Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

July 22, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Flashback Friday: 4 Privileges of Adoption

Today’s flashback was first posted in March 2013. May the Lord use these biblical reflections to nourish your faith!

The doctrine of the believer’s adoption into God’s family is rich with assurance of the continuing love and commitment of the Heavenly Father. We may define adoption this way: Adoption is the gracious act of God by which He places the believer in Jesus Christ into His family, giving him the full rights and privileges of mature sonship.

From this blessed position in the family of God flow 4 grace-supplied privileges.

  1. We are delivered from the penalty of the law. Galatians 4:4-5 teaches us that at the very perfect time—God’s time—the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. He did this “so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross for our sins was fully accepted by the Father as the demands of His righteous law were fully met. As a result, those who find refuge from the condemnation of the Law in the “accepted One” find themselves fully accepted by the Heavenly Father as members of His cherished family.
  2. We receive the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our inheritance. Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that at the moment we believed the gospel we were sealed in Christ “with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” The Holy Spirit, who right now indwells us, is God’s down-payment on His own promise. As fully mature adopted sons we are the rightful heirs, in Christ, of an unspeakable inheritance. The Holy Spirit’s presence is proof.
  3. We are placed into a family where we do not naturally belong. Ephesians 2:3 teaches us that before we were regenerated by the Holy Spirit and faith came from the hearing of the gospel (Rom 10:17), we were “children of wrath.” Now, according to 1 John 3:2, “we are children of God.” No longer are we “children of the devil” (1 Jn 3:10), but fully accepted and adopted sons and daughters of the King of Kings. We belong to Him. We belong in His family.
  4. We have an intimate father-child relationship with God. Romans 8:15 teaches us that we “have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but [we] have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” As a result of this relationship:
  • We are invited to pray and to call Him ‘Father’ (Matthew 6:9).
  • We receive His compassion (Psalm 103:13-14).
  • We are assured of His love as He disciplines [trains] us for righteousness (Hebrews 12:5-10).
  • We are forgiven, released from the punishment of our sins (Matthew 6:12).

Of our ongoing need of forgiveness, Wayne Grudem writes, “This daily prayer for forgiveness of sins is not a prayer that God would give us justification again and again throughout our lives, for justification is a one-time event that occurs immediately after we trust in Christ with saving faith. Rather, the prayer of forgiveness of sins each day is a prayer that God’s fatherly relationship with us, which has been disrupted by sin that displeased him, be restored, and that he relate to us once again as a father who delights in his children whom he loves.”

Our adoption by God in Jesus Christ is one of the most comforting doctrines in the Word of God. If you are born again, take time to consider the richness of your position before God, as His child. Remember Christ. Remember the love of the Father in sending His Son. Remember the love of the Son in giving Himself as our ransom. Remember the love of the Holy Spirit who has sealed you—for God—unto the day of redemption (Eph 5:30).

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July 20, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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A Good and Wise Politician

What does a good and wise political leader look like? There are many qualities revealed throughout Scripture, in both precept and example, but let me simply draw your attention to a forgotten passage, Proverbs 31:1-9. Proverbs 31 is almost exclusively remembered as the “Virtuous Woman Psalm,” but its introduction reveals a godly mother’s counsel to her son, the king. There is much to be mined from here, but just a quick glance reveals at least three qualities of a good politician, which came to the mind of this king as he remembered his mother’s teaching, and what we may call bare bone essentials. How good it would be for the nations of the world if even just these qualities were considered important!

The words of King Lemuel, an oracle that his mother taught him:

What should I say, my son?
What, son of my womb?
What, son of my vows?

A Good and Wise Politician Is Not an Adulterer
Don’t spend your energy on women
or your efforts on those who destroy kings.

A Good and Wise Politician Does Not Get Intoxicated
It is not for kings, Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine
or for rulers to desire beer.
Otherwise, they will drink,
forget what is decreed,
and pervert justice for all the oppressed.
Give beer to one who is dying
and wine to one whose life is bitter.
7 Let him drink so that he can forget his poverty
and remember his trouble no more.

