Abuse and Hope: The Bride of Christ as Remnant and Ants

1 Kings 19:9-10 ESV There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (10)  He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away…. 19:18 ESV (18)  Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

In these days it is easy for Christians to become Elijahs, thinking that we are the only ones left who are faithful to the Lord, that soon there will be none left as the enemies of Christ seem to be so successful at eradicating faith from the earth.  We have had many discussions on this blog about this very subject.  The leaven of the Pharisees appears to have spread like a plague through the churches.  Many of our readers who have been treated so miserably by their pastors and churches find themselves “outside the camp” and so traumatized that they are unable to return to a local church.  They don’t want this to be so.  At least, that is my take on it.  They would love to be in a real church where Christ’s people have heeded the Lord Jesus’ words to go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.  But, alas, where is such a church to be found?

Well, in all of this we must not despair.  Christ loves His Bride.  The Body of Christ survives today and always will.  God has always preserved His remnant and indeed it is the remnant, as it turns out, that is the true church anyway!

Romans 9:25-27 ESV As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” (26)  “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” (27)  And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,

The true church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a church that we can all love.  It is here and it is there.  It exists, very often, within a visible and local church.  At other times it has been cast out of the visible temple by the Pharisees, but it is always there.  And, like “birds of a feather,” its members inevitably and through all kinds of means find one another.

Continue reading “Abuse and Hope: The Bride of Christ as Remnant and Ants”

Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer

One of the recurring themes we hear from Christians who are abuse victims/survivors is that when they went to their pastor or church for help, reporting the abuse, they were told that they must remain with their abuser or at most separate from him for a time, always working toward reconciliation.

In all cases like this, we have seen pastors and churches “shepherding” or “caring for” the victim and abuser — as they put it. And behind all of this there has been an attitude or conviction or doctrine of the church and of the pastorate and even of the nature of the individual Christian that essentially says “we will mediate Christ to you.” It is quite Roman Catholic actually. The thing is much like a formal priesthood which behaves as if the individual Christian is led and directed by the church, unable on their own to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd. And yet:

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me  (John 10:14)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

Every real Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is led by the Spirit (See Romans 8; Galatians 5:16ff). Every real Christian is thereby enabled to understand Scripture.

Continue reading “Pastoral Care Has Its Limits and Must Allow for the Priesthood of the Believer”

Scriptures that Demonstrate an Abuser is Not a Christian

It is crucial that we all keep the definition of an abuser in mind as we work to sort through the subject and all of its deceptions and intricacies. By “abuser” we are not talking about someone who sometimes abuses someone else. If we were, we would all be abusers. No, we are talking about a person who is defined by, whose very essence of character is – abuser. That is to say, an abuser is a person whose being is one of a profound sense of entitlement to power and control, who therefore uses a variety of wicked tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control, and who feels perfectly justified in doing so. Ok? That is the person we are talking about.

And I maintain that the Bible makes it very clear that such a person cannot be a Christian. Is not a Christian. Never has been a Christian. And in the majority of cases, never will be a Christian because he will not repent.  Consider the following Scriptures that support this conclusion.  As you read, apply these truths directly to the abuser as we define him and ask, “is this true of an abuser or not?”

Psalm 1:1-6

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Psalm 32:1-5

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up[b] as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

[NOTE: Is this characteristic of an abuser? Is this really what happens when the abuser sins? Is this how he feels?]

Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

[NOTE:  See the application of this passage in Hebrews 8 which clearly demonstrates that this passage is speaking of the New Covenant in Christ, the new birth in Christ, the Church]

Ezekiel 36:24-27

24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Psalm 50:16-22

But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.
19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I[a] was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!

[NOTE: The abuser, who is described quite well here, has NO part in God’s covenant. That means he is not a Christian.  Notice also – VERY important – God gives this wicked one the LAW, not the gospel. Mark this…lest I tear you apart!  That is the message we are to give to the wicked, not “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”].

John 3:1-5

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

John 13:34-35

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

[Think it through. Do people KNOW that the abuser is a Christian because of his demonstrated, practiced love for others? Especially for believers? Of course not]

Romans 8:3-9

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[a] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Romans 8:13-14

13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Galatians 5:16-17

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

[NOTE: The “you” in the last phrase here is the Christian. The person YOU really are in Christ. And what YOU want to do is to walk in the Spirit, not do the desires of the flesh. A Christian is a person who DESIRES to walk in the Spirit and whose life therefore is characterized by that desire, by the fruits of the Spirit, even if imperfectly. The abuser does not desire to obey Christ and does not walk habitually in the Spirit. He may be rather masterful at pretending this Spirit-flesh battle is raging in him, but it is not].

