5 Signs of Nose-Punching Preachers

nose-punch_medA recent article in Charisma News warns about the dangers of ear-tickling preachers and their deceptive message. An ear-tickler is someone who tells you what you want to hear. In contrast, a nose-puncher is one who tells you what he wants you to hear, and typically does so with all the fervor of an Old Testament judge or prophet.

A nose-puncher might appear respectable and religious, but he is nothing more than a bully with a Bible. He prefers doctrine to people, puts ministry before family, and he justifies his abuse of others by telling himself he is doing the Lord’s work.

Jesus encountered many religious nose-punchers; men who sought to throw the book at him and those who followed him. Ironically, these men claimed to know God but by their actions they denied him. Jesus rebuked the nose-punchers for being loveless sons of the devil, and they responded by putting him on the cross.

The apostle Paul also had his share of run-ins with nose-punchers. They hounded him from town to town preaching works and opposing his message of love and grace. On several occasions the nose-punchers beat Paul and plotted to kill him.

The nose-punchers are still with us today. Can you recognize them? Here are five signs of nose-punching preachers.

1. Nose-punching preachers emphasize self-denial and going without. “If you are not in the habit of denying your appetites and desires, you are not a real Christian,” says the nose-puncher. “The more you deny your needs and wants, the holier you’ll be.”

What’s wrong with this message? Nothing – if you want to be a Buddhist.

The modern message of self-denial is nothing more than the ancient practice of asceticism dressed up in religious jargon. Abstaining from food, Facebook, or fun won’t make you righteous and holy (Col. 2:21-23). But it might make you religious. It might make you like the fasting Pharisees who trusted in their own self-righteousness.

The die-to-self message simply means, “Trust Jesus, and not yourself.” It means walk by the Spirit rather than the flesh. It means live each day out of the glorious relationship you have with the Lord.

In the hands of a nose-puncher, “die to self” is reduced to little more than a quit-having-fun lecture wrapped in threats and warnings. But in the hands of a gospel preacher, “die to self” is a thrilling invitation to the adventure of the life that is ours in Christ.

2. Nose-punching preachers are hard on sin. Throughout the scriptures you will find serious men throwing stones of condemnation at sinners. Nothing’s changed.

If warnings and threats about sin stopped people from sinning, there would be no more sin.

Jesus reveals there is only one thing that can empower you to sin no more, and that is radical grace. I’m talking about the kind of grace that defends the sinner from her accusers and turns a thief into a giver, a hater into a lover, and the chief of sinners into the apostle of grace. Rules don’t change people and abuse definitely doesn’t change people; grace changes people.

firehose

The nose-punchers would have you turn from sin and turn again until you’re a dizzy sinner. But the good news that Jesus revealed and Paul preached reveals a God infinitely more appealing than sin. A nose-puncher will use threats to compel you to turn, and you might, for a little while, but a gospel preacher reveals the goodness of God that leads you to genuine and lasting repentance (Rom. 2:4).

3. Nose-punching preachers are no friends of sinners. It is one thing to have a reputation for integrity and purity but if our message leaves our neighbors untouched by the love of God, what good are we? If Jesus strode the streets of Jerusalem avoiding sin and sinners, where would any of us be?

Nose-punchers would have you withdraw from the world in a misguided desire for holiness. But Jesus prayed that we might be sanctified in it (John 17:15-19). The nose-punchers will teach you to hate the world, but Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16).

The nose-punchers would have the world to come to them (to get their noses punched), but Jesus tells us to “Go into all the world – the business world, the arts world, the sports world, the addicts’ world, the dirty, stinkin’ world – and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

4. Nose-punching preachers seek to crucify the flesh by preaching law. “Don’t be like those Old Testament rebels who refused to obey God,” says the nose-puncher. “To please him you need to keep all the commands of his Word.”

