Our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has much to say about spiritual abuse and has left for His children the record of His words regarding this vital matter in His Word the Holy Bible. Most of the passages that deal with spiritual abuse are taken from Matthew chapter 23, but there will be other passages from the New Testament that buttress what He taught since in reality all of the Holy Bible is the Word of Jesus Christ to His children.
The first warning sign that you are involved with those who are abusing you spiritually is that they are overly zealous and their zeal has very little to do with God’s purposes, with God’s glory.
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves”. Matthew 23:15
There is a lot to discover from this short passage. First, Jesus Christ is addressing the religious leaders of His day, the religious elites who had spiritual insight and wisdom, although it didn’t come from God. These were religious men who were respected within their communities, you can imagine their chagrin and the shock of their followers when Jesus Christ so powerfully rebuked them for their hypocrisy. Their zealousness wasn’t a God given love for the souls of lost men, no they wanted to make followers of their religion not God’s truth. They were sons of hell and their followers were even worse. So beware of zealots advocating for their particular teaching or false religion but not the truth of the Word of God.
17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. Galatians 4:17
Next heavy-handed false teachers command their followers to observe customs, religious dogmas & dictates that overburden the souls of any who follow them.
1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever the tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works, for they say and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their little fingers”. Matthew 23:1-4
The religious leaders of Christ’s day did teach the Old Testament, and when they taught it accurately, the people were to obey them. But when they taught them to do things contrary to God’s Word, the people were to ignore them. Their false teachings were designed to instill feelings of guilt within their followers. The scribes and Pharisees set up lofty standards they themselves could not fulfill, they didn’t even try, their goal was to keep the people burdened with a sense of guilt so they would come to them to learn how they could overcome that guilt. They laid a trap of guilt upon those who followed them. The religious elites had them right where they wanted them. The same is true today, I have seen this played out in a church we used to attend. Fortunately for me, Christ kept me from this crippling guilt trip because He has assured me that His grace is sufficient for me. Jesus Christ has set us free from any man centered observances for absolution. His death & resurrection are sufficient to cleanse us from all sin, establish us in His truth, and strengthen us to obey His Word. Manmade religion binds the hearts and minds of men.
12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Galatians 6:12-16
Spiritual abuse by false teachers leads to eternal damnation. False teachers blind their followers with their manmade dogma and doctrine that destroys God given thirst for salvation by substituting a spurious way that appeals to the flesh ensuring eternal destruction in fiery hell.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in”. Matthew 23:13
Do you ever wonder why so-called Bible teachers will give chapter and verse but never quote the passage? They have their own agenda which doesn’t include your salvation. If they don’t quote Scripture, then flee away. Even if they do quote the Scripture be very wary if they are trying to convince you of certain doctrines by quoting some passages but ignoring others. To avoid these treacherous deceivers, we must be well-versed in the Holy Bible. In other words, read and study God’s Word for self-protection and to help others!
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning sun rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 1 But there were false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teaches among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 1:19-2:1
False teachers, spiritual abusers, put on a good show to take advantage of you, but know their only motive ever is their own acclaim, glory and material enrichment. They love the praise of men, but aren’t willing to be humble servants of Christ Jesus, to receive blessing from Him rather than ill-gotten gain in the here and now. They especially prey upon the old and infirm. Beware of their conceit and greed!
5 “But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted…14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.” Matthew 23:5-12 & 14
Today’s scribes and Pharisees have huge entourages, body guards, humongous bank accounts, enormous numbers of fans. They rob widows and take advantage of hurting believers. They pray lofty pratting prayers offending God in heaven and deceiving man on earth. Their spiritual abuse knows no bounds because they are driven by over-preening pride and rapacious greed. Beloved brethren do not make yourself a victim of their devilish malicious evil intent. God’s servants will always be humble, loving, well versed in Scripture, filled with the Holy Spirit, doing the will of God.
1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
Flee from them if you see any of these signs of spiritual abuse: inordinate fleshly zeal, unbiblical demands, damnable heresies, self-promoting money grubbing lectures! These false teachers will only abuse you; stay away and do all that you can to rescue others from their grasp! True servants of Jesus Christ are driven by God’s truth by the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory and His love of His children. Never forget that!
20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are the Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers for Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 2 Corinthians 11:20-23
Lord Jesus Christ the deceivers far outnumber the genuine within the church today. May Your beloved redeemed ones be wary, testing EVERYTHING, by the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit! Bless us for Your glory and our edification in Your glorious name Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!