Touch Not the Lord’s Anointed? What Does it Mean?

Article: Frequently Abused Verses: Did God Forbid us to Critique or Criticize Church Leaders? (Psalm 105:15; 1 Samuel 24:10) by Cameron Buettel (original source here)

False teaching thrives in environments where it is unlikely to be questioned. Charlatans and heretics prey on uncritical minds, and work tirelessly to protect and preserve that gullibility. Their success depends on dismantling every challenge to their authority and accuracy.

John MacArthur describes why that problem is rampant in the modern church:

In a time like this of tolerance, listen, false teaching will always cry intolerance; it will always say you’re being divisive, you’re being unloving, you’re being ungracious, because it can only survive when it doesn’t get scrutinized. And so it cries against any intolerance. It cries against any examination, any scrutiny.

In recent decades, some of the most notorious charismatic church leaders have been doing just that. They continually warn their critics to back off or face the imminent danger of divine judgment. Claiming God’s stamp of approval, they wield Psalm 105:15 like a loaded gun: “Touch not [the Lord’s] anointed” (KJV).

And lest you think such a description to be hyperbole, the following clip from Benny Hinn is a spectacular example.

Hinn’s handling of Psalm 105:15, as well as the story of Saul and David, is hopelessly wrong on too many levels to address in one blog post.

For example we could discuss how Hinn utterly fails to understand Judas’s role in God’s sovereign plan for the crucifixion, while woefully underestimating the deity of Christ. We could invalidate Hinn’s warnings against criticism by pointing out the time Paul rebuked Peter—or when Hinn has publicly rebuked Joel Osteen, among others. Then there’s the problem of Hinn basing his threats upon the extra-biblical revelation of another false teacher (Kenneth Copeland).

What does it mean to “touch”?

But there is one simple, glaring error that explains all the other problems and exposes Hinn as the incompetent and unqualified Bible teacher that he is. When David says, “I will not stretch out my hand against [Saul], for he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:10), he is explaining why he didn’t kill Saul, not why he didn’t criticize Saul. In fact, David was openly critical of Saul on numerous occasions. Moreover, 1 Samuel 24:10 is part of a larger discourse where David rebukes Saul face-to-face over his murderous scheming: “I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you” (1 Samuel 24:11–13). Even if Benny Hinn was “the Lord’s anointed”—he’s not—none of his critics are attempting to “touch” him in the sense described in 1 Samuel 24:10 (or Psalm 105:15; or 1 Chronicles 16:22).

Who are the anointed?

There is another fatal flaw in Hinn’s interpretation. He—and all those who follow this teaching—assume that only certain persons are “anointed.” They claim that pastors and self-appointed prophets and apostles have a unique anointing from God that immunizes them from criticism. But such a concept is foreign to Scripture. In short, the Bible teaches that all believers have an anointing from God.

In his first epistle, the apostle John explained what it means to be anointed as a New Testament believer. After warning his readers about antichrists who were coming to deceive them, John reminded them of their security because of Christ’s anointing:

These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. (1 John 2:26–27)

The anointing John refers to is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—a reality for all true Christians. John MacArthur explains the context and meaning of “anointing” as it appears in 1 John:

The false teachers who threatened John’s readers employed the terms for knowledge and anointing to describe their religious experience. They arrogantly saw themselves as possessing an elevated and esoteric form of divine knowledge, and as the recipients of a special, secret, transcendent anointing. That led them to believe they were privy to truth that the uninitiated lacked. John’s response, which was both a rebuttal to the antichrists and a reassurance to the believers, was to assert that, in reality, all true Christians have an anointing from the Holy One.

Because believers have received that anointing, they have the true understanding of God that comes exclusively through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6), “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). They do not need any secret, special, or transcendent understanding or esoteric insight. Anointing (chrisma) literally means “ointment” or “oil” (cf. Hebrews 1:9). In this text it refers figuratively to the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:21–22), who has taken up residency in believers at the behest of Jesus Christ, the Holy One (cf. Luke 4:34; Acts 3:14), and reveals through Scripture all they need to know (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9–10). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1–3 John (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2007), 102.)

The anointing we have as believers reveals the truth and therefore exposes the lies of false teachers. How ironic that the “anointing” Benny Hinn evokes to extort and manipulate churchgoers is actually our warning system to expose the self-serving deception of wolves like him.

How to Defend the Gospel from Its Enemies—and Friends

Article by Ray Ortlund (original source tweet about, and argue against false teachers who lead people away from the truth? And how do we talk about true teachers who mistakenly counteract their own theology?

Defending the gospel against both its enemies and, at times, its friends is not easy. On the one hand, we desire not to be cowards; on the other hand, we desire not to be provocateurs.

