A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers as Children of the Devil – You Need Not Bless Them

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.

***

I do not know Pastor Sam Powell. He is the pastor of First Reformed Church in Yuba City, California. All I know of him is this sermon, and it is a sermon I can heartily recommend. It is a very refreshing experience to hear these kinds of words exposing the wicked abuser coming right from a church pulpit.  It is only 37 minutes long. Do yourself good and listen to it (click on the link)

Dealing With Abusive Men

Psa 129:1-8  A Song of Ascents.

“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”– let Israel now say– “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows.”

The LORD is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked. May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward! Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand nor the binder of sheaves his arms, nor do those who pass by say, “The blessing of the LORD be upon you! We bless you in the name of the LORD!”

39 Comments

  1. Valerie

    I still struggle with this. God had mercy on Ninevah but I realize Jesus also taught for some to be thrown out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Maybe its just a personal issue for me in my case, IDK. Just feel like if I don’t pray for his repentance then it means I’m bitter. I’m a Jonah.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Praying for repentance is not the same as blessing them.

      • Valerie

        I guess I was looking at it from the perspective that interceding for them (praying they would repent) was equivalent to blessing them. I should have another listen as I might not be thinking the same terms as what it intends. Great find! Just talking to another abuse survivor today and she, too, is frustrated at the ignorance of churches on this issue but still disciplining (or lack thereof) as though they have the knowledge.

    • “… if I don’t pray for his repentance then it means I’m bitter.”
      Valerie, you might like to explore where that belief comes from. Have people defined bitterness to you that way? I’m sensing you’ve been ‘should-ed’ on.

  2. Brenda R

    Excellent sermon. I will be passing this one on to others who need to hear it. My pastor is preaching in Psalms right now. He’s not close to 129 yet, but I’ll send it on to him anyways. Both sermons that I have heard today, have given me peace. Thanks you Ps Jeff and most of all thank you God.

  3. StrongerNow

    Fantastic message. I especially appreciated that he was so clear on how to tell the difference between true repentance and manipulation. I will listen to this again and again. And I will try to pass it on to my pastor.

    • BeginHealing

      I agree StrongerNow I will be listening to this over and over. Passing it along as well.

  4. This is a fantastic sermon. I recommend everyone listen to it. If more pastors were preaching like this, victims would find a lot more succour in churches.

    I cannot praise this sermon highly enough. This man gets it. Not only domestic abuse, but child abuse and sexual abuse as well. The whole box and dice. And he carefully explains that what is saying applies to that special class of people whom Christ calls ‘children of the devil’. He distinguishes between sinners like King David or Saul/the Apostle Paul, and dedicated abusers who are children of the devil.

    Hallelujah!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barbara – It really is that good of a sermon, I agree. His handling of forgiveness and of, as you say, the class of the wicked who are the children of the devil is just top notch. This sermon will surely help abuse victims.

