Creflo Dollar - Manipulation
We've been talking about character and integrity and character, and we've been talkin' about the fruit of the Spirit and how it fits, and I wanna talk about one of those character flaws that people seem to just overlook, and it's the character flaw of manipulation. Manipulation. I wanna deal with that tonight. So if you have your Bibles, go to Galatians chapter 5:19-21, and as I talk about this, I wanna set it up first so that we can kind of get on the same page for a definition of manipulation and how it's used. So, first of all, there are many people who do use anger to get things done. I know a lot of people who use anger to get things done. I used to use anger to get things done, but I've gotta tell you somethin', it is manipulation. It is manipulation. If you can use something of the flesh and to try to get things done, it's manipulation.
Now, let me give you a little technical definition of manipulation, and then we'll break it down to a very practical one. First of all, "manipulation," it means "to handle something skillfully". It takes skill to be a manipulator. It means "to manage artfully or shrewdly, to manage artfully or shrewdly, or even cleverly, often in an unfair way". It means "to falsify for one's own purpose". I like that: "to falsify for one's own purpose".
Now, if ya have to make someone feel guilty, if you have to shame somebody, if you have to make someone feel guilty and feel bad to get them to do what you think they should do, you are manipulating them. Yeah, it happens sometimes in marriages that a wife or a husband uses anger, or they do somethin' to make you feel bad to try to get you to do something, getting you to feel condemned to try to get you to do somethin' or, basically, really tryin' to get you to do what you want them to do, manipulating them, tryin' to get... you're sitting there, using guilt, using, you know, makin' people feel bad to get them to do what you think they should do. So it's really all about you. Manipulation is based in selfishness. Manipulation is based in self-centeredness to try to get them to do what you think they should do. If that's the case, you are manipulating.
Now, so whatever immediate results, let's just say, you know, you were manipulating them, and they end up doin' what you wanted them to do. Here's the problem: Whatever immediate results you get, you will eventually lose it. Whatever immediate results you get, so while you're patting yourself on the back and congratulating yourself for being a manipulator, whatever results you get, you will eventually lose it. So if you have to use anger, if you have to shame somebody, if you gotta make somebody feel bad, if you have to use those things to get someone to hear or to understand you, again, you are using manipulation, and it will eventually backfire. Manipulation will eventually backfire, and it happens a lot.
If you find someone who likes to play the victim, that's manipulation. Someone who, no matter what happens, you know, they make it all about them, that's manipulation. And manipulation, the results are not long-lasting. And manipulation, the results will eventually backfire on you. And so God calls this type of manipulation, he calls it, watch this, "witchcraft". It's a result of the flesh. Let me read Galatians 5:19 through 21, 5:19-21. He says, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft," or manipulation.
See, that's a work of the flesh, witchcraft or manipulation. You know, we think more of, you know, the "spells," but, you know, when you manipulate people through makin' 'em feel guilty or all that kind of stuff, you're literally tryin' to cast a spell on them through your manipulation, and the Bible says that is a work of the flesh, and we've got to know it's a work of the flesh 'cause I'mma say some things here. I wanna settle that. Galatians 5:19, says that witchcraft is a work of the flesh. Please understand, idolatry is when you give something value that's greater than God. When you give, you know, idolatry used to be, you know, the wooden images on your fireplace, but now idolatry is exalting something with more value above God and putting it first place, and that could be everything from money, to sex, to social media, to yourself. That's what idolatry is all about. Manipulation or witchcraft, they are forces that operate from the flesh. Now, it's not even a spiritual force.
You know, manipulation is not even a spiritual force. It's a force of the flesh. Think of that. Manipulation is not even a spiritual force. It is a force of the flesh. It uses the flesh power to get things to change. Think of that now. Let's look at that for a moment. Manipulation is not even a spiritual force. It is a force deriving from the flesh. It uses the flesh's power to get things to change. Rather than using your trust in God to get things to change, you use manipulation of flesh power to try to get things to change, and so you try to change people by using guilt, using anger. Manipulation is a flesh force, not a spiritual force. It's not a spiritual force like faith. It's not a spiritual force like love. It is a flesh force. So that's what witchcraft is. Witchcraft is a demonic substitute for spiritual power. Witchcraft is a demonic substitute for spiritual power.
Now, you're listenin' to me, but if I were to practically break this down, this stuff is happening all over our society. It's people who are saying, "I need a substitute for spiritual power," and they're comin' up with all of these weird kind of things, somehow thinking that it's gonna generate the same thing that the spiritual force does. It's not. It's fleshy. It's not even spiritual. Witchcraft is not even spiritual. It's fleshy. And instead of using the Word and the fruit of the Spirit to change something, we use the flesh, we use anger, we use hatred, we use manipulation, we use guilt, and so on, and these works produce death and not life. And whatever results we get from them, they won't even last long. So that's the interesting thing. You use flesh force, and if you do get some kind of results, it's not gon' last long.