How can we find our way? Here are four thoughts:

1. It’s a privilege to even have this problem to wrestle with.

We have been “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” (1 Thess. 2:4). God has surely smiled on us, placing into our hands the stewardship of his truth here in this day when the world denies the validity of any truth. May we be fully pleasing to the Lord in how we handle our sacred trust in such a time as this!

2. The Bible speaks bluntly about false teachers.

For example:

Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD. (Jer. 23:32)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8–9)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Pet. 2:1)

And Jesus himself thundered against those who opposed the truth in sneaky ways:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. (Matt. 23:29–31)

Biblical passages like these are declaring that something massive is at stake in what we and others believe and teach. They warn us to make sure we are not leading people away from God.

3. Before moving a muscle to defend the gospel, pause and ask, “Why do I think I am qualified for so holy, so exacting, so difficult a task as rebuking a false teacher?” Continue reading

Matthew 18 and Heresy in the Public Arena

DA CARSONDr. D. A. Carson go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Several years ago I wrote a fairly restrained critique of the emerging church movement as it then existed, before it morphed into its present diverse configurations.1 That little book earned me some of the angriest, bitterness-laced emails I have ever received—to say nothing, of course, of the blog posts. There were other responses, of course—some approving and grateful, some thoughtful and wanting to dialogue. But the ones that displayed the greatest intensity were those whose indignation was white hot because I had not first approached privately those whose positions I had criticized in the book. What a hypocrite I was—criticizing my brothers on ostensible biblical grounds when I myself was not following the Bible’s mandate to observe a certain procedure nicely laid out in Matt 18:15–17.

Doubtless this sort of charge is becoming more common. It is regularly linked to the “Gotcha!” mentality that many bloggers and their respondents seem to foster. Person A writes a book criticizing some element or other of historic Christian confessionalism. A few bloggers respond with more heat than light. Person B writes a blog with some substance, responding to Person A. The blogosphere lights up with attacks on Person B, many of them asking Person B rather accusingly, “Did you communicate with Person A in private first? If not, aren’t you guilty of violating what Jesus taught us in Matthew 18?” This pattern of counter-attack, with minor variations, is flourishing.

To which at least three things must be said:

(1) The sin described in the context of Matt 18:15–17 takes place on the small scale of what transpires in a local church (which is certainly what is envisaged in the words “tell it to the church”). It is not talking about a widely circulated publication designed to turn large numbers of people in many parts of the world away from historic confessionalism. This latter sort of sin is very public and is already doing damage; it needs to be confronted and its damage undone in an equally public way. This is quite different from, say, the situation where a believer discovers that a brother has been breaking his marriage vows by sleeping with someone other than his wife, and goes to him privately, then with one other, in the hope of bringing about genuine repentance and contrition, and only then brings the matter to the church.

To put the matter differently, the impression one derives from reading Matt 18 is that the sin in question is not, at first, publicly noticed (unlike the publication of a foolish but influential book). It is relatively private, noticed by one or two believers, yet serious enough to be brought to the attention of the church if the offender refuses to turn away from it. By contrast, when NT writers have to deal with false teaching, another note is struck: the godly elder “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9 NIV). Continue reading

Taking Error Seriously

EdenJohn J. Murray C. H. Spurgeon concluded: ‘Modern criticism, like modern theology, is like the sirocco that blasts and burns; it is without dew or suction, it proves itself to be unblest of God and unblessing to men’. What can be said of the situation today?

WHERE WE ARE TODAY

1. NO PLACE FOR TRUTH.

There was a day when men believed there was such a thing as objective truth and believed that the truth could be stated in propositions, using human language and comprehensible to human minds. A sea-change has taken place in Western intellectual life. It is now argued that we can no longer speak of objective truth. Truth and falsehood have been replaced by what is ‘true for me’ or ‘true for you’. This has infiltrated the church, as has shown in David Wells’ book No Place For Truth, a work which charts the demise of evangelical theology in the United States. He said: ‘The emptiness of evangelical faith without theology echoes the emptiness of modern life’.

2. NO FEAR OF ERROR.

How can we profess to love God without loving his truth? Truth is the revelation of his nature, character and works. Horatius Bonar warned in his day:

The spirit of the age which makes light of error, as if it were not sin. Even some who call themselves Christians, have lost their dread of error, and are hurrying on from opinion to opinion, exulting in their freedom from old fetters and trammels, reckoning themselves peculiarly honest and unprejudiced. Alas for truth in such a case! How can it be reached? Alas for the love of truth! How can it exist where there is no fear of error?

3. NO EXERCISE OF DISCIPLINE.

Ministers and elders can hold the most outrageous views and no action is taken against them. Trials for heresy seem to have become a thing of the past. We are living in a day when such matters have ceased to concern the evangelical church. Professor Thomas C. Oden has said: ‘The very thought about asking about heresy has itself become the new heresy. The archheresiarch is the one who hints that some distinction might be needed between truth and falsehood, between right and wrong’.

