A Common and Surprising Ally of Abusers – Christians Who Grew up in Church

2 Co 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.

I have known many people who grew up in a Christian family, attending a Christian church. And not only attending that church, but attending it diligently. Sunday School, morning worship, Sunday evening worship, Wednesday evening prayer meeting, mid-week children’s ministry, vacation Bible school, summer camp…the whole package. In other words, the church was their life. Their friends were in the church. They may even have eventually married someone they met in their church, after going to the Bible college that most young people from church chose.

It all sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? And I bet some of you can identify with this description – or at least you once did. But let me tell you something that I think most likely most of you already know –

Your church world was a fantasyland. At least your idea of your church was a fantasyland.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I love Christ’s church. I am not one of these ticked off ex-Christian, ex-Church people who had something bad happen to them and so they reject Christ and His Church in their entirety. Nope. I have been a pastor of Christ’s church for going on 36 years now. But the church I love is Christ’s true church – not the counterfeit.

So when I say that your “church” was in all probability a fantasyland, or at least that what you think it was is a fantasy, I am talking about the visible local church that you lived so much of your life in, and what it really was in comparison to what you thought it was. And if anyone reading this post is still in such a church, leading that same kind of church life, then what I am saying to you is that most likely your view of what your church is, is a fantasy. Let me talk, in fact, to you.

All of this produces a surprising ally to evil – you. The church kid. The church youth group member. The young adults group leader. The person, in short, who loves their church, who lives their church, who pours out their life’s energy in their church. Many of the enemy’s allies come from these very ranks. Let me explain.

The Bible never, ever portrays the Christian life and the local church in terms of a fantasyland. It never tells us that our enemy is only “out there.” In fact, what Scripture (like the one quoted above) does tell us is that creeps creep in among us in the church (see Jude on this). Wolves in sheep’s clothing, in other words, do not do their wickedness “out there.” If they did, they wouldn’t need the woolly disguise. No, they do it in the church. Among us. Do you think that your church was or is immune? I think not.

But, reinforced by false teaching in the church, the fantasyland mentality so often gets rooted in our minds. The pastor is what he appears to be. The elders and deacons are surely holy men. Mrs. Jones the choir director, Jim the youth leader, and other “pillars” in your church – surely they are the apples of the Lord’s eye.

Is that image of the visible church what we see in the Bible? Of course not –

3 Jn 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. (10) So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

If you cut out all the parts of the Bible that were written to deal with evil inside the local church, how much would you have left? Not much. Even Jesus’ battles with the Pharisees come under this heading because the Pharisees were the leaders in “the church” of that day.

Somehow, because of sinful willful blindness, foolishness, simplistic naivete, or selfishness, people who grew up in church, who never (at least knowingly) were the direct target-victim of a wicked counterfeit, whose very life was their church, simply cannot and will not process the suggestion that their idea of their church is a false one. They cannot or will not entertain the notion that Mrs. Anderson’s husband the deacon is not who he disguises himself as at church. They cannot or will not even consider that the pastor is an adulterer or that Mrs. Simpson lusts for power and control and is willing to use the most devious and cruel schemes to get it.

Now remember, I am not saying that Christ’s true church is like this. We call that true church the “invisible” church because we cannot actually see it. The invisible church consists of ALL genuine believers from all time, both in heaven and on earth. This church is the real body of Christ and to the extent that a local church here on earth consists of genuine believers, to that extent it is a true church. While we still would not want to embrace a perfectionistic fantasyland view of such a church, we can be blessed in such a church because evil is simply not at home there. It generally moves on. “They went out from us because they were not of us” as the Apostle John puts it.

But what I am saying is that many (if not most nowadays) local churches are nowhere near the fantastical idea that the person I am addressing in this post thinks it is. Not only are they not places where evil does not dwell, they are in fact incubators of evil where, behind the scenes and unmolested, these sons of the devil that Paul tells us appear to be sons of righteousness, operate.

Now, over the years, if our life-long fantasyland thinking church member would be honest, there have been some clear indicators that all was not as it appeared to be in their church Disneyworld. The rate of pastoral turnover for instance. “Why did the pastor leave?” “Well, I’m not sure but apparently the Lord called him to a new ministry.” “Ok, I just won’t think about that anymore.”

Or there was that time that Mrs. Gray took the kids and moved out, leaving Mr. Gray so sadly grieving in the church pews. She was not faithful to her marriage vows, you know. Poor Mr. Gray. Yes, you had heard those occasional rumors that Mr. Gray battled a “drinking problem,” but then, none of us are perfect, are we?”

And then there was that unpleasantness of the terrible church split ten years ago. You weren’t ever sure what it really was about, but the associate pastor took a group of families out and started a new church across town. In the end, everyone said we are all Christians and we need to look past, and love one another.

Then there was that time when Mr. and Mrs. Snyder suddenly were gone. They had been such wonderful leaders in the outreach ministry, but now – it’s just terrible – Mr. Snyder is in jail. Surely he was falsely accused. There was some talk about the charges but you never wanted to hear the details. Someone said that Mr. Snyder had drowned their infant in the bathtub! No, it can’t be. Surely if anything like that happened it was an accident. Mrs. Snyder has taken the rest of the children and moved away to no one knows where. [This example is based on a true event by the way that I myself experienced in a local church when I was only in my early 20’s].

Yes, there had been all these rocks in the road. But your fantasyland stood unmoved in your mind. You put these things out of your thinking, until….

And I will now let our readers finish the story. How do you think it ends? Or perhaps it just continues? What do you think?

 

Marriage is not Hard – You Have been Lied to

Gen 2:23-24 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (24) Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

One of the primary reasons churches are so filled with unbiblical teaching and man-made tradition parading as God’s Word is that those who are doing the teaching should not be teaching anyone. Wicked doctrine is promulgated by wicked teachers. And frankly, we have been having truckloads of evil teaching dumped on us in church for decades now.

One of these lies is that marriage is hard. You hear the mantra over and over. “Well, that is tough, but you know, marriage is hard. We are all sinners. You have to work at it.” Yada, yada.

Continue reading “Marriage is not Hard – You Have been Lied to”

The Abusive Man as a Servant of Righteousness — Sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen

The Abusive Man as a Servant of Righteousness – Exposing the Deceptions of Abuse
Sermon 9 from the series: The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on September 19, 2010
Sermon Text: 2 Corinthians 11:1-21

In the years leading up to WWII, Adolf Hitler came to be viewed as a kind of savior of the German people. In fact, he was one of the greatest abusers and users of people in all history. But during the era of his popularity, the large portion of the German people served him and even loved him. They thought him a kind of servant of righteousness. Unless, of course, you happened to be a Jew. Most people ignored the reports that Jews were being slaughtered. They were deceived and, to one degree or another, we might say they preferred to be deceived. It was more comfortable than the truth.

And so it is today. Our enemy is, as he has always been, a masterful liar. He is master of the disguise. And one of his favorite disguises is that of an angel of light, a servant of righteousness. A wolf, in other words, dressed up as a sheep.

Continue reading “The Abusive Man as a Servant of Righteousness — Sermon by Ps Jeff Crippen”