In ministry there is a lot of competition, undermining, and manipulation. People place themselves in positions of authority over other’s when they have no right to. You have to spend a great deal of time in the Word of God, and in face-to-face prayer with the Lord to learn to discern when someone is honestly giving you Godly counsel, and when they are trying to abuse you, or use you for their own agenda. Another unfortunate aspect of abuse is money. Most large ministries are driven by the prosperity gospel they have created; it is “another gospel”. Sadly as you observe, and line up their teachings with the word of God, you find that just about every aspect of their relationship to you as a person, and as a potential “partner” in their ministry; hinges on money. I am extremely thankful for the many years of studying the scriptures myself, walking with the Lord day by day, and watching Him answer many of my prayers, guiding me in many of my most important decisions in life, and showing me His hand in my life; before I was ever aware of these charlatans. When I did start becoming aware of them, by this time my discernment was keen and alarms went off in my heart as soon as I listened to their deceitful doctrines. As Jesus says, my sheep hear my voice, and know Me. Joh 10:27
When Jesus heals someone, delivers someone, breaks bondages in their lives, there is no price tag attached to it. Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed, no strings attached.
I never tire of seeing Him do this for the everyday person, one who has no religious background, no theology. He just shows up in the persons life himself and starts opening the scriptures to them, and setting them free; right in front of the modern day Pharisee’s. His word is powerful, what Jesus did when he walked the earth, he still does today.
Mat 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
When we give to the Lord out of a thankful heart, with no ulterior motive to receive anything in return, without any desire to be seen of men, to be praised by other’s, this honors God. It is simple child-like faith and reverence. Very rare today. Mat. 6:1-4
How can spiritual Abuse be detected:
The proper role of a church leader, pastor, teacher, is to lead people to Jesus Christ, and teach them how to be His disciples, in submission to Him and His authority. Abusive leaders, instead, lead people to themselves, and indoctrinate them to be their followers, in total submission to them, their church, and their authority. In essence, these dominating leaders teach they are the church-members' master, and savior, rather than Christ. They indoctrinate members to believe the spiritual leaders of the church themselves are the members' "spiritual covering" (a totally false and patently unbiblical concept), and any member who ever leaves the church will be "out from under" their "covering," be without any covering or what they call, "uncovered,". They are warned that they will experience grave consequences as a result. They will accuse anyone of questioning them of being in rebellion, and without the blessings of the “group”, or approval of their “spiritual authority".
Is it biblical to submit blindly to every instruction of every church authority?
No. The Bible teaches explicitly that we should test leaders, and not just follow those who assert themselves. The apostle Paul warns the Corinthians against false apostles and rebukes them for tolerating them. They get no credit for their suffering at the hands of the abusive and deceitful leaders. 2CO 11:13 "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve..... 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.
Jesus commends the Ephesians for testing those who claimed to be apostles, but were found false. REV 2:2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
PREPARE FOR PERSECUTION- Abusive, deceitful and hypocritical Christian leaders often teach an authoritarian message to try to obtain absolute unquestioning obedience. Once obtained, they can manipulate others for their own benefit (for example in the accumulation of power or money or covering up an immoral lifestyle) rather than that of service to Christ or the flock. Disobeying or opposing the leader is considered as if it were disobedience to God.
If we have found ourselves in the middle of such abuse, the toll it can take on you can be devastating. If you have suffered from severe spiritual abuse, it can take years to recover. I pray for anyone who reads this, that God will restore them and heal them. He is the only one who can. If this abuse has caused you to lose your faith, have become so discouraged that you’ve fallen into a sin, gone back to an old pattern of addiction; God does not hate you, he does not condemn you, has not given up on you. He loves you, and can restore you; again. Just go to the Lord, and talk to him, tell him everything, allow Him to heal you. You can find Him once again, to be the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is not to blame for the abuse you’ve received, place the blame where it belongs, on those leaders who treated you wrongfully. Forgive them, and learn from it.
You may feel like a battered ship, that's been through a war zone at sea, and landed on the rocks through a raging storm. The word of God, and prayer is what will set your anchor on solid ground, and keep you till the storm is past. Jesus is our anchor, our guide, and our authority, in this life, and the next. His word is final. If we remember this, we can sift through the opinions, false teachings, and attacks from those who seek our demise.
At the end of our life, we will not see these people on the side-lines when we stand before God. He will not be asking them their opinions of us. We will stand there alone. We will have a private audience with Him; and He will open the books. He will judge us according to our deeds. Rom 2:5,6
Reading and studying the Word of God, and prayer is the most vital thing you can do for yourself, and your greatest protection against being deceived, and abused again.
Below are links to several web-sites that deal with spiritual abuse. There is good material in them, that you can read, check out with your bible, and study for yourself. They can help you on the road to recovery.