A Cry For Justice

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

Dealing with Abusive Men (a reblog from My Only Comfort by Ps Sam Powell)

They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, let Israel say —they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked. 

May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame. May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow; a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,nor one who gathers fill his arms. May those who pass by not say, ‘The blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the name of the Lord.’ (Psalm 129:1-8 NIV)

This is a psalm about evil men.

I recognize that there are Christian people who sin against each other. This Psalm isn’t about them.

I recognize that there are even unbelievers who sin against Christians — this Psalm isn’t about them, either.

This Psalm isn’t about the hurts and pain of living in a cursed world, caused by friction between Adam’s race, for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” But this Psalm isn’t about that, either.

This Psalm is about a class of people that the Bible calls “Children of the Devil.” Or even, “Sons of Belial” (worthlessness).

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it”. (John 8:44)

This Psalm is speaking of those men and women who have so united their hearts to the works of the evil one that they are called “the children of the devil”. Their works are not characterized by even the simplest forms of common human decency. The common decency of men are gifts given even to unbelievers by the common grace of God. This Psalm, on the other hand, speaks of those who are characterized by two words: murder and lies.

Everything that they do is for the purpose of destroying the image of God in man, but they conceal their true motives by a false front of sorrow for sin, contrition, pious platitudes about religion, and a front of kindness and strength. But under it all is murder, hatred, and destruction.

We don’t know when this Psalm was written. We know that there were many times in Israel’s history when they were greatly abused by the kingdom of Satan. Both Assyria and Babylon were renowned for their cruelty — smashing the heads of babies against the walls, beating and abusing children, raping women and children — all under the front of honor and glory. They were murderers and liars.

There was a servant in the land of Syria named Hazael. He was a servant to the king of Syria. God sent him to the prophet Elisha and told Elisha to anoint him king over Syria. When Hazael got there, we read that Elisha stared at him until it was uncomfortable. Then Elisha wept.

And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.

And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria. (2Kings 8:12-13 KJV)

Hazael eventually showed that his words and his actions were all a lie. He was intent on murder and destruction and became one of the most corrupt and violent kings of the ancient world. It was not that he lied once, or even that he got angry and killed a man. It’s that his whole life marked him as a child of the devil. Every thought and every pursuit of his hand was dedicated to destruction and lying.

This Psalm is about these people.

They still show up today. Often they show up in the church of God. Jesus said that they would. And the church, for the most part, has handled everything about them wrongly.

Too often we hear of men who are well-thought of in church. They know all of the right phrases, and know when to shed the right tears. They sing with gusto and say “Amen” at the right places in the sermon. But when they go home and are alone with their wives and children, they think only of destruction and murder. They systematically seek to destroy the image of God in their family.

They are the king of the castle and smack their loved ones around just to make sure that they remember it. They belittle, despise, and ridicule their wives. They beat and abuse their children.

They do these things not because they lose control of their temper. As horrible as it is to be out of control of your temper, these people are even worse. These are those who plot iniquity on their beds, and their plots are meticulous, planned and systematic, designed to hurt and destroy. They are not governed by passions, they are governed by their father, the devil. Since they are murderers, they think only of destruction and tearing down. Since they are liars, they do it all under a cloak of feigned decency.

They will be in the middle of a tirade against their families and the phone will ring, or the police will show up, and immediately they are under control, speaking reasonably and with such concern for their families. But their wives and children are left terrified, broken, bloodied, and have learned how to keep all their feelings, thoughts, and opinions carefully hidden, so as not to enrage the father.

We know these people. We have seen them before and will see them again.

They are not sinners — even like David — who committed adultery and murder but was himself broken and brought to repentance. They are not sinners like Paul, who obtained mercy because he did it in unbelief. They are children of the devil. They know what they are doing, they plan it, they think through it, they carry it out.

Because they are liars, as soon as they are exposed in the church they know how to weep and stress how sorry they are. And the church usually starts talking about forgiveness. When the children become adults, or when the abused spouse is finally free from the abuser, they get counsel from the church. They are told, “You need to forgive them.”

