A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Not knowing

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  

But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.

And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?  

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,  who “will render to each one according to his deeds”.
Romans 2: 1-5 NKJ

The word ‘knowing’

Thanks to Martin Lloyd Jones’s sermons on Romans (link), I have learned something that I never knew before. In Romans 2:4, “do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”  the word ‘knowing’ has meaning that is not well conveyed in English translations.

It means not considering, not acknowledging, and not understanding — but it means more than merely those things. It means a willful contemptuous unconcern. A deliberate, contemptuous, and willful ignorance.

So when Paul is seeking to prick the hearts of unbelievers by talking about how they despise the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God is meant to lead them to repentance, he is pointing to the fact that they are not considering, not acknowledging and not understanding the goodness of God, and they are doing this willfully, deliberately and contemptuously. 

The goodness of God is offered in providence, in common grace, and in the gospel; but some people show contempt for it and go about their lives deliberately ignoring all the evidence from creation, their consciences, and (if they have heard it) the preached Word of God.  They willfully scorn the truth that the goodness of God is meant to lead them to repentance. Instead, they take advantage of the patience, goodness and longsuffering of God, to give themselves more time to entrench themselves in sin. And thus they fill up the cup of God’s wrath against them.

May the Lord preserve and protect us all, and guide us into the paths of truth.

 

 

 

33 Comments

  1. healingInHim

    Amen, Barbara. Thank you for posting this. I think I have listened to practically all of Martin Lloyd Jone’s sermons and the Romans series does heart surgery for those who allow it.

  2. Denise

    This, sadly enough is another verse selection that was used to keep me in my abusive relationship. “The goodness of God leads to repentance.” He’s set the example for me to follow, I was told. That by being ‘good’ to my husband he would eventually come around to see the error of his ways and change. Too bad that was the focus (isn’t what we the victim can do always the focus of changing our situation) instead of the fact that my husband was willingly, deliberately ignoring that goodness?
    God’s word truly is alive! These verses that once kept me in bondage, He’s slowly revealing to me a deeper level of understanding them. Thank you for being his instrument in the work you do!

    • Thanks for sharing this, Denise. I hadn’t heard of this verse being used to keep victims in bondage. But of course it could be used that way, and was with you.

      Sneaky . . . they quoted the clause but left one word out.
      They quoted ‘…the goodness of God leads to repentance…’,
      but it actually says ‘…the goodness of God leads YOU to repentance…”

      “YOU” being the unregenerate person, not the Christian spouse of the unregenerate person. The passage is meant to prick and expose the selfish heart of the unbeliever, and to help believers understand what’s going on in the machinations of an unbeliever’s heart. It’s not meant to guilt believers into staying within striking distance of malignant unbelievers.

    • wbgl0

      Amen, Denise.

  3. Brenda R

    This was much to meditate on Barb and was talked about this morning in my class at church. Not this particular verse, but those that choose to avoid God for their sinful lusts and think there is time. There may not be. To know the truth and refuse it leads to death.

  4. Suzy

    I am in the process of divorcing my abusive husband of 37 plus years and have been living on my own for over 8 months.Thanks to the help of family and friends, I am launched into a sea of freedom. Yet my husband continues to spiritually abuse me by saying that divorcing him is the unpardonable sin (he says that because the Holy Spirit directed our marriage, that my leaving is blaspheming the Holy Spirit).

    He has occasionally apologized for his abuse, but endlessly sends me emails and paper letters explaining how he is right and he is “praying and forgiving you, but you are in danger of going to Hell.” He has told others that if I don’t come back soon, I will be coming home on crutches, “because God is a good God, and His judgments are true.”

    This is the same man that tried to convince me that polygamy and drug-use were approved by God, the same man who has sent poison pen letters to everyone in the family and threatened to have my adult son arrested for complying with the police on a domestic call. Looking at this scripture with new eyes. I do pray for him, but can only pray for God’s will to be done, because only God knows how to deal with him. He says I’m bitter, but I feel mighty happy. I so sympathized with Jenny’s prayer from Forrest Gump: “Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far far away.” My prayers have been answered, bless His holy name!

