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Touch Not the Lord's Anointed
Republished November 13, 2003 (First published February 10, 1997)
Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following article, "Touch Not the Lord's Anointed," is by Dennis Costella, Director of the Fundamental Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 6278, Los Osos, Calif. 93412 --

Clever "one-liner's" and biblical phrases lifted out of context are heard on every hand today. More often than not, they tend to encourage what God has forbidden, or discourage what God's Word has commanded. As Bible believers, we must exercise great care when we speak to an issue. Our response must be with the correct application of Truth, and not with a commonly used idiom that unwarily pops into the mind and rolls easily off the tongue. We will mention a few that are especially deceptive.

"TOUCH NOT THE LORD'S ANOINTED!" Time and again we hear this cry parroted as a counter to those who attempt to alert the unsuspecting of the dangerous, unbiblical teachings of a particular ministry. As a result, key religious figures fall into a category that is apparently safe from scriptural examination; since their ministries influence millions, they MUST be God's anointed--don't you dare "touch" them!

If you give a warning about doctrinal inconsistencies within the programs headed by men such as Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jimmy Swaggart or even the pope, you can be sure that in the estimation of many, the moment the word of caution was uttered, you became guilty of "touching the Lord's anointed"! This indictment sounds ominous to say the least, but the question still remains, "What does God's Word have to say about this?" That's what really matters.

A look at the actual context from which this phrase is lifted provides clear-cut proof that scriptural reproof and rebuke does NOT constitute "touching God's anointed" at all. In fact, God made sure that Saul was forced to face up to his compromise. The ministry of the King of Israel was judged according to the Lord's commandments, and no man today is exempt from this same kind of biblical scrutiny.

David refused to slay King Saul with the sword, even though in doing so, he would rid himself of his arch enemy, and also clear the way for his own ascent to the throne of Israel (1 Sam. 24:1-15). God, not David, would remove Saul in His time and in His way (26:8-10). But some say there is a "secondary application" found in this text which would also bar ANY negative comment about another's far-reaching ministry, for this, too, would constitute "speaking against" one of God's servants and is, in essence, "touching God's anointed." Is this a viable, secondary application? Absolutely not!

Samuel certainly "touched God's anointed," if by that you mean speaking out against his disobedience (1 Sam. 15:20). God told Saul to "Smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not..." (1 Sam. 15:3). But under a pretext of pious intention, he "... spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord..." (v. 15). Partial obedience--Samuel said it was tantamount to witchcraft and idolatry! TO OBEY is better than sacrifice!!!

Saul had a very visible testimony that affected all of God's people. When he failed to minister according to the absolute standard, God's faithful prophet was commanded to cry out against the error. Take his life--no, rebuke his sins--yes! Let's get straight what the Bible forbids in this account, and what it demands. Scriptural reproof and rebuke of a disobedient brother is not "touching God's anointed." It is compliance with God's order.

"JUDGE NOT THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED" is another example of a frequently misapplied scripture. It is invariably quoted as a response to any attempt at exercising spiritual discernment when the rest of the passage from which the phrase is taken in Matthew seven is considered, it is found that it is hypocritical judgment which is disallowed, not the act of judging itself. On the contrary, spiritual judgment is required by this text, not forbidden (Matt. 7:1-23).

True, much "judging" today by Christians is displeasing to the Lord, for it is carried out in a censorious, critical spirit bent on causing injury rather than edification; it is set on character assassination rather than doctrinal clarification. That's wrong and the Bible warns about such fleshly behavior. But in no way does this preclude the believer's responsibility to judge, or discern, what is acceptable to an all-holy God as revealed in His holy Word. A circumspect walk requires the identification of those teachings and practices to be avoided. You simply cannot do this without judgment.

"WE WILL EITHER STAND TOGETHER OR WE WILL HANG SEPARATELY" is often advanced by the new-evangelical, and sad to say even by some supposed fundamentalists, in an effort to justify unbiblical fellowships while opposing common enemies. Fundamentalists today join in common cause, not only with compromised brethren, but also with liberals and outright cultists to fight immorality, abortion or other evils. But has God suspended His guidelines for separation from whatever is contrary to doctrinal purity for the sake of added political or theological clout? No!

The fact remains, God will bless the testimony of a separated witness, and will perform His will in and through it, rather than condone an alliance built upon compromise. The notion that a visible unity wields more influence with the powers of this world is humanistic reasoning, not divine revelation. Stand true! Stand alone if need be! In so doing, you need never fear being "hung" by anyone as long as your sole confidence is in God, and not in the strategy of men.

God's Word still declares that the source of power in opposing the evil of our day comes from absolute dependence on the arm of God, not on the concerted efforts of men. The biblical doctrine of separation is based on the premise that the holiness of God will never allow for the joining together of that which is true to the Word, and what is contrary to the Word in a common cause, regardless of how righteous or needful it might appear to be. The end does not justify the means in Christian ministry.

"THE CHRISTIAN ARMY IS THE ONLY ONE THAT SHOOTS ITS WOUNDED." We have heard this last phrase all too often in recent years. What is usually implied by this phrase is that a Christian should NEVER speak in a negative way about any other brother, regardless of what error the latter may be involved in. On at least two occasions, the above statement was used at Billy Graham's big Itinerant Evangelist's Conference held in Amsterdam last summer. This was one of the major dangers of that conference--the concerted effort to silence any form of Scriptural rebuke.

It's sad when biblical exhortation is equated to "taking pot shots" at another. God's Word tells the faithful servant to "... reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2); with respect to the disobedient brother we are to "... note that man, and have no company with him... yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thess. 3:6,14-15). This is not "shooting the wounded"; it is employing God's methodology for healing the breach caused by straying from the divine Standard!

Let's earnestly endeavor, by God's grace and through the light of His Word, to answer all that concerns our walk and witness with Truth correctly applied. Quaint sayings make for easy responses, but if the responses themselves are unbiblical, then we must be very careful of their use. Misrepresentations of truth are hard to dispel.

[Note: A different, but similarly named, report "
Touch Not God's Anointed," exists. Please use our search engine to locate it.]

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