A Shepherd Who Does not Know What a Wolf Looks Like is not a true Shepherd
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph 6:12-13)
One of the original purposes of the A Cry for Justice ministry was and is to educate pastors and elders and church members about the nature and tactics of the domestic abuser hiding in local churches. But as I suppose most all of you already know, these very people are typically quite resistant to learning.
What we try to explain to them, if we even get an opportunity to do so, is that of all people, pastors and church leaders MUST grow wise about this evil. And then we try to explain to them why this is so necessary.
The verses quoted above tell it. Christians are faced with an enemy whose constant mission is to destroy them. To destroy their faith. To wage war against their souls. To divide and conquer churches. To pollute and pervert the gospel. Prowling, prowling, always prowling and looking for an opportunity.
And what we have said over and over and over again is that if a Christian truly wants to learn about this enemy and his tactics, then get with it and study this thing called abuse and abusers. Because the abuser is one of the most common and clear examples of how the enemy comes against us — the wolf in sheep’s clothing come among the flock. What kind of a shepherd is a pastor if he remains ignorant of our enemy and fails to see him there among the sheep? Many actually become the duped ally of the wolf.
The devil, our adversary, is not of flesh and blood. So how does he come among us? How does he work his evil tactics? Many Christians act like he is to be directly attacked by various means and formulas — spiritual warfare it is often called. But the fact is, our non-corporeal enemy uses very corporeal agents to do his destruction. Let me explain.
In every single local church I have been the pastor of, there were people who craved self-glory and power. People who paraded themselves as the holiest of the holy and claimed to really have an inside track with the Lord. All of them insisted that the pastor (me) exalt them, support them, promote them, and put them first. When I would not, they went to work destroying. It really is the very same thing Paul so often wrote about in the New Testament. Take his letter to the Galatians for instance:
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (Gal 3:1-2)
Or his second epistle to the Corinthians:
For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. (2 Cor 11:19-20)
Do you see it? Satan comes to us through his servants; through evil people who claim to belong to Christ but who are actually emissaries of the devil, seeking power and control for themselves (and thus for their diabolical master). If a pastor will diligently study the nature and tactics of the abuser, he will surely become wise in regard to the enemy that is trying to destroy him, his ministry, and his flock. If he is arrogant and refuses to learn, he will necessarily become the ally of evil, either passively or actively. Because, you see, evil is evil. Just as the Jewish religious leaders who Jesus confronted were children of their father the devil and shared in his murderous character, so abusers all share certain fundamental qualities that will serve us well in identifying them if we are wise.
And so, if a pastor for example is spending vast amounts of time in what is so often called “spiritual warfare,” by praying or rebuking the devil or other such methods, but all the while remaining ignorant of what his enemy looks like and how his enemy is certainly going to come against him, then all of that pastor’s efforts will be for naught.
After many, many years of frustration dealing with wicked, destructive people in churches, my awakening moments came when I finally had my eyes opened to who these people really were and how they went about their deeds of darkness. They were abusers. They were people who lusted for power and control over others. They were people who paraded as Christians but were not. They were people who ALL used very, very similar tactics to work their evil and oppose Christ’s work. And with help, I was able to learn and NAME these tactics! I cannot tell you how freeing that is as you realize that you are not crazy and that all of the problems you have suffered for so long, for which the abusers have blamed you, turn out not to be your fault after all.
And that is when I was set free, and our entire church was set free. Because that which had been hidden for so many years was now out in the light. The evil of abuse, the nature of abusers, was laid bare before all. And eventually the wicked could no longer stand the light.