Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Author: Jeff Crippen Page 2 of 59

No, Sinners are not all the same

Jud 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jud 1:12-13 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; (13) 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.

Jud 1:18-19 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” (19) It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

You have no doubt heard it before. “But we are all sinners. Sin is sin.” Some years ago I was explaining to a pastor and his wife what my book Unholy Charade was about and how wicked abusers pretend to be Christians, creep in among believers in the church, all the while doing their wickedness behind the scenes. The pastor and his wife responded – “but that is just another type of sin. Domestic abuse is sin and we are all sinners.” I went on to try to get them to see that is false. All sin is not the same. Some sin is more wicked than other sin. We do not all carry out the evils that the narcissitic, sociopathic, evil person performs. Yes, we are all born into this world lost, in sin, and without being born again in Christ we would perish in hell. Nevertheless, the Bible is quite plain that there are degrees of sin and degrees of hell:

Joh 19:11 Jesus answered him [ie, Pilate] “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

Luk 10:12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

I could cite more, this is enough to prove the point. Not all sin is the same.

And you have it plainly here in this little epistle of Jude. These “certain people” who creep into the church – these creeps as I think Jude would call them – have a reservation with “the gloom of darkness.” They are “designated for condemnation.” You don’t see a lot of wiggle room here for adding on an addendum – “so we must work doubly hard to lead them to Jesus and get them saved.”

In many ways this little letter of Jude isn’t so little. It is a declaration of condemnation for people who put on a disguise of saintliness, sneak into the church like the enemy agents they are, with the goal of carrying out the designs of the chief enemy whom they serve. Just read it again. Is this not a perfect description of so many of the evil people we have had to face in our homes, in marriages, in our churches? Well, says Jude, they have a reservation in hell. And there are LOTS of them:

Mat 7:22-23 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (23) And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

If your abuser, if the one who reviles you because they are, by his or her very nature, a reviler, and if at the same time they profess to be a servant of Christ, a respected member of a church, putting on that evil angel disguise every Sunday morning, then they are NOT your typical sinner. They aren’t even your typical hypocrite. Yes, they are hypocrites…but these kind actually and actively are on a mission to destroy Christ’s church. Like a hidden reef in the ocean that goes unseen until the ship hits it, these kind come in among us and sit with us at the Lord’s table, all the while having the intention of dividing us, twisting and distorting the gospel of God’s grace into an evil message of “sin all you want because Jesus will forgive you.”

No, all sinners are not the same. Jude did not write a postscript to this letter – “so be sure you all pray hard for these creeps because we have to be sure to get them saved.” No, the Lord’s message for this kind is – “there is a place reserved for you in hell where you will receive perfect justice for all eternity.”

Have You Ever been too Quick to Share Your Life with Someone?

I am not sure that title expresses the subject I want to talk about here as clearly as I would like. Perhaps the following scripture will do a better job:

2Ki 20:12-17 At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. (13) And Hezekiah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.

(14) Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” (15) He said, “What have they seen in your house?” And Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”

(16) Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: (17) Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD.

There it is. Understand? “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”

And, of course, as Isaiah told Hezekiah, those Babylonians would one day be back and take it all.

Have you ever been too quick to show “all that is in your house” to someone who then subsequently used this knowledge against you? I have. The fact is that wicked people like narcissists flatter us – like the false teachers who flattered the Galatians for self-promoting purposes. And it is really refreshing to find someone who seemingly and apparently genuinely is ready to be a friend.

We must be wise. We need to learn not to be so quick to “show people our treasures” as Hezekiah did. I mean, here comes these Babylonians because, they claimed, they had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. They brought gifts from the Babylonian king and perhaps the ancient version of get-well cards. Hezekiah, like us, really appreciated this kindness and his response was to show them everything. To share his life with them. Mistake.

Now, the truth is that there is no sure-fire answer to the question – “how do we know someone’s real motives?” “How can we know if someone is trustworthy?” But one bit of wisdom is, don’t be too quick to share your life. An evil person will one day use the “treasures” you have shown them against you. As Proverbs says, such a person will one day “reveal” the things they now know about you as ammunition for their own profit.

Pro 11:13 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

Be sure to read today’s post at lightfordarktimes.com

Friday morning’s post over at Light for Dark Times blog is an important one which I hope you can read and be helped by. You can access it by this link:

Your Motives are Always Evil – Really?

This Kind Never Forgives

Mat 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, (15) but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Narcissists, sociopaths, abusers and their kind never forgive. They blame and shame and accuse, but they never forgive. They may claim to forgive, they may mouth words of forgiveness, but in fact they never forgive.

These wicked ones will do all kinds of things if they perceive you have wronged them (and you are always the one to blame). Resolving a conflict, working to genuinely reconcile when there has been some sin or perceived sin, is just not in their bag of tricks.

The primary goal of a narcissist (call them an abuser if you will)…is vengeance. Getting even. Revenge. And of course forgiveness is just not in the recipe for any of those motives.

The worst wrong you can ever to do such an evil person is (just ask him) to expose them. To call them out. To be light shining on their darkness. The rage will ensue and vengeance will be sought.