A Good and Wise Politician Believes in Justice and Defends the Poor and Helpless
Speak up for those who have no voice,
for the justice of all who are dispossessed.
Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.

As we look at the political scene of our day, surely one of the things that stands out more than others is the absence of strong, God-fearing leaders who possess wisdom and integrity. At the very least, this should drive us to become people of prayer who obey the admonition:

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,  for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Tim. 2:1-2)

The pathetic state of human government is meant to remind us that this world is not our home and spur us on to look with anticipation for the return of King Jesus.

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July 15, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Flashback Friday: 75 Astonishing Things that Happen at Conversion

A pastor in Texas contacted me earlier this week to request permission to use a blog article in his church. The article was originally published in September 2013, and is entitled 75 Astonishing Things that Happen at Conversion. His inquiry caused me to select that article for today’s flashback.

What words could we use to describe God’s grace toward sinners like us? Amazing? Yes. Extravagant? For sure. Astonishing? Absolutely!

The apostle Paul was a man who never got over the grace of God…and neither should we. As the Holy Spirit guided him along, he edified the believers at Ephesus by expounding on “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:7). I want to do the same in today’s post.

Recently, I spent some time thinking about all that God accomplishes in an instant, at the moment of conversion, and what He continues to work to its ultimate completion in the day we see Him in glory (Phil 1:6). The result was a list of 75 amazing works of God.

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July 14, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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4 Means of Restoring the Human Conscience

Today is the third, and final, post in a series of reflections on the conscience stimulated by a chapter in A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. First, we thought about the nature of the conscience as first created by God. Second, we looked at the corruption of the conscience, specifically taking note of six kinds of evil conscience. Now let’s think about how God in His saving and sanctifying grace reclaims and restores the human conscience through four specific means.

  1. The conscience is awakened by biblical preaching: “Puritans believed the supreme excellence of a preacher was both his ability to teach doctrine clearly and his power to apply the Word to everyday living. One mark of a powerful preacher, according to the Puritans, was the way he would ‘rip up’ men’s consciences to show them what was at the bottom of their hearts. The purpose is to see what is inside, or underneath, as you would rip up a cushion to get all the feathers out….The best preachers, the Puritans said, who us how the Word of God goes to the very core of our being.”
  2. The conscience must be informed by Scripture: “If conscience is not guided by Scripture, it will still function, but according to inadequate standards. It will fail to condemn when it should; it will justify things that ought not to be justified. What appears to be the voice of God will not be the voice of God….The Puritans believed the only cure for a falsely calibrated conscience is for the conscience to be thoroughly educated in Scripture standards….One person may try to tyrannize another’s conscience, but only God may absolutely control our conscience.”
  3. The conscience must be healed by the gospel. “Since all men are fallen sinners, only a gospel-applied conscience can bring inner peace. The Puritans exposed sin both from the pulpit and in private to bring sinners to contrition, confession, and repentance and to drive them to Jesus Christ….A good conscience finds peace through the gospel and its promises. God’s promises are the means by which peace, pardon, acceptance, reconciliation to God, and affection between God and a person are offered to the conscience. The conscience must believe and rest in these promises.”
  4. The conscience must be exercised by self-examination.  “Self-examination is a discipline, the Puritans said. It includes asking yourself questions to know whether you truly are walking in obedience to the Word of God, asking yourself how you are progressing along the road of obedience to the Ten Commandments and their summary in the two great commandments of loving God above all and your neighbor as yourself.”

The conscience is a gift from God, embedded into our being as a moral compass. As such, it has been infected by sin and may take on various evil persuasions. However, for the glory of God, the conscience may be reclaimed and restored to its intended use by means of conversion and the ongoing work of the Spirit and the Word.

If you are interested in the Puritans, I recommend you get yourself a copy of A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life.

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July 13, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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6 Kinds of Evil Consciences

Continuing from yesterday’s post, I’d like us to think for a few more moments about what the Puritans taught concerning the conscience. In this post, consider a summary of six kinds of evil consciences which, again, are drawn from A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones.