      • Dear Barbara and Jeff,
        Yes! Pastor Powell’s sermon really helped me and so have the both of you. I found your blog here from Pastor Dave’s blog, “Grace for my heart,” which is also a blessing. I have been struggling with issues from abuse and impending divorce, as I am earnestly trying to understand God’s will for me in all of this. I want to live the holy life I am called to live and not grieve the Holy Spirit. In my heart I want to serve God and follow Jesus. I believe God has tested me because I strayed to the New Age version of Christianity and wasn’t living right according to Scripture. I made bad decisions even though my heart and conscience were in the right place. I just had “truth” a bit confused, but never love. and never my love for Jesus and God. But I mistakenly believed that “we are all God” and that in itself put me, and not God, in the drivers seat. What a mistake. I have been studying God’s word intensely and see so many errors in my thinking. For one, evil is not an illusion. I could never quite believe that and thought I was “flawed” for seeing wickedness and evil in this world. God’s Grace brought me back to the true faith, to his inerrant word. I want/need to get this right. There is something that has felt and appears so inherently evil in the “fruits” of what some men have done to me, and others in their life, starting with my own father. I started feeling under attack by evil recently because of the oppressions and strife of my current divorce and a very bad platonic roommate. Both of these men have caused my financial destruction and ruin and major strife in my home life by many immoral behaviors and lies. It sometimes feels like Satan is using them to oppress me, and it worked…for a while, until now. The roommate has to go. I’ve felt guilty for having a very hard time with “love the sinner, hate the sin,” especially in my husband because it grieves me that his conscience is seared. I gave up praying for God to bless him recently as I learned that God may have given him over to his wickedness. I came to the same conclusion about the roommate. Exactly like Pastor Powell pointed out, my soon to be ex-husband knows what he’s doing, he can “turn the switch” in an instant and behave differently for his “audience.” He told me he was a Christian. He is no Christian by his fruit and he certainly doesn’t love God. I have been completely broken in spirit for over a year of being on my knees in tears and prayers. I have asked for forgiveness for every sin I can ever remember committing, old forgiven ones and new ones. At first I began to fear that God had forsaken me. I now believe God was disciplining me. Somehow, through this enduring pain, to the point of wanting to die, He has strengthened my faith, hope, trust and reliance on my Lord Jesus Christ. I am holding on to God’s faithful promises to work all things for my good. I can’t see it through the strife and hardships yet, but I hold on to faith and pray for the peace, courage, strength and wisdom I used to know from the Holy Spirit when I became born again years ago. I don’t know what else I am doing wrong that is blocking the fullness of my “Counselor and Comforter.” I am grateful to God that I do have a conscience and that alone helps me believe the Holy Spirit lives in me still. I hope I am just the prodigal daughter. I was afraid of apostasy after reading about it. God has put, or allowed, the conscienceless in my life and their behaviors and thinking are actually repulsive to my spirit. Thank you for opening my eyes more to God’s true Grace and Mercy for me as a woman who escaped and is divorcing a malignant narcissist. It truly helps take the burden off of my heart that it was my failure to God by not enduring. Please, if you have any insights, please let me know. I need to find a church, but am so cautious about being placed under the condemnation I felt from studying many pastors and theologians online about divorce. God Bless you both and thank you.

  5. Sam Powell is at First Reformed Church, Yuba City, California. Here is their Facebook page. They don’t seem to have their own website.

    Here is First Reformed Church Yuba City CA on Sermon Audio from here you could find all the sermons they’ve uploaded.

  6. BeginHealing

    Oh, AMEN! They will not prevail. They will not destroy me. God will not allow them to destroy me. God has cut the cord and brought me into His kingdom. This is wonderful ❤ ❤ ❤

  7. Anonymous

    Thank you for the link to Pastor Powell’s sermon, “Dealing With Abusive Men.” The first sermon in his Psalm series is very well delivered, too — “Living With Deceitful Men” — definitely will be sharing these along with other ACFJ resources.
    It is very encouraging to know that there are true pastor/shepherds. We must remember to pray for them as they face much persecution for preaching the Truth.

  8. Kameron

    Pastor Powell did my pre-marital counseling 🙂

    • Brenda R

      Kameron,

      How did that turn out for you. Is all well with your marriage. I’d like to know more if you don’t mind. My marital counseling was one session and the pastor of that church said you know what it is all about and set a date. That was not counsel and I should have insisted on finding another minister.

      • Kameron

        It was a great experience. He very methodically explained the Scriptures relating to marriage in a way that made it clear that the man is not “the king of the castle” and that love should be the language of your home. We had three counseling sessions, where we went through relevant Scripture in 1 Peter, Ephesians and, of course, Genesis.

      • Brenda R

        Fantastic, Kameron. I love this pastor.

