How to Confront Emotional Manipulation

Have you ever been seduced by a manipulator? Tricked and deceived by flattery and charm only to later discover that the relationship was built on lies? It’s devastating when all of a sudden affirmation and attention turn into criticism, angry outbursts or silent treatment and other mind games.

When deceit, malicious behavior and abuse occur, reconciling your emotions with your new awareness of reality is difficult and painful.

What does God’s Word say about all this? What does the Bible say about manipulation? So often when I want to find out what God‘s Word says about a certain topic I do a word search in an online concordance. But the word manipulation is not used in the Bible.

That happens a lot. When words that are common in our culture today are not in the Bible, it makes it more difficult to find out what God says about certain topics. While the word manipulation may not be in the Bible, the Bible has much to say about control, deceit and evil agendas.

Think Jezebel. Everyone knows how evil she was. She was an original narcissist. A sweet-talking, love-bombing, gaslighter who probably set the idealization, devalue and discard merry-go-round in motion.

Bottom line. Manipulation and deceit. Are. Evil.

But here’s the deal—a Jezebel spirit cannot function without someone who is willing to comply. In order for a Jezebel spirit to operate, there has to be an agreeable partner. For Jezebel, that person was her husband, Ahab. And here’s where this whole puppet act gets tangled. Even though Ahab was the passive partner, God still considered him responsible.

Wait. What? It’s easy to see that Jezebel was wicked, but Ahab? What did he do?

Jezebel was the evil one. She stirred him up. She persuaded, provoked, enticed and seduced him. But Ahab didn’t confront Jezebel’s sin. He surrendered to her domination and turned a blind eye.  

1 Kings 21:25 reports, “But there was no one like Ahab who sold (committed, devoted) himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.”

Ahab was the passive one and yet the Bible called him evil. He permitted Jezebel’s manipulation and control by his refusal to confront her.

Here’s what Steve Sampson has to say about passivity. In his book, Discerning and Defeating the Ahab Spirit: The Key to Breaking Free from Jezebel, he writes: “Passive people are not evil people, but they become allies of evil people by not pushing up against the active forces of evil.”

Please hear me. I’m not bringing this all up to put a guilt trip on you. That is not my intent at all. My agenda is this: I want you to see your God-given rights and responsibilities to stand up to evil. Manipulators can only gain power by seducing the innocent to accomplish their agenda. If you feel trapped by control and deceit, it’s time to stand up.

Maybe you’re married and you’ve misinterpreted scriptures about submission. Maybe you’ve thought that it’s wrong to confront your husband. That if love covers a multitude of sins that you should be silent, forgive and pray.

Manipulators can only gain power by seducing the innocent to accomplish their agenda.

Submission does not mean we are to surrender to evil behavior. The Bible has instructions for confronting sin. Matthew 18:14 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

According to this passage, is your husband or fiancé considered a brother? If so, I hope you see that the Bible gives clear instruction for addressing sin. You don’t have to be subservient to sinful behavior just because a covenant or promise of marriage exists. 

Can I challenge you to look at confrontation from a different perspective? Confrontation is scriptural. It is an act of kindness because we care enough to encourage someone to remove sin from their lives.

When we allow others to control us we permit manipulation. If we have allowed it, however, we can also confront it by learning to change our responses. When we fail to address evil, we send the message that sinful behavior will be tolerated.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve chosen passivity out of fear or in order to please others and win their favor. Help me to learn how to respond to evil behavior with your wisdom and grace. Please give me the discernment to know when it’s safe to confront evil and when I should silently make other plans to protect myself from further manipulation. Thank you for Your courage to address trespasses made against me in a healthy way so that I don’t bottle up anger and insecurity. In Your name I pray. Amen.

Scriptures to Ponder:

  • Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked (Proverbs 25:26).
  • If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over (Matthew 18:14).
  • For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

Questions to Ponder:

  1. When your partner mistreats you, how do you typically respond?
    1. I lash out in anger.
    2. I hate confrontation so I try to keep the peace.
    3. It’s probably my fault, so I pray more.
    4. I try harder to please him.
    5. I sink into depression.
    6. I respectfully confront his behavior.
    7. Other
  2. We teach others how to treat us by what we tolerate. How does this statement and the scriptures to ponder referenced above convict you to change your responses?
  3. Anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech are evil (Colossians 3:8). How do you think God feels when your spouse or partner mistreats you? If it continues, what changes do you think God wants you to make?

The best way to stop manipulation is to prevent it with healthy boundaries. That’s what my online group coaching program, LOVE U Again, is all about.

Yep, I need this! Show me the details.

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