How to Deal With Manipulators Biblically

God’s Word has everything we need to live a godly life, including how to deal with manipulators biblically. In this article we are not only going to talk about how manipulation is a sinful behavior, but you will be able to recognize when manipulation is being used and how to deal with a manipulative person. As Christians, we can sometimes fall into the trap of assuming the best despite the evidence telling us a different story. That has been my observation and the error I have made in my own life and relationships. When you are done with this article, you will have more wisdom in spotting manipulation and how to deal with manipulators biblically.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

masked man sitting on ground; title- how to deal with manipulators biblically

What is manipulation?

The word manipulation is defined by the psychology dictionary as, “behavior designed to exploit, control, or otherwise influence others to one’s advantage.” I want to highlight the 2 main pieces of manipulation- deceit and selfish ambition. Manipulative people have a pattern of deceiving others in pursuit of their own best interests. Another sign of manipulation is confusion. Manipulation is a tactic to control others for one’s own personal gain. Essentially, pursuing their own agenda by deception. Because manipulation is hard to spot and easily denied, you may have had a difficult time identifying it when it’s happening. However, after reading this article, my hope is that you will be better equipped to protect yourself from such behavior or treatment.

What does the Bible say about manipulation?

Since we know that manipulation combines deception and selfish gain. The Word of God speaks quite clearly on both those topics. Let’s talk first about selfish ambition…

Self Ambition

Selfish ambition is focused on you and your wants and desires. The goal is to get what they want or desire from another person or situation for their own benefit. Additionally important to know, is that it elevates their own wants and desires above others and God. And, manipulation doesn’t care who it harms to get what they want, which is often combined with exerting power or control of others. This is the very opposite of genuine love.

James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Both of these Bible verses make it clear that pursuing your wants above all else leads to relational chaos. Additionally, “vile practice” is another way of saying morally bad, wicked, unpleasant and of little worth or value. God’s Word also instructs us to be concerned with the interests of others. Manipulation is only one sided and can have a devastating impact on others. More on that as we get farther into emotional manipulation.


The Bible is very clear- deception is fiecely warned against. Furthermore, the Bible calls us to speak truth and warns us- don’t bear false witness in the Ten Commandments. Keep in mind that we are image bearers of God who is Truth and Light. This is a stark contrast from Satan, the father of lies who represents darkness. Equally important to note, 2 Corinthians also says that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Notice the correlation between the enemy disguising himself as an angel of light and the covertness of manipulation. If you have ever confronted someone on manipulative behavior, you know first hand that an unrepentant heart will stop at nothing to deny the truth. Including the truth about their selfish and deceptive motives.

Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Impact of Manipulation

Manipulation of others can have devastating and lasting effects on a person’s emotional, psychological, and even physical well-being over time. The impact of manipulation is insidious. Insidious means proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects. Make no doubt about it- manipulation is so damaging to the person on the receiving end. Furthermore, it erodes trust and integrity in relationships until they are ultimately destroyed. Some of the damaging effects are listed here…

  1. Loss of Self-Esteem: Manipulators frequently undermine their victims’ sense of self-worth, leading to a gradual erosion of self-esteem. Constant criticism, belittling, and gaslighting can make individuals doubt their abilities and judgment.
  2. Isolation: Manipulators often isolate their victims from friends and family, making them dependent on the manipulator for emotional support. This isolation can result in a lack of community and lead to further vulnerability.
  3. Anxiety and Stress: Long-term manipulation can lead to chronic anxiety and stress as victims are constantly walking on eggshells, anticipating the next manipulation or emotional attack.
  4. Depression: Prolonged manipulation can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  5. Health Issues: The constant stress and emotional turmoil associated with manipulation can have physical health consequences, such as insomnia, headaches, and other physical issues.
  6. Trust Issues: Manipulation erodes trust in others, making it challenging for victims to form healthy relationships in the future.
  7. Self Doubt: Manipulated individuals have difficulty trusting their own judgement and can feel confused after prolonged manipulation and mind games. Self doubt can contribute to difficulty thinking clearly.
  8. Feelings of Guilt and Shame: Manipulators often manipulate their victims into feeling guilty or ashamed, even when they are not at fault. This can result in a pervasive sense of false guilt that lingers long after the manipulation has stopped.
  9. Inhibited Personal Growth: The constant focus on the manipulator’s needs and desires can hinder personal growth and self-fulfillment, as victims often prioritize the manipulator’s wishes above their own.

