The Herod Principle
By Dr. Ken Matto
(Acts 12:21-23 KJV) And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. {22} And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. {23} And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
Here is Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, making an oration and since he was all dressed up in his royal apparel, it gave the essence as being more then just a regular address to the nation. Apparently, the people were so enamored of Herod, that they had yelled out that it was the voice of a god and not of a man. Herod no doubt basked in that adulation because in the next verse it states that God struck him and he was eaten by worms and that must have been a horrible sight to those who were there. Not only because of the physical events, but they had praised him as some kind of god when he was no more than a man dressed in royal clothing. So right in front of their eyes, their icon had died at the hands of God.
(Isa 42:8 KJV) I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Isaiah 42:8 states that God will not give His glory to another, especially a mere man, no matter what his social rank is on this earth. Now this article is not about those in political office but this principle has been carried over into the Christian world. The problem we face in the church today and also those on the radio and TV who have national and international ministries will face the same fate as Herod did but it may not be to the same extent as he was struck. We must be very aware that God can and does remove believers from this world if they have become a bad testimony.
(John 15:1-2 KJV) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. {2} Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
John 15:1-2 teaches a very somber principle. If you notice that verse 2 is teaching that “every branch in me.” It is speaking of the believers that if they are not doing anything to bear fruit, then God has the right to remove them and that means to take them home and their ministry will be given to another. We must never believe that Christians are immune to the Herod Principle. Our responsibility in this world is to go out in this world and bring the Gospel. Many Christians have been martyred in their attempt to bring the Gospel and make no mistake, there is a big difference between being martyred for the Gospel and being struck by God for not doing a single thing to send forth the Gospel.
The main essence of this article concerning the Herod Principle concerns believers. The definition of the Herod principle is simple, ”it is taking glory for yourself which belongs to God.” We are commissioned ambassadors in this world and ambassadors take orders and bring the direct message from the rulers of our home country to the rulers of the country we are sent to. The ambassador does not change the message nor do they take glory unto themselves. We must never make ourselves the focus of our ministry but a true ministry focuses attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many times the Lord does not take Christians home when they sin the sin of self-aggrandizement but will keep them around here as tokens of what a self-serving Christian life can accomplish. As a Bible teacher, my greatest fear is that I will teach something which is false causing others to stumble. My prayer is that I always keep the focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and direct people to the Lord and to the Scriptures.
One of the greatest tenets of the Herod Principle is that God will send a strong delusion of apostasy and heresy to those who are serving themselves in ministry. Many ministries have gone national and international, and normally the one at the top is basically given the credit for the growth. It is at that point, when the leader of that ministry or church starts accepting the praise and glory, they will receive the Herod Principle in the form of apostasy, heresy, and/or removal. We have seen this vividly in recent years. Many top individuals in churches and ministries have either been removed or have become heretics in their acceptance of praise and glory. Just as the Bible lists names of individuals who were detrimental to ministry, I will list a few names just as examples to show that the Herod principle is alive and well, and still in use today:
Jimmy Swaggart - Prostitutes - Removed from International Ministry
David Webber - Adultery - Southwest Radio Church - Home with the Lord
Paul Crouch - Sodomy and extortion - Still heads up TBN but a false ministry
Harold Camping - Heresy and Date Setting - Still heads up Family Radio
Dr. Jack Hyles - Sexual misconduct - Home with the Lord
Joel Osteen - Heresy by refusing to teach full counsel of God
Ted Haggard - Sodomy - Removed from head of Southern Baptists
T.D. Jakes - Denies Trinity - Heresy
Jack Van Impe - Heresy - Sees Roman Catholics as brethren not mission field
Robert Schuller - Heresy - New Age teachings
Robert Tilton - Scam Artist - Greed
Mike Murdock - Gospel of Money - Heresy
These are just a few of the men who have been struck by God with heresy and allowed to go deeper into sin, which shows their spiritual condition. I am sure that the majority of these men did not start out that way but as they began to become more famous, they started to accept praise, worship, and glory for themselves.
(Rev 2:5 KJV) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
The church of Ephesus was warned that if they did not repent from their pernicious ways, then Christ was going to remove their candlestick from its place. (Rev 1:20 KJV) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. According to Rev. 1:20, the candlesticks are the churches themselves. This means that when a church goes apostate, they are removed from the churches who have not gone apostate. This principle must also be carried into the world of ministries. When a ministry goes apostate, then Christ no longer sees them as a Christian ministry and He removes them from the truth which paves the way for heresy to establish a foothold. Heresy does not start from the bottom up but always starts from the top down. This means that those who lead these ministries, causing them to go astray, are no longer in the camp of the Saints. In John 16:13 we are given a major promise:
(John 16:13 KJV) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
We are promised that we will be guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit. Those who go apostate and teach their own gospel are revealing that they do not have the Holy Spirit or if they are saved, then they are quenching the Spirit.
(1 Th 5:19 KJV) Quench not the Spirit.
The word ”quench” in 1 Thess. 5:19 literally means “to extinguish.” It is therefore possible to so quench the Spirit, that a person can pave their own way to the highway of heresy. One needs to look at King Solomon and we see that at the beginning of his life, he was very strong in the Lord but by the time he reached his old age, he was building temples to false gods. This is how it goes with many in ministry, they start out properly and if God gifts them mightily, they start taking credit and finally approbation from their followers and they accept it, and that is when God needs to strike that person with some form of the Herod principle. If they respond soon and realize they are moving in the wrong direction, they could be restored but the problem is that the worship goes on for years and by that time they are hardened to anyone who opposes their fame, simply because they believe they have reached a point of being untouchable. Herod also believed being a king that he was untouchable. He was surrounded by many guards and no human could get to him but he forgot that God can get to anybody and in a very short time as we saw in Acts 12:21-23.
Revelation 3:3
(Rev 3:3 KJV) Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Revelation 3:3 should serve as a warning for anyone who teaches the Bible. The setting is the Church of Sardis, where the Lord Jesus Christ gives a very important principle. If the Church at Sardis does not continue to hold to the true doctrine which they have received, then the Lord Jesus Christ states that He is going to come to them as a thief in the night and then they will become a false church when the Lord Jesus removes the truth from them that they have originally learned. This same principle is carried over to the Christian teacher. If they begin to start teaching doctrines which are not found in the Bible, then Jesus is going to come upon them as a thief in the night and the situation will be that the Bible teacher will not know when the transition takes place from teaching truth to the point of teaching error. This crossing will be subtle and will be a point of no return as long as the teacher remains stiffnecked in their approach to correction. So here we see that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will withhold truth from them who refuse to be corrected and will allow them to go deeper into apostasy until they may reach a point of ruination. God does not take false doctrine lightly nor will He endorse it, no matter who the teacher is.
Many people today, who head up ministries or churches, are operating in a mode of heresy and rejection by God. This is because they chose to be their own god believing that everything they say is divine. When they are in a mode of self-deification, like Herod was, then God will strike them and blind them to the truth and their ministries will sink into heresy. And as they become more puffed up, they will slink farther away from God’s principles and will wind up just like those on that small list. Never take glory to yourself that belongs to God and if someone likes your ministry a lot, then discourage them from any form of adulation.
Let us not be like the nine lepers who were healed and failed to realize where their healing came from. (Luke 17:18 KJV) There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. Only one leper came back and glorified God for his healing. Let us follow that principle and glorify God through our ministries and then we may never be subject to the Herod principle.