  9. Katy

    This was excellent, I’m adding Pastor Powell to my prayer list. Because he is part of the true Church 🙂

  10. Rev. Sam Powell

    Thank you all very much for your kind words. I am so thankful that this sermon has been a comfort and blessing to you! I am not used to my sermons reaching beyond our little congregation here in Yuba City, so this is all new to me.
    Barbara, we don’t have a website yet – other than the page on sermon audio. We contracted with a web designer a little while back, and he assures me that it is almost done. We do have a Facebook page, but most of my time is spent counseling and feeding the sheep here, so I don’t update it as much as I probably should.
    Thank you so much for your prayers. Pray also that God would raise up faithful shepherds, who desire to feed the sheep, rather than themselves.
    Thank you, Rev. Crippen for your faithfulness in this area.
    May Jesus Christ be glorified in all we do, now and forever, and may God raise up faithful men who are more willing to exalt their savior than cater to abusive men.
    Rev. Powell

    • BeginHealing

      Rev. Powell. this… “May God raise up faithful men who are more willing to exalt their savior than cater to abusive men.” Amen.

      Thank you so much for stepping into this valley to help us. Thank you for standing on the wall to protect us. Thank you for inspiring other men to stand on the wall with you. Thank you so much for holding sinful men to account. Thank you for showing God’s love and mercy towards the oppressed. Thank you for being faithful to His leading. God spoke a message into your heart. It is resonating.

    • And btw, if your website developer does not come through, you could always consider using a blogging platform like WordPress.com as your church’s main site. You can configure it in all sorts of ways regarding who may add content, who may comment, whether comments must be moderated before being published. You can pay about $30 pa to make it free of ads. That is the only cost, unless you want to pay for the premium versions which allow you to add vast amount of graphics and videos. But the basic version allows you to upload graphics and photos. It may suit your purposes quite well. You can keep some of the pages private or only accessible to church members, and other pages accessible to the public. And you can change stuff on it whenever you like, without having to be a geek! If we can do it (we use WordPress here on this blog) so can you!

      And we recently paid the small extra amount to have our web address changed from cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.blog to the much simpler cryingoutforjustice.blog. You could do that for you church, so the church website address did not look to new users like it was a blog, it would look like it was any normal church website usually looks: XYZchurch.com

      [In March, 2019, the .com in the website name was changed to .blog and this comment was modified to reflect the change. Editors.]

    • Rev. Powell. Thank-you. Having another man (and a pastor at that) stand with us in this cause is tremendous. I think you can hear, in BeginHealing’s comment, the heart cry and gratitude of many victims of abuse. So few pastors stand with us. When one does, it is like a glass of water given to the weary traveller in the desert. Every cell swells a little sigh of relief when it receives the unexpected gift of hydration.

      I’m a former nurse, so I tend to wax lyrical about somatic metaphors. 🙂

  11. Julie & Phil

    My husband and I just listened to this sermon, and we’d like to wholeheartedly affirm that Rev. Powell is on the right track and speaking truth here. He does cover a lot of bases that get neglected (mostly because of pastors being chicken to say the hard things, I suppose). Insufficient fear of God gags many.

    What a brave man! Kuddos to you, Rev. Powell!

    The *only* issue we have with this teaching *whatsoever* is this: at the end of the sermon, he asks how we recognize the child of Satan vs. the child of God, then says we can’t tell the difference, that we leave that up to God. This almost sounds like a ‘get off easy’ answer. Can we be fruit inspectors or not? Is part of the job of Shepherds to point out the wolves, or not?

    We fear for the women who might hear this last part and think, “Oh, well, I guess I can’t discern whether this man is a child of Satan or a child of God. Probably isn’t my place to discern that anyways, maybe I need to just wait it out until God reveals it.”

    What a frightening place to leave her. I wouldn’t want to answer for that kind of message.

    Rev. Powell, if you ever get the chance to preach this message again, (and we will pray that you do, as it is much needed!) we submit that you rethink the ending. Consider what you would tell your own wife or daughter or sister or mother. That kind of thinking helps us keep our theology on ground level (i.e. where we walk).

    Otherwise, very well done! May your obedience to preach it be blessed!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Julie and Phil. I will forward your comment on to Rev. Powell and I suspect he will respond. I think that what he meant was not to deny that we can, as you say, inspect a person’s fruit and if they are habitually as a pattern of their life producing evil fruit, conclude they are not a Christian. We fully agree with that and I think Rev. Powell will also. So let’s see what he will clarify for us here. I think he meant what he said in a particular setting with a narrower application, but let’s wait to hear from him. Thanks again.

