Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Author: Jeff Crippen Page 1 of 61

Our Yes Must Mean Yes

Rom 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

2Co 1:16-18 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. (17) Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? (18) As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.

Have you known people who regularly leave you guessing? They say something but then later you find yourself wondering – what did they really mean by that? They take you halfway there when they say something, but it’s as if they are purposely leaving it to you to complete the thought. In fact, I suspect that more often their motive is to leave you in the dark about the rest of their thought.

Why would anyone do this as a habit? I can only think of a couple of reasons – 1) They have secrets to be kept, or 2) They enjoy keeping you in the dark, keeping you wondering. If it is the latter, it seems to me that some real arrogance is involved. “I know, but you don’t.” That kind of thing. And maybe there is a third reason – 3) If they speak clearly, if they plainly complete the thought, then they are going to have to defend what they say. But they can’t defend it. They can’t prove it. So they just speak in halfways. Half-truths are good fuel for unproven accusations. Implications. Nuances. Innuendos.

Darkness is not to be something that characterizes a Christian. We are people of Light and our Lord is the Light of the World. His truth is Light. As Paul put it, we are to be yes OR no, not both. We are to say what we mean and mean what we say.

A New Playlist on a very Important Question – “Does God Love 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 now 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?” This “unconditional love” thing we are assailed with so often 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, and if anyone doubts the truth of this, they need to listen to this series which takes us through Scripture by Scripture which speak to this question. God’s love for His people in Christ is unique toward them alone. 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.

Insights into the Devil’s Strategies – by A.W. Pink

The following is from the introduction to Arthur Pink’s Book, Satan and His Gospel. You can read a copy on Kindle for free. If you aren’t familiar with A.W. Pink, I highly recommend you read at least one of his books. I am currently reading from his commentary on the Gospel of John in our mid-week Gospel of John livestream.

We all need to be reminded frequently that the people who oppress us in this fallen world are evil, yes – but they are also the servants of that most evil of evil spirits – Satan. Every real Christian is going to be attacked, and those attacks can come overtly or very covertly. So listen to these words of A.W. Pink and think carefully about them:

Is the Devil a living reality, or is he nothing more than a figment of the imagination? Is the word “Satan” merely a synonym for wickedness, or does it stand for a concrete entity? In cultured circles it has become the custom to return a negative answer to these questions, and to flatly deny the existence of the Tempter. Among such people it is regarded as a mark of intellectual superiority to repudiate the personality of the Devil. By many, Satan is now looked upon as a product of priestcraft, a relic of superstition, the myth of a bygone age.

With others, Satan is simply an abstraction, a mere negation, the opposite of good. “All the Devil there is is the devil within you,” is the last word of “modern thought.” The words which Goethe puts into the mouth of Mephistopholes—“I am the Spirit of Negation”—is accepted as a good workable definition of the Devil. He is regarded as a mere abstract principle of evil. As someone has quaintly put it, “They spell Devil without a ‘d’, as they spell God with two ‘o’s’. Good and evil is their scheme.”

But the more general conception of Satan is different from the above. The popular idea, the one that prevails among the masses, may be gathered from the pictorial representations of him which appear on the street posters, which are to be met with in our illustrated magazines, and which are displayed upon the stage— where he is pictured as a grotesque monster in human form, having horns, hoofs and forked tail. Such a conception is an insult to intelligent people, and in consequence, the Devil has come to be regarded either as a bogey with which to frighten naughty children, or as a fit subject for jest and joke.

It need hardly be said that both of the above conceptions are far from the truth. The fact that they have gained such wide credence is due largely to ignorance—ignorance concerning the teaching of God’s Word, ignorance concerning the Satan of Holy Scripture. But it is to Satan’s interests to keep people in such ignorance. An intelligent enemy always keeps in the background and remains hidden out of sight. It is an important consideration with him that his identity should be concealed.

Many an evil enterprise owes its success to its perpetrator remaining secreted. The assassin who plunges a knife into the back of his victim is usually hired for the purpose. The one who throws the bomb is merely a tool, the mastermind that planned the deed is unseen and unsuspected. Therefore, it need not surprise us to find that the masses do not believe in the existence of a personal Devil. It serves his purpose well to keep his dupes in ignorance concerning his real existence.

