A Cry For Justice

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

Abuse of the Weak is a Characteristic of an Apostate Church

I would like to show you a classic portion of Scripture that describes people who claimed the Lord’s name for themselves, yet who were apostate and ripe for His judgment. It is found in Micah chapter two and it has direct application to the plight of abuse victims in the church today:

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me! To an apostate he allots our fields.”

Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the LORD. “Do not preach”–thus they preach– “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.” Should this be said, O house of Jacob? Has the LORD grown impatient? Are these his deeds? Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly? But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war. The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever. Arise and go, for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction. If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head. (Micah 2:1-13)

If you will, please bear with me now a bit as I set some background for the main punch line of this article.

It is important for us to remember as we read the Bible that the Lord primarily addresses those people who are called by His name. That is to say, in the Old Testament (covenant) era He addresses the nation Israel, and in the New Covenant era He addresses His Church (some would call the OT people His Church as well. Others differ on that point). Certainly there are portions of Scripture in which the Lord addresses the nations of the world as well, and He sends His gospel to them all. But think of it. As you read your Bible, what you are reading is for the most part addressed to the Old Covenant people of God (in the Old Testament) and the New Covenant people of God (in the New Testament).  Or, we should add this qualifier, He addresses people who claim to be His covenant people. Sometimes He addresses His true church (what we might call the invisible church) and sometimes He addresses the visible church. The visible church is what we all have dealings with, and it contains people who do not know the Lord, but who claim to.

Here then the prophet Micah speaks the Lord’s Word to the Old Testament covenant people

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: behold, against this family I am devising disaster…

See it?  The Lord is not speaking these words to Sodom and Gomorrah. He is not speaking to the Philistines or the Moabites or the the Buddhist or pagan of our day. He is speaking to people who are related to Him by covenant. He is speaking to, we might say, His church. And it is a church gone sour. It is putrid with evil. You have the same kind of thing in Jesus’ words to the Scribes and Pharisees of His day:

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Mark 12:38-40)

Now, these wicked ones were not really His people. Oh, they were in a sense because of the nature of the Old Covenant. That covenant was written on stone, not on the heart. You became a member of that covenant community by accident of birth (being born a Jew) and/or being circumcised with a circumcision performed by man’s hands, not a circumcision of the heart. So phonies could abound in the ranks, and they did. They even prevailed. In Micah’s day the “church” was so corrupt with the wicked that “fine church members” enjoyed laying in bed at night thinking up evil rip-off schemes they could pull off the next day. They were oppressors. They were abusers. They loved power and control.

And the Lord’s prophet is pronouncing judgment against them.

Now, notice particularly the characteristics of such a corrupt “church”:

  1. They only wanted preachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear. “Do not preach”–thus they preach– “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.” They hated preachers like Micah and told them to shut up and go away. “Don’t tell us about judgment. Tell us how special we are. Tell us that no matter what we do or how we live, the Lord will always bless us.”  The Apostle Paul likewise said that in the last days (the New Testament era) people will want these “ear-tickler” preachers as well.
  2. Such a “church” regularly victimizes people: “But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war. The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever.” Notice here particularly that you have women and children oppressed.  The apostate “church” is an abuser’s best dream.
  3. Such a “church” is given to celebrity worship, which is idolatry:  “If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!”  See it? Along comes some charismatic type guy with a “gospel” totally ridiculous — “the gospel of wine and strong drink” — and he becomes the preacher for these people!  They love him. They adore him. They build mega church buildings for him and pay him big bucks.

Against such a church, which of course is not the true Church at all, the Lord pronounces His judgment. I need not tell you that this apostate church is with us today and on the increase. You can recognize it by watching for these three characteristics, among others. Abuse of the weak is a characteristic of an apostate church.

Now, Micah winds up with some words of encouragement for those people who lived in those dark days, who truly did belong to the Lord. They were His people by covenant, and they were His elect. The term the Bible uses, especially in the Old Testament, is the remnant.  Notice again what Micah’s word is to them:

I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head.

Christ knows full well who His people are. The Lord knows His own by name. And a great Day is coming when He will sort out the sheep from the goats and the apostate church will be no more. Until then, we watch and we wait and we echo Micah’s words to people who claim the name of Christ. Even when they tell us we are “too negative” and that we speak “too harshly” about the state of the visible church.

