Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Common Hesitancy to Expel Evil

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

1Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife….1Co 5:6-7 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? (7) Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

One of the most common scenarios which is so hurtful and maddening to those who have been oppressed by wicked ones who parade as eminent Christians is that such evil people are permitted to remain in the local church. And to not only sit in the pew, but often appointed to committees, to church offices such as elder, deacon, or even pastor. All of this while the victim of such wicked “saints” are expelled, formally (ex-communicated) or informally. Many of you have experienced this very thing.

As we see in the Scriptures quoted above, and in many others, there is a bent, a tendency, for evil to be excused, minimized, and tolerated by professing Christians. Jezebel (or often a man) is tolerated in the church’s midst even though she leads Christ’s servants astray. Paul had to rebuke the Corinthians for not only letting a gross sinful man (who claimed to be a Christian) remain in the church, but for their boasting about doing so!

Why? Why this very common disobedience to the Lord’s command to put evil out from among us and be separate from it? Wouldn’t you think that it is a biblical “no-brainer” that evil people who are fake Christians, barren fig trees (Luke 13) must be expelled from the fellowship of Christ’s people? Jude soundly rebukes the “creeps” who creep in among us, shamelessly participating in the Lord’s table. Paul tells us that if anyone claims to be a Christian but walks in unrepentant sin, we are not even to eat with such a one (1 Cor 5).

And yet, it has been my experience these 40 years as a pastor that there is typically a very strong resistance to such expulsion. You see it on church signs – “Everyone is welcome.” You hear it in the preaching in such places – “God loves everyone” (He doesn’t, by the way. See my teaching series online “Does God Love Everyone?”). Or “God accepts you just as you are.” Or, “We are all sinners, who are we to judge?”

Paul minces no words with the Corinthians and neither did Jesus in His rebukes of the churches. “1Co 5:2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” “Rev 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”

To sidestep such plain commands and rebukes in the Word of God is rank disobedience to the Lord. It is unbelief. It is cowardliness. It is the fear of man, love for the world and a craving for the approval of man instead of that of God. And this disobedience (sin) hurts Christ’s true sheep.

Why? Why is this disobedience so typical? Well, there are a number of reasons:

  • Prideful arrogance. Boasting in the “greatness of our love for all,” instead of hating the things God hates.
  • The craving for popularity with the world.
  • Embracing a false gospel which does not call for repentance
  • Unwillingness to pay the price of following Christ.
  • And, probably far more often the case is this – the “church” is led by and filled with false brethren who are not Christ’s people at all. They are not born again.

I have, on numbers of occasions, opened my Bible and pointed to the Lord’s commands in cases where professing Christians are commanded to put evil out from among them. And very typically the response has been, “well, pastor, I just don’t agree with what you are saying.” What?? It isn’t ME who is saying it! It is the Lord! Such a response evidences an unregenerate heart. Jesus said (Matthew 10) that following Him will result in being hated, even by the closest relationships (father, mother, sister, brother). And He went on to say that anyone who is not willing to pay the price cannot be His disciple. He won’t have it. “But they are family!” That is the statement of people who worship family above Christ. They worship a false god. They love this present world.

This bent toward disobedience also works to short circuit Christ’s own method of dealing with professing Christians who are walking in habitual, unrepentant sin (see Matthew 18). That church discipline process is not only designed for the protection of the church, it is given as Christ’s means of working to call the sinner to repentance and restoration. But I cannot think of one single case of church discipline we have practiced in which one or more professing Christian/church members did not balk, criticize, or even leave the church. They pronounce themselves to be more “loving” and call us too “harsh.” So many churches and church leaders are simply not willing to pay this price, so they instead sacrifice the victim and retain the evil one. After all, to stand with the victim is costly. The evil one generally is more popular, his lies are believed and the foolish are deceived, and he typically has fare more influence and resources than does his victim.

How many professing Christians have sacrificed the innocent in order to keep in with the Baal crowd?

Now, one final point. If we were to tell these things I have just written to most professing Christians, they would adamantly deny that they are guilty. The sinner is a master at devising excuses. They will shift the blame. They will project the wicked one’s evils upon us and upon the victim. They will pronounce themselves more merciful and kind. And they will demonstrate their ignorance of the Word of God. Believe it or not on numbers of occasions I have suggested to a professing Christian that church discipline be enacted upon an evil counterfeit, and the response has been “that is something I have never heard.” “I just don’t know about such things.” I can see right now in my mind a church board member of a large evangelical church sitting in my living room asking for advice as to how to deal with a pastor who was fornicating with a woman in the church. His response to my showing Him Matthew 18 and 1 Cor 5 was just that. With a perplexed look on his face, he said, “That is something I have never heard before.” Apparently reading and studying his Bible was not part of his religion!