    • Brenda R

      Suzy,
      Do you have a restraining order? I know it is only a piece of paper, but what you said–says this man is off balance in a big way. I know the feeling of being at peace when others are calling you bitter. I ask, How can I have this smile on my face and be bitter? It makes no sense. There have been set backs along the way. Satan puts his $.02 worth in my mind from time to time. I truly hope that others will read the comments on this site and not wait as long to get to the truth before half of their lives are gone.

      • It’s also important to remember that restraining orders (RO) are iffy. They can help or they can precipitate more trouble. Sometimes the presence of a RO makes what was a dormant situation instantly worse. Gavin de Becker, author of “Gift of Fear” and a leading expert on violent behavior says that “Sometimes when we engage we enrage.” This means “that if the subject has not bothered the victim prior to this point, getting him served in court with a civil stay-away order may suddenly give him a reason to become a never-ending irritant to the victim. ‘You’re giving me a restraining order? I’ll give you a reason to give me a restraining order!’ and then the games begin”.

        We suggest that anyone who is unsure whether to seek a restraining order, to seek advice from your local Domestic Violence Support Services (contact information can be found on our Resources page under Domestic Violence Agencies Around the World) You might also find it helpful to get information (from the police or community legal services or the internet) as to what your state/county/country laws and requirements are for seeking and being granted a restraining order.

        The law, and the policies of police forces, differ from place to place. It can help, and give you confidence, if you know what laws and policies apply in your area.

        But if you believe you need to urgently seek a restraining order, by all means go ahead and do so without having researched the laws and policies of your local area first.

        Your safety is your first priority. 🙂

    • Innoscent

      Suzy, 37 year is a looonng time and I praise the Lord for delivering you from your abusive H. The Holy Spirit will continue to guide you and help you navigate on your ‘sea of freedom’ 🙂 I pray your friends and family will help and protect you during this time when your H is mad at your freedom. I think you need to report to the police about the threats and ultimatum of this evil man.
      My H also sends me nasty letters blaming me for the breaking down of our marriage and he’s totally blind about his responsibility and wicked ways. 😦

      • Suzy

        The Lord has protected me through direct guidance and through others. The H is cagey enough that he has avoided the restraining order by saying that it is the Lord who will do the judging and engineer my injuries. I know my Lord better than that. He has been with me, constantly showing me the way and opening my eyes to the reality of the heart of H’s bullying.This site has really helped too.

      • Innoscent

        My H also thinks God will judge me for standing up to him and go ahead with the separation. When, a few months ago, I had an accident resulting in some bones fractured, of course he said God was punishing me. My interpretation is that Satan is enraged at victims finding the way of escape God provided for them (1 Cor 10.13) and will do anything to eliminate them (1 Peter 5.8). But like with Job, God puts HIS restraining order on Satan. God is the Avenger of victims not of perpetrators!

      • I agree with others who have encouraged you to report to the police. Your husband has threatened you with grieous bodily harm. In most (all?) places it’s a crime to make such threats. I strongly suggest you keep and collect evidence of what he communicates to you and that you go to the police pronto, even if you don’t have hard evidence to give to the police.

        I also suggest you phone the DV hotline in your country and get information about your local DV suport services so you can get DV professionals to help you develop a safety plan. We have a page for Hotlines, and another page for Safety Planning, under our Resources tab. Please read them carefuly and click on the links. This man’s threat may be bluster, but it may be quite serious. You are at risk of bodily harm. Please take whatver steps you need to take to keep safe. The DV professionals are the best to go to as they are the experts in this stuff. And go to the police too. I would do both, if I were you.

        (((((Hugs)))))

    • Suzy, you might like to read this post by one of the ACFJ team, Persistent Widow.
      John Piper’s Erroneous Teaching on the Unpardonable Sin

      It has many good quotes about what ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ is. Here are a couple of the quotes:

      The sin against the Holy Spirit, or the unpardonable sin, involves conscious, stubborn, malicious opposition to divine truth once recognized as such and blasphemous hostility against it. (LCMS Christian Cyclopedia)

      Sin Against The Holy Ghost. There seem to be three things essential to this sin, viz., conviction, malice, and presumption in expressing that malice. (Jonathan Edwards)

    • Yet my husband continues to spiritually abuse me by saying that divorcing him is the unpardonable sin (he says that because the Holy Spirit directed our marriage, that my leaving is blaspheming the Holy Spirit).

