Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

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How Evil Lies

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.

I have mentioned that I am reading William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. As Shirer describes Hitler and recounts how he came to absolute power in Germany, wreaking death and suffering upon millions and ultimately devastating the German people who believed him, I was impressed with Jesus’ words to the Pharisees. The devil is the father of lies, there is NO truth in him. If his lips are moving (he probably doesn’t have lips), he is lying.

Here is an example of this lying evil. These are the words of Hitler after he had obtained from the German legislature (the Reichstag) the “Enabling Act” which gave Hitler a four year period in which he could deviate from the constitution “for the good of the nation.” And this is what he said:

The government [Hitler promised] will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures. Neither the existence of the Reichstag not that of the Reichstrat is menaced. The position and rights of the President (Hindenberg) remain unaltered…The separate existence of the federal states will not be done away with. The rights of the churches will not be diminished and their relationship to the State will not be modified. The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one.

We must understand that evil, wicked servants of the devil, can stand up before an audience, look right at them, and most “sincerely”…..LIE. We fail to recognize this because we cannot conceive of ourselves doing such a thing. But Hitler was not us. Hitler was a psychopath, a devil, a servant of Satan in the garb of a son of righteousness. A wolf in wool.

This is why the Apostle John warns us:

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

How do you test the spirits? How do you tell if someone is a child of God or a child of the devil, a speaker of truth or a liar of lies? For one thing, you just stop for a minute and cease looking at things as they appear on the outside. You stop quickly accepting their claim to be of Christ. You take some time to examine the fruit of the person’s life. You compare what they are saying with God’s Word. You ask the Lord to show you. You admit that MANY such liars exist, and that these liars which we most often deal with are to be found in the ranks of visible Christianity.

Act 20:29-30 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (30) and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

How many pastors and church elders really believe this? When a victim of domestic abuse, for example, comes to them for help – how many truly acknowledge that evil can look like an angel of light? That an evil man or woman can appear to be soooo godly? That is is very possible for a wicked child of the devil to, without conscience, look right at them and lie? It would appear that not many church leaders believe these things.

So if you do not want to end up being a dupe of the devil, used by him in his wickedness, admit that you need to wise up. Admit that you need God’s wisdom…and start asking for it.

Being Abused does not Justify Abusing

Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

1Th 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1Pe 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

I hope that all of you know by now that I fully understand the typical false nonsense laid upon victims of abuse that twists the Bible’s teaching on things like forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation, and so on. And I also, like all of you, hunger and thirst for righteousness, for justice, and even for God’s vengeance upon the wicked.

But I want to take the time in this article to be sure that in holding to these biblical and right positions, no one takes what we say here as grounds for doing to others what has been done to them. I am afraid that there are people and books floating around out there that justify such sin. They say things like “hurt people hurt people” and the implication is that somehow we are to give hurt people a pass when they hurt others. Not true. Nope. Having been the target of evil does not give me license to launch evil upon others.

Years ago there was a lady in our church who had gone through a bad marriage – I don’t know the details. But this lady was mean. She was demanding. And when she did not get her way she threw anger fits. She has hated me ever since the day I confronted her about her sin and told her that it had to stop. Her adult son took me aside one Sunday and said “we know my mother is a bitter woman. But we all have decided to love her anyway.” By “loving” her of course he meant “we ignore her nastiness and let her get away with it.” That is not love.

All of us have been abused by wicked people. Most of you who follow this blog have experienced deep, even intense evil and you have suffered greatly. The Lord knows and He will render His perfect justice to your persecutors. But this does not give us the right to be mean, to be seeking personal revenge, to snap at and lash out at anyone who does something we don’t like.

One form of this sinful nastiness is to become a person who hates men (or women) as a result of being wronged. I know such people. They have been abused by a man, so they resolved to hate all men. And they teach others to hate men. Where do you find that kind of thing anywhere in the Bible? You don’t. We are to love one another – love the brethren. That means loving both men and women. What are we doing to our children if we teach them such hatred? Girls, never trust a man. Men are evil.

