A Cry For Justice

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

Wise as Serpents: Do You Want to be Healed? (Part 4 of a sermon series by Jeff Crippen)

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids — blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him,  “Do you want to be healed?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:1-18)

I specifically want to call our attention to the words that Jesus spoke to the lame man there at the pool of Bethesda: “Do you want to be healed?”

I want to challenge each of us to put this question to ourselves, and I want to do so for the primary purpose of encouraging us to see that Jesus Christ is our Healer, that He is able and He is willing to set us free from enslavement to the bondage that comes with being deceived by lies of the enemy.  If these words convict you genuinely, and you realize that you need to repent of some sin of your own, then please do so. But primarily our purpose today is to confidently assert that Christ most certainly sets all who call on Him free of all falsehoods we might be clinging to this morning. All we need do is ask Him.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

And so we ask ourselves this question: How badly do we really want Christ to heal us? To change us? As we learn more and more about the nature and tactics of evil, it is vital that we understand that Christ is King and that no evil exists that is beyond His ability to conquer. We also need to be very clear-sighted about the fact that wickedness and its representatives will do all they can to prevent us from being free.

The question again:  “Do you want to be healed?”

The question seems like a no-brainer, right? Of course the man lame for 38 long years wanted to be healed, didn’t he? And yet Jesus put the question to him. For 38 years, almost 4 decades, this man had lived lame. He had grown accustomed. He had made adjustments. He had a routine. Maybe his infirmity paid him some benefits? Pity. Alms. Or maybe he just figured – “This is it. This is my life. Nothing’s going to change.”

I want to tell you this morning that change and freedom are the very nature of life in Christ.

I. The Bondage of Sin — Including the Effects of the Sins of Others Upon Us

All through the Bible, sin is presented to us as the great enslaver. We see it in the person of Pharaoh  (Exodus 1:13-14).  Every attempt at freedom was met with even more severe oppression. Throughout its history, enemies worked to enslave and oppress the Jewish nation — Moabites, Ammonites, Hittites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians and then the Roman Empire. All of these oppressors are images of sin. Sin is the greatest slave master (John 8:33-34).

As human beings living out our earthly lives in this sinful, fallen creation, we not only have our own sin to deal with, but we have the effects of the sins of others upon us. Sanctification in the Christian, this growth into more of the image of Christ and His holiness, is largely a matter of being set free from sin and its effects. Redemption is a redeeming from the power and effects of sin. But growth in Christ involves being made to see truth more and more clearly. Coming to know God’s will for us more accurately. Learning more perfectly what is pleasing to Him. All of this is freeing. It sets us free. This means, once more, being set free from not only our own sin, but from the effects of the sin of others upon us. Think on this. The Bible does tell us to put to death our own sin, by the Spirit in us. But it also just a frequently tells us to do things like:

  • Test the spirits to see if they are from God
  • Do not even eat with such a person who claims to be a Christian but walks habitually in wickedness
  • Do not permit anyone to bring you into bondage by deceiving you with a false gospel
  • Do not permit a Diotrephes to lord it over you, especially in the church

Why? So that we are not brought into bondage by their lies.

But the question I put to you this morning, to repeat it still another time, is — “Do you want to be healed?” Do you want Christ to set you free?

As we have pointed out, sin enslaves and it is vital that we understand all the ways that it does. Hear this again: it is not just our own sin which every Christian battles that works to hold us in bondage, but it is the effects of the sin of others that so often keeps us in its power.  We can be free of it. For example:

  • Many people suffer from trauma, the effects of it, often called PTSD. This is not due to their own sin (in spite of the claims of some schools of so-called Christian counseling that our problems are ultimately due to our own sin). A soldier returning home from the war, for example, and suffering the effects of that trauma, suffers from the sin and evil of others. So do many of the people who come to our ACFJ website seeking help.
  • People who were abused as children suffer various results — harmful consequences — because of this evil at the hands of others.
  • False teaching, false religious leaders, and other lies can enslave us.
  • The malignant narcissist, the sociopathic wicked person — these are people who enslave others through their evil behavior and words.