“You need to reach out to them.”

“You need to give them another chance.”

And when the wives and children are strong enough to acknowledge that their abuser is a murderer and a liar and refuse to allow themselves to be abused again, the church often disciplines the abused! The church throws salt on the plowed wounds and disciplines, for not being forgiving, for getting a divorce, for speaking badly of such a nice man who made a few mistakes. And thus we often become partakers of another man’s sins, thinking that we should be more loving than God is, heaping even more affliction on the abused.

But the fact is — God hates abuse even more than we do. A man who systematically beats and terrifies his wife hasn’t “made a few mistakes” or “committed an indiscretion”. He is a child of the devil. A man who will molest a child isn’t a nice person with a personality flaw. He is a child of the devil, and the works of the devil are what he does.

It is true that the Bible commands us to lay aside all bitterness, wrath, and desire for revenge — as befits a forgiven child of God. It is true that we are commanded to do good, even to our enemies. The question is how do we do that? How can we finally be free from the bondage of bitterness and isolation and terror that flow from abuse?

That is what this Psalm is about.

First, be honest with the damage caused by evil men

They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, let Israel say —they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. (Psa 129:1-3 NIV)

Our Creator does not want us to deny the damage and the hurt that has been done. This Psalm was written by someone who knew what it was to be as helpless as a field under the cruelty of a plow. Look at the imagery — the plowers plowed on my back. Those who afflicted me from my youth stood over me, hurt me, shredded me, tore me, and I had no power. All I could do was lay there and take it. It didn’t happen once, it didn’t happen twice. It happened many times. They hurt me over and over again. I was continually hurt and abused by those who were stronger and greater than I was.

When I cried out, no one heard me. When I spoke, no one believed me. That isn’t my fault. It isn’t my fault that I was a field under a cruel plow. It isn’t my fault that I was hurt so badly. They did this to me.

The word “afflict” means to bind tightly, to wrap with cords, to tie up. In other words, it is the action of an enemy that is designed to keep you under control, to completely subjugate you to their power — to destroy the image of God in you. Ultimately, our afflicter is the devil. He seeks to destroy you and keep you under his bondage and control. So he convinces you that what happened was your fault, that it wasn’t so bad, that you caused it to happen. He convinces you that it is just how people are. Why does he do this? Because he is a liar and a murderer.

For this reason, the first step in dealing with abusive men is the truth. Quit lying to yourself about it. You were hurt badly by evil men who wanted to destroy you because they are children of the devil. They didn’t smack you around because you mouthed off. They didn’t ridicule and belittle you because you were stupid and foolish. They didn’t blow up at you because dinner was late. They didn’t lose their temper because you just didn’t listen to them. They didn’t molest you because you were seductive or provocative. None of this is true. They did what they did because they are liars and murderers and children of the devil, and they hurt you very badly. You were powerless and as free from fault as a field is under the blades of a plow.

But while you are being honest with the damage caused, there is one more step that you need to take. They tried to destroy you because they hated God — but they didn’t succeed!

Notice what he says in verse 2: “They have greatly oppressed me rom my youth, but they have not gained victory over me.” (NIV) In other words, they didn’t succeed in doing what they wanted to do.

How is that?

You are here. You are alive, you are you, you are greatly loved by God. They plowed you under because they wanted to destroy you. God allowed it because he wanted your field to bring forth much fruit. And they didn’t destroy you, for now you are bringing fruit to God.

The only way that you survived the abuse of abusive men, the only way you survived the all-out assault on the devil, is that God did not give them the ability to do what they really wanted to do. They could do nothing except further God’s plan for you.

It hurts, it was evil, it left scars. But it didn’t destroy you. The destroyer did not win.

Second, understand that in Christ, the bondage to abuse does not need to control your life.

But the LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked. (Psa 129:4 KJV)

Those cords of oppression that Satan has sought to bind you with have been cut asunder by God.

