Why Abuse Victims and Real Christians MUST Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


[March 10, 2023: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

As we are presenting a series of posts on the religion of the Pharisees, I felt the need to remind our readers why we are doing this. The leaven of the Pharisees has infected our churches, and it is largely because of this that victims of abuse are suffering as they are at the hands of their fellow Christians. So this study is no mere academic exercise or history lesson. It is in obedience to our Lord’s command that we beware of this leaven. Everywhere we turn, we seem to find it. Oh yes, lots of Christians will say this is exaggeration and a virtual conspiracy paranoia. But not those Christians who are suffering or have suffered abuse, and have tried to obtain rescue from their churches.

Listen to this passage from Malachi in which the Lord rebukes the priests (you might say, the “preachers” / “pastors” of that day) —

(Malachi 2:4-9  ESV)  (4) So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts.  (5) My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name.  (6) True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.  (7) For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.  (8) But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts,  (9) and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”  [Emphasis added .]

As we are going to learn, the religion of the Pharisees does exactly these things that Malachi is rebuking the priests for. Today, church leaders are largely not serving as the messenger of the Lord. They have turned aside from the way of Christ, and they are causing people to stumble. Central to their distortion of their calling, they show partiality in their instruction.

Think about it. Why are the innocent and oppressed being dealt injustice in their churches? Why are abusers consistently being enabled and sided with? What in the world is going on? Malachi says it is “partiality”. And that partiality is to the one who has power and resources and a smooth, lying tongue. How is this partiality to the wicked man expressed? Malachi says it is in their instruction. It is in the sermons preached, the lessons taught, the Scriptures cited, the books written, that this partiality is spread through our churches. Our people stumble at it. The preachers and Elders and teachers of our churches are not turning people from iniquity, as Levi once did, but rather are teaching them that they are justified in that iniquity.

Is that exaggeration? Is the condition of today’s typical evangelical church really that bad? Yes! Yes it is! And in fact, it is probably much worse than we have stated here.

As always, how Christians respond to the plight of the abuse victim in their midst reveals the truth or the lie of their theology. Most of the time today, it reveals a lie. And that is why we all need to learn the religion of the Pharisee very, very well — so we recognize it when we see it, and reject it for what it is.

[March 10, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to March 10, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to March 10, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to March 10, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (March 10, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

4 thoughts on “Why Abuse Victims and Real Christians MUST Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees”

  1. What about forgiveness? Everyone seems to believe that the requirement to forgive is absolute — that is, anything can be forgiven, except failure to forgive. If someone abuses you, they can easily be forgiven, but if you don’t forgive them, you are damned.

    1. Jim – this is an excellent point that also needs to be exposed. See our post on this blog entitled What Does Forgiveness Require?

      Forgiveness is very badly distorted, often by insisting that forgiveness is not true forgiveness if it doesn’t include reconciliation. That of course is simply not the biblical teaching. Reconciliation may happen, but certainly not in all cases AND in abuse cases it would be very, very unwise. Yes, the pressure is really put on the victim of abuse to forgive, but the abuser is a real pro at feigning repentance. Issues that need to be addressed include, what does forgiveness look like when there is no repentance? And for that matter, just what is forgiveness. I conclude that it is simply that the victim does not seek personal vengeance for the wrong and leaves that vengeance / justice up to the Lord. It certainly does not preclude the perpetrator from having to live with the consequences of his abuse (prison, etc.) Nor does it preclude the victim from praying that the Lord would judge the perpetrator. So here again we have all of these unbiblical traditions being laid upon us and they load huge burdens on people that Christ does not.

      I should say that I do believe Scripture teaches us to forgive. Always. But when we find out what real forgiveness is, we find that it is much less “unjust” than we thought! We can forgive by not seeking personal vengeance and hating the one who wronged us, but we can also cry out as the saints in heaven do, “how long, O Lord!”

      1. I’m not a victim of domestic abuse but briefly, was subject to a lot of bullying of varying degrees of severity from 6th to 9th grade after which I dropped out of school. What was worse was my strict Catholic mother telling me I just needed to be nicer to people, if I was just a good Christian I would overcome them. That I couldn’t bear any anger or ill-will. I refused confirmation at the end of the 8th grade but my mother forced me to do it a year later. I ran away from home for a while in 10th grade and one result of that was I was excused from going to church. This did a lot of damage to my ability to trust and relate to people and made me very angry, which I still am today.

        I told myself I would revisit the Bible at some point to see if it really said what they told me. I’m now almost 50 and have been struggling with this for a few years. Unforgiveness as the unforgiveable sin is something I haven’t gotten around. I have talked about this with various people including the pastor at the church I have been attending. I read “What Does Forgiveness Require?” and this pretty much matches my thinking. I read “Why Abusers Love Our Bad Theology” — that describes well my mother’s thinking. I read “When the Abuser Quotes Scripture” — I had a bully in the 6th grade explain to me I was obligated to forgive him.

      2. Jim – this is really, really great that you are working on these things now. Not for the sake of the bully, but for your own sake. I hope that those posts are helping you. This is why the religion of the Pharisees (exalting man-made traditions above Scripture) is sooooo damaging. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. But not so the religion of man-made legalism. It crushes people. Christ is our answer, and we point you and everyone to Him this Easter morning. He really is risen and everyone who places their trust in Him, calling out to Him to show them mercy and salvation, will be set free from bondage to sin and the devil.

        The great news is that the righteousness that God has made for us in Christ is ours, not based upon our own doings and works, but upon the “doings and works” of Jesus Christ. He perfectly obeyed God’s Law for us. He took our sins upon Himself on the cross, becoming cursed for us. When we look to Him alone as the Savior God has provided, then HIS perfect life of obedience is credited to us, and OUR sins are assigned to Him on the cross. Righteousness to us. Sin to Him. And we know it worked because God the Father raised Him from the dead. This is exactly what Scripture says —

        (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV) (17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (18) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (20) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [Emphasis added.]

        And again —

        (Philippians 3:8-9 ESV) (8) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — [Emphasis added.]

        May the Lord bless you today and grant you the ability to forgive those old tormentors. Remember what that forgiveness really is, though. What they did was evil indeed, but you can leave them to the Lord, who effects perfect justice. As for yourself, all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9ff), and that promise is to you as well. If you trust in Christ and call on Him to grant you that perfect righteousness, you will never have to fear the unforgiveable sin (which, by the way, is intentional, knowing, denial of and unbelief in Christ).

        He is risen indeeed!

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