Critics

Ambassadors for the Accuser

"Where the devil does not go personally, he sends a critic", said a wise Puritan. Every church and every movement has its critics. Detractors never offer an unqualified word of approval. Unlike metal, their tongues get sharper after every jab. Being unsympathetic is one thing, but having a perennial critical spirit is another.


A Critical Spirit Violates the LAW OF LOVE. Jesus instructs us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat. 22:39). When a brother is overtaken in a fault, love demands considerate intervention (Gal. 6:1). Personal offenses require a "personal" confrontation—"If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him…alone” (Mat. 18:15). The goal in resolving issues is maintaining unity and peace in the household of faith. Love does not pretend no problems exist, but adheres to the scriptural pattern in resolving a matter.

People with a critical spirit exempt themselves from Christ's command to love their neighbor. Career fault-finders eventually lapse into the "paralysis of analysis." Their obsession with negativity prevents them from making positive ministry impact in the lives of others. Critics band together and feed off one another instead of investing helpful contributions into the lives of others.

A Critical Spirit Reflects the NATURE OF SATAN.   The word “Devil " means slanderer. Satan slandered God to man in Genesis when he questioned—"Hath God said…” (Gen. 3:1). In effect, he called God a liar. Later, he slandered man to God in the case of Job—"Hast not thou made an hedge about him…But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face" (Job 1:10-11). Maligning and vilifying are inherent in his fallen character.

 

Satan is called a malignant “accuser” of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). Someone said, “He that speaks a slander carries the devil in his tongue. He that receives a slander carries the Devil in his ear." It is not superior “discernment” that causes men to smear the brethren. It is “Earthly, sensual, devilish” wisdom that comes from below (James 3:15). James goes on to say, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (v. 16). Satan is the architect of chaos and confusion. Those caught up in his scheme carry on the evil work of needless contention.


A Critical Spirit DISOBEYS THE WORD. Look at these clear mandates from God’s Word: Speak evil of no man(Titus 3:2). Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law” (James 4:11). “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mat. 12:34).

 

A Critical Spirit CONTAMINATES OTHERS. Public slander, due to the internet, has never been easier. Why would any Christian choose to read a gossip column edited by/for the devil? Evil reports pollute the minds of those who hear these criticisms. You cannot hear God speak when your ears are clogged with the sewage of slander.

 

William Booth put it well, “I am too busy fighting my Lord’s enemies to have time to quarrel with His friends.” If we are accountable for every “idle word”, do you think we will be exempt from giving an account for speaking evil of the brethren? Or reveling in the verbal sludge of the critic?

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  1. Pastor William Lytell
    Apr 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Having been one of these people in my early life and then being a victim of these kind of people in my later life… I appreciate the article and insights of Brother Harold! The higher one gets in God's service the clearer you become as a target!! lol Do something for God and get ready to get blasted by the "do nothings" of this life. There are people in every church that are there to destroy it…oh, they do not know it, but that is their mission. Criticize it till it bleeds, then pick at the blood spot till it dies. Reminds me of my chickens. It has been said by someone that …"a mature Christian walks with a limp". Now I know why I limp so much!!! lol

    Reply to Pastor William Lytell
  2. Sam Hendrickson
    Apr 17, 2014 at 09:23 AM

    While there is some right use of Scripture in this article, it is quite general. Yes that is a critique, but I have no animus directed toward the writer. I am not even sure why I am on this mailing list to receive the email blog posts, but I am not looking to unsubscribe. But, since it is a weblog with open comments, the author is not simply looking for concurring "boy, you sure are right" comments. What the article does is leave questions in the mind of the reader. As a pastor, I am often grateful for critics (though usually not at the moment I hear/read them), even ones who sit behind the anonymity of a keyboard. I am not saying their words are always kind or Christlike, but they do open my mind to avenues of my own faults which I had not traveled before.
    The actual theme of the post seems more to be about those who are publicly slandering this good brother, or the ministry he heads. That is another and different issue--if that were the blog post's title, the original post would make more sense.

    For Christ's Cause and Glory Alone,
    Sam Hendrickson

    Reply to Sam Hendrickson
  3. Mrs. Ben Haupt
    Apr 16, 2014 at 03:31 PM

    What a helpful and much needed reminder! We must stand, but we must stand sweetly!

    A wise man once told my husband and me, "Be strict with yourself, and generous with others,"

    Reply to Mrs. Ben Haupt
  4. Amen, Brother ! You are right on target. A critical spirit causes much damage and leads to a wrong spirit in the church. We need revival, not a quenching of the Spirit.

    Reply to Brian Parker
  5. J. Michael Palmer
    Apr 15, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    This is good word Harold. We should always try to think and speak the best. The area I struggle with is when I come across unsound doctrine or easy believism. Sometimes passion for that which is good and right can be misconstrued as putting down a brother. I struggle in this area and I thank you for the good word. MIKE

    Reply to J. Michael Palmer
  6. matthew skariah
    Apr 15, 2014 at 05:41 PM

    When Christians are on their knees before God in prayer, they will have very little time
    to complain about others. As the people of God, we need to concentrate on our mutual enemy (Satan) who is prowling around to ravage and ransack our lives through distortion, deception, lies and all other forms of carnality. Thank you, brother Vaughan, for your perceptive insight on this matter. Carnal ones are prone to gossip.

    Carnality impedes spiritual progress. As D. L. Moody once said, "I have had more trouble with D.L. Moody than any other man that I have ever known." The immortal words of Leo Tolstoy also come to mind, "Every man wants to change the world but only the best wants to change himself.

    If we cannot encourage someone in the spirit of Christ's love, let us move out of the way and let someone else speak a word of encouragement. As George Matthew Adams tells us that "encouragement is oxygen to the soul."

    Reply to matthew skariah
  7. Pastor Steve Rogers
    Apr 15, 2014 at 04:19 PM

    Much of what is labeled as a critical spirit is simply pointing out the compromise of brethren (and yes despite what some say, IFB brethren do compromise) and warning other brethren not to ascribe to their compromise. While a critical spirit is indeed, speaking evil, speaking the truth to error based in the perfectly GOOD Word of God is often labeled as a critical spirit. The need of the last days is not unity, it is discernment. The Holy Spirit knew this, which is why a majority of the apostolic church epistles contain warnings and rebuke and admonition for doctrinal purity to believers. Fundamentalism as a whole has little appetite to be tested by the scriptures. It was in fact, began by doctrinal reductionism to the lowest point to allow the widest possible attraction. Thus, the number of fundamentals decreased from 16 now down to 5 or so, and even they are watered down.

    While we certainly do have enemies of God without, the Bible is clear that false teachers have "crept in unawares" and false teachers shall "arise among your own selves." Did not doctrinal deviation plague the churches of Galatia and Corinth from within?

    Most of the time, the "critical spirit" card is, like the "racism card," simply a way to distract from actions and practices that are otherwise deemed erroneous when brought into the open, especially under the spotlight of God's Word. The only response or preemptive remedy is to label anyone who challenges that error as unloving and critical. The error is rarely addressed, but the messenger is easily dismissed with the critical spirit card. I'm sure Paul was labeled a critical spirit by many, especially when he confronted Peter publicly about his compromise. There is very little appetite to "try the spirits" for, just like the race card, you can expect to be labeled unloving and having a critical spirit. I imagine that this comment will draw that same reaction. Perhaps though, one or two might not be so hasty to label every voice in their life as a critical spirit.
    Thank you Brother Vaughn for your ministry. I was impressed, however, to add these thoughts.

    Reply to Pastor Steve Rogers