Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

If we Don’t Know our Enemy, we Won’t Even Know we are being Attacked

Gal 4:17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.

Jud 1:16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

The Bible contains massive amounts of instruction about the wicked. About their motives and their tactics. We are told that Satan is a murderer and a liar who sneaks in among us in an angel of light disguise. Wicked people will arise from among us, as Paul warned the Ephesians. The spirit of the antichrist is at work now and when THE Antichrist appears, much of his energies will be given to deception.

Over the years, particularly in my nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry, I have often failed to understand that the enemy IS an enemy. That is to say, I have explained away many of the more deceptive, confusing, disguised attacks as being far less than they really were. I overlooked. I excused. He was having a bad day. She is a Christian but is just a difficult person who requires my patience. He did this and that thing, said this or that troubling statement, but all in all he is a brother in Christ. So I overlooked. I excused. I even defended these kind of people when others took notice of their behavior. “Well she means well.” “Yes, I know, he has his glitches.”

What was my problem? My problem was I did not know the real nature and intent of such people. I thought I knew them, but I did not. I did not comprehend, nor did I even want to understand, that this kind of person was in fact acting very intentionally and willfully. I did not understand that he/she was an enemy. A narcissist. A sociopath. A person demanding to be worshipped and served and who punished anyone who they perceived had failed to deliver that worship and service. I did not understand, in other words, that I was actually dealing with a wicked person.

Dan 3:5-6 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. (6) And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.”

I think most all of you will identify with me in this. You did not know your enemy. You didn’t even know he/she was your enemy. You didn’t understand that the “troubling” things that confused you, hurt you, abused you – were in fact being done quite intentionally for your harm and for the exaltation of abuser. As a result, you continued on in relationship, very often for years and years, because you did not grasp the nature of your opponent. You could not grasp the reality that the evil being unleashed on you was coming from a person who never did love you, who had no conscience, who wore a masterful disguise before others – and you plugged your ears to any suggestion that something was not quite right here.

This is why we experience a huge flood of emotions when, as we say, “the lights begin to come on.” Those emotions might begin with anger or grief, but eventually a sense of incredible validation sweeps over us. “I wasn’t to blame after all.” “I was right when I had thoughts that something in this relationship was very wrong.” See it? We cannot wisely deal with an enemy if we do not understand that he is our enemy.

And this is why churches and fellow Christians so often become unwitting allies to the wicked. THEY don’t understand evil either. They think they do, but they do not. “He is a brother in Christ and though he sins we must forgive him and be patient with him.” True, for the “normal” Christian. But as for the wicked who parades as a Christian, the truth begins with understanding the true evil nature of the counterfeit who has, as Jude says, crept in among us.

When we realize the truth, when the Lord opens our eyes, we also at some point come to the freeing truth that relationship with such a person in impossible. The wicked demand our enslavement. They insist that our only purpose is to serve them. And they punish any hint of “disobedience.”

Christ’s intent for His people has always been the same – He wants us out of Egypt. No matter how many “Christians” tell us that the Lord’s will is that we remain in Pharaoh’s country patiently enduring abuse, God’s Word tells us otherwise. Redemption. Freedom. Exodus. These are the things He gives us.

Your first step to this freedom is to know the Lord. None of us can ever truly be free of our ultimate abuser, the devil, as long as we are still in bondage to sin. You must be born again. We can read all the books on abuse in the world, we can come to know the tactics and motives of evil, but if we have not come to repentance and faith in Christ, we will not be indwelt and led by His Spirit. Even if an abuse victims gets free of his/her abuser, real freedom will still elude us if we remain a citizen of this world.


Preview of Monday’s Post – if we don’t understand our enemy we will not even realize he is attacking us


This Kind Never Forgives


  1. HealingInHim

    Scriptural Truth. Thank you for posting.

  2. lg

    Thank you so much for these reminders. This very accurately described evil people.

    The American Christian church however preaches Luke 6:27 as if this verse trumps everything else in the Bible about dealing with evil people and will always retort that the Bible commands us to: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

    I still struggle with how to reconcile this idea with the rest of the Bible on dealing with wicked people. I wonder, what does it mean to “do good” and to “bless” those who curse. Did something get lost in translation from the original Greek or Aramaic? I compared translations on BIblehub.com but they were all the same.

    Because this is incongruous with most of the rest of the Bible about dealing with wicked people, but it is the one of the top five verses or so that the Christian church seems to emphasize the most.