The Devil has always worked secretly and sought to hide his true identity. When he beguiled Eve he did so through a serpent. When he appeared before God to accuse Job, he waited until a day when “the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them” (Job 1:6). When he sowed his “tares,” he did so secretly, in the night —“while men slept” (Matt 13:25). When he betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ into the hands of His enemies, he worked through Judas! Satan is an adept at disguising himself: he comes to us not as a Dragon of Darkness but “is transformed into an Angel of Light” (II Cor 11:14).

Pink, Arthur W.. Satan and His Gospel (Arthur Pink Collection Book 47) . Prisbrary Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Head Over to LFDT’s and Read About this common trait of the wicked

Here is an important post published today over at Light for Dark Times

I bet you will be able to identify with what I have to say over there.

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.

Check out “In Defense of Fellowship by Distance” at Light for Dark Times blog

Here is the link to this morning’s blog post over at Light for Dark Times. I wanted all of you to know about it in case you don’t follow that Friday morning blog regularly. Hey, hit that subscribe (follow) button, as youtubers say.

No Excuse for Assuming All are Christians

Act 8:9-13 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. (10) They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” (11) And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. (12) But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (13) Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

If your Christian experience is like mine, if you were raised in church, then you know that we were generally taught to assume that everyone who claimed to be a Christian was to be accepted as such. In fact, we were taught that to question a person’s claim to Christ was a very judgmental, harsh, and arrogant sin on our part. I suppose this thing could be called a kind of “gaslighting” or “crazy-making” because in being taught all of this, we were taught not to trust our own senses/observations, but to suppress them and accept the party line. And all of this causes great damage. It opens a person up to all kinds of devilish attacks. It even leads to a questioning of God’s Word.

Simon believed. The Bible says so. But of Simon, Peter would say:

Act 8:20-23 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! (21) You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. (22) Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. (23) For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”

According to what we were taught, Peter was speaking very cruelly and “un-christian” to poor Simon.

But in fact, Simon the “believer” was a fake. And the Bible shows us many, many more fakes – like Diotrephes, the Jezebel who was tolerated in Thyatira (Rev 2:20), almost the entire first generation of Israelites in the wilderness, Judas, Alexander the coppersmith…and on and on. Think of Jesus’ parable of the soils. Or Jude’s blasting words against the creeps who creep in among us. Or of the fact that the New Testament epistles address on almost every page the counterfeits, the false teachers, the grace abusers, the works righteousness group (see Galatians on that one). How in the world then can it be justified that a local church or Bible college or seminary teaches, overtly or covertly, that a pastor or saint in a church is to approach ministry with the underlying assumption that whoever claims to be a Christian must be accepted as a Christian? Don’t judge, you know.

THIS is a huge part of the reason why domestic abusers LOVE the local church. Why pedophiles and all other kinds of the devil’s agents see the local church as a garden full of delicious fruits to be plucked. It is why YOU who have been targeted by an abuser/narcissist/sociopath were hammered and rejected for daring to separate from such a wicked one. See it? Your abuser in so many cases was and is regarded as a child of God, as a real Christian, as a saint (holy one), in spite of habitual evil. In fact, the habitual evil was suppressed and denied and minimized by those abuse victims go to for help. It is why you were told to shut up about it and why some (many) of you were driven out of the church. You dared to say that “Jezebel” (include male versions under that woman’s name) was not born again!!

Theology DOES matter. Bible doctrine IS vital. And not just confessing it, but believing it and practicing it. Otherwise we are just this:

Mar 7:6-9 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; (7) in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (8) You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” (9) And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

Vengeance is Mine (says the narcissist)

Est 3:5-6 And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. (6) But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

We recently looked at these verses which show the rage of the abuser/narcissist/reviler when anyone refuses to do their bidding. I wanted to give you two examples which I personally encountered years ago in my pastoral ministry.

The first one we will call Maggie – no, that’s too warm of a name. Let’s try Lucy. Lucy was raised in a pastor’s home and focused her life around the church. She married a man who did the same – after all, what else could he do? Lucy sang solos in church. She realized early on in life that if she was going to see her father much at all, she would need to be his assistant, which she did.

Lucy immediately approached me, volunteering to “serve” in our church by leading a youth ministry, along with her husband. This specific type of ministry required young people to meet each Sunday evening to plan and practice the roles in the ministry. One week, Lucy asked me if my wife could come and help her in the music portion of the youth ministry and my wife agreed when I asked her. Later that day however something important came up that precluded her from helping, so I went instead.