Remember, and think on this very, very carefully – the primary enemies and the fundamental sources of enslaving evil in the Bible and thus today have always been the counterfeits in the visible church. Always. Professing Christians. The false prophets in Israel. The serpent in the garden. Judas. Scribes and Pharisees. The anti-Christ.  (Listen to the full sermon to hear real examples of the very kinds of slavery we need to get free of, and which Christ is able and willing to free us from.)

It is ultimately Christ’s truth that sets you free.  And I am asking each one of us this morning, “Do you want to be healed?” — Of all the junk in your thoughts? Of all the false notions that you have embraced? Of all the things you have been blinded to? Of the false Christians in your life who keep whispering the lies of the enemy in your ear? Do you want it? Do you want your life to be radically changed?

Because, and here is the vital thing,

Christ is able and Christ is willing to free you. The question is, do you want Him to do so? Do you want to be delivered from that comfy (or not so comfy) mat you have sat on by the pool for 38 years? Really? Do you really want Him to do this by showing you what it really is? Do you want to know the truth about the people around you in your life who are holding you in slavery no matter who they are? Do you want to know what lies have come into your life over the years even if it means coming to see that someone you thought was a great saint of the church, isn’t?

You see, if we really don’t want to be free, then Christ isn’t going to set us free. And I have known more than one professing Christian who simply was not ready for freedom, did not want it, and ran from it as something just too threatening to deal with.

II. Christ is Able and Christ is Willing

Consider now very carefully the following accounts of Jesus healing people. Think on this. Listen to what He says. The message is plain. Christ is able and Christ is willing to set YOU free from all the things that evil is oppressing you through. Not necessarily free from all the interference of the abuser who keeps trying to get at you (often enabled by the Family Court). But Christ, the Light of the world, is able to shine through the darkness so that we can see and hear — even while the abusers in our lives may not yet be bound hand foot and mouth, and sent to where they cannot get at us any more.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18)

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:1-3)

And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.”

Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”

But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:19-36)

Christ did all this. Christ is able, Christ is willing. Many people have gone to counselors and therapists for a long, long while. In some cases this has provided some help, but ultimately, I can tell you this, It is Jesus Christ alone who turns on the lights in your mind, shows you the lies you have embraced, shows you the reality that you have been blind to, and replaces all that mess with His truth, setting you free. 

That is how this ministry of A Cry for Justice began. The lights came on about the nature and tactics of evil. Christ did it. He showed us and He delivered us from bondage to lies and wickedness that had deceived us for a long, long time.

III. Evil Will Scream and Fight and Protest our Freedom

Evil hates freedom. Evil always works to enslave. Evil lusts for power and control, and therefore evil and its minions hate Jesus Christ, the one who sets men free. Expect it. When the captives are set free, Pharaoh inevitably sets his armies to chase after them and bring them back to slavery.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. (Ex 14:5-9)

 

the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” (Matt 9:34)

 

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (John 5:15-16)

 

Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. (John 9:14-16)

See? Evil lays rather dormant when it has victims in its power. But when light comes and its power is threatened, wickedness springs into action. We must be wise to this tactic and we must expect this final “Battle of the Bulge” final desperate attempt by the enemy to renew its grasp on us.

Here is a clear example:

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev 12:12)

So there it is. Christ is able and Christ is willing to set you free, to heal you, to open your eyes and ears to His truth, to expose all and any lies you have been taught to believe. In fact, He is the ONLY one who can do this.

Do you want Him to? There is the question you see. If you do, if you will believe that He can, and you begin to call out to Him to change you and free you no matter what the cost, be assured that He will.

***

This text has been slightly adapted to make it more applicable to the bulk of our readers (victim/survivors of domestic abuse).  Audio and PDF of this sermon is here.

