Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Author: Jeff Crippen Page 1 of 70

The Best Way I Can Help You

Heb 5:13-14 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (14) But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

When we interact with and do what we can to help victims of RASNs (revilers, abusers, sociopaths, narcissists), the task can be overwhelming. If we were fabulously wealthy, we could provide the much-needed economic assistant. We could hire teams of attorneys. We could construct safe shelter homes with security. But we aren’t. And we can’t.

What we can do, for starters, is listen. Believe. Validate. And we can work to educate people about (as the verses above say) evil. Its tactics. Its mentality. How it disguises itself. I mean, why do we need to have, as Scripture says, powers of discernment trained if evil worked out in the open, plain for all to see? Because it doesn’t work that way. It lies, it deceives, it counterfeits. It is of the kingdom of darkness.

But how do we train for this? How do we help people practice so that they are able to see through all this fog? Well, it is at this point where the most essential thing is often skipped over. It is the word of righteousness. This is something money cannot buy. What is it? This word of righteousness? And how do we become skilled in it? Apparently this is the thing which empowers and enables us all to see what the enemy is and how he is working.

Well, the word of righteousness is the Word of God. It is, as this same Apostle to the Hebrews says:

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

And again –

Eph 6:17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Every week I do five things online, in addition to writing this and one other blog. I teach and preach the Word of God five times:

  • Ephesians Study (Livestream Wednesday morning 7AM)
  • Revelation Study (Livestream Thursday morning 7AM)
  • Romans Study (No set Livestream time but uploaded weekly)
  • Sunday morning class (currently on the subject of heaven) – (Livestream 9:40AM Sundays)
  • Sunday morning sermon – (Livestream Sunday morning, 11AM)

Why? Because the very best thing I can do for you all is to give you the Word of God. To teach and preach God’s truth in the Scriptures. This is the thing we need more than anything else:

Joh 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, (32) and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

There are many, many people who have been or still are targets of RASNs. As most of you know all too well, these wicked ones so often hide disguised as the most eminent saints in local churches. They are believed and they are successful in their demonic work. How is this darkness to be exposed? By the light of the Word of God. How are the victims to be strengthened and given the Lord’s wisdom? By constant training in the Word of God.

We can find some help from human resources. We can learn about narcissists. We can learn about the mentality and tactics of the domestic abuser. We can learn ways to help us navigate the labyrinth of the court system. We can be helped by learning about the effects of abuse like CPTSD, shame, confusion and so on.

But Jesus said that it is in knowing His truth that we will truly be set free. It is soooo easy to become wrapped up in the world of abuse recovery that we neglect the one thing that is needful – Christ and His Word. Getting free from our own fallen self, learning that we must be born again in Christ, learning to grow and live in Him, learning know Him. We often don’t make the connection. But it is knowing Christ by knowing and growing in His Word where we find real freedom and healing. The trick nowadays of course is to be able to find Christ and His Word. Sadly, as so many of you know, there is no guarantee that these will be found in just any local church.

So I invite you to come along with me in this teaching and preaching of the word of righteousness. This is the very best thing I can do for you – and for myself. You can find all the videos of these 5 series on sermonaudio.com/crc and on our Youtube channel – Light for Dark Times (you might need to tack my name onto that title in your Youtube search to get to the right place). And each of these sessions is livestreamed on both the sermon audio channel and on our Light for Dark Times Facebook page.

Why does Cain keep Killing Abel?

Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

1Jn 3:11-13 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; (12) not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. (13) Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.

In every church that I have pastored (3 of them, our current one for 30 years now), the same dynamic has happened many times. Cain kills Abel. What do I mean?

As I mentioned in my Sunday sermon yesterday, within the visible church there are two religions – that of Cain, and that of Abel. The religion of Cain is faith plus works (with emphasis upon meritorious works), while the religion of Abel is the biblical gospel – faith alone in Christ alone. And whenever these two meet, there is hatred, persecution, and even murder.