      Suzy, in my observation, the majority (if not all) of Christian victims who leave their abusers report that the abuser continues to spiritually abuse them after separation. From the point of view of the abuser (who is entitled, malignant, selfish, and covert or overt aggressive) spiritual abuse is one of the best tactics to use if his target is a Christian. What an array of scriptural ‘shoulds’ he has available as missiles! He can distort and twist them, misapply them, and over-emphasize some precepts while underplaying others, and all the time seem like such a worthy man of God. He seems like that, and he seems to believe he IS that, and he often convinces others he is that, but in fact he is a wicked hypocrite.

      In your husband’s case, he is the one committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, not you. He is using God’s Holy Word to skewer you and coerce you. You are not at fault, you are not to blame for the marriage breakdown, he is the one to blame because he abused you.

      I know you know this. But sometimes it helps to hear it again, eh?

      Let’s assume for the case the argument that the Holy Spirit directed your marriage. Okay, if that’s true, then your husband should have been especially desirous and careful in honoring his wedding vows to love, cherish and protect you, out of duty and gratitude to the Holy Spirit. But he wasn’t; he was the exact opposite.

      He has manifestly lost all right to accuse you of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, since he himself is commmitting that sin.

      • Moving Forward

        Yep, here’s another one who is enduring spiritual abuse after the separation. He loves to send emails with a cryptic comment questioning whether I even listen, bother to read, am I really saved, is my heart really right, etc. It just amazes me how confident they are that they are so spiritual and we are so lost. It is also sad.

  5. Round*Two

    Suzy
    I pray you will be totally free from this man one day!

    • Suzy

      He has never said or written anything to me directly. He tells a reliable third party who doesn’t exaggerate. He is quite bright and most likely knows exactly what actions could land him a restraining order. I will be combing through his correspondence for anything threatening though. Thanks for the kind words!

      • Dear Suzy please read our New Users Info page as it gives vital tips for how to comment on this blog while at the same time guarding your safety.

        If you are at all at risk from your abuser, it’s not a good idea to use your real name as your screen name, or to use the front part of your email address as you screen name. For instance, if your email address is hepzibah426@hotmail don’t give hepbzibah (let alone hepzibah426) as your screen name.

        And welcome to the blog! 🙂

      • Thank you. When I set up my wordpress acct to reply on your site, it automatically set my username to the front of my email address. Tried to update my profile to change it, but that wasn’t a field that could be modified at the profile update spot. I’ll keep trying.

      • Hi Suzy,
        If you go to your wordpress account – then to “My Profile” – there is a field titled “Public Display Name”. Whatever you type in this field is what will appear as your screen name when you comment through wordpress.

        Hope this helps. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

    • Suzy

      Thank you!

  6. Still Reforming

    Thank you, Barbara. I pant for this kind of exegesis, as a deer pants for the water. It feels like a long time since I’ve been fed the Word in a truthful, loving way. Pastor Jeff’s sermon series on the psychology of sin is the first I’ve heard in a long, long time that actually pricked my heart with a sense of repentance that I haven’t felt in a long while – and it’s sorely needed. When one has been so pressed upon and put down over years, it’s hard to not hear the Word in a similar tone, even if intellectually one knows that God isn’t speaking in the way of the abuser or the patriarchal church – at least not in the mind-your-place kind of way. Thank you. I love reading Scripture here and learning.

  7. Innoscent

    Barbara, this passage sounds familiar with Ecclesiastes 8.11:

    Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

    But what is perplexing with abusers in the Christian church is that most of them think that they ARE acknowledging God’s goodness and ARE in good standing before Him. My abusive H has remained in the church and is even teaching the Bible and everybody thinks he loves God. He even thinks God is blessing him richly as everything else in his life is going pretty well! while I’ve had to go through many challenges due to his abuse, and still am in some areas. He doesn’t see, nor his allies and the folks he’s charmed that in actual fact he IS filling up the cup of God’s wrath.

    • But what is perplexing with abusers in the Christian church is that most of them think that they ARE acknowledging God’s goodness and ARE in good standing before Him.