Go to Part 5 of this series

A list of the entire series can be found at our Wise as Serpents tab on the top menu.

 

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16 Comments

  1. healinginhim

    This is such a good series. Thank you for being faithful to His Word. It’s still hard to be honest with ourselves about wanting Christ to heal us; to set us free. I’m saying, “Yes” and then find myself drawing back; fearful and cautious; not knowing whom I can trust as I ‘attempt’ to move forward.

  2. standingfirm

    Evil hates freedom. Evil always works to enslave. Evil lusts for power and control, and therefore evil and its minions hate Jesus Christ, the one who sets men free.

    When I read that, it witnessed to my heart what is going on in the world today as we wait for our Bridegroom. All the country’s of the world are slowly taking away the people’s freedom with their evil lust of power and control. I just read a article last night where Scotland has a program for their government to spy on school children and report what the children say regarding their lives! I look at what Isis is all about. They hate freedom and be-head Christians. Our own government here is all about power and control over people’s rights. I keep waiting to hear the final trumpet!!

    On a personal note, the Lord used Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why does he Do that”? to get me out of the fog a few years ago. The first two times I read the book my chest got so tight and my stomach felt like someone punched me very hard. I could not believe what I was reading! after three decades with my husband I felt like Lundy was right there in my supposed marriage witnessing what was written down in his book. I was amazed and educated at the same time. Jesus used that book to get my eyes open to all the tactics used that caused me immense pain through the years.

    Then the Lord sent me to this web site. I have learned so much and am ever grateful to His true and faithful servants. Although I do not get to post much, I love reading here and pray for everyone. Who the son sets free is free indeed!

    • braveandstandingstrong

      Thank you, Pastor Jeff 💓 tears were streaming down my cheeks as I listened to this sermon. I am never fearful of my PTSD being triggered by your sermons.

      God has set me free! Thank you for putting the blame on the abuser and not on the victim of abuse.
      God opened my eyes to three decades of abuse by my antihusband and more than a decade of spiritual abuse by my xchurch.

      I have felt abandoned by the people of my xchurch, but the real Church (here and others) are showing us the love of Jesus.

      Standing firm, I tell everyone that God and Lundy Bancroft saved my life! I read a transcript of a talk he gave and then read his book, “why does he do that?” I had the same reaction as you. I never thought of my husband as abusive because I didn’t know what abuse was. As I read, I thought, “did Lundy have a camera in my house?”

      I found this website and have read all three of your books. Barbara, your book was instrumental in freeing me from further spiritual abuse from judgment and blame for divorcing my abusive husband.

      Praising God for your ministry! Thank you for explaining what evil is and helping so many survivors of abuse to stand free!

      • braveandstandingstrong

        Oh, the tears were because you call evil, evil. You believe the truth instead of sweeping it under the rug. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      • thank you for the encouragement, braveandstandingstrong 🙂 XXX

  3. Herjourney

    Also
    Depression is not a sin.
    If a pastor or a well meaning friend throws this in your face.
    What do we do?
    I personally got in this persons space and truthfully stated this is what he was teaching from the pulpit.
    He flatly denied it.
    Huh?
    Depression can be a by product of desperation from an abusive relationship.
    I choose who I listen to.
    My pain is not someone else’s excuse to inflict more guilt and control over me.
    The abuser has done enough of that.

