Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

A Rotten Apple…?

…there is more danger that the bad will damage the good than hope that the good will benefit the bad.

[Matthew Henry]

We like to give apples to the deer that come into our yard. I buy bushels of them that are on the brink of spoiling. In each box we will find one or two rotten apples and you can see how that spoilage will be spreading to the rest.

Now, it seems to me that we are being told in our churches that we need to be mixing it up with rotten apples in order to make them healthy. “Forgive the bad apple. Be reconciled to the rot. Your goodness and health will wear off on the bad and they will be healed.” That kind of thing.

But we do not see this in Scripture. In fact, what we do see is this-

2Co 6:17-18 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

In agreement with the Apostle Paul, Matthew Henry summarized the truth in the quote above. Associating in a “yoked” way with the wicked is much more likely to damage the good than for the good to benefit the bad. And this truth is not just limited to marriage (as this Scripture is typically solely applied today). Paul actually had the pagan trade guilds and their associated idolatry in mind when he wrote this. The Corinthians were trying to have their cake and eat it too by continuing to be “members in good standing” with the guilds (a kind of trade union), even though to do so required participating in Babylon and its idolatries.

The reason so many professing Christians today are “restricted in their affections” to Christ’s true people (as the Corinthians were toward Paul) is because they have not “come out from among” this evil present world which is Babylon, the kingdom of the devil. To do so would mean experiencing the sufferings and losses that Paul and other real believers experienced. They balked. They were in danger of “receiving the grace of God in vain” (see 2 Cor 6:1).

Christ calls His people without exception to come out of Babylon. To reject participation in and acceptance of the religious, economic, and political system whose theology is written by the prince of darkness himself. We are not instructed to be a healthy apple whose mission is to be in the same bushel box with the rotten ones. No. We are to come out from among them, and then and only then will the Lord be a Father to us.

And that is the reason why so many genuine Christians today, who are following Christ, who have separated from the idolatry that parades even as Christianity, are experiencing suffering in their daily lives. But then we also experience something else – salvation. Knowing the Lord and being known by Him.


Hezekiah's Prayer as a Model for Us


Let's Talk about "Peace"


  1. Anonymous

    Dear Pastor Crippen,
    This is in response to both posts from this morning. First, THANK YOU. This ministry of Truth is a direct answer to my prayer, “is anyone out there?”. The next day I found this website and was in complete awe of God’s direct and obvious hand in this. I am so very grateful.
    Our Creator of the universe and all that is in it, has provided wisdom through the laws of the nature He has created. So yes, a rotten apple will rot the entire bushel. The good apples don’t heal the rotten one. A pinch of yeast is meant to integrate and work its way through the entire loaf of bread. A malignant tumor will need to be removed, etc. a shark is a shark and a wolf is a wolf. Anyone who says otherwise is truly a fool deceived by their own brand of wisdom.
    I am still working my way through the audio sermons on domestic violence that is such a gift to me!!! Now, I am very carefully listening to the words spoken and the actions of 3 direct neighbors that are of the world. Thanks to the exposure of the tactics of an abuser, I am no longer confused as to their behaviors. They will cause me harm the first opportunity they have, and I am no longer “so nice” to them. I am neutral and now only observe and avoid them at all costs. Why should a wolf in sheep’s clothing be treated any differently? They are there to deceive and devour. Lesson learned.
    As far as anger is concerned, I was silenced, shut down, and mocked by the church leaders when I appropriately and quietly asked for help with the abusive ex. I was put on medications for a year by a psychiatrist. What I didn’t share with these hypocrites who call themselves Christian, the psychiatrist diagnosed me with PTSD and provided me with medication, validation and support. He accurately observed that I was involved in a cult, not God’s church. (This doctor was not a Christian.) Here I am in the present day, learning that righteous anger against abuse and oppression is always appropriate.
    I have zero doubt that if I were alone in a room with the abusive ex husband he would kill me and find a way to say I harmed myself. I now trust my inner common sense. I will keep learning and healing by the grace of our Lord and Messiah, Jesus Christ.
    Thank you thank you thank you for providing a safe harbor. I pray for all of my dear true church friends and shepherd everyday.