  1. The Trembling or Doubting Conscience: The Puritans included this conscience in their “list of evil consciences as long as it does not drive its owner to Jesus Christ for salvation. The trembling or troubled conscience accuses the soul of sin and threatens the soul with God’s wrath and the expectation of death and judgment. The doubting soul hangs in suspense, scarcely knowing whether it is more sinful to believe or to doubt and not presume.” Though this conscience is closest to salvation, “it is still evil because it cannot give its owner peace and assurance until it finds rest in Christ.”
  2. The Moralist Conscience: “This conscience has some good elements, for it is grounded upon God’s law….Despite its admirable qualities, a moralist conscience is substantially different from the good conscience of the regenerate….Bernard said, ‘A moralist may lift up himself, as the young rich man in the Gospel did, yet can it not give him assurance of eternal life.'”
  3. The  Scrupulous Conscience: “The scrupulous conscience is in many ways a counterfeit form of the good conscience, make much out of religious duties and moral trifles. It is scrupulously religious but does not look to Christ alone for salvation nor find peace in Christ….[it] is so afraid of sinning that it avoids even doing what is right and good.”
  4. The Erring Conscience: “This conscience includes various forms of ignorance and misperception because it wrongly applies God’s Word….Conscience, evil informed, takes human traditions and false doctrines, proposed under the show of Divine authority to be the will of God.”
  5. The Drowsy Conscience: “Based on Romans 11:8, which speaks of God giving sinners over to ‘the spirit of slumber,’ the Puritans had numerous names for a drowsy conscience, including a sleepy, stumbling, or benumbed conscience….The drowsy conscience makes sinners indifferent tot he reality of Scripture’s truths. Such sinners live in a fog, unaware of impending death and judgment and unmoved by the horrors of hell.”
  6. The Seared Conscience: “This is the worst of all consciences because it puts people almost beyond the hope of salvation….The seared conscience belongs to those whose destiny is determined by their hardness. It often belongs to people who have sinned against the Holy Spirit and are irrevocably lost already in this life.”

As we concluded yesterday, the place where our guilty consciences must always turn is to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose shed blood cleanses us from sin, and to a life of ongoing repentance. As we confess our sins to the Lord and to those whom we sin against, our consciences are set free from condemnation (Heb. 10:19-25; 1 John 1:5-2:1; James 5:16). When examining ourselves, the Puritans would counsel us this way: “for every look you take to yourself, take ten looks to Christ, for Christ alone can be the object of true faith.” The Word of God instructs our conscience to think rightly, according to the mind of Christ, and the Holy Spirit speaks to our inner man as we submit our mind and heart to His revelation in Scripture.

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July 12, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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The Nature of the Conscience According to the Puritans

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life is a volume that I continue to work through one chapter at a time. The chapter on the conscience is especially helpful, I think, as it explains the nature of the conscience as created by God, the corrupt state of the conscience due to man’s sin, and the restoration of the conscience by the Word and the Holy Spirit. The editors of this theology book (Joel Beeke and Mark Jones) summarize the Puritans’ teaching on the conscience in the following helpful sentences:

  • “[T]he conscience is a universal aspect of human nature by which God has established His authority in the soul for men to judge themselves rationally.”
  • “[C]onscience expresses the moral consciousness or self-knowledge that we have, under God and in the presence of God, of having done right or wrong. Simply put, conscience is judgmental knowledge of our thoughts, words, and actions as God Himself knows us.”

The Puritans viewed the conscience as “reason in action on practical moral matters—that is, reason passing judgments upon what is right and wrong.” The conscience is

  1. a witness declaring facts (Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:12),
  2. a mentor prohibiting evil and prescribing standards (Acts 24:16; Rom. 13:5),
  3. a judge telling us of our ill desert (1 John 3:20-21).

Scripture teaches us that our conscience is made clean through confession of our sin on the grounds of the sacrifice of Christ. This enables us to draw near to God by faith, as the author of Hebrews teaches us, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (10:22).