The religion of Cain is the “christianity” of the RASN (reviler, abuser, sociopath, narcissist). It is a religion of externals, the kind of religion not only Cain embraced, but the Pharisees and today’s counterfeits and hypocrites. They demand to be declared Christians because of their works. Abel offered his offering by invisible faith. Cain offered his by visible works which, according to Cain and his followers, obligate God to approve of them.

What do you suppose is going to happen when Cain and his kind are members of a local church and, mixed in with them, are members who are genuine believers, pursuing a religion of faith alone in Christ alone? Simply study church history to find out. Hatred. Persecutions. Murders. Economic hardships. Slanders. Because Cain and his kind cannot tolerate the heart-religion of Christ’s true people. They cannot tolerate having the light of Christ shined upon their fake religion, exposing them as unregenerate children of the devil.

Many, many cases of domestic abuse in which the victim is a real Christian and the abuser is a Cain come down to this very cause. Cain murdered Abel. Cain’s people hate Abel’s people.

Cain’s kind are very adept at accusing and blaming Abel’s people. And if we are not wise, we can end up wearing a huge load of false guilt and blame that is not ours to bear. I bet the historic Cain hated his brother long before he murdered him. He resented Abel’s godliness. And you can bet that Cain spent plenty of time accusing Abel of “self-righteousness” and “holier than thou -ism.” I wonder how many times he went to Adam and Eve and complained about Abel? And I wonder what, if anything, they did about it?

Cain is still killing Abel today. Be wise and know this. It is a tactic of Satan which he has been employing from the beginning.

New Sermon Series Beginning this Sunday – The Apostle’s Creed

If you go to this link – Apostles’ Creed Sermon Series – it will take you to Light For Dark Times where I just posted an announcement of a new sermon series beginning this Sunday. It is one you will not want to miss.

Walking on Eggshells – Becoming an Ally

1Co 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

When we are in association with a RASN (reviler, abuser, sociopath, narcissist), we spend our days, as the saying goes, “walking on eggshells.” Stepping ever so carefully in every word we say, every action we take – lest the egg break. By that I mean, lest the RASN attack, blow up, criticize, shame, gaslight – and on the list goes.

This careful stepping creeps up on us. We can end up spending every moment of every day doing it. It becomes a habit. It becomes the norm, so we may not even realize the extent to which we are living our lives this way. It is bondage – there is no doubt about that. It destroys individuality, personality, creativity – it is a black hole that sucks the joy right out of us. And the stress! It really is a kind of living in fear. No wonder targets of these RASNs so often suffer physical ailments.

But there is still another effect on us when we have to take each step so carefully that the fragile eggshell doesn’t break. And that effect is – we can begin to become an ally of the RASN. In our careful stepping we can end up defending the RASN, covering for them, siding with them and even adopting some of the RASNs evil characteristics ourselves. That latter effect is a very sad one. “No way!” is our initial reaction to that notion. But when God’s Word says, “bad company corrupts good morals,” it means just that.

What are some signs that a victim is beginning to evidence some RASN tactics themselves? Perhaps the list would include things like attacking anyone who threatens to break the eggshell, defending the RASNs evil deeds, choosing to ignore the RASNs sins in order to retain financial benefit. I’m sure the list would go on. Victims can even adopt the RASNs mentality of entitlement and superiority over others. All of it is a means of keeping that eggshell in tact.

So, for those of you who are wondering if you should leave your RASN, I hope these warnings will help you make the right decision. Now, I know breaking off a toxic relationship with a RASN is in no way easy. In the short term it may not even be possible due to complicating circumstances like the custody and welfare of children. I am not minimizing those obstacles in any way. But even for the time in which you may have to remain connected to a RASN, you can take care to honestly examine yourself to see if the RASNs evils are infecting you. Because I really don’t think any of us want to become images of a RASN. After all, that in a very real way would be the RASNs ultimate victory over us.

Churches as Dysfunctional Families

1Co 5:1-2 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. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

1Co 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

I grew up in a professing Christian, yet very dysfunctional family. Just how dysfunctional it was did not become clear to me until many years later – after all, those of us who were raised in such families think, “hey, this is normal.” It is anything but.

