The Lord Desires Mercy, not Sacrifice – Faith Without Works is Dead Faith

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I believe in the inerrancy, authority, and infallibility of Scripture.  That is to say, I believe that the original manuscripts (often called “autographs”) of Scripture were so directed in their composition by the Holy Spirit working through the human authors that what was written was the perfect Word of God without error in word and in entirety.  Of course we do not have those manuscripts now, which is no doubt just as well or human nature being what it is, we would have 66 or more shrines set up for worshiping them!  Scripture, being the Word of God, is necessarily infallible.  You can trust it and it will never fail you. And it is authoritative because it is God’s Word.  And if you are at all familiar with the science of textual criticism, the discipline that deals with taking all of the existing ancient copies of Scripture and re-constructing the original, then you know that we can have full confidence that our Bibles are the Word of God.

But what else does Biblical inerrancy, infallibility, and authority mean?  Recently we were having a discussion in our main Sunday School class about the early creation-account chapters of Genesis.  For myself, I believe that they teach a literal 24-hour day, 7-day creation week.  I do not believe that the universe is a bajillion years old.  But we were discussing whether or not the literal 24-hour day creation should be put in the fundamental doctrinal statement of local churches and new members then required to adhere to it in order to be members.  Quite a number of conservative, perhaps we might say fundamental, churches have done this and encourage others to do it.  In my opinion, this should not be done.  But that is another story.

My point here is that these are the kinds of issues that we think of when we think about the inerrancy and infallibility and authority of the Bible.  Was Adam a real individual?  Is Paul’s take on a certain issue just his own opinion or is it God’s Word?  Those kinds of things.  And they are important issues.  But let me suggest that while we can be all caught up in energetic debates over these things, we can easily slide into the trap that the Pharisees did:

Matthew 23:23-26 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (24) You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (25) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (26) You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

I know of churches and Christians and pastors and denominations that have done intense battle over attacks upon the Word of God, particularly in these areas of inerrancy and authority and so on.  And we need to stand firm for these things.  But I also know of churches and Christians and pastors and denominations who, all the while they are fighting the fight for Scripture, deny Scripture themselves by neglecting the weightier matters:  justice and mercy and faithfulness.  And in probably no greater frequency, we see this failure in respect to how the powerful wield that power and how they deal with the weak.  How they treat the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in the land.  Many, many people who have fought all out warfare for the integrity of Scripture end up disregarding Scripture!!

Because, in the end, when I say that I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God, I am saying that I bow my knee to the One who speaks in it and ask Him, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”  And then I go out and DO that Word.  If not, then I am no more than the son who is all talk but no action:

Matthew 21:28-31 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ (29) And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. (30) And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. (31) Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.

Abuse and Relationships: We All Have the Right to Choose our Friends

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (15)  What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (16)  What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17)  Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18)  and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

I believe that by far and large, churches and Christians and pastors and teachers are denying the truth of this Scripture.  What are we told?  We are told that because Jesus loves everyone (by the way, He doesn’t!) then we are bound to love everyone and that love means that we are required to maintain relationship with everyone who asks us. I think this is why you are seeing books come out like Boundaries and Unsafe People.  We are trying to get back the freedom that has been stolen from us.

Christian, YOU have the right to choose your relationships.  Did you know that?  Have you been taught just the opposite in your church or by other Christians?  You do not have to be in a relationship with the “unclean.”  Of course we know that this does not mean that a Christian who is already married to a non-Christian is commanded to leave that marriage (see 1 Cor 7).  But it does mean that in our lives we do not have to be bound together with darkness and those who represent it.

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Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, (27) and give no opportunity to the devil.

We had a discussion once in a Bible study group about whether it is right or not for a Christian to ever be angry when they are sinned against.  That is to say, some people wondered if anger is ever appropriate when we ourselves are the victim.  Being angry when another person was victimized didn’t seem to be troublesome to anyone, but the idea of being angry when we personally are victimized seemed to be sinful in the thinking of some.  Someone said, “well, Jesus was angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, so anger must not always be sinful.”  Someone else responded, “but we are not Jesus.”

Now, this much I do know.  If we tell abuse victims that it is sinful for them to be angry about what was done or is being done to them, we are going to do them much harm.  In fact many abusers will use this very tactic against their victim: “You call yourself a Christian!  You are just an angry, bitter person!  You are unforgiving.” You know the line I am sure.

So what about it?  It is pretty easy to find Scriptures that show that it is right to be angry when we see evil and injustice.  But what about when we are the victim of that evil and injustice ourselves?

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Abuse as Enslavement: “Clipping Her Wings”

If you have ever had chickens, you may have had to trim their wing feathers to keep them from flying out of the chicken pen.  Clipping wings is a good thing when done to chickens.  It really is for their own good.  Chickens just aren’t meant to soar like an eagle (if they try, the eagle will get them). And besides, soaring makes finding the eggs pretty hard.