  2. Sarah Howard

    This reminds of the outdated classroom practice of sitting the “bad” child (boy) next to the “good” child (girl).

  3. Innoscent

    The all inclusiveness narrative has slowly but surely crept into the churches. From the Pharisaic all exclusiveness of yesteryear the pendulum has swung in the other extreme. Accepting and loving everyone no matter what is the new motto that sounds so “holy”. Never mind the extensive counsel in the Bible to not associate with the wicked and worldly. They think they can turn wolves into sheep with “love” and “patience”. Devilish fantasy.
    Thank you Jeff for feeding the “deer” souls the truth and your relentless efforts and care. 🙂

  4. Praying Lady

    AMEN! AMEN!! Bad apples are just that, Pastor Jeff, BAD APPLES. They do not turn into good apples-ever! ABUSERS are ABUSERS, period. Wolves in sheep’s clothing do not turn into genuine Christians. Deception, lies and abuse is their life and the lifestyle that fuels their existence.
    I tried for over 3 decades (with my wicked husband who was a wolf in sheep’s clothing) to follow the counsel from “professing Christians” that included the things in your paragraph:
    “Now, it seems to me that we are being told in our churches that we need to be mixing it up with rotten apples in order to make them healthy. “Forgive the bad apple. Be reconciled to the rot. Your goodness and health will wear off on the bad and they will be healed.” That kind of thing.”
    The rotten apple that was my husband for almost 37 years was not “healed” of his evil, because he enjoyed his ability to hurt others. He was a narcissistic sociopath who feigned helplessness and the desire to be free of his wicked ways in order to manipulate me and others, and to continue the charade that was our “marriage.”
    Another verse that comes to mind is 1 Corinthians 15:33. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” It does NOT say, spend time with bad company (apples) and they will become godly. The rot (evil) tries to spread to the healthy (godly) ones. I spent an enormous amount of time and energy for over 30 years trying to heal the rotten apple and trying to avoid his rot from corrupting me. I prayed for him to be “healed.” It was exhausting, but I am glad I was able to cling to Jesus and the Word of God through it all. “Knowing the Lord and being known by Him,” is what kept me from totally losing my sanity.
    Thank you, Pastor Jeff, for another excellent post. May our Lord bless and protect you and your family.

  5. Brother Maynard

    I remember a sermon from years ago, when I was stationed in WA state. The title you ask? Clean does not rub off on dirty. The premise being dirty things don’t become clean when mixed with dirty items, its always the exact opposite…

  6. Ms. E.

    It seems that in some churches, status is more important than character.
    If one has a title (like pastor), no one dares to question the person, even if they were to sense something wrong. But most of the times, they won’t even detect it because the evil person is a master of pretense (like the pharisees). This person knows how to gossip and black-list someone under the saintly guise of a prayer request or “need help in understanding [the person they are smearing] better.”
    Sadly, it’s usually the good apple, and not the rotten ones, that ends up leaving the toxic church environment.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Exactly. The real sheep hear the Good Shepherd and will not follow the rotten apple.

  7. Free

    What an incredible message – & the apple bushels for the deer will stick as a reminder of the inevitable impact of the bad apple each time we see either of these words! You see this impact of rotting even in small group settings, friendship circles, immediate family members, teams at work, etc. – if you have 1 bad apple in the mix, that is the weakest link & the groups spend much time doing deflection & damage control for the toxic impact of the 1 single bad apple. It’s only a matter of time before others get worn down by the toxicity & even more vulnerable to the bad apple. Sounds similar to … “but one sinner destroys much good.” from Ecc 9:18.
    Thank you for the reminders – it’s devastating to hear other folks think we should group hug and “love on” the abusers simply because they sit in a church service & have learned to fool the masses. That bad apple has been rotten inside for a long time no matter what the apple “skin” looks like.

    • Innoscent

      Free, Ecc 9:18, those few words put it in a nutshell. It took only ONE angel in heaven who chose the path of envy, and cause all that mess we’re in! It spread to a third of the angels until open rebellion broke (Is 14, Ezek 28, Rev 12)
      What did God do? Even His mercy has limits and the wicked heavenly beings were kicked out. No rot allowed in the heavenly courts.
      Love is mercy AND justice combined. But some ignore the latter and think they can do better than God Himself…

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