Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Author: Jeff Crippen Page 3 of 72

Humility Does not mean no Self-confidence

Num 16:8-11 And Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: (9) is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the LORD and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, (10) and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also? (11) Therefore it is against the LORD that you and all your company have gathered together. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?”

Num 12:3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.

The genuine Christian desires to be humble. Sometimes we fail, but the Lord enables us to repent of our pride and we return to humility. Humility is acknowledging who we are and who God is. It is to reject sinful pride and refuse to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. The person who is characterized by pride is simply not one of Christ’s people.

But humility does not mean that we have no spiritual backbone. You see this in the Scriptures above. Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth! Incredible statement. But when Korah decided to launch this rebellion against the Lord, Moses stood his ground and spoke for the Lord, just as Paul opposed Peter to his face. Our greatest model of humility of course is the Lord Jesus Himself-

Php 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

RASNs (revilers, abusers, sociopaths, narcissists) trespass on our boundaries. We have rightful boundaries. That is to say, we have the right to, for instance, our own opinions, to our preferences, to be individual persons. All within the bounds of the Lord’s Word of course, but we have these lines which other people have no right to deny us. RASNs do. They are boundary trespassers.

Just because we are humble does not mean that we permit the wicked to cross or destroy those boundaries. We know this because Moses stood right up to Korah. And the Lord Jesus got right in the face of the wicked many times.

One of the deceptions of Satan is that he sends his emissaries to us and they insist that we always conform to their opinions, their preferences, and thus to cast away our own individuality and personhood. It happened right off in Eden and it still happens today.

So don’t make the mistake of thinking that Godly humility requires acquiescing (fancy word for caving in) to the RASN. It doesn’t. And in this sense the most humble person is the most courageous.

Let me give you a classic example which I have probably told you before. Over 20 years ago when our church still had quite a few RASNs in it, one particular “holiest of the holy saints” accused me of “distancing myself from my flock” when we were enabled through a modest inheritance to purchase our own home instead of living next door to the church building in the church parsonage. Our new home was further away. He went on to say, “now you will be way over there by yourself without any accountability.” What horrid wickedness!! I pity the church he is now.

False humility produced by the RASN’s boundary trespassing would respond with, “perhaps you are right. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.” I didn’t say that, but neither did I speak up against this evil as strongly as I should have. Back then I still didn’t understand all of this kind of evil. And I must say it still can catch me off guard today. I kick myself when it does.

What does humility say in such a situation? Something like – “I have every right, just like any of you all, to buy a home and choose what place it is in. (It was only 20 minutes away from the church building). You have no right to trespass on my personhood in this manner and I call you to repent of it.” Because real humility is courageous and stands for truth.

So Easy to be Carried Away by the Enemy if we are not on Guard

Gal 2:13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Peter had yielded to the false teachers who had crept in among the churches of Galatia, withdrawing from the Gentiles for fear of the Jews. Paul admonished him to his face and showed how he was being a hypocrite and denying the gospel. Thankfully the Lord granted Peter repentance.

Notice that Paul says, “so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” Barnabas was a faithful, genuine believer. He was gift with encouragement. And yet even he had begun to be led down that lying path which would add works of the Law to the gospel. Even Barnabas was led astray! Even him!

In this we must learn that our enemy is very crafty. He so often comes in religious garb, in the form of “eminent” saints. There is no lack of them in our own day. Without even knowing it, we can be seduced by them and start thinking falsely. Unless, of course, we take to heart Peter’s own words (of all people, Peter learned this lesson the hard way) –

1Pe 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

In part, this is the reason pastors and church members so often fall for the wicked person’s lies. Here is this man or woman who is such a pillar in our church. He is reputed as such in the community. He has what seems to be a depth of biblical knowledge. Or here is this guest speaker at a conference, for instance, introduced as “lead pastor of XXXX church and author of scores of books.” We ooh and ahh. We want his autograph. We soak up his every word. But this is not being sober-minded and watchful. It is spiritual carelessness and if the Lord is merciful and brings us to our senses, we may have been in this idolatrous slumber for years.

Put your own name in Paul’s sentence – “so that even ________ was led astray.” Do NOT be a respecter of persons. Do not show partiality. It just amazes me today how many professing Christians so easily fall for the enemy’s lies. It’s as if….could it be?…..they never really read their Bibles.

