Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Abusers are Accusers

Rev 12:10-11 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (11) And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

One typical method and characteristic of the wicked is that they accuse the righteous. They know that a godly person has a sensitive conscience (often too sensitive) and the evil man uses that against us. As you can see from the Scripture above, Satan is described as “the accuser of our brothers.” Think of what he said to the Lord, for instance, about Job. Or consider the accusations of Satan’s children, the Pharisees, that they rained down upon Christ.

Such wicked people love to remind us of our past sins. Sins from which we have long ago repented and confessed and been washed clean from by Christ. And yet the evil man will frequently fire this old volley at us: “Well, remember when you….”.  It is vital that we recognize this when it happens and that we refuse to keep wearing guilt for something Christ died for.

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Satan is not only an accuser, he is a liar. So often when he accuses us through some abusive, evil person, the accusations are lies.  Let’s say that you, humbly and honestly, have confessed some sin, some tendency of your fallen flesh. You admitted that you battle with patience or anger or pride. And you do battle with that sin by the Spirit in you. The Lord forgives. The Lord empowers.
But what does your abuser do?

He accuses. He lies. He exaggerates. He sees your genuine confession as a weak point at which he can strike and thereby wound your conscience. “Remember when you…You know that you are given to…You always…”.  These accusations are quite deceiving to you and to others because they are lies that are launched from a germ of “truth.” We must not wear the guilt and shame these evil charges bring against us. To do so is to play right into the devil’s hands.
Many years ago a man committed suicide. He had come to our church a few times. I hadn’t been here very long then and didn’t know him at all. We got a report one day that he had overdosed intentionally and was dead.
The following Sunday I announced this to the church and made the statement that I wonder in cases like this if there wasn’t something more I could have done – visited him perhaps, or….something?” Of course there wasn’t. He did what he did.
But some months later a very wicked “Diotrephes” (you know, the guy who “loves to be first,” see 3 John) threw a tantrum at one of our church services because he perceived that he was losing power. He raved on before storming out, and one of the things he said against me was “He admitted himself that he didn’t go visit John!”
You see it? The accuser of the brethren. Lies. Deceptions. False charges. Using our honest, humble confession against us.
I remember another abuser. This time it was a woman. An apparent “godly saint” who to this day people will still pile the adulation upon. But she was really thoroughly evil. A wolf in wool. And I recall standing outside the church building one Sunday after church. Here she came with her husband. Several people were there. And right out of the blue, she said “Well Jeff, I remember when you…”. And she was referring to a decision I made a year or two before which I later changed my mind upon. “I just will never forget that, Jeff.” See it again? This is the enemy. This is the stuff out of the pit. We must refuse to wear it.
Rebellious, wicked children do this to their godly parents. Mom and dad attempt to remove every stumbling block they can to the child’s coming to Christ. They admit they weren’t perfect parents. They admit their flaws and even the occasions when they sinned against the child. “I should not have been so harsh with you.” That sort of thing. But what does the unrepentant teen or young adult do over and over? “You did that to me (often the account is exaggerated and even false). That is why I am angry/sad/depressed/miserable. We must refuse to wear guilt for which Christ has forgiven us.
Abusers accuse. They guilt. They shame. And they do so with wickedly wonderful skill. The things stems from their very nature. They don’t have to stay up at night plotting the lies. Nope. Like the bitterest, terrible fruit buds on an evil tree, so these words spring right out of their heart. See the thing for what it is and don’t be taken in by it.


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  1. Stormy

    Awesome and right on time like you always are. I do this to myself. I think it’s part of the residual trauma from abuse. But I will fight this and win. Thank you pastor

  2. Amy

    What a timely post as I’m dealing with my oldest son who is throwing a lot in my face about how I did this and that when he was growing up. Lots of accusations about how I should have left his abusive father and had lots of opportunities, how not doing so has caused him terrible trauma etc.
    I’ve apologized and asked for forgiveness for anything I did that caused him pain, but have made it clear that I never intentionally set out to hurt him. I’ve explained that leaving an abusive marriage is not so black and white, and his father was abusive towards me too and there are many things he doesn’t understand or will ever know. Just like there are things I’m finding out his father did to him and my other son which I never knew. But that’s what abusers do, they hide their evil and even in our own household, he divided us.
    The guilt that my son has heaped upon my shoulders, the way he has treated me, is so reflective of his father, and I’m struggling with letting go of the guilt. I’m tired of walking on eggshells again after doing so for 20 years with his father. 🙁

    • Jeff Crippen

      I wonder if he realizes that had you left when he was younger that very likely

    • Jeff Crippen

      ….very likely he would not have understood and held it against you.

    • Jeff Crippen

      He does not understand the deception and tactics of abusers.

    • It is very sad when our children pick up the tactics of an abuser. We can pray that leaving the abuser brings peace at least to the portion of their lives that they are with the non-abusive parent!
      I am slowly learning not to be vulnerable with wicked people because they only desire to blame, accuse and destroy. Thank you pastor Jeff , your posts are so timely and helpful.

      • Stormy

        Starlight— I am also learning not to be vulnerable to the wicked.
        I will no longer believe the lies taught by preachers that encourage sympathy for the wicked and cause many to become entangled with folks that long to destroy others. . To name few “ hate the sin love the sinner — hurting people hurt people—
        I will no longer throw my pearls before swine, I will no longer subject myself to evil as a means to glorify god. I will no longer accept everybody that calls themselves a Christian as a Christian,
        I will no longer listen and internalize sermons that make no sense. it’s a learning curve but I’m getting stronger everyday. I have many productive years left and I won’t be allowed no good evil wicked people in. I’d rather be alone than have tons of evil people surrounding me with fake favor.

  3. walkinginlight

    Ah, the child of the devil trying to dig up some dirt on Christ’s redeemed.
    The one thing in this life that keeps me going and smiling is scriptures like

  4. healinginhim

    Such an excellent post!
    I can certainly relate to the commenter who is “tired of walking on eggshells” with adult children. I am now feeling guilt as I don’t even desire to be around my adult children because I sense I’m not even a viable human being in their eyes.
    They don’t necessarily want to visit with me but do so as an obligation and only if it fits into their schedule as they usually come back to this community to visit one of “his relatives” not necessarily to visit me, their mother.

  5. K

    The latest accusation I was thrown was “Well you used to pretend to be asleep when I would come to bed. That’s deceptive”. It’s not hard to figure out why I would do such a thing…but I was left speechless when he threw that dart…
    “They don’t have to stay up at night plotting the lies.Nope…these words spring right out of their heart.” is so accurate. I always wondered how he was so quick with his words and I was often left at a loss for how to respond.

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