But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. -2 Corinthians 11:12-15, NLT
“This phrase “angel of light” could be interpreted as a “messenger of truth.” Satan’s most deceptive and deadly disguise is to come as a servant of righteousness, using truths for the purpose of destruction. He is quite skillful at quoting Scripture and using wisdom, but it is the wisdom of the Tree of Knowledge–wisdom that kills. He can accurately point out what is wrong with someone else, but he always does it in such a way that tears down, not offering solutions that lead to deliverance and life.” – Rick Joyner in Overcoming the Religious Spirit pp23
When one is under a difficult trial, the voices using Scripture can often be confusing as the above quotes demonstrate. Scripture and “Christian” advice can look righteous, yet it can come from a far more destructive place. Futhermore, the insight about you can even be true–e.g. you were/are a bad communicator–yet be designed only to discredit and destroy.
I am all too familiar with these experiences.
And I consider them spiritual abuse.
How do you protect yourself from such spiritual abuse?
Look at the fruit.
Jesus tells us:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Mt 7:15-17, NIV).
Now, we need to know what is good and bad fruit. Here are some questions to help in that discernment process:
Is this advice given to encourage and edify or to shame and destroy?
Does it bream with the fruits of the Spirit (i.e. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control)?
Is it offered with an open hand or is the advice given in such a way as to coerce (i.e. the person is trying to play Holy Spirit)?
Marriage is a gift from God as Adam did not earn it. God bestowed it upon him as a pure unmerited gift. So, beware of all lines of questioning aimed at making you perform to keep your marriage.
Did you date her enough? As if God allows divorce for women whose husbands did not date them enough.
Did you lose enough weight? As if God allows divorce for men whose wives got too fat.
Did you earn enough money? As if God allows divorce for women whose husbands do not make a lot of money.
Might the things listed above be good areas of growth for spouses in the relationship? Perhaps. However, I do not see how threatening the end of the marriage over these things benefits the marriage. It is not godly either as these are not Biblical grounds for divorce. The threat steals from the trust bank of the marriage making the relationship less safe for both parties. This is wicked.
Let me say it again: such things are not grounds for Biblical divorce. Jesus makes that clear in Mt 19. He makes it so clear that his disciples complain over Jesus’ strictness of only allowing divorce over sexual infidelity, which certainly includes adultery.
Now, if adultery has taken place, I think the principle of restitution is in order. This is the idea of paying back that which was stolen as evidence of true repentance. Adultery is a divorce worthy offense. I believe it kills the marriage on the spot. It certainly kills the innocence. A new marriage has to be resurrected from those ashes. And it is important for the safety of the faithful partner to know his/her spouse has truly repented before trusting someone again who has flagrantly demonstrated disregard and disrespect for the faithful spouse’s well-being and trust.
Is this a performance based marriage, then? No. Because that marriage died with the committing of adultery.*
It is now a marriage where the cheater is demonstrating to the faithful spouse that the cheater will not endanger the spouse’s life, finances, and emotional well-being again. The adulterer/adulteress already forfeited their claim to the marriage and the safety of said marriage covenant when they committed adultery. It is now in the hands of the faithful spouse–without censure either way–to decide if he or she wants to take back the cheater. The presence of adultery means it is a bad bet; so, the adulterer/adulteress is behooven to persuade otherwise (if the faithful spouse chooses to even leave that door open).
These are confusing days with many, many false teachers. I encourage all to stay alert. Test the fruits. And don’t trust just because it looks righteous.
*I do not think the marriage is actually over until the divorce agreement is signed as the covenant was made in public and must be dissolved in such a way. What I mean by this point is the innocence is gone along with the benefit of the doubt given in that marriage. It is unwise to trust a demonstrated a liar and cheater, after all.