for others. They endanger everyone, including themselves.

  1. “He/she is only broken, like all humans are.”

When religious con men say “broken,” they mean sinful. But that is not the biblical meaning of the word. When the Bible speaks of brokenness, it refers to a contrite spirit. Most of the people the con men call “broken” aren’t broken. There is no contrition or humility in their words or posture. Ascribing faulty definitions to biblical words is how con men exert control over their victims and keep themselves in power. Don’t let them get away with it.

  1. “He/she is righteous because they’ve said/done/supported ______.”

Nope. The Bible is exceedingly clear on this one: righteousness comes from Christ and is demonstrated through the fruit of the Spirit. There is nothing a person can say or do apart from Christ to become holy. It doesn’t matter how big their ministry is. It doesn’t matter how successful they are. It doesn’t matter which political platform or candidates they support. No Christ, no righteousness. Period.

  1. “The Bible says we will suffer for righteousness sake.”

Allowing a wicked leader into power who then proceeds to abuse you is not “suffering for righteousness sake.” It is suffering for evil’s sake. Nothing righteous is achieved when a leader who claims to follow Christ abuses others. In fact, just the opposite: it slanders the gospel.

  1. “You’re only complaining because you’re proud/jealous/rebellious.”

It is impossible for these con men to know the intentions of your heart. That is between you and God. However, discernment is a gift of the Spirit, and the Bible commands believers to be wise and oppose evil. Decrying abuse, holding leaders accountable, searching the scriptures and remaining alert are godly activities that no one should discourage you from. Ever.

If anyone is using this kind of talk to persuade you to support leaders with bad character, they have an agenda—one that does not include your spiritual, mental, physical, emotional or financial wellbeing. Don’t be fooled. Keep God’s Word in your heart.

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11 responses to “When Con Men Use the Bible to Sell Evil

  1. Welcome back. Apart from religion, which is compelling in itself, I can understand why April is so concerned about a Trump presidency. In the event of a nuclear war touched off by an egotistical, unhinged, bigoted maniac, the area where she lives would be right at the center of the target. I live at the center of another one of those prime targets. If you have a family, this is what you have to worry about most if Trump is elected President. Could Trump (Biblical wisely) handle a situation like this, all the subtlety it involves, and save all our lives:

    I do not think so, which is another good reason to turn a deaf ear to con men who use the Bible to sell evil.

  2. Pingback: When Con Men Use the Bible to Sell Evil | Flee from Christian Fundamentalism

  3. Yes this was something I experienced when I was in the fundamentalist church. I came to the conclusion that neither party fully represents Christ in that each party has aspects of Jesus. And that its understandable for a Christian to vote either party. The republican fundamentalist leaderof my old church told me I was wrong. A the late David Kuo wrote a good book about this in 2006 called Tempting Faith. He was part of the top leadership of Bush’s faith based initiative office and he resigned very disappointed that Republicans pander to evangelicals.

    • I remember Kuo — he called the Republicans out for mocking Evangelicals behind closed doors. An African-American on Bush’s staff told the Republicans that they were doing the same thing to Evangelicals that they accuse the Democrats of doing with black people, and they didn’t want to hear it!

  4. Thank you! I have found folks who demand ‘brokenness” use it as an excuse to justify their efforts to ‘break’ others – emotional, psychologically, physically.

  5. Thank you, April, that was excellent as usually.
    I am printing it out for myself and my daughter as pointers to counter spiritual abuse for myself, and explain spiritual abuse. The last point was what my Phariseeic in-laws were doing to me for over a decade regarding my abusive anti-husband. God bless you for spelling it out so clearly, and thank you for using your gift to serve others so faithfully. I love reading your articles.

  6. “He/she is righteous because they’ve said/done/supported…”

    Well, many of the things they would list would also apply to conservative Muslims; however, these religious con men would be enraged if someone tried to say said Muslim was righteous!

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