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What is spiritual abuse, and what can I do about it?

Listen to Nancy's answer recorded live on Moody radio, click here.

Many have been loved and cared for well by their church. There are many godly pastors and elders that are doing amazing Kingdom work. However, here are other churches and people groups who claim to be Christian that are abusing people who come into their ‘Christian’ community with high expectations of learning and serving. Sadly many become victim of domination, manipulation and control.

Abuse is often seen in Christian churches where there is overbearing legalism or church leadership including pastors and elders who attempt, and often succeed, to exert control over congregants. It is not a place where the people can gather, have fellowship, be encouraged, learn how to become more like Jesus in the way we live.When the church becomes self-seeking in their motives, psychologically manipulative, mean toward those who also have an opinion and reject accountability, it ceases being the Lord’s place of worship.

“Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1Peter 2:16)

This kind of abuse can and does wreak havoc on those who are recipients of such treatment. Jesus came so that we could have life and have it to the full. This is not the church that Christ would support in any way. How, as Christians, should we respond?

If you are not upset with righteous anger, you should be. We are commanded to expose evil. Christ continually called out the Pharisees calling them white washed hypocrites.

He called us to love our enemies.

Pray for the victims of abuse and the perpetrators as well.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and discernment.

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17)

If your church or community group refuse to follow Matthew 18, strongly consider leaving that church. Pray and search for a church that is not perfect and without problems, but one that operates on sound doctrine and biblical principles. It may also be appropriate to seek biblical counseling to help restore your understanding of who God is and to heal from the wounds of the church abuse. Let our Lord of justice deal with them.

Spiritual abuse or bullying, can also come from those who embrace the values of our godless culture. This is nothing new. Actually, if you are living a godly life and love others well, we should expect it. When this happens, see those who are trying to hurt you as lost people, made in the image of God, loved by God who desperately need Jesus.

"Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you" (1 John 3:13).

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

 As we "walk in the light, as he is in the light" (1 John 1:7) we learn how to effectively handle and overcome spiritual bullying we should ask the Holy Spirit to protect you and keep you from anger, doubt and revenge. Pray that we will "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).

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