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Preaching that Robs God’s People of Peace

By Patricia Backora

Shocking blog posts on the Internet testify to the outrageous psychological abuse
being perpetrated on the Body of Christ today. Young married couples struggling
with bills and the soaring cost of living are being pressured to pay “tithes” to
preachers who live much more luxuriously than they do. Some people go to bed
worried that they will lose their salvation “because they’re stealing God’s tithe in
order to eat.” Others toss and turn all night, eaten up by a sickening fear inside
because some preacher has told them that if they don’t “win more souls to Christ”
they will lose their salvation. God, the preachers threaten, will “prune them off the
Body of Christ as dead branches” if they don’t hurry up and “bear more fruit”
(persuade more people to repeat the sinner’s prayer). I use the word “repeat”
because while you can sometimes guide someone in what they ought to pray, many
people mouth words they don’t really understand or mean. “Making vain repetitions”
(Matt.6:7) is a religious act, not a heart cry to God. God does not hear an insincere
utterance and it won’t “take effect”.

God’s people have been traumatized by guilt pressure preaching to the point of
sleeplessness, depression, anxiety and tears. Many have been so badly wounded
they run away from the condemnation spewing forth from the pulpit…just to keep
sane. Pharisaical preachers have ruled the flock of God with force, and driven them
away from a Jesus Who is markedly different from that gentle Chief Shepherd of the
sheep who said: Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is
light (Matt.12:29-30). Legalistic preachers truly think the yoke Jesus has put on
Christians isn’t heavy enough so they increase the burden they must bear by
preaching “saved by grace, kept by works.”

Ezekiel 34:4: The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that
which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye
brought that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but
with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

People get so depressed and fear-ridden they sadly turn their backs on the
institutional church. The tragedy is that the real Jesus is often forsaken along with
the harsh, slave-driver image of Him pushed from the pulpits of so many “radical”
churches. A fatal contradiction is being pushed from the pulpit: The Word of God
declares we are saved by grace through faith and not by our own works (Eph.2:8),
and we are no longer slaves but sons (Gal.4:7). But preachers say that those who
don’t “win enough souls to Christ”, fast, teach Sunday School, give extra on Honor
the Pastor Day, etc., just might get consigned to God’s reject heap. Emotional
extortion is used by the worst of the worst to rob God’s people of the rest of faith,
whereby a Christian ceases from His own works and depends on Christ alone to
make him acceptable before a Holy God (Heb.4:10). A money and power-hungry
preacher puts himself between Christ and His Bride, which is spiritual perversion.

“God will curse you and send you to hell if you withhold your tithe!” greedy
preachers thunder from their powerful pulpits. “If you love money more than you
love Jesus, you’re no disciple of His! So pay up!” Guilt and shame are appealed to
here, and the believer’s love for Jesus is questioned. Keeping back money badly
needed to feed children or keep a roof over their head is construed as “defrauding
God” because it isn’t put into the church treasury instead.

Not ONE Scripture in the entire Bible supports tithing on wages, or on non-
agricultural items. Tithing, along with all other laws written in Leviticus, the Book of
the Law, was given BY MOSES FROM MOUNT SINAI TO ISRAEL ONLY! (Lev.27:30-
34). The burden of the tithe was put only on the land, not on poor wage earners.
Tithe-payers were given a rest from tithing every seventh (sabbatical) year, because
no crops were gathered in that year. How many modern preachers give their people
a break every seven years from tithing to THEM? Paul never taught tithing to the
churches of Jesus Christ, only cheerful giving OUT OF WHAT YOU HAVE, not out of
what you can’t afford (2 Cor.8:11-12;9:7). The Church Council of Acts Chapter 15
didn’t order converted Gentiles to start tithing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit to
add NO GREATER burden than four lifestyle restrictions listed (Acts 15:28-29). If the
earliest churches did not have to keep tithing (and other laws), what right does any
man have to reimpose this law on the Body of Christ?

