Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Beware of Flattery – A Favorite Tactic of the Wicked

Mat 22:15-16  Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.  (16)  And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

This morning I am preaching a sermon which is an overview of Matthew 22:15-46 in which the Lord’s enemies tried to ensnare Him with three questions. I wanted to notice here that these schemes began with the scheme of flattery as you can see in the verses quoted above. Listen to these great observations by J.C. Ryle, taken from his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels:

The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the flattering language with which our Lord was accosted by His enemies. ‘Master,’ they said, ‘we know that thou art true, and that you teach the way of God in truth, and neither do you care for any man; for you regard not the person of men.’ How well these Pharisees and Herodians talked! What smooth and honeyed words were these! They thought, no doubt, that by good words and fair speeches they would throw our Lord off His guard. It might truly be said of them, ‘the words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.’ (Psalm 55:21)
It becomes all professing Christians to be much on their guard against flattery. We mistake greatly if we suppose that persecution and hard usage are the only weapons in Satan’s armory. That crafty foe has other engines for doing us mischief, which he knows well how to work. He knows how to poison souls by the world’s seductive kindness, when he cannot frighten them by the fiery dart and the sword. Let us not be ignorant of his devices. By peace he destroys many.
Peace often ruins nations more than war. Sweet things occasion far more sickness than bitter. The sun makes the traveler cast off his protective garments far sooner than the north wind. Let us beware of the flatterer. Satan is never so dangerous as when he appears as an angel of light. The world is never so dangerous to the Christian as when it smiles. When Judas betrayed his Lord, it was with a kiss. The believer who is proof against [ie able to withstand something damaging] the world’s frown does well. But he that is proof against its flattery does better.

How many of us have been snared by the flatterer? In my early days as a pastor I know that I was not always wise in this regard. Some new person would come to a church service and then praise the sermon as “the best” they ever heard. They would fall all over themselves with commendations about our church. But in the end these kind either never lasted or they proved themselves to be enemies of the gospel.
Victims of domestic abuse learn by hard lessons that the “love bombing” of their abuser in the first part of their relationship was short-lived (often ending on the honeymoon) and was only designed as a trap to capture, possess, and control. We do well to train our children and other young people to beware of this flattering deception.
(By this evening you can find my sermon from today at sermonaudio.com/crc. As always, the links to it both at Sermon Audio and on YouTube will be posted on the Sunday worship service order at lightfordarktimes.com )


All Power and Control Regimes Share the Same Basic Characteristics


Those who fail to help the oppressed are headed for judgment


  1. Anonymous

    Oh so true. I watched my husband (former pastor) flatter every male leader that shared something at prayer meeting last week, but not a word to any females in leadership or anyone else that shared. Only the males in positions of authority received his “affirmations.” We are new at this church, my story has been shared with one elder’s wife, but I’m not sure she has had the opportunity yet to share it with the rest of the team. I am praying they will recognize his flattery and fake humility.

    • frankiesmith2064

      The sermon at my brick and mortar church today was about grieving. I thought about what a domestic violence survivor has to suffer in the church in order to finally grieve their loss.
      We are not allowed or encouraged to grieve by our church family that should be supporting us. We are left to sort thru the confusion all alone. It’s horrible and it’s taken me years to make sense of it all.
      It takes so long because we have to come to terms with the fact that our flattering abusers and their allies are not Christians.
      I had to grieve the betrayal of my friends and church family. It was a striking blow to me as a new Christian.
      As I watched my flattering abuser rise thru the ranks and his positive reputation grew while mine he was actively destroying mine with the smear campaign. (He flattered others while destroying me. )
      We have to sort thru false teaching, the false guilt and responsibility laid on us that we must love the abuser to wholeness.
      The lies that our suffering is Gods will and he allowed it to purify us of our horrible sins because we deserve it.
      The horrible teaching of the wicked Bill Gotthard that said submit!! Submit!! The teachings of Gary Thomas that says marriage is not to make us happy but make us holy.
      These things wreck havoc on the brains of abuse victims.
      They all say we must lay down our lives.
      That it’s a sin to stand up for yourself. That we must humbly bear up under every circumstance. That it’s our fault.
      Without pastor Crippens help I may have never realized that. Thank you a million times over. It wasn’t until I found this blog that the healing finally began.
      And it’s an ongoing process.
      Oh the cognitive dissonance as the Flattering abusers pray their public prayers, speak their flowery words, flatter others and manage their reputations oh so carefully to avoid detection.
      Wow I got a crash course in evil and I’m still healing.

      • I Woke Up

        Frankie, I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure living in the “quiverfull” lifestyle. It’s a cult, pure and simple. The Presbyterian Church in America is cult-ish. I’m a survivor from that. I was easily flattered in that church, and my hindsight now is 20/20. After that trauma, I used to think I’d become jaded about much of Christiandom, but I now see it as an enlightening. My spiritual life is far healthier being out of bondage to fallacies. In my old church, we were always warned against the ways of the world. It diverted my attention from the evil right under my nose. When that evil was perpetrated against my children and me, it was a HARD lesson to learn! So, all that being said, you and I, and many others, are waking up and learning that hard lesson! I thank God for opening my eyes. His truth will guide and save us in this journey because we were broken and fell on Jesus to save us from utter despair.

  2. Krikit

    Psst, Pastor Crippen…
    The verse referenced needs a bit of a change…Psalm 55:21

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Keikit. I mis-read the Roman numerals he used. I’m rusty.

      • Krikit

        No problem. Stuff happens…like me, spelling *my own* name wrong…and not noticing. lol 🤣
        Signed, IHadn’tHadMyCoffeeYet!—Krikit

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