Manipulative Tactics

There are many forms of manipulation. In order to be able to spot manipulative behavior it is important to learn more about the deceitful tactics used to gain control over others in order to serve self. While the list below is not an exhaustive list, it is an extensive list. Keep in mind that when someone is engaging in selfish ambition and deception, manipulation might be in play. Additionally, confusion is part of manipulation…are you feeling confused? Notice that! 

Gas Lighting

Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation where one person tries to make another person doubt their own thoughts, feelings, or memories. Additionally, gaslighting is a harmful way to control and manipulate someone emotionally. It’s like when someone tells you something you know is false and keeps repeating it until you start to question your own judgment or sanity. 

This kind of manipulation is called “crazy-making” because it can make a person feel like they’re losing their mind. Imagine if someone you trust keeps telling you that something you clearly remember never happened or that you’re just too sensitive when you express your feelings. Over time, you might start to doubt yourself, feel confused, and even believe you’re going crazy because what you know to be true is being constantly challenged.

Withholding Vital Information

Withholding vital information is a manipulative tactic where someone intentionally keeps important facts or details from others, often to gain an advantage or maintain control in a situation. This form of manipulation can deceive, mislead, or disadvantage the person who is not privy to the information. Furthermore, this leads one to make uninformed decisions or choices. It’s a way to maintain power by selectively revealing only what serves the manipulator’s interests while leaving other information out. This behavior prevents open and honest communication, leaving others vulnerable and uncertain about the truth.

Feigning Ignorance or Confusion

Feigning ignorance or confusion is a manipulation tactic where someone pretends not to understand or know something when they actually do. This behavior is used strategically to achieve various aims, such as avoiding responsibility, deflecting blame, or gaining an upper hand in a situation. By acting as though they lack knowledge or understanding, manipulators can manipulate others into providing more information, lowering their guard, or doubting their own perspective. It’s a deceptive way to control conversations and outcomes. It disguises itself by appearing confused while subtly influencing the narrative. This tactic exploits empathy and can create confusion and frustration in the others, making them more susceptible to manipulation.


Proverbs 22:24 – Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,

Anger can be employed as a manipulation tactic to control or intimidate others. When someone expresses anger, whether genuine or exaggerated, it can have various effects on those around them. It can coerce compliance by making others fear the consequences of not complying, or it can divert attention away from the real issue at hand. Manipulators may use anger to guilt-trip or shame others into doing their bidding, exploiting their emotions to gain an advantage. Additionally, displaying anger can be a way to assert dominance in a relationship or situation. Overall, anger as a manipulation tactic seeks to elicit specific reactions or behaviors from others by exploiting their emotional responses.


Blameshifting is a manipulation tactic where someone avoids taking responsibility for their actions by shifting the blame onto others. It involves deflecting accountability, often by accusing someone else or external factors for the consequences of their behavior. This tactic can confuse, guilt-trip, or manipulate others into feeling responsible for things they didn’t do. Blameshifting only helps the manipulator avoid facing consequences. This tactic additionally takes advantage of others through creating confusion. By diverting attention away from their actions, manipulators can maintain control and manipulate perceptions, making it difficult for others to hold them accountable for their behavior.

Feigning Innocence

Feigning innocence is a manipulation tactic where someone pretends to be unaware of their wrongdoing or the consequences of their actions. They act as though they are innocent or ignorant to avoid accountability or consequences. This deceitful behavior can make others doubt their own judgments or feel guilty for questioning the manipulator. It’s a way to deflect blame, evade responsibility, or gain sympathy, often leading others to be more lenient or forgiving. Manipulators use this tactic to manipulate perceptions and maintain control in situations where they should be held accountable. In other words, the manipulator is exploiting the benefit of the doubt extended to them due to their apparent innocence.


