A Cry For Justice

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

Blindness from Original Sin – part 2 of series on blindness and deception

We are all born spiritually dead because we all inherit the sin nature of Adam.

This is Part 2 of a series on Blindness and Deception. Read Part 1 here. Part 1 is an introduction and digest for the series: it will have links to all parts in this series as they are published. The series is addressing these questions:

  • Are abusers spiritually blind? (Or psychologically blind, which is pretty much the same thing.)
  • Are abusers deceived?
  • If they are deceived, to what extent have they been deceived by others and to what extent have they deceived themselves?
  • Are some abusers brainwashed or controlled or enslaved by others? Are some of them so controlled by people higher up the pyramid of evildoers, that they could be said to be victims themselves?

The sin nature we are all born with

All of us, excepting the man Christ Jesus, inherit the sin nature from Adam.

We all come into this world with a bias to be selfish and to not love our neighbour as ourselves. With our sin nature we disregard God. We go our own way without recognising or respecting or honouring God our maker – whose loving kindness towards us is so vast that it cannot be expressed in human words or grasped with our human minds.

When rightly and justly reproved for selfishness or wrongdoing, the knee-jerk response of the wrongdoer (you, me, whoever) is rebellion, blame-shifting, hiding from the truth, fighting against truth. The sin nature not only runs for cover, it rears its head and hisses and spits. That is the nature of sin. That is the sin-nature we all are born with.

Genesis 8:21b
the imagination [intent or thought] of man’s heart is evil from his youth

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way

Romans 5 confirms that we inherit the sin nature from Adam. To make this point, I’ve select only parts of Romans 5:12-19.

Romans 5:12-19
sin entered into the world through one man, and death by means of sin; and in this way death went over all people, inasmuch as all people sinned. … death came through one sin of one man who sinned. For the sentence of condemnation came from one sin. … by the sin of one, death reigned by the means of one … by the sin of one, condemnation came on all men … by one man’s disobedience many became sinners…

What happens to the sin nature when someone becomes a Christian?

Let’s take a closer look at Romans 5 which I partially cited just above. I will show in bold the phrases that talk about the gift of grace: forgiveness by faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who took our sins upon Himself.

Romans 5:15-17
But the gift is not like the sin. For if through the sin of one, many are dead, much more lavish upon many was the grace of God and gift by grace, which grace was given by one man: Jesus Christ.

And the gift is not over only one sin, as death came through one sin of one man who sinned. For the sentence of condemnation came from one sin. But the gift came to justify from many sins.

For if by the sin of one, death reigned by the means of one, much more will those who receive of abundant grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life by the means of one; that is to say, Jesus Christ.

Note on Romans 5:16 in the New Matthew Bible:

Adam’s disobedience damned us all before we ourselves worked any evil, and Christ’s obedience saves us all before we ourselves work any good.

When a person is born again / regenerated / trusts in God’s promises / knows and follows Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, does that person still have a sin nature?

Putting this question another way:  Is it right to call a Christian a sinner?

God has given each of us a conscience. The conscience is inbuilt in our human nature: it tells us right from wrong. Those who have never heard of God’s law know the law in their hearts: in their conscience.

The culture we grow up in, and the teachings and examples we are exposed to, can deform and invert our conscience.

Here is an example that we are familiar with. Many churches teach that God says abuse is not grounds for divorce. Victims of abuse, in trying to obey this false teaching, suffer untold harm. Nobody benefits from this false teaching except the abusers.

Another example: Islamic suicide bombers have been taught that it is good to murder crowds of people and they will be rewarded by Allah for doing so.  Another example: Luciferian families teach their children from a very early age to believe that good is evil / and evil is good.

To whatever extent my conscience is recognising right and wrong the way God defines those things, I will be correctly pricked by my conscience when I do wrong or when I cultivate wrong thoughts, wrong desires.

In Romans chapter 7, the Apostle Paul described his own experience of this.

Romans 7:22-25
I delight in the law of God as far as the inner man is concerned, but I see another law in my members, rebelling against the law of my mind, and subduing me to the law of sin that is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, I myself in my mind serve the law of God, and in my flesh the law of sin.

The Apostle John confirmed that whether we are Christians or non-Christians it is wrong for us to say “we have no sin”.

If we say “we have no sin”, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:5-10
And this is the tidings that we have heard from him and declare to you: that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and yet walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in light, even as he is in light, then we have fellowship with him, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

What if my conscience has been somewhat mis-taught?  What if I have been trained to think that right is wrong and good is evil? Is my responsibility for doing wrong erased?  Not entirely… and especially not when I have reached the age of accountability. I don’t want to define when the age of accountability begins, but by adulthood it ought to apply. Other factors come in here too: how deep – how brainwashing – was the training that inverted my conscience? How much was I intimidated and coerced and terrified into obeying evil or complying with evil? How much was I entrapped by the leaders of the corrupt system that mis-taught me?

God is merciful. He calls all to come to him in repentance, and he offers complete forgiveness to those who repent and follow him.

John 10:1-10
Truly truly I say to you, He who does not enter into the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. He who goes in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep; to him the porter opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he has sent forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him. For they know not the voice of strangers.

This similitude Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand the things that he was saying to them.

Then Jesus spoke to them again: Truly truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All, even as many as came before me, are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be safe, and will go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come so that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.

***

Bible translations used in this post:
New Testament: NMB (New Matthew Bible)
Psalms: Myles Coverdale’s translation as per the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Old Testament other than Psalms: NKJ (New King James)

I will make each post title below into a hyperlink when the post comes out.

Part 1: Are abusers blind? Are abusers deceived? What does the Bible say?

Part 2: is this post

 

 

55 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the original post “To whatever extent my conscience is recognising right and wrong the way God defines those things, I will be correctly pricked by my conscience when I do wrong or when I cultivate wrong thoughts, wrong desires.”

    For me, ^That happens when the Holy Spirit convicts me.

    From the original post “If we say “we have no sin”, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “God is merciful. He calls all to come to him in repentance, and he offers complete forgiveness to those who repent and follow him.”

    ^That.

    I was saved when I was baptised as a very small infant, so I know nothing other than the Holy Spirit’s conviction as my conscience.

    I do not write ^That out of pride / arrogance / self-righteousness / etc., but because I grew up with Him, I can’t remember when / if my own conscience did the pricking.

    From the original post “We are all born spiritually dead because we all inherit the sin nature of Adam.”

    Now I understand my struggles with understanding ^That.

    • Helovesme

      Response to Finding Answers on 30TH SEPTEMBER 2019 – 9:48 AM (the very first response to this post)

      Yes, when Barb brought up that we are born with the sin nature, inherited from Adam—-I recall using a commentary when I read Romans and that was talked about.

      No one likes to be told that you were born with well, anything that is so negative! Not to mention something that you have no say in, no choice about.

      Things like beautiful eyes, skin or hair that you were blessed to be born with, are perfectly fine to bring up, right?

      Then Barb beautifully wrote about our “knee-jerk response” when we are “rightly and justly reproved.”

      So, our sin nature that we have no choice about, also cannot stand to be TOLD that we have this very nature—-and something has to be done about it. So the very sin nature that we inherited will not only resist any effort made to make us aware of it, but also make us understand that something needs to be done about it.

      This is why no one but the Lord Himself can draw us to Himself. HOW He did it to me still boggles my mind.

      Truly this is a road that we have ALL been on as born again believers—-letting the Lord bring understanding to what we absolutely refuse to understand apart from Him!

      • Gany T.

        Helovesme said on 5TH OCTOBER 2019 – 4:03 PM:
        So, our sin nature that we have no choice about, also cannot stand to be TOLD that we have this very nature—-and something has to be done about it. So the very sin nature that we inherited will not only resist any effort made to make us aware of it, but also make us understand that something needs to be done about it.

        This is why no one but the Lord Himself can draw us to Himself. HOW He did it to me still boggles my mind.

        Truly this is a road that we have ALL been on as born again believers—-letting the Lord bring understanding to what we absolutely refuse to understand apart from Him!

        ^THIS is a great summary of the human condition, per God’s view, which of course is the only correct view. Thank you for it!

        It highlights our helplessness and hatred of God, and His amazing grace in seeking out and saving us. It is in a nutshell exactly what SO rubs the wrong way all other religions, philosophies, and trends of thinking.

  2. annthelen

    I have wondered about all these questions. Thank you for your hard work in praying, thinking and writing. Having so much scripture in ‘one place’ in this series is and will be immensely helpful. I believe the Holy Spirit is affirming what I have long been searching out and thinking that I am understanding bit by bit.

    When communicating with others and considering with them how to be wise and keep people safe and free and protected and cooperating in Christ with Christ by Christ, this resource will remind me of Truth and Love, and The Holy Spirit’s comfort and leading.

