Saul of Tarsus was not an Abuser – Let me show you why

Act 9:13-15  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.  (14)  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”  (15)  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

Quite often when I tell people that abusers never change, they will ask about the case of Saul, later the Apostle Paul. After all, he was assaulting the early church and then the Lord appeared to him and converted him wonderfully. Should that not give us hope that even the worst domestic abuser could one day be born again?

My answer is, no. Let me show you why.

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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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They Never Admit Wrong: A Sure Sign of an Unsafe (and Unsaved) Person

1Jn 1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Mr. Decker: “Captain, shouldn’t we take every possible precaution?”

Captain Kirk: “Mr. Decker, I will not provoke an attack.  If that order isn’t clear enough for you….”

Mr. Decker: “Captain, as your executive officer it is my duty to point out alternatives.”

Captain Kirk: “Yes it is.  I stand corrected.”

“Yes, it is.  I stand corrected.”  Words you will never hear from an abuser.

Pastor Larry Dean, a reader of this blog, loves to talk about repentance. He would tell you that it is sorely lacking not only in the world today, but in the church. And yet without repentance there can be no forgiveness of sin. A gospel with no call to repentance is no gospel at all.

Continue reading “They Never Admit Wrong: A Sure Sign of an Unsafe (and Unsaved) Person”

Don’t Fall for the Abuser’s “Repentance” — Lessons from Zacchaeus

Just about all of you have heard an abuser claim to “have changed,” or “I have repented and the Lord has forgiven me and now you must also.”  We have had pressure put upon us by the abuser’s allies to “forgive” and reconcile because, after all, he said he was sorry. Yada, yada, yada.

Real repentance is a gift from Christ and it is a rare jewel (emphasis on rare). There is no salvation and no forgiveness from the Lord Himself where there is no genuine repentance. The “grace on steroids” crowd thinks that repentance is easy and cheap. But if you want to see the real article in action, let’s take a look at true repentance evidenced in a man named Zacchaeus. Here he is:

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

He was a CHIEF tax collector. He was RICH. Power and privilege were his in enough abundance to counter the people’s hatred of him (tax collectors working for Rome, ripping people off were not exactly well thought of).  Small in stature and yet he was a “big man” and he liked it.

This day was an appointed day in Zacchaeus’ life. The Lord had decreed that this day this man at this particular place would meet the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Jesus came to “THE” place. His gaze goes right to Zacchaeus and he NAMES him! “I MUST stay at your house today.” These are the words of divine decree declared in eternity past.

Zacchaeus’ response was a miracle. He hurried and came down. He received Christ joyfully. AND HE PAID A HUGE PRICE —

  • The entire focus and goal of his life changed. Christ now was precious to him, not money.
  • Without anyone telling him to do so or compelling him, Zacchaeus spontaneously bears the fruit of repentance by announcing he is going to give half of his goods to the poor (who he had no doubt disregarded or despised before).
  • He knows he has defrauded many people and he is going to now set those crimes right by paying them back four times what he took from them (far in excess of the Old Testament requirement by the way).

JESUS makes the announcement — “Today salvation has come to this house.” He declares Zacchaeus to be a true son of Abraham, no longer lost. If the Son of God declares that a man’s repentance is real, you can count on it being real.

THIS is the kind of response we MUST see in people (specifically in abusers) who claim to be repentant. Zacchaeus’ response was the fruit of a heart truly regenerated by Christ, and we must settle for nothing less. No coercion to make things right. No telling victims they MUST forgive him. None of it. Only a radical transformation into a brand new person who delights now in Christ and of their own volition and accord are willing to give up everything.

You are NOT being too narrow if you insist on this kind of evidence. You are NOT an unforgiving person if you will not reconcile with a person in whom these evidences are absent. You are, in fact, wise.

“Alright, Mr. Abuser, you claim you are a changed man. You insist that you are sorry for what you have done and that the Lord has forgiven you. Well then, what has your ‘repentance’ cost you? In what ways are you actively working (without someone else telling you to do it) to make things right with your victim?”

