Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Author: Jeff Crippen Page 1 of 54

The Mind Replays the Negative if we let it

Php 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones says in his book Spiritual Depression (a must read by the way) that it is vital that we learn to “talk to ourselves and stop listening to ourselves.” Because if we just let our minds “run” for some reason the thoughts it replays are negative for the most part. Think about this.

When you are just passively alone with your thoughts, what kinds of things jump into play? Largely they are traumatic memories, memories of when you did something stupid, memories of when you sinned, memories of someone hurting you, memories of cutting words, memories of betrayal, memories of loss. Right? And for the most part these replays leave us with things like shame, guilt, grief – the bad stuff.

Have you ever wondered why our minds don’t just default to GOOD memories? The day at the lake with our kids. The time you did something right. That time someone blessed you with particularly kind words. Unless you are very different from me, your auto-replays just don’t pull up those kinds of memories.

Think about how this works itself out in our dreams. If yours are like mine, they usually border on what might be classed as a nightmare. Or at least they are some scenario where you are trying and trying to do something but everything just keeps going wrong and you can’t do it. You forgot the combination to your locker at school. You are driving and driving trying to find the right way. Right?

Something is wrong with our minds in this present life. We are in need of Christ’s renewal and we need it really badly. And I suppose that is a big reason why the Apostle Paul wrote the words quoted above. He is really saying the same thing as Lloyd-Jones. Don’t listen to yourself. Talk to yourself. Speak the good things you have in Christ. Remind yourself of who you now are in Him. Think of your real life that is yours now in heaven above where Christ is.

If you know Christ, then God is your real Father. You are His child. Now, do we suppose that our heavenly Father is going to send these hurtful, shameful, accusatory messages into our minds? Of course not. They are coming from the world, the flesh, or the devil. But they are not coming from the Lord. So we must enter into some warfare here. We must take charge, pick up the Word which is the sword of the Spirit and put to death the lies being thrown at us on the battlefield of our minds. Think on these things – the pure things, the good things, the true things.

Setting Our Sights Above

Php 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

It is essential to learn about evil – growing wise to it. This world is fallen. It is the darkness of the enemy and its citizens are darkness. We once were there with them:

Eph 5:8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Wisdom about evil does not mean gazing at it, thinking about it, dwelling upon it. To do so is to be overcome. Our victory in Christ is lived out by faith – believing His promises and setting our eyes up there, not down here.

If you are born again, you are in Christ and being in Him means you are a citizen of heaven. This world is not your home. You will never be truly at home until you are in the New Heavens and Earth. In Christ you are already there….there, but not yet. So don’t look down. Look up along with all of us who love His appearing and eagerly await that Day when He comes.

Christless Religion is Always Abusive

Luke 24:44-47 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (45) Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (46) and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, (47) and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Christ is the central and chief theme of the Bible in both Old and New Testaments.  His disciples could not understand the Scriptures until He opened their minds to this fact. They just didn’t get it.

Neither do many who claim to know Christ today.  They just don’t get it. And that is bad news.  Not only for them, but also for those whom they try to teach or pastor or control. A Christless “christianity” becomes the religion of the Pharisees, and it is always abusive to people. Why?  Because Christ and His character is the spirit of the Scripture.  Without Him, the Bible becomes mere letter that kills.

Christ is the sum of the whole Bible, prophesied, typified, prefigured, exhibited, demonstrated, to be found in every leaf, almost in every line…. Christ is the main, the center to which all these lines are referred. (Thomas Adams, 1583-1652)

Christ is the pearl of that ring, Christ is the object, the center wherein all those lines end; take away Christ , what remains?  Therefore, in the whole scriptures let us see that we have an eye to Christ; all is nothing, but Christ.  (Richard Sibbes,1557-1635)

This means we have some questions to ask today.  Why do we see the Scriptures being interpreted and applied so often in a manner obviously devoid of mercy?  Why is the church so often characterized by a spirit that is apparently so foreign to the Person and nature of Christ?  Why is the Bible used so frequently as a club to oppress the oppressed? Could the answer be one that we really don’t want to face?

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. (4) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (5) For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (6) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Why Some Comments Don’t Get Approved – Don’t Take Offense

Just a reminder about why sometimes your comments may not be published here. Of course any that are submitted by people who want to side with abusers or just in general go on the attack, well, those aren’t going to ever see the light of day.

But sometimes we don’t approve comments because they contain recommendations or references to other sources which:

  1. I am not familiar with (and I just don’t have time to research them), or
  2. I am familiar with but don’t feel that I can recommend them.

So if a comment you submitted doesn’t get published, don’t take offense or think that you did something wrong.

Revenge Will not Change the Past

Rom 12:19-21 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (20) To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We know that it is right to desire justice. To pray that the Lord will take vengeance upon the wicked. He Himself tells us that He will repay. The Psalms are filled with imprecations asking the Lord to bring the just due of their sins upon those who hate Him and hate His people.