These things are not uncommon. They are typical and widespread. What is going to be the obvious result of such disobedience to the Lord? Well, it leads toward Him departing from among us, and it creates – rather quickly – a synagogue of Satan where perhaps a church once was. Recently one of our elders and myself were talking about these very things and we concluded that for at least the first 20 years of our ministry here, we were fighting battles in a synagogue of Satan instead of shepherding a flock of Christ. All because for decades evil was tolerated in the church, Christ’s clear commands were not obeyed, and spiritual dark ages swept in.

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20 Comments

  1. Jacob Dedrick

    Amen to that! I have heard many people saying “well I am just as guilty” or “who am I to judge” or even “well we want to try and rehabilitate them by keeping them in church.” “Maybe they will eventually find Christ.” So many excuses for evil it makes me sick. Paul’s writings are very clear on how we are supposed to deal with infiltration in the Church. I really appreciate what you do and how you handle abusers in the Church.

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  2. WELL SAID!! This is the very sad reality of the visible church today. Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for your courage to address these ungodly practices and never back down. May our Most High God protect you, Verla, your family and Christ Reformation Church as you continue to speak God’s Word with boldness!

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  3. Angie

    Thank you for truth and clarifying even more some questions and thoughts I’ve had for a very long time. It’s been quite a long journey trying to untwist the lies that I thought my whole life to be truth. Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, sometimes I feel like lies were branded on my brain and I’m never going to really be able to think straight. Your posts help me heal and know I’m not as crazy as my very “churchy” family think I am. The word I picked for 2023 is “truth.” Thank you for being a great part of that.

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  4. Great Post!
    Jeff, your text from Revelation 2:14 sent me back to Numbers chapter 25 where the “church in the wilderness” first fell prey to Balaam’s strategy of injecting sin into the camp. Few have preached on one particular aspect of Balaam’s “curse”: When Moses was commanded by God exactly how to quench His Righteous anger – Moses proposed an entirely different solution? (BTW: If you Pastor Jeff have already addressed this in the past please provide a link – I’m sure all of us would love to hear your speaking on this)

    It seems that God wanted to hold the Tribal Leaders directly responsible for having tolerated this encroaching sin in their midst. Yet Moses seemed to disagree with God’s solution and instead told those same leaders (I assume the Tribal Leaders were the same as Judges) to first conduct an investigation and then only punish those men who had been directly involved? Why did Moses behave like this? Did he fear he would be killed by the people if he executed their leaders on a gallows as God had commanded? Thankfully – while Moses was sitting on his hands & thousands were perishing from a Divinely initiated pandemic – one man rose up and took bold action which stayed the Lord’s hand of judgement. And that man afterwards received from God one of the highest commendations ever recorded in scripture! Here are those verses:
    4 The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the LORD’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”
    5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”
    6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
    7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand
    8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped;
    9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.
    10 The LORD said to Moses,
    11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal.
    12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him.
    13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

    I believe that this much overlooked (yet deadly) failure on the part of Moses could explain much of what is going on with today’s cowardly church leaders.

    Thanks!

    Steve Nelson

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    • Great insight here!! Thank you very much. Go Phineas!!

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    • lg

      Thank you for referencing Numbers 25

      Numbers 25: 18 says: “They treated you as enemies when they deceived you,”

      and so the LORD instructs us to treat [them] as enemies.

      People who deceive are enemies.

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  5. Grateful

    Thank you for the details in the post – as I was reading it two dominant thoughts came to mind:
    *Boy I wish I could’ve read this post years ago!
    *I had no idea how widespread satan’s synagogues were until I was all but devoured by one satan’s well refined abusers, a complete wolf in sheep’s clothing, whose fellow supporters – yes, all from the same cesspool of professing Christ followers and self-proclaiming healers (roots were modern day witchcraft, direct from a well known mega church)……. who covered for the abuser over and over and over again, to this day.

    A reality check was when I realized it (satan’s synagogue) was there all along and I saw it – but didn’t see it at the same time – until it was almost too late to make it out of the whole mess alive. Initially it seemed like there was no one else out there who also saw it, or understood the massive snow job satan was doing within so many of the brick and mortar church bodies. That is where your posts, such as this, have been so very helpful and regenerative. They are a vital reiteration of the truth we don’t often hear from pastors, but definitely do here.

