A Cry For Justice

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

Let’s Think Some More about What it Means to Have no Conscience

Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalms 32:2-5)

The human conscience is a powerful thing. It is a powerful thing in the life of the Christian. As David found out when he sinned, the Lord uses our conscience to put a heavy hand upon us when we sin. So intense is the Lord’s working through our conscience that under His conviction we are without strength, dried up, like a man lost in the heat of the desert. The only remedy is genuine repentance and confession of sin, and then God’s forgiveness. Notice then that the truly repentant person can feel that forgiveness, in contrast to the heavy misery of a convicted conscience.

This is a powerful truth to hold onto when you come under temptation. Sin tells us that we can indulge ourselves and enjoy it. But the fact is, as David and myriads of Christians have found, when a Christian yields and sins, if there is any enjoyment at all it is over in seconds. Then comes that terrible heat of conscience. The heavy hand of the Lord driving us to confession and repentance. It is a miserable thing. Day and night. Day and night. You wake up at 3AM with a knot in your gut and your sin right before you. You cannot concentrate. You have done wrong and you know and feel that wrongness. So don’t be duped by temptation. If you are a real Christian, you cannot enjoy sin. It just won’t work.

Now, as most all of you know, the person we call an abuser has little or no conscience. He can play the holy saint outwardly, then all the while inwardly and out of sight he lives in wickedness. Think about this. He has no conscience, or a seared conscience (they are pretty much the same thing). If you have ever felt the intensity of misery that a violated conscience can bring, then just mull over the fact that the abuser can do what he does — abuse — and experience no pangs of conscience. He can sleep at night. In fact he even delights in his evil. He feeds on it. It is sweet to him.

Think about this. Dwell on it. The thing is incredible. It shows us the degree of the evil we are dealing with in this abuse thing. Here is a person who can do incredible wickedness against his own wife (who has hated his own flesh? as Paul says), and not only does it not bother him, but when he sees her suffering, he rejoices in it. He is energized by it.

Do you understand? Most professing Christians and pastors do not. This is evil. These are the evil people who most certainly are in this world. If we fail to understand the depth of their wickedness, the conscienceless nature of their minds, and if we instead assume they are like us, then we are going to go miserably wrong and we will be duped by them. We will think we can fix them. We will feel sorry for them. But Scripture tells us their true nature:

But these people, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed—speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed, suffering harm as the payment for unrighteousness. They consider it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, delighting in their deceptions as they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed.  (2 Peter 2:12-14a HCSB)

So we must know what we are dealing with. We must believe what God’s Word tells us about the reality of evil around us and particularly as it creeps in amongst us in the local church.

And largely, “we” (the visible, professing Christian church), do not.


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Related posts:

Wise as Serpents: Evil is Among Us, Why are We Surprised? (Part 9 of a sermon series by Jeff Crippen)

Still More Thoughts on Wolves Hiding Among the Flock



  1. Herjourney

    In fact! The abuser can say…
    “I can lay my head down on my pillow at night and sleep like a baby.”
    Not so for the the victim.
    She may have hellish nightmares high anxiety, severe depression, take meds for all the above. Appear crazy to her family and outside circle. That is, if she goes out at all. Fear has gripped her soul and her abusers loves it. He tells his co workers – friends and family she is crazy. He Appears to care but only plays the part.
    I am still being stalked by him. After texting our daughter together about my sisters hospital stay. My daughter assumed that her dad would need to know her condition. Btw
    My sister has improved and showing signs of recovery. The abused will not come out the same person as before.
    Long haul ahead!
    Dear abused
    Finding strength to never go back to the nightmare is not easy.
    Trust God! Have Patience and stand up for yourself. God is with you.

  2. anonymous

    Had I NOT been married to and fled from the man whom you just described, and of course the Bible warns about, I would find extremely difficult to truly absorb the enormity and REALITY of the seared conscience and chosen path of evil it seeks and delights in traveling, leaving beside the road every step of the way a victim who then must make every attempt to first understand what just hit them, and then begin to recover and embark on a new course to put a devastated and shattered life back in to some sort of order.

    In my lifetime I have certainly known when the Lord’s heavy hand was upon me. It is the most frightening and sobering reality I have ever known. It drove me to the foot of the cross in repentance, seeking restoration and peace with my beautiful Lord and Savior. It makes me NEVER again want to lack peace and be out of His good and perfect will, not for a moment!! Repentance itself is a gift from God; what a beautiful gift.

