Outside of lying, respecting persons is possibly one of the most destructive sins within the Body of Christ, very commonly committed by Christians, but it is so rarely acknowledged or talked about in churches, due to ignorance of how it is defined in Scripture. The average Christian believes he/she doesn't commit this sin because the only preaching we ever hear about it from the pulpit is concerning the way someone dresses, but respecting persons applies to much more than that.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
For there is no respect of persons with God.
Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
pharisee (n): One of a sect among the Jews, whose religion consisted in a strict observance of rites and ceremonies and of the traditions of the elders, and whose pretended holiness led them to separate themselves as a sect
(See 'pharisee', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Jan 27, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
(Read "Corruptions of Christianity: Catholicism" here at creationliberty.com for more details.
(Hagee teaches bilions of years of evolution in his ministry.)
I've seen a number of Christians rush to Hagee's defense, claiming that they're just giving them positions of honor, and they'll quote from Romans 13:
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
(Read "Should Christians Submit to Government?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
I am not aware of one Christian who has not been guilty of giving (or receiving) respect of persons. For example, when a man is called the "pastor" of a church building, immediately, a certain level of awe is granted to him, demonstrated by the attitudes of those around him. It is a form of worship and fear of man, rather than God.
Christians are typically unwilling to admit the infallibility they attribute to the men they respect (pastors, doctors, etc), and many preachers and evangelists have fallen into the lust - to their love of the respect that increases their fame and fortune.
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow... And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them... He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
-2 Peter 2:3
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man.
These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
In my personal experience in ministry, I've received numerous letters that have begun with statements like the following:
- "You're wrong because my husband is a pastor and he says..."
- "You're wrong because my dad has been a Sunday School teacher for 20 years and he says..."
- "You're wrong because I go to Bible college, and my professor says..."
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
rudiment (n): A first principle or element; that which is to be first learnt; as the rudiments of learning or science; the original of any thing in its first form
(See 'rudiment', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved Jan 28, 2014 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Many years ago after I was saved, I was working as a cashier in a fast food restaurant, and a guy came in and didn't have much money, so I pulled money out of my wallet and bought him a sandwich because he looked hungry. He was very surprised that I did that. He immediately pulled a card out of his wallet, and it was a license that he was a "certified" pastor, and for years that instance bothered me because I kept asking myself, "Why was that his response?"
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Some of us think we have not been guilty of it, but look at the way many Christians act when the famous speaker, "Dr. So-n-so," comes to town. In our society, anyone who has any kind of advanced degree from a college is given special places of honor, respect, and privilage over everyone else. Let's say this "Dr. So-n-so" says something about Topic A, and the average church layman says something about Topic A, the weight of words is automatically given to the PhD because of his title; this is respecting persons, and it is incredibly common in today's societies.
Take, for example, men like Dr. Hugh Ross, who teaches billions of years of evolution and tries to apply it to the Bible, and watch as his followers give respect to his person (his PhD), even though many of them don't even understand some of the words and complex mathematical calculations he spouts. They just think, "He's got a PhD, and he's really smart, so he must be right." Truth is not determined based on titles of "pastor" or "doctor," but on the basis of knowledge by the Word of God, which any average layman can pick up, read, and understand.
The problem not only lies in the people respecting the person, but also in the man himself, because when a pastor or PhD allows so many people to respect his personage, he finds himself starting to love the feeling of pleasure he gets from the respect and honor he receives everywhere he goes. If he's not careful, and does not examine himself, he can eventually blind himself, teach false doctrines, and those who follow his authoritative title will blindly believe every word he says because they put an invisible cloak of infallibility on his shoulders.
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
-2 Corinthians 13:5
"They used very grand phrases in those days, and doctors of divinity were very common, almost as common as they are now; and the crowd of doctors and rabbis helped to keep each other in countenance by repeating one another's fine names till they believed they meant something. Dear friends, it is very difficult to receive honor and to expect it, and yet to keep your eyesight; for men's eyes gradually grow dull through the smoke of the incense which is burned before them;"
-Charles Spurgeon, quoted in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermons Preached by Spurgeon in 1875, p. 413
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
(Read "Corruptions of Christianity: Catholicism" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
-2 Chronicles 19:7
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.