Such a message appeals to our religious pride because it is thoroughly carnal. It teaches you to trust in the flesh – your good behavior, commitment and obedience – instead of God’s grace. The legalist says you must work to be saved while the holiness preacher says you must work to be sanctified, but both are eating from the wrong tree.

The nose-puncher will whack you with the standards of God. “Look where you are falling short. Try harder or be damned!” But the gospel preacher says, “Look where Jesus has succeeded. Trust him and live!”

The nose-puncher would have you die daily, as though that were possible, but the gospel preacher says, “You have died already and once was enough!” Look to the cross, where your old self died, and reckon yourself dead to sin. “I have been crucified with Christ,” said the apostle. “And I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

5. Nose-punching preachers use the Bible as a stick. Their sermons are packed with scriptures but are devoid of Truth. Like the Pharisees of old, they diligently study the scriptures yet refuse to come to Christ for life (John 5:39-40). Or worse, they take a little of his grace and mix it with their own efforts, ruining the whole thing and becoming lukewarm in the process.

In the hands of a graceless preacher, the Bible is utterly lethal for buried within lies the law which ministers death (2 Cor 3:7). For thousands of years, nose-punchers have been using the law-bits of the Bible to control and manipulate others. Jesus called them abusers and killers (Matt. 23:34) and Paul called them dogs (Php 3:2). We would do well to heed their warnings and be wary of such men.

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Comments

  1. You hit the nail on the head (and not the fist on the nose). Some of the legalistic nose punchers are selling “nose punching lite” a watered down version of the law. They say, “Oh, the reason you should fast is not to move the hand of God……but you will be able to hear him better. Separating yourself for a season from things like TV and Facebook will enable you to be more “in-tune” with the spirit. Baloney. Since I have come to know and experience His grace….His divine influence, I find myself experiencing more of the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering and the like.

    • The writer said “abstain,” he just used the word “fast” as an example from the bible. You do know that fasting is still PART of our faith-walk right? Jesus said in the book of Matthew “WHEN you fast…” NOT “IF you fast.” It’s not a question of whether we should fast or not,not about the frequency nor length of our fast– coz we should fast. It’s the purpose of our fasting that makes all the difference. If your doing it to glorify yourself, then that my friend, is dangerous.

      • The law was still in effect when Jesus walked the earth. He also said unless we forgive we aren’t forgiven. But after Calvary, we are told to forgive BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN forgiven. Anything that requires OUR efforts and not resting in the work of the cross is self-righteousness…..at least that is how I believe.

      • i agree with you

    • Guess Jesus and Apostles must be baloney as well then? Doubt you think that, but they found that fasting brought them closer to God. I am sure the Holy Spirit doesn’t think that either.

    • I wasnt talking about forgiveness Charis. I agree with what the writer said. My point was simply about fasting. There is a thin line between working OUT your salvation(right) and working FOR your salvation(wrong). Faith without action is dead faith–its in the bible. Last month, I fasted with a sick friend and I didnt do it to go to heaven nor make myself righteous, i did it because Christ called me to do so. Even after Jesus came, He told his disciples that there are things that needs “prayer and fasting” eg when a strong demon was being cast out. Please do not generalize things without reading about the specifics. Please do not completely scrap out the act/gift of fasting.

  2. Great article. Even when we stand for truth we balance it with mercy.

  3. I saw the charisma article and I had to leave a comment. The church needs this revelation of grace or it will decline into a modern day law temple filled with persecutors of the Gospel, missing the point of the whole message in favor of rule and power. Then the mantle of THE CHURCH will pass on to those who carry the message of life & freedom in Christ.

  4. A boxer friend of mine told me you can make a mans head swell and bleed in one of two ways: one good round house punch or ten thousand little jabs. While there is the odd travelling road show preacher who prefers the former the latter is what most mixed grace preachers prefer. Both types of preachers make the head swell and the nose bleed.