Flattery is a manipulation tactic wherein someone excessively praises or compliments another person to gain favor, influence, or an advantage. By appealing to a person’s ego or vanity, manipulators aim to make them more receptive to their requests or suggestions. Flattery can create a sense of obligation, gratitude, or indebtedness in the recipient, which the manipulator may later exploit. This tactic often lacks sincerity and is used strategically to manipulate emotions and actions. While genuine compliments are positive, excessive or insincere flattery is a way to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain, making them more pliable to the manipulator’s desires or objectives.

Romans 16:18 – For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Proverbs 26:28 – “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Playing the Victim

Playing the victim is a manipulative tactic where someone portrays themselves as the innocent party in a situation to garner sympathy, support, or to deflect blame. They emphasize their suffering, hardship, or mistreatment while downplaying their own role in the issue. This manipulation technique aims to manipulate emotions and elicit a protective or empathetic response from others. By positioning themselves as the victim, the manipulator can gain an upper hand, control narratives, and avoid accountability for their actions. While genuine victimhood deserves empathy and support, playing the victim manipulatively exploits the willingness of others to provide help or understanding to advance their own personal interests or avoid consequences.

Villifying the Victim

Vilifying the victim is a manipulative tactic where someone intentionally portrays the person they’ve harmed or wronged as the one responsible for their own suffering. This manipulation aims to shift blame onto the victim and divert attention from the wrongdoer’s actions. It can involve character assassination, spreading false information, or highlighting minor flaws or mistakes to discredit the victim. By framing the victim as deserving of their predicament, the manipulator seeks to justify their actions, evade accountability, and manipulate perceptions. This tactic not only perpetuates harm, but also undermines the victim’s credibility. Furthermore it can deter them from seeking justice or support.

Shaming or Guilt-tripping

Shaming or guilt-tripping is a manipulative behavior where someone tries to control or influence another person’s actions or decisions by making them feel ashamed or guilty about their choices or behavior. This tactic involves using emotional pressure, criticism, or judgment to create a sense of wrongdoing or moral inferiority in the targeted person. This tactic strives to invoke feelings of shame or false guilt. Manipulators aim to make the person comply with their wishes or demands, often exploiting their empathy or desire to avoid negative feelings. 

Intimidation or Threats

Intimidation or threats manipulate by instilling fear in the victim. The manipulator uses aggressive behavior, explicit threats, or emotional manipulation to make the person comply. They may leverage their power or isolate the victim to increase their vulnerability. This coercion forces the victim to act against their will to avoid harm or negative outcomes. It’s a powerful and damaging manipulation tactic that uses fear to their advantage.


Vagueness is a manipulation tactic that exploits uncertainty. By being unclear or ambiguous, manipulators can control narratives, confuse others, and avoid accountability. They may make vague promises, making it hard to pin them down later, or provide ambiguous information, leaving others in doubt. This tactic plays on the desire to seek clarity, and as the victim tries to extract more details, the manipulator retains power. Vagueness can also create anxiety, making individuals more receptive to the manipulator’s influence, leaving others in a state of confusion or insecurity.


Diversion is a manipulation technique that involves redirecting attention away from a sensitive issue or the manipulator’s own actions. By introducing unrelated topics, conflicts, or distractions, manipulators can deflect scrutiny, avoid accountability, or confuse others. This tactic exploits the human tendency to focus on the immediate and apparent, making it challenging for others to address the original issue. Diversion is a powerful way to create confusion and chaos in others to serve self.


Rationalizing and justifying are manipulation tactics that manipulators use to defend their actions, often in the face of criticism or when confronted about their behavior. They provide seemingly logical or reasonable explanations to make their actions appear acceptable or necessary. This can lead others to doubt their own judgments or feel guilty for questioning the manipulator. By making their behavior seem justified, manipulators avoid accountability and continue their actions without facing consequences. These tactics manipulate perceptions, clouding the true nature of their actions, and making it difficult for others to hold them responsible.

Denial & Minimizing

Denial and minimization are manipulation tactics where manipulators downplay or completely deny their wrongdoing or the seriousness of a situation. By refusing to acknowledge their actions or their impact, manipulators seek to avoid responsibility and protect their self-image. This tactic can create doubt, confusion, and false guilt in the person on the receiving end. Additionally, making people question their own judgment and feelings. Manipulators may insist that their actions were harmless or that the victim is overreacting, undermining the victim’s ability to address and rectify the issue while allowing the manipulator to escape accountability.