  4. Mark

    This message came at the perfect time. Asking the question “Do you want to be healed?” must be answered by all of us who have adjusted our lives to living with our abusers. How easy this story is to relate to, even the detail of finding some type of perverted comfort we create, illustrated by the “mat.” My “mat” was built over a 36 year period. It was built using the teaching of false teachers, man made doctrine and my commitment to be more loving and kind then Jesus. Now the question comes from Jesus, ” Do you want to be healed?” Do I really want freedom, do I dare forsake my “mat” of perverted false comfort, bondage and dark existence? To my surprise the answers is not that easy. A long history of bondage is difficult to break free from, bondage is binding, it has a very real grip. But thanks be to God who began a good work sees it through to completion. While bondage fights to hold me bound the Holy Spirit of freedom continues to break the power and comfort I’ve grown accustomed to laying on my “mat.” Now after one year faithfully reading ACFJ blog, listening to Jeff’s sermons on SermonAudio and reading suggested books about abuse can I say “Yes Lord I do want to be healed, I do want to be free, I want to learn to live! Yes Lord I’m willing to see the truth and give up all the ways that have kept me in bondage to my abuser.” “Jesus said to him, get up and take up your bed and walk.”
    And that’s what I’m doing, never could I have imagined life free from the effects of the sins of others would feel or be so amazing.
    God is truly glorified in those He sets free.

  5. Anotheranon

    Boy does this ever hit home. It’s so easy to be lazy and/or complacent about situations in our lives. Change is difficult. Change is a fearful thing. Can we be brave, step out in faith, and let Jesus do His work of deliverance?
    I for one have worked very hard for many years–this is not boasting, it is simply a statement of fact. I want to rest and not have to think so hard. I want all my problems to just go away. But now is the time to turn to Jesus and let Him guide me through the next stage of my life.

    When Jesus was here on earth He was very busy. He wasn’t lazy. He was doing His Father’s will. And He rested when necessary, prayed when necessary, and angels ministered to Him in His times of anguish.

    Thanks Pastor Jeff and Barbara for this reminder that we need to recognize evil for what it is. We need to stand up to abusers, expose them, and seek justice for all who are oppressed.

    Heavenly Father, have mercy on those who are suffering today. Especially the innocent children who have no say in where they have to live, or who has custody over them. Remind us that Jesus came as the Truth to set us free. Give us courage to reach out and take whatever form of healing He offers us. Amen.

  6. a prodigal daughter returns

    Powerful and freeing and such a call to the inner man to get out of the misery and stand.

    Sometimes, even after those enslaving voices are gone, we repeat their words in our own minds. I left one enslavement, those of Narcissists declaring me unworthy and unfit for God or anyone else, unwanted, unlovable, human garbage to be thrown away. This was the predominate message of my early childhood, marriages, and false church experience. It was an identity for me that was killing me and blinding me to the fact that maybe God created me for a purpose other than doormat to be exploited and discarded like a rag.

    As I escaped hoping for a better life, I then I ran to the arms of a different kind of enslavement, masquerading as the helper, the counselor both secular and Christian as they played a violin while rocking me to sleep. The song they sang was about my damage, too much damage, too crippled, too destroyed there is nothing for you but carefully guarding your broken self all your life from triggers. No one spoke about my own responsibility to pick up bed and walk, as painful as that was going to be after decades of resigned hopelessness. A quiet life in some corner where no one expected anything out of me and I could hide was the best I was hoping for

    To this day I find myself saying to myself “you can’t do that, you can’t meet those people, you can’t talk in a group, you can’t leave your house because it is all too triggering”. However, I might instead ask “how can I pick up this bed today Lord Jesus and what glorious thing do you plan to use my life for today” “Here I am, limping, but I”m available and as I walk I might even quit limping too.”

    Perhaps the whole point of those wolves devouring a life and a testimony is to render us helpless lying in the dirt for the rest of our lives when God always intended to use us powerfully for His glory and for the souls of this world. If that is the case being convinced that our legs can’t walk and we are marginalized on the side of life is a triumph to the enemy. Whether that message “you are too damaged” comes from supposed helpers are clear abusers it can be resisted with this one 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control

  7. IamMyBeloved's

    Excellent! Absolutely excellent. It is a journey to heal, but we all must heal, otherwise the abuser remains in power in our lives. Does he get to abuse and attempt to destroy and then sit back and watch us continue to carry out his plan? Not on your life! Christ came to set us free! And indeed He did, does, and will continue to do so.

