Spiritual Abuse? It's time for healing to begin
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Apostle Robert Bennett, MA.
My beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
Speaking from the apostolic perspective, having received the mandate
from Jesus Christ to build my church, I feel it's my duty to bring
certain spiritual matters before you for judgment. Our goal in this
article is to help abusers and the victims of abuse to recognize God's
voice and see the wisdom of rejecting the heresy practiced by the
Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day.
Many people naturally ask what spiritual abuse has to do with the
ability to hear God's voice. This is a logical question considering
the mindset of today's Christian. But as we shall see spiritual abuse
is one of the most powerful weapons Satan has in his arsenal.
Throughout the eons of time Satan has successfully hindered our
ability to hear God's voice while at the same time convincing
Christians they can't hear from God directly. This deception has
resulted in the vast majority of Christians actually believing that
pastors and other the Christian leaders are the only people that can
hear the voice of God, and nothing could be further from the truth.
God does not speak to one person more than another.
Understanding spiritual abuse is a reality within the Christian
community makes it imperative to our spiritual well being that we know
what hinders us from hearing God's voice. And knowing what hinders us
is equally important to knowing what helps us to hear His voice. And
so the wise Christian will make themselves aware of Satan's devices.
In this situation ignorance of the enemy's devices can have a
devastating effect on our life.
Spiritual abuse can be likened to domestic abuse or domestic violence,
in that there is an abuser and there are victims. But when confronted
both sides deny the existence of the abusive situation and this denial
actually protects and perpetuates the abuse. But as Spirit filled
Christians we must realize denial and deception are two of the main
demonic forces that give power to every kind of spiritual abuse.
So let us concede that hearing and obeying God's voice in the midst of
abuse and denial is very difficult, and many abused Christians find it
impossible. Scripture reveals that Jesus spoke harsh words to the
Pharisees; He used the words Woe unto you Pharisees and Scribes at
times, referring to the spiritual abuse the practiced. These instances
of Jesus open contempt for spiritually abusive leaders should serve as
a warning to the leaders of today's Church.
When we study the actions of the Pharisees we find a remarkable
similarity to spiritually abusive church leaders today. So below we
have listed a few of the main characteristics of churches that operate
in spiritual abuse:
Leaders that constantly remind themselves and the congregation of
their position of authority practice spiritual abuse. They tend to be
preoccupied most of the time talking about how everyone is supposed to
be in submission to them. The fact that they are eager to place people
under them should serve as dire warning to us. In many spiritually
abusive churches the pastor and leadership is far removed from the
Jesus on the other hand is our perfect example of how spiritual
leaders should see his or her position among the people. Matt 7:28,29
says, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one
who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. The people
could sense His authority and His concern for them and He always gave
the people hope. A true leader rarely talks about his or her authority
instead they concentrate their efforts on exhorting people to live a
holy and righteous life while giving them hope.
Preoccupation with Performance
Churches that operate in spiritual abuse place a much higher
importance on performance than on grace. To them works are more
important than being transformed into Christlikeness by the power of
the Holy Ghost.
In spiritually abusive congregations pastors often demand members
spend time performing works. Or they may send a deacon to reprimand
someone for missing service or coming in late. Their attention is more
on the clock than on the people.
Keep in mind that under a pharisaical form of spiritual abuse
performance is demanded above grace and transformation everyone either
does what they are told or they face shame and embarrassment from the
Rules are hidden
Spiritually abusive churches control people by rules. But it's the
hidden rules that are most powerful, injurious, and unhealthy. For
example, Don't say anything contrary to the pastor's teaching or the
church leadership. When this situation arises the person speaking up
is marked as rebellious. If we speak against any of the projects the
pastor wants were automatically outcast, cut off from the congregation
and accused of having a devil or being a person that doesn't hear from
God and doesn't understand the Word.
By not speaking those hidden rules, they are kept from being exposed
for what they are: a control mechanism that manipulates people. The
Bible calls manipulation witchcraft.
Unbalanced Approach to Living the Christian Life
This aspect of spiritual abuse generally appears in two distinct and
extremely dangerous modes: First authority in the Church is based on
education, intellect or financial support rather than being filled
with the Holy Ghost. The other common mode is that authority in the
congregation is guided by emotions, feelings and experiences, once
again leaving out the necessity of being filled with the Holy Ghost.
In many spiritually abusive churches authority over the congregation
is given to the person that writes the biggest check.
None of these abusive situations acknowledge obedience and sensitivity
to the Holy Spirit, nor the gifts and calling on a persons life. It
limits God to act only in ways that can be explained, proven and
acceptable to the pastor.
Another equally devastating abuse teaches that members of the
congregation can only know and understand God by what the leaders tell
them because only the leaders are given revelation from God which is
false, and could not be further from the truth.
Fear and Suspicion
In the spiritual abusive church there is a fear or paranoia that
outsiders will not understand their revelation of the Word (the
twisting of scripture) and will persecute them (reveal the existing
abuse). This fear and suspicion builds a wall around them and creates
isolation that enables the pastor to be accountable to no one. And
this enables him or her to have more control over the people and abu
se them as he or she pleases.
Within the abusive church, there is a hidden communication system that
funnels information about its members that are not in full support of
the leaders directions and teachings. The leaders fear exposure. While
cloaking their evil with scripture (Obey your leaders and submit to
their authority. Hebrew 13:17), they are quick to mark as being
rebellious and discipline anyone who questions their decisions or
speaks contrary to their teachings.
Delusion of Grandeur
One of the strongest footholds Satan has in a spiritually abusive
church is the belief that they alone are right, that everyone who does
not fully agree with their teachings and methods are wrong or live a
Most often the pastor is not accountable to an overseeing leadership
and in cases the oversight committee is hand picked by the pastor and
they act as his or her yes? ?? people. You will find that often other
churches are criticized, even from the pulpit.
Another characteristic of spiritual abuse is often expressed in
scaring and humiliating the people. Marking people who do not adhere
to the pastor's standards is a powerful method to scare and humiliate
There are many types of spiritual abuse within todays church. Many of
which deal with fin ances or shall we say special financial favors for
the pastor. One pastor I recently heard about told the members of
their congregation that each head of household would be required to
give an extra $175.00 per month to pay off the pastor's van. Another
took thousands of dollars to purchase special things for himself.
Here are two examples that happened in an abusive church:
Demanding that everyone give offerings and pay tithes. Some abusive
pastors resort to threatening members of their congregation by
exposing their non compliance to other members of the congregation
In spiritually abusive churches mostly everyone reflects the pastor's
self-righteousness. There is an understanding that if you leave that
church, you will be cursed.
Within the past several months this topic has been foremost in my
heart. Crying sincere tears of compassion for those who are in bondage
to spiritual abuse has caused me to be on my face before the Lord
seeking mercy for the victims and the abusers. So today from the heart
of God I say enough is enough. To the abuser, I say, Stop and repent!
To the abused, Come and let me heal you says the Lord of Hosts. And to
the rest of the Body of Christ, God says,Open your eyes to this cancer
and rid My Body of it.
May the Grace, Peace, Mercy, Love and Joy rest upon you and your house
all the days of your life.
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