Faith & Encouragement | Spiritual Issues

A thought or two

June 13, 2008

on Spiritual Abuse from funnyfunnygalsis

She posits a few questions…

What if the abuser is someone who has not put themselves under any authority? This person is a believer, appears to be walking in truth, is talking the talk, they just aren’t committed to a particular church.

And…

This person appears to be mature in relationship with the Lord, and so a younger believer can be easily ’star struck’ by the mature believers procalamtions of the ‘the Lord is doing this’ and the ‘the Lord is saying this’ and ‘I am discerning this’. Even the memory of scripture, that can be shared in our out of context to make a point woos the young believer into the good graces of the mature believer.

And concludes with the following questions:

Why isn’t the mature believer under any authority?

How do you test the fruit of their ‘gifts’ when they are not connected to a body of believers?

Who do you confront after steps one and two of Matthew 18?

When is it appropriate to warn younger believers?

When does it cross the line from advice to abuse?

Given the events in my life over the past few years, this strikes a deep and resounding chord in my shredded little psyche. Because if you substitute “individual” for “small congregation” and apply the same criteria: lack of oversight, accountability and “words from G-d for your life” for the purpose of creating a “star struck” following you have exactly the same scenario I found myself in.

Especially because you have a single or a couple of strong personalities declaring a deeper and more mature relationship with G-d and the young believer, as they sincerely seek G-d and try to fit into His Body, is too uninformed? illiterate in the Word? weak? intimidated? to confront or challenge the behavior or the beliefs of this “older and wiser” believer.

It’s disgusting. To think that the disciples were told that the world would know they followed Christ because of “their love one for the other” and we are actually talking about predators in our midst.

Funny thing about that.

There aren’t any predatory sheep. They don’t exist. So if you see someone consuming sheep?

Probably a wolf.

Here are my responses to funnyfunnygalsis on her blog;

Why isn’t the mature believer under any authority?

A mature believer would be. (addendum: a G-dly woman would be especially mindful of needing a covering. Although feminism hates this concept, G-d likes it. And while you may not be “part of a standard body there would be someone in your life to whom you are accountable. Otherwise you are just a wild card and a loose cannon.)

How do you test the fruit of their ‘gifts’ when they are not connected to a body of believers?

You would see the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in their life. Love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, self-control… Maybe not all, but definitely a healthy number. Especially if this person is “mature”. Remember the TRUE mature believers in your life and compare their “ministry” to this persons.

Who do you confront after steps one and two of Matthew 18?

If this person is attempting to fellowship with you personally or in a group which you are a part of, you have the authority to control the environment and the involvement of those with whom you choose to fellowship.

Romans 16:17-18
17I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13….
9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”[b]

When is it appropriate to warn younger believers?

As soon as possible… I believe it’s the whole “leaven” and “lump” thing. You don’t, however, need to use names or point fingers unless the Matthew scenario has transpired as far as it can go and this person is, by their lack of repentance or G-dly concern, refusing to listen.

When does it cross the line from advice to abuse?

When a suggestion becomes a demand. When encouragement becomes control. When the Holy Spirit speaking independently in someone’s life is secondary to that person speaking into their life. When another, opposing viewpoint is seen as “competition” or division. When obedience to the advice is seen as disobedience to G-d.

And because I never quite know when to shut up:

Oh, one more thing… 1 Corinthians….

who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.

This does apply….

Swindlers: “extortioners” from the root word “haireō” (greek) which means “to take for oneself”.

Who gets the glory, position and authority for the behavior of this so-called “mature believer”? And is this person willing to take (important note) the glory, position and credit?

Yes, it’s a fine line. Yes it’s a shaky argument. But it works for me.

We aren’t commanded to judge the world. For their eternal judgment and the evaluation of their soul is only in the hands of G-d.

We are commanded to judge each other and evaluate the fruit of our lives. Even to find the absence thereof and determine whether or not we find this person to be exhibiting the fruit of a believer’s life!

We must also, however, be willing to talk to that person individually before taking it anywhere else and give them the opportunity to repent and be restored to fellowship.