Now, from the Scriptures quoted above, and from many other scriptures, a person who refuses to forgive is not forgiven by the Lord. Jesus said so. That is to say, they are not born again. Play the “christian” game all they want, it is a biblical fact that cannot be refuted – anyone who is characterized by a refusal to forgive is not one of Christ’s people. “Just as God in Christ forgave you.” But these wicked ones are not forgiven by God. They do not know His forgiveness – neither will they ever give it.

This sin of unforgiveness is not committed by the seeking of justice. We are not refusing to forgive if we end a relationship with a narcissist. But the person who is driven in the depth of their being to punish and exact revenge upon anyone who they perceive has wronged them – that person is dead in trespasses and sins. Forgiven people forgive, you see.

Over the years as a pastor – nearly 4 decades now – I have crossed paths with many, many of these children of the devil. They lashed out, accused, reviled, tried to destroy…and guess how many of them ever subsequently got back to me these 4 decades later? None. Not a single one. THAT is unforgiveness.

A true Christian cannot NOT forgive. The thing is impossible.

[NOTE: The emphasis in this post is upon the wicked person’s refusal to forgive. Nothing here is meant to imply that victims of evil are required by God to “forgive and forget” in the sense of never seeking justice or praying for the Lord to exact His perfect vengeance upon the wicked. What we all are required by the Lord to do is to not seek vengeance ourselves. We are not to be overcome by evil but to overcome it and heap burning coals on the wicked person’s head by not responding in kind. Thank you to a reader for asking for clarification on this point].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a long title, but I think it is clear. In this coming Monday’s post (Oct 24th) I will be writing about this topic. In the meantime, you can be thinking about it. How long (in a couple cases it took me years)…how long did your abuser or reviler or sociopath attack you before you finally realized the nature of the person. That the attacks were quite intentional. That you needed to stop making excuses for the person.

Well, more on this Monday morning. In the meantime:

Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

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.

No Greater Sinner than the “Christian” Sinner

Jud 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

I came across the following quote while reading the Hebrews Commentary (Geneva Series) by a Scotsman named John Brown (1784-1858):

A pastoral ministry destitute of vital religion (ie, of not being born again) is one of the most unnatural of all things and one of the deadliest curses which can light on a Christian church; and to the individual himself it is full of eternal hazard. An unregenerate man, after joining a Christian church, is less likely to be converted than he was previously. If he became (subsequently) a student of divinity, the probabilities of final impenitence are greatly multiplied; and if he enters on the function of ministry (ie, becomes a pastor) the hope of his being saved is faint indeed.” (Hints to Students of Divinity, page 27)

There is no harder, greater sinner to be found than the one who puts on a show of Christianity. To have the conscienceless audacity to claim to serve Christ when in fact one’s motive is entirely selfish is the mark of a person who has no fear of God.

And this is a primary reason why I have always said that a “Christian” abuser (reviler, sociopath, etc) never, ever changes. Never repents. Never is broken and humbled by his (or her) sin. To dare come into the holy of holies and offer “strange fire” before God is to invite oneself into hell.

Many men and some women down through the centuries of church history have dared to take on the office of the Christian ministry, preaching to others but never preaching to themselves. God sees it. He knows.

Rom 2:1-3 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (2) We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. (3) Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

A Spoonful of Sugar Makes…for Confusion

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

When you are or have been in a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath/abuser, it is quite common to have doubts. By doubts, I mean that you call into question yourself, your observations, your conclusions regarding what is really going on – is he (or she) really so bad as I have concluded? Maybe I share the blame? Doubts, you see.

Now, these doubts are quite often the result of some “sugar” your narcissist serves up to you, or has served up in the past. A kind note. A kind action. A fun outing. Sprinkled in with the sugar in varying quantities added often almost imperceptibly, is the sour lemon of reviling, abusing, accusing, and so on. It’s all that dynamic you often hear called crazy-making.

These doubts can throw us into a real spiral of false guilt. We can start questioning our own motives and actions in the relationship. If, after all, the devil were always openly what he is – evil – and never showed up as an angel of light, the thing would be far easier to analyze. But that is not how the devil operates and it is not how his wicked servants operate. They sprinkle in sugar and spice and everything nice – but it isn’t really sweet or savory or nice at all. The whole thing is an evil facade. A tactical game to gain power and control over you.

And that is what Paul was warning the Galatians about – those foolish, foolish Galatians. The false teachers, anathema to God, were using flattery for an evil purpose, persuading the people to follow them and their false gospel rather than Christ.

None of us are perfectly holy. None of us are above sinning. We have not and do not always act righteously toward others. But the truth is that even if we did, even if we were perfectly holy and always behaved in thought and deed toward evil people, they would still hate us because that is who they are. In fact, as we walk in the light of Christ more and more perfectly, growing in Him, the hatred of the devil’s servants will actually increase. Just look at Jesus and what He experienced in this world and you will see it.

