I found this quote in an old commentary on the book of Jeremiah:
The most wicked, we know, flatter themselves while they can retain the good opinion and applause of the world; and as long as they continue in honor, they slumber in their vices.
The author continues:
…though hypocrites flatter themselves, and the whole world enourages them by its adulations [applause] all this will not avail them; for they must at last come before the tribunal of God and that before God truth only will be approved and honored.
The particular kind of wicked person we deal with here – the domestic abuser (including the narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath) fits this description quite well. Evil people flatter themselves that they are quite right with God. They boast about what fine saints they are. They quote Bible verses left and right. And what encourages them to be able to “slumber in their vices,” un-troubled by conscience, is that they are receiving the praise, applause, and adulation of the world, including that of worldly churches.
Most of you know that domestic abusers are quite often not only upstanding members of a church, but they attain to office and position in those churches. They are popular. Well thought of. And if anyone points out some flaw in them, their allies quickly rally against the critic.
Here is an example from Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 14:13-14 ESV Then I said: “Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” (14) And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.
In this case the people of Judah were the evildoers, and they were being applauded and encouraged in their evil by wicked prophets and priests who told them lies and appended the Lord’s name to those “visions.” So the people “slumbered in their vices,” free of the pangs of conscience or fear of coming judgment.
Therefore, beware. Often it is the most popular, most “holy saint” in the church who is the most wicked. It is the pious leader of a denomination or missions organization, beloved by all. It is the most energetic “servant of the church” who is there at every meeting of the church, the man to call on no matter what help you need.