  5. We should consider the ear-ticklers that Jesus rebuked for going easy on people.

    • You know I find more ear tickling coming from mixed teachers and the anti grace folks than I do from pure grace teachers. The teachings that are all about us doing or avoiding stuff really puff the pride because “look at me I’m doing…” and the flesh’s ears want tickled about how good it is about doing the Christian thing. Pure grace always says look at Jesus, God and what they have done for us.

  6. Paul, thanks for another thoughtful article. Jesus plus nothing = Everything

  7. Thank you Paul for all your posts. They have been such a blessing to me these past few months. I post many of your posts on my facebook page. I’m about to post this one too. I have been nose punched many times by these preachers. Keep the true Gospel coming.. Blessings…

  8. apamocolly says:

    Glory to God forever more. We have the truth and grace, they came with Jesus. I love Jesus and i trust on all that He did for me. I am in grace forever!

  9. Simply superb, i hope you had been punched many times by such preachers, now you come heavily on them, i too had been punched many times, moreover they taught me to punch myself, horrible, but when Grace, Hyber Grace touched me everything was healed. Thanks to Pastor Sam P Chelladurai (India), Joseph Prince (Singapore), Joel Osteen (USA) and now you. I praise my Lord Jesus, i’m filled with JOY.

  10. Tremendous post. God bless you for this. I too was plagued by such preachers, though I didn’t call them nose punchers but would refer to them as legalistic ones. A much needed reminder for me! Thanks for this.

  11. Jerry Nendel says:

    Wow! I thought that was really good. You said a lot with a little. It doesn’t take much to cover all of God’s truth – the simple Gospel.

  12. Suzanne Frazier says:

    I look at the ear – tickling word and think flesh – what does the flesh like? Self effort, self achievement, self meriting, self earning self praise, self pride – all things that tickle those ears,

  13. Patricia Gottschalk says:

    This was an excellent post!!! Thank you !

  14. Charisonline and Barry you have it right on. If someone is getting even a little revelation of grace they can see a punch coming, but it is that sneaky watered down version of law that will have a believers head spinning and creates doubt, insecurity, and guilt for not being a “good Christian” because something in you just can’t seem to swallow what sounds “spiritual”. I thank God for this site and your comments that let me know I am not crazy and not alone!

  15. This is so true. When someone who loves God hears messages like Paul discusses here all that happens is that they come under condemnation. They then DISQUALIFY themselves from God’s favor and blessings. We have all been there. We examine ourselves critically, instead of looking at our perfection in the cross of Jesus, and feel like garbage. If by some chance it does motivate us to improve our behavior it is short lived. And even if we do well for a few days we are then basing our favor and status with God on our performance; this is all dead works. And the bottom line is that it does NOT make us sin less; just the opposite. Self effort is glorified and Jesus is minimized. I will never go back to this way of life.

  16. jason ballenger says:

    Heard of the toe-stompers… but nose punchers is more to the point, Ha, Ha… I like the humor of it. It is indeed a sad truth that exists though. That is, the overflow of nose punching religion in the world that has been embraced instead of heart changing Grace.

    Thank you Paul. The clarity in your writings is like breathing clean, fresh spring air. And the spotlight you put on Jesus is what keeps me looking forward to each of your posts.

  17. Lorraine says:

    What is so bad about repentance? Some folks are washed and some have not repented. When is the last time you heard a preacher say fornication will send you to hell? Hasn’t anyone ever read, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:9-11

  18. So true, and then there are also the Sunday jabbers.
    They might be worse.
    They present a message of grace, usually not the central of their teaching, but it’s there. They convince you that they are grace preachers, but they take little jabs that deflate people. jab: You are going to give an account, jab: You wont donate to this cause: Don’t you care about those single moms? jab: Jab: You won’t work in the nursery, Don’t you care about those little children? Jab: Lazy Christian’s don’t get up and read their bible first thing in the morning. jab: Look at John, he’s such an example of a servant, he sacrificed his family to … jab: you are cheapening grace by not …. jab: if Christ could do this for you, shouldn’t you be willing to do ___ for him? .. of course the jab list goes on.