GACK! I don’t have time for this delicious little diversion this morning!

  • funnyfunnygalssis

    It is so accurate that sheep are the prey not the predator. The only answer is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

    But we shouldn’t be surprised, the Lord took time to warn us of false teachers, wise enough to use elements of truth, crafty enough to twist them for their own glory.

    It grieves my heart that this runs so rampid in our pasture, and so many sheep are blindly captivated by the wolf. (again, not inconsistent with what the Lord prepares us for)

    The wolves are so suttle, they camoflouge themselves so cunningly, it is hard to see beyond the sheep’s clothing to the real wolf inside.

    The first sign is perhaps when they assert themselves, to know more, or be more mature, or have some new insight, the truly mature believer doesn’t proclaim themselves to be so.

    The sheep recognize the sheep, there is no question, but the wolf enters the pasture, shouting “i”m here, look at me, I’m a sheep”.

  • funnyfunnygalssis

    It is so accurate that sheep are the prey not the predator. The only answer is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

    But we shouldn’t be surprised, the Lord took time to warn us of false teachers, wise enough to use elements of truth, crafty enough to twist them for their own glory.

    It grieves my heart that this runs so rampid in our pasture, and so many sheep are blindly captivated by the wolf. (again, not inconsistent with what the Lord prepares us for)

    The wolves are so suttle, they camoflouge themselves so cunningly, it is hard to see beyond the sheep’s clothing to the real wolf inside.

    The first sign is perhaps when they assert themselves, to know more, or be more mature, or have some new insight, the truly mature believer doesn’t proclaim themselves to be so.

    The sheep recognize the sheep, there is no question, but the wolf enters the pasture, shouting “i”m here, look at me, I’m a sheep”.

  • funnyfunnygalssis

    It is so accurate that sheep are the prey not the predator. The only answer is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

    But we shouldn’t be surprised, the Lord took time to warn us of false teachers, wise enough to use elements of truth, crafty enough to twist them for their own glory.

    It grieves my heart that this runs so rampid in our pasture, and so many sheep are blindly captivated by the wolf. (again, not inconsistent with what the Lord prepares us for)

    The wolves are so suttle, they camoflouge themselves so cunningly, it is hard to see beyond the sheep’s clothing to the real wolf inside.

    The first sign is perhaps when they assert themselves, to know more, or be more mature, or have some new insight, the truly mature believer doesn’t proclaim themselves to be so.

    The sheep recognize the sheep, there is no question, but the wolf enters the pasture, shouting “i”m here, look at me, I’m a sheep”.

  • Very good insights, Heidi.
    I would also add it’s the pastor’s job to protect the sheep from the wolves. The problem arises when the pastor has been hoodwinked by the wolves.

  • Maybe many of the sheep that are “fooled” by the wolves aren’t sheep either. Narrow is the gate and few that enter. Today there is the common perception that the majority are truly “Christian” because they claim to be. I think given the passage on the Narrow Gate, and the prophecies on the Israelite remnant that this is probably a false teaching. Might is not right, and the majority is typically wrong.

    If you know yourself to be a sheep, then you must listen to the Spirit and read the Word so you know what is truth. Definitely do not assume that all in your congregation are sheep. And remember that a good tree does not bear any bad fruit. Fruit being something that grows larger and larger from a seed into a full fledged fruit. A good tree will prune off the bad seeds before they grow into bad fruit.

  • Maybe many of the sheep that are “fooled” by the wolves aren’t sheep either. Narrow is the gate and few that enter. Today there is the common perception that the majority are truly “Christian” because they claim to be. I think given the passage on the Narrow Gate, and the prophecies on the Israelite remnant that this is probably a false teaching. Might is not right, and the majority is typically wrong.

    If you know yourself to be a sheep, then you must listen to the Spirit and read the Word so you know what is truth. Definitely do not assume that all in your congregation are sheep. And remember that a good tree does not bear any bad fruit. Fruit being something that grows larger and larger from a seed into a full fledged fruit. A good tree will prune off the bad seeds before they grow into bad fruit.

  • Morris

    Pablo: “The problem arises when the pastor has been hoodwinked by the wolves.”