But we are given a serious warning in the Scripture above – we must never take vengeance ourselves. Revenge is to be left to the Lord’s wrath, not ours. Why? Because if we are not careful, evil will overcome us and we will find ourselves doing evil ourselves.

Let me explain further.

Over the years I have known people who have suffered greatly at the hands of evil, wicked, abusive oppressors. No doubt about it. They really were targets of devilish abuse. However, these victims I am speaking of here made a turn down a wrong path. They chose the path of vindictiveness. Of vengefulness. You can see and hear it in them. They have been wronged and they are set upon getting even.

I am not talking about people who simply take their case to court, testify against the criminals who victimized them, and seek justice in that manner. No, I mean victims who just keep right on using every opportunity they can to see that their abuser pays. Such people have been overcome with evil. And I can tell you, they become mean and cruel themselves. Furthermore, they get themselves locked into a state of anger and bitterness toward God.

I heard a line in a movie recently that resonated with me: “Vengeance will not change the past.” When we seek revenge ourselves, we are acting as if we think that if just enough blood is squeezed out of the person who wronged us, the past will be changed. That somehow the evil done to us will be balanced out and vaporize if we can just do a proportionate amount of vengeance back at the oppressor. But it never will. Vengeance will not change the past.

Vengeance belongs to the Lord. A vindictive, hateful, revenge-seeking spirit is not a beautiful thing. It is ugly. It is not of Christ. Instead of going down that path, we are to love our enemies and pray for them. In most cases they will remain our enemies because they will not repent. This is not a naive mindset. But it leaves final justice and vengeance to God, who in fact is the only One who really can handle revenge.

And there is something else I think Christ can do. We see it here:

Rev 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

See it? The former things will have passed away. God’s vengeance can and will, in fact, change the past. The former things will pass away. Whatever that means, it surely means that any trace of even the memory of evil will be gone forever. There is NO way we can pull that off ourselves by taking revenge on those who have wronged us. But Christ can. And He will.

And let me close here with one more important word of wisdom. It is very good to learn about evil. About abuse. About its tactics and its motives. We are to be wise about these things. But we are also to be innocent of any taint of evil in ourselves. We learn about the devil and his schemes, BUT we must spend far more time learning about Christ and knowing Him more and more. If a victim of abuse keeps treading water by focusing on the abuse itself, what has been done to him/her, so that time in God’s Word, in prayer, in working out our salvation, goes wanting – there will be an increasing emptiness of soul and a growing distance from Christ and His sure promises.

Every week we post two livestream videos on Facebook, Youtube, and Sermon Audio of in depth Bible studies. One on the Gospel of John and the other on Revelation. Every Lord’s Day we provide a Sunday morning message from Scripture and a worship service sermon on the same media venues. It is in this kind of focus upon God’s Word that our real victory is going to come.

Could it be that some of you might need to change gears a bit, exercise faith in Christ, and do this:

Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Faith is Our Victory – By it We Believe God’s Word

God’s promises are true. His Word is not a fiction. This is why Scripture tells us that it is by faith that we overcome the world. We embrace the Lord’s Word and cling to it by faith – not by sight. Sight will deceive us. Sight will tell us lies, such as, “there is no way out of this for you. God has said He will help, but where is He now? Things are just getting worse and worse for you.” Sight lies to us. But when God speaks, His Word is pure truth. His promises never fail. That Word however must be embraced by faith. Read Psalm 17 here and believe it!! Look away from your circumstances and use the eyes of faith that (if you know Christ) He has given you.

Psa 17:1-15 A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! (2) From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!

(3) You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. (4) With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. (5) My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.

(6) I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. (7) Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. (8) Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, (9) from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. (10) They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly. (11) They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground. (12) He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.

(13) Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, (14) from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.

(15) As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Your Experience is a Foreign Language to Most People

Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Many years ago I received a yearly prayer letter from people I did not know all that well but who had been in a church we attended at that time. The letter asked for prayer in regard to their daughters who had, they said, been estranged from them and cut off all contact. It went on to say that the source of the problem stemmed from their daughters consulting a therapist who had planted false memories in the girls.

Now, what I want to attempt to communicate to you is how I reacted to that letter. I didn’t get angry. I didn’t think a whole lot about it. To my knowledge the parents were fine Christian people. So I didn’t really choose up sides – and let me tell you why.

This scenario was beyond the paradigm of my mind. It was like a foreign language – or better – an alien language.

I just didn’t know about such things. I had never personally experienced a situation like this, and therefore my mental programming had no real capacity to understand it. I was not wise about evil. And in such settings, it is inevitable that the whistleblowers (in this case the daughters) are not going to be so much disbelieved, as they are going to be met with a kind of blindness and deafness. Which blindness and deafness is naturally going to gravitate toward accepting the claims of the accused perpetrator of whatever evil is being called out. (I told you I was going to TRY to explain this!)

