Of course we are in a spiritual battle, and whilst in no way diminishing personal responsibility or the Lord’s sovereignty, the devil is behind the evil of abuse. We need to draw confidence and minister grace to those wounded or shaken by such abuse, that the Good Shepherd who has laid down his life for his sheep, will not let them be snatched from his hand (John 10:11, 28).
However, depending on how churches, organisations, or even the wider evangelical subculture responds, we need to see that there may be more going on. When a Christian organisation is shaken or risks being shut down, we are quick to assign it to ‘the devil getting his way’. But where such a church or organisation has responded in an ungodly way, then Scripture more readily assigns it to the Lord’s chastening hand and judgement. Think of Paul’s warning to the Corinthians in how they were treating the Lord’s supper and their resultant illness and even deaths (1 Corinthians 11:27-32), think of the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 warning, for example, the church in Ephesus that if they do not remember their first love and repent that the lampstand will be removed (Revelation 2:4-5).
It seems that in large swathes of evangelicalism, we have been so concerned to emphasise the assurance of justification by faith, that we have neglected the active presence of God in the lives of believers and his church. By our sinful actions we can grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), God may chasten us if we are stubbornly unrepentant (Hebrews 12:6), and a church and organisation that sins egregiously can find themselves having the lampstand of God’s Spirit and the witness of the gospel removed (Revelation 2:5) or even the Lord fighting against leaders within that church (Revelation 2:16).
Ultimately God will cleanse and keep his church and throughout history where sections of the church have fallen into unrepentant sin, time and again God has cleaned house. We must consider that where there are abusive patterns of leadership, and failures to respond appropriately by churches and organisations on both sides of the Atlantic, God’s hand may be actively against us. An authentic spiritual response of really seeing this spiritual perspective is that of Isaiah as he throws himself on God’s mercy and intercedes ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’ (Isaiah 6:5 ESV). It’s important to ask, where are the Isaiah’s who see this perspective and are leading us in such a response today?
Originally published on the Soul Information website