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July 9, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS [7/9/16]

Here are a few articles I enjoyed this week:

5 Reasons Why Teenagers Need Theology – “As a Jesus-following teenager, I believe studying God’s character is what teenagers need in order to face our terribly complicated world. It’s what will give us lasting hope to face our future with a firm commitment to God’s truth.”

The Story of P&R – loved reading this history of a faithful Christian publisher

Freedom from the Tyranny of Hyper-Spirituality – “My friends tell me the story of a Christian sister from their church past who would agonize in the mornings over which shoe to tie first, for fear of violating the will of God.”

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July 8, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Flashback Friday: 3 Results of Freedom in Christ

It’s Friday again! So here’s an article from July 2012. 

Earlier this week, the citizens of the United States celebrate their independence as a nation. We truly thank and praise God for the political and religious freedoms that we have experienced for so many years. However, there is a lasting freedom—an infinitely more important and valuable soul-freedom—for those who are in Jesus Christ.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14)

The apostle’s goal in these verses was to cement each believer’s feet in the reality of his or her union with Christ so that they would no longer be led astray by the false teachings that threatened them. We now are instructed by his words as he reminds us of the spiritual bondage from which we have been delivered. “And you, who were (past tense) dead in your trespasses” takes us back into our memory bank. He wants us to remember the state of spiritual death and bondage in which we once were held (as he did in Eph 2:1-3).

Sin is the realm in which we lived prior to our conversion. We could not help but sin in the sense that we were willingly, and willfully, in bondage to our rebellion. Our wills were not fully free. Instead we were spiritual corpses, unable to respond to God apart from His rescuing grace (Eph 2:4-5). When God saw our hopeless condition He took the initiative to make us alive together with Christ. Man cannot be the initiator in salvation because he is dead. As believers we rejoice that even though we were dead in our sins, God made us alive “together with Him.” Spiritual life is only found in union with Christ. It is because He died and rose again that we are made alive when we come to Him in repentant faith, which results in the reality of three kinds of freedom.

3 KINDS OF SPIRITUAL FREEDOM

We are free from the guilt of our sin. “Forgiven” comes from the same word-family from which we get our word grace. Forgiveness is based on God’s grace, not our merit. It is not based on anything we have done, or can do, for God. It is by His grace alone that we are saved. To be forgiven is to be released from a debt. How many of our sins have been forgiven? All of them—if we are in Christ. If you have not been born again in Christ, then none of your sins have been forgiven. All of them are still being held against you, by God. But there is Good News! If you repent and turn to Jesus Christ then all your sins will be forgiven.

We all dream of someday being financially-free, but spiritual debt-free living is already a reality for those who are united to Christ. God will not require any believer to pay Him back for any sin (Ps 103:8-12). The reason God does not deal with us according to our sins is because He has already dealt with Christ according to our sins. He has already punished His Son. God, in Christ, released us from sin’s guilt. Our union with Christ, therefore, renders it impossible for God to hold any of our sins against us. It is quite true that God often lets us reap the consequences of our sin, but that is discipline that trains, not punishment that alienates. Our Savior’s nail-driven hands are proof that payment has been made in full.

We are free from the enslaving power of the Law. God also canceled “the record of debt.” He has effectively wiped out the memory of an experience, annulled a law, and cancelled a written acknowledgement of debt. This debt consisted of “legal demands,” binding laws that “stood against us.” Paul surely has in mind two forms of law.

The Law of Moses – Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). Jesus perfectly fulfilled God’s law and by doing so broke down the barrier between God and man and removed the wall between believing Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-15). Jesus’s perfect obedience to the Law made the offering of His life and death acceptable to God. Therefore, by fulfilling the Law and meeting its requirement of death, Jesus put to death the hostility between God’s law and us. It perished with Him (Rom 10:4). By virtue of our union with Him, God no longer sees us as law-breakers, but as adopted children.