1 Thessalonians 4:9

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

And then you have virtually the entire book of 1 John.  Here are some examples:

1 John 1:6-7

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 2:3-4

3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:9-11

9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[a] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 3:6-10

6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

[Actually I really only needed to put this one passage here to prove the case, right?]

1 John 3:14-15

14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

1 John 3:24

Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

1 John 4:7-8

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:20-21

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 5:18

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

[“keeps on sinning” does not mean perfect sanctification is required in order to be a Christian. What it does mean is that the habitual, characteristic walk of a Christian is not one of practicing sin]

There.  That should do it. The abuser is not a Christian, never has been a Christian, and never will be a Christian without real, genuine, miraculous repentance. I was kept in confusion for many years on this subject because of just plain false teaching in the churches I grew up in AND in one or two seminary classes I took. I remember one day after a soteriology class (the doctrine of salvation), asking the professor what we are to do with all these “either/or” statements in 1 John. He gave me some garbled answer like “well, you see, for John, things are presented more black and white, but we must be careful in how we apply what he says.” Hogwash!! By the way, that professor the very next year booked off from his wife and hit the road with a counselee he was “affairing” with.  His theology was quite convenient for him.

The abuser is not a Christian. The thing is impossible. No matter how smooth his deceptions are, how sometimes noble-looking his sheep disguise is, he is not a child of God. Remember, sheep do not put on wolf suits, but wolves love to put on wool. Good does not disguise itself as evil, but evil very often disguises itself as good. So when you have Mr. Abuser the “christian” – remember. The Mr. Hyde evil side is the real person.  Anchor yourself in God’s Word! It is our compass and is infallible. Don’t base your conclusions on observations of your abuser, or on your abuser’s claims,  or on stories other people want to tell you to try to claim a Christian can be an abuser. Go right back to these Scriptures (and there are many more) and anchor your certainty in their truth. As long as you keep struggling with the notion that an abuser, your abuser, is or might possibly a real Christian, you are going to stumble around in the fog of confusion.

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The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

  1. “He premeditates his actions. He uses people and every thing he can get as an alibi to cover or justify his actions. He is the master of excuses, a liar, a deceiver and frequently contradicts himself. He is very aware of his power of charisma and persuasive talk.”
  2. “He is not verbally or physically abusive. He sounds loving and caring.”
  3. “He admits he has failed in his role as a provider, protector and leader of the family and then asks for forgiveness and says he is not happy about it either and he needs help to understand why that happens in his life, but he never changes despite all the help is offered to him.”
  4. “I find this abuser the worst because it is not very evident. He disguises himself as a good father and loving husband thru words and showing himself very active in the family matters, but in the reality does not take responsibility for providing, protecting and leading the family.“

These descriptions of a wicked man were sent to us by a Christian wife and mother whose abuser claims to be a godly servant of the Lord. And he has been successful for many years in convincing the people in his church and in other Christian organizations that he is the real deal.

Continue reading “The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders”

“How do I Avoid Getting Tied up With Another Abuser?” – A Common Question

2Co 11:13-15  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  (14)  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  (15)  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Recently I was asked a very good question by an abuse survivor who has had more than one experience with abusive relationships, one in which she was nearly killed. The question is stated in the title of this article, “how do I avoid getting tied up with another abuser?”

Well, the answer is not an easy one. There is no fixed formula with guarantees. As the Apostle Paul said in the scripture quoted above, evil comes in very, very deceptive disguises. How many of you for instance can tell about how charming and wonderful “he” was when you first met him? And how he is still thought of as the most wonderful, godly saint in your church? No, there are no acid texts. But we can still apply some pretty good wisdom.

Continue reading ““How do I Avoid Getting Tied up With Another Abuser?” – A Common Question”

An Example of How an Abuser Ally tries to Creep in Among us

Some time ago (before we started accepting comments at Light for Dark Times) I received the following note from a man I have never heard of. He was complaining because I did not allow comments. Essentially my reason was because I could not take on a double work load of comment moderation. Anyway, here is what he said. I have had numbers of these kinds of guys over the years send me very similar demands (and that is what this is, a demand). Why? You shall see in a moment:
I hope you realize that it also makes it appear as if you figure you have all the answers and don’t need or want input from your readers. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s just how it struck me.
Dialogue does far more for people than lecturing or preaching. You are missing a good bit of your opportunity. Get a volunteer to screen your comments. Then you don’t need to moderate them yourself. That will give you an opportunity for more teaching and also to clear up misunderstandings with your readers. How do I know? Because that’s part of my job description at a ministry I work for.
Now, guess what? A bit of research and here is what we find.  This guy who demands to be permitted to expound and enlighten all of us, said this in an article about marriage, divorce, and remarriage-
I feel that we are better off to take the ‘no remarriage’ position rather than take chances…  I feel that when we start opening doors for divorce and remarriage, we start down a slippery slope that has no end….I feel that for me to break my vows to my wife, even if she breaks her vows to me, would be wrong for me. That also is the position of most of the groups sponsoring this site and the church I am part of. I realize that this isn’t what you were hoping to hear from me, probably. But I think it is the only safe position.
So, what is his motive? He runs a website “ministry” at which he peddles his perversions of God’s Word, and he wants me to allow him to unload his wicked ideas here, right in the midst of readers who have been subject to evil, including the evil of domestic abuse and abuse in their churches. He wants to oppose what we say on this blog. He is like the enemies that dogged the Apostle Paul wherever he went, teaching a false gospel to enslave others and exalt himself. He wants to teach. He wants to be “first.” He is the kind who visits your church and then insists that he be allowed to teach the class or preach the sermon right away.

