A Cry For Justice

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

King Herod Wanted to “Worship” Jesus — Look Out for the Abuser’s Tricks

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-8)

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matthew 2:13-16)

Alright then, what do we have here? The same old story, right? A wicked man who craved power and control as if he were God himself. And what was his tactic in this case? He pretended to be a worshiper of God….”so that I may come and worship him.” Right. These rather mysterious Gentiles who came seeking Christ are called “wise men.” And yet, it still took God Himself intervening to warn them not to return to Herod and tell him the info he wanted to hear. Same thing with Joseph. The Lord warned him to take Mary and the child to Egypt.

The wool comes off the wolf when he doesn’t get his way, doesn’t it? You see it here with Herod when he finds out that the wise men tricked him. He becomes murderous in his rage, ordering the mass slaughter of little ones. This evil agent of Satan put on the facade of wanting to worship Christ, when in fact he wanted to kill him.

When it comes to this warfare that every true Christian is fighting, there is no room for naivete. Many people claim to want to worship and serve Jesus Christ, but most of them are counterfeits and some of them are as evil as Herod. We simply cannot take someone at their word and believe them without question when they make claims to belong to Christ, when they get baptized, when they become a church member, pray, quote Bible verses…so that when a victim of their evil steps forward we automatically disregard their report. “But Lord, King Herod was a really nice guy. He just wants to worship Jesus.”

Evil, you see, is quite capable of wearing an amazingly convincing mask. It seems that many in the church today just don’t want to believe that.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

Finally, since it is the Lord’s Day, we hope you enjoy this hymn.

***

Related post: The abuser in the Christmas story

19 Comments

  1. StandsWithAFist

    This.

    How I needed this soothing hymn, a gift in a wasteland this am. Thank you, Ps. Crippen.

  2. NewLife

    I am struggling so much right now. Monday, I am meeting with my husband, my counselor, and his counselor for me to tell him that I will NOT be reconciling and I will be pursuing a divorce. The thing that I must be strong against is his tactic. This blog struck a chord with me. Here is what he does:

    We have the same pattern as most here. He is never interested in changing unless he has been exposed and some type of accountability from authority is in place. Then all of sudden, he “just wants to be the husband and father God wants him to be”. He, “knows he hurt me deeply, and he’s working hard to make it right”. He goes to all of his counseling appointments, voluntarily signs himself up for mentorship under another godly man at our church, meets with other men. However, if you listen to him, his self-awareness is extremely low. His therapist even told me that. It’s like he is not capable of receiving any truth about himself. So, he talks repentance, but doesn’t actually get specific about his sin. He just knows the words to say. He cries, and is very good at acting humble and sorry. He has done this before. As soon as we get through the discipline process, counseling ends, mentorship ends, and we are on our own…he goes right back to his destructive, abusive behavior. What is this? Everyone else buys into it too.

    We just moved back from a foreign country where we had been living for a year. We were missionaries there. We spent time prior to moving there in marriage counseling. He was also doing personal counseling and had been in a mentorship program for a year. When we were released from counseling a month before we moved overseas, I was so convinced that the had changed. I couldn’t believe the transformation. Literally, the day our feet hit foreign soil, he went right back to his former ways. Only this time, it got worse. I spent this past year feeling like I had been kidnapped and held hostage. It’s a similar story to most here. Pornography, physical threats, stalking me, undermining my authority with my children, accusing me of affairs, emotional abuse, manipulation, etc… So I finally spoke out and got help after reading “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” by Leslie Vernick. The organization we work for and my church worked together to remove him from our home and back to the US. This was earlier this year. I recently moved back to the US with my children and we remain separated. I want to say that I am so blessed to have the support that I have from my organization and from my church. The counseling ministry from my church is who recommended Leslie’s book to me. They get it.

    My oldest son has never had a loving father/son relationship with him. He never made any attempts to connect with him. He has been abusive to him as well. My other children he treats completely differently which only adds to the pain and rejection my oldest feels. Now, my oldest will not have anything to do with him. I am doing a lot of damage control now.