You cannot serve two masters. Satan wanted to control you; when you came to Christ, you turned your back on Satan in order to embrace Christ — and God has broken his power over you.

It is a shame that so many in the church speak of forgiveness in such muddled language. Forgiveness in the Bible is acknowledging that the blood of Christ has covered the sin of the sinner. When you forgive a Christian, you are promising to remember it no more, just as God in Christ forgave you. Since the abuser is not a child of God, but a child of Satan, the word “forgiveness” doesn’t really apply, and is meaningless.

What we must do is acknowledge that the cords of Satan no longer bind us. For too long we have allowed self-protection, isolation, bitterness, distrust, rage and denial to control us — but when these things are broken by God in Christ, we can let them go, leaving vengeance in the hands of the One Who is Far More Capable of Righteous Wrath Than I Am. We are not talking about forgiving an enemy of God. We are talking about laying aside all thoughts of revenge, putting away bitterness, and not letting Satan have dominion over us. We are talking about opening up the door of your heart to truly trust and love and receive love — even though it is risky. I’m not speaking about trusting and loving a child of the devil, but trusting and loving God and your neighbor as becomes a child of God. Because the alternative is the hatred and strife of the devil.

The only way to do that is to understand that God’s work — sending his Son to break the cords of the devil once and for all — has freed us from the bondage and misery of sin. It is also to understand this: Evil and abusive men may have fooled everyone else; but they never fool God. God has a very special care for his little ones, and when men abuse and molest little ones, it is as if they were molesting and abusing God himself.

Jesus said, But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6 KJV)

My prayer is that the Church would grow more and more like Jesus Christ, and have the same view of abuse and molestation that Jesus himself has.

And third, pray for justice.

God will certainly hear the prayer. The judge of the earth will do right.

The next four verses are listed in the form of a prayer — let them be ashamed — let them be as grass on the roof. The Hebrew itself could either be interpreted as a prayer, or as a statement of fact. It is in the future tense and the words would be identical in either case.

In other words, the psalmist could be saying “Let them be ashamed,” or he could be saying “they will be ashamed.” Either way, properly understood, the meaning is the same, for God certainly hears the prayers of his people, and how much more does he hear inspired prayers that are written for the godly to pray. We pray with the Psalmist “Let them be ashamed,” and the promise is for us “They will be ashamed.”

“Ashamed” doesn’t mean “embarrassed and sorry”. It means that everything that they hope to have accomplished will come to nothing. They seek to keep their victims under their power and control — but no one can take us from God’s hand. They seek to destroy and to murder you, but God will not allow his sheep to perish. They seek to keep up the front of respectability and godliness, but they will be exposed before the angels in heaven and the whole world, alive and dead, for what they really are. Everything that they sought to accomplish will come to nothing. Satan himself, the great abuser, will be cast into the lake of fire forever — and with him will go every one of his children. They will be ashamed.

God hates abusers and molesters with a perfect hatred, a hotter and fiercer anger than anything that we feel on this earth, and he will certainly do right.

But not only will there be eternal judgment, they will not even succeed in accomplishing what they desire on this earth. For a time, they may appear to be growing in power, untouchable, as tall and lush as the grass that grows. But that grass is growing on the top of the roof. There’s no depth of soil there. As soon as the sun arises, that grass will wilt and wither and blow away.

Don’t fear their power, their money, or even their fame. They might be famous directors or actors or writers or artists, or even pastors. What Does God care for their lawyers, their money, or their friends? Ultimately, they are grass growing on the roof. Whenever God desires, their fear is gone. The wealth is gone. Their life is gone. So their power over you is gone now.

In verse 3, the church suffering abuse was compared to a field being plowed. We know that the devil seeks to destroy us, but God is seeking our produce. In Christ, we WILL bring forth fruit — the fruit of love and joy and peace and faith, hope and self-control. These things come by the power of the Holy Spirit, but they come through the trials that God brings to us. We can look at the damage of the past through the eyes of faith and see that God has used that to make us who we are today, and who we are promised to be tomorrow.