Well, think that through. The Lord Jesus Christ is a man – the God-Man. While God is Spirit and in that sense without gender, nevertheless the Bible refers to Him as Father, as “He” and as “Him.” Can you see that a person who is taught to hate men is going to have a pretty tough time loving God?

We abused the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins put Him on the cross. And yet He set His love upon us. Thankfully, He did not choose to hate all human beings.

So let’s examine ourselves carefully in this regard. Perhaps someone reading this has been taught to hate men – or if your abusere was a woman, to hate all women. And maybe you, as a result, have become, well, mean. That is a trap. It does not lead to anywhere good. And it is sin. Ask the Lord to show it to you, grant you repentance, and set you free.

Desiring Justice or Craving Revenge? Two Very Different Things

Rom 12:19-21 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (20) To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Rev 6:9-10 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. (10) They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

Desiring God’s justice is a good and right thing. In fact, Christ said that His people are characterized by a hunger and thirst for righteousness. I think that righteousness longed for includes divine justice for us via the judgment of the wicked:

2Th 1:6-8 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

But that final judgment is effected by the Lord, not by us. We are not, as Paul tells us, to avenge ourselves. Vengeance is not ours to exercise – we are to leave it to the Lord. We look for it. We pray for it. But we are not to become veangeful people. We can exercise our rights under the law and call the police or report an assault. We can testify in court and even work to have an evildoer prosecuted. But that is seeking justice. It is much different than craving revenge.

Recently I was talking to a good friend who has survived years of evil abuse and betrayal. She told me that she has found peace by leaving justice against her abusers to the Lord. She said that she knows examples of other victims who are characterized by a desire for revenge. And here is the problem with going down that road:

If you seek revenge, you will be overcome with evil.

We are to overcome evil, not be overcome by it. The way we overcome it is not by repaying evil for evil, but by repaying it with good. This is not contrary to a desire for justice. Not at all. I am not certain what “heaping burning coals on their head” means, but I suspect it has something to do with adding conviction, accountability, and ultimately apart from repentance, more severe judgment when Christ returns.

If we crave revenge, we are craving something that we would do ourselves. Do not avenge yourself, is how Paul puts it. Leave vengeance to the Lord. If you try to be an avenger, you will not be able to handle evil – it will handle you.

What does this look like? It translates into a person who is angry. Who hates. Who is not at peace. Who is unsafe themselves to be friends with. Who, as they are increasingly overcome by evil, become abusive themselves.

So many people today are taking their theology from entertainment channels. Movies are filled with the drama of Avengers. Of people who are sorely assaulted and wronged, so they decide to be as tough as nails, pick up a weapon, and go get revenge. This has a very wide appeal to people and they try to emulate in real life what they see in fiction. They have been wronged, so like Charles Bronson they launch out with a Death Wish, or like Keanu Reeves as John Wicks they in some way set out to destroy and kill everyone who wronged them. Violence characterizes them increasingly as they morph into their false god of revenge.

I know domestic abuse victims who are in this very trap. They want revenge. And when you allow yourself to be taken over by this craving for vengeance, you become the center of your world. Everything slopes toward you and how you were wronged and how your abuser needs to pay up – now. And woe to anyone who gets in your way – collateral damage, you see.

Where is faith in Christ in all this? When we choose to obey the Lord and leave veangence to Him (it is His all along, not ours), we are exercising faith in His Word. He has promised to repay, and you can bet that He knows how to exercise perfect veangence upon the wicked – we do not. We desire justice and pray for it. The imprecatory Psalms are our prayers. But veangence? We leave that to the Lord.

Are you someone who has traveled down the revenge road? If so, I can assure you that you are not experiencing the Lord’s peace. You are angry and you are looking for payback. You are being overcome with evil. Stop. Stop right where you are and turn around 180 degrees. Go back. Get off that revenge road and get back in step with Christ.

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