The Law of Conscience – The Jews were given the Law of Moses, but all men have a law that condemns them. It is the internal law of the conscience (Rom. 2:14-15). Whether Jew or Gentile, man has broken God’s law—His written Law and the law He wrote on all human hearts by means of the conscience. As a result that law also stands against us. The conscience accuses us when sin lurks within us that has not been dealt with biblically. But when our conscience has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus then it defends us. It reminds us that God is no longer angry at us and instead receives us as His children. So, apart from Christ there is no way to be free from the accusing power of our conscience. But union with Christ by faith sets us free (Heb 10:21-22).

We are free from condemnation. – He has taken the record of our sin-debt out of the way, having nailed it to the cross—through the flesh of His Son. Now we are free! We who were once slaves of sin have been set free in Jesus. What previously condemned us now instructs us. The Law still exposes the wickedness of our sinful hearts, and thus serves as a tutor to lead us to Christ, but it no longer hangs over us like a dark shadow. This great truth is beautifully expressed by Philip Bliss in the hymn, Once for All. “Free from the Law – O happy condition! Jesus hath bled and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace hath redeemed us once for all.”

When the Roman soldiers drove those three nails through our Savior’s limbs God nailed our sins to the cross. He also nailed our guilty consciences and His own law’s pronouncement of condemnation. All those who trust in Jesus Christ are now free. We may celebrate our political and religious freedoms—and we should—but these are not guaranteed to last. However, the freedom we have in Jesus Christ is not temporal, but eternal. In Him, we have a freedom that can never be taken away. Therefore, we rejoice in the words of our Savior, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn 8:36).

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July 7, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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A Domestic Abuse Primer

Dear friend,

This has been an awful week for you, I know. Learning about the abuse that your friend has endured for well over a decade (which you also suspected for just as long, but could never prove) is a burden you feel you cannot bear. Your heart is so heavy; it feels like it’s being crushed under the weight of the load. At the same time, you feel relieved and grateful that God has finally given your friend the courage to seek refuge for herself and her children. With such a mixture of anger and grief, gratitude and relief, you’re not sure what to think or say. But you do know you should pray, and pray you will. For domestic abuse is so ugly in all its depraved forms, but the Lord of mercy stands ready to intercede—to help the victim, and to save or judge the abuser…eventually.

Abuse in families who profess Christ is grievously more prevalent than most church-goers know, or admit. Therefore, I want to introduce you to a little book that will help you minister to your friend. It’s called HELP! Someone I Love Has Been Abused, written by my friend and fellow minister of the gospel, Jim Newheiser. Here’s a brief summary of the second chapter, A Biblical Understanding of Abuse.

While the word “abuse” is rarely used in the Bible, Scripture contains examples of victims of abuse and thoroughly addresses the spiritual issues behind abuse. Joseph, the son of Jacob, was physically and emotionally abused by his brothers, who threw him into a pit to starve to death and then sold him as a slave (Genesis 37:18–28). In the days of the judges, the sexual assault and murder of a woman led to a civil war in Israel (Judges 19:25–ch. 20). Jesus was the victim of horrible verbal and physical abuse leading up to his death (Matthew 27:39), which is one reason why he is able to sympathize with all who have been abused (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). It is important that we define “abuse” biblically. Not everything which the world labels “abusive” is evil. For example, some so-called parenting experts claim that all spanking of children is abusive, but the Bible authorizes parents to physically chastise their children. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). However, spanking can become abusive when an out-of-control parent punishes in vengeful anger and causes injury to the child (Proverbs 25:28; Romans 12:19). [You will find two resources at the end of this blog post.]

Abuse Can Be Hard to Prove

While all claims of abuse must be taken seriously, accusations of abuse can be difficult to sort out when there are no objective eyewitnesses to corroborate conflicting accounts. Alleged victims sometimes exaggerate or distort the extent of the abuse. In addition to protecting victims from abuse, we must also protect people from being falsely accused. We cannot treat someone as guilty without adequate proof (Deuteronomy 19:15; 17:6).

Don’t Rush to Judgment

Before reaching conclusions we must carefully investigate the facts and hear from all sides. “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17; see also 18:13, 15). Appearances can be deceiving.

Abuse Is Sin

It is important to use biblical language and texts as we