Old Covenant priests took tithes from the Levites, but they themselves did not tithe.
We are Christ’s New Covenant Priesthood (I Pet.2:5,9). Anyone who extorts tithes of
anything from Christian believers is a fraud and putting extra burdens on Christ’s
priesthood of all believers. Christians are the sheep of God’s pasture. Sheep don’t
bear burdens. Donkeys do. Church tithing was not legislated until the sixth century
A.D., when the Catholic Church put it into force. Whoever brings himself back under
the Law doesn’t get blessed for it. Instead they come under the Curse of the Law
(Gal.3:10). The Bible does not promise prosperity to those who donate money to the
rich (Prov.22:16). Instead, it promises a worsening of poverty as the reward of such
a gift.

The congregation, especially young, energetic believers, are pressured to “storm the
streets” and persuade strangers to repeat a short prayer after presenting three or
four easy steps to salvation. Nothing is said about a seed planted needing time to
mature and ripen. Many times people aren’t given time for the Holy Spirit to do a
deep-down work of convicting for sin, to lay the groundwork for a true spiritual
regeneration to occur in the sinner’s heart. Jesus wants a godly sorrow to take place
in the heart of a lost person (2 Cor.7:10). True sorrow for sin leads to repentance, or
a “turning away from” sin. A superficial nod of acceptance that Jesus died to save all
men and He loves everybody just isn’t enough, although it is less messy than
confronting a lost person with his lost condition. Jesus said: “Except ye repent (turn
away from sin) ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). There is a big danger of false
conversions resulting from a stranger feeling pressured to pray, with no change of
his eternal destination. He might “pray” just to get the “salvation salesman” off his
back so he can go on his way in peace. At best, he’ll walk away as the same old
sinner who feels a bit better about himself.

We must boldly (not stupidly or rudely) share our faith and tell people the truth,
while at the same time trusting the Holy Spirit to ripen the harvest for the Gospel
seed sown and bring them to salvation. At other times you will find that people are
READY to commit all to Christ. That may very well happen because the Lord has
ALREADY been dealing with them for some time. If so, chances are, some other soul
winner planted the gospel seed in their heart, with seemingly no immediate results.

Many people have been guilt-ridden because they failed to persuade another person
to come to Christ before that one died. Preachers have shouted about blood being
on the hands of Christians who didn’t win all the lost around them, with many
sleepless nights and nervous breakdowns resulting from such spiritual abuse. Before
you heap condemnation upon yourself several things ought to be considered:

1. How did the sinner treat every mention of the name of Jesus when he was
alive? For that matter, how did he view your claims that Bible was the only
true Word of God? If he kept on throwing your holy things back in your face,
your loving witness to him was like casting pearls before the swine
2. Maybe, just maybe, if you HAD browbeaten that one long enough, he would
have mouthed a “prayer” just to get you off his back. But praying under
HUMAN pressure is the spiritual equivalent of a shotgun wedding, with very
insincere results. Remember this: Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord
(Heb.12:14). Can you HONESTLY say you could have persuaded that one to
turn away from his cherished sins (which might include perversion, hard
drinking, lust, profanity, etc.)? If you can truly say you wouldn’t have had the
power to persuade him/her to give up those things forever, you can’t be held
accountable for the path that one took. There must be a willingness to
FORSAKE all sin before a person can be truly converted.
3. After you planted the Gospel seed through your witness, did that one do his
worst to rip it back out so it wouldn’t take root? Did he brush off your walk
with the Lord as something weird and not take you seriously when you spoke
of it? How could you be held accountable if he did?
4. Perhaps this person hurt you so much that you yourself went into emotional
meltdown. In your numbness you were unable to feel any compassion for
him/her. If that happened to you, you yourself were (temporarily) taken
captive by a devil who took full advantage of the situation. Just because
sinners are in greater peril, doesn’t mean Christians aren’t also being
attacked by satan. Many, if not most of God’s people, have periods in their
lives when they barely feel saved anymore (satan puts that doubt there).
You might be in a place of little or no true fellowship. There is NO ONE on
earth you can share all your heart with! Unless the believer has learned to
rely on the Lord alone in his personal wilderness, satan can overwhelm that
Christian with disillusionment, trials, etc. (I Pet.5:8) I don’t believe a
Christian can be possessed, but he/she can be so bound by satan’s demons
that they are temporarily UNABLE to reach out to the lost. Even years down
the road, after you have recovered spiritually and regained sensitivity of
Christ and His love for others, satan will keep you awake nights and accuse
you of failure to prevent someone from going to hell. There’s no worse soul
torment! While someone else was in eternal danger, you were too
traumatized by the enemy to respond. You yourself ought to have been
ministered to, as a casualty of this war against satan. But you felt all alone in
your struggle against the devil. Any soldier who’s been blasted in the chest on
the battlefield can’t be expected to carry on with the fight.
5. There are cases where the Holy Spirit stops contending with lost sinners
because they have crossed a line known only to Him. They love their sins too
much to give them up. God will not always strive with man (Gen.6:3).
Modern man is used to convenience, and things always being there waiting
for him when he has the time to get back to them. People want to wait till
they’re too old and worn out to have fun anymore, then they’ll think about
their souls. But God is not at man’s disposal, to be sent away and then
recalled like a servile butler when the person decides he’s had enough of sin
and wants to make sure he makes it to heaven. God is not a genie in a bottle
to be kept on the shelf till you need His services.

