Sin Destroys Relationships — And Sometimes the Destruction is Total

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did…(Joshua 7:19-20)

As many of you know, a major event in my own awakening to the nature and mentality of abuse involved the sexual abuse of a child. This grievous situation was dropped in the lap of our church through the sin of the perpetrator. I could write pages about it, including about how the Lord used that one event to lead us into the ministry of Unholy Charade. At the same time, He was moving in the lives of others – also through having abuse touch their lives – and eventually led all of us together. That is the happy stuff.  I could also write about the grief and damage done to the victim and to our church.

But what I wanted to write about today is a hard, true, fact that each of us needs to learn. I had to learn it, many of you have learned it, and others of you are still in process of learning it. That lesson is this: Sin damages and destroys relationships, and sometimes that destruction is beyond repair. When it is, we need to stop trying to rebuild it. Abuse damages and destroys a marriage, and usually that destruction is total. Let me show you how I learned this lesson in the case in our church I mentioned above.

When myself and our elders were trying to sort out what justice and love and mercy and wisdom would look like in this scenario, we came to a conclusion.  It took some time because none of us had experienced something like this before. Our church was small and close – what looked like a family. And then this test came. When we concluded that there was no way we could provide a safe, healing church environment for the victim and at the same time permit the perpetrator to continue to attend our church, I remember telling the congregation that sin destroys relationships. Even when there is real repentance and real forgiveness, some sins are so grievous that the destroyed relationship simply cannot be put back together again – nor should it be.

Now, the response from a couple of people went something like this – “but we are all sinners. And we have all been forgiven by Christ. How can you say that sin destroys relationships when grace and mercy and love are able to overcome any sin? We don’t believe what you are saying. We think everyone should forgive one another and love one another and the relationship will be restored and everything can be like it was.”

That kind of talk is unbiblical, false, exceedingly selfish, and very damaging to the victim and everyone else. The fact is that some sins are so grievous, so destructive, and so harmful that any relationship between the perpetrator and the victim is fully and finally over. That destruction is the perpetrator’s doing. Abuse not only harms a marriage, unrepented of (which is the normal case) it destroys the marriage irrevocably.

Abuse, as we define it on this blog, especially the kind perpetrated by a pseudo-Christian, fully and finally reduces the husband-wife relationship to ashes, never to be rebuilt. (In many cases the relationship was a mere facade from the very beginning!)

I am afraid that many professing Christians are radically ignorant of this hard fact. Namely, that certain sins are so evil that to begin to beat the drums of “forgiveness and reconciliation” is sheer madness. I am afraid that there are Christians, for example, who would actually propose that the Lord would have a madman who had walked into a church service and slaughtered a host of people, welcomed into that church with a great big hugfest carried out to the tune of “Only a Sinner, Saved by Grace.”

But the Lord Jesus Christ calls this foolishness, not love. He calls us – no, He commands us – to put the wicked one out from our midst. He shows us in case after case in His Word that there are indeed limits to His mercy. Did you hear that? God’s mercy and grace are not infinite. That is why there is a hell. He tells us that there are lines which, if crossed, there is no returning to Him. Esau (see Hebrews 6) is a prime example. And the infamous Achan of Jericho fame is another example.

Did you read the verses above? Listen to them again-

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did…(Joshua 7:19-20)

How does that sound to you? It sounds like a script worked up to introduce a happy ending, right? “Truly I have sinned against the Lord…this is what I did….”.  Yay! Achan repented! Everything is ok, right? Nope –

And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor. (Joshua 7:24-26)

Achan, you recall, had by his sin caused the death of over 30 of his fellows. Achan had crossed the line.

Sin damages and destroys relationships, and sometimes that destruction is total so that rebuilding of the relationship is impossible and even wrong. Remember that the next time you sense the tempter at your door. And let us all remember this when working with the victims of grievous evil, and when we must deal out real justice to their oppressors.