How to Deal With Manipulators Biblically

Manipulative individuals exist in a fallen world. I am guilty of assuming the best and giving the benefit of the doubt to my detriment. Despite the fact that I see clear patterns of manipulation in a someone close to me, I simply struggle to fathom that someone would intend harm. Yet, I have experienced it in my own life and as a result, I have learned much the hard way. It is my desire that you don’t learn the hard way. We have covered the tactics of manipulation and now it’s time to figure out how to deal with manipulators biblically. As you go through the vaious considerations, keep in mind that do everything prayerfully dependent on God. See the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you navigate an unsafe pattern of behavior in someone close to you.

Be compassionate and forgiving.

Ephesians 4:32(NIV) – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.​

We are children of God- called to be compassionate, kind and forgiving. This does NOT mean you have to give them full access to your heart. It simply means, I find it helpful to keep my heart soft and in a posture of forgiveness. This will benefit you just as much as the manipulative family member or friend. There is a reason that the manipulator in your life is engaging in this destructive pattern and therefore we can have compassion. We still need to keep a safe distance though! 

Be weary of unrepentant hearts.

Proverbs 17:9 – Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

The only time it is safe to move back into a relationship when someone who is unsafe is when there has been true repentance. True repentance means they are broken over their sin and the damage that it has caused. Read that second part again. So often someone will throw out a simple apology and think that it’s enough. The apology must address the manipulation as well as the damage it has caused (see impact of manipulation above). True repentance will also be working hard to repair the damage through transparent action and time. There will be no demand for trust that has been broken. Unrepentant hearts are a strong indicator that that the relationship is unsafe. Notice that!

Know your yourself.

When you are dealing with a manipulative person it is important to know yourself well. Someone who engages in a pattern of manipulation knows your weak spots. They know if you are easily swayed by fear of losing the relationship and will use intimidation or threats. If you are empathetic, a manipulator will play the victim. The impact of manipulation makes discernment challenging. When we don’t know our value in Christ or struggle with low self esteem we are likely to give easier access to our heart to an unsafe person. This is not cause to condemn yourself, but be mindful of how you operate. Seeking wise counsel is important- more on that in a minute. 

Keep your eyes on patterns of behaviors rather than assuming motives of the heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

God is the only One who truly is able to discern hearts. However, we can see outward behavior. While that does give us an indication of where someone’s heart is, it is more effective to focus on concrete facts when dealing with someone who is manipulative. Remember, deception is part of manipulation. Therefore, pointing to an assumption about their heart is not likely going to change the manipulator. Point to the specific behavior you want to address.

Set healthy boundaries.

Proverbs 22:5 – Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.

Healthy relationships have healthy boundaries. When I had a master manipulator in my life, I started by setting boundaries. I either confronted the manipulation or I ignored it and wouldn’t allow my behavior or choices to be changed by the manipulation. Ultimately, I had to remove the person from my life due to them not responding to correction or grace. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this matter. 

Let go of harmful misconceptions (abusive relationship)

This was my biggest issue and the reason I made so many mistakes on how to deal with manipulators biblically in the past. I erred on the side of grace upon grace and overlooked making wise choices, setting boundaries and looking for true repentance. All of these things must be part of biblically responding to manipulation. While offering grace upon grace sounds like a very Christian idea- it cause me to conceal the sin of another. It caused me to allow bad behavior rather than confront it. I look back now and wonder what might have happended in that person’s life had I held them accountable.

Be very prayerful.

Dependence on God when navigating a toxic relationship in necessary. It is only with His guidance can you know what your best next step is…Seek wise counsel, seek Him in His Word, find outside help.

Become an amazing fruit inspector.

While we cannot know every motive of the heart, we can be wise and discerning based on outward behavior. I am not suggesting you look for perfection, but do look for patterns. Jesus Christ tells us to be wise as serpents and that we will know people by their fruit. Don’t deny the reality of someone who is manipulating you.