    I still have days and periods of time where the enemy likes to play the lie tapes back to me, but I am strong enough now to recognize it and reach out to someone if I am uncertain or need support, or rebuke it if I know it is a lie. I am free. I think it takes time just to realize you are free. I had been trapped for so long and thought I would never get away. Oh, the abuse, power and control from the abuser still continue, but the fog has lifted and I can see the narcissism and how it works from a distance – I am not entangled again.

    It can be a long journey from the bottom of abuse back to the top of the mountain, but it is well worth the climb. Well worth it!

  8. Renewed Spirit

    This is my question – how on earth do we give people the power to abuse us? I want to understand that and I think it may be an important part of healing. People who have been traumatized are vulnerable to more trauma or so I’ve heard. Thoughts?

    • Whoa, Renewed Spirit, the language in your comment would have been likely to trigger some of our readers. Please understand that the notion that victims give abusers power to abuse them is false. It is part of the whole victim-blaming and victim-pathologising which abounds in society.

      Abusers choose to abuse. And they chose who they target with their abuse. Victims universally resist abuse and oppression. Abusers lie, manipulate and seek to confuse their targets. There is no guaranteed way of not being targeted by an abuser! Even the most experienced psychologists who have worked with sociopaths and malignant narcissists for years, can be taken in by an abuser.

      While research shows that if a person has suffered abuse or oppression once, they are somewhat more likely to suffer it again, often from a different abuser, that does not mean that they ‘give power to their abusers’. Can you see how the idea that the victim ‘gives power’ to the abuser actually blames the victim?

      We can learn about the mentality and tactics of abusers, and sharpen our discernment and our boundary-setting skills so we are less likely to be abused again, but there is no guarantee that we can prevent it from happening. Once we HAVE identified that we are being abused, the best thing to do is to get away and go ‘no-contact’ with that person as much as possible.

      If you want to learn more, I suggest you read more of the posts at this blog and the books we recommend.
      And to understand victims’ resistance, start here:
      https://www.calgarywomensshelter.com/images/pdf/cwesResistancebookletfinalweb.pdf

      • Renewed Spirit

        i had no intention of triggering others and my question was an honest one – perhaps I am not as renewed as hoped. I struggle with a lot of anger at myself for not having acting sooner to get myself safe – perhaps that’s where my question was coming from. I am doing a lot of reading – and I will check your link as well – thanks.

      • Thanks Renewed Spirit – I knew you had no intention of triggering others 🙂 🙂 🙂

        I hope in my ‘mother lion protecting her cubs’ mode, my comment didn’t hurt you.

        And fwiw, I think many of us have struggles with anger at ourselves for not having acted sooner to get ourselves safe. It can be hard to forgive ourselves for that. . . but I have found that the more I understand about all the tactics and teachings and victim-blaming attitudes that were ranged against me, pressuring me to stay with the abuser/ to be long-suffering/ to not divorce, etc, etc, and the more I learn about elucidating and honoring victims’ resistance, the easier I find it to forgive myself. I hope that helps.

    • standsfortruth

      Hi Renewed Spirit, I think i might know where your question was coming from.
      I used to ask my trusted friends,
      “Do I have a a painted target on my back?”
      Why am I singled out for this type of underhanded treatment from others?
      I realized the awnser was partly due to the sincerity in my intentions to help others in life.
      This sincerity or caring attitude may attract the preditor type of abuser that wants to target me for their evil gain.
      (They see our kindness as an opportunity)
      These people, without concience like to target us because they think that our our goodness towards others, could actually be a sign of weakness that they can take advantage of and exploit for themselves.
      So I pray continually for discernment and wisdom for all that come here seeking how to deal with and stay away from these types, or at least have the courage to stand up to them and set firm boundries.
      I still use the grey rock (no responce method) to certain abusers, to keep them from honing in on my circumstances, in which they would only use that information to hurt me.

      • Renewed Spirit

        you got it! Thanks for putting it in words. Press on.

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