    I am just still struggling as a former “people-pleaser” and “good girl” with people not being able to agree with my decision. I don’t go around talking to people about it, I just can’t. However, my closest circle knows everything. There have only been two women who have objected. It’s the same story from both. God put us together and his will is sovereign. I shouldn’t give up hope because God can redeem the unredeemable. If my husband is willing to work, I should not quit. The power of Christ is real, and I would be denying that by divorcing. I believe all of these things, but…..

    (Eds. note: Comment slightly edited to protect identity)

    • Jeff Crippen

      Newlife – you are right, you are right, you are right. This is very courageous of you and wise, though an extremely hard experience. You are by no means the first missionary wife who has contacted us with a very similar story over the years, and we have also been contacted by numerous pastor wives who are long time abuse victims. Press on in your course and be free.

      • Anonymous

        Newlife, PRESS ON! Those giving you counsel to the contrary are not the ones being abused, you are! And beware of those giving unsolicited “counsel;” if you didn’t ask for it, it’s nothing other than criticism. And you are not the one giving up on your marriage, your abuser is. The only thing you are quitting, is refusing to be abused and robbed of your dignity and personhood. Those women are correct to say that God can redeem the unredeemable. And He may choose to do so with your abuser and if He does, you will know exactly what that looks like. Remember the Prodigal! I will remember you in prayer tomorrow. And remember to 2 Chronicles 20. The Lord says, “Do not be afraid of this vast army…this is not your battle, stand back and watch what I will do…” The Lord therefore claims ownership of this battle. Take courage.

    • he talks repentance, but doesn’t actually get specific about his sin. He just knows the words to say. … What is this?

      It is what I call the concept salad (or word salad) language of the ‘c’hristian abuser in his best behavior mode. They know the phrases and words to use to make it look like they understand core doctrines of Christianity such as conviction of sin, repentance, the fruit of the spirit, being renewed in one’s mind, etc. And they can throw those phrases into reasonably good syntax so that people think they are really Christians. It’s like a fruit salad. Each piece of fruit is a real piece of fruit. But actually, when you examine the syntax, and especially when you look at their long-term behaviour, you can see that what they were saying really didn’t make sense and/or they were just putting it on for show. Abusers can concoct the linguistic equivalent of a christian fruit salad.

      Here are some other comments on our blog that discuss this phenomenon:

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/10/20/another-badger/#comment-45757

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/08/15/he-wants-a-list-and-hes-checking-it-twice-but-it-wont-do-any-good/#comment-39723

      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/08/28/thursday-thought-15/#comment-40814

    • Your decision to divorce is not denying the power of Christ. It is affirming your husband’s refusal to allow that power to work in him. Yes, Christ can redeem the unredeemable. But He can do that irregardless of your presence. He doesn’t need you there to help change him. In fact, your absence may force your husband to reckon with his bad behavior.

  3. Still Reforming

    NewLife,
    I too will remember you in prayer today and tomorrow. Ditto what Pastor Jeff and Anonymous said. You are not alone. Stay here and be strengthened and encouraged. You know the truth. Don’t settle for the lie. The Lord is delivering you. Take it. Step out of the fog, be gentle on yourself, and breathe.
    A lot of people around you aren’t going to agree with you or be on your side, but you know the truth – and like Anonymous said, they don’t have to live with the abuse. You did, and you know what it was like. Don’t listen to those who haven’t lived it and know the evil first-hand. Stay here among people who know that evil for what it is.
    NL, I am far more alone these days now that my marriage is over than I ever was, but my Lord has never left me. And alone isn’t bad. I have new friends here at this blog, on-line at other Christian sites that understand narcissism and the evil of abuse, and the Lord is teaching me personally and directly via on-line teaching. I am more free than I ever was in the bondage of that marriage, and I recognize now other abusers in life far more quickly. I’m grateful for that.
    I said all that to let you know that you’re not going to be pleasing a lot of people in what you’re doing. Prepare yourself for that. Accept it. It’s okay; It is better to please God than to please men. Those men aren’t with you or for you. The Lord is. Trust Him. He won’t forsake or abandon you, and the truth, as Jesus said, will set you free.
    What fellowship has light with darkness? You are unequally yoked and have been for years. Trust that the Lord will not leave you if you are His. Nothing can separate you from Him. Nothing and no one.
    You are among friends and family. You believe in God’s sovereignty, you wrote. He brought you to this place for a reason.