      • Rev. Sam Powell

        Thank you, Julie and Phil for your kind words. As to the point in question, in dealing with so many people who have been victims of abuse, I have found that one question that continually plagues them is what if someday their abuser becomes converted to God? This is one major reason why so many people stay in bondage to abuse for so long, thinking that if they work hard enough and try hard enough, then perhaps God will use that to call these abusers to repentance and faith.
        The point of the whole sermon was that we must judge people by their fruit, and that is all we can judge. If they have a lifelong pattern of murder and lying, then we must treat them as if they are children of the devil. I did not at all intend that we can make no judgment based upon the fruits, for we are commanded to do just that. What I am saying is that we cannot make ultimate judgments as to their final state, for that is in the hands of God. As Abraham said, the judge of the earth will do right, and we should be able to rest in that.
        Questions as to whether God will convert them in the end, or whether He will leave them in their sin are questions that we cannot ever answer, for it is presuming to know that which God has not revealed to us.
        All we can do is judge the fruit. The point of my final comment was that this is enough. We must treat abusers according to their works, and leave their final destiny in the hands of God. From the perspective of the one afflicted, the relationship is irretrievably broken; at this point in their lives the abusers are children of the devil, and whether or not God converts them in the end through true repentance and faith is a question that God does not expect us to ask or answer.
        I hope this helps.

      • Sam, this is very helpful. I had someone contact me by email after I forwarded your sermon to my email list. He was concerned about some of the things he thought you had said. I shall now send him this comment you’ve just added and hopefully he will see that you weren’t taking the view he thought you were.

        He thought you were saying that as a believer in Reformed theology, you could KNOW for SURE who would be saved and who wouldn’t be. I tried to explain to him that you weren’t saying that. Now I can prove it by your own words. Blessings to you. 🙂

    • Phil and Julie, I’ve been overloaded with too many different tasks I didn’t see this comment till just now. Thanks so much! 🙂
      blessing and hugs

  12. Anonymous

    Rev Powell stated, “… in dealing with so many people who have been victims of abuse, I have found that one question that continually plagues them is what if someday their abuser becomes converted to God? This is one major reason why so many people stay in bondage to abuse for so long, thinking that if they work hard enough and try hard enough, then perhaps God will use that to call these abusers to repentance and faith.
    The point of the whole sermon was that we must judge people by their fruit, and that is all we can judge.”
    Yes, many do stay in bondage believing that eventually their spouse will repent …. , however, what makes it doubly difficult is when the (c)hurch feels they are judging the abuser by his fruit. Very often, outward appearances of an abuser will portray a quiet, faithful provider of the home. The church never really gets to know this man because he only associates with them on Sunday. That’s seems fine for them and they don’t seem to want to know what he does with his wife after the sermon?

    • Brenda R

      How true that is Anon. X could be very charming inside the church doors or at gatherings with family and friends, but home with no one but the immediate family was completely different. I believe some people thought I was ready for the straight jacket and maybe so, but the fog lifted before they came for me and I got out. Slowly, but surely, I feel like a capable, independant woman. The Lord is my Rock and my Salvation, He is my Fortress, I will not be shaken. Ps 62 I owe it all to Him who Saves.

      • Anonymous

        Brenda – What a vivid word picture, “I believe some people thought I was ready for the straight jacket and maybe so, …” I have felt so ashamed for feeling like I’m losing my mind; not a very good Christian witness, huh?
        Such encouraging words about the Lord being our Rock and our Salvation … Ps 62 truly reflects “A Calm Resolve to Wait for the Salvation of God”. AMEN

      • Brenda R

        Anon–Our witness will get better the longer we are away from the abuse and closer to God. The Light doesn’t work through us while we are in the darkness.