27 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    This is an ongoing refrain in my heart – the abusive lordship of the church over the targets of abuse who have already suffered long in their homes. I was wondering just this morning if the deacons of my former church will not be held even more accountable because not only did they select our pastor, it is they who are to hold that pastor accountable, but they don’t because they’re all buddies now. There’s not any respect for truth or the abused. If anything it’s been turned around because of the system of patriarchy that exists there. Part of the reasoning for the music director’s refusal to read my prayer request typed out about some abuse in our home was that he “prefers to deal with the husband.”

    I think of those whose testimonies I read here and the suffering that has been theirs at the hand of their own churches, and I grieve with them. These are my sisters in Christ at this site, and they turned to those they thought were their brothers and sisters locally, only to be pressed upon even harder. The abuse of the church, heaped on after the abuse suffered in the home, is ghastly.

    My child keeps remarking, however, how God is faithful in this trial. She sees how we’re both really trusting the Lord more. She pointed that out recently, even though we haven’t regularly attended a local church since late last year. I’m starting to realize that weekly attendance at a church – as desirable as that is and as much as I still want it – just isn’t a “requirement” that means all that much.

    If a church is sound, it’s great. If a local church isn’t sound, well, the Lord has provided much – very much – on-line and in books. I think my child and I are learning more about how a relationship with the Lord isn’t dependent on attendance at a local church. We hope to get back to one at some point, but it’s nice to know the Lord isn’t forsaking us if we don’t.

    In fact, it’s comforting to know that the relationship with Him can (and does) grow even without the “attendance,” the “service,” the “works,” etc. Those are all good things, of course, but it’s nice to really learn in one’s heart that it’s just not about all that. It’s about Him – and where He is, there is our life. He is everywhere, not just in the four walls of a local church building. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s even there at all.

    • Hope

      “…weekly attendance at a church – as desirable as that is and as much as I still want it – just isn’t a “requirement”…”
      Amen.
      Books, on-line sites, TV – they all work, I agree, this is what I do, too.

      Some churches do far more harm than good, not just in this area but others as well. I am reminded of the Bible verses in the NT:

      Matthew 5:13 – Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

      Luke 14:34 – Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

      Mark 9:50 – Salt is good: but if the salt has lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

      Scientifically, how can salt lose its flavor? There are only three ways that I can think of, by reacting it with something and changing its nature, by breaking the bonds and separating the salt into its constituent atoms, or by diluting it so that it can no longer be tasted.

      I think this might mean that we Christians, and by extension the Church, are not to become so ‘dilute’ in our beliefs that we can no longer be recognized as the children of God that we claim to be. We are not to join (react, bond with ) with evil, we are not to change the Bible’s teachings and take meanings out of context (break the meaning of His Word) and we are to stand firm and strong in the Word, and not insert other teachings or ignore the teachings given or water it down so as to please everyone.

      I may be off base here, but it seems that an awful lot of “churches” today are having this problem, in many areas and particularly this abuse area, which affects not just women, not just children, but entire families and by extrapolation – entire communities, entire towns and cities, entire counties, states, and the entire country.

      • I don’t know whether this is true (it may be one of those sayings which is recycled from pulpit to pulpit by plagiarising pastors who don’t bother to check the historical veracity of their sources) but I heard once in a sermon that salt in Jesus’ day might be stored in rough piles which might be open to weather and refuse blown by the wind, and if it got contaminated with impurities it was unusable. Worthless. Dangerous to put on your food.

        Since salt was like money (wages were sometimes paid in salt in the olden days), this has added meaning.

  2. Anne

    Thank you, Pastor Jeff! Thank you for interpreting this for me. Understanding the historical books is very difficult for me.

    Humbly, I say….I am very careful to examine everything I read (not unlike the Bereans). My background is not IFBC but is strong, conservative with developed strong critical thinking skills. You have gained my confidence. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    I sob, really sob, reading this for a few reasons:

    1. your compassion towards us who are abused (me) is overwhelming; when I read this in my dark, difficult days, I am reminded that these are Christ’s thoughts toward me,

    2. the lack of validation from my pastor (you use stronger words about it that this and you are right),

    3. my teenage children have been sucked into the covert, subtle abusive behavior towards me–Is this how it happens? Is this normal?–I can’t reveal certain things to my children, at least while I stay in my destructive relationship, so they oppose my choices and judge my motives wrongly, and partly, I think, because their dad is working overtime to show them how “nice” he is–he gives them everything they ask for. They know he doesn’t really care about them—my daughter gets a little tear in her eye because her dad doesn’t ask (read: doesn’t care) when she will be home at night, and finally

    4. since my discovery that none of the abuse is my fault, I cry less, but it still hurts.

