Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

What the Presence of Christ in Us Will Mean

One of the most common ways that a Christian is persecuted today is in the scenario of a Christian who is married to a non-Christian.  Very often the unsaved spouse, the abuser, parades himself or herself as an eminent Christian, but is really only a Saul.  And at the root of the abuse is a fear of Christ, as the abuser sees that the Spirit of Christ is in the victim, and a hatred for Christ and thus for the victim.

This is vital for all churches and pastors and Christians to realize.  Not only for themselves personally, but because it will enable them to understand what is really happening to an abuse victim who is a Christian.  Listen now, and learn.

Christ is in us.  If you are a Christian, Christ dwells in you, and you in Him.  In the New Covenant, this is how it is and it was inaugurated on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).  Christ is in us and with us.  If you study the theme of the Lord’s Presence in the Old Testament, also worded as “the Lord was with His people,” you will learn some very interesting things that are the result of the Lord being with us.  Listen to the account of the Spirit of the Lord departing from King Saul after Saul had repeatedly disobeyed the Lord, and then coming upon the young King David:

1 Samuel 16:10-14 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.”  (11)  Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.”  (12)  And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.”  (13)  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.  (14)  Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.

So, here we have two men – Saul and David – one whom the Spirit of the Lord is upon, and the other from whom the Spirit has departed. What do you suppose happens when two such men get together?  We need not wonder:

1 Samuel 18: 1-30 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (2) And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. (3) Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. (4) And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. (5) And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. (6) As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. (7) And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (8) And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” (9) And Saul eyed David from that day on. (10) The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. (11)  And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice. (12) Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. (13) So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. (14) And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him. (15) And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. (16) But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them. (17)  Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the LORD’s battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” (18) And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father’s clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” (19) But at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife. (20) Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. (21) Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” (22) And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king’s son-in-law.’” (23) And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” (24) And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.” (25) Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. (26) And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, (27) David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. (28) But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, (29) Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually. (30) Then the princes of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.

What are the obvious themes repeated over and over again here?

  • The Spirit of the Lord is with David and therefore David enjoys success.
  • The Spirit of the Lord is with David and therefore David is hated by Saul.
  • The Spirit of the Lord is not with Saul, therefore Saul FEARS David and HATES David, desiring to kill him.
  • The Spirit of the Lord is not with Saul, therefore Saul wants David out of his presence.

Now, Christian – a wake up call for you.  If you truly are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is in you.  Christ is in you.  What can you most certainly expect then to be your experience in this world?

  • You will enjoy success against the enemies of Christ.
  • You will be feared by the enemies of Christ.
  • You will be hated by the enemies of Christ.

One of the reasons that we do not seem to enjoy success against Christ’s enemies is because we don’t understand these things.  Let’s see if we can correct this.
The Enemies of Christ Fear the Christian
Saul was afraid of David – very afraid.  Why?  Because he knew that the Lord was with David.  And the Lord was not with Saul – He was against him.  David had done nothing wrong to Saul.  In fact, David was one of Saul’s most loyal subjects.  But Saul was darkness and David was light.
Christian, you need to know that you can be courageous against the enemies of Christ.  You need not shirk back –

2 Timothy 1: 6-8  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, (7) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (8) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,

The enemy does not want us to know this.  He wants to keep us timid.  But it isn’t necessary. The fact is that the world and those who belong to it are very afraid of the people of Christ. It is the same thing we see in Christ’s encounter with demons –

Matthew 8: 28-29  And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. (29) And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

So we can speak for Christ with all confidence.  We do not need to fear people, especially in the sense of becoming confused and worried that the problem is with something we have done wrong – though that will be the nature of the accusations.  What is really happening, and what is the real reason for the alienation is the enemies of Christ fear the people of Christ because the Spirit of Christ is in us. Saul feared David greatly. Of course fearlessness does not mean foolishness. We must still be wise and use reasonable caution. Saul was dangerous to David and David acted accordingly with wisdom. Not fearing someone who persecutes us does not mean that we cast away all caution, but caution is not fear.
The Enemies of Christ Hate the Christian
Saul’s fear translated into hatred.  Men try to destroy that which they fear.  So Saul tried to kill David over and over and over.  And that is how it is going to be with you if you really know Christ.  That is how it was with Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  That was the experience of our Lord Himself, and we are not greater than He.
The enemies of Christ fear Christ’s people because the Spirit of Christ is in us.  And the enemies of Christ hate the people of Christ because they hate Christ.
Let me share something with you that I am learning, that may surprise you.  Here it is again, the same thesis we opened with:

One of the most common ways that a Christian is persecuted today is in the scenario of a Christian who is married to a non-Christian.  Very often the unsaved spouse, the abuser, parades himself or herself as an eminent Christian, but is really only a Saul.  And at the root of the abuse is a fear of Christ, as the abuser sees that the Spirit of Christ is in the victim, and a hatred for Christ and thus for the victim.