WHAT WE MUST DO

1. WE MUST BE INTOLERANT OF A FALSE GOSPEL. Continue reading

The worst doctrine?

What is the worst false teaching confronting and infiltrating the body of Christ in our day?

Television preacher Andrew Wommack believes it is..

wait for it…

…the doctrine that God is in control of all things (or meticulous providence).

Quote: “In my estimation, the worst doctrine that’s prevalent in the Body of Christ today and just completely voids all of these things about God being a good God is the wrong teaching on the Sovereignty of God – that God controls everything.”

Yes, you read that right, as this video shows:

Here’s my full response:

Calling Out False Teachers

John Piper on the so called “Prosperity Gospel”:

When I read about prosperity-preaching churches, I wouldn’t want in.” In other words, if this is the message of Jesus, no thank you.
Luring people to Christ to get rich is both deceitful and deadly. It’s deceitful because when Jesus himself called us, he said things like: “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). And it’s deadly because the desire to be rich plunges “people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). So here is my plea to preachers of the gospel.

1. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that makes it harder for people to get into heaven.

Jesus said, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” His disciples were astonished, as many in the “prosperity” movement should be. So Jesus went on to raise their astonishment even higher by saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” They respond in disbelief: “Then who can be saved?” Jesus says, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:23-27).

My question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a ministry focus that makes it harder for people to enter heaven?

2. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that kindles suicidal desires in people.

Paul said, “There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” But then he warned against the desire to be rich. And by implication, he warned against preachers who stir up the desire to be rich instead of helping people get rid of it. He warned, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).

So my question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a ministry that encourages people to pierce themselves with many pangs and plunge themselves into ruin and destruction?

3. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that encourages vulnerability to moth and rust.

Jesus warns against the effort to lay up treasures on earth. That is, he tells us to be givers, not keepers. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).

Yes, we all keep something. But given the built-in tendency toward greed in all of us, why would we take the focus off Jesus and turn it upside down?

4. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that makes hard work a means of amassing wealth.

Paul said we should not steal. The alternative was hard work with our own hands. But the main purpose was not merely to hoard or even to have. The purpose was “to have to give.” “Let him labor, working with his hands, that he may have to give to him who is in need” (Ephesians 4:28). This is not a justification for being rich in order to give more. It is a call to make more and keep less so you can give more. There is no reason why a person who makes $200,000 should live any differently from the way a person who makes $80,000 lives. Find a wartime lifestyle; cap your expenditures; then give the rest away.

Why would you want to encourage people to think that they should possess wealth in order to be a lavish giver? Why not encourage them to keep their lives more simple and be an even more lavish giver? Would that not add to their generosity a strong testimony that Christ, and not possessions, is their treasure?

5. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that promotes less faith in the promises of God to be for us what money can’t be.

The reason the writer to the Hebrews tells us to be content with what we have is that the opposite implies less faith in the promises of God. He says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

If the Bible tells us that being content with what we have honors the promise of God never to forsake us, why would we want to teach people to want to be rich?

6. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that contributes to your people being choked to death.

Jesus warns that the word of God, which is meant to give us life, can be choked off from any effectiveness by riches. He says it is like a seed that grows up among thorns that choke it to death: “They are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the . . . riches . . . of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14).

Why would we want to encourage people to pursue the very thing that Jesus warns will choke us to death?

7. Don’t develop a philosophy of ministry that takes the seasoning out of the salt and puts the light under a basket.

What is it about Christians that makes them the salt of the earth and the light of the world? It is not wealth. The desire for wealth and the pursuit of wealth tastes and looks just like the world. It does not offer the world anything different from what it already believes in. The great tragedy of prosperity-preaching is that a person does not have to be spiritually awakened in order to embrace it; one needs only to be greedy. Getting rich in the name of Jesus is not the salt of the earth or the light of the world. In this, the world simply sees a reflection of itself. And if it works, they will buy it.

The context of Jesus’ saying shows us what the salt and light are. They are the joyful willingness to suffering for Christ. Here is what Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:11-14).

What will make the world taste (the salt) and see (the light) of Christ in us is not that we love wealth the same way they do. Rather, it will be the willingness and the ability of Christians to love others through suffering, all the while rejoicing because their reward is in heaven with Jesus. This is inexplicable on human terms. This is supernatural. But to attract people with promises of prosperity is simply natural. It is not the message of Jesus. It is not what he died to achieve.

Pastor John Piper

Rick Henderson has written an article denouncing influential TV preachers Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen as false teachers. Its important to know the issues involved.