Proverbs 17:9 – Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

Matthew 7:15-20 –  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Seek wise counsel.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 11:14 – Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

It is a good idea to seek a professional Christian counselor, life coach, pastor or trusted friend. Additionally, it is a good idea to find someone who has experience with emotional abuse. Not every wise counselor will be able to identify it. In that case it can be further damaging when seeking help. An outside person can be helpful in identifying blind spots we may have.

Recognize when its a losing battle.

Matthew 12:34 – You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

When you decide to confront manipulation stick to the facts/ behaviors and not to assuming motives of the heart. Stay calm and even keel. If you are not getting anywhere, you will know right away. Don’t continue to respond with trying to convince the manipulator that they are in fact being manipulative. They already know it- they are just denying it.

How to Deal With Manipulators Biblically When the Manipulator is You

Proverbs 28:13- Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Everyone engages in manipulation at times. However, if you are noticing this is a pattern for you, I want to applaud your honesty. I also want to remind you of Biblical Truth. There is no sin too big for the cross. When you confess your sin, God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us of all sin. He is also our Helper in changing strong patterns. Everyone falls short of God’s glory. His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in our weakness. God has no expectation of perfection, but He does call us to repentance. And He meets us there to help us- depend on Him! 

Last Thoughts on How to Deal With Manipulators Biblically

If you are in a relationship with someone who has a pattern of using manipulation to gain control and power- I’m sorry you have to deal with that. It likely has not been easy for you. Destructive patterns in relationships can have devastating effects. The fact that you are reading this article on how to deal with manipulators biblically shows your heart for wanting to be real and honor God in your very difficult circumstance. God delights over your heart. Inviting Him into the situation is the best way to begin to gain ground. 

Related Resources:

Bible Verses About Lying and Deceit


  1. ClaraB on September 25, 2023 at 7:29 am

    What a comprehensive list! Thank you for your insight Sunshyne.

  2. Nanette on September 25, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    Wonderful article. Perhaps you could write a book on dealing with this issue. Also dealing with personality disorders. I love Jesus and forgiveness is required but I have often blurred that with restoration and have been harmed emotionally as a result. Thank you!

    • Sunshyne on October 1, 2023 at 7:34 pm

      Totally agree, Nanette! I have also blurred forgiveness with reconciliation.

  3. Vanessa on September 27, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Wish I had read this years ago. Thank you for putting this into perspective through a Biblical lens. I appreciate you.

    • Sunshyne on October 1, 2023 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Vanessa!

  4. Lorraine L. on September 27, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    Excellent article! I am giving this article to my mom to help her see what has been going on for too many years with regard to my younger sibling being guilty of manipulating her. I am hoping some of her guilt can be alleviated by knowing the signs of my sibling’s manipulation that have caused much guilt and grief to my mom. Thank you for this wise counsel!

    • Sunshyne on October 1, 2023 at 7:35 pm

      It encourages me to know how God is using this information! Thank you, Lorraine!

  5. Judy on October 3, 2023 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve had this in my inbox for a while. Decided to read it today. This spoke to me so much. I’ve just recently been sucker punched and was reeling with so much emotion pain. I’ll need to re-read this again. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  8. Eli on January 10, 2024 at 2:32 am

    Exceptional article…..

  9. Julie G on January 18, 2024 at 12:33 pm

    I have a question for your billing office, but can’t find a way to contact anyone. Can you help please?

  10. Mercedes on March 9, 2024 at 6:12 am

    I really needed this article. 🥺🥺it came just at the right time

  11. Onyowoicho Ohagoro on March 9, 2024 at 9:53 am

    Thank you. God bless you.

  12. Jho Maldangesang on March 10, 2024 at 7:31 pm

    I have been manipulated by someone who is very close to me. All that you have said is true. I have suffered so much emotional stress. I am blinded by someone who abused and play with my feelings, kindness and goodness. But praise the Lord. It’s over now. She cannot harm me anymore. I wish I have read this two years ago!
    Praise God for your gift of counseling! God bless you Sunshine!

  13. DJP on May 17, 2024 at 5:51 am

    Excellent article. Thank you very much. Definitely will share this with my hubby. He puts it as immaturity when comes across these manipulative/ controlling behaviours. Bless him

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