    Like a boxing match, the nose punches are killers, but the jabs… they slowly reduce, they slowly zap the strength of the target, often with out the realization of the target. Then in their weakened state, they succumb to the puncher.

    like a small pinhole in a large balloon

    I so appreciate your thought provoking posts and your willing to stand up to the jabs and nose-punches so that we can hear through the fog.

  19. Thank you Paul for this post. I have been nose punched lots of times. I felt like I was in bondage under that type of preaching. This kind of preaching needs to be confronted.

  20. well done paul!
    just read the charisma news article… and my heart totally sank when i read: “It is another thing when our message does not offend sinners.” the message of grace offends self-righteous people… but draws sinners to Christ. honestly, i don’t know how dr brown thinks sinners are supposed to get saved if he believes our message is supposed to offend them!

  21. I think one way Paul meant by “ear tickling” is our propensity to want to hear some other religious version of Christianity that feeds our self-righteousness and our need to perform instead of believe (e.g., the foolish Galatians).

    And what you’re saying about the nose-punchers is spot on. What we have is much of the church like a battered spouse, the actual good news sounds too good to be true so they go looking for someone to spiritually abuse them. This comes from bad theology, seeing ourselves as a “dirty worm” instead of who we are in Christ–hence, Jesus’ no self-esteem bride goes looking for a nose-puncher to make them to feel guilty and full of shame so they can feel accepted by God. Pretty sad. Thank you for your part in helping Jesus’ beautiful bride get free from these wife beaters.

  22. Tony Mitchell says:

    Great article,
    I was in a nose puncher’s church for 10 years, never once was I at rest, just lots of ups and downs, never doing enough for Jesus. Once I received the revelation of grace I have had true rest. Just having difficulty getting rid of the baggage from the previous 10 years. Also for mjm regard fasting, look who Jesus was talking to, it was his disciples, you cannot generalize to the church body as a whole. There are benefits to fasting at times, but this is between you and Jesus, not what the nose puncher says!

  23. So true. I remember someone recommending a particular Calvinist-legalist preacher to me saying “you have to listen to him, he’s just like a good punch in the kidneys”…

    I thought why would I want a good punch in the kidneys?

  24. What’s ironic is that when that quote, lifted from the larger context, is used as a prooftext against grace teaching, those who use it completely ignore the fact that Paul in most of his letters battled legalists, man-pleasers, who wanted to supplant the finished work of Christ with their religiosity.

    The problem of the day with his audience turning from the grace of God to man-made rules, asceticism, and religious observances – circumcision in Galatians, abstaining from food and marriage in 1 Timothy 4:1-3, bodily neglect and asceticism in Colossians 2:16-23, and the list goes on. The tickling ears itch for something that the ears’ possessor can take credit for and use it as a measuring stick to prop up his pride. The cross of Christ strips anyone of the right to boast, since you can’t add to the finished work of Christ (since it’s finished, nothing else can be added) and is only real cure for religious pride.

    Sadly, what many ears itch these days is not the undiluted truth of the cross, which mirrors the situation in the times of Paul.

  25. Gilly Stott says:

    Just come from a large “tent event” where a well known speaker was preaching on the power of the Gospel. It was funny and engaging and the anecdotes were impressive until….the declaration that one of the main purposes of the cross was to put the law on our hearts – the law of the ten commandments of how we should and shouldn’t live. To make us morally transformed. Followed by an invitation to a whole conference plus book focussed on following the ten commandments in the modern life. All around me people were clapping and saying Amen! I was sitting wriggling in my seat screaming on the inside – NO! We are DEAD to the law! Christ is the end of the law. Couldn’t leave as i was on ministry team. Doesn’t it feel so bad when your nose gets punched in a place where everyone is applauding the nose-puncher and you can’t say anything or escape??!!