  3. Gany T.

    Lately, I’ve personally been pondering something which comes even before exploring the impact of sin on blindness and deception. I’ve wondered about the most basic, foundational definition and understanding of sin and evil:

    When and where did sin and evil originate?
    In Lucifer’s heart or mind when he was in Heaven and was one of God’s most beautiful angels?

    Is sin, in its most basic definition, rebellion against God? (That’s what I think Scripture indicates.)

    And being that Lucifer was filled with pride and desired to usurp God’s very throne…was that a function of free will? Which would mean that God created His angels with that nature and ability (free will). But free will to choose between/among what? Did sin or evil always exist or did it result or come into being upon Lucifer’s proud, rebellious thoughts and subsequent actions?

    In my very basic, perhaps simplistic, thinking process: What exactly is sin? What is evil?
    I’m meaning: Is sin, is evil (merely) a spiritual concept? Is sin, is evil a spiritual force? Is sin, is evil a person (i.e., the devil and his demons)? All of the above? (And should I separate the two words? i.e. There’s sin. And then there is also a separate thing called evil.)

    I’ve pored over Genesis 1-3, trying to visualize exactly what is stated and what isn’t, trying not to add my own ideas, limited experiences, pre-existing biases and teachings on it (pretty hard or impossible to do). When God created the world, the animals, and man and woman, He declared it all good. (very good for humans). But…

    The devil, in the form of the serpent, was also (already?) in the Garden of Eden. So when Man fell, i.e., sinned, Adam and Eve did not ‘create’ sin or evil; they weren’t the FIRST creatures to sin against God.

    Perhaps these questions can’t be fully answered until we reach Heaven, or perhaps I just don’t get such a simple, basic concept. There are probably lots of thick, academic, theology books on this topic – which I might need to dig into (ugh, if I’m honest). But I also fear answers from academic-only minded sources who have zero personal experience with evil and the very real spiritual warfare waged against us as believers. Any input or references welcome.

    • Artina

      Wow! For several years now I have wondered, too, about sin (original and current) and evil. It brings to mind, still, (in my past high value of finding a “guru” to help me understand) a couple of theologians/or dabblers in theology:

      C.S. Lewis, who said that demons exist but maybe they should not be the main focus; and (I can’t remember the name, maybe it was George MacDonald) – I remember the story of a theologian walking down his stairway and “seeing” the presence of ? moving around his table, or something like that and he says something like, “oh, yes, there is that.” And he turns around and walks back upstairs.

      Again, to me, what I took/take away from this story and C.S. Lewis’ words are that even the “gurus” struggle with familiar “sin” presence/patterns, and maybe (only they and God would know for sure) they learned to rightly place them, below God/Jesus, and the lifting out, or lifting above, that God/Jesus/Spirit filling can do. At least that is my current take away, where I only see in part, incomplete, for sure.

      Also, someone told me, or I read somewhere, that if you fill up on the good stuff that the “rats” will scramble away or fall off – I looked at it that way for a while.

      I recall, too, Jesus’ story of cleaning house and the importance to fill and order the house or the chaotic previous inhabitants will come back and bring their friends. I definitely don’t want the latter. I want to listen to Jesus and abide in Jesus!

      Life is the opposite of evil? Life is love, holistic, something, surely, about the common good? – 1 Corinthians 13 patient, kind.. (rightly keeping non-life at a minimum place and keeping the good stuff at a maximum place). But keeping no record of wrongs – I don’t know how to do this with a non-partner, except to try and not speak condemnation toward the seemingly non life patterns, but to speak difference and firm boundary toward the non-life patterns and acknowledging positive inventory qualities as things are being sorted out.

      IMO, untangling would need to be in place and then, only then, the past is the past and both can make up their own minds. IMO everyone’s been influenced by Christianity’s best and worst, so does anyone get a pass?

      • Hi Artina, I edited your comment a bit for clarity. Hope I have not mis-represented what you were trying to say.

        I think death is the opposite of life, and evil is the opposite of good.

        You mentioned the part in 1 Corinthians 13 where it talks about ‘keeping no records of wrong’ and the difficulty you have in of applying that in real life. Keeping no record of wrongs must be related to “vengeance belongs to God” so we must not take vengeance on those who have abused us. The reason I am sure it ‘must’ be related to that idea, is we see the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, several times naming wrongdoers by name, and telling the churches what wrongdoing those people had done. See this post: Naming Names.

        You might also find another post helpful. It discusses 1 Corinthians 13:3 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love believes all things

      • Artina

        Hi Barb,

        I’m not sure where you made the edits for clarity in my comment, but I’m glad if my thoughts are made more clear on this subject because it’s really hard for me to think about.

        Thanks for the links to the other posts. I’ve read through “Love Bears All Things”. Wow! That is really on target for me. Every time I read that part of 1 Cor. 13 before, my mind went to the unbearable confusion and pressure on me to somehow respond well (and this would include maintain connection with my abusers). One marriage counselor kept saying “it’s not the love you want”, as if it was some kind of love I should twist myself into accepting, which left me feeling like I didn’t trust in an Almighty God (one church person’s response to me). Many other church people related to me along the same lines. Many of the church people are not ones that I have much relationship with now, but some are life-long friends with a pretty strong attachment to patriarchal practices. My life long friends did not invalidate my experiences and feelings, which I’m grateful for, but they did not have training and better knowledge for applying Christian concepts and teaching in abusive situations.

        It is refreshing to have some friends who are demonstrably interested in listening to and seeking clarifying teaching on issues of abuse. I have a lot less empathetic feelings toward those who give patronizing responses. When I pause from the anger….I am grateful to be more aware than I was. I have a lot of things to be grateful for. Being in a better frame of mind now, with resources that provide better teaching, I can see that others in my personal circle of influence now are getting better navigation framework and I am better able to be a more informed support to help them, too. I’m grateful.

        Your “Love Bears All Things” post is one that I’ve never heard from the pulpit or from trying to have deeper conversations about love in therapy or in small fellowship circles. I’ll be going over that post and comments repeatedly. The training I received when I was young and in (non)marriage and (non)church is strong, putting the responsibility to help the abusers on the abused. I’m angry, but I agree vengeance belongs to God. But that’s not all, justice also belongs to God. And I want the best that can be done at this point, in terms of justice and normal, healthy love, for my mind and other non-abusive, truly respectful, relationships/friendships.

        I think I struggle with old patterns of feeling “wrong” to want to put those who adhere to the misleading patterns and training in their own corner of life and let them sort it out on their own. I don’t want to take any kind of need to them, nor do I want to give time or money to these kinds of places. I’ve tried to converse respectfully with them. I don’t have faith in these places, nor do I have expectations that they will respond to abuse issues in a meaningful way anytime soon. And some people get it and others leave me feeling patronized, like I am the diseased divisive person. The patronizing people seem to want continued fellowship (on their terms that they claim are Biblical), but if the fellowship is the superficial stuff written about in this post, why should I be complicit in that? Is this an attitude of vengeance, or restorative justice? This is not to say that I believe some people are beyond help or even totally lost, it is just that I am not the one who can give them the help that they may need, if they wanted it.

        When I read some other websites inviting people to come and participate in “restorative justice”, I do not trust the invitation, that it is necessarily Godly restorative justice. I want to hear and see what they mean by that in very specific examples, such as how they handle situations of abuse.

        I’ll be reading the other post you referenced, too.

        Thanks.

      • Gany T.

        Thank you, Artina, for your response and additional input on this topic. [4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 8:22 AM]

        I like your point (my paraphrase or take way) that the main focus should be on God, good, following Him and perhaps less on the details of the Enemy, his evil works, etc. And I really like your phrasing it as “struggle with familiar “sin” presence/patterns” [bold mine], as I think it clearly expresses those two concepts’ co-existence and… [again, my interpretation of your comment….I hope I’m correct] perhaps lessens the emphasis on figuring out the minute details, and instead just acknowledging it/their existence and kind of moving on.

    • Finding Answers

      Gany T. commented (4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 5:57 AM) “…….But I also fear answers from academic-only minded sources who have zero personal experience with evil and the very real spiritual warfare waged against us as believers……”

      ^That.

      For me, there is a difference between sin and evil.

      For me, sin is an individual’s intentional or unintentional rebellion against God.

      For me, evil individuals believe they ARE “god”.

      Kind Of Anonymous commented (4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 7:26 AM) “…..I read also one author who said that God’s working with us is intelligent and invites our intelligent chosen cooperation……”

      For me, ^That speaks of free will.

      For me, the Holy Spirit doesn’t force me to choose, although there are times when making my free will choice is VERY difficult.