When a victim of some kind of wickedness – especially the kind that parades as an angel of light – …when the victim reports the thing, this inability to process the data comes into play very, very often. And I suppose it especially does so in local churches and other Christian settings where naivete to evil so often reigns.

To a large extent, this is what the Apostle means in the verse above (Hebrews 5:14). We must be trained by constant practice to be wise to evil. No one ever sat me down and said “Jeff, you need to learn about evil and how it works in life. What it looks like. How evildoers disguise themselves.” But have you ever heard of a seminary course or a church Sunday School class dealing with this very topic? Pretty rare. So, a seminary graduate launches off into a pastoral career and guess what is going to happen when a woman (or man) in his church comes to him asking for help with child molestation or domestic violence?

You may as well be feeding a mathematics problem into a word processor application. It isn’t going to compute.

A Thought for Today from Jeremiah 5

I am just going to quote a Scripture here.  This passage pretty well nails the scenario in our churches today that most all of us have experienced and which we are trying to expose.  I like the Lord’s promise of His justice upon such evil and thought these verses might be an encouragement to all of you as well:

Jeremiah 5:26-31 For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. (27) Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; (28) they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. (29) Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the LORD, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?” (30) An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: (31) the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?

A Suggestion About Why the Lord Waits to Bring Justice

Psalms 20:6-9 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.  O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.

The Psalms are filled with prayers from the oppressed, pleading with the Lord to hear them, see their plight, and to judge their oppressors. Some of those Psalms also praise the Lord for answering those prayers and rescuing His people out of their trouble. In our troubles, many of us have seen answers to our prayers for help. Some of us have seen those answers come in some pretty powerful and glorious ways.  And yet….  So many times the Lord does not seem to hear or see what the evil man is doing to us. Some of you have expressed those feelings here on this blog in your comments, and we understand. Where is the Lord? Why doesn’t he strike down the wicked man? How can he allow these things to happen?

Recently I was discussing this very thing with an abuse survivor. The wickedness of her abuser has continued over decades of time and though she is now away from him, he still does what he can to make her suffer. Why? Here is what she said and I think it is a really helpful and incredible insight:

I think that the Lord reserves them for punishment. Emphasis on reserves. Maybe the Lord’s anger against them is that He wants to do this face to face so they know Who they crossed.

We see this idea of the wicked being reserved for the Lord’s wrath in numbers of Scriptures:

Romans 2:5
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
2 Peter 2:17
These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.
Jude 1:12-15
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Storing up wrath. Reserved for gloom and darkness forever. That is Christ’s message to all abusers. The King is coming with ten thousands of his holy troops. This heavenly army is coming like a nuclear missile laser-guided so it cannot miss. The wicked, if they would hear Christ’s words, should hear the thunder of the hooves even now. He is coming, wicked one! And he is coming for you! Your name is in his book and he has a place with your name on it reserved just for you in a place so horrible it cannot be described. You will never come out of there. Never.

It appears then, you see, that Christ has heard our prayers after all  and that He is acting.

And then there is this one final, incredible fact that we must be certain to announce. This same King whose wrath is against you, abuser, is also telling you that if you will truly repent of your evil and plead with Christ for mercy, He will give it. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? That the very One who is riding down upon you even now to destroy you, is the One who has made a way for you to be saved from Him!

Psalms 2:10-12 therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

A False "Happy" is an Environment in which Abuse Hides

“Where does this happy feeling come from? JESUS!

Where does this happy feeling come from? JESUS!

This happy feeling comes from Jesus! Everyday He more than pleases!

That’s where this happy feeling comes from.”

Luke 22:42-44 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

A false happy is typically taught in our churches, beginning with classes for the very youngest ages. This theology is often most evident in songs we learned in our Sunday School classes, VBS programs, and even in numbers of choruses used in worship. “I am a Christian. I have the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart. A Christian is the happiest person on earth.” The thing flies with very young children, but as we grow older???

I suggest that false happy is false. That it is not a biblical, true representation of what it means to follow Jesus. And worse, it sets us up for denial of the reality of evil and thus makes the attacks of the wicked upon us even easier to launch. See it? If we have been taught in church from the youngest age that people who know Jesus are happy people, then are we not going to go into “stuff it” mode when evil touches us? “I won’t think about that. I am supposed to be happy. It’s just me.”

That is to say, when the false happy begins to break down, who ya gonna blame? Yourself! Not the wicked one who is causing the pain, trauma and grief, but YOU are the problem. I mean, there must be something wrong with you because everyone else seems to be saying that Jesus gives us happy feelings and everyday He more than pleases those who know Him.
Some of those songs may be catchy. You may have sentimental attachment to them. But they are just wrong. They cause real harm. They need to be round-filed.

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