Because with some sins, the sinner gets no second chance at the relationship. Molest a child and your relationship with that child and the child’s family is over, no matter how close you were. Abuse your wife and, well, do not tell us that you deserve another shot at the marriage. Betray the trust of an entire church congregation over whom the Lord placed you as shepherd – understand that such betrayal may well totally and fully and irrevocably destroy your relationship with those people.

We close with one more account of two people who crossed that line, and there was no going back –

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 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. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 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.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. (Acts 5:1-11)

A Lesson in Evil – and Not Being Deceived by it

1Co 2:1-5 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (4) and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

It has become almost commonplace to read of still another well-known “happening” pastor being exposed in some wicked, hidden sin that has been going on for quite sometime, all the while he continued to preach to and teach others. We are all sick of it. And we are also sick of how these guys and their band of brothers treat victims of domestic and sexual abuse. One of the chief reasons for this oppression of victims in local churches is nothing less than the fact that the head guys are wolves.

But would you like to know what I am even more sick of? I will tell you – I am sick of these guys’ statements of “confession and repentance.” 

I am going to give you a fairly recent example of just such a case and then I am going to point out to you why most all of these claims of “repentance” need to be rejected by us. Ready? Here we go.

Continue reading “A Lesson in Evil – and Not Being Deceived by it”

Another Important Facet of True Forgiveness

1Co 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Most of you know that subjects like forgiveness, repentance, mercy, reconciliation and so on are regularly twisted and distorted into unbiblical caricatures of the real thing. And then they are used by the wicked to continue to oppress the righteous. So here in this article I need to be very clear that what I am about to say is not about accepting fakes and facades. It is not about demanding that we all must reconcile with the unrepentant or even with the repentant (a very rare creature) whose past evil was of such a nature that there cannot be reconciliation in this life.

No, what I want to talk about here is an aspect of real forgiveness that is extremely freeing. It has to do more with us being forgiven than with forgiving. And, like all truths, it is a subject that the wicked will distort and try to deny us.

Continue reading “Another Important Facet of True Forgiveness”

The Burden for Repentance Rests on the Wicked, Not on their Victims

1Pe 3:10-12 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; (11) let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. (12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Who is responsible for repentance? The person who sins. The guilty. Innocent people do not need to “turn from their evil deeds.”

And yet this “repentance of the innocents” is precisely what we see taught so often in our churches today. Let me illustrate.

Continue reading “The Burden for Repentance Rests on the Wicked, Not on their Victims”

The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Forgiveness

Another common and wicked tactic of the “Christian” abuser is his insistence, on supposed biblical grounds, that his victim continually forgive him and love him.  Anyone who knows much at all about the nature of abuse will realize that abuse occurs in a cyclical manner which involves several stages.  The stage that comes right after the big blowup stage is commonly called the “honeymoon stage.” During this time, which can be short or long, the abuser can appear to be contrite, remorseful and even very kind.  He expresses remorse over what he has done and promises it will never happen again. He makes promises that he’ll change, that this time all will be different. He might buy presents for his victim, fulfill a few past promises made to her or even appear to take an interest in spiritual things. His promises are all nonsense, of course. In fact, because his supposed sorrow and repentance is FALSE (he even has himself deceived about it), the cycle WILL repeat itself.  After all, that is the nature of a “cycle,” right?

Continue reading “The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Forgiveness”

The Deception of the Abuser — Sermon by Ps. Jeff Crippen

The Deception of the Abuser
Sermon 5 from the series:  The Psychology and Methods of Sin
A 21 sermon series on domestic violence and abuse
First given on August 22, 2010
Sermon Text: Luke 3:1-14

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, (2) during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. (3) And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (4) As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (5) Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, (6) and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” (7) He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. (9) Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (10) And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” (11) And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise. (12) Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” (13) And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” (14) Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:1-14 ESV

In this passage of Scripture, as in many others, we see that there is a false repentance.  The gospel is a gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, just as John the Baptist baptized repentant people in preparation for forgiveness in Christ. I do not believe we need to prove this point – that there is no true faith in Christ where genuine repentance is lacking.

Continue reading “The Deception of the Abuser — Sermon by Ps. Jeff Crippen”