Now, one of the chief dysfunctions that characterized my family of origin was that the squeaky wheel got the grease while the wheel which function smoothly was ignored – or ordered to go get the grease gun and fix the other person’s squeak. When one of my siblings, as a teen and adult, rebelled and chose to associate with druggies and other wicked ones, it wasn’t long before she became like them. What a disaster. Drugs, beatings, pregnancies, huge grief laid on our parents, evil companions burglarizing their home…the list goes on.

So how did it all play out? Well, my parents looked to me to “fix” my sibling. And of course I was foolish enough to give it a go. No matter that my own family and children were healthy and walking with the Lord – that was ignored. The focus of my parents and other siblings was – the squeaky, druggy, tantrum-throwing, entitled one getting all the focus and resources. And how did the story wind up? What became of my efforts? Well, I became the villain. Why? Because I confronted my sibling’s sin. I call her out on it. I drew firm boundaries. When she chose to return to her drugged out companions, I told her I was not going to keep helping her. She threw hateful fits and over time my parents focused on her, rarely visited me and my family, and I could see in their expressions and hear in their tone of voice that they increasingly held me in contempt and derision. I became the problem. My parents revealed themselves to be dead in sin, unregenerate, deceived as to their salvation.

Now, what does a healthy, “right” family look like? Perfect? Hardly. But when a test comes….well, here is what happens:

Luk 15:11-13 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. (12) And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. (13) Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.

The father did not run after his sinning child. He let him go, even when the son was wallowing in the pig mire, the father waited at home. No doubt he prayed for his son. And the outcome was a happy one. The son came to his senses in that muck. I am AMAZED how many professing Christian parents will NOT obey the Lord in this regard. You can show them this very Scripture (I often have) and they will blow it off, disregard God’s own Word.

Now, let’s get to the main point here. Many local churches, and most (is “most” and exaggeration? I think not)…most professing Christians who make up those local church families, are dysfunctional. They do not function according to God’s command when sin comes in among them. How do they respond, for instance, when an abused wife comes to the church for help? Or how do they respond when a sexual child abuser is discovered among them? I can tell you. Very, very typically they will do exactly what happened in my dysfunctional family of origin. The sinning one gets all the attention. Victims are brushed aside. Even God Himself is disregarded. Why? Paul tells us. Listen again:

1Co 5:1-2 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. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

There it is. Arrogance. Pride. “Look at us! See how loving and merciful we are!” Paul hammers them for it. They should have been sickened by this wickedness among them and put it out from their assembly. But no, they boasted. And I can tell you that this is exactly the pattern in the typical local church today. Sinful dysfunction. Refusal to obey God’s command. No matter the victim. Oh no. In fact, the victim is going to get nailed if he/she doesn’t join in with the mercy crowd.

I have been on the receiving end of this very evil many times. And I can tell you, if feels horrible. You feel abandoned, disregarded, the evil done to you is minimized, and everyone’s focus turns to fixing the evil one…the poor, poor, misunderstood fellow who molested those children or abuses his wife while playing the holy saint role.

This thing surely must sicken the Lord and arouse his wrath.

A RASN is not a Christian

This link will take you to a new article posted on lightfordarktimes.com Be sure to read it. I think you will be encouraged once again to hear why there is no way that a RASN is a Christian.

No, Mr. RASN, You Aren’t God

Isa 14:13-14 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; (14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

I haven’t sorted out how to add RASN to our sidebar so newcomers will know that it is an acronym for Revilers, Abusers, Sociopaths, and Narcissists. Anyway, there it is – RASN’s.

Now, you will agree that these kind are of their father the devil and so it is not surprising that they also say in their heart and mind “I will make myself like the Most High.” They really do in so many ways believe themselves to be gods.

Well, here are some humbling words for them (not that they will really be humbled, but it will do the rest of us good to hear these things)- No, Mr. RASN, you are not God. You are a creature, created by God just like all the rest of this whole creation. And as superior and godly as you think yourself to be, here is a blow to your arrogance: you are not capable of creation. You think that you are sooooo smart and soooo superior, that your mind is soooo vastly above others. But in fact, you have never once created a single object, a single thought, a single song or a single scientific law.