      For me, evil individuals force robotic submission.

      In Gany T.’s comment, Gany T. commented “……Any input…..”

      My comment is my (non-academic) response to Gany T.. 🙂

      • Gany T.

        Thank you, Finding Answers! I’m mulling over your helpful input right now. 🙂

      • Thank you so much, Finding Answers!

        I especially like this part of your comment:

        For me, there is a difference between sin and evil.

        For me, sin is an individual’s intentional or unintentional rebellion against God.

        For me, evil individuals believe they ARE “god”.

        Good distinction!

        Kind Of Anonymous commented (4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 7:26 AM) “…..I read also one author who said that God’s working with us is intelligent and invites our intelligent chosen cooperation……”

        Finding Answers said: For me, ^That speaks of free will.

        Martin Luther wrote a book called The Bondage of The Will. As far as I can recall, his main point was that an unregenerate person does not really have free will – all they can choose is WHICH sins they engage in. They cannot choose to follow God because their spirit is dead in sin. But if a person is born again that person can intelligently choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s prompting, they have free will and can choose to obey God.

      • Helovesme

        Response to Finding Answers 4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 11:28 AM:

        Yes! I too loved your replies about the differences between sin and evil.

        “For me, sin is an individual’s intentional or unintentional rebellion against God.”

        “For me, evil individuals believe they ARE “god”.”

        Gany T’s musings were great, and Finding Answers found a great way to not only sum them up, but phrase it so succinctly.

        From her comment: “For me, the Holy Spirit doesn’t force me to choose”

        IMO, there is no way the words “force” and “Holy Spirit” go together. John 14:17 says: “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”

        Leading is not forcing. It just doesn’t work that way with Him. I may be opening up another area of discussion here (how does one “herd” the sheep, without “forcing” them to go where you want them to go?)

        By the way, I think the post answered that already. Barb chose wonderful Scripture (John 10) in her post:

        “the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he has sent forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him. For they know not the voice of strangers”

        The fullness of trust towards the Lord means He never has to force His sheep to go where He wants them to go. They know His voice. They know they are safe and that He has no intention to harm them (“If anyone enters in by me, he will be safe, and will go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy.”)

        From Finding Answer’s reply:

        “For me, evil individuals force robotic submission.”

        Oh, goodness this rang many, many bells with me. But counter that mentality with the Lord’s—-again, with Whom words like “robotic” or “forced” do not resonate with Him.

        I was a flesh and blood human being that chose the Lord because He chose me and sought me out. Nothing was forced and I was certainly not robotic.

        When I became a believer, I felt the pressure to equate Biblical submission to “(forced) robotic submission.”

        I got a small but wonderful taste of the freedom He promises before I put myself back into bondage.

        Back to her amazing insight: “For me, sin is an individual’s intentional or unintentional rebellion against God.”

        That was me all right. Sin, as so well described here, fit me like a glove. A blind person cannot see, so some of my sin was truly out of sheer ignorance, not to mention a matter trying to survive living in a very dark world.

        But a blind person can also learn and choose to do things—-BAD things. I was not always falling into pits and crashing into walls out of blindness. I knew what I was doing, and I knew that I knew what I was doing—-and I did them. Even if I knew they were wrong, I went ahead anyway. There can be real thrill in getting away with breaking the rules.

        AND sin, while it reaps death, can deceive you into thinking it is actually reaping life. The passing pleasures of sin, that Moses in Hebrews 11 said he gave up out of faith, are still pleasures, though temporary and absolutely not life-giving.

      • Gany T.

        Replying to Finding Answers [on 4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 11:28 AM]:
        Thank you! You said:

        For me, there is a difference between sin and evil.
        For me, sin is an individual’s intentional or unintentional rebellion against God.
        For me, evil individuals believe they ARE “god”.

        ^Yep, yep, and yep. 🙂 Very helpful, your laying it out like this.

        And your quote from Kind Of Anonymous making points about God’s work with us being intelligent and inviting our intelligent chosen cooperation (free will) vs. [your point] of evil individuals forcing robotic submission are excellent.

        And, years ago, a friend shared this same point with me which Barb made [4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 7:05 PM] that only those who are born again/regenerate truly have free will. (I’m guessing my friend read the same book – Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will). Thank you for reminding me of that important concept.

    • Helovesme

      Reply to Gany T.4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 5:57 AM

      I admit I got a little dizzy trying to navigate the comment, but eventually things settled into place! And those were fantastic questions.

      I second Barb when she zeroed in on this part of your comment: “But I also fear answers from academic-only minded sources who have zero personal experience with evil and the very real spiritual warfare waged against us as believers.”

      There is a real danger of working TOO hard to “understand” theology (while we should never stop being curious), that we forget verses like these:

      “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.” (Colossians 2:3)

      “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

      Everything we need is hidden in Him. That is where all the answers lie. Not in thick, academic books (those can be great; don’t get me wrong!), but they can’t compete with Wisdom personified perfectly in Christ.

      Gany T was also spot in wondering if we can only see such things 100% clearly in Heaven. The Bible is clear on that:

      “Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!” (1 Corinthians 13:9)

      “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

      In drawing near to Him, who is our Wisdom, we will understand what is impossible to understand apart from Him. So Gany T’s questions are right and worthy of real discussion. But all we need to know is in Him, and I believe He will honor our requests.

      I remember asking Him for answers to questions that I believed I had a right to ask.

      I did have a right to ask, but I also had to accept whatever He chose to tell me, or NOT tell me.

      If He ended up saying: I AM the Answer, and I am all you need to know, what would MY answer be??

      Um, thanks but no thanks? Or, wow that is not what I expected to hear. Maybe—-let me think about it I’ll get back to you.

      No, your answer is—thank You for hearing me. That’s not what I thought you would say, but Your answer is righteous because You are always righteous.

      Please help me to take Your generous answer and offer with joy: I am Yours, and You are mine.

      • Gany T.

        Thank you, Helovesme. Just one excerpt from your helpful reply that I, and all believers, SO relate to where you said:

        I remember asking Him for answers to questions that I believed I had a right to ask.

        I did have a right to ask, but I also had to accept whatever He chose to tell me, or NOT tell me.

        If He ended up saying: I AM the Answer, and I am all you need to know, what would MY answer be??

        ^That

    • Hi Gany T, you raised some ponderous questions! (And that’s fine, by the way.) They are questions that we none of us may have answers for them this side of heaven – as you recognised in your comment. 🙂

      I agree that the Bible says sin is rebellion against God. For the purposes of our discussion here, I’m not going to try to distinguish between ‘sin’ and ‘evil’.

      You asked – and I’ve slightly paraphrased your questions here:–
      When and where did sin and evil originate? In Lucifer’s heart or mind when he was in Heaven and was one of God’s most beautiful angels? Is sin, is evil, a spiritual concept? a spiritual force? a creature (i.e. the devil and his demons)? All of the above?

      I think ‘all of the above’ comes closest. God is transcendent being, one God in three Persons. He created all creatures: the angels, the human beings, and the animals. ‘Sin’ occurs because a creature is sinning. While we can and do talk about ‘sin’ as an abstract concept, in reality, sin is always done by a creature.

      You wrote:

      When God created the world, the animals, and man and woman, He declared it all good. (very good for humans). But the devil, in the form of the serpent, was also (already?) in the Garden of Eden. So when Man fell, i.e., sinned, Adam and Eve did not ‘create’ sin or evil; they weren’t the FIRST creatures to sin against God.

      That ^ is my understanding of what the Bible tells us. The Bible gives us only hints about the timing, but from those hints I infer that the first creature to sin was Lucifer the archangel… and when the Garden and Adam and Eve were created, he (the fallen angel Lucifer/ Satan/ the devil), in the form of a serpent, slid in and set about doing his best to destroy the human beings who had been created in the image of God. He hated God and he hated the creatures made in God’s image.

      • HeLovesMe

        That was a great and simplified but well covered response, Barb! I think you hit all the right spots.

      • Gany T.

        Thank you so much for all your points, Barb [6TH OCTOBER 2019 – 1:11 PM].

        Just a minute of humor (probably only in my mind) –

        Well, THIS is great 🙂 (Take that, those of you stuffy, academic-only theologians who love to talk on and on about minutiae while oppressing the sheep and aiding the wolves):

        ‘Sin’ occurs because a creature is sinning. …sin is always done by a creature

        Short and sweet. Any questions? Lol

  4. Kind of Anonymous

    “To whatever extent my conscience is recognising right and wrong the way God defines these things, I will be correctly pricked by my conscience when I do wrong or when I cultivate wrong thoughts, wrong desires.” Barb’s original words.