      That is because the church, by and large, is in such deep darkness that it does not recogise that abusers are in its midst — and when it does recognise them, it does ZERO, ZILCH, NUL, NOTHING about it.

      oh okay, yeah, the church makes a few tiptoe side-steps to make it look like it is ‘doing something about it’, but usually the abusers are not thrown out of the church, and the people in the congregation are not given preaching that awakens them to the mentality and tactics of the wicked. So everyone (except the bleeding, weeping victims) remain in the Pollyanna fog of deep darkness. The tithes keep rolling in. The bums still sit on pews each Sunday. The programs keep being delivered. The grass gets mown and the church gets dusted and vaccumed and there is coffee and tea (and for Yankees, donuts) each Sunday with happy chat and friendly fellowship.

      But if you talk about the fact of the darkness, if you push the topic of abuse, people go silent. Like you’ve broken wind and it REALLY stank and eveyone’s trying to pretend they don’t smell it. . . .

      • Innoscent

        Barb, you couldn’t have described the ‘merry-go-round’ of today’s churches any better! Sickening really… That’s exactly it, people ‘get wind’ of some abuse done to someone and it’s analysis paralysis. When the church ought to be a well trained and operational army always on the alert, its sentries are incapable of rightly identifying the enemy because its generals are confused themselves.

  8. JoyInHim

    Innoscent, this sounds exactly like my husband. He faithfully attends church Sunday and Wednesday, goes to Sunday school, meets with the pastor. He presents himself as a patient, faithful husband just waiting for the Lord to bring his rebellious wife back to him. Nobody knows that he threatens me and manipulates me. Tries to scare me by threatening to get joint custody of our kids. We are supposed to get several thousand dollars back in our income tax refund but I won’t sign it because he wants to keep all of it for himself. He told me that it was HIS income, so it’s HIS refund. Apparently my staying at home and raising our two small children for the last 15 months has no value to him whatsoever. I feel that he is set on “punishing me” for leaving him, even though it was HIS abuse that forced me to have to leave. But I take comfort in knowing that the Lord sees everything he’s doing and that he will have to answer for his behavior one day.

    • Innoscent

      JoyinHim, you are describing my very H! He also portrays me as the strayed soul and himself as the patient and loving husband doing anything and everything to ‘rescue’ his wife and his marriage, argh! Oh and some so called Christian counselor told him to remind me he was the breadwinner… Spiritual abuse merging with financial abuse, one of his cocktail bombs…
      Working as housewives makes us co-breadwinners and whatever income earned is for the family, the ‘one flesh’, regardless who got the paycheck. Abusers are thieves and robbers.

      Indeed God knows the true story and is not deceived by the pretense of abusers!

    • Brenda R

      JoyInHim,
      What about you and your children in the mean time. Yes, he will stand in judgment before our Powerful God some day. Can you continue to live with H the way things are? Are you safe? You sound like you have strength in you. Praying for you.

      • JoyInHim

        Brenda,
        Oh yes, I left 9 months ago after many failed attempts to get him to go to counseling (if only I had known what a waste of time that was) and many circular, no-win conversations. I filed for divorce 4 months ago and unfortunately, as I’m learning, things will get much worse before they ever get better. He’s taken my financial resources, my home, my church, my friends, and almost every ounce of my sanity! It’s only by God’s grace that I am still standing. He wants to take my children too but I just pray the Lord’s protection over them because it’s out of my hands. I admit that my strength and faith are very weak right now. I’ve just been in this so long. This site has been a new source of encouragement for me. Thank you all.

      • Brenda R

        JoyInHim,
        The mountain tops always come after the valleys. Praying for wisdom and strength for you. The enemy cannot stand at the mention of the name–Jesus. Keep him in your mind. Your faith will grow.

  9. rhondajeannie

    Innoscent do you know why the ‘abusers in the Christian church………..think that they ARE acknowledging God’s goodness and ARE in good standing before Him’. It is because of Satan’s deception. If their behaviour is opposite God’s love it cannot be of God and that only means one thing it is of Satan.

    • Innoscent

      So true Rhondajeannie, they are far down the track of deception. To the extent that they see the behaviour of their target victim(s) as opposite to God’s love and theirs in line with it. Their self-justification system is so highly sophisticated and efficient that it can only be engineered by the powers of darkness! That my H would persist so long and in such a way on the path of wickedness is beyond my worst nightmare. It’s made me see a tiny tiny bit of what immeasurable pain God has to go through due to rebellious creatures.

  10. Round*Two

    Matthew 7:18-21
    A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

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