2Co 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. (14) And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (15) So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Recently I was asked a very good question by an abuse survivor who has had more than one experience with abusive relationships, one in which she was nearly killed. The question is stated in the title of this article, “how do I avoid getting tied up with another abuser?”
Well, the answer is not an easy one. There is no fixed formula with guarantees. As the Apostle Paul said in the scripture quoted above, evil comes in very, very deceptive disguises. How many of you for instance can tell about how charming and wonderful “he” was when you first met him? And how he is still thought of as the most wonderful, godly saint in your church? No, there are no acid texts. But we can still apply some pretty good wisdom.
I have been duped by many people these 36 years I have been a pastor. I mean, I want people to come to know Christ. And I want Christians to come and join our church and fellowship with us and help with the ministry. You know the feeling – someone you meet says they are a Christian too, just like you, and you get a bit excited because it is pretty neat to cross paths with another believer.
But over the years I have learned to slow down. I don’t quickly invite people who claim to be Christians to come to our church. In fact, I actually more quickly invite people who don’t claim Christ at all but who seem to have some honest questions. But Satan cloaks himself with many disguises and his favorite ones are “Christian.” Over the years the vast majority of persecution we have suffered here has come from people who claim to be godly, saintly, Christian people – NOT from the unbelieving pagan world. Recently a man and his wife visited our church. I had a negative first impression. He called and left me a message later in the week praising our church and saying he wanted to meet me for “coffee.” I never returned his call. He never returned to our church. And I am fine with that.
So, having experienced this deceiving wickedness myself many times, let me just give you some principles that I think are valuable in guarding us against abusers coming into our lives.
- Don’t be hasty to assume people who say they are Christians really know the Lord. No matter how “godly” they speak or how “saintly” they might act, withhold your judgment. They may well not be what they look like.
- Beware of people who talk and talk and talk “Bible.” I have found the real Christians don’t feel the need to portray themselves as holy.
- Never, never, never yield to pressure to be involved with someone sexually before marriage. Never. Never. In fact if they are pressuring you to do so, they aren’t someone you want to marry. And telling them “no” is an excellent test of who they really are.
- Do not ignore red flags that sometimes are just a “feeling” in you. Something produced that feeling of uncomfortableness.
- Stop being so “nice.” Have firm boundaries that you expect others to respect. One of the most vulnerable targets for abuse is a woman who is pretty, and who is “just so nice and kind to everyone.” Abusers are attracted to her beauty and then when they see she is so “nice” to everyone, they know she is an easy target for power and control.
- Stop “thinking the best” about people. If someone does something wrong or something that makes you uncomfortabe or hurt, then don’t make excuses for them. “Oh, he didn’t mean to….”. Yes he did.
- Dump the person who is never wrong. The person who never admits guilt or apologizes, but blames others instead. Beware the guy who too readily bad mouths his ex-wife.
- Don’t permit yourself to think that you “must have a man” in your life. Some of the healthiest abuse survivors I know tell me how much they are enjoying being single.
- Recognize that we live in incredibly evil times. I do not exaggerate (though many “christians” accuse me of exaggeration) when I say that the visible church today is for the most part corrupt. That means that the majority of professing Christians do not know the Lord at all and he does not know them. Genuine, regenerate, godly people are not that easy to find.
- Deal with yourself. Focus on growing in Christ and knowing Him more intimately. As you grow in His truth and light, agents of the enemy will become easier and easier to spot AND guess what? They won’t be comfortable around you. This is probably the most important point in this list.
Let me elaborate a bit on #10. I am going to tell you something that is going to sound arrogant on my part, but here it is. Start listening to the sermons we post on YouTube and on sermonaudio.com/crc. Follow our Sunday services by going to Light for Dark Times (lightfordarktimes.com) where you will find the order of service and the sermon video for each Sunday. Learn along with us and grow in Christ. I highly recommend the “In My Father’s House” sermon series on sermonaudio.com/crc to teach you the big picture of the Bible. Then you have the Wise as Serpents series that teaches you about evil.
Why am I promoting my own sermons? Because there is SO much false teaching out there in books and online, stuff that is SO shallow and which will lead you astray, that I only want to direct you to a safe place. In addition, these sermons are the product of the Lord teaching ME hard, hard lessons about wickedness, about the false teachings and traditions of men laid on me in school, and I want the whole world to hear these things.
So, there it is. How do we avoid getting duped by wicked people again and again? Grow closer and closer and closer to Christ. Become more and more like Him. Pretty soon the darkness will sense His light in you and will depart rather than target you.
Col 1:9-14 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (10) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (11) being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; (12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (13) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.