    And today I sob. It’s therapeutic. And I know God hears my cry. And numbers my tears. And someday it will all be made right.

    I often wonder if Joseph would also empathize with my tears. Or I wonder–was he so aware of God and God’s purpose that his will superseded his emotions?

    You are so appreciated. THANK YOU!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anne- – Thank YOU for your kind words. It is very encouraging to know that people are being helped here, especially our sisters and brothers in Christ. Validation really is wonderful, isn’t it – I mean, when someone finally hears and understands us. I have experienced a very similar scenario as what you describe regarding your children, but my experience has been with abusers in the churches I have pastored who work to try to control the church (and therefore me) and then attack and work to destroy when they don’t get that power and control. Yes, as you described it is exactly how they work. The abuser operates to alienate others from us all the while putting on a great show of supposed humility and saintliness, which is of course a facade. But they fall for it.

      I bet Joseph went through the very same experiences and feelings that all abuse victims do.

      Yep, sobbing is therapeutic. In fact, those heaving sobs that break out spontaneously are, I have no doubt, sobbings of the Holy Spirit in us as He bears witness to our hearts that we ARE the children of God and in fact not the vile trash that our abusers tell us we are.

      Many blessings in Christ, Anne.

      • Hope

        Thank you Pastor Crippen for your insight into sobbing. I cry a lot, over strange things, and I do not always understand why. I remember when it began, and I wonder if it will ever end. I hope so. I think once I figure out what to do and how to do it, it will lessen.

        Thank you also for your characteristics of the apostate church! We need to teach this to our children in Sunday schools – one more truth to keep them close to God.

    • Dear Anne
      You said your teenage children have been sucked into the covert, subtle abusive behavior towards you. Yes, that often happens. Children and teenagers tend to have two possible responses. They either get sucked in by the abuser’s lies and distortions of reality, and blame the victimised parent for the ‘trouble’ in the family. Or they see the abuse for what it is, and side with the parent who is being targetted by the abuser.

      Most abusers try to enlist their children as allies to some degree or other. Some do it more intensely than others. Many abusers escalate this behaviour after separation, because using the kids to hurt the mum is one of the few methods of control they have left.

      Sometimes one child takes the abusers’ viewpoint, and other children take the target’s viewpoint.

      Sometimes children flip flop between siding with the abuser and siding with the victim. But in many cases I think they tend to side with the abuser as that is the safer position for them to take. It stops them from being targetted with direct abuse themselves. (But of course, the long term effect is very damaging, as they are modelling their worldview and habits on the distorted beliefs of the abuser, so they are not developing sound character.)

      It takes character development, discernment and a good sense of ethics on the part of the child or teenager to resist being sucked in to the abuser’s manipulative ploys to make them his allies.

      • lonelywife

        Barbara, my children who are older have sided with me, and my H says that I’ve done that, that I’ve poisoned his children against him by telling them the truth of our marriage.
        When I discovered my husbands affair a few yrs ago, I didn’t tell my children, I just stayed in my bedroom a lot, and then tried to put on a “happy face”…but after I found out even more lies, I told them everything…not details of the affair, but what their dad had done…was I wrong to do this??
        Things have been bad in my marriage ever since, and they see how their dad treats me…he walks away, refuses to talk to me, etc…
        He treats them the same way…My oldest noticed that his dad never closes his eyes during prayer at church…and asked him about it…my H told him, “It’s none of your business!” and walked away.
        WMy H has started and stopped counseling four times now…and he promised our youngest he’d go and get the help he needs and not stop this time…he lied. He went to four sessions, and quit.

        When my husband accuses me of turning the children against him, I bring all of this up and he gets angry with me…obviously the truth hurts!

        How DO I handle this with them? I don’t want to damage them, but yet, they live here, they see what’s going on, and the older two acknowledge that they don’t have a relationship with their dad…my youngest feels sorry for his dad, because my husband goes on and on about his “abusive” childhood…even after I pointed out that if his childhood was THAT bad…why is he repeating the very same behavior in our home??
        Maybe you or Jeff can do a post about how to talk to your children about the abuse they are seeing and living with…or if you’ve already written one, point me in the right direction?

        (Editor’s note: comment edited for identity safety)

      • Hi Lonelywife, I don’t think you were wrong to tell your children the basics of what their father had done (had an affair). It is typical of an abuser that he would then try to blame you for ‘poisoning’ the children — that’s just another false accusation in the ocean of false accusations, isn’t it!