We live in a push-button age of instant oatmeal, microwave dinners, quick

downloads, etc. This attitude of demanding instant soul winning results is reflected
in much of the condemnation roared by preachers from pulpits. “How many souls
have YOU led to the Lord this past year? If you can’t count even two, you’re in
danger of being cut off as an unfruitful branch!” I’ve heard preaching like this
before, especially at a “radical” church I went to many years ago. All the
condemnation preached at that church drove me out, though I’d had good friends
there. I recently read a post or two where people are worried sick that God no longer
loves them because they “aren’t doing enough for Jesus.” One guy wrote that he felt

Preachers hardly ever mention that Noah lived and preached for hundreds of years
and only took seven other souls with him onto the Ark (all family members). But the
Bible still honors Noah as a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet.2:5). God called Jonah
to preach to the Ninevites, mortal enemies of Israel. Jonah hated them. God had to
send a hungry whale to drag Jonah by the scruff of the neck to get the job done.
Reading the text you get the impression Jonah didn’t even WANT those souls saved,
because he hung around waiting for God to nuke Nineveh. Jonah wouldn’t have shed
one single tear if God had fulfilled his prophecy of doom over that city. But God still
gave Jonah a rich harvest of souls. Good salesmanship and a sweet disposition don’t
guarantee genuine conversions to Christ. To keep new souls pouring into THEIR
church, preachers threaten their congregations with the parable of the unfruitful
branch in John Chapter 15.

What, exactly IS the fruit Jesus is referring to? Who the unfruitful branch which
doesn’t abide in Him is cut off and cast into the fire? Is Jesus threatening to throw
you into hell if you don’t gather in X number of souls in a year?

Matt.7:15: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but
inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Verse 16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or
figs of thistles?
Verse 17: Even so, EVERY good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree
bringeth forth evil fruit.
Verse 18: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring
forth good fruit.
Verse 19: Every tree that bringeth forth not good fruit is hewn (chopped) down, and
cast into the fire.
Verse 20: Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

In Luke 3:8 John the Baptist tells the people what fruits are demanded by God: Bring
forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, etc.
Verse 9: And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore
which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn (chopped) down, and cast into the fire.
Verse 10: And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do, then?
Verse 11: He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart
to him that hath none; and he that hath meat (food), let him do likewise.
Verse 12: Then came also the publicans (tax collectors) to be baptized, and said unto
him, Master, what shall we do?
Verse 13: And he said unto them, Exact (collect) no more than that which is
appointed you.
Verse 14: And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?
And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be
content with your wages.