    Unfortunately, Pablo, far too many pastors/leaders these days *are* the wolves..

  • Morris

    Pablo: “The problem arises when the pastor has been hoodwinked by the wolves.”

    Unfortunately, Pablo, far too many pastors/leaders these days *are* the wolves..

  • Heidi,

    When Kathy and I first stepped outside the club (not out of His church) we had many people throw bible verses at us to try and prove what we were doing was outside the confines of the kingdom.

    Authority, we have that. Fellowship, you work really hard to find it but it’s possible. Wolves, they are everywhere.

    But what we’ve learned is, you can’t explain what God is up to in your life unless you’ve been called to the same thing.

    I’m sure Moses had a hard time explaining to “The People” the reason they were wondering in the wilderness for 40 years. I bet people were screaming “hey, Moses, get a map”.

    When Paul lost his eyesight and gained great vision, I’m sure many in and outside the church of the day, questioned and threw doctrine at him to try and stop him.

    God is my authority. He places men and women in my life, at his choosing, to correct and lift me up. If I spend time in the word I get to know Him better. That’s just how relationships work. But it’s not a requirement. Legalism is a trap. It’s the opposite of relationship and it’s way more comfortable than stepping out on a limb. God doesn’t call everyone to do what you are doing or what I’m doing and he certainly doesn’t want us judging each other. Bottom line, I’d hate to be the sheep who said “what in the world is Heidi doing…she’s wrong, where’s her fruit, where’s her authority” only to find out I was a wolf.

    We as followers of Christ need to really look at how He lived and what He did and said while He was here. We need to spend time with Him, not because of a rule, program or new idea. We spend time with Him because we love Him.

    If I went to my wife and said, “Hey, Kathy, I’m going to spend more time with you because a bunch of people on a blog said I should” my relationship with my wife would suffer greatly. But if I hang out with her, get close, listen and love, the fruit of our relationship will be obvious. And if others don’t see the fruit in our relationship, I really don’t care. I’m not here to please the audience…I’m hear to please God.

    Stay strong. Don’t listen to the audience. You’ve got a great heart and God knows exactly what He’s doing.

  • Heidi,

    When Kathy and I first stepped outside the club (not out of His church) we had many people throw bible verses at us to try and prove what we were doing was outside the confines of the kingdom.

    Authority, we have that. Fellowship, you work really hard to find it but it’s possible. Wolves, they are everywhere.

    But what we’ve learned is, you can’t explain what God is up to in your life unless you’ve been called to the same thing.

    I’m sure Moses had a hard time explaining to “The People” the reason they were wondering in the wilderness for 40 years. I bet people were screaming “hey, Moses, get a map”.

    When Paul lost his eyesight and gained great vision, I’m sure many in and outside the church of the day, questioned and threw doctrine at him to try and stop him.

    God is my authority. He places men and women in my life, at his choosing, to correct and lift me up. If I spend time in the word I get to know Him better. That’s just how relationships work. But it’s not a requirement. Legalism is a trap. It’s the opposite of relationship and it’s way more comfortable than stepping out on a limb. God doesn’t call everyone to do what you are doing or what I’m doing and he certainly doesn’t want us judging each other. Bottom line, I’d hate to be the sheep who said “what in the world is Heidi doing…she’s wrong, where’s her fruit, where’s her authority” only to find out I was a wolf.

    We as followers of Christ need to really look at how He lived and what He did and said while He was here. We need to spend time with Him, not because of a rule, program or new idea. We spend time with Him because we love Him.

    If I went to my wife and said, “Hey, Kathy, I’m going to spend more time with you because a bunch of people on a blog said I should” my relationship with my wife would suffer greatly. But if I hang out with her, get close, listen and love, the fruit of our relationship will be obvious. And if others don’t see the fruit in our relationship, I really don’t care. I’m not here to please the audience…I’m hear to please God.

    Stay strong. Don’t listen to the audience. You’ve got a great heart and God knows exactly what He’s doing.

  • Rick, I made a post out of my reply!!

  • Rick, I made a post out of my reply!!