    • Herjourney

      The closer we draw to the end the more hatred for Christ. It will become more evident. It’s happening! more and more every day. The evil abusers have no fear of God. They hide behind a mask of false worship. Just as Herod did.
      Herods allies were demons. If not Satan himself.

      I for one am greatful that I cannot see the full spiritual realm all around us. It would be fantastic to see angels tho. I personally have encountered a few. Call me crazy. I will agree. Satan is real! So are his demons.
      I have seen enough of evil to believe the battle rages on. The more we stand in the light. The more we will see God is faithful to his children.

      • Herjourney, you are not the only one here who has encountered demonic entities. I have too. Thank God that in Christ we have authority to command them to leave us.

      • Barb,
        It’s not comforting to know others have encounterd demonic, oppressive activity.
        Thinking about the destruction in family’s is overwhelming to comprehend. I am thankful for God’s eternal word. Jesus!
        Standing alone in the battle has opened my spirtual eyes to the wickedness that is ever increasing. I have been praying that the evil in a certain church will be exposed.
        I am confident that God hears the prayers of the righteous.

  4. Wow, it must be so hard, it is crazy when the husband you are married to professes to be a believer or is in the ministry! I was married to a engineer and I didn’t know he had a pornography addiction until put marriage ended. When he moved me & our children overseas he became a different man, he no longer hid who he was and his abusive nature really came out. I was pregnant with # 3 and the others were under 5. We stayed for 2 1/2 years before coming back home. They were wonderful years in that the transcultural experience was amazing, there were so many nice expats we got to know and the nationals in the country were so amazing but they were unbearable years in my marriage with tiny children and isolated from home. His love for “other” women blossomed while I wilted thanks to his unrestrained use of pornography … . When we moved back home we settled in a new community and moved into a home with the children. 14 days later he moved out becauae he began dating woman he had met upon our return, after settling us in a town – across the country, 3000 km from my family.
    I stupidly went to court asking to move close to my family and the judge refused. Now, many years later I am thankful that he left (kept moving out)
    I stayed in that home, the kids are grown and I can attest to God’s care, providence and faithfulness! My ex-husband moved on and remarried another woman of the same race as the “affair lady” apparently, the women of that race tickle his fancy, he had explained to me, he also explained that he was sensitive to the needs of women, I am wondering what his current wife’s experience is? The fog would be twice as thick with an abuser who claims to be a Christian vs. one who is blatantly and proudly not. My ex did turn and say he became a Christian but could not stop being abusive to me & cheating on me. My oldest child just told me that his dad prides himself on his strong moral character???
    I never saw fruit even though his church embraced him, I moved on and found a church that embraced me as a single mom with out 3 small children. My ex harassed and stalked me using the court system against me for the next 8 years – he has since backed off but has never apologized or stopped being the ‘victim’ but at least he doesn’t bother with me anymore and I am free! Be encouraged new life, you are better off without him and God is faithful, you can walk upright in the truth and in the light if His word! I am tajnkf he hear how brave you are and how discerning!

    (Eds. note: comment slightly edited to protect identity)

    • Anonymous

      Titus 1:15-16, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

      Abusers will claim that they never abuse while they are in the midst of abusing. “Semantic aphasia” is a term used to explain how people with certain personality disorders will say the right words with the right inflection but actually don’t mean any of it. Words are only used as tools for manipulation, and they use the words that get a RESPONSE. “When every day is a game or a theatrical performance, words are just well rehearsed lines that have more effect on the audience than on the player himself.”

      I must have missed the day they taught us this in Sunday School.

  5. Anonymous

    “Evil, you see, is quite capable of wearing an amazingly convincing mask. It seems that many in the church today just don’t want to believe that.”

    2 Tim 3:4-5 They will love pleasure instead of loving God, and will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet live in defiance of its power.