Contentment is the opposite of covetousness (greed), a bad fruit of the flesh (I

Cor.5:10). How many prosperity preachers encourage Christians to “aim higher”, not
for spiritual treasures above, but for earthly things that perish? Christians are taught
to never think they have enough and always strive for more.

And what about John the Baptist’s exhortation to collect no more than your due?
How many preachers find every excuse in the book to take up extra collections?

More on the fruit God is looking for in a Christian:

James 3:17: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle,
and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and
without hypocrisy.
Verse 18: And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Gal.5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith (faithfulness),
Verse 23: Meekness, temperance (self-control); against such there is no law.

The evil Pharisees who attacked Jesus weren’t manifesting these Fruits of the Spirit.
Instead, they had a murderous desire to get rid of Jesus so they could keep on
oppressing the people without opposition. Throughout the Old Testament, the fig
tree is used as a type of the Nation of Israel (see Jere.24:8;29:17). God spoke of
evil and vile figs (bad fruits of the nation) which could not be eaten. Many Israelites
had fallen into idolatry so God found the fruit of this nation bitter. Shortly before His
crucifixion, Jesus cursed the fig tree for failure to produce fruit (Matt.21:17-20).
Christ’s first disciples were Jewish, but the Jewish nation as a whole would not
receive Him. In A.D. 70 the Temple was destroyed and the Jews were exiled from
their homeland as had happened before.

Do abusive preachers manifest the nine Fruits of the Spirit, as they roar at their
congregations to give more and work more to bring in more souls to THEIR services?
Could it possibly be that OTHER numbers are whirling around in their head? If I get
X number of faithful believers to attend MY church, MY offering will go up
dramatically. Now for a few questions about the Fruits of the Spirit:

1. How much LOVE do rich preachers show when they condemn poor families for
spending their “tithe” to take their children to the dentist?
2. How much genuine JOY do you see on a stern Pharisee’s face as he tells you
God will send you to hell for “withholding His tithe”? Rather, such preachers
steal the joy of the assurance of salvation out of Christians’ hearts.
3. How much PEACE is in the church when the preacher fries his congregation in
hell for failure to “win more souls” (increase church membership)?
4. How LONGSUFFERING is the covetous preacher when a big recession strikes
and he starts hearing more clinks than rustles in the offering plate?
5. How much GENTLENESS does the preacher show when he hears bad news
about several bad tithe checks bouncing?
6. How much GOODNESS does the preacher show when you tell him you just
gave the church your last five “by faith” only to discover your car was almost
out of gas and could you please borrow it back till payday?

7. How much MEEKNESS does a preacher show when he boasts that if you don’t
pay the kind of offerings he demands and do enough work for the church,
you’ll end up being his shoeshine boy in heaven?
8. How much TEMPERANCE (self-control) does a “prosperity” preacher show
when his second (or third) wife gains two pounds and he feels like he needs a
“fresher image to enhance his ministry”?
9. If that preacher didn’t grow any temperance in his life, chances are you won’t
see much FAITHFULNESS on his tree either, just wife number four on his

If you don’t discern the fruits of the Spirit in the life of that preacher who yells about
giving and getting busy “for God”, chances are he’s got ulterior motives for
pressuring you to be “good salesmen for Jesus” and “close the deal” after preaching
a three-minute gospel message to a total stranger.

Still MORE on the fruit God is looking for:

2 Pet.1:5: And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue
Verse 6: And to virtue temperance (self-control); and to temperance patience; and
to patience godliness;
Verse 7: And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (see
also I Cor.13:1-7).
Verse 8: For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall
neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Peter shows us in the above passage that being fruitful in the knowledge
of our Lord Jesus Christ constitutes true fruitfulness, not yanking green fruit off the
vine by pressuring a reluctant individual to repeat the sinner’s prayer. That’s just
like delivering a baby five months before it’s due. For sure you’ll get it out, but it
just won’t survive.