But what about the plow? What about those who have done such great damage? When the reaper looks for fruit, there isn’t any. There is nothing there. There was just wind and noise all along. In fact, when the mower finally cuts them down, there won’t even be enough dead grass there to fill a hand. When we are under the plow, when we are being afflicted by the children of the devil, we think that our abuser is all-powerful, all-wise, and terrifying.

When we succumb to fear, we think that they have far more power, reputation and charm than they actually have. This Psalm is calling us to see them as God sees them. As dry grass on top of a roof, weeds to be plucked down and thrown into the fire.

Finally, look at verse 8:

May those who pass by not say to them, ‘The blessing of the LORD be on you; we bless you in the name of the LORD.’ (Psalm 129:8 NIV)

In Israel, this was a common greeting when passing by a field. We see it in the book of Ruth:

And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee. (Ruth 2:4 KJV)

Among the godly, it was a way of saying hello. but more than that, it was a prayer for God’s blessing. This verse is one of the most freeing verses for those who have suffered at the hands of the children of the devil. How can you pray for or expect God’s blessing on those whom he has given over for destruction? You cannot.

I am not at all saying that the blood of Christ cannot save certain people. He certainly does. But at the same time, we must remember that there are many passages of scripture that speak of those whom God has devoted to destruction, those who have turned the truth of God into a lie, those for whom the fire of judgment is reserved forever.

It is true that all men are sinful and in desperate need of Christ’s blood. Even as Christians, we still sin and hurt each other, and need to seek forgiveness and healing. But, as I said, this Psalm isn’t about that.

The Bible teaches that there are those whom God has removed his hand of restraint, who give themselves over completely to their own lusts, and are full-blown children of the devil. They are characterized, as Jesus said, by their relentless pursuit of murder and destruction, covering it all with a veneer of lies. When these are the people we are dealing with, it is an abomination to God to bless them in the name of the Lord, even as a greeting.

May they be exposed and outcast, may the church see them for who they are, may they be stripped bare and left outside.

It is about time that the church stopped worrying about hurting the feelings of the abusers and started giving the abused the opportunity to heal.

For all who have suffered this kind of trauma, you may have been told how harsh you have been towards your abuser. You may have been commanded to forgive them. You may have been instructed to let them back into your life. Your abuser may have confronted you with tears, demanding reconciliation. You may have forgiven your oppressor again and again and again, only to be abused again and again and again.

How can you be set free? Only by the truth. Quit offering the blessings of Zion to the children of the devil.

How can you tell who is who? How can you tell the difference between David and Hazael? You don’t have to. That’s the beauty of it. God knows whom he will save, so leave him to it. You, as a human being, have only limited knowledge. You cannot know the heart, you can only know the fruit. Jesus told us to deal with men based on their fruit. When a man hurts, lies, and seeks to destroy the children of God, that fruit is the fruit of the devil, and he may be judged accordingly, even while we pray for true repentance. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. God knows who belongs to Him. And God also knows whom he will judge, so leave him to that, as well.

We must understand that these people have always been the same. Here’s a Psalm written thousands of years ago dealing with a very current problem. They seek to destroy and murder you and as long as you keep allowing them into your life, they will continue to do so. It is true that you must put off hatred and bitterness and desire for revenge; but the only way to do that is to leave their judgment or their salvation in the hands of God.

If they come again crying for forgiveness, this in no way obligates you to allow them back into your life where they have caused so much damage. If they are truly repentant, they will rejoice in salvation and understand the depth and depravity of their sin, and will understand and respect your desire to be left alone as a just consequence of their sin which they committed. But on the other hand, if they are not truly repentant, but merely seeking another entrance to cause you more damage, they will accuse you of hard-heartedness. They will get as many of the gullible and untaught on their side as they can. They will seek to manipulate you with their tears. They will continue cause you as much grief as you allow them to.