    • Gilly,
      So sad to hear of that event. I just wanted to say you could have gotten up and walked out…even if you were on the ministry team. it’s time for us to call upon our inner rebels and take a stand for what’s right. It’s just a bit uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier after the first time.
      Evil flourishes when good men stay silent.

      Blessings and strength abound for your next opportunity!

      G

    • I know this is late follow up, but I wanted to encourage you Gilly, that _especially_ as member of a ministry team, when you hear something that is absolutely anti-gospel, absolutely wrong- that you DO need to object- whether the exact action is to walk out, or stand and say something, depends on the type of setting. But if not you, then who? Being in what is seen as a leadership type role, you need to BE a leader. Be the first one to get up and say NO this isn’t right, to encourage those who only follow to know that it’s ok and right to do so. How can we expect the congregation or attendees to do so if those who minister and lead, the ones they look up to, cannot or will not? If you do not object or argue in some type of manner, you are condoning it, and telling the people “this is ok and I agree with it.” If they remove you from the team for standing up for the truth- well and good, they are showing their true colors and you know you belong elsewhere. Otherwise some progress could possibly be made in revealing true gospel.

    • Anything that says “you have to become” is contrary to the Gospel. The completed work of the Gospel says “you are”. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. You are a new creation. You are free to follow the desires your Father puts in our heart, which always lead to life.

      • LPJ-consider this thought
        In Hebrew Scriptures, and all models derived thereof, entities are reckoned solely after their behavior and not after their appearance.

        An entity is a behavior, not that which executes the behavior.

        It is crucial that the reader takes a firm hold of this principle. If a modern Westerner would see a picture of a lion, she would say, “That is a lion.”

        If an ancient Hebrew would see someone gather and devour food, she would say, “That is a lion.”
        Because mist of the New Testament authors (including Jesus) were Hebrew and not Greek we need to understand their fundamentally Hebrew way of thinking. We (as Greek thinkers) look at someone and name him a Christian because if what he SAYS HE IS-but a Hebrew would only name him a Christian after they see what he DOES.
        This is not saying you become what you do but that you don’t get to say you have become UNTIL YOU DO.

      • Saying, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus”, means that I accept it and believe it on some level. If I do not accept it or believe it on some level, the manifestation of it will never be produced. Blessings to you, Barry.

  26. “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
    2 Timothy 2:19
    Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6

    So would you call Jesus or Paul a nose puncher…..they taught to turn from sin….not sinless perfection…but turning from “practicing sin” I could list a ton of Scriptures to support this….

  27. While I am in complete agreement that salvation is all of grace, I would remind everyone here that there is a place for the law in the preaching of preachers. The law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, while it is true that after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. If you are not under the law, preaching on the law shouldn’t bother you, but if you are (and are thus not in Christ), know that the Holy Ghost is using the law to convict you of sin anytime you feel irritated by law-preaching.

    • I don’t see it that way, Geoff. The Holy Ghost doesn’t have a ministry of death, but of life. He convicts people of their need for a Savior. I believe people are condemned enough already and church should be a place where they can always find life. (2 Cor 3:7) 

      • If the Holy Ghost doesn’t use the law to convict people of sin, what does he use? Consider Romans 3:19-20 and Galatians 3:21-25. There are so many people in the church who are putting their trust in their own righteousness and God uses the law to show them that they are sinners so that they will come to the Saviour. People think even today, “I am a good enough person, why do I need Jesus?” “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” (Psalm 19:7a). While no law has the power to impart life, the law does have the power to show a man that he is in need of the life that Jesus offers. It Is the ministration of condemnation, and yet it still does have glory. Of course the ministration of righteousness exceeds it in glory, but as I have said, the law has a purpose in the life of the unbeliever who doesn’t think he needs Jesus. I’ve heard it said that the most difficult people to convert to a saving faith are the ones who live generally good lives: because they think they will be able to stand before God on their own merit on the day of judgment.