  13. Rev. Sam Powell

    Very often it is true that the church only sees the picture that the abuser wants them to see. This is particularly a problem when they only see an abuser on Sunday Morning. We have gotten away from a very important practice called “elder visitation”. The idea is that the pastor and elders are shepherds of the sheep and they can’t very well do their jobs without getting into the homes of those whom God has placed under their care – both formally and informally. If First Reformed in Yuba City is ever too big for me to know everyone by name, what their particular struggles are and how to pray for them, then it is time to start another congregation and call another pastor. How can you shepherd when you don’t even know who the sheep are?
    Too often, pastors are looking to build the numbers. They focus on their ministries instead of on Christ; they act as CEO’s of businesses instead of shepherds to the sheep. Without a deep love of God’s sheep, they can’t very well do their jobs, and this can only come from a deeper love for Jesus. When Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me”, he went on to say, “Feed my sheep”.
    With a love for the sheep, continual prayer, and paying attention, the signs of an abusive relationship can be spotted, for the most part. We just need to keep our eyes open and take care of the sheep.
    That being said, the Devil is also very subtle and deceptive. Until it is God’s time for evil to be unveiled, he can hide out for a long time. But the time will eventually come.
    As to being a good witness to Christ, what better witness of his strength and his love then when we, who are all broken vessels, without strength, without beauty, without any earthly hope, are delivered by His mighty hand – in such a way that we can never say, “Look what I did?”
    Often our lives are like Hezekiah – God allowed the Assyrian army to gain strength, and come right up to the gates of Jerusalem, so that when he destroyed it, everyone would know that it was God that did it! All Hezekiah could do was lay the threatening letter on the altar of God and leave the matter in His hands.
    What a tremendous witness for Christ! Don’t be discouraged. We witness to Christ’s strength every time we are broken and helpless and all we can do is cry out for deliverance.

    • Amen! Thank you, Rev Powell!

      • Anonymous

        Like Barb, I say, “Amen!” and thank you Rev Powell for your shepherd’s heart. That’s why we pray for men like you, Pastor Jeff Crippen and others – the true shepherds. Your task is not easy.
        I put bulletins in several local churches concerning: “Shepherding the Emotionally Destructive Marriage” — Webinar with Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles [This link is broken. Editors.]
        Pray for the ‘one’ pastor who replied to me:
        “Thank you for the notice left in our church mailbox yesterday. I tried to log on to the webinar, but it didn’t work for me.
        I downloaded the powerpoint slides and will look for the audio in a week, as the site directs.
        Thanks for pointing out this important issue.
        Blessings, ____”

    • Brenda R

      Rev. Powell,
      It is a joy to hear from you again. I have been going to my church for 4 years. Not once has my home been visited by the pastor or an elder. Actually, I have never been visited by a pastor or elder ever. I find what you say about the congregation being too large and another started if you don’t know everyone well enough very refreshing. I have heard that the pastor should have the right to choose his own friends from the pulpit. I have often thought that I really don’t know the pastor and his family very well at all. I can pick out their children by sight, but I don’t know much about them.
      I love the way you describe a “good witness for Christ”. Jesus did it all. In crying out to Him and drawing from His strength was my only hope of deliverance. He gave me that. What a loving Father we have.

    • Grace

      You sound like a lovely pastor, Pastor Powell. I wish I had one like you. I think my pastor is more sympathetic to my abuser than to me. (When I told him some things from Lundy Bancroft’s book, he said I should not call my husband an abusive man, as ‘we should not crush the person that God has made.’ ! He hasn’t shown concern for me though. Not to mention. I don’t think he knows anything about emotional abuse.)

      I am grateful for the great work of pastors like you and Jeff Crippen, who are educating the church. It seems to need it! Thank you.

    • Grace

      Also thank you very much to Jeff and all who work with him. It’s so refreshing to read posts by a pastor who gets it.

  14. Finding Answers

    Oh my yes….

    Now, the Holy Spirit leads me to audio sermons. God needed me farther out of the fog, broken through to understanding and knowing I am loved, freer of the abusers’ “voices”, to hear His word without filters.

    And of the many, many things that stuck out, the greatest was this:

    I survived. I lived.

    Glory to God.

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