    My thoughts here are related largely to the issue of the conscience and the difficulty of separating God’s definitions from those we have picked up in dysfunctional homes and churches and through abuse experiences.

    Conscience can be a tricky beast. It sounds somewhat at least, from scripture, that our conscience has to be trained; I am thinking of the verse that refers to “solid food is for the mature, having their senses trained to distinguish good from evil” in Hebrews 5:14. That’s where I have trouble with the whole conscience and conviction thing. When you have felt so guilty and responsible for so long it can be very hard to tell if the messages from one’s heart or conscience are indeed conviction of the Holy Spirit, or some manner of false guilt and shame or even torment and condemnation.

    I have experienced how unreasonable our consciences can be. I once said something in confidence about a situation to someone else. It wasn’t a particularly awful thing that I confided about, just a situation with another person I was having some difficulty with. I immediately felt intense guilt which I took to be the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It badgered and harassed me until I had to go and confess to the person I had spoken of. There was no reasoning with it. Yet after I had yielded to it, the only difference was that the pressure was off. It did not produce peace but seemed to have created a bit of mistrust .

    Additionally I had/have a bit of a problem with OCD type issues which tended to manifest as scrupulosity/religious OCD and sometimes other forms. It was never outwardly obvious enough that I got a diagnoses but I sure went through hell over thinking I had blasphemed the Holy Spirit. It’s a difficult thing to deal with because OCD interacts with guilt, sin and shame. One way it manifested was how I prayed. I would feel as though I had not prayed correctly and so I would back up and start from the beginning, as if somehow my prayers just lost substance and sincerity and I had to recapture that sense that I was saying something God would be willing to receive because it was sincere.

    Another way was constantly attempting to repent for something and then checking my heart to see if my motives or repentance was real enough or sincere enough. Sometimes I would reach a point of resolve where I felt that the answer to that was yes and so I would pray with confidence then and faith but other times I could not seem to release my heart and mind from whatever “cage” of reluctance or doubt they were in and so the answer would be no. It would have the effect of neutralizing faith and leaving me believing that God would not receive my prayers because I was not repentant enough or sincere enough.

    It possibly was a form of attempting to clean myself up enough to be righteous enough to be heard but it made prayer times very frustrating. I had no confidence that if Jesus was willing to speak to the woman at the well who had had five husbands or the adulteress caught in the very act before they were cleaned up, he would be willing to speak to me before I was cleaned up too. In fact I had been taught over and over that if I had any sin in my life the Lord would not hear me.

    At times it seemed to me almost an alternate form of religion with its own system of checks and balances, rewards and punishment, righteousness and unrighteousness. It’s like a conscience on steroids which can make it very hard to tell the answer to the question: Is God the one sending me these signals of displeasure or is a malfunctioning conscience holding me to a standard or requirement God is not?

    If I were to listen to my conscience’s dictates I would have to live a very cloistered existence! I feel that ignoring it completely isn’t wisdom or discernment either but it can be an unreasonable little beast to deal with. I do think OCD is a fleshly nature thing quite a bit, and one thing I have noticed is that the flesh loves religion, but it is a very rigid and perfectionistic religion on its own merits that it loves and it has no balance of truth, grace, mercy, justice or compassion. The way of peace it does not know. It doesn’t distinguish between real guilt and responsibility and false guilt and if something sets off its “security system”, it’s like one of those car alarms that just keeps shrieking and going crazy whether it is a real or a false alarm. Nor, if you turn and pay attention to it will it give you any instructions.

    I read somewhere once that if it is the Holy Spirit generating conviction it isn’t generalized anxiety or a choking cloud of ill at ease discomfort and disturbance; it comes rather with a clear sense of “do this and you will be free”. It’s not a general alarm but a specific and clear conviction with directive. It doesn’t bring torment and misery, wrestling you to the floor until you miserably and dejectedly give in. I read also one author who said that God’s working with us is intelligent and invites our intelligent chosen cooperation. We have time to think about it and consider whether or not it is the truth. It doesn’t push, torment, drive or unsettle but leads and directs. I don’t know how accurate that is, but I think that many of us with abuse backgrounds have difficulty dealing with issues of conscience and telling God’s voice from all the other stuff.

    • Thank you so much, Kind of Anonymous! There are so many good things in your comment. 🙂 I am pasting here (in italics) the bits that stood out for me.

      the difficulty of separating God’s definitions from those we have picked up in dysfunctional homes and churches and through abuse experiences.

      Conscience can be a tricky beast.

      our conscience has to be trained … ‘solid food is for the mature, having their senses trained to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14).

      When you have felt so guilty and responsible for so long it can be very hard to tell if the messages from one’s heart or conscience are indeed conviction of the Holy Spirit, or some manner of false guilt and shame or even torment and condemnation.

      many of us with abuse backgrounds have difficulty dealing with issues of conscience and telling God’s voice from all the other stuff.

    • Hi Kind of Anonymous, you wrote:

      “I once said something in confidence about a situation to someone else. It wasn’t a particularly awful thing that I confided about, just a situation with another person I was having some difficulty with. I immediately felt intense guilt which I took to be the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It badgered and harassed me until I had to go and confess to the person I had spoken of. There was no reasoning with it. Yet after I had yielded to it, the only difference was that the pressure was off. It did not produce peace but seemed to have created a bit of mistrust.”

      You said you ‘confessed’ to the person. Let’s call the person N. Did you confess to N that you had spoken (a shade negatively) about N to someone else? Or did you simply say to N that you were having difficulties with the situation between you and N?

      I would think it was not necessary to ‘confess’ to N that you spoke about N to a third party. It sounds to me like you had only spoken to the third party because you were seeking counsel or help in discerning what might be the best way for you to deal with the problematic situation you were having with N.

      I would think that the best way to deal with the situation with N was to say to N: “I’m having difficulties with this situation that is happening in our relationship.”

    • Helovesme

      Reply to Kind Of Anonymous
      4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 7:26 AM

      “Conscience can be a tricky beast”

      For me, that sums it up right there! I read the entire comment, but you summed it up for me in just a few words.

      From Barb’s post: “The culture we grow up in, and the teachings and examples we are exposed to, can deform and invert our conscience.”

      The verses she quoted from Romans 5 were fabulous, though not the part of the “good news” that the Gospel speaks of, that we like to focus on! The disobedience of one made us all sinners. Condemnation came upon all men from ONE sin by ONE person.

      (This has been brought up in other posts, but notice that Eve is not mentioned here, even though she is argued to have “started it” since she sinned first. Well, she started it, but Adam finished it! So no one should put one down over the other, IMO!)

      But the good news is just around the corner. From the original post, from Romans 5: “Adam’s disobedience damned us all before we ourselves worked any evil, and Christ’s obedience saves us all before we ourselves work any good.”

      Barb’s questions about conscience from the original post were wonderful, and then she reminds us that God is merciful, offers complete repentance (and THIS is key)

      “to those who repent and follow him.”

      Kind Of Anonymous’s comment, plus all the details she offered about her conscience was (or wasn’t?) resonated with me so much.

      I gave it some thought, and this is how it is played out with me:

      Self-righteousness and His righteousness are as separate, distinct and different as one can imagine. I honestly don’t think there are words to properly articulate it.

      But Barb, from the post, put it well as she described Him: “whose loving kindness towards us is so vast that it cannot be expressed in human words or grasped with our human minds”

      His righteousness is a facet of that loving kindness. It is pure, beautiful, and perfect. Isaiah, who could easily be seen as a fairly righteous man, said our righteousness is like filthy rags compared to His. Any of our righteousness, trying to “mix” it into His—-stains that perfection.

      It makes no difference if your righteousness even “agrees” with His. For example, as a society we all tend to believe murder is a sin. That is a righteous belief. But that is still rooted in ourselves, and that does not make it the same as His righteousness.

      I step lightly here, because I have been blessed beyond words by non-Christians who have ironically shown me more compassion than Christians. I will always appreciate them, and the fact that I believe the Lord sent them to me. But I know they are not believers, even though I believe they acted rightly, and were even sent by Him.

      There are teachers of the Bible that may know the Word, but do not follow it. Hebrews 4:2 talks about how they heard the message, but did not respond to it in faith. So again, they can “know” of Him, but have no real faith in Him. And you can only accept His righteousness through faith in Him.

      His righteousness, given to me as a gift when I was born again, did EVERYTHING for me that I could not do on my own. My conscience (as Barb described) was always with me, but it was not functioning right AT ALL. I am blessed that it had not become “seared” as the Bible speaks about, but I was on my way there I believe.

      As a believer, my conscience feels like it is always in “surgery!” Fixing what was broken. Reattaching what had been cut off. “Pricking” me with His kind but firm ways to lead me to godly sorrow, to lead to real repentance, to bear fruits worthy of repentance.