        Yes, the truth hurts abusers, and they seek so squelch it any way they can, rather than reform their characters.

        We do have some post on how to talk to your kids. I don’t have time to locate exact ones for you right now, but look in the category https://cryingoutforjustice.com/category/children-extended-family/ .

        Also, we recommend Lundy’s book When Dad Hurts Mom, which you can find in our Resources list.

        But bottom line is, there is no easy solution to the difficulty you are facing re your kids. Just keep reminding yourself that they would not be hurt if their father hadn’t practiced his pattern of abuse, deception and coercive control. Their feeling hurt or confused is not your fault.

      • Still Reforming

        lonelywife,

        Yours is the first comment I’ve read that said this: “My oldest noticed that his dad never closes his eyes during prayer at church.”

        My former pastor does that. He stands and he looks over the congregation while praying. At first, I thought this really odd, but I did as everyone does – bowing my head. Sometimes if the prayer was a bit over the top or arrogant in any way, I’d not say “Amen.”

        Then, after the pastor had his best friend nominate the pastor’s son to be ordained as a second pastor at our church (the son was not yet 20 and had no formal education; was homeschooled and then no higher education afterward), I was really dismayed. After speaking with the deacons to express dissatisfaction with the idea (one other woman and I went; we were by and large dismissed), I took to not bowing my head in group prayer, and I would stare at the pastor as he prayed with eyes open looking over the flock. It seemed to me that whenever he’d end up meeting my eyes, the prayer would wrap up pretty quick.

        I was never sure quite how to read or understand that kind of body language – eyes open looking over the congregation, but generally I took it as a kind of arrogance, lack of humility, and sense of control.

      • Jeff Crippen

        It never ever ceases to AMAZE me how many of these kinds of pseudo-pastors are out there, and how they succeed at climbing the career ladder in their denominations. ANY “pastor” who would manipulate a nomination for his totally unqualified and untrained son for a pastoral position in his church is evidently and plainly guilty of deceitfulness, cronyism, and just plain greed for power. He should be removed. The entire “church” should be outraged, but alas, most church members, professing to be Christians, simply are not outraged, nor are they Christians.

      • Moving Forward

        Replying to Lonelywife here. Search The Dog and the Rabbit on this site for a story of how to tell children about abuse in the home. I used it with one of my teenage boys to get the thoughts going. My ex, too, totally blames me for the older children being no contact, and for the “confusion” of the younger ones. It is only with him they are confused, and I am sure he is working on the youngest two girls, as girls are all that matter to him. The boy sees, and is starting to distance himself, but carefully, preparing for someday having to make a decision about contact. These waters with children are very difficult to navigate.

      • Still Reforming

        Another thought to add to the mix. As I listen to the observations of my child managing the time she is forced by the courts to spend with her dad, it occurs to me that she is being forced (not unlike how churches force targets of abuse) to spend time with someone she doesn’t trust so she has to adapt or come up with coping mechanisms to survive it.

        In my child’s case, she can’t spend 50 percent of her time miserable, combative and defiant; She has to find ways to survive, so I’m giving her a wide berth. (Example: I didn’t recoil or protest when she came back with a photo of them together to put in her room, a photo which he foisted upon her to bring back. It would never even occur to me to do so to him – force her to take a picture of me to put in her room at his house, as if she’s got to see me all the time. I even commented how nice each one of them looked in the photo, one of those studio portraits taken at church for a directory. He got it for free. She asked if she could just take the photo of herself alone to my house and keep the one with him at his place, but he said no. I don’t encourage that stuff, but I didn’t put her in the middle by saying what an arrogant thing to do.) She doesn’t talk much about her time there, and I ask questions, but only related to her happiness and fun. If more comes out, that’s good too, but I only focus on her well-being and try to encourage that with her so she feels supported while there.

        The point being I think that not unlike us as targets, the kids often may come up with coping mechanisms (Stockholm Syndrome springs to mind) to navigate the time that courts force them to spend with the abusers.

    • “I often wonder if Joseph would also empathize with my tears. Or I wonder–was he so aware of God and God’s purpose that his will superseded his emotions?”

      Anne, I am sure that Joseph would have empathized with your tears. He wept when he finally felt his brothers were admitting sufficient guilt and taking sufficient responsibility for their crimes against him (Genesis 43:30). The tears he shed before disclosing his identity to them were not merly tears of reliief that his relationship with them was about to be reconciled, they were tears of relief that he was vindicated.