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  6. Seeker

    This is really interesting, and is making me think. However, it’s also making me feel a bit confused. The scriptures quoted definitely say we should expel evil from our midst. Their message is very clear. Yet, how does this meld with the other scriptures about the importance of forgiving our brother seventy times seven times? And judge not lest ye be judged? Also, Jesus himself ate with sinners…I am not trying to argue, but I would love it if someone could help me understand how the scriptures quoted in this article complement the other scriptures I mentioned, rather than contradict them. I try hard to study what the Bible actually says, but sometimes I do get confused when different parts appear at first to contradict each other.

    • Just a starting point to think about – look at Matthew 18:21. Who is it we are to forgive? Our “brother.” Then back up and look at vs 15. Note – if he listens to you. Just those points will go far in answering your questions.

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      • Seeker

        Thank you sincerely for the response. I gather you are saying that the Lord commands us to forgive our brothers only, namely, other Christians, and most people that do heinous things cannot possibly be Christians. I accept that – but I am still wondering about Mark 11:25-26. There Jesus says “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” There he says “if he have ought against ANY” – he didn’t say “your brother.” Could you help me understand what He meant? Again, I am not trying to argue, but I very sincerely want to understand these concepts. I have suffered a lot of abuse in my life, so the material in this blog really hits home for me. It’s important for me to understand these concepts clearly.

        • The key to the Mark passage is to realize that it is given to those who are praying. What would be in their prayer? Asking God to forgive them. Confessing their sins. Jesus’ point is that we must forgive as God forgives. That is, He forgives when we confess and ask for forgiveness. The idea then is that we must do the same. When someone confesses their sin and asks us to forgive them, we must extend the same to them as God does to us. But God does not forgive the wicked who refuse to confess their sin.

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          • Seeker

            Wow! Thank you. I’ve never heard it explained that way before. That does make sense. That passage always bothered me because the way it is usually explained, is that God is asking us to do something which He Himself does not do, namely, forgive the unrepentant and wicked. Always, no matter what. It didn’t quite seem fair of Him to do that. I am so glad I understand it better now.

            I have only read a few of your posts today but it’s really opening my mind…I really, really wish I had had this information available oh, 20 years ago…I could have been spared so much suffering and maybe my health wouldn’t have broken down to the point where I am only a shadow of my former self. But I am so glad to be learning the truth now. Better late than never. Thanks again!

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          • You’re welcome! I wish I had understood these things myself 30 years ago.

  7. The KEY to all is your human spirit, main “compartment” of whi:ch is your CONSCIENCE (Acts 24:16). I’m 91. Years ago I started hearing many Christians using term “The UNCONDITIONAL Love of God”; but in my spirit there was not peace. (Rom.8:16 with 9:1) . So I did homework: this saying came from a non-Xn psychologist (who had a Xn mother) working with drug addicts. He said, “We have to love them unconditionally”. “Of all things”, Xns picked up this term and Satanically turned it to: “We have to show the unconditiional love OF GOD” (…as Satan usually does: he put in the leaven, the tares). This saying spread like “wildfire” among Christians. Thank you Br. Chippen for your faithfulness. don hardy

  8. Years ago a non-Xn psychologist coined the term “we must show UNCONDITIONAL LOVE” (He was working with drug addicts). Satan led some (professing) Xns to pick-up term and ADD, “Unconditional love OF GOD” (Satan inserting leaven & tares thru ignorance & deceit). Xns picked this up & spread the saying like “wildfire”. Thank you Br. Crippen for being faithful to God. We pray for you don hardy 91 & going-on. Amen

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you. Just a note for everyone, I have created a new playlist on our Youtube channel, Light for Dark Times – Jeff Crippen (I guess you have to search for that whole title including my name). There are 11 videos there under the playlist title – “Does God Love Everyone.” These 11 videos are part of the bigger series on the Gospel of John, but these 11 deal with the question, “does God love everyone?” As Don mentions here, this “unconditional love” thing is not a biblical doctrine and it causes all kinds of serious problems – some of which many of you have suffered from. The fact is, the Bible is plain – God does not love everyone. His love for His people in Christ is unique toward them. He shows kindnesses to all, including the wicked – providing them with many good things. But it is a serious error and even a distortion of the gospel to maintain that God loves everyone no matter what. In fact, He hates the wicked. They are under His condemnation and will perish in their sins unless they come to saving faith in Christ.

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      • Seeker

        Mr. Crippen and Mr. Hardy, this idea – that God does not love everyone unconditionally – is blowing my mind. I have never heard this anywhere else. But it seems only fitting from a God who is holy and just. Amazing.

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  9. don hardy

    Amen! The Love of God is very conditional, based solely on The Person & Work of Our Lord Jesus Christ; When I meet those uncon.love people, I usually quote Rev.3:19 to them (in love) trusting the HS to enlighten them. Br. don h.

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