    Paul identifies those who have a seared conscience in 1Timothy 4:1-2. And from it we can learn this:

    They have NO shame and are way past feeling that lying is wrong; they are mouthpieces for evil spirits and do things taught by demons; they are hypocritical liars; they wear a mask of holiness but are full of falsehood; they are unscrupulous since their consciences have been cauterized.

    Yep, pastor Crippen, as you say, we must know what we are dealing with. Sobering! May your voice be heard from the rooftops!

    • When the reality of my shattered marriage first hit my consciousness, I cried in church every Sunday for almost one year. I am surprised that most people did not think that I was crazy.

  3. I’m reminded of Isaiah 5:20–“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” This is the person with no conscience.

    • Jessica

      I agree. It is the proud atheists who claim they are good and just are simply misjudged by Christians and that Christians are the evil or crazy ones. I have spoke with those who have tried to convince to me that atheism is simply living for oneself and they have a set “list” they live by such as not harming others, it is wrong to make unwanted advances to others, etc.. I have watched confused young people be swayed by it and it is so sad to me. They are being blinded by evil and being deceived into believing it is good and Christians are the evil ones trying to control.. So very sad.

  4. Under the Waterfall

    I have noticed that delight in inflicting hurt even in my now husband. He can be totally dishonest in the way he deals with me and also have been very abusive and yet sleep soundly; he falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. Occasionally after we have had a fight and something I`ve said seems to penetrate his shell, he might have a disturbed sleep; usually its the realization that I am thinking of leaving him. He still flat out denies that years of verbal abuse and bullying on his part would be a problem for a wife and thinks the whole thing is to do with my issues alone. But for most of our marriage, he has felt his way of reacting is normal and right and has no trouble sleeping at all after he`s just dealt me major dirt and unkindness.

    I have the opposite problem; my conscience can be triggered so badly that by either real sin or false guilt or both, that the whole thing becomes a confused mess. It becomes hard to tell if I am suffering because I am in disobedience and haven`t deal with something, or I am suffering harassment and false conviction from the enemy. I`ve also noticed that this sort of experience has the effect of numbing your conscience and heart because its so non stop it eventually shorts you out and you get hardened by it, and yet there is no specific, clear `deal with this` or I want you to do that“ sort of thing. How I wish sometimes there were Nathans around who could clearly say `This is the issue“. I think sometimes I must be pretty neurotic but there has to be a way to know for certain whether one is avoiding God or trying to fend off the enemy. Since both false guilt and conviction and real sin and avoiding conviction can block out one`s sense of God, it is hard for me to sort.

  5. Stronger Now

    I, too, have lived with the man you described.

    For the longest time, even after getting free, I would have to rethink every interaction. I had to keep telling myself, normal people would see this, feel this, or recognize that. But he is NOT a normal person. He has no conscience. Right and wrong are nothing to him. “Right” is whatever he wants this minute. “Wrong” is anything that will block him getting what he wants this minute. And tomorrow when he wants something different, what is “right” today will become “wrong.” And back again, and over and over again.

    We are so firmly set in our expectation of a “normal” response. Dealing with other abuse victims who somehow think if they just say this or tell him that, he’ll see what he’s doing, he’ll “get it” and stop, I have had to keep reminding them, “No, he won’t.” Nothing you say or do will trigger a normal response. He won’t “get it” because deep down inside, where we have our moral compass, for him – NOBODY IS HOME. There IS no “moral compass.” There is only ME ME ME ME ME. And it’s always about manipulating and conniving and scheming.

    The hardest thing to accept is the sheer and utter delight he gets from hurting his target. A normal person feels remorse and regret when they learn they hurt someone. He feels a rush. His response is a shrug if you tell him you are hurt, and then you can bank on him repeating the hurtful behavior.

    The only thing that causes any regret is negative consequences, and that is only because he isn’t getting what he wants. It will result in some sort of punishment against his target for blocking him from getting what he wants, and he doesn’t care who else he has to hurt – including his own children – as long as he succeeds in punishing and hurting his target.

    Having to deal with this person is like peering into the eyes of Satan.

    • Jessica

      Stronger now, you are so correct. I understand everything you are saying.

  6. Anonymous

    “He still flat out denies that years of verbal abuse and bullying on his part would be a problem for a wife…”

    So he recognizes therefore admits he is verbally abusive and is a bully, but flat out denies it would be a problem for a wife!?! If our wedding vows were stated as such, a blushing bride in love may not make the trip down the aisle to take the verbally abusive-delight in inflicting hurt bully for her husband and let’s not forget, until death do you part.