As I am contacted by abuse victims who are Christians, and usually it is the wife – I am learning this to be true.  And it is something that the victims often have not yet realized.  Here is the root cause of the abuse –

John 15: 25,  But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
1 John 3: 10-13  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (11) For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (12) We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (13) Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, you can be sure of this – no matter what an abuse victim does, no matter how much she alters her appearance or her behavior or her words in an attempt to appease her abuser, it will not work!  He will not change.  Why?  Because nothing can change the fact that the victim is a Christian and he is not.  And that is what is at the very root of the conflict.  Learn this well, and be wise!


"God Can Save Anyone" – A Common Line Used to Keep Abuse Victims in Bondage


Let's Put This "But he hasn't physically abused you" Nonsense to Rest Once and For All


  1. MapleRose

    Very helpful perspective and it makes sense as I look at all the crazy things my ex does. His hatred of me is beyond my comprehension, except in light of the hatred darkness has for light.

  2. Stormy

    This has happened to me over and over. Different scenarios, abusers in work environments, neighborhood, fake Christian friends, church organizations Etc. What a relief. I am comforted by your words Pastor. Tears in my eyes. Thank you.

  3. Praying Lady

    WOW!!! Thank you for explaining this so clearly, Pastor Crippen.
    I knew my ex HATED me, even though he insisted that he loved me. His actions spoke much louder than his words. Sure, he bought me flowers and jewelry after being mean and hateful towards me, but his abusive behavior only got worse over the more than 35 years that we were together.
    I had never thought about the example of David and Saul. That is such a great picture of what happened in my marriage. Saul tried to kill David, or have him killed. My ex tried to kill me by strangulation. That is what finally ended our relationship. He refuses to admit that his abuse is what destroyed our marriage and now says that “the spark just went out.” He wants us to be best friends and love each other again. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. NEVER. NO WAY! Thank God that I am a lot wiser and see that man for who he really is.
    Your articles are so encouraging and validating to me and those like me who have survived living with professing Christians who are really narcissistic sociopaths, AKA “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Thank you!

    • Stormy

      I knew my domestic abuser hated me too. You just feel it. You can’t help but feel it. They treat everyone they want to impress like kings and queens but their victims are treated like garbage.

  4. walkinginlight

    Thank you for the confirmation Pastor Crippen. Some of the most evil people I have encountered have been pseudo (false Christians) and they sure had it in for me. The Lord delivered me every time from their evil grasp and exposed their evil doings to the Pastor and leadership. I am still wondering though how He will show me to get free from the anti husband of 35 yrs. The last time he tried verbally abusing me I raised my hand (like a police man to stop traffic) and said “greater is He who is in me then he who is in the world”, and he got this shocked look on his face and shut right up. I know he hates me as he hates the Lord. Also Vietnamese people who I have gotten manicures from the past fifteen years, have all shown a strong dislike for me. I don’ take it personal as I know they all worship Buddha. Every single one of them in different states I have been in have all been very nasty to me. I take it as a complement. I don’t care if pagans like me or not, all I care about is pleasing the Lord. PRAYING LADY, I am so glad that you are free from your murderous abuser. Now you can live a life of peace. I pray you will have some happiness now.

    • Stormy

      To Praying lady and Walking in the light I consider you my internet friends. I read all of your posts and all the other wonderful participants posts as well. I’m so grateful for this online community and so grateful for the new church services also!

  5. Stormy

    Pastor Crippen,
    I need to tell you again how thankful I am for you. I read and then re read your posts. Your sermons/devotional/ posts bring healing to me.
    The words I’ve never heard before but needed desperately to hear.
    This was the encouragement I’ve needed for years. Your sermons help put the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s words I need to hear today as I reflect on the many Sauls I’ve encountered in different areas of my life.
    My Sauls have not changed and will never change. The jealously, the hatred, the desire for our destruction will continue in their unconverted hearts but we will know the truth. Thank you for reiterating that. We need to hear it! Thank you for saying we will have success! I needed that to!

  6. walkinginlight

    Everything you have said above concerning Pastor Crippen, You took the words out of my mouth. The Lord has used and is using him to help all of us and through his preaching is helping to heal our souls with the word of God and validation. We are all brothers and sisters united in Christ Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross. Hallelujah!! We are so very blessed to all be here. Not many want to learn the truth about these evildoers and what the Lord has to say about it in the bible. I pray the Lord richly bless everyone here and all His true children.

    • Stormy

      Love and hugs to you Walking in the light!
      Thanks for your response.

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