And most people I know who are trying to substitute spiritual things or substitute spiritual power with witchcraft or manipulation, they end up worse than when they started. They get some results, but then somehow, down the line, they're more depressed, they're more oppressed, they're in a worse situation, they're more addictive, lasciviousness has come in, because, when you use flesh power, then you open yourself for all of the manifestations of the flesh. Lasciviousness is one of the manifestations of the flesh. Lasciviousness is this no restraints. You can't find the brakes. You can't find the brakes to say, "Stop". So these works of the flesh produce death and not life. It produces death and not life. And whatever results you get, they won't even last long. So when we recognize, and you do have to come to the point of recognizin'.
When you recognize how ineffective the works of the flesh are, then we will break the cycle of operating in the flesh. When you start recognizing how ineffective the works of the flesh are, you're only gonna be able to get somebody to do somethin' through guilt for a while before they wake up and say, "I'm tired of you makin' me feel guilty". You're only going to be able to use your anger to try to get somebody to do somethin' for a point until they say, "You know what, I don't even wanna have anything to do with your anger anymore". And so it'll turn back on you.
Now, I don't want you to get discouraged because some may say, "I understand the importance of being free from anger. I understand the importance of being free from manipulation, but I have a real struggle with things," and I hear ya, I hear ya. "I don't know if I can change, and I don't know how to change," and that's the dilemma of a lot of people in the world. "I don't know if I can change," and "I don't even know how to change," and that goes back to that sense of powerlessness. When a person feels powerless, that powerlessness is the root to every negative emotion, and when you feel powerless, that's the root of every negative emotion, basically, what you're saying is "I don't have the power to change, I don't have the power to change, I don't believe I have power to change".
And I'm telling you, you do have the power to change. Jesus gave you the authority, and as you focus and learn more about who you are in Christ Jesus, that is what releases the power of God in your life to change. So you don't wanna have this sense of powerlessness. You don't wanna have the sense of powerlessness where "I don't feel like I can change," or "I don't know how to change". You are no longer powerless once you have Christ in your life. But if you continue down that road of flesh force, then you're also goin' to increase those feelings of powerlessness where "I just don't feel like I can change. I want to, but I just don't feel like I can". And I'm telling you, you can, but you're gonna have to drop the manipulation, drop the witchcraft, drop the flesh force. Get back into the spiritual force of God's power, and you can change because God will equip you to do so.
Now, I know, you know, I'm sure there are people that "Oh, I don't agree with that, oh, that's the biggest stuff". Listen, I'm showing you the Word. I'm teaching you what the Word says. You're gonna have to decide to believe it or not. You not believin' what I'm saying is not gon' change what I'm sayin'. I mean, are you serious? You gotta decide. You gotta get in the Bible just like I did. You gotta research it, and you gotta decide, you know, whose report you're gonna believe. You're gonna either believe the world and in the flesh that that the world operates in, or you're gonna believe God and his Word in the Spirit.
And you say, "Well, most people don't believe". That's true. I mean, that's true. There's the largest percentage that the world has ever seen of people that don't believe God and don't believe the Bible. I get it. But just because that percentage is high, you know, doesn't mean it's the truth, and I'm stickin' with God. Like I told you, I'mma stay with God. I'm stayin' with Jesus. I'm stayin' with his Word. I'm not gonna change because a large part of the world's population has decided they don't believe in God, they don't believe in heaven, they don't believe in Jesus, they don't believe in hell, they don't believe in Satan. They don't believe nothin'.
And I remind you again and again, you're gonna die one day, and that's where it's all gonna be settled... hah. You're gonna die one day, and it's gonna be settled, and I can promise you, when you die, you're gonna wish you were a believer. My job is clear. I'm gonna cry loud like a trumpet. I'm gonna teach with such intensity until I can win some. I'm not gon' win everybody 'cause I'mma stick with the Word. You'll never change that from me, and I probably may not change, from you, change somethin' that you believe in, but I'm prayin', and I'm believin' the Holy Ghost will do it 'cause what I can't do, I have a partner, an unseen partner who is very successful at changin' hearts of people and causin' people to believe the way they need to believe.
