Thursday Thought — Deception through Flattery

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


They make much of you, but for no good purpose.  They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. Galatians 4:17 ESV

Paul is cluing these clueless Galatians — and us — into the methods and motive of the abusive man who comes into the church to enslave Christ’s people.  The thing is VERY consistent and such abusive men use the very same tactics today.  Expect it!

  1. First, they are flatterers. . .  “They make much of you.”  It is dangerous to allow flattery to puff us up because this is one of the THE most common traits of the wolf.  Deception through flattery.
  2. But for no good purpose.  Their motive is “no good.”  At the heart of their flattery is a wicked motive. (Psalm 5:9, Psalm 12:2)
  3. They want to shut you out. Here, the Apostle identifies their motive.  Through flattery and deception, the abusive man or woman desires to “shut out” his victims. . .The false teacher, the abusive man, hates the freedom we have in Christ.  He introduces his own “gospel.” therefore to shut us out from that freedom so that we can then be made his slaves.  He becomes, you might say, our “priest” through whom we must go and whose dictates we must obey if we are to get set right with God.
  4. Now, the ultimate goal of the abusive — “that you may make much of them.”  In other words, the abuser’s end goal is to be as God.
    To be worshipped and praised.
    This is why we in the church of Jesus Christ MUST BE wise to the abusive man’s tactics.  Such a person is very, very often drawn to the church because he or she craves the worship that is being offered there to Christ — for himself.  Literal worship happens in the church.  What better place for a wolf to operate his evil instruments of deception so that this worship is redirected to him!

[Excerpt from Ps Crippen’s domestic violence sermon series, The Psychology and Methods of Sin: sermon titled “They Want You to Make Much of Them”.  Complete sermon and PDF can be found here.]


7 thoughts on “Thursday Thought — Deception through Flattery”

  1. That’s amazing and so spot on. I did read this verse before, but flew over it without noticing the meaning or its relevance to my life! I love how the Lord has shown me so many things I badly needed to understand here.
    I often wondered as a new Christian (just a few years new at the time I met my abuser), why the stuff my church taught did not resonate, felt fake, and was downright confusing or even glaringly opposite to what the Bible says!! I had to build a big cognitive dissonance between the discomfort and confusion in my spirit, and the ‘who do you think you are, baby Christian..” thought that always popped in my head.

    It’s the very same cognitive dissonance we build with our resident abusers (the husband, his family, mother etc). I’m amazed how the Lord is faithful and took me from that to now…always faithful, no matter how unfaithful, confused, doubting I have been. I am so very grateful and so much more confident and secure when I look back through the years, that I have a Daddy who’s ‘got me’ no matter what. And Paul summons it up in a sentence so precisely. I am able to take these tools now and apply them to people and situations and make better decisions. That’s what the Bible is all about, our Father’s love and instruction for us so we do well, are safe, and enjoy the blessing of life with Him firmly in the center.

    Abusers hijack His Love Letter, turn it into a Tool of Oppression to ENSLAVE us to them and take God’s place in our lives. (Is this not the very goal of Satan??) And the reason why they can pull off this absurd con is because they do it in the very church! It’s so genius in it’s simplicity. But God is never outsmarted of course and He does not want us to be either!!!! I learned on this blog this: Examine carefully leaders. (God’s command). Do they have the spirit of Christ? God’s shepherds serve, don’t seek adoration, put sheep first, and are of gentle and humble heart. They are transparent and open to questioning. Abuser / impostor wants to be first, adored, tells you not to question him (think), and uses rather than serves.

    This wonderful ministry and all the resources from truthful books will and already are equipping me to also teach my children and help them be not only harmless as a dove (that’s where abuser wants us to stop), but to equally be wise as serpents. Anything less is not of God. Thank you so much for all you do, guys, you are an incredible blessing.

  2. All points so very true.
    1) Flatterer – He sure had a lot of nice words to say. Lonely as I was, I fell for it.
    2) But it was for no good purpose but to lure me in and keep me in the dark.
    3) Shut out – He lived life like he was single, shutting me out at every turn. I just added bondage to my loneliness. Having children was a blessing, but just made him jealous. It interfered with the next point.
    4) To be made much of – He loved attention, and expected me to praise every little thing he did, and if he didn’t do anything, I was still supposed to tell him how wonderful he was. Same at church. He’s the expert in his field, and I heard the private wrath on people who didn’t consult him first before making their purchases or fixes. He also craves the worship of the children. When it isn’t there, instead of finding out why, he just throws a fit. What a trial this desire to be made much of has been to our lives. Thank goodness I have the Bible to encourage and keep my focus where it should be, on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    1. Moving Forward, that’s precisely my story too, to the T. You described it so well, thank you.
      In a healthy relationship with a man who’s focus is on Christ first, this will never happen. So for me this will be a great warning and a big red flag from now on.

  3. This is very spot on with some of the abusers / narcissists I have encountered. First they seek to win your heart with flattery and attention – then they turn their back on you, expecting you to grovel before them. The, back-stabbing and seeking to destroy your reputation.
    Sadly, when it happens with someone from another culture (who supposedly is a devout Christian), it may be harder to recognize the deceit – it is easy to brush it all off as cultural differences.
    Sadly, no cultural difference justifies cruelty, backstabbing and shameless profiteering. Those may be more common in some cultures (just Google Bezness…), but acceptable, never. Evil is evil.

  4. Yes.

    1) He always knew the “right” things to say…and usually said these things in public. While it sounded nice, it seemed to do more for him then me (the object of his flattery). always felt slimy, like – what was I to owe him for this later or how was I to reciprocate after what I had just been handed, in public, with people now fawning over him. “Wow, what a keeper!” “What a gem.” “You picked a good one, there.” gag

    2) See above. No good purpose because I have learned that in EVERYTHING one can boil it down to this: “What’s in it for him?” As previously stated (above) it didn’t come freely nor honestly. Now I owed him (usually sexually). And at any rate…he was polishing his shiny exterior.

    3) Being shut out was maybe the most damaging side effect. He the extrovert. Me the introvert. By continuing to praise me in public and me being naturally quiet and withdrawn it served to increase the perception of the chasm in my personality to those who did not know me well. “She’s so cold and unfriendly.” I remember taking the Myers Briggs test (more than once) and being surprised to see that where once my introversion was more balanced it was now startlingly lopsided and heavy. I chalked it up to aging, thinking that I was becoming reclusive due to “old age” – yes, me, in my late 30s early 40’s just preferring the “quiet life.” Now I know better. He was isolating me and exaggerating the effect both in public and at home.

    4) He is a vacuum. If there is attention to be had – he will draw it unto himself. I remember the first glimpse I had that something was not just “off” it was “very wrong” with him…or us…or our marriage. We were having an argument that spun off from a discussion. I had an opinion and observation about marriage and life and it differed greatly from his. He didn’t just not like it or disagree…he was taking it personally. I can remember nearly everything about the argument – like it was frozen in time. We were standing in the kitchen and he stopped the discussion and right there in the middle of the conversation demanded: “I need you to tell me good things about me, why you love me, why you married me. Right now! Do it.” I was stunned. And I faltered. I had to go all the way back to our pre-marital counseling, our wedding reception and the speeches we made about each other from years ago. It was scary. And it was the first time I thought: something is REALLY wrong. Who does that?! Why am I struggling with this? Now I know…”What’s in it for him?” answers all behaviors. All of them.

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