Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

How to Put on Christ When You are Accused by the Enemy

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

All Christians and in some ways in particular, those who have been victims of crafty abusers who parade as most eminent and holy Christians, have been the target of false accusations and condemnation, all designed to lead us to despair of having forgiveness of sins in Christ. This is a common tactic of the enemy and we must be wise to it.  Listen to these words by Martin Luther as he comments on Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians:

Let us bear this in mind when the devil accuses and frightens our conscience, attempting to drive us to despair. He is the father of lying and the enemy of Christian freedom; he torments us every moment with false fears, so that when our conscience has lost this Christian freedom, it will feel remorse for sin and condemnation and always remain in anguish and terror.  When that great dragon– that old snake, the devil– comes and tells you that not only have you done no good, but you have also transgressed God’s law, say to him, ‘You are troubling me with the memory of my past sins; you are also reminding me that I have done no good. But this is nothing to me, for if I either trusted in my own good deeds or feared because I have done no such deeds, Christ would in either case be of no value to me at all. I rest only in the freedom Christ has given me.  I know he is of value to me, and so I will not make him of no value, which I would be doing if I either presumed to purchase favor and everlasting life for myself by my good deeds or despaired of my salvation because of my sins.’

Let us learn, then, carefully to separate Christ from all that we do, both good and evil, from all laws, both human and divine, and from all troubled consciences. Christ has nothing to do with any of these.  He does have something to do with afflicted consciences but not to afflict them further, but to raise them up and in their affliction comfort them. If Christ seems like an angry judge or a lawgiver who requires a strict account of our past life, then let us assure ourselves that is not Christ, but a raging fiend. The Scripture depicts Christ as our reconciliation, our advocate, and our comforter. He is and always will be such; he cannot be unlike himself.

The devil will disguise himself in the likeness of Christ and argue with us as follows: ‘You were admonished by my Word and ought to have done this, but you have not done it; you ought not to have done that, and you have done it; be sure that I will take vengeance on you.’ When he does this, we should not let it move us at all but should immediately think, ‘Christ does not speak like this to poor, afflicted, and despairing consciences. He does not add affliction to the afflicted; he does not break the ‘bruised reed’ or snuff out the ‘smoldering wick’ (Isaiah 42:3). It is true that he speaks sharply to the hard-hearted, but if people are afraid and afflicted, he entices them most lovingly and comfortingly (Matt 9:2, 13; 11:28; Luke 19:10; John 16:33).’ We must take good care, therefore, that we are not deceived by Satan’s tricks and receive an accuser and condemner instead of a comforter and Savior. [Martin Luther, Galatians; The Crossway Classic Commentaries]

Pretty good stuff, right? Christian, Christ is your Friend, not your accuser!


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  1. Lynne

    Thank you for this good word! I am encouraged and strengthened by this truth.

  2. Jacob

    Amen! Freedom in Christ! Christ brings Joy and Peace. His Mercy is renewing everyday. The enemy will always try to put you down. Sometimes it might even be somebody close to you. Like a Pastor or Deacon for example.

    • Bridge Coltman

      This woman, (me) & I believe women in general & especially those beautiful treasures of women who have experienced first hand abuse from their partners or husbands in their relationships, need more men like you Jacob & Jeff who are willing to be bold with your words & convictions, & to challenge abuse, especially within the church & senior positions within the church, who seem(self) protected & neglect, deny & ignore what they know, what they have experienced & what they have witnessed. How can they preach from the pulpit knowing they’ve made a choice to ignore abuse & placate the abuser. Such a leader would cause me major concerns & massive doubts especially proclaiming Gods Word as a Pastor. Such a leader I experienced, it’s like being abused all over again even worse when they become allies.
      Keep raising your voices Jacob & Jeff.

  3. Susan

    Pastor Crippen – Very encouraging and very much needed. Even dear “friends” may subtly indicate you are lacking in your pursuit of Christ. If someone is constantly “putting you down,” even for very inconsequential things, be sure they are also undermining you spiritually.

  4. Esther

    Thank you for quoting Martin Luthers words, ” I know he is of value to me, and so I will not make him of no value, which I would be doing if I either presumed to purchase favor and everlasting life for myself by my good deeds or despaired of my salvation because of my sins.” This truth is vital to me during this time and I pray I can realize it and apply it minute by minute. My abuser, former pretend christian and now an avowed atheist, is conducting a smear campaign by talking to whoever will listen about my past sins. These “past sins” are things that occurred in my 20’s prior to our 33 year marriage. Things that Christ has forgiven, I have forgiven myself for and that I confided to him about when we were dating and I was busy divulging all of myself to him. While I know the truth, I have lived in fear wondering who now knows all of these things about me! I really should thank him for giving me a platform upon which to declare Christ’s mercy and grace in not only forgiving me but also regenerating me and making me into a new creation. It is because of Christ that I no longer live that life, and live a life worthy of His calling. It is the enemy who accuses me and wants me to accuse me with fear and cause me to live in condemnation. While it is true that I do sometimes retreat into my corner and feel condemned, I am thankful that the truth has been declared this morning. Christ is lovingly and comfortingly assuring me that He is my defender and I need not fear.

    • Rom 8:33  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
      Rom 8:34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.


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