      Our vindication is a very important part of our healing process, and we yearn for it when it hasn’t yet happened in sufficient measure.

      I have sobbed deeply when someone said something which gave me vindiation. And I have also sobbed deeply when I felt God’s vindication of me, through a Bible passage lighting up for me, or through a word said by a preacher.

    • lonelywife

      Anne, my youngest son, in his teens, has finally seen his dad for who he truly is…but for the last couple of yrs, my son would say to me, ” But mom, you can’t divorce dad, you need to forgive him” ( my H had an emotional affair a few yrs ago, we almost separated then, but I was “a good Christian girl” and had been taught that divorce was wrong and I need to pray and be more submissive, so I stayed with my husband)
      Last year we had a major blow up after going to my husbands office party and I witnessed behavior with female co-worker that really bothered me….of course I was “imagining it” and “looking for something to blame him for” but I didn’t fall for it this time…I moved my husband out of our bedroom!
      My son told his dad he was wrong for flirting with another woman, and that he needed to go back to counseling, and my husband promised him that he would, that he’d call and make an appt. the next day….well, of course my H didn’t make the appt. and when he came home from work my son asked him if he’d made the appt. and my H said “No” and started making excuses…well, that’s all it took.
      My son later came to me and said, “I understand now mom, it hurts when Dad lies to you, doesn’t it? If you want to separate from dad, it’s ok, I understand.” Praise God!
      My other two boys had been telling me that they felt their dad needed to move out…but I was hesitant because I didn’t want to upset my youngest son….but he’s ok with it now, and I can only say that God did that!

      My H and I haven’t separated yet, things improved a bit after we went to separate bedrooms…But I’m prepared to do so if needed! I have boundaries in place with my H, and I can tell he’s not happy with me over it, but I really don’t care anymore. I’m doing what’s best for me and my boys!

      Just keep praying for them Anne….and speak truth to them! Don’t cover for your husband….I stopped doing that after being advised by two women who did cover for their husbands….and their children ended up blaming THEM for the marriage failing!
      I know you have to be careful, while still living with your abuser, and I am praying for you, it’s a difficult road to walk…

      • Dear LW, 🙂 I just want to offer you a reminder to take care how much you say in your comments that could be identifying of you were your abuser to come across this blog.

  3. voicewilderness1

    To hope I am sincerely praying for you and your children. Jesus said blessed is one who mourns for one day they shall laugh.

  4. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,

    “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” ”
    Revelation 7: 9 & 10

    I was listening to a pastor today who said that the above verse shows heaven will be filled with many people (too many to count). He said the verses in Matthew are referring to Christians, the fewer stay consistently on the narrow road and many find themselves allowing destructive things in their Christian lives. I don’t know how to square Matthew and Revelation; they seem to say the opposite, but I know God would not do that. Could someone help me.

    • standsfortruth

      Hi 7stelle, your question is a worthy one, regarding the great multitude that appears in Rev. 7:9 and i will attempt to address it.
      I believe this great multitude comes from those that have been “left behind” on earth at the call of the rapture. (The rapture being the snatching away of the faithful remnent that happens at the beginning of tribulation. Rev 4)
      The “great multitude” comes out of the time frame- of the tribulation.
      *Someone may decide to add more clarification to this, or may have their own interpretation of this great multitude mentioned.

    • Yikes, fitting together the various texts about eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) is something which has perplexed Christians for centuries! I tend to think we won’t understand how they all fit together till it actually has all come to pass.

    • Still Reforming

      7stelle,

      Re: verses in Matthew, do you mean ““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.: (Matt. 7:13-14)?

      If so, I don’t see those Matthew verses as opposing the text from Revelation you cited at all. Are you asking how God can say that few enter the gate to life and yet there is a multitude praising God in Revelation?

      I don’t think because the words “few” and “multitude” sound at odds that they actually contradict one another because (as I understand it):

      1. Compared to all of the people who ever were born or ever will be – there are very few compared to the total number of all people alive ever – very few that will be in heaven. For example, if there were hundreds of billions ever born, perhaps millions would seem like “few” by comparison. If you even just look around the world today and even the small social circles in which we all travel, how many are truly Christians? (Never mind the “professing” Christian, as we all know everyone who claims to be in Christ isn’t.) I’m guessing very few.

