A Cry For Justice

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

Wising Up to the Abuser’s “Christian” Facade

2 Th 3:1-2  Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.

Wicked and evil men. We need to be delivered from them. But who are they? What do they look like? Who did Paul have in mind here?

He was thinking of wicked and evil people who claim to be Christians.

Today (Sunday) just before the worship service, I was talking with our elders and we were recounting some of the many battles we have had over the years with wicked and evil men (and women) who crept in among the flock of Christ, wearing a disguise of wool. Their evil deeds opposed the ministry of Christ in many devious ways. That is what Paul speaks of here – pray that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, but we know that it is going to be opposed by wicked and evil men.

How do we know that these enemies Paul speaks of were professing Christians? Well, because of that little phrase at the end of verse 2 – “For not all have faith.” Think about it. It’s a no-brainer that unsaved people do not have faith. No one expects them to. If Paul’s phrase here was just him saying “by the way, not all human beings have faith, you know,” it would elicit a kind of “duh, no kidding” response from us.  The Apostle surely did not mean that. What he does mean is, these wicked and evil men who oppose the progress of the gospel claim to be believers in Christ, but they are not. We must recognize, he is telling us, that not all Christians are. Not everyone in our churches is a Christian. Not everyone who looks like such an eminent saint of God really is.

And the frightening thing about this is that what seems to be the prevailing climate in most churches today is that it is an unpardonable sin to ever question someone’s claim of belonging to Christ. The order of the day appears to be – “if someone says they are a Christian then we are bound to assume they are and never question the reality of their profession.” Where does that thinking come from? Not from the Bible, that’s for sure.

Notice also what Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for in his regard. Deliverance. That Paul and his comrades would be delivered from these wicked, evil men who are parading as Christians, infiltrating the churches, duping people with their flattery and false doctrine. We all need deliverance from these kinds of people.

Do you think that there are no wicked, evil men parading as Christians in your church? Think again. Pull out your Bible, go the the New Testament for starters, and start skimming along through it beginning at Matthew 1. Every time you come to a verse or section that is addressing wicked, evil people under the disguise of religion, opposing the gospel and creeping into churches to mislead and enslave, use a highlighter on those verses. When you are done, sit back and look at what you see. Virtually every page of the New Testament will have your highlighter yellow on it.

Which leaves us with a sobering and searching question: why are most professing Christians ignorant of such a prevalent warning in God’s Word? Why is it that wicked, evil people like abusers can hide so easily in and be enabled by local churches? This question always leaves me shaking my head in amazement. I can only think it is because

  1. Many local churches are filled with unregenerate people who do not have faith and thus lack the discernment of the Holy Spirit
  2. Many professing Christians don’t want to get into the battle with evil because it will cost them too much
  3. God’s Word has been so dumbed down in our pulpits that the people of Christ are dangerously naive about the enemy and his tactics.

You might be able to suggest more reasons.

Not all “Christians” have faith. Not all “Christians” are Christians, but are in fact wicked, evil people come in among us with the purpose of opposing the gospel of Christ and the freedom that Jesus has won for us. We need deliverance from them, and that deliverance begins with prayer and the recognition that not all have faith. Let’s wise up to the abuser’s facade.

14 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  2. Anonymous

    Quite often the churches look at the victims as the ones who are not “in the faith” especially when we choose to leave. We leave because we are expected to endure both domestic and spiritual abuse.

  3. Brenda R

    Well stated, Ps Jeff,
    We should be on guard for those that would distort God’s Word and make the enemy that much more powerful against us. It certainly isn’t preached enough unless I go on line and listen to your sermons and a few others that I know of out there. Abuse is never brought up in sermon in our church. How are people suppose to know what to look for if it is never brought out into the light?

    The X fits the description on the list of signs of a sociopath. I never considered him one, but if I were to tell someone the things that I saw in him, I wouldn’t have left out one of these signs.

  4. Forrest

    Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir.

  5. Sarah

    Evil never hesitates, when it see an opportunity, and Good often hesitates, out of fear. While Good is busy debating whether to say or do something, Evil has acted, staked its claim and, in some cases, taken over. One sure way to defeat Evil is to act on all Good, without any doubt or hesitation.

    • Not Too Late

      I like your comment, Sarah. Something to think about…

  6. Amy

    I agree with Anonymous. When I finally gained the courage to say NO MORE after my abusive ex walked out on me over 5 years ago and said I wanted a divorce, I was the one who was treated as if I was not Godly enough.

