**A Surprising Ally of the Abuser

Acts 5:1-2  But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,  (2)  and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

We don’t know much about Ananias. Certainly we cannot say if he was a sociopath or the typical kind of abuser that we deal with. We do know that his sin was great and that he was a liar and hypocrite. But what I want us to consider here is his wife, Sapphira. “with his wife’s knowledge….”. 

Acts 5:8-9  And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.”  (9)  But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”

Over the years on numerous occassions, I have had to deal with wives who chose to take part in their husband’s evil. I think that in some of those cases the husband was an abuser, but in all of these situations I am thinking of, the wife chose to join with her wicked husband in his sin. 

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A New Book on Evil is Coming Soon

This is the preface to a new book we plan to publish soon. Its title is Wise as Serpents: Wising up to the Evil Among Us.  It is based on the sermon series of that title that I delivered at Christ Reformation Church a few years back.  It will relate directly to domestic abuse hiding in the church, but here I am trying to deal more broadly with evildoers in wool of all kinds. Really, they are very much the same.

It looks like the book will be about 300 pages or so. A friend whose family has survived intense abuse has already painted a great picture for the cover and I have invited another survivor to write the foreward. I hope this is going to be another very helpful tool to expose evil and to help victims of evil get free.

Preface

And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8)

Our Lord’s words to us as His people are encouraging, convicting, chastening, and certain. And yet they are more. They are living, powerful, absolute truth that is the Word of God. And as such, they are not spoken to us as some kind of optional suggestion for us to take or leave. They are always commandments which are to be believed and obeyed.

Therefore, when the Lord Jesus Christ said this:

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men…(Matthew 10:16-17a)

…He was not offering advice that would be good to heed. His Word is our command. Our Lord was telling us, and continues to tell us, that we are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves because He has sent us out in the midst of wolves who serve that old malignant enemy of our souls.

And yet we see in our day so many who profess to be soldiers of the cross (most find that title objectionable nowadays) asleep and negligent as the battle rages. The result? The enemy is among us. Not just “out there” in the world, but among us within the walls of our local churches and even sadly often in the pulpits of those churches. These kind of troops are willfully disobeying our Lord General’s commands. They have not trained. They do not know the enemy. They are ignorant of his devices all the while claiming that they are not. Their armor is not the armor of God but some imitation made of styrofoam which cannot stop a toothpick.

This book is a call to arms. It is intended to be a bugle sounded with distinct, clear notes that cannot be misunderstood. In it I reject the foggy, equivocating, meaningless notes that are a plague to the church, which call no one to battle, and which fail at every turn to expose the enemy and his schemes.

If I succeed in this clarity, we will hear the voice of Korah shouting “you have gone too far!” (See Numbers 16). But it is my intent to “go too far,” at least too far in the opinion of so many who preach and confess with such unclear tones that the church remains asleep when the enemy is attacking.

You will find as you read that I quote Scripture often and at length. I want you all to see for yourself that God’s Word teaches us about evil on almost every page and that my exhortations to you to become wise as serpents about evil are not of my own manufacture.

Being wise as serpents about evil does not mean becoming a serpent. After all, Jesus added, “innocent as doves.” No, this wisdom entails being as wise as the devil ABOUT evil and its schemes. It means being able to recognize evil as it comes to us in its darling disguises of light. It means knowing that the servants of Satan are liars and murderers just like their diabolical father.

It is my prayer and hope that, as Paul prayed, the eyes of your hearts will be enlightened as you read, that you will repent where you need to repent and that you will be emboldened to get in the battle, defeat the enemy, and set captives free.

 

**Thoughts on Wolves Hiding Among the Flock

Here is the entirety of 2 Peter 2.  You have to read the whole thing in order to get the “punch line” at the very end.  Go for it, then I have some comments below.

2 Peter 2:1-22 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2) And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. (3) And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (4) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (5) if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (6) if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; (7) and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (8) (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); (9) then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, (10) and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, (11) whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. (12) But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, (13) suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. (14) They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! (15) Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, (16) but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (17) These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. (18) For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. (19) They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. (20) For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. (21) For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (22) What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.

While there certainly are some difficult parts in this passage, I just want to focus on two predominant themes.  These relate to the question regarding whether an abuser will ever repent and change.  Here are the two points drawn from this passage:

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