    • Z

      I just yesterday had this same issue come up in conversation and I really didn’t have an answer for the incongruity of how the Bible commands us to deal with the wicked, especially the false Christian wicked person, and the seeming command to “bless”, “love” and “pray for” those who abuse us! I am not a Bible scholar or a ancient language expert so I had to just say that it’s a mystery of God’s Word and His thinking that we are not to be privy to on this earth. I would however love to be educated if there is an explanation that reconciles the dissonance though. I can’t say I’ll ever feel love or want to bless or pray for my lifetime evil demonic abusers who attempted to murder my own family. The Bible does say there are some so depraved and sealed for destruction that we are not to pray for them. So that one is a bit clearer. But “love” and “bless” them? I admit I can’t do it. And I can’t see how it makes Scriptural sense to do so. Maybe Pastor Crippen or someone else can explain how that would work? I get ALOT of that Luke 6:27 thrown in my face after I decided to go No Contact with my entire falsely professing “Christian abuser” family of origin as well as all enabling relatives and “church friends” who WANT to remain on good terms with such evil. With those who wanted us dead or maimed and almost succeeded and would if allowed any access to us ever again. Any “friend” of such wickedness is an enemy of God and serves the abusers and, like them, satan instead. Aren’t we to hate what God hates?
      Ig, I agree, it’s confusing. I just pray for guidance and know what my spirit tells me is the right thing to do in my case. I don’t feel guilty or sinful or shame that I can’t love or bless or pray for such wickedness. God bless you.

      • Denise

        Ig & Z, here are some helpful links by Jeff Crippen right here at this site that address Luke 6:27. 😊



        • Z

          Thank you, Denise, for reminding me of that great explanation Pastor Crippen gave some years ago. I’d forgotten that I’d read that. But I believe my spirit remembered which is why I have no guilt or shame or confusion about permanently cutting all ties with people who claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ but are truly evil. That’s clear in Scripture. I’ve put them OUT of my life in every way and given them over to God for His perfect justice and vengeance.
          I’d forgotten the context of Luke 6:27. Evil enemies who are NOT professing hypocrite “christians”. Those wicked people who are of the world, sinners who don’t claim to be “christians”. The Good Samaritan is a good example of how we are to treat those people.
          Thanks for that link as a reminder that how I have dealt with my former family and their allies is Scriptural. I needed the “refresher” as my answer for when people try to tangle me up with Luke 6:26 out of context in false teaching again. God bless!

          • Denise

            You are welcome, Z!

            I needed a “refresher” myself so it was good for me to revisit those links too.

            God bless!

      • Em

        Hello Z and lg,
        Luke 6:27-28 HCSB
        Love Your Enemies
        27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you,
        28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

        The only way we can love a sworn enemy is by not returning evil for the evil we have already been dealt. By not paying back, by not seeking vengeance, we demonstrate love, forgiveness of that debt that is owed us, and we do good to a wicked person who did evil to us.

        When you demonstrate love, goodness, and blessing toward an enemy, it isn’t always about what you do, sometimes it’s about what you don’t do.

        As Christians we are not to reside with evil, we are not to allow it into our lives, nor are we to accept it as just an alternate way to live. We are to turn away from it and walk or run away. Eph. 5:11; Titus 3:10.

        I cannot pray blessings upon the narcissists in my life, but I can pray for God to deal with them as He sees fit, and I can ask Him to keep me safe from them as I heal, and I can ask Him to open their eyes to what they are, which is a blessing to them if they do it and repent.

        • Z

          Yes, Em. We are to RUN not walk AWAY from the wicked and not continue to associate with them when they are hypocritically professing to be “christians”. I do not love my fake Christian abusers not do I bless them or pray for them. I pray for God’s perfect justice and vengeance to be done. And I’ve washed my hands of them. Still trying to “wash” my mind of all the horrific mementoes of violent abuses. But I no longer spend my time intentionally thinking about them, learning about them, ruminating about the past. My time and energy is spent on seeking Jesus’ healing of all lingering scars-mental and physical. Self-care. Soaking in the love and presence of Jesus as much as I can! I’m not obligated by Scripture to love, bless, do good for or pray for them.

          I now realize that Luke 6:27 is meant for enemies who are NON-PROFESSING CHRISTIANS. Who hate and harm me BECAUSE I belong to Christ. Wicked people of the world. It makes sense because they are much more likely to see my responses as a reflection of Christ’s love and be prompted to seek Him. Counterfeit Christian abusers have no conscience and do not repent in my experience. That’s why Paul says in 1 Cor. 5:9-13 to “EXPEL the wicked man from among you.” This type of wicked man needs to be GONE from our midst! Not loved, blessed, prayed for or have good done to them.

          Your responses are godly ones that focus on YOU being safe from them and God dealing with their evil. I’m glad though to have the context in which Luke 6:27 was commanded. To deal with enemies in the world. Sinners who just might repent. Not hypocrite Christian abusers who never repent. Puts our time, energy and focus on the right actions when dealing with different groups of people. God bless!

  3. Susan

    “The Truth will set you free” is so accurate as it applies to learning who the enemy is and what his tactics are. Our hard-won freedom in Christ is so worth it when this is finally grasped worked through. A million thanks, Pastor Crippen, for this website as well as your several very detailed and encouraging books. I am in the process of rereading “Wise As Serpents.” The wisdom contained therein is like receiving “a cup of cold water” to a thirsty soul!


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