      I was used to “pricking” ways that were fear-induced, guilt-ridden, shame based, blame oriented and hate filled. Condescending and/or condemning. I knew of nothing else, and I had no idea anything else BUT that even existed—-or that the Lord Himself was not like that.

      One of the most complicated and painful ways that my conscience wrestled with not only myself and with the Lord Himself—–was with other professing Christians who claimed that His version of righteousness was right, and mine was not.

      So here we have “dueling” perspectives on the SAME THING: His righteousness. And one of us had to be wrong. Was it me, standing alone and very much left alone, or the rest of them—-who had the power not only in numbers but so-called spiritual maturity and knowledge? They were seen as so superior that they were almost never questioned.

      With no hint of pride here (I hope not) I was in the right, not because I was right, but because Scripture backed me up. The rightness of Scripture rules over anything and everything.

      My conscience was pricked all right. I felt horrible for causing division. I felt awful for putting anyone in the opposing group in a difficult position, making them uncomfortable. Maybe I deserved what I was getting. Maybe it would be better if I had believed that righteousness meant you stuck to what others said was right.

      One might look at that paragraph and my conscience wasn’t working as His righteousness would have it. If Scripture backed me up, what was my problem?

      When I became a believer, I tore up my family, none of whom are believers. NO amount of “you did the right thing” eased my pain in causing them pain, even though I don’t regret becoming a believer and I know I am not responsible for causing OR undoing their pain, if that makes sense. But nothing makes me happy about what they were put through. I work hard to understand that without letting it become a stone around my neck, weighing me down.

      This applies to my more recent conflict as well. His righteousness, a sword that defends the weak, also fights the ones who oppose it—-even your own family, and even other professing Christians.

      Stand for His righteousness, and FIND OUT what it is and what it isn’t. If you stand on that, you stand in Him, you stand for Him, and you stand UP for Him.

      Your conscience can be pained at the pain of others, but still hold fast to Him.

      IMO, abusers are the most self-righteous persons imaginable. This is what blinds them to their own hate and hardness. They are so sincerely convinced that they are in the right (which is why they are so good at convincing others!) that they are not only blinded by their original sin nature, but they have intentionally thrown acid on their eyes, sealing their blindness for good.

      I do not believe there is any hope for them, because this is willful and intentional. Jesus told the Pharisees that if they would admit that they are blind, they might have hope. But since they insist that they are not blind, they have no one to blame but themselves.

  5. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi Barb,

    I was 20 years old and attending a Christian school while staying with a family from my church. I was having a problem with how quick to judge the man of the house was sometimes. He was otherwise nice but being scared of men in general and totally terrified of confrontation, I confided my feelings to an adult friend of their family who drew me out into sharing with him. So I confessed to the person I had the problem with what I had said to the adult friend of the family. So basically I told him that I had shared my complaint with the other party and I believe that included what the complaint was also. I don’t recall anymore what the exact grievance was.

    • HeLovesMe

      Kind of Anonymous I loved your comment and Finding Answers as well. Just a quick shout out to you both.

      Kind of Anonymous, whatever comment you leave, even on the longer side, is very readable and well written. Same with everyone else, by the way. Everyone works really hard to write in a way that isn’t overwhelming.

    • Ah, that helps me understand a bit more. 🙂

  6. Kind of Anonymous

    Oops, hit submit too soon, sorry. When I look back at how guilt just harassed and badgered me until I “did the right thing” quote unquote, it seems to me that what I experienced as far as guilt went was unreasonable and extreme and had more to do with scrupulosity/religious OCD than with Holy Spirit conviction.

    As a child I was often told that I was not to say or share things with others, that there were secrets I was to keep and I was heavily chastised for telling a counselor that my paternal grandmother spanked us to make us good (she was very abusive). Additionally, one of the most catastrophic things that happened to me occurred because I told on a parent. So was what I experienced really Holy Spirit conviction or torment rooted in past experiences and OCD like response?

    In the actual situation, an older adult friend of the family drew me out and encouraged me to share with him after asking me if I had any problem with him. I forgot about that part until I thought a bit more about the memory. I was a bit too naïve and although I felt funny about sharing I did so. I did often share things and say things without wisdom or restraint as a young person. I figured if I felt it, then it was true and okay to say it. It does seem a bit odd that God would put the “finger” on me in such an intense heavy duty way but say nothing about the fact that an older adult had somewhat manipulated me into sharing, encouraging me that it was okay and to feel safe about it.

    This man while as far as I know not predatory, yet had some behaviours that were a bit inappropriate as far as the things he liked to talk about, was a bit of a flatterer and a bit too interested in information of the sort he solicited. It would seem to me that if it God was the originator of the intense guilt and anxiety I felt over having done this, that He probably would have said something to me about the person who drew me out into that conversation as well.

    This bears more thinking about for me, esp. being able to identify the source of guilt and torment and tell the difference between God talking to me about something He has a problem with and issues I have kicking up guilt and anxiety. I will leave off for now, don’t want to OCD out on y’all 🙂

    • Finding Answers

      Kind Of Anonymous commented (4TH OCTOBER 2019 – 8:58 PM) “……..It would seem to me that if it God was the originator of the intense guilt and anxiety I felt over having done this, that He probably would have said something to me about the person who drew me out into that conversation as well.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Kind Of Anonymous commented “…….it seems to me that what I experienced as far as guilt went was unreasonable and extreme and had more to do with scrupulosity/religious OCD than with Holy Spirit conviction.”

      ^That.

      I have some Asperger-related OCD issues, though they do not manifest as scrupulosity / religiosity, nor do they (my Asperger-related OCD issues) manifest in the ways with which most people are familiar.

      There are times when an Asperger-related OCD issue crops up and I have to work / concentrate / focus / etc. REALLY hard not to give in to the Asperger-related OCD issue that has cropped up. (Omitting details for my protection.)

      Perhaps my own (personal) experience with Asperger-related OCD issues might help you, Kind Of Anonymous, in your own scrupulosity / religiosity OCD issues.

      • Kind of Anonymous

        Hi Finding Answers, yes it might be very helpful to hear your experiences with OCD related things. I have never really explored the idea that I have that although there were certainly plot portents in my life that indicated there could be a problem that way. I’d be quite interested to hear your experiences.

      • Finding Answers

        In response to Kind Of Anonymous (5TH OCTOBER 2019 – 3:42 PM),

        A number of years ago, I read a memoir by an individual who dealt with scrupulosity / religious OCD for many years, including time spent in seminary. I was surprised, as I had only heard of the “standard list” of repetitive behaviours most frequently mentioned or discussed in relation to OCD.

        Naming a few examples that increase my own (personal) OCD-tendencies: When I am stressed. When I am triggered. When I encounter unexpected / surprise events.

        For me, awareness of ^That helps me recognize when I need to stop myself from over-engaging in a repetitive behaviour.

        For example, when individuals enter account information / activation codes / serial numbers / etc., they (the individual) might check the data they (the individual) enter more than once to ensure the data entered is correct.

        For me, I will normally double-check the data entered from left-to-right, then from right-to-left, then from left-to-right. This back-and-forth process is part of how Asperger’s is expressed in me.

        When my OCD-tendencies increase, I FEEL driven to increase the number of times I double-check the data I entered, but I TELL myself “NO! Enough!”, and complete submitting the data I entered.

        I was also abused (though not physically) for seemingly incorrect work, although MY work was correct. (Omitting details for my protection.) Unfortunately, this non-physical abuse fed into my OCD-tendencies to such an extent that (like many abuse victims / survivors) I would mentally berate (condemn) myself anytime I made a data entry error.

        Now, when my OCD-tendencies increase (for whatever reason), I also listen to “the tone of voice” associated with my fear of entering incorrect data. If the “tone of voice” is condemning, I KNOW I need to ignore it and complete submitting the data I entered.

        Understanding what “makes me tick” (so to speak), helps me tremendously in cutting back on unnecessary OCD behaviours.

        From what I have read / researched / etc., a similar process of “knowing what makes them tick” has helped other individuals.

  7. HeLovesMe

    Barbara you did such a wonderful job. I finally got a chance to read this and I loved it. I’m on my phone so I can’t type much but I can’t wait to read the replies and include my own!

  8. Helovesme

    From Finding Answers:

    “For me, evil individuals believe they ARE “god”.

    My very personal private joke towards myself goes like this: Please don’t call me a control freak. I really dislike being labeled as a freak.

    But the struggle is real. ANYONE who believes they are either equal to Him or want to ascend higher than Him—-is hell-bent (pun intended) on controlling the world around them—-everyone and everything but themselves. 🙂

    Because if ONLY everyone and everything around them would heed to their authority, the world would function nice and smoothly, right?