    “I`ve also noticed that this sort of experience has the effect of numbing your conscience and heart because its so non stop it eventually shorts you out and you get hardened by it, and yet there is no specific, clear `deal with this` or I want you to do that“ sort of thing.”

    Abusers set out to confuse and turn our world upside down so that we begin to question our own sanity. They plot and plan to intimidate and control us through their cowardice mind games and evil tactics. And their sense of entitlement along with their demands are our responsibility…they will suck the life out of us until we are brought down to nothingness. They will dehumanize us. And then they will sleep, and sleep very well.

  7. M&M

    It’s so infuriating that they don’t run out of energy-at least not before the victim does. I’d expect that verbal or physical violence would make a person tired-it uses requires energy to scream or hit, but it seems like abusers don’t get tired or at least not as quickly as the victim gets tired of resisting. Grrrrrrrrr.

    • KayJay

      It is infuriating, isn’t it?!? It’s exhausting to be on the receiving end, but the abuser seems energized and stronger than ever. This post was excellent.

  8. As you described, this is exactly the man my friend was married to…the harm he had done to her..and she still suffers..there is no forgetting. I pray that, eventually, she will find peace.

  9. Anonymous

    The whole thing is unbearable.

    The way those few of us who CAN feel guilt are manipulated and trained to behave in certain ways by deviously twisting our hearts and minds, and then most churches tell us to go out and bring in more people, to never think of ourselves except as vessels meant to be poured out as an offering, and to willingly accept abuse so we can be like our savior. It’s is easy to see how they do it. Since there are many who don’t feel love for others, don’t feel shame, guilt, gratefulness and other emotions that are fundamental for those who are true Christians (but we are never told this) and if we somehow stumble upon the truth of this in God’s word and say it out loud, we are inundated with other bible verses that “prove” this is not true and that we better get back to the old grindstone less Jesus happens to come back while we aren’t working our spiritual fingers to the bone!

    But wait. Didn’t Jesus say HIS yoke was light and easy? Why does it seem so soul-destroyingly hard then? Why am I so THIRSTY for truth and kindness and love which is supposedly shown to me by all those around me (the church) and why am I so worn out?

    Because MOST churches DO NOT preach the truth that is so plainly written in God’s word and instead water it down so that it doesn’t offend the evil ones in the pews and keeps those who AREN’T of their father the devil and who actually belong to Jesus, enslaved to the devil. And it’s all done so easily! With little resistance lest we lose our entire foundation that we desire to have through our brothers in Christ.

    The bible tells us again and again that in our brethren we are supposed to be revived, sustained, the love we feel for each other will buoy our spirits and we shall work together. So WE (those of us with a conscience) work like mad to make sure that WE hold up our end of the bargain and we also look inwardly in order to ensure that WE are not the problem. But the results are the same. We end up worn-out, ostracized from our church community and BLAMED for the destruction of our marriage. No one can BELIEVE that this evil person we describe is the same saintly person they see who teaches bible study every week. Surely we must be PARTLY to blame?! After all it takes two to tango!

    Nope. All it takes is for the world and the church to deny the existence of evil, to deny that when the bible tells us that in the end times people will be “lovers of themselves…” to the exclusion of even the faintest hint of love for others including their own children and families–to deny that there will be (are) MANY of these evil ones and to fail to explain to us that these evil ones DON’T get worn out like those with a heart to love do because they FEED off of attention and self-glory and worship and destruction they created.

    So let me end with a quote from Martha Stout that explains it better than me and in this quote she nicely touches on the many ways that evil ones abuse…most of us have seen ALL of these forms of abuse.

    ““Maybe you cannot be the CEO of a multinational corporation, but you can frighten a few people, or cause them to scurry around like chickens, or steal from them, or—maybe best of all—create situations that cause them to feel bad about themselves. And this is power, especially when the people you manipulate are superior to you in some way. Most invigorating of all is to bring down people who are smarter or more accomplished than you, or perhaps classier, more attractive or popular or morally admirable. This is not only good fun; it is existential vengeance. And without a conscience, it is amazingly easy to do. You quietly lie to the boss or to the boss’s boss, cry some crocodile tears, or sabotage a coworker’s project, or gaslight a patient (or a child), bait people with promises, or provide a little misinformation that will never be traced back to you.””
    ― Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door

    • Anonymous, thank you so much for putting a full line of space between your paragraphs! It helps a lot. 🙂

    • keeningforthedawn

      Anonymous — wow, you just summed things up very succinctly. This is one of the most articulate descriptions of “churchy” dysfunction at the hands of sociopaths I have ever read.

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