Rebuke/Admonish vs. Accusations

A few days ago I read this post from Internet Monk-

Jesus is the constant mediator. Jesus is the constant advocate.

Satan is the constant accuser…

Have you thought what the devil would do if he took to the pulpit of a church?

…But if Satan were true to his nature, he would be the “accuser” of the family of God.

He would accuse us of not being the children of God; of not being worthy or righteous; of having no right to call upon the Lord and no hope of standing before him in judgment. If he followed the script in the book of Job, he would say God has bribed us, and that we are really nothing more than self-centered mercenaries. If he followed the script he used with Jesus (and Adam/Eve), he would question what God had said and explore our doubts that God is worthy of trust and obedience.

In the end, he would accuse us of not loving God as we should, of loving other things more than God, of being false professors, of needing to examine ourselves to see what sin and hypocrisy are in us.

He would torment us with our inadequacies, torture us with our disobedience and trounce us with our sins.

Satan would, if true to his nature, revel in announcing that we are unjust, unholy, unloving, ungracious, uncaring, unworthy in every way.

But wait……

Doesn’t that sound a lot like the message many Christians hear all the time? From….other Christians?

It reminded me of the OF/YF thread. Do you think in IFBism there has been a lack of balance between expository preaching and ‘correctional’ preaching from the pulpit? Is expository preaching more than enough for the congregation, so that God via the Holy Spirit does the convicting? IOW, should the pulpit be used for broad stroke rebukes of the congregation?

Thinkin’ out loud here…

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BryanBice's picture

Now there's some food for thought.... How absolutely critical that the Word be preached accurately and as God intended!

Ron Bean's picture

The difference between admonishment and accusation from the pulpit is often revealed by the preacher's use of pronouns. The accuser uses the word "you" (as in, "you don't pray enough") while the admonisher uses the word "we".

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Eric R.'s picture


I believe I see your point, and it is a good one. I have certainly heard preaching at times that effectively was "you are a bad person and you need to start trying harder to be better because that's what Christians do." Nothing could be further from the gospel in my mind!

To me, the differences between reproof/rebuke/correction and accusation/berating are (among other things)...

1) The motivation offered: Accusation says "You should be doing better because you need to be a good person and you're not!" Rebuke says, "You are not like Christ in this area, so you need to behold Christ, so that you might know Him more and love Him more, so that He can change you more into His image and you will put off this sin."

2) The hope offered: Accusation discourages and leaves despondent; Rebuke points to the problem as well as the solution - Christ!

3) The motivation of the speaker: An accuser "revels" in telling us of our sin; A rebuker mourns over the injury to Christ and the suffering of the sinner and pleads for repentance.

As for Correctional vs. Expository preaching, I don't believe there should be any balance at all. ALL preaching should be expository (meaning the method of preaching, not the method of choosing what to preach), and as the preacher systematically unfolds Scripture (which is ALL "profitiable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness) then the Holy Spirit will wield His sword as only He can. If the Pastor feels there is a specific problem in the congregation that needs addressed, he had better deal with it by expositing Scripture, and certainly not simply telling the congregation what he thinks ought to happening or not. That, I believe is where some preachers get into trouble. Also, "broad strokes" on specific issues could leave some people (who may not struggle in that area) confused or feeling beat up, depending on how it is handled.

Quote: "In the end, he [Satan ] would accuse us of not loving God as we should, of loving other things more than God, of being false professors, of needing to examine ourselves to see what sin and hypocrisy are in us."

Is that not what Christ does in His Word? When He commands us to love God with all our heart, is He not saying that in some way we aren't? Who among us always loves God as we should? If we had no sin, there would be nothing to rebuke. Also, Christ Himself commands us to examine ourselves, so let's not ascribe that one to Satan!

I think there is a line that can be crossed where, because of an exclusive emphasis on the reality of our justification and position in Christ, we think we don't ever need to be told by another human (i.e. a preacher) that we're anything less than perfect. May we always accept rebuke with humility and may we always be pointed to our only need and only hope - Christ!

Susan R's picture


I appreciate your comments, Eric. Some other thoughts that came to mind as I was contemplating this topic was that I hear a reflection of how some people train and correct their children in preaching. For instance, a parent who calls their child a name or says "What's the matter with you?" when they misbehave, instead of giving the child specific instruction as to what the parent expects. So from pulpits, when I hear what I would consider to be name-calling or a "What's the matter with you people?" kind of message, I cringe inside. Folks need to hear the Biblical foundations on which we base our Christian conduct, and the Holy Spirit gets the job of picking and choosing what areas of each person's life need to be addressed. When that isn't being done, 'scolding' serves no purpose except to injure and discourage.

I recall one message in particular years ago where a preacher went on and on about all the wickedness in Hollywood- his favorite phrases were "tramps", "whores", and "Sodomites". While I agree in principle, that 'Hollywood' is soaked to the bone in sin in a shameless and flamboyant manner, I'd rather hear the focus on the fact that those people are doing what lost people do- looking for satisfaction by desperately attempting to fulfill the lusts of their flesh. I want my kids to abhor evil, but have compassion on the lost, not snub their nose at them as if Christians are a superior carbon-based life form- KWIM?

I also remember a preacher talking about his wife teaching the ladies of his church, and the phrase he used was that she regularly "ripped them a new one". I about fell off my pew, and from the (what I perceived to be) shocked silence, I think a whole lotta other people were sitting there thinking "Did he just say what I think he said?" Not only would I not want to sit under someone who had that goal in mind, but the phrase itself is crass and I shuddered that my kids heard it. I've objected in the past to things said from the pulpit that were ill-considered because of the presence of children, and the response was that the kids probably weren't paying attention and it was our job as parents to explain what the preacher meant. Well, having lost my crystal ball the last time we moved, I don't really know what the preacher meant, all I know is what he SAID.

This kind of monkey business in the pulpit is why my dh and I have had to search so long and hard for a good church that we felt we could settle into and feel safe with our kids in the congregation- that's just crazy, IMO.

As for preaching methods, I prefer expository preaching, but I don't have a problem with topical preaching at times, as long as it is thorough and isn't consumed with being clever.