Few Christians know that the sin of flattery is made very prominent in the
Word of God. Flattering lips are the expression of the corrupt and deceitful
heart of man. Of the wicked it is written, “They flatter with their lips” (Psalm
5:9). It is at best a form of lying— “they did flatter him with their mouth, and
they lied unto him with their tongues” (Psalm 78:36).
The Book of Proverbs has repeated reference to flattery. “A man that
flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet” (Proverbs 29:5) Because
flattering words feed the pride of man, flattery generally produces that pride
and self-exaltation which God is bound to deal with in His children.
Flattery may succeed for a time, but ultimately its vile and nauseating
character will come to light. “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find
more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue” (Proverbs 28:23).
Therefore the warning, “meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips,”
(Proverbs 20:19) and more than that, “a flattering mouth worketh ruin” (Prov
Furthermore we read that flattery will be one of the leading sins of the Last
Days and a prominent characteristic of the apostates. Of this the Twelve
Psalm speaks prophetically. “Help Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the
faithful fail among the children of men.” “Help, LORD; for the godly man
ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak
vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double
heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue
that speaketh proud things…” (Psalms 12:1-3. How well Elihu spoke to Job
when he said, “neither let me give flattering titles unto man” (Job 32:21).
The coming “Man of Sin” will use flatteries first, and like Antiochus
Epiphanies obtains the kingdom by flatteries. (See Daniel 11:21, 34)
But finally all flattery will be dealt with by the Lord for it is written, “The
LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud
things” (Psalm 12:3).
Flattering lips are Satan’s most subtle poison. They speak in the world of
the “poison pen,” meaning thereby the pen that spreads false reports. The
flattering pen is a thousand times worse. The world which lieth in the Wicked
one loves flattery, seeks it, enjoys it. But a child of God, if walking in
the Spirit, hates and despiseth all flatteries and turns from them with
disgust. To use flattery is all-together unworthy of a Christian. In that
beautiful portrayal of the model servant, serving incessantly and in humility,
we read the great Apostle’s confession– “For neither at any time used we
flattering words,” (1Thess 2:5).
The greatest harm which can be done to a servant of the Lord Jesus
Christ is to flatter him and praise him to his face. Long ago we have
recognized this danger and many a letter containing flattering words was
thrown into the waste basket unread and unanswered. The usefulness of a
true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ depends on his humility; as soon as he
thinks of himself as a great man, and is puffed up, the Spirit is grieved and
the real power of his ministry will be gone. And how many have fallen into
this snare! We have seen some sad examples. We have watched the downfall
of some through flattering lips. To acknowledge blessing received through
ministry, to thank the Lord for His grace and for His gifts, that is another
matter entirely. To tell an evangelist (as it was recently done) that he was as
great as the Apostle Paul, is as ridiculous as it is evil. But this boasting in
men is the leading feature of our Laodicean days. One who walks in
Philadelphian separation, owns One and exalts One above everything
else, and confesseth only his weakness and is content to be nothing, nor
does he seek the applause of others. (Revelation 3:7-10).
May the Lord keep His people, and especially His servants, in the path of
humility and dependence on Him, and save us all from pride and
— A C Gaebelein