    I only speak for myself here: I do not believe I am through and through evil and want to be god, but the struggle to remember Who is in charge (and it’s not me!) is real.

    Lately, I have gone a step further. Not only I am not god, but neither is anyone else who either tries to be or tries to convince me of that. Even my abuser, who lived and thrived on control, cannot and should not convince me that he could ever hold a candle to Him.

    I hate platitudes like: He is always in control as a form of comfort. While that is true, when you are suffering at the hands of those who not only hold a lot of power over you, but use it in all the wrong ways—-I wonder why God isn’t using His top notch superior power to get me away from those with their own versions of superior powers.

    As a recovering people pleaser, my idea of “control” went like this: if I just prove how much I care, you will care for me in return. Showing you care will control your response to me—which will be a caring response.

    I didn’t want to “make” anyone love me but at the same time, I did. I just thought they would willingly love me if I just showed them enough love first.

    Then I switched tactics and tried to tell myself that it was all about giving love, not expecting to be loved in return. The giving was enough of a reward in of itself, plus if the goal was to let Christ in me shine, the results (or lack thereof) weren’t as important.

    There was some real deception working there, as well as a fair amount of self-righteousness. Jesus told His disciples to “shake the sand off of our sandals” if their message was rejected. It was meant not only as a sign of judgment, but also an understanding that you go where you are wanted. Where you ARE accepted, and your message IS welcomed.

    You cannot control people. They have free will and they can (and often do) freely reject you.

    If they choose to reject you, they choose to reject you. You cannot get into the heads of free-minded people, as if their minds are a living room with furniture, and move things around as you see fit, so that there is room for you now. And you did this all for their own good, because rejecting you was not acceptable and you were darn well going to do something about it.

    I’m derailing from the post’s intent about abusers—-how far and how deep and how exactly it works with them. My personal story was meant to illustrate how when and if you are abused, you are experiencing rejection on an unimaginable level, and you cannot stop them from choosing what they freely choose to do to you.

    One of the most angering, upsetting narratives towards victims is that they CAN control their abusers. You can get into their heads, or you can pray THEIR sin out of existence (I’m still working on my OWN sins out of existence, and now I have to take on HIS, too??), and you can control how someone freely chooses to treat you.

    This is false hope. Victims are no more god-like than their abusers. False hope can (unintentionally) encourage pride! When I would deal with toxic, unhealthy persons, my pride told me that I could not only “handle” their poison, but also not let it poison me. Really?

    I despise beyond words the lies and deceptions of abusers: they were not only blinded themselves, but they blinded me, too. I felt like I became “one of them.” Their lies became my lies: of course I’m unworthy. Of course no one loves me. Of course you’re never good enough. Of course you’re doomed. Of course you’re so bad that if you even try to be good, you’ll make a fool of yourself.

    However, I think that sort of blindness is curable by Him. All those lies were inflicted on me, and then I chose to self-inflict them. I had no way to fight them off, so I let them consume me, and even invited them in at times. Might as well “complete” the cycle of destruction.

    From the original post, Barb chose Romans 5:15-17 is about as good as it gets. Jesus’s gift of grace went above and beyond the curse that Adam brought into the world: “much more lavish upon many was the grace of God and gift by grace.”

    You know, Christ could have died for our sins, making a path for Heaven for us, and left it there. That is not only enough, but more than enough—–averting eternal death.

    But He also adopted as His children (something Adam never experienced. He was born as His son, never adopted) and made us heirs with Him as well.

    When He died for us, I read a wonderful description of it: He took our attempts at our won efforts at trying to be good, justified, and right before Him; He took our filthy rags of self-righteousness, not to mention the sins of humanity in general:

    None of which He deserved, by the way. And gave US what we DO NOT deserve: His perfect and pure and clean righteousness as gift, given by faith in Him.

    When He gave me His righteousness, over the years I’ve gotten a glimpse of what Paul may have experienced at his conversion. Remember he was blinded, literally, when He met him on the road to Damascus. He had no idea if he would ever see again. When he was prayed over, something like “scales” fell off his eyes, and he could see, literally, again.

    When he was blind for three days, I wondered if God was working on Him to open His spiritual eyes as well. When you are blind, you have a lot of time on your hands. He also didn’t eat or drink. After he could see again, he also ate and got his strength back. But he could also “see” for the first time spiritually as well.

    Paul spoke of being blinded by ignorance when he persecuted the very church he was now a part of (“I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” 1 Timothy 1:12)

    That was my kind of ignorance in so many ways—-hardened by unbelief. I had nothing to believe in, so I was ignorant of the fact that the Living God was real, and had much to offer.

    What I’ve been finding out (and I’m still working this out!) is that if you overthink things too much, you might cloud a Holy Spirit driven conscience in the process.

    You see a hungry person. You have a sandwich in your hands. Before you start wondering, pondering, considering, doubting or having 70 other thoughts run through your mind—-does your conscience really need a bunch of “pricking?” Give them the sandwich.

    Please, I NEVER want to imply that it’s always that simple, all the time! It isn’t! But sometimes it IS. In the agonizing back and forth over issues that are NOT so simple (and really do require the razor sharp accuracy of His wisdom), don’t neglect the the issues that ARE more simple than we think.

    That brings a ray of sunshine as we struggle with the issues that involve a lot more darkness.

  9. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi Finding Answers, yes I recognize similarities for sure in what you described. I have done similar versions of these things and like you, when it’s the OCD checking stuff I can manage to curb it. It certainly involves panic and anxiety. Sometimes I don’t do so well and the panic can become shock waves that just get bigger and bigger. The only way I can stop it is to break my concentration and get outside. It seems to always be worse indoors.

    I didn’t realize that my stopping, backing up and restarting my prayers was actually a ritualized behaviour by which I coped with anxiety about guilt, shame and responsibility and not being acceptable to God and needing to feel pure while feeling impure. I read others descriptions of being scrupulous about honesty, obsessive “confessing” behaviours, excessive explaining themselves, having to tell everyone everything about themselves that could be offensive as a means of warding off the dishonesty of “misrepresenting” themselves, obsessive reassurance seeking behaviours. I had many of these. They tend to manifest under stress, if I am in a relationship with a man, etc.

    There were certainly enough abusive incidents in early developmental years to contribute to this problem, like being asked to handle things that were way above my developmental level and even put me in danger. It certainly gives me something to think and pray about. If you want to share anything more that you think of I am all ears 🙂

    • Finding Answers

      You wrote, Kind Of Anonymous (5TH OCTOBER 2019 – 8:26 PM) “….Sometimes I don’t do so well and the panic can become shock waves that just get bigger and bigger…..”

      For me, ^That would be the equivalent of what is often referred to as catastrophizing, and for me, catastrophizing ties into Asperger’s, OCD and C-PTSD.

      For me, ^That can be a form of hell I can’t even BEGIN to describe, and my only path out is crawling into bed, curling up into a ball, and waiting for the torture to end.

      In the same comment, you commented “There were certainly enough abusive incidents in early developmental years to contribute to this problem, like being asked to handle things that were way above my developmental level and even put me in danger….”

      For me, ^That contributed to taking / assuming responsibility for situations (etc.) that were not my responsibility, and over which I had no control. Learning to cast my cares on Him was a long and laborious process for me, and certainly not helped by “christians” who quoted the same phrase as a pious platitude.

      There are times I worry (sometimes excessively) when I am communicating (verbally or non-verbally) with God that I am not making sense / not being respectful / etc., and I remember (NOT as a pious platitude) that God knows and sees my heart, AND that (unlike humans) He is strong enough / compassionate enough / etc. to be my Fortress / Rock.

      When I am overwhelmed, I ensure none of my choices are made from fear / condemnation / guilt / etc., and cry out even louder to God.

      • HeLovesMe

        Oh my goodness Finding Answers thanks so much for open description of what you go through. Some of that is all too familiar to me as well. I’d have to sit down and dissect it a bit to see how and where I resonated with you. But as I read it I felt a real connection.

        K of A talked about learning to keep quiet as a child and not speaking to adults about serious issues at home. The panic and anxiety factors can go through the roof in dealing with the unthinkable, then bearing the unthinkable alone, and at such young ages to boot.

        Adults have a hard time processing trauma. How are kids expected to (and commanded to) keep it all pent up inside? It bubbles over and out, even if you really try hard enough to keep it contained.

        When I panic, I tend to sweat and my body experiences a lot of pain. It’s like my body is full of holes and the life is draining out of them. I’m so numb that it’s hard to pray. You just have to wait and try to get through it.

        Hard to type on the phone! But I wanted to say thank you for the response.