But abusive people believe in clipping the wings of their victims, and this is most definitely not a good thing.  We as human beings are intended by our Creator to soar:

Psalms 8:3-9 ESV When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (4)  what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (5)  Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (6)  You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, (7)  all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, (8)  the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. (9)  O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Abusers however, work to keep their targets in the pen.  And as most of our readers already know, they have many tactics for doing just that.  One such clipping tool is a kind of economic one.  Let me explain.

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Abuse and the Police: Churches Are Not Above the Civil Authorities

Romans 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, (4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (7) Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

When I was a police officer I often had to go testify in court.  Portland, Oregon was a large enough city that you would see new assistant District Attorneys begin their careers in traffic court, prosecuting speeding offenses then moving up to DWI cases and so on.  They had to learn some basics in presenting their case, and one of the things they had to establish at the very start was something called venue.  Venue has to do with the jurisdiction of the court.  A court in Oregon, for example, cannot try a speeding offense if it occurred in the state of Washington.  And if the court were in Portland, then the offense had to have occurred in Multnomah County, and so on.  So the prosecutor would have to establish that, for instance, SE 139th and Division Street was in “the county of Multnomah, State of Oregon.”  If he forgot to do that, the case could be dismissed.  Venue, you see.

Here in the 13th chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul is teaching us about venue. He says that God has appointed the civil authorities to carry out a particular function.  The police, the prosecutor’s office, and the courts all “bear the sword” for the purpose of dealing with wrongdoers.  The civil authorities are to be a “terror” to evil people for the benefit of us all.  Therefore, we are all to be in subjection to them.

Christians and pastors and churches forget this, and in part (perhaps in large part) this is why abuse, both domestic and sexual, is being covered up in our churches.  The thing is in the news now with well known evangelicals being sued for this very thing.  It is contended that rather than report cases of sexual abuse and spousal abuse (criminal actions) to the civil authorities for prosecution, church leaders hushed it up and handled it “in house.”  Or we should say, “mis-handled” it.  Grievous wrongs were done to victims.

Churches do not have venue in regard to criminal offenses!  We believe in the separation of church and state, just as Romans 13 teaches.  The church has its venue (spiritual and religious) and the state has its venue (earthly and legal).  Criminal offenses cannot be tried in the church!  That has been attempted in church history and the outcome has never been good.  The church does not rule over the king, nor does the king rule over the church.  They each have their assigned areas of venue.  If the king errs spiritually, it is the duty and right of the church to correct him.  And if the church errs in criminal or civil matters, it is the duty and right of the king to correct the church.

In our churches, we can easily make the state out to be the enemy.  We home-school rather than subject our children to the schools of the state.  We protest that our taxes are used to fund abortions (rightly so).  But in all of this, if we are not careful (and we have not been careful), we can go wrong in our thinking and imagine that we are above the state in all matters.  And so, when it is discovered that a child has been abused in our church, we can easily err by seeing the civil authorities as the enemy and imagining that we have a God-given venue to handle the case entirely ourselves.  We do not.  For the most part we are not competent nor equipped to handle such cases, and we violate the law (and thus oppose God as Paul says) when we refuse to report abuse to the police.  We do further damage to victims and we shame the name of Christ, as is happening in the news right now, when the whole sorry mess comes out perhaps years later.  “Church and pastors covered up sexual abuse and protected the perpetrator.”

That is a headline you never want to see as a result of something your church did, or did not do.

Get Behind Me, Satan – The Times we Tell People to be Silent

Mat 16:22-23 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” (23) But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

It happened again recently. A survivor of domestic abuse told me that two people had approached her (one a pastor, one a “friend”) and essentially (in one case literally) said, “the Lord told me to speak to you.” They each went on with some of the usual blathering about how she needed to forgive her abuser, love her abuser, and generally have warm thoughts and feelings about her abuser.

Now, I know this lady. What she is is a justice seeker. A seeker of justice. She isn’t trying to take personal vengeance, but she wants justice. Not only for what the abuser did, but also for the additional abuse her church laid upon her.

And yet, here come these self-identifying prophets insisting that they come with a message from the Lord for her.

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Abused in Your Sleep – Another Control Tactic of the Wicked

I was told that my body was not my own, but the touching went on despite me saying I was so tired and wanted to go back to sleep. I would wake up from the touching and pretend that I was still asleep.  I can only remember once or twice that it went the whole way while I was sleeping. But I’ve since discovered now that my ex was sexually abusing me but using scripture to justify it.

This power and control tactic is not at all uncommon. Over the years I have had numbers of abuse victims tell me exactly what this quote from a survivor describes. Abuse during sleep. And very commonly, sexual abuse during sleep.

Abusers, as you know, lust for power and control. They demand it. It is like the rush of some drug to them. They even want their target to know that she is not even beyond that control during sleep! And so they demand sex at 2am or they startle her awake by shouting and raging about something she supposedly did wrong – and then eventually go back to a sound sleep themselves!

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