There isn’t any sugar in these types of evil people. The “pleasant” times might seem sweet, but they are a deception. In truth, there are no good times with a wicked person.

If We Confess Our Sins…

1Jn 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

It is always good to first apply Scripture to ourselves – get the log out before looking at someone else’s “speck.” We all MUST be born again. Christ is our only hope and, as I have emphasized in the past, being a victim of evil does not ensure that we ourselves are born again. This is that old danger of getting bogged down in victimhood and somehow thinking that because we have been targets of evil, God is somehow obligated to accept us and show us special favor.

These truths are not meant to discourage people who are oppressed by the wicked, but to show that – to say it again – Christ is our only hope and if we do not belong to Him, our condition is hopeless no matter how much we learn about the tactics of abuse or how diligently we work to expose it and get free of it. Above all things, it is my earnest desire to point people to Christ and not to fall into the pit of teaching about abusers, abuser’s mentality and tactics, only to stop there and, as it were, help people kick the demon out, only to have an empty heart into which the demon returns in seven-fold power.

Therefore, first we must examine ourselves and confess our own sin, and be certain that we are not sliding into a mode of thought in which we regard ourselves as having no sin – because after all, we might think – WE are the victims here. Yes, you have been or perhaps still are the target of evil. But do YOU know Christ? Because – and mark this down carefully – Christ is your only real Rescuer. Not the courts. Not ministries that seek to expose the wicked. Not even getting physically free of your abuser. It is only to Christ that we can pray. He is the only One who can safeguard our soul. He is the only One who can one day deliver perfect justice and full vindication. He is the only One who is absolutely trustworthy and who loves with perfect love all who turn to Him.

When WE know Christ, then we are in a position to know (grow wise in regard to) evil. And one of the consistent traits of the wicked is that they refuse to confess their sin. You have experienced this over and over I am sure. It is never their fault. They have not been the wrongdoer. They blame. They accuse. It is always you, you, you. John says that a person like this is a liar and that their entire life is a lie.

This is the fundamental sign of a narcissist, or a sociopath. You’ve seen it. The thing is soooo consistent that it actually sneaks up on you. It’s always your fault, and you grow accustomed to wearing the blame. The wicked one says he has no sin, but he lies. There is no truth in him. In fact, basically just like his father the devil, if his lips are moving he is lying. And worse, such a person makes God a liar. Because God says we DO have sin – the wicked say God is wrong. Their condemnation is just.

Forgetting and Pressing On

Php 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

It is hard to forget, isn’t it? And there is definitely a certain aspect of forgetting that really cannot happen. Just before Paul wrote these words to the Philippians, he told them about how he had persecuted the church and how following Christ had cost him everything. This forgetting that he is talking about is not, then, a matter of our minds being erased. We remember the wicked who, out of their hatred for Christ, hate all who belong to Him and persecute them.

Paul had once enjoyed “career advancement” in this world. He had developed quite a reputation among his fellow Pharisees, exceeding them in the righteousness that is of the Law. But all that was gone now. We can assume with some confidence that all of his past company, his parents and any siblings he may have had, declared him dead to them. No doubt this was very painful to Paul and he would have felt grief at times, sorrowing that he had experienced what Jesus told us would happen to those who follow Him:

Mat 10:35-36 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (36) And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

What, then, is this “forgetting what lies behind” that Paul is talking about here in Philippians? This “straining forward” and “pressing on”?

It is a conscious act on our part to focus our thinking upon Christ and upon His certain promises to all who belong to Him. It is resolving to change our mind’s “aim” from what is behind us to what lies ahead. And the key to doing this is to fill our minds with God’s Word, with His certain and infallible promises, to the New Creation to come which He has shown us in Scripture. You cannot press on toward the prize if you don’t know much about that prize. We cannot focus upon where we are going if we are foggy about that destination.

Your mind is like mine. Thoughts come at us. Thoughts and memories of the past. Some are painful and others are pleasant, but even the pleasant ones are past. Done. Finished as time has moved along. I can think about good times fishing with my dad – maybe even pull out some photos or videos. But even here there is a certain sorrow. My dad is gone. Those times are gone because time is fleeting. When we focus our minds on the past we are eventually overwhelmed with what we cannot recover.

But the future. Now here is a different story altogether. The future in Christ is not gone – it is yet to come and it will never end! I suppose we can even say that there is no time there to pass away. What is here and now is temporal. But what is to come is eternal. And so Paul says, press on! Set your mind on things above, on things ahead. Make traveling to glory the focus of your thoughts. Forget what lies behind and strain forward, because like Christian in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, you are on a journey. It began when you came to faith in Christ, and it will end – that is, you will arrive – when you see Christ face to face. At that time, everything that has been lost to you in this fallen world will fade away into insignificance.

When we allow our minds to drift into thoughts about past hurts, wrongs done to us, or even ongoing suffering in present time…when we permit these things to become our focus, nothing good is going to result. Oh yes, we can learn some lessons and be wiser by examining the nature of evils done to us, but staying that past pain will lead to nothing good. And so the Christian is told – press on. Look up. Look ahead, not back.

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.

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