Put them in God’s hands, and leave them there. When a man plows a helpless back as he would plow a field, just because he can, he has forfeited all right and all expectation of any relationship — and again, this isn’t your fault. He caused it. Not you.

Leave the rest in God’s hands. The judge of all the earth will do right. When you leave it all in God’s hands, you can finally know the freedom that you have been given when God cut those cords from you.

Now live like it.

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This post was recently published at Ps Powell’s blog, My Only Comfort, and with his permission we are reblogging it here.  This post is a written version of a sermon by the same title, Dealing With Abusive Men, that he gave February 9, 2014, at the church he pastors — First Reformed Church, Yuba City, California.  Thank you, Ps Powell!!

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21 Comments

  1. Linda

    This sermon is fantastic and answers a lot of questions. Thank you for posting this.

    • Hi Linda, welcome to the blog 🙂

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  2. M21

    This sermon is so insightful… it’s helpful to reveal the tricks and lies of the devil to be aware, and protect yourself. I appreciate the reminder to “put t in God’s hands” … our fight is not against flesh and blood (as the Bible says) but of the Spirit. I also think it’s important to discuss, as this article did, how we as a body or a church, respond when faced with abuse.

  3. Cris

    This is the first thing I’ve read in 15 years that rightly describes my abusive marriage. Thank you for calling them what they are- “sons of Satan.”

  4. freeatlast8

    I have a mental block. I cannot seem to understand how these articles say that the abuser knows what he is doing–that he plots and plans his attacks, his manipulations, his activities. So does this mean that my husband would lie in bed and plot how he was going to erupt next? Does this mean he calculated each word that came out of his mouth toward me when he was angry? Does this mean he went to work thinking of how we would spoil the next thing I wanted to do because it made me happy? Does this mean he was calculating how to best put fear in the children and me when we did not do whatever it was that he wanted?

    I just can’t bring myself to believe that. I still tend to see it as my husband was a moody, easily irritated man with high standards, who had a low tolerance for under-performance, laziness, and irresponsibility. When we missed the mark in some way either willfully (laziness) or by accident (forgetfulness), he would express his frustration with us in the way he did…yelling, swearing, slamming doors, silent treatment, aloofness, hiding behind a locked door, avoidance, cold shoulder, stony gazes, clinched fists that never punched anyone or anything (thankfully), etc. I admit I have done some of the same things when he angered me. But I didn’t spend time pondering and planning how to be ugly to him the next time something went amiss. My anger was kind of spontaneous. I didn’t have an anger itinerary for each episode. And I have a hard time thinking he had one either. But that is what these articles seem to say to me.

    So to imply that someone with abusive behavior is plotting evil doesn’t fit what I saw happening in my situation–unless I am missing some key to understanding here, which I feel like I must be. I have read NUMEROUS articles like this one that claim the abuser is aware, cold, and calculating.

    Help me understand. This is something that I keep coming back to and don’t have a firm grasp on it yet.

    • Freeatlast8,

      Do abusers plot and plan all their attacks? They don’t have to. Remember an abuser is identified by his mentality, not just his behaviors. Abusers by nature abuse – it’s who they are. Most of their behaviors are so habitual they are done unconsciously, they don’t need to consciously plan and plot.

      Yet are they aware of what they are doing? Yes. Pastor Crippen answered another commenter with a similar question with this response:

      Commenter’s statement: I’ve often wondered if an abuser knows what he is doing. Does he know his actions are twisted, but chooses to do them anyway?

      Pastor Crippen’s response: I think that the answer is “yes and no.” It is the abuser’s very nature to abuse. It is who he is and how he thinks. His mentality. Does such a person know what he is doing? Yes. And God holds him accountable for it. But does he get out of bed in the morning and say to himself, “today I am going to actively do something that is called abuse”? No. He does know what his motive is in doing all that he does – power and control. This is the nature of sin. It leads those enslaved to it “to and fro, however they are led.” They are in full agreement with it, though slaves to it (Ephesians 2:1ff). But they know, and they know as responsible, accountable creatures before God who will hold them accountable. The blindness of sin is indeed a terrible thing.

