What Does the Devil Look Like? Getting Wise to the Abuser’s Victim-Playing Schemes
One of the most frequent tactics used by the worst abuser I have ever had to deal with was that of playing the victim. And it was more than that. He would put on a facial expression that had successfully “worked” for him all his life, gaining him people’s sympathy. At other times he would behave almost as if he was having a breakdown of some kind, leading observers to believe he must be under terrible and undeserved stress as a result of being horribly wronged. If he did suffer some pain in life, you can be sure that he would capitalize on it to maximum advantage.
This man’s chief skill in other words, as he constantly labored to gain allies against his targeted victim, was doing or saying anything that would gain him pity. This is what a sociopath craves. Pity. Because when he is pitied, he has you. You become his ally.
And it is long past time that we all wised up to this nastiness.
I personally know, as do many of you, abuse victims and other targets of these wicked ones, people who are seeing their friends, their close family members, fellow church members and others turned against them by their abuser. How? Pity. “Oh, oh, my. Poor, poor man. How you are suffering.” Hug, hug.
THIS is what the devil looks like very, very often. And when you pity him or his servants, you are joining forces with him against the innocent.
I have been accused more than once of not having enough empathy for people. Well, I can tell you that I do have empathy. The trick is to learn to have it for the right people and to withhold it from others. One of these characters showed up at our church one Sunday morning recently. “Oh, just look at how neatly this man was dressed and yet, how sad his demeanor. He must be suffering some distress. Let’s see if we can help him.”
I called him to my office and in front of (and with the full support of) our elders, confronted him with information I knew about him from another source, opened the door and told him to leave and never come back. Look of hurt and confusion swept over his face. “Leave and never come back. You are not to be here again.”
The Lord Jesus showed deep empathy for many people. But He also withheld it from many more — the wicked. We must do the same.
Your abuser will seek to make you feel sorry for him. DON’T. HE isn’t sorry for you or anyone else. Abusers hiding in churches will approach us and through facial expressions, tone of voice, things they say or don’t say, work to make us pity them. STOP PITYING THEM! Stop listening to them. Stop helping them. Just stop!
“Oh, my. yes, he has done very wicked things. He has treated his wife in shameful ways. But…but…he was just diagnosed with cancer.” DO NOT PITY HIM! What you need to learn, what we all must learn, is that not even a diagnosis of terminal cancer is going to make such a person repent. He will STILL use his illness, or the death or illness of someone close to him, the same way he always uses such things. It may be inconceivable to us, but we must understand this clearly. Do not put yourself in his circumstances, think about how YOU would feel, and then extrapolate your feelings to him. Stop doing that. He is not you. He does not think like you do. He thinks and schemes like what he is — an evil man working to control and deceive you through your pity.
Here it is from the Lord’s own Word. We of course do not literally kill an evil man as Israel did under the Old Covenant. But the point is, we are to deal with such a person in a manner quite the opposite of pity. Pity his victim. But do not pity him.
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)
How many churches today are doing precisely what I have boldfaced in these verses? What do you suppose the Lord thinks of that?
- You shall not yield to him
- You shall not listen to him
- You shall not pity him
- You shall not spare him
- You shall not conceal him
There it is. That is how we are to treat the devil. That is how we are to treat his wicked servants.
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