Now I wanna take you to three sections of manipulation. Number one, I wanna give you some Scriptures that really give us a reason to be watchful. Watch out for manipulation. You know, manipulation is happening in the world. Watch out for manipulation. Look what it says. I'm gonna do several Scriptures under each heading. The first one, watch out for manipulation. Let's see what it is that we need to be watchin' out and how to do that. Well, 2 Corinthians chapter 11:14, he says, "But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light". Isn't that something? To try to manipulate. You know Satan is the great manipulator. I mean, when you're talkin' about the works of the flesh, you're talkin' about the works of the devil, and he is still tryin' to deceive people. He says, "Even Satan disguises himself as a angel of light".
See, he says, "So don't even be surprised". Be watchful. Watch out for the manipulation. People can change and look like they're awesome and godly and all that stuff. He said, "Be aware of manipulators". All right, look at Galatians chapter 1:8-9. He says, "Let God's curse fall on", he said, "Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you," that's Paul. Paul's preachin' the gospel of grace, and he says, you know, "Even an angel that comes and preaches any other different Gospel, let him be accursed". He says, "I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let the person be cursed". In other words, again, he's sayin', "Watch out now, watch out".
Here's one way to tell: If they're comin' to preach any other Gospel except the Gospel that Paul preached, he said, "let them be accursed". He said it back-to-back. He said it in verse 8 and verse 9, the same thing: "If they preach any other Gospel than the one that Paul preached," he said, "let them be accursed". He said, "Don't be manipulated into thinking that it's gonna be okay," because, in order for you to believe another Gospel, somebody's gotta manipulate you away from the true Gospel. Be watchful. Now look at Matthew chapter 7, verse 15. Matthew chapter 7, verse 15. He says, "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves". You know what he's sayin' there? There will be people who will put on disguise so they can manipulate.
See, he's tryin' to show you "Beware of manipulators. They'll put disguises on so they can manipulate you, so they can", I like the definition we gave in the very beginning, "so they can falsify for their own purpose," a'ight? Look at Romans 16, in 18: "Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests". Okay, manipulators serve their own personal interests. So when you meet people who are in their own circle and they're not concerned about you being a part of their circle, "Such people are not serving Christ. They are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people". This is all warning, all warning that says, "Watch out for manipulators". He's giving you key things to look at. Self-interest might be one of those things you check out.
Look at 2 Peter chapter 2:1. Is it worth goin' through these Scriptures? Yeah, I need you to meditate on these Scriptures. Do your own study. Don't just sit and listen to me. Open it up, and do your own study. Look at 2 Peter chapter 2:1, "But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destructions," watch this, "on themselves". I tell you, the manipulation, it backfires. It comes back on you. And, you know, the Bible says that, in the last days, they're gonna be calling right, "wrong," and wrong, "right". The same thing, true, in the last day, they're calling the real prophets, "false prophets," and they're calling the false prophets, "real prophets". And God is saying, "Watch out for the manipulator". I'm giving you signals here to pay attention to.
Look at Luke 16:15, "Then he said to them, 'You like to appear righteous in public,'" oh, there's another key, people that like to appear righteous in public, "but God knows your heart. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God". He said the world honors somethin' that is detestable in God's sight. You gotta look at what the world honors. The world honors things that are detestable in God's sight. He says, "Don't fall for that. Don't be manipulated into that. Don't try to become that". What are some things that the world honors that you think are detestable before God? Wow, wow, like self-interest. World honors that, but it's detestable in the sight of God, amen. Let's look at the second category, the help you need. What kind of help do you need in the midst of the great manipulation?
Well, look at Ephesians chapter 6, verse 16 and 17. He says, "In addition to all these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil". Verse 17, "Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the word of the Spirit, which is the word of God". You know what he says here? He gives you the answer: The way to avoid bein' manipulated by anyone is by learning the Word of God and using it to your advantage. And Ephesians says this is the help that you need: You need the Word. You need the Word, and I tell you, as a Christian person who is ignorant of God's Word, you are not going to be free from the captivity of manipulation 'cause you don't know the Word of God. And when you don't know the Word of God, and I'm talkin' about knowing it, rightly dividing it.
When you don't know how to rightly divide the Word of God, you are gonna be a candidate for manipulation, and that's what's happened. You got all kinds of people sayin' all kinds of stuff 'cause they've fallen victim to manipulation, and they have no idea what they're saying 'cause they don't know the Word of God. And so that's one help you need. 2 Timothy 3:16, says, "All Scripture is inspired by God", that word "inspires" means God-breathed. You'll hear people say, "Well, man wrote the Bible". No, God breathed it. In other words, he inspired it, and man wrote it down. Man didn't have that kind of intellect to be able to write what we see in the Bible now. God breathed it. He said, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful, it's useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives". That is powerful. And that's the help you need. You need the Word of God to teach you what is true and what is wrong and what is right in our lives.