      • I read Romans 3:19-20 and Galatians 3:21-25 as you suggested, but I don’t see anything saying the Holy Ghost is using the law to bring people to Jesus. I also don’t see anything suggesting preachers should use the law to beat down sinners. Romans 2:4 says the goodness of God is what leads people to repentance. Look at the life of Jesus. He never used the law to show people how bad they were. He only used it on those who needed to realize they couldn’t  live up to its’ perfect standard. He was known as a “friend of sinners”. Sinners were drawn to His goodness toward them. I’m sure you would agree what sinners need is to come to Jesus. Will they come to a Jesus who is pointing out their faults or a Jesus who loves them unconditionally and wants to give them life more abundantly?

  28. Gilly Stott says:

    Sorry Geoff but I have to disagree with you that “if you are not under the law, preaching on the law shouldn’t bother you”. It bothers me big time. I lived many years as a Christian under the bondage of law preaching – some undiluted, some mixed with grace – and I knew well the misery of trying and failing to live up to a standard i couldn’t attain. Condemnation was my constant travel companion. Then Holy Spirit revealed the glory of undiluted grace to me in the finished work of the cross – Oh, Praise Him!! Freedom is now my constant travel companion. So when i hear the law preached now, it doesn’t bother me for my sake but for the sake of others who are being kept under bondage to something Jesus has broken them free from at the cross. It hurts me to know that others are being denied a confident, intimate relationship as adored sons and daughters of their Heavenly Father because of the preaching of the law. Jesus died for that unbroken assurance to be possible. Surely we want Jesus to have the reward of His suffering through many sons and daughters revelling in the freedom He bought for us and bringing great praise to His name as we tell others how very, very good our God is?

  29. My husband and I recently realized that we have not been taking the profound messages of grace in the scriptures nearly seriously enough. We’ve been treating them like nice sentiments in a hastily chosen greeting card.. “Thanks. That’s nice, but gimme a real gift.” We, who have been chapter-and-verse self-labeled “Bereans” are beginning to see.
    Sorry about the bloody noses. Our own bruised swelled heads hindered our ability to discern the real foe.
    Thanks for this.

    • Beautifully put, thank you for sharing. Many of us were once nose punchers and still may be prone to sneaking in a jab now and then.😉 Blessings

  30. Gilly Stott says:

    Couldn’t agree more, LJP.
    Just love your honesty and humility, Charis. That’s a really beautiful testament itself to the power of grace and I want to thank you for sharing it so openly.
    Grace and peace be multiplied to you and your husband and to all those with whom you share this astounding grace message in the coming days.

  31. Great post and very encouraging to me.I have some thoughts concerning the use of the law by preachers and would like to know what others think. Many times i have heard preachers say the law is still useful as it shows man his need of a Saviour,that he misses the mark,etc.They will mention Gal. 3 about the law being our tutor or schoolmaster and though we are no longer under its supervision the Holy Spirit still uses the law to convict us of sin. I feel that when Paul writes the law was our tutor,he is speaking of the mosaic law to whom Israel alone was ever under.For them(Israel),with all the sacrifices and works required by their law,it was intended to lead them to Christ. Most of the world however was NEVER under the mosaic law,and Paul said to “those without law ,he became as one without law”(1cor.9) If he would have tried to use the mosaic law to win these people to Christ,i think he would have just confused them. I feel that we start in the wrong place if we attempt to use the mosaic law to point people to Christ.Preachers may argue they have “results” that prove otherwise,but i think that is just the Holy Spirit working in spite of them.

  32. Wayne Nickel says:

    Sometimes you need a nosepuncher…maybe not as you prescribed but as one preaching doctrinal truth. In some churches preaching the truth is like a nosepuncher to those that are arrogant or are trying to bring in a different gospel. I heard of a former pastor that emailed the new pastor that he preached too much from the Bible..go figger.

  33. pam baker says:

    Spuritual abuse talk more About it

  34. Paul, do you believe in fasting?

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