      2. The text in Revelation is specific with respect to citing “from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues,” To me that says more than just quantity, but specificity related to those outside the tribes of Israel, about whom most of the Old Testament is written. (And I daresay Paul goes to great lengths in the book of Romans to distinguish between Jews and Greeks – that there still remain distinctions even though we can all be brothers and sisters in Christ.) My point being – the multitude is made up of many nations, something that before Christ was not a consideration. So it’s not numbers here that’s the point of that text, I think, but how the entire world – many nations – make up that number, which to the Jew of that day was fairly unthinkable.

      I don’t think the Matthew text speaks to Christians staying or not staying on the road. I myself believe that Scripture affirms once saved always saved (because God preserves His saints; He keeps us). I disagree with the pastor’s interpretation about the text meaning how many Christians allow destructive things into their lives. I don’t think that Jesus was discussing sanctification there, but salvation. I think the Matthew text relates to those who make it through that gate into heaven for all eternity. .Among all peoples everywhere of all time, there are few who make it into heaven compared to the vast majority who don’t.

      • 7stelle

        Thank you.

  5. One more thing.

    In Galations it says that an unsaved person is given to rages. I find myself filled with anger as I remember what was done to me (much was lost due to mind numbing meds, but when I stopped taking them, slowly memories have been surfacing) and how he is sinking me with financial debt now; I feel like I want to go to a gym and pound a punching bag and could tear a room full of pillows to shreds and just scream and sob. Is this sin?

  6. Savedbygrace

    Not at all 7estelle- I have learned from counsellors that we store emotions in our body, and when we start to process thoughts and feelings there is a lot of pent up energy around that – physical release is very healing , like the sobs others have mentioned and using a punching a bag or pillow sounds like a great idea to release all that negative emotion! To explain it a little further, when we want badly to oppose or fight something but cannot we store it in our arms when we want to escape/flee something but cannot we store it in our legs. Hope this helps.
    Also remember there is righteous anger eg Jesus showed active, passionate anger when the temple which should have been a house of prayer had been overun by money changers so that Gentiles were denied access. This is very different to being ‘given to rages’ which I take it is a pattern of self serving anger.

  7. “given to rages’ which I take it is a pattern of self serving anger.”

    Thank you SavedbyGrace. I never heard it explained like this before. It helps so much. Thank you.

  8. setfree15

    I haven’t attended a church for many years, but that didn’t keep me from falling under the influence of a man who set himself up to be my spiritual authority. A former pastor, and long-time friend of my STB ex-husband, they joined forces over the years to heap abuse upon me. A couple of times, when I sought out fellowship with some like-minded believers, I was told that I was backslidden! Both of them would rail against me so much that I would just give in, and give up trying to find fellowship.

    There have been so many red flags that I minimized, or overlooked, but the glaring red flag in this case was, there was no evidence of love for the brethren!! The attitude was one of exclusivity and a self-righteous looking down upon those who didn’t “see” what they saw. This man and my husband prided themselves on their so-called understanding of the scriptures, but failed to live them out. This man was a Pharisee and my husband was his disciple!

    Since the beginning of this year, the abuse became more severe and more outrageous! I withdrew from any contact with this man and he became enraged. He would still phone my husband and, on speaker phone, would say that he had a hard time believing that I was saved! Many accusations were made against me and my husband never tried to defend me…not once. I was told that I had an evil heart and that I was in the grip of the devil…all because I refused to have anything more to do with this man!

    For almost 20 years, I experienced emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, and spiritual abuse from my husband. This other man was spiritually abusing me for most of those years, all with my husband’s consent. In February of this year (2015), I finally saw this man for what he was–an abuser. A couple of weeks later, the Lord opened my eyes to finally recognize my husband’s abuse! I had always thought that he was just difficult to live with, or that I had to try harder to be a good, submissive wife!

    The most difficult thing was trying to reconcile my husband’s behaviour with the fact that he professed to be a Christian. During my online research into abuse, I discovered that he, and this other man, fit the profile of narcissists (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Then the pieces of the puzzle fit!

    I left my husband in March, 2015. I have a lawyer, now, and a separation agreement is in the works. At age 60, I am starting over and it’s not easy. After so much spiritual abuse, I need to learn the truth of what the scriptures REALLY say, not what some spiritual guru tells me they mean. I was reluctant to retain a lawyer, because I believed that we are not to take a brother to court. Now I’m pretty sure that my husband is NOT a believer, despite what he claims. I look at his behaviour, not his words!

    I’m sorry to have written so much! This is my first comment here. I am so thankful that the Lord led me here, and I’m learning so much from these other dear survivors! Thank you for providing a place for us to share our pain, and even our victories ♡.

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