Is It Wrong to Defend Yourself?

A Little Lesson

“Jesus never defended Himself.” Someone said this to Bible teacher David Servant not long ago, making a claim that it’s wrong for Christians to defend themselves before those who wrongly accuse them. But is this statement true? Actually, it’s not! Learn more in this episode of Little Lessons.

Boy defending himself

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

Thank you so much for joining me. We’re going to address a question that’s actually something that came up in my own life not too long ago. I was defending myself, and the person before whom I was defending myself didn’t like it, for some reason or another, and they said, “Well, Jesus never defended himself.” And I thought to myself, well that’s not really true.

We know that at Jesus’s trial he was silent as a lamb before its sheers is silent. He was fulfilling prophecy, obviously there was no need to defend himself. It was God’s will for him to die an unjust death on the cross, because he was dying for our sins. And so, from that perspective, he was actually guilty. I know that sounds strange to say, he was guilty with our guilt, and so there was no defense. And it’s thought by some that that may have been why Jesus was silent and didn’t defend himself, because as a representative, he had no defense.

But there were other times in Jesus’s ministry where he definitely defended himself. I mean, you read so many of the conversations he had with the religious leaders that could definitely be characterized as defending himself. Right? Sure. One time they said he cast out demons by the prince of demons, and did Jesus just remain silent when he heard that accusation? No, he defended himself. He said, “That’s not true at all. A house divided against itself will not stand. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is coming among you.” So there.

So Jesus defended himself, so I guess it must be okay to defend yourself. And if you think about it, defending yourself could be, at times, again, as long as you’re defending yourself honestly and truthfully, and that you are in fact innocent of what you’re being accused of, it could be considered an act of love towards even your accusers, because they should know and believe the truth. If you love your enemies, you don’t want them to believe what’s not true about you, and if you love your friends, you’re not going to want them to believe what’s not true about you.

It’s pretty hard to do anything for God and not be criticized, and not be attacked on some level or another. I know that from experience, so if you’re going to step out and try to obey Jesus, you’re going to be persecuted, and that persecution sometimes comes in the form of accusations. And, when you defend yourself, you’re showing your love for your accuser. “You’re mistaken. That’s not true. I want you to have your sins forgiven. I want you to be born again. I want you to go to heaven. I want you to miss hell. So I don’t want you to believe a lie about me.” Sure, sure.

Well, the trouble is, sometimes when you defend yourself, people who are in darkness often make the presumption, the assumption that, “oh, you must be guilty because you’re defending yourself, because if you didn’t defend yourself, that would show that you don’t even care.” Well, see, they’re operating on worldly wisdom there. People who love care about what other people think about them, because their reputation is important, because their reputation is what they use to honor Christ, and to let their light shine, and so forth.

There’s a line in Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, it’s quite famous, “The lady doth protest too much me thinks.” And I forget the story behind it, but it’s based upon what I was just talking about. When someone’s really adamant about defending themselves, sometimes then, we conclude, well, you’re so dramatic and you’re so passionate about this, you must be guilty. Because otherwise, you would maybe just remain calm or you wouldn’t even worry about it.

Well, it is definitely something to deal with and it’s counterintuitive. Sometimes when you defend yourself, people who aren’t used to acting like a Christian and always speaking the truth, well, they’re operating on a worldly principle. Well, if you weren’t guilty, you wouldn’t be defending yourself. What? You mean in court cases, innocent people don’t defend themselves? I mean, they hire attorneys to help defend them and so forth, otherwise they could be punished for something, a crime they didn’t commit. So it’s really silly logic.

So, I think the important thing is, if you have to defend yourself, do it in love. And make sure your motive is even more important than any selfish motive and that you care care about your accusers. I care about those who might hear the evil report of my accusers, and I want them to know the truth. The Apostle Paul defended himself. There’s two whole chapters in the New Testament. There’s nothing else but basically defense. 2 Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12, there’s a problem in Corinth. These false apostles had wiggled their way in there, wormed their way into the church and won the loyalties of many of the Corinthian Christians, and they were bad mouthing Paul and diminishing his importance, and so forth. And so, Paul goes into this lengthy defense. You can tell he’s very uncomfortable about it because he has to boast.

He doesn’t like talking about all of his credentials and the signs and wonders that God performed through him that proved that he was an apostle. You can read it for yourself, but he keeps apologizing for his boasting. These are the chapters where he talks about that thorn in the flesh that was given to him to keep him from exalting himself because of the abundance of the supernatural revelation that he had. Well, he had an amazing revelation. It’s all written down for us there in the New Testament Epistles that he wrote.

Some of the things he heard, he wasn’t even able to repeat. The things that he learned to do he said are not lawful for a man to speak these things. So he had a revelation he had kept totally quiet about. Isn’t that interesting. At the very end of his long defense, he says in 2 Corinthians, chapter 12 and verse number 19. Now, listen to this. This is really interesting. “All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you.” Well yeah, if you read it you’d think that. But look, he’s going to give some insight here.

“Actually, it is in the sight of God that we’ve been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.” So what he’s saying is, “I have an anointing, an unction from the Holy Spirit who’s speaking through me. I’m speaking in Christ. This is prophetic, and you thought I’m just going through a carnal practice here of defending myself. Oh no, no, no. I’m being led by the Holy Spirit right now to say these things, and it’s for your benefit. Because you need my ministry, and if you don’t, if you’re turning your back on me and giving your loyalty to these bad guys, well, that’s not good for you. So I love you, so I’ve got to defend myself because I love you.” You got it? All right. So is it wrong to defend yourself? No, it’s not wrong to defend yourself as long as you have a defense that’s right and true, okay?

Hey, I want to encourage you to check out That’s the ministry that I’m so blessed to direct, and we’re working in about 40 countries serving the least of these, which is something every Christian ought to be involved in.Okay, until next time, God bless you.