One of the warnings repeatedly mentioned in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, is to watch out for and avoid manipulators.
Satan is the master manipulator but fellow humans can also lead us astray from the righteous path.
Here’s what the Bible says about manipulators and how to avoid them.
What You'll Learn Today
- Who Are Manipulators In The Bible?
- Manipulators In The Old Testament
- Spiritual Manipulators
- How To Recognize Spiritual Manipulators
- How Do You Guard Against Being Manipulated?
- Last Thoughts
Who Are Manipulators In The Bible?
Manipulators in the Bible refer to anyone who lies or deceives believers. They are essentially liars.
The Bible considers lying to be a great sin to the point that it’s in the ten commandments. The ninth commandment states ‘You shall not give false witness against your neighbor’, which essentially means you shall not lie.
The worst thing about manipulators is not the lying itself but what action the lies lead to. Manipulation can have devastating consequences.
It leads us to sin and takes us away from the Grace of God. It makes believers do some pretty awful things.
That’s why in the New Testament, the apostles were so insistent in their letters that early Christians be wary about deceivers, manipulators and false prophets. They were a big threat in the early church, and still are.
Manipulators In The Old Testament
Take for example, Satan, the master manipulator. His very first act in the Bible is to deceive Eve into taking the forbidden fruit.
That leads to the original sin and introduces mankind to death.
Another example is Samson. He was deceived by Delilah, leading to his capture and eventual death.
Esau was also manipulated a couple of times by his brother Jacob. First was when Jacob tricked his older brother into giving up his birthright for food.
Second was when Jacob deceived his father that he was Esau and stole Esau’s blessings.
The result of these lies are pretty dire for Esau. Here’s what his father Isaac declares about him.
Genesis 27:39-40 “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
The New Testament focuses on spiritual manipulators. These are people who seek to turn believers away from God. These include false prophets, teachers, and apostles.
Here’s what Jesus says of them.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul warns against false prophets and apostles.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Jesus also points out that manipulators will increase in number during the end times. In Matthew 24:5, he says;
For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.
How To Recognize Spiritual Manipulators
Paul makes it clear why these kinds of people are dangerous and are able to deceive people. Like Satan, they disguise themselves in righteousness.
Jesus also warns that manipulators can be very convincing.
Matthew 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
That’s not to mean we cannot spot them. In Matthew 7 above, the verse continues:
You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
Paul also says in his letter that ‘their end will correspond to their deeds’.
To identify manipulators, all we need to do is look at their deeds, or the fruits as Jesus said.
No matter how much they disguise themselves, you’ll always know evil people by their bad fruits. Don’t listen to what they say (most manipulators have smooth tongues), but look at what they do.
If you are a true believer and led by the Holy Spirit, manipulators will easily stand out.
Here are some other manipulation tactics to watch out for.
- Flattery. In Matthew 22, the Pharisees tried to use flattery to entangle Jesus with words. He easily spotted their manipulation and called them out. Beware anyone who piles on praise, often followed by pressure to do something or change your mind.
- Fear. Manipulators are not always sweet and warm. They can also use fear to shake your faith. They’ll often figure out what you are likely to be afraid about and use it to manipulate you. In such moments, remember 2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Emotional manipulation. Feel like someone is deliberately triggering certain motion, usually anger, desperation, hopelessness, or hatred? Be careful as they might be trying to manipulate you.
- Lies. Lying is one of the most commonly used tools by manipulators. They will distort the word of God, sometimes in a way that’s hard to notice. This is especially common among false apostles and teachers in the Church.
How Do You Guard Against Being Manipulated?
You cannot control the actions of others. As long as we are on earth, there will always be those seeking to deceive and lie.
The most important thing is to guard your heart and salvation from these manipulators.
Fortunately, the Bible has lots of advice on this.
1. Learn to identify manipulators
The first step is to learn to recognize anyone trying to manipulate you. It can be your fellow brethren, a member of the clergy or someone who is close to you.
It can be especially difficult to recognize manipulation in people you love or whom you look up to.
As we’ve mentioned above, Jesus tells us to look at their fruits. Do they display the fruits of the Holy Spirit or do they only produce bad fruits of lying, cruelty, jealousy and other sins?
Remember you have to be a good tree yourself to recognize a bad tree. Strengthen your faith and pray to God to open your spiritual eyes.
2. Put on the armor of God
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
On our own, we cannot recognize or resist manipulators. The devil will find a way to wrestle us away from the path of righteousness and into sin.
That’s why the best defense against manipulators is to strengthen your own faith and work at your salvation.
Paul describes the armor of God as consisting of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.
3. Pray and read the word of God
Prayer keeps you alert to attacks from the devil. It’s an essential weapon of defense against manipulators.
Reading the word of God keeps your faith strong. When you are intimately familiar with what God says, no one can lie to you and lead you astray.
4. Keep your heart pure
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
One of the easiest ways to let the devil into our hearts is through sin. By sinning, we open the gateway to manipulation from fake believers and false prophets.
Whether it’s the sin of greed, envy, deceit, or adultery, it makes it so much easier for others to manipulate us.
They spot our weaknesses, anxieties, fears and shame, and use that to lead us further into sin.
We inherited the sin of Adam, so sin is inevitable while we are in this world. But we can constantly ask God to forgive us and keep our hearts pure.
5. Be confident in your faith
How many times have you noticed someone trying to manipulate you or a fellow brethren and kept quiet?
Many of us are afraid to confront manipulators, fearful that we might offend them, that’s not our place, or that maybe they are right.
It’s not enough to recognize a manipulator. If you can, stop them in their tracks. Call out their lies and deceitfulness and warn others about them.
Not only will you protect yourself, you are also helping your fellow believers.
If they are trying to manipulate you, stand strong, say no and turn them away.
I’ll finish with the words of Saint Peter. He reminds us to remain watchful and vigilant. Don’t let down your guard as the devil is always watching.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.