      It can be confusing, but may I suggest you don’t tie yourself into a knot trying to figure it out. In a conversation I had with Dr. George Simon about why abusers do what they do he reminded me that it doesn’t really matter why they do what they do; it doesn’t matter if they consciously know what they are doing. What matters is that their behavior needs to change.

      Hope this helps.

  5. freeatlast8

    As I sit hear thinking further about what I just wrote, maybe I did plot evil in return for his evil when after an episode of his I would think, “Well, fine then, I just won’t talk to him later when he wants to speak to me.” Or, “I will sleep in the other room tonight so I don’t have to share the bed with him.” Or, “See if I ever make you coffee again!” I don’t really think those are the same kinds of “evil plots” being talked about here, but I sure had anger in my heart when I was thinking them. They were my paybacks for how I felt he had mistreated me. So in truth, I guess I did think out some retaliatory behavior that was premeditated. I am no saint, sadly. Is this in line with plotting evil?

  6. Anon

    Thank you for this insightful article. I too am having problems identifying with an abusive husband. When we were dating, my husband was very passionate and loving. As he earned so much lesser than me he was in many ways dependent on me financially. It never occurred to me that such dependence was a red flag. Soon after he married he gave up his job and did not look for another job and remains jobless many years later. After marriage, he also showed his colder side. Not interested in cuddles or sex.

    He preferred porn to me. I caught him having an affair. He said he has given up the relationship but I found out he was lying. I am not sure what he is plotting behind me. He supports this woman from my income. He admitted that he wanted to marry her. When I told my pastor his first reaction was that I should forgive him. He says we must show grace to people. His doctrine is that once saved always saved but each Christian must change his ways because of the grace shown by God. This type of doctrine is so depressing in that the person with bad behavior must always be shown grace so that he may repent.

    My husband’s behavior has continued for 20 years of our married life. I doubt he will change. He asked me for forgiveness several times but there was no change in his behavior. Based on the articles I read on this blog, maybe my husband was never saved or he lost it somewhere along the way. How can someone, especially a husband who was called to love his wife be so cruel and uncaring and yet be a child of God at the same time. At other times I think I am being too harsh with my husband. He does look after our son and help out with his school work and with the meals and does other odds and ends for me. as I have slight health issues. I cannot say he is abusive hundred per cent of the time but he has been manipulative and treacherous and deceitful.

    I really need to know if God expects me to stay on in the marriage. My husband’s relationship with the woman is very damaging to me.

    Anon

    • Lea

      “I really need to know if God expects me to stay on in the marriage. My husband’s relationship with the woman is very damaging to me.”

      My personal opinion is that you are not expected to stay in a marriage with someone who is cheating or has cheated. That is your own decision. It is only the most stringent of anti-divorce pastors who don’t admit exceptions for infidelity, in my understanding.

      • standsfortruth

        Lea, you are not bound to a man like this..
        When I realized the truth about my adultrous abusive husband, I had to strategize how to get myself out in tact as I had no personal income or vehicle..
        I ended up getting my abuser to sign over one of his vehicles into my name first before finding a job to start my finantial independance from him.
        All this had to happen while not letting him know my end goal.

        It took me a long time to ultimatly finally get out, but today I am free because I made an escape plan ahead of time in a way that retained important resources that would continue to help me do well.

  7. Anon

    This is Anon again. The write of this article mentioned that we are to place the abuser in God’s hands and that God will their chords from us. Does this mean that for those of us who are still in the abusive relationship with our husbands (as divorce may not be an option for several reasons) God will deal with the abuser and protect us from the abuse. Or are we (as advised by a Christian friend) under an obligation to divorce the abusive husband, failing which we will reap the further consequences of abuse since God only helps those who help themselves.