    God’s power, in God’s way looks very little like the caricature sketched for us by the modern day church which looks something like this: “Submit blindly to all men and authority while loving everyone unconditionally and ignoring evil behavior because after all, we are ALL sinners; and sacrifice your needs for the good of mankind and you will be richly rewarded in heaven!” “Oh yeah, one more thing, shut up! I mean, be as silent as Jesus was when he was led to the slaughter.” This sums up in a nutshell the advice I received growing up in the church which was then reinforced by different churches and psychologists in my adulthood. Let me reassure you that I TRIED to do this for over forty years until God shut the entire show down. BAM! How did it feel? OUCH!

    Jeff, you are right in saying that some of us just don’t want to believe that evil can appear so “good”. Now that God has taken the blinders off it’s much more stark to see evil in its many forms, BUT…………would I trade my wisdom away in order to go back to live in the matrix? (Big pause here) No. Nothing in my life before God intervened had any value. I was working for the devil, serving the evil one. I THOUGHT I was serving God but I didn’t even know him.

    1 Corth. 3:13, If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

    Please notice the part where it says” BUT IF I DIDN’T LOVE OTHERS”. This was so important to me, to REALLY love others, to be genuine and sincere in my mind and heart. So there I was, depleting myself over and over expecting nothing in return and setting no boundaries because that would have made me selfish. And who did I end up attending to? People who will never “love others” because these same people are just like King Herod; they want to be worshiped and they love to be served. Not one person ever forewarned me that some people will be like 2 Tim 3:2 tells us, For people will love ONLY themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred, or what this really looked like. I didn’t know that it would be the pastor of the church, or the most saintly of the saints serving at every function. I didn’t know that some people’s brains (as proven by MRI’s) aren’t wired to feel much gratefulness, love, guilt or shame and that when these imperative emotions aren’t there what’s left is the description in 2 Tim 3:1-5. [Note from Admins: brain wiring is not the only factor; the individual’s choices and their upbringing are also factors, and if these things a good the individual may not give him or herself over to evil.] So the verse in 1 Corth 3:13 wasn’t telling ME to love more, it was actually a forewarning that there are those who do all these “saintly” things but will GAIN NOTHING and ARE NOTHING (1 Corinthians 13:2). What a hard punch of wisdom this was and what a jolt to the core of my belief system. Shock is far too mild of an adjective.

    God’s power, in God’s way looks very different to me today. He has shown me that evil is real and very active, that it is not just a concept but can be a tangible thing. He’s shown me that when I search his word I will find that HE hasn’t denied this truth to me but that the wolves in sheep’s clothing are actually the culprits. That setting boundaries was fundamental when he created the earth so that it could function well, just like setting boundaries in relationships is fundamental so that they can function well. And that I am not being selfish when I do this but actually obeying his word. That serving Jesus and being a servant to all means letting the Holy Spirit do his job so that I will use his discernment in my relationships in order to help me “have nothing to do with” (2 Timothy 3:5) evil people when they are identified as such, and can then give the love I have that’s from Him (“We love, because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19) to those He chooses. It’s a very different perspective that I now have, but it’s truth and it’s love, 2 Tim 1:7, “For the Spirit which God has given us is not a spirit of cowardice, but one of power and of love and of sound judgement..” We don’t do this walk alone and we weren’t meant to; and any wisdom God gives us is meant to be shared amongst his children. Thank you Jeff for a place to put this.

  6. healinginhim

    “The wool comes off the wolf when he doesn’t get his way, doesn’t it?”
    That line really jumped out at me. Took me years to come out of denial and realize that I had actually married into a ‘den of wolves’. Wolves are very quiet creatures. They are in no hurry to secure their victim, however, when the time is right; they’re brutal; no mercy at the blood that is shed.

  7. Anonymous

    Newlife, thinking of you this morning in prayer as you face this difficult day. Zephaniah 3: “The Lord your God is with you he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you.” And when you go to your meeting today with the counselors and your abuser, go with confidence and remember the words of Mark 13:11: “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” You are NOT alone. Remember this truth and face them all confidence and courage! Press on.