Now, it is Lucy’s reaction that night and the next Sunday night which I want to point out to you. Keep in mind that pretty much everyone in the local churches and community thought Lucy was the finest Christian in town.

When Lucy learned from me that my wife was unable to come but that I would help where I could, Lucy immediately fashioned an indescribable look of disdain and anger on her face. She said in very cold tones, “I designed this entire practice around her coming!”

Then, the next week my wife did come to the practice to help, apologized to Lucy for not making it the previous week, and Lucy looked at her, handed her a music director’s baton and said, “here. It’s all yours.” With that, Lucy walked out.

What was Lucy all about? Vengeance. Revenge. She was going to punish my wife for not doing her bidding and teach her that she better not fail again.

This kind of behavior evidenced itself in Lucy more than once and yet in public, her persona was one of a “servant” who loved Jesus. We knew better however. But guess what, even to this day if you ever tried to tell anyone who thought they knew Lucy who she really was – you would not be believed. Lucy was not born again. The love of God was not in her in spite of the disguise she wore.

Now, I was going to give you a second example of this same kind of person who craves revenge on anyone who “bucks” them. But Lucy is enough for now. Let me just say that years later, hundreds of miles away, I met another woman who by nature could certainly have been Lucy’s twin.

Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord. The Lucy’s in this world would differ. To them, beating down those who don’t obey them is sweet. And you won’t have that hard of a time finding them in local churches.

The Fruit of Thankfulness

Col 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Psa 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This next Sunday morning I plan to preach a sermon on this subject – thankfulness. One of the basic sins of fallen human nature is UN-thankfulness, as you see in Romans 1 quoted above. You see this of course in your children. The moment all of us were born into this world, we were born in sin and we were anything but thankful. A very large part of child-raising is disciplining them to be thankful people.

The devil is not thankful. His children are not thankful. The know that they owe God thanks, but they refuse to give it. Most of you who follow this blog have had the sad experience of having to deal with some class of abuser – a narcissist, a sociopath, a reviler – and some even evidenced all 3 of these evil categories. Such people are not thankful. They are entitled and superior in their thinking. They are OWED, and everyone else should thank them for being the god-like person they insist they are.

There are few things uglier than a person who is ungrateful, unthankful, so self-absorbed that when a kindness is done for them, being thankful doesn’t even enter their minds.

In contrast, a thankful, grateful person is wonderful to know. And one of the foundational fruits which every real Christian’s branches will bear – is thanksgiving. It is inherent within the very being of the new creation. Where it is absent, Christ is absent. The root of the tree is bad.

Another Diotrephes (Named, Haman)

Est 3:1-5 After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. (2) And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. (3) Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” (4) And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. (5) And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury.

I find it very, very interesting (and disturbing) that even though the Bible so often shows us narcissists like Diotrephes and this Haman, very few Christians (even in seminary) are taught about such wicked ones. It is a given that we are going to meet up with them in the church (and others places too), but we are tossed out to the wolves with no warning about these kind. It is as if they don’t exist and we are expected not to even think that anyone in the church could possibly be anything but….a Christian. [NOTE: the secular world seems to be wiser than we are about this subject. Just look on Youtube, for instance, and search under “narcissist” and see how this subject is addressed with great frequency there].

But look here at Mordecai and his experience with this murderous, evil emissary of the devil named Haman. It is classic. Haman demands to be worshipped. That is what a narcissist is (or we might call them a sociopath, a psychopath, a reviler, etc. Psychologists would differentiate the terms, but for our purposes we will just go with narcissist for now). Haman DEMANDS that everyone bow down to him and do his bidding. Mordecai does not. The result? Haman was filled with fury.

This is why domestic abusers rage with a murderous rage. Covertly or overtly they seethe with this same kind of fury when someone refuses to be controlled by them. Just say “no,” and the fuse is lit. Sometimes with literal murder as we have seen in the news once again recently.

The book of Esther, if I recall correctly, never names the Lord as the one at work behind the scenes in His perfect sovereign providence to preserve the Jews. But this very silence shouts His presence loudly. Through Esther, brought forward “for such a time as this,” Mordecai and God’s people are delivered. And Haman? Well, his end is the very same destiny his kind will all come to:

Est 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.

Christ is our Deliverer. His promises to His people are true and certain. Ultimately it is by the shield of faith and the Word of God which is the Sword of the Spirit, that we must take up. Trust Him, no matter how dark the path may be. The Good Shepherd most certainly brings His flock safely through.

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