    • Anonymous

      So…..
      1. Your husband only ACTED loving towards you prior to marriage
      2. Has carried on an affair and supports the other woman through your income
      3. Hasn’t worked since you married him 20 years ago
      4. Prefers porn to you (but not to the other woman?)
      5. Has never shown any fruit of the Spirit

      Standing out here I see that you are married to–at the very least–an unregenerate man.

      From another post on this website, https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/10/14/what-is-a-christian-and-why-this-question-is-vital-in-exposing-abuse/

      “This is why I maintain that an abuser is not a Christian — at least an abuser as we have defined him on this blog. Any person whose life is characterized by a selfish entitlement to possess power and control over another (“I will be like the Most High”) and who can utilize all kinds of evil, deceptive tactics against a victim to get that power and control with no pang of conscience is patently not a person who is led by the Spirit of Christ, who is not a person who walks in the Spirit of Christ, and who is in fact hostile to God — cannot be a Christian. The thing is impossible.”

    • H

      Anon, I am in horror over the behavior you described from your husband and the reaction of your pastor. While I do believe the Bible teaches that once you are saved, you are always saved, there are a few other extremely important doctrines tied to that which are being ignored by your pastor, such as that a Christian will necessarily bear fruit over time as they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. You can’t separate those two doctrines without doing damage to people and letting the wicked get away with wickedness.

      One of my favorite passages after dealing with my own abusive husband is this:

      “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he (Jesus) is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he had been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:7-10)

      And also from Jesus:

      “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” (Matt. 7:15-18)

      The behavior you describe from your husband sounds like a long-term pattern of progressive wickedness and disregard for you and his marriage vows. The Bible makes it clear that it is impossible that such a person could be saved, born again into a new creation not enslaved to sin anymore, and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. He is bearing bad fruit of all sorts of serious wickedness. This shows his heart is still enslaved to sin. Now that doesn’t mean that Christians never sin and are perfectly righteous, but in contrast, when they do sin, they are eventually convicted by the Holy Spirit and they have a genuine desire to stop sinning and practice righteousness. With God’s help, Christians have the power to change and say no to sin.

      No one can tell you whether you should divorce your husband or not, but I hope you won’t continue to listen to people like your pastor who would insist that he is a Christian and therefore must be forgiven no matter what he continues to do. That pastor simply doesn’t know what he is talking about and his advice is enslaving and blasphemous to God, who hates it when people call good evil or call evil good.

      I just want to address about your last comment, that God helps people who help themselves. I’m sure you’ve heard people say that before, as it’s a popular saying. However, it’s also not Biblical at heart. (And it’s not a quote from Scripture, as many think.) The center of the gospel is in fact the opposite of that saying:

      “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Eph. 2:4)

      “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

      We start our lives as Christians by being in a completely helpless state which the Bible describes as being dead in sin. We are completely spiritually dead and lifeless, and unable to stir up in ourselves even the smallest desire to please God or believe in him. Until one day, God makes a sovereign loving act to breathe life into us, opening our eyes to our sin and his glory, making us born again into a new creation that believes in Jesus’s work on the cross and loves him for it. The start of our Christian lives is in a state in which we can’t help ourselves at all. But God shows his love and glory by saving us in that helpless state.

      We also continue to live our lives as Christians by that same undeserved grace. So you don’t have to tie yourselves in knots and worry about if you stay in your marriage, or if you leave it, that will be the wrong thing to do and then God will turn his back on you and not help you. He loves you and wants to guide you and give you specific directions about what to do in your situation. But you can also rest in this: that when Christians make mistakes and at times ignore God’s will, either on purpose or by accident, he is still that same God who saved us when we were helpless to save ourselves. He will never leave your or abandon you because you take a “wrong turn” from time to time. So it is with confidence that we can seek his will and then act, trusting him to guide you and be your refuge and your help each day.

  8. Green Lady

    This is not KJV: But the LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked. (Psa 129:4 KJV)

  9. Anon

    Thank you Lea, Standsfortruth, H and Green lady for your comments, particularly H. It encouraged me to trust God and to know that He is a loving God who did not abandon me just because I was stupid enough to believe a man when he said he loved me.

