Abusers in the Church Hinder People from Coming to Christ and Growing In Him
Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
I was headed out the door the other day to take a month’s long accumulation of garbage to the recycling center (ie, the dump) when the subject of this post went off in my head. So I went back to the keyboard. (The imagery of hauling a pile of accumulated trash to the dump would probably make a good post as well, applied to recovery from abuse, but that one will have to wait).
So here is the subject for now: Abusers who parade as Christians and who are permitted to continue to work their evil in a local church, are one of the chief stronghold obstacles preventing people from coming to Christ and from Christians growing in Christ. It is the task of the church to use God’s truth to demolish any such obstacle:
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)
Abusers alienate people from truth. They alienate people from Christ’s true flock and true shepherds so that they stand off from God’s truth and are cast into a fog of doubt and uncertainty. As I have shared in a previous post about how abusers work to discredit us in the sight of others, we know from 2 Corinthians that this ancient evil method was alive and well in Paul’s day:
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. (2 Corinthians 6:11-12)
We know from the rest of this epistle that the source of the Corinthians’ distancing themselves from Paul and the true gospel lay largely in the fact that they were listening to wicked false brethren who had crept into their assembly. The tactics of Satan never change.
I can announce from hard-learned experience for some three decades now in pastoral ministry, and specifically from the experience of dealing with and being targeted by abusers, that these wicked ones operating in the local church spread a poison that, as long as it is tolerated, alienates people from truth and from the true people of Christ. They cause those who might be seeking truth and salvation to question the good news being preached, and more, to distrust those announcing that good news. In many cases the wicked gather these weak ones around them and eventually even lead them off to promises of green pastures and still waters, only for them to find spiritual famine and drought there in the end. Abusers are adept at casting a wicked spell upon the minds and hearts of people, and those spells are always, always, always designed to hide the glory of Christ:
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
As I look back over these many years of ministry, I can think of scores of people who were led astray from the light of Christ by just this kind of wickedness. And that can be very discouraging. Thankfully, Christ is Almighty and His light overcomes the darkness as He draws His people to Himself. Just this week I was reminded of that very powerfully through two Christmas cards I received. Each was from people who were in churches I pastored many years ago and really, in each case, I did not have all that many years of ministry together with them. And yet, here they were some 25 and 30 years later writing and saying how thankful they are to the Lord for how he used myself and my wife to show them the light of Christ. In each case there were many, many evil forces at work in those years long ago that were striving to quench the ministry of the Spirit in those people. The enemy failed and these people are standing for Christ today.
Abusers are one of the chief kinds of wickedness infecting local churches today. Pastors, elders, church members…are you desirous of seeing people come to Christ and grow strong in Him? Then learn to identify the abuser, and put him out from your midst.