Yes, They Are Indeed Lying

Joh 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

If you watch crime shows that recount, for example, murder cases, you will be amazed at how these psychopaths can look right at the camera or at even their victim’s family members, or the judge, and lie without flinching. It is as if they believe the lie themselves. But this is the nature of their father the devil and RASNs (revilers, abusers, sociopaths, narcissists) to one degree or another share in this evil ability.

You’ve seen it. Neighbors and friends are just sooooo certain that the criminal has been falsely accused. There is just noooo way he/she would EVER have done such a thing. But they did do it. And not only are they lying once they have been arrested, they have been lying their entire life. They present, daily, a facade, a disguise, a persona that they demand everyone believe. EVERYTHING they do is designed to support that false self and if the rest of us know what is good for us – we had better support it too! (so the RASN insists).

So it’s time for all of us to wise up. The RASN is lying! The RASN did do it! He or she is NOT the person you think they are. And I suppose that largely this is why Jesus said:

Mat 7:16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

The reason we think that these wicked ones are who they appear to be is because THEY wear the disguise. THEY tell us who they are – the false self. And we need to stop falling for it. There is a behind the scenes drama playing out that betrays their disguise, and if we are wise we will watch for it because every so often a crack appears when the mask slips a bit.

I watched a real life crime show recently in which a flat-out psychopath murdered a young woman who thought he was a friend. This murder went undetected for over a decade and by that time he had become engaged to marry another woman. Meanwhile, detectives learned that – get this! – when he was 12 years old he had murdered both of his parents and had been sent to juvenile prison until he was 21. He never showed any remorse or emotion. He used a shotgun and a baseball bat in a rage to kill them. And then, when he turned 21, the courts turned him loose. And he killed again.

Now – listen to this – the woman he was engaged to, even though she learned about him killing his parents, insisted (and still does) that there is no way he could have murdered the young woman. He just isn’t that kind of person, she said.

This is evil. When we refuse to look at the rotten fruit and insist that the tree is good anyway, then we are enabling and participating in evil. We need to grow up and understand that children of the devil are quite capable of doing what their father does – lie and lie and lie some more in a more convincing way than someone who is telling the truth! They can and they do.

So when I hear someone say, “There is no way he could have done something like that,” in spite of the fact that such a person has been exposed by their victim or other evidence, then I know that I am looking at an enabler of evil. And we have plenty such enablers right in our churches.

More Thoughts on Cain’s Hatred of Abel (over at Light for Dark times blog)

Be sure and head over to this post at my lightfordarktimes.com blog for some more insights into the tactics of Cain’s kindred.

Sharing the Load

Gal 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

One characteristic of the love of Christ is its willingness to help the weak carry their burden. Christ took our burden of sin upon Himself and He welcomes His people to come to them and do this:

1Pe 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

If we are truly Christ’s people, then this quality of love, this caring for others, this awareness of their burdens and a willingness to help carry them, will certainly be evident in us.

One of the characteristics, in contrast, of the RASN (reviler, abuser, sociopath, narcissist) is that they are like the two who passed by the beaten, robbed man. They didn’t care. They had no empathy. They couldn’t be bothered. His pain wasn’t their pain so they just moved on.

Targets of RASNs carry tremendous burdens. False shame and guilt, economic deprivation, concerns about their children, fear for physical safety, and on and on the burden list goes. If we are genuine Christians, if we have been born again, the love of Christ is going to be present in us. That love will be willing and even anxious to say “here, let me help you with that.” The Spirit who dwells within us will move us to do so.

Sometimes we just cannot fix the situation (often times actually), but we can still help if we are willing. We can be someone who just listens. Who believes and validates. There really are a lot of ways that we can help carry the load.

Jas 2:14-16 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Following Christ in this wicked world is just messy many times. It requires getting involved in the messes which the wicked create in the lives of their victims. It entails being hated because you become the ally of the oppressed. It is costly because you end up sharing the cost.

Many if not most people, even many who claim to be Christians, just don’t want to be bothered. They don’t even want to “hear about it.” One of the things that victims of evil need to do is to talk about it. It’s a way of sorting it out, of coming to understand what is happening to them and how the RASN is operating against them. So they not only talk (if you will listen) but they repeatedly talk. They often tell the same story again and again. Are you willing to listen again and again? I don’t mean that a victim should remain “stuck” so as to make their very identity one of victimhood, but the truth is that people who have been traumatized by evil need time to sort out what has happened to them. And this sorting out entails talking about it. This requires a burden-sharer. A listener.

This is, says Paul, “the law of Christ.” You simply cannot obey Christ’s command to love your brother/sister if you don’t even want to be bothered with listening.

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.

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