    I was the one told again and again how God hates divorce and how I needed to reconcile so through my loving actions my ex would eventually change.
    After all they asked, “did he hit you?” — and eventually I replied, “yes, he bruised me and our boys over and over and over with his hate-filled words and actions!”
    People stopped asking and started turning away from me.

    Although I think a couple men tried to ‘talk’ to my ex about his behavior towards his family no one ever took a real stand and held him accountable. They all walked on eggshells around him just as I had done for 20 years so as not to have him leave the church.
    Yet not many cared if I left — and eventually I did

    I agree that not all people claiming to be Christians are in fact Christians.
    My ex was a wolf in sheep’s clothing carrying his bible around the grocery store (yes, he did that!) so others would ‘see’ what a good Christian he was.
    All it did was make me sick.

  7. Gary W

    Faith means more than mere belief.

    Even the demons believe–and tremble. James 2:19.
    Faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26.

    Our justification depends in part on works, whatever that may mean. James 2:24.

    Paul himself opens and closes his letter to the Romans with appeals to the *obedience* of faith. Romans 1:5; 16:26. There is not room here to elaborate, but NT Wright makes the case that the word faith should in some instances be translated faithfulness. E.g., where the standard translations read “through faith in Jesus Christ,” as in ESV, Wright renders it “through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah,” as in Kingdom New Testament. While a big deal is made of the fact that we are saved through faith, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), I’m fairly certain that during the nearly half a century when I was an active churchgoer, I never heard a sermon on the following verse: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).

    My point? There can be no saving faith without faithfulness evidenced by works. Saving faith, in my view, is obedient, trusting allegiance to Jesus the Messiah. When we hear or see the word faith, we tend to think in terms of mere belief. It would be better to think in terms of fealty, “the obligation or the engagement to be faithful to a lord, usually sworn to by a vassal.” (Definition from dictionary dot com.) There must be obedience to the commandments to love God, neighbors and one another.

    Any “pastor” or other supposed Christian who operates on the basis of authority rather than love is operating outside the boundaries of faithfulness, outside the boundaries of obedient, trusting allegiance to Jesus, and, therefore, outside the very Body of Christ. See Matthew 20:25-26; Mark 10:42:44. If we fail to discern the true character of these wolves, pigs, serpents, vipers, hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, and whitewashed tombs (not to mention nicolaitans), we do so at great peril to ourselves, our families and all God’s precious lambs.

  8. Anonymous100

    “Their evil deeds opposed the ministry of Christ in many devious ways.” — I would appreciate you citing some of those devious ways.

    • Anonymous100, Jeff’s post Abuse and Pastors give a little bit of detail about some of the devious opposers of Christ that Jeff has encountered in his pastoral experience. It by no means gives the full picture of the evil-doer problems Jeff has confronted in the churches he has pastored over the years; it tells the tip of the iceberg.

    • And you can find more detail and examples in Jeff’s book A Cry For Justice, in the chapter about abusers in the church. I’m not sure of the exact title of that chapter as I don’t have the book at hand right now, but it’s near the end of the book.
      [*Amazon affiliate link]

      Editor note: The chapter Barb refers to is Chapter 14 – The Abuser’s Quest for Power in the Church (p261)

  9. Lisa

    I have experienced #2 too many times: “Many professing Christians don’t want to get into the battle with evil because it will cost them too much.” I have tried to stand up for what was right several times and been burned so badly that I wonder if I should have just heeded the old axiom “fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” walked away and saved myself a lot of heartache.

  10. Isaiah40:31

    Thank you for posting this. Most people in churches really don’t want to see the evil that sits in the pew next to them, and I have seen all 3 excuses listed above, as well as church members who just don’t “believe that he could really act that way” when learning about the abusive behavior.

    Like Brenda R, my ex displays every single one of the sociopath characteristics.

  11. IamMyBeloved's

    “The order of the day appears to be – ‘if someone says they are a Christian then we are bound to assume they are and never question the reality of their profession.'”

    This one gets me every time. Especially the man-made doctrine that says “if you have been baptized and are a member of a Church, you are a Christian”. This is a lie developed by great twisting of Scripture, but it is being taught more and more. This is the Federal Vision doctrine.

    I think this one is very difficult for people who are being abused especially, because the abuser obviously is not living for Christ and obviously not a new creation in Christ or loving his neighbor as himself, etc., etc., and yet the leadership says, “well he is here at Church and has been baptized – so end of story. Let’s look at you instead, for saying you don’t believe he is a Christian and questioning his salvation”.

    I also think that this is just an excuse not to deal with the evil and have to actually confront it.

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