Beware of Flattery – A Favorite Tactic of the Wicked

Mat 22:15-16  Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.  (16)  And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

This morning I am preaching a sermon which is an overview of Matthew 22:15-46 in which the Lord’s enemies tried to ensnare Him with three questions. I wanted to notice here that these schemes began with the scheme of flattery as you can see in the verses quoted above. Listen to these great observations by J.C. Ryle, taken from his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels:

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All Power and Control Regimes Share the Same Basic Characteristics

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. (26) It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, (27) and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, (28) even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

My wife is getting used to it. We just settle down for the night, my brain starts working, and I say “I have to get up and write this idea down or I will lose it.” That is what happened tonight. So here I am, writing.

Here is the big idea: all structures that rule by power and control, whether they be monarchies or the Third Reich, or ruthless corporations (not all corporations are ruthless), or churches gone wrong or families gone wrong, are characterized by some very similar if not identical attitudes and tactics. What Hitler did to enslave a nation, the wicked man does to enslave his victims.

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How the Wicked Use “Christian Servanthood” to Gain Control of People

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

I was talking with a friend and was relating an experience I have had more than once with people who turned out to be revilers/abusers parading as Christians. My friend referred me to something that Gavin DeBecker wrote in his book, The Gift of Fear:

May I note two observations that I took from your scenario? 1) The handyman initiated the contact and offered his assistance. DeBecker in his book, The Gift of Fear, would call this tactic — Loan Sharking. He explains that some men know that if they help you that will “place you in their debt, and the fact that you owe a person something makes it hard to ask him to leave you alone.”

I cannot tell you how vital this is for ALL of us to get a firm grip on. Our local churches almost always have these kinds of loan sharks circling about in their pews and quite often these sharks have become “pillars” of the church they are in. You know the drill. The most “godly saint” in the whole church. The go-to guy whenever there is a need. “Just look over there at the church building most anytime and there will be good old (insert name of shark here) working away for the Lord.”

And this is how it works.

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