      • Finding Answers

        HeLovesMe comnmented (5TH OCTOBER 2019 – 10:22 PM) “….It’s like my body is full of holes and the life is draining out of them…..”

        For me, ^That is SUCH an apt description of how I feel when I have pushed my mind to the limit while struggling to communicate a new (to me) idea / concept / etc., fighting to find the words for the picture(s) in my mind (created by the new (to me) idea / concept / etc.).

        I suspect some people who think in words encounter a similar life-draining feeling when they (the people who think in words) are (potentially) struggling (at that moment) to find the words to communicate (clearly) something like a traumatic / triggering / etc. event.

  10. Kind of Anonymous

    Finding Answers, yes, there is a definite tie in with things. C-PTSD and OCD, although I am less familiar with Asperger’s, which I will look up so I understand it a bit better. It is indeed a hell of sorts. HeLovesMe commented on how adults have a hard time processing trauma, so how do kids do it let alone by themselves and under strictures to be quiet and not present a problem for the adults in needing more than the adults want to give or are able to. This is so true.

    The habit of invalidating me, my feelings and viewpoint was so common in my family that on at least one or two occasions my life was endangered, once seriously. Similar incidents occurred with my siblings. Twice one’s life was put at serious risk by casual indifference; were it not for a kind stranger my sibling might have been murdered by someone who was stalking them on the way home from work. The parent was called and refused to come.

    Often such things were treated with exasperated impatience or even disgust so that it reinforced the feeling that not only was one a problem, but the cause of the problem, wholly responsible for solving the problem, and that asking for help was ignorant and selfish. All of it capped off with the lovely feeling that no matter what, one is wrong, the adults are right and there is no winning. The same parent was wounded when I didn’t want them involved in the birth process with my first child and complained to me that one of the things that hurt them was that they felt their kids didn’t like them for the person they were. ARRRRRRGGGHHH.

    All of this resulted in issues with control, fear, panic and anxiety, vulnerability to predators, serious trust issues and buried suppressed anger and unforgiveness issues. Which in turn affected my relationship with God and ability to trust Him, not to mention being angry with God Himself. Of course as soon as you have anger issues with God, religious folks are more interested in quoting scripture and warning you than they are at helping you understand how to untangle such an ugly, snarly unpleasant ball of hellish yarn.

    • Finding Answers

      You commented, Kind Of Anonymous (6TH OCTOBER 2019 – 8:48 AM) “…..although I am less familiar with Asperger’s…..”

      One individual I read commented (paraphrasing by substituting Asperger’s for autism) “When you have met one individual with Asperger’s, you have met one individual with Asperger’s.”

      Many experts / “experts”, professionals / “professionals”, etc./ “etc.” wilfully deny / “deny” or refuse to believe / “refuse to believe” that each individual is unique in how the Asperger / autistic traits are expressed, which might be considered blindness / “blindness” / self-deception / “self-deception”.

      You also commented “……HeLovesMe commented on how adults have a hard time processing trauma, so how do kids do it let alone by themselves and under strictures to be quiet and not present a problem for the adults in needing more than the adults want to give or are able to. This is so true.”

      ^THAT!

      You also commented “……All of it capped off with the lovely feeling that no matter what, one is wrong, the adults are right and there is no winning…..”

      ^That.

      You also commented “All of this resulted in issues with control, fear, panic and anxiety, vulnerability to predators, serious trust issues and buried suppressed anger…..”

      ^That.

      You also commented “……being angry with God Himself…..”

      ^That.

      You also commented “……Of course as soon as you have anger issues with God, religious folks are more interested in quoting scripture and warning you than they are at helping you understand how to untangle such an ugly, snarly unpleasant ball of hellish yarn.”

      Amen to ^That.

    • HeLovesMe

      That was such a wonderful comment. I resonated with so much of it but since I’m on my phone again, I’ll wait to be able to describe what I mean.

      I will offer this. My dad was my abuser. Once when I was young (can’t recall my exact age), he was supposedly trying to teach me how to add and subtract.

      Well his way of doing it was to give me the problems and tell me to figure out how to solve them on my own.

      If you can imagine how that felt you’ll feel my pain. I did the best I could. I brought the answers to him and they were wrong so he sent me back to figure them out. He was very cold and disapproving.

      I don’t recall how it ended, but he sent me back crying because I had no idea what I was doing, but was mandated to get it right…. somehow. With no way of knowing how to get it right.

      Most people look down at a fear filled, anxiety driven, confidence lacking person. They might feel a mixture of contempt and/or disgust. It’s hard to explain how you got that way, if they’ve already chosen to think less of you.

      The casual indifference factor is exactly how I’d describe so much of my own life. I’ve struggled to not adopt the same attitude that was shown to me, and infused in me.

      Who cares about the suffering of others, when no one cared about mine? That was my attitude before Christ, and without His beautiful love I would still be stuck in that.

      But I’m still drawn to the “why bother” mentally. You bother because He bothered to live and die and live again for us! I was worth the bother. Everyone was worth the bother to Him.

      • Finding Answers

        You commented, HeLovesMe, (6TH OCTOBER 2019 – 9:04 PM) “I don’t recall how it ended, but he sent me back crying because I had no idea what I was doing, but was mandated to get it right…. somehow. With no way of knowing how to get it right.”

        What struck me about ^That idea was how similar it (the idea) is to how some “christian” folks “teach” the Bible and / or Scripture.

      • Helovesme

        Finding Answers, yes! That was almost exactly my line of thought when I was describing that incident with my dad:

        “What struck me about ^That idea was how similar it (the idea) is to how some “christian” folks “teach” the Bible and / or Scripture.”

        Yes, absolutely. Do it right but figure it all out yourself. I’ll be sure to let you know when and if you’ve done it right, but knowing you, you’ll probably get it all wrong

      • Finding Answers

        You commented, Helovesme, (7TH OCTOBER 2019 – 7:11 PM) “….Do it right but figure it all out yourself. I’ll be sure to let you know when and if you’ve done it right, but knowing you, you’ll probably get it all wrong.”

        ^THAT!!!

      • It is done to break the child’s spirit.

      • HeLovesMe

        Yes absolutely Barb, thanks for saying that. It really did break my spirit, as did many similar episodes.

    • Helovesme

      From Kind of Anonymous’s comment:

      “Of course as soon as you have anger issues with God, religious folks are more interested in quoting scripture and warning you”

      My abuser was known for having a hair trigger temper and got very angry, which was scary like you can’t believe. I understand that not all abusers are like that. There are many, many ways for abusers to terrify their victims, and anger is just one of them.

      Anger seemed to blind my abuser, almost like something got a hold of him and controlled him from the inside out. Sometimes I wondered if he was even aware of what he was doing. Did he black out in his rage, and was therefore blind to his behaviors?

      (The answer is “no,” I don’t believe that. But you can see how professing Christians might be led to believe that abusers are so blinded by their sin nature controlling them, that they simply have little to no self-control)

      I associated my abuser’s anger towards me as if he hated me personally. This is no deception. Your abuser certainly does not love you.

      However, his hatred towards me really messed with me! Now I hate myself, I hate others, and I hate God as well. I’m also angry at myself, others and God as well.

      Your anger becomes a tower that you hide yourself in. You think of it as a fortress of protection, but in reality it is a prison that leaves you lost and lonely.

      You can easily quote Scripture at me and try to make me see that all this anger and hate is doing nothing but blinding me to His love. And it was.

      When I look back, however, I think my abuser and myself were put in the same category. We were both seen as miserable, filled with pain, anger and hatred. We were both blinded by our sins. We were both in need of salvation.

      This isn’t totally untrue, but there is a BIG difference between the abuser and the abused. My abuser needed to repent for abusing me. As the victim, I had nothing to repent of in being abused. I had other sins to repent of, but not the ones he had chosen to commit against me.

      Others might be able to confirm this, but often times aren’t victims told that THEY are the blind ones—-blinded to their abuser’s “need for Jesus?” Whether the abuser does or doesn’t claim to be a Christian? (Mine did not, which somewhat worked in his favor. He really was blind since he was confirmed to still be locked in darkness.)

      Well, abuse CAN blind a victim. Often they don’t even know they are being abused until the blinders come off and they see clearly what had been cloudy for so long. This is the work of a skilled and practiced abuser, who is NOT blind to what he is doing and is purposefully blinding his victim so that she doesn’t’ see the abuse as abuse.

      I knew I was being abused, but I did not know what could be done, if anything, about it—-except to cope and survive somehow. I had a harder time admitting that the abuse had truly scarred me for life. I tried to be so tough, but I was only fooling myself. I pretended I could see clearly, but I was blind to my own pain—-I simply didn’t want to see it for what it was.