    • H

      Yes, yes!!! I can’t tell you how long I stayed silent and did nothing about the abuse in my marriage because I truly believed that God looked at me with blame because I had married him, after all. So didn’t I deserve it? I was even afraid to ask God what he thought about my situation and what I should do, because I was terrified of hearing his disapproval of me.

      But one day I got up all the courage I could and just asked God what he thought. And he brought specific words to my mind, which were these: “The only thing you did wrong is you didn’t come to me (God). If you had come to me, I would have comforted you.” I asked him about wasn’t there some fault in me that I had trusted this man who is now clearly wicked? And God said “It is not wrong to trust someone who claims to love you, and it is not wrong to expect that people would mean you well and not harm. No, that shows a gentle heart that is precious to me.” The fault lay clearly at the feet of the wicked man who abused that trust I had given him undeservedly. Now God doesn’t always speak to me so clearly, but what a gracious thing that in that moment he did! It was the exact opposite response that I expected from him!

      So I encourage you to go straight to God through the love of Jesus and ask him what he thinks about you and your situation. May he reveal his thoughts toward you as you read Scripture and seek his presence in prayer.

  10. kim

    The post and the discussion have been a blessing to me. Thanks to Pastor Powell for sharing.

  11. standsfortruth

    This statement below really captures the goal of the abuser ; To try to smear and destroy the image of God in the believer..

    “Everything that they do is for the purpose of destroying the image of God in man, but they conceal their true motives by a false front of sorrow for sin, contrition, pious platitudes about religion, and a front of kindness and strength. But under it all is murder, hatred, and destruction.”

    The church needs to admit there ARE people like this as we have personally experienced.

    Also when I was born again, ( many years ago)- my sins were washed away as far as the East is from the West – God’s Word states “He will remember them no more” because they were covered by the blood of Jesus.
    But when I forgive a fellow christian or person from a sin, I just forgive them from my heart. I can not wipe away the memory of what they did like God is able to do, nor do I think God expects us to.

    And last but not least, I cannot stress enough we CAN identify abusers or people who want to destroy the image of God within us. All you have to do is take a hard look at the fruit that they produce. Jesus said A Good tree cannot produce bad fruit, And a Bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Jesus himself said this- Therefore.. you will know them by their fruits.

    In other words is someone constantly producing a stress filled environment where there is no room for freedom of word or thought? Do you find yourself constantly walking on egg shells trying not to set off a ticking timebomb? This is a tip off on the type of fruit that this person is producing.

  12. H

    I love this post. I’m still digesting it, reading it repeatedly.

    One thing that stuck out to me:

    The only way that you survived the abuse of abusive men, the only way you survived the all-out assault on the devil, is that God did not give them the ability to do what they really wanted to do. They could do nothing except further God’s plan for you.

    It hurts, it was evil, it left scars. But it didn’t destroy you. The destroyer did not win.

    This is the last piece for me in understanding the abuse that God ordained in my life. I’m over the false guilt, I’m over understanding why God could allow this to happen to me. (Well, I’m working on it at least.) But one thing I still remain hung up on is when I think about specific episodes of abuse in which I prayed to God for deliverance, and got none. I was still in the marriage, still being abused, my oppressor didn’t stop. What’s with that, God? I was calling out to you; did you hear me? What was your response? Why didn’t you stop it?

    I never until reading this post thought about it is due to God that my abuser didn’t accomplish his ultimate goals in any of those episodes. He didn’t kill me, he didn’t separate me fully from family and friends, he didn’t take away my faith. Each of those things he specifically stated he wanted to do. And you can really see the Satanic influence when his goals are laid out like that. Yeah, he may have dragged me to the stairs and tried to throw me down them. God didn’t strike him with a lightning bolt and remove him from the house. But he didn’t throw me down. I escaped. And here I am. Maybe God was more active than I have previously interepeted during those years of abuse.

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