10 Ways Christians can Traumatize Each Other to Excuse Ungodly Behavior
By Melvin Hayden
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1. They use Scripture to manipulate people.
Paul's teaching related to wives submitting to their own husbands as unto the Lord (Eph. 5); I cannot just leave that passage out in the air isolated from the rest of the text, which also speaks about "submitting to one another" (which implies husbands should also submit to their wives when applicable, which frames the whole discussion from 5:21, as well as the command to husbands to love their wife as Christ loves the church (5:25). Unfortunately, the fact that carnal, abusive husbands have misused that command to coerce their spouse into obeying them in the name of the Lord (said husbands conveniently leave out the context of Ephesians 5:21-25) obligates me to preach the whole passage, not merely 5:22.
2. They say, "God told me" when trying to have their way.
Of course, I do believe God speaks to people, but big decisions should be made in the context of mature counsel as well as other independent witnesses who confirm what a person senses in their heart. (The more mature I grow in Christ, the less likely I am to flippantly spout out, "The Lord told me.") However, the people I am speaking about don't care to test their "word" with others—they are always saying "The Lord told me"— despite their awful track record related to hearing the voice of God! Truly, in many cases, their motive is to justify their behavior by attributing their actions with a "leading of the Lord."
3. They "pray about things" when they should be acting upon in obedience.
the apostle James (chapter 2) corrects the believer who tells a hungry and naked person "be warmed and filled" as a replacement for giving them what they need materially, which is similar to telling people in need you will pray for them when you know you are supposed to do something to aid them. This is another example of using God and or prayer to avoid responsibility and action.
4. They "minister" excessively to the neglect of their family and other responsibilities.
Consequently, they justified neglecting their spouse and children because "they were doing the work of the Lord"! (Which is why many preacher's kids have fallen away from the church—since they blame the church and God for their parent's absence in the home).
5. They legalistically use Scripture to appear righteous to others.
In some cases, people have used the passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14 to excuse themselves from being bound together with unbelievers, to justify divorcing their spouse, avoiding their children or breaking key relationships with people they deem unspiritual or unbelievers. However, the context of this is seen in Matthew 7:1 when it speaks of cleansing ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and Spirit including idol worship; hence, it is not referring to every person who doesn't know the Lord.
6. When people replace practical living with mystical practice.
I am all for prayer and intercession and believe that it is the most important arena to win the battle (since we fight not against flesh and blood, as it says in Eph. 6:12); however, praying alone without voting or nurturing leaders to stand in the gates of societal leadership is mere mysticism. This negates all the passages in the Bible that speak of the believer working for justice, righteousness and fighting oppression. (To name a few, see the book of Proverbs, Amos and passages like Isaiah 58.)
7. When people minister out of their "false self."
More often than we want to admit, we are all unconsciously ministering for God out of undealt with, unsurrendered and broken areas of our soul that deceive us. This all deceives us into thinking that what we are doing in ministry is for God's glory, when truthfully, we do it for our name, recognition and to alleviate feelings of insecurity and failure. Only when we allow the Word of God to separate soul and spirit under His blazing light can our blind spots be penetrated, and we be changed into His image and likeness (see 2 Cor. 3:18; Heb. 4:12,13).
8. When people are motivated to do great things to satisfy their ambition.
It is very possible that many of the most impressive ministries we have witnessed in our life have been motivated more by the ambition of the minister than by a true leading of the Lord or His glory. This would explain why some leaders and or ministries do not survive or thrive during periods of testing and attack. (See 1 Cor. 3:10-15.) Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor work in vain (see Ps. 127).
9. When people hide behind church (ecclesial) titles as an ego booster.
When a person longs for a position or title in the church they may be attempting to use the things of God to boost their ego instead of advancing His kingdom and glory.
10. When people constantly judge others.
As a Christian, it is possible to espouse biblical moral and social values while not allowing God to transform your inner life related to agape love, brokenness, empathy, mercy, kindness and humility. (See the Sermon on the Mount for the Jesus ethos for social, cultural and relational engagement, especially Matt. 5:1-16.) Unfortunately, many who castigate, justify their rants by hiding behind God and His Word (which is worse than merely giving an honest opinion). Conversely, by being present in the world with those who don't know Christ, we are able to incarnate the love and person of Jesus to people without losing our identity or condoning their lifestyle.