  8. Charis

    “We simply cannot take someone at their word and believe them without question when they make claims to belong to Christ, when they get baptized, when they become a church member, pray, quote Bible verses…”

    I have been noodling on this concept for quite awhile, especially in light of the Oregon shootings and the groundswell it has created. People wish to idolize those who “stood up for Christ” and took a bullet, dying for their faith. While I sincerely hope each of those persons were truly connected to Christ in a transformational way – I cannot help but wonder. Mostly, this is because I can picture my exh doing something similar. Yes. He would. He would stand up, claim Christ, take a bullet and look oh-so-good in the act and everyone would claim his mighty deed and mourn his loss. He would do this deeply self-deceived or with a smirk deep down inside in a “I told you so” sort of way. See how good he looks? He sacrificed himself to a greater cause. So would the Muslim. So would the cultist. So would anyone who “identifies” as “c”hristian yet doesn’t truly KNOW Christ. Surely THIS would earn enough points to get him on the inside track. Sadly, no.

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’” Mt 7:21-23

  9. BeenThere

    NewLife, I pray that the Lord has upheld you through this difficult day, and will continue to do so in the days, weeks, months and years to come. It will be initially a day-by-day perspective (as I’m sure you already know and are experiencing), but as you stay fast in the Lord and in your determination to rightfully separate, the horizons will eventually expand. I can say this from the perspective I share with your son, having been that eldest son in a similar missionary family, who saw and experienced the abuse and rejection. I don’t know (and don’t need to) the ages of your children, but please consider counseling for them also, especially for your son? It sounds like you have a blessedly strong (and reliable!) support system in your mission organization and your church. Use it! To the fullest extent possible, and without any qualms. So many families in your position don’t have that.

    As for your husband, be at peace in your decision. Pastor Jeff, Barbara Roberts, and others have said it much more eloquently than I can, but; by his fruit you know him (Matt 7:15-20). Verse 18 in particular, says:

    A good tree CAN’T bear bad fruit. A bad tree CAN’T bear good fruit (NIRV).

    And 1 John 2:4-6 says

    Suppose someone says, ‘I know Him.’ But suppose that person does not do what God commands. Then that person is a liar…Those who claim to belong to Him MUST live as Jesus did. (NIRV)

    Ultimately it is up to the One whom he claims as Lord to determine the status of their relationship, but in the here and now, we have been given both the means and ability to discern who His sheep are and who the wolves are. And we are not to keep the wolves amongst the sheep! In the passages above I highlighted three words; they denote both ability and desire. A true follower of Christ WANTS to and is COMPELLED to emulate Him, resulting in GOOD fruit (Gal. 5:22-24). 1st (and 2nd) John speaks about that desire (or lack thereof). It is not that we do not stumble or fail in our walk with the Lord (bless Him for His grace towards us!); but the heart set on Him is not content to wallow where it falls. The Spirit within calls out to the Shepherd to pick us up, cleanse us anew, and set us back on the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. Where that attitude is missing (as you have described) is when we should be alerted to a wolf in the midst. The lack of desire to emulate Christ, and the compulsion to bear evil fruit are the “tells”. No sheep of the Shepherd are under obligation to remain in the vicinity of a wolf, much less bound to him.

    • Hi BeenThere,

      Thank you for your comment. It is apparent that you have a perspective that can relate to what NewLife has experienced.

      You will noticed that I changed your screen name as the old screen name was very identifying. If you would like me to change it, contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com. Also if you haven’t already looked at the New User’s page, I encourage you to do so. It gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again, welcome and thank you for sharing.

  10. standsfortruth

    This is another powerful lesson regarding the abusers covert evil intentions towards his target.
    It is never what it seems when they are throwing out their bait to draw you back in under their power and control.
    My abuser would make all sorts of worldly materialistic offers to try to convince me of his “so called love for me .”
    These grand offers were not typical for him to make, and seemed self sacrificing and nobel, but I knew they were put out there only to entice me back under his power and control, if I dared to consider them.
    The words of our Savior kept me on track and from falling for the trap..
    “A bad tree cannot produce good fruit, and a good tree does not produce bad fruit. Therefore you will know them by their fruits.”
    The fruits of my abuser had a proven track record of being bad to the core.
    Any and all of my abuser’s offers to continue with him were surely tainted with deception.
    It reminded me of how Satan took Jesus up to the mountain tops and showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth in a glance attempting to entice him.
    “All of these kingdoms I will offer to you, if you will but bow down and worship me.”
    But Jesus set him straight awnsering him saying “It is written that one should worship God and Him alone.”

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