Continue reading “An Example of How an Abuser Ally tries to Creep in Among us”

A Real Case of a Pastor Lording it Over an Abuse Victim

1Peter 5:2-3  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;  (3)  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

The following letter will raise your blood pressure. BP alert. An abuse survivor shared it with me after she received it from her (now ex) pastor. For decades she was subjected to ongoing abuse from a wicked husband, and her pastor admitted that her husband in fact abused her. That fact was not even in dispute in this case. But as you will see as you read, the pastor demanded that she submit to him (the pastor) and he ordered her to….well, you can read it for yourself. This letter was sent to her by the pastor when she separated from her abuser and was making plans to divorce him.

Hello _____,
The elders have reviewed your email and my response below. They’ve reviewed and approved both my email before and this one now. We’ve come to agree and do now insist that you not move forward with divorce until we have the time needed to sort out P’s profession of faith as true or false through church discipline. And if he is determined (as best we can according to Jesus’ words vs P’s actions), then we would aim to figure out if he is still consenting to live with you.
[Your biblical counselor] has also reviewed my email independently as a counselor (in the biblical sense) close to your situation and agrees with the content of my response. She empathizes greatly with the turmoil associated with how long this process is taking and is helping us keep your pain and longsuffering in the forefront of our hearts and minds. If anything this latest posture of his ought to (though deeply grieving) also inspire more confidence and faith in Jesus’ process of confrontation and church discipline. As I stated below I believe we will know soon whether P has been pretending to be a Christian or is truly repentant. Jesus designed his words to turn up the heat of accountability and to produce results. I believe we are seeing that now.
At this moment, we as elders agree with one another, standing on God’s word, that your decision to move toward divorce is unwarranted biblically and is disobedience to Jesus’ very words in Matthew 19:6 that says “what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Your posture, though full of suffering and pain, ought to be driven not by the feelings induced by that pain, but by faith in God’s word and provision of strength for you and promise to complete you in and through this process. As the pastors who will give an account for your soul, we insist that you continue to follow the heroes of the faith as described in Hebrews 11 who all chose the more difficult road of suffering out of a resolved faith in God for the ultimate reward on the other side.  Even Moses, “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Hebrews 11:26.
Sister, do not believe the lie that says to choose to suffer is foolish or bad stewardship. That is a lie from hell that says we should avoid suffering even if it means going against God’s word, and that is what seems like you are beginning to embrace. To do so is to question Jesus’ own embrace of the cross and every Christians’ embrace of suffering in faith (before and since the cross).
Please email, call, or text me as soon as possible to confirm that you are will not be telling your children of your plan to divorce.  And please stand by as me and another elder meet with P as soon as he is willing, or move toward escalated confrontation in person if he is not.”
And if that wickedness were not enough, this pastor told her, when she informed him she was resigning as a member of his church, that he and his elders would be announcing to the congregation that she had not left the church “in good standing.”
You can be pretty certain that this thing will proceed as these cases typically do in such places. The victim will be shunned, accused of sinning by divorcing and for not submitting (ie obeying) to the elders. And the abuser, if he so chooses, will be welcomed to remain in the church.
I could go on and on with my observations and comments about this wickedness on the part of the pastor and his elders, but I will just make a couple of points here and then let all of you comment:
1. Victims do not need the permission of their pastor and church in order to divorce their abuser. The church should be addressing the abuser whose sin is among them in the church, but you will search high and low in Scripture for any teaching that pastors must grant permission to divorce.
2. This pastor is not being forthright and truthful with the victim. He speaks as if he is going to hold the abuser accountable via church discipline. But notice that after decades of wicked abuse by the abuser, this pastor still allows for the possibility that he is still a Christian! 
3. The pastor’s distortions about suffering for Christ and his accusations against the victim (that she is starting to believe lies from hell) are straight out of the pit itself. This man should be fired as a pastor for his malpractice and arrogance, and for placing an abuse victim’s life in danger.
Enough from me. Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think.