Out of a true love for Jesus will flow an ardent desire to BE a witness to others, not
just “go out there and sell Jesus.” The only person in the Bible mentioned as selling
Jesus was Judas Iscariot, and he is in hell for it today. Seriously, anything done to
try to earn or keep God’s favor is fatal to faith in Christ alone. The Way of Works
leads away from the Cross, not toward it. Even the Pharisees boasted of all the
sacrificial works they’d done, allegedly to please God (Luke 18:9-14). The sinner who
didn’t perform good religious works was the one who got justified, because he cried
out to God for unmerited mercy.

Why do (some) preachers pressure young people to “storm the streets for Jesus”?
The lack of people is the destruction of a prince’s kingdom (Prov.14:28). Young
people are most likely to preach to other young people. Young converts have a
longer working (and earning) life ahead of them than oldsters. Ever notice how
preachers keep a tote board up on the wall to the right of the pulpit, letting everyone
know how much money was donated, how many attended Sunday School and
church, etc.? So much for “giving in secret” (Matt.6:3-4). Throughout the Bible, God
lets us know He is not impressed by numbers. Big congregations can be hampered
by ice-cold formality. Paying the upkeep on a huge building complex can be a white
elephant on the backs of poor people who stay away for that very reason.

Smaller fellowships don’t cater to fleshly pride, but they can be better for people who
are intimidated by vast numbers in a huge auditorium. Preachers are often
impressed by numbers and think their church will not achieve worthwhile goals
without a huge congregation and plenty of committees. But God can save by many
or by few (I Sam.14:6). A lot of “church projects” are nothing but expensive
deadwood as far as He is concerned. Pointless programs, carnal concerts and fancy
fixtures devour funds which could care for the poor and reach the lost in inner city
areas. Billions are wasted on things that “promote the church to the community.”
Worthless ego-boosters gotten by religious taskmasters at the cost of the rest and
peace of God’s people will someday be burnt up as wood hay and stubble (I

Since I’ve made a real effort (and had much more time) to serve the Lord in various
ways, satan has played the rumba on my conscience for weaknesses and failures of
the past. I have fought him in the following ways:

1. Satan’s attacks only began after I felt God’s approval on my work and felt His
closeness as never before. Now, it just doesn’t make any sense. Why would
God shower Me with His love and approval for many months on end, then
turn around and torment me with memories of past sins? That can’t be the
Holy Spirit. It must be a wicked spirit at work trying to tear me down.
Seems to me that if God thought my sins and mistakes were unforgivable, He
wouldn’t have blessed me so mightily before troubling my sleep about the
things of the past. So those torments couldn’t have been the conviction of
the Holy Spirit. It must have been a wicked spirit! Jesus plainly declares
satan is the father of lies and there is NO truth in him (John 8:44).
2. One powerful weapon I’ve used against the accuser is this verse: I Cor.6:17:
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.* * *When God sees me, He
sees Jesus, because I am in Christ. My sins have all been forgiven by God,
and He does not even remember them any more (Heb.8:12;10:17). How
significant, that God thinks this truth is so important that He repeats it in the
same book of the Bible!
3. Trying to argue the devil away isn’t enough. He’s so determined to wear me
down that still another weapon must be pulled out of my arsenal to fight the
fiery darts of the enemy: praying in the tongues of the Spirit (I Cor.14:2;
Eph.6:18). In the Spirit we pray mysteries to God. When God’s Spirit moves
in power satan doesn’t know what’s about to hit him.

Just reading about my war with satan should give you some idea of the harm done
when Christians are ACCUSED BY PREACHERS of being unfruitful. When they hurt
God’s people like this, they’re preparing people’s hearts for satan to plant seeds of
condemnation and torture them, especially at night when they should be at rest. The
quiet hours of such an oppressed saint are spent not in restful contemplation about
the goodness of the Lord, but in futile hindsight: “What if , ten or twenty years ago,
I’d been bolder or avoided making this or that mistake?” God has put a NO FISHING
sign on forgiven sins and failures of the past, but condemnation preachers lure
sensitive souls out into forbidden waters to sink beneath troubled waves.

Acts 20:29: For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in
among you, not sparing the flock.
Rom. 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ
Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.