      Abusers are deliberate deceivers. They survive and thrive on it. If deception was a sport, they would be Olympic contenders. This is one of the reasons why I think we have a hard time “keeping up” with their lies. They are “marathon” runners in this “sport.” The rest of us can barely keep up as they run mile after mile, never getting tired of lying and then covering for their lies and making up new lies. We have worn ourselves out long ago, but they keep going and going—-never tiring and never wanting to stop.

      So I have a hard time with the idea that they are “blind” to what they are doing. How can they be so good at something so deliberate and elaborate, if they are not fully aware of what they are doing, with their eyes wide open as they do it?

      Now, as a victim and as a non-abuser, I have told lies. I have been willful and deliberate in dishonestly. I am no innocent. I am bathed in my fair share of darkness.

      But I have no interest in remaining blind. I do not want to stay this way. There is nothing to be gained and everything to lose. Real people get really hurt when you remain this way, including yourself.

      I wrote in another comment that I believe abusers, like all of us, are born with the sin nature which blinds us to the goodness of God until He reveals it to us. But I think abusers deliberately throw acid onto their eyes, sealing their blindness for good. They have every interest in remaining as deceivers. They have no interest in anything else.

      So, are abusers blind? They are, but they don’t care. They are dark people who live in a dark world and that darkness keeps their deeds hidden. They sure know how to navigate through that darkness and entrap others in their dark deeds.

      Think of Audrey Hepburn in “Wait after Dark.” Her character was blind, and in order to fight the intruders, she smashed all the lights in the apartment. Now they were living in her world, dark and devoid of light. She had adapted by then to that life, but not the intruders. That is how she was able to defeat them.

      Maybe that was a bit off topic. I just liked how a blind woman, seemingly more at risk and helpless and weak —-fought off those who could see. She used her “handicap” to put her intruders at a disadvantage.

  11. Anonymous Yelling into the Void

    I’ve been thinking a lot about deception recently. A man (let’s call him John) I trusted and once sent father’s day cards to from my church has been accused of abusing women. And I totally believe the victims.

    The warning signs were all there, and I feel a lot of pain because my own father was abusive. It has really messed with my faith in my ability to see predators, you know?

    He knew he was doing wrong. John has admitted that. He knows about God’s grace and how we are all sinners. He’s preached and mentored and lectured about how our inadequate understanding of grace prevents us from fully experiencing God’s love. He was not spiritually blind or deceived. There is currently an investigation going on inside the church. And now I’m filled with so much anger. My therapist retired and I thought I was in a good place but today I was getting off the bus and I just wanted to scream out loud in frustration and pain. That would have really scared the people I was with so I didn’t.

    I realize why today has been so bad. I have been avoiding going to church for a while because of this (and other things). I can’t stand to pretend everything is ok while simultaneously not feeling like I can say anything because of an ongoing investigation. So people have started emailing me and I don’t know how to respond. I don’t want to respond. I want to ignore them. How do I say that I can’t really talk about it, but that there is something I’m struggling with, that it might end with me leaving the church, and that I don’t want to talk about it.

    I’m tired of watching men in the church over and over again abuse women and to see nothing done. I feel like they are killing my faith. I can’t write that without a whole lot of people trying to get into my business right now in a way I can not tolerate. I feel wounded and would like for them to please stop gossiping about me. I can’t move on until people know and there is some sort of judgement, but that isn’t happening for a long time and I feel like I’m in purgatory. I can’t stay but I can’t move on. To make this life vomit in someway productive, what should I do? I can’t just ghost this person. Articulating it in such a way that precludes follow up is elluding me. It is disheartening. I thought I had come to far. Now I feel back at square one.

    • Hi Anonymous Yelling into the Void — I get why you chose that screen name!

      Welcome to the blog, and thanks for your comment. Sorry it took me a little while to publish it. I wanted to read it carefully first, and add paragraph breaks to it for readability. 🙂

      I hear you. I believe you. I support your right to make your own decision about how to deal with the situation. And to change your mind later if you want!

      I will reply a bit more later on, if I get further thoughts.

      Bless you. And since you are new to the blog (or at least, to commenting on the blog) may I encourage you to check out our FAQ page and our New Users Info page. I think you would find both of them helpful.

    • You might find this post helpful. It gives tips for how to deal with difficult situations.

      BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People

    • HeLovesMe

      Just wanted to say “hi” and let you know I read your comment as well and was deeply moved. I’m in a pretty hard place myself, situations very different, but pain is pain and it hurts!

      Will be praying for you. That sounds lame (sort of hollow sounding) but when you mean it (and I do) it means so much.

      I won’t add anything from my own life even if it might encourage you because I don’t want to put you in a place where you might share something that might complicate your already very complicated time of suffering.

      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through and have gone through. When I’ve been praying lately I cry out: Lord it wasn’t supposed to be like this! Now what?

      Well I may know nothing but I know He is everything.

    • Anonymous Y-into-the-V, you are not the only one who is tired of watching men in the church over and over again abuse women and to see nothing done.

      You feel like they are killing your faith. Let’s unpack that.

      Your faith in Jesus. The people in the church who are abusing others and getting away with it are not following Christ, they are not Christians, they are wolves. The people in the church who are doing ‘internal investigations’ and thinking that church leaders are trained and equpipped to investigate CRIMES are puffed up fools who are enabling the wolves.

      Police officers are trained to investigate crimes. Church leaders, pastors, elders are fooling themselves if they think they have the competence to investigate crimes.

      I know that some police are corrupt and are complying with the criminals. But the fact remains: pastors and church elders have NOT been given the specialised training to investigate crimes.

      Your distress, Anon Y, is justified. The internal investigation of John that the church is doing is going to be a whitewash and a farce. It will not bring the whole truth to light. It will not bring justice for the victims. The leaders of the church are ignorant and they are puffed up with an unrealistic and foolish assessment of their own competence.

      I encourage you to keep your faith in Jesus. Jesus is as angry as you are about the abusers and the abuser-enablers who go to church each week and go through the motions of worshipping God, while they target victims and re-trigger survivors of abuse like you.

  12. HeLovesMe

    Thank you for sharing that tragic but amazing testimony. So much of that made sense to me as well.

    In American history, you’ll read about people who were unashamedly racist and cruel and evil. They’d parade their hate without hiding it, even trying to claim it as Biblical. They truly seemed to believe they were in the right, and that God thought so, too.

    Aligning with your comment, they knew enough to spout their hate during the day but commit their evil deeds at night. This was deliberate. They purposely thrived on deception because of the power it gave them to crush innocent persons.

    Their consciences were not moved by all the suffering they deliberately caused. They knew exactly what they were doing and kept going from bad to worse. Their desire to remain in absolute power was expressed in crushing others with absolute fear.

    The Bible speaks of a “seared” conscience, but I personally think this does not evade accountability. You can choose to be and do evil through and through and you are still responsible for your deeds.

    Power is what I believe is at the heart of a cult, or of abusers, is that accurate based on what you lived through?

    Your mom seems to reflect that. One sense of her losing her hold on you and she lashed out at you, attempting to victimize you back into her clutches.

  13. Helovesme

    Thank you Gany T. for the kind words and encouragement. I really needed it.

    And Barb, your response to Anonymous Y-into-the-V was also very encouraging. I really needed to hear it.

    Without trying to stress the “depths of despair” narrative in favor of stressing the “depths of His love:”

    So many times it is as if we are alone on a football field or in ocean—-and we are surrounded by people or sea creatures that are much bigger than us, or (regardless of size) much more powerful than us. Capable of inflicting great cruelty, and very willing to do so.

    Pointless to try to explain yourself: please, you haven’t heard my side of things. If you would just listen. Don’t assume. Don’t believe everything you’ve heard. Don’t even believe your own eyes. What you are looking at may seem deserving of pain, but I am already drowning in it. Please do not “finish” what others have started.

    Okay, now to the “depths of His love,” which is where I’d like to “finish” this.

    When the dam of pain breaks and the water comes at you full force, it knocks you down.

    When the dam of His love breaks and He comes at you full force, He pulls you back up.

    That first dam breaking is due to the hands of those who want to bring death.

    The second dam breaking is due to the Hands of Him who died for us, rose again and made death null and void as a result.

    The Hands that hold the world together are holding me now, when my world is falling apart.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (8TH OCTOBER 2019 – 5:45 PM) “The Hands that hold the world together are holding me now, when my world is falling apart.”

      I am praying for you, Helovesme, and I do NOT write those as empty pious platitude words.

      • Helovesme

        Aw, thank you for the prayers. And absolutely; I would never think of you being superficial or shallow, spiritually or otherwise!

        Looking forward to reading Barb’s next post. Hoping to get to it sooner than later.

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