Don’t accept halfway measures. Be very suspicious of someone who claims repentance but is asking “well, what do you want me to do to prove it?” Answer: “go away and leave me and the children alone. Provide for us even if a court doesn’t order you to, and leave us alone.”

Zacchaeus didn’t ask. He didn’t have to. He knew. And he knew because he was a new creation.

“You Need to Forgive Him/Her” – Really?

Mat 5:6-12  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  (7)  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  (8)  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  (9)  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  (10)  “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (11)  “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  (12)  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Here, the Lord Jesus gives us a description of those who are blessed. Those who are truly His people and who have great reward in heaven. They are peacemakers and they are merciful. But they also hunger and thirst for righteousness. When they strive for peace and when they show mercy, their actions do not contradict their desire for what is right. In fact, they are courageous in their stance for righteousness. So much so that they are persecuted by the wicked.

Now, with that background, what do you think of someone who comes up to you and says:

You need to forgive Joe or Sally or….whoever

I have heard this line many times, and no doubt so have most all of you. And I want to tell you – every single time I have heard it from someone, that person has turned out to be either an exceedingly naive person ignorant of the real truths of Scripture, or an out and out wicked reviler parading as a Christian. Every time. Without fail.

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Be Like Jesus? – Well, Ok then

John 2:23-25  Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.  (24)  But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people  (25)  and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Very often we are told by people who claim they are wise and who insist we do what they say, that we should stop being so judgmental of others. That we need to believe the best about people – especially about those who profess to be Christians. We are told to never question a person’s claim to know Christ.

This is all wrong. We are to disregard this nonsense. Why? Because we are to be like Jesus, and as we see in the Scripture above, Jesus was quite judgmental.

Think about it. “Many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.” Wow! How wonderful. Preachers today would be announcing first thing Monday morning that masses of people got saved and baptized at their church on Sunday.

But not Jesus.

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“But King David Did it” A Line we Hear Repeatedly When Some Leader’s Evil is Outed

Recently we had a bit of a go ’round with a fellow who has been a Bill Gothard follower for years. He still wanted to defend Gothard by insisting that we must withhold judgment until “the facts are in.” We maintain that the facts ARE in and Gothard is to be rejected now as still another example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Anyway, this fellow pulled the King David card on us and I think it is important that we carefully think through this typical tactic used by people who simply will not admit that their idol is in fact an evil person hiding behind a facade. Here is what he said:

A man [i.e., King David] committed adultery then murdered to cover it up. Pretty bad. In time, God’s prophet confronted the man, he eventually repented and now and for all time, God says “David is a man after my own heart”.  And the episode, though destructive short term, did not invalidate all the good that David did before the adultery.

There is sooo much wrong in these words. First of all, it is erroneous to compare someone like Gothard with King David. Why? Because, yes, David did in fact repent. Genuinely. Authentically. We have seen none of this in Gothard, nor do we see it in most all the big name “Christian” celebs and leaders who get exposed for what they really are. What we do see in them is denial, superficial tears, and even more telling, their insistence that since “God has forgiven me, you all must forgive me too and let me keep right on in ministry.” David did none of this. David knew he deserved nothing but death. He knew he didn’t deserve to be king. Furthermore, God pronounced longstanding consequences upon David and his family for David’s sin. Yes, David WAS a man after God’s own heart. And that is the fundamental difference between him and these scandalous icon types we see so frequently today.

So don’t let anyone pull the David card on you. Abusers do this all the time, as most all of you know. You have to forgive them, they say, no matter how evil they have been against you, because God forgave David. Well, Mr. Abuser, here’s the catch. YOU are no King David whose Seed would be Messiah and of whose throne there will be no end. You are not, unlike David, a man after God’s own heart. Unlike David, you do not authentically repent. And therefore, not only does your victim not have to forgive you, God Himself does not forgive you.