Think it through – man never creates. Not even the most brilliant human mind can create. Man cannot create a the most magnificent piece of music. He can only discover what is already there. Man cannot create theories like relativity or quantums (whatever those are) – he can ONLY discover what God has already created. Oh, I suppose there is one sense in which man can create – he can “create” that which is evil, unrighteous, ungodly and wicked. But when it comes to positive things – he only discovers. When that ancient guy in a bathtub yelled “eureka”! he hadn’t created a single thing. He only discovered another aspect of God’s creation.

So, guess what Mr (or Miss, Ms, Mrs….whatever you say nowadays) – you aren’t God. So stop acting like you are. In fact, anyone who acts as if they are God is, as the true God says, a fool.

Speaking of fools – I watched a video on youtube of Dr. Les Carter in which he deals with the fact that narcissists are….stupid. Dense. Foolish. Oh, as he says, they can have lots of knowledge and be quite intelligent in regard to data, but wisdom is an entirely different thing. Wisdom is the ability to discern and apply the moral and ethical rightness of things that are known. One, for instance, may boast about how amazingly intelligent the makers of the atomic bomb were – but were they wise? RASN’s are incredibly stupid. I bet you’ve seen this in play. These beings who act as if they are gods do the stupidest things that very often are like them sawing off the branch they are sitting on.

Satan then, though amazingly crafty and smart, is stupid. He raged against Christ and sent Him to the cross, where the Lord Jesus conquered the devil once and for all. Sin is insanity. It is choosing death over life. And life is something only the Lord can create and give. To reject Christ is to choose eternal death. Indeed, the fool has said in his heart, there is no God.

Beware the Traditions of Men

Mat 15:1-3 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, (2) “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” (3) He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

Mat 15:8-9 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; (9) in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

As it was, so it is today. Human beings, in creating their own brand of the religion of Christ, replace His freeing and life-giving Word with their own traditions – the inventions of their own imagination. These distortions of God’s truth always bring bondage and, ultimately, spiritual death. They become a false gospel of justification by works.

The Christian church is not free of this business of replacing God’s Word with traditions. Laws created by man which supposedly earn merit before God, and condemnation if not obeyed. We see this always trying to creep in among us in Christ’s church and in many cases it has largely replaced the gospel itself.

Most of you have seen it in the case of how local churches handle domestic abuse. The “tradition of the elders” takes over so that mercy is replaced with sacrifice. You must get permission from the church to separate from evil. You are required to be counseled by the elders or their appointee. The marriage and family are presented as the highest good, never to be dissolved no matter the cost. I saw a local church the other day with its name in big letters on the building – The Family Life Church. Christ, you see, replaced with worship of the family. I bet we can guess how they would handle domestic abuse among their members!

But you see the point – it is the same point Jesus made to the Pharisees. When man creates his own brand of laws – traditions – they enslave people. Nowhere in the Bible can you find a “law” which requires oppressed victims of a wicked, abusive spouse, to plead with their church for permission to leave. It isn’t there. Churches have assumed an authority that Christ has not given them.

Some years ago I was told by a lady that she was soooo excited because her church leaders had started a new ministry and program to address domestic abuse in the church. She was just sure they had seen the light and that I should be excited about it. But in reviewing the material she sent, I noticed that the pastor and elders still retained the authority (insisting upon it in fact) that abused spouses needed to come under the “authority of the church” and submit their case for approval (presumably approval from God). As soon as I read that I told the lady that inevitably those church leaders were still going to add to the abuse of victims. Because as long as churches set themselves up with an authority God has not given them, the traditions of men will replace the freedom of God’s Word. I, of course, was pronounced to be overly critical and judgmental.

The church does indeed have authority. It has the authority to preach and teach God’s Word – pure and unaltered. It has the authority to confront sin and to deal with unrepentant people who claim to be Christians. The church is to put out of its midst false teachers and members who walk in sin (see 1 Cor 5). But this authority comes from Christ, who is the Head of the church. It must never originate in the imaginations and inventions of man.

Ever Heard of “The Triple Knowledge?

Eph 2:1-6 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— (3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

If you, like myself, were not raised in a Reformed church, you probably haven’t heard of “The Triple Knowledge.” There is a three volume commentary on that topic written by Pastor Herman Hoeksema.

The Triple Knowledge comes from the second question of the Heidelberg Catechism (written in the mid 1500’s in Germany) which reads this way:

2. Q. What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort? A. First, how great my sins and misery are;[1] second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery;[2] third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.[3]

The Triple Knowledge, you see. Now, many of you have gone through much suffering or are still suffering. Your life has not gone according to the script which you planned. Well, when distilled right down to it, when all the dross has been burned away, the ONLY thing that matters to us in this present life is The Triple Knowledge. The first question of the catechism goes like this –

1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?                                                                  

A. That I am not my own,[1] but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,[2] to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.[3] He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.[5] He also preserves me in such a way[6] that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;[7] indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.[8] Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life[9] and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.[10]

If you have been listening to the mid-week Ephesians Bible study I am teaching online (all the videos are posted on our youtube channel (Light for Dark Times), but if you have been following these, you know that we have been considering those first three verses of chapter 2 which begin – “And you were dead in trespasses and sins…”. The first of the three says that we must come to see how great our sin and misery are. This is the first step in attaining the comfort which only Christ can give.

You were dead in trespasses and sins. DEAD. You were in bondage to Satan. You were hostile to God. Divine justice declared you condemned, and in fact you deserved hell. The ONLY reason any of us are freed from Satan’s tyranny and that we are now alive to God, is that God had mercy on us.

I am sure that a common tactic of Satan to distract us from seeing what we were in sin and and haters of God before His Spirit regenerated us, is to get us to focus upon our sufferings in this present world. But even if we could somehow remedy every single one of the pains that come our way, get free from all our oppressors, unless we come to know how great our sin is, and how great a Savior Jesus Christ is, and how we owe God every ounce of gratitude we can find in us, then we have lost everything. We would still be empty and worse than empty.

Here is the fountain of true joy no matter how hard my circumstances are – that I know Jesus Christ as my Savior, that I know the depths of my sin and how great His mercy was to me in saving me, and that from my heart’s depths I offer Him my thanks and praise daily. The rest won’t matter at all on that Day when we see Him face to face.

No Wonder the Lord Calls the Wicked ‘Fools’

Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

We have been reading through Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan each Sunday in the morning class. Christian, the main character, is a Pilgrim traveling through the wilderness of this world. He started out with a heavy burden on his back (his sin) and a book in his hand (the Bible). Bunyan likens the Christian’s life in this present world to a long journey from the City of Destruction (this world) to the Celestial City (heaven).

Similarly, the Apostle Paul says that this present life is like a race which we must run. No one can run it for us – we must do it. Jesus is our Guide, cheering us on and giving us directions. He is the one who has set this race in front of us, having run it before and ahead of us – for us.

Obviously then, we must fix our eyes on Jesus if we are going to finish this race well and avoid the many turns, detours, and deceptions which the enemy throws at us along the way. Those who are wise keep their eyes on Jesus and follow His lead.

And then there are those who are evil and stupid. How do they approach the race? Well, they insist that they can find their own way. That the course is one of their own choosing and so is the finish line. You can’t tell them otherwise. You can warn them that they are on Broadway which ends in hell – but they won’t listen. They are fools. Wise in their own eyes.

RASNs (revilers, abusers, sociopaths, narcissists) consider themselves to be so wise that they need listen to no one. Pretending to be wise, they have become fools. I’ve seen it and I suspect most of you have as well. These kind cut off the branch they are sitting on. Their marriage can be anything but loving. Their children increasingly love the world and want nothing to do with the narcissist’s religion. The house is burning down around them, but no matter. They will run their own race according to their own rules and not even Jesus is going to tell them which course to follow.

Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

So there they are, running and running but they will never reach the real finish line where life is to be found. They will run off the cliff that Broadway ends in and fall right into hell. Such is the way of the fool. They select their own course, follow their own path, and like Frank Sinatra – they sing all along, “I did it my way.” Wonder how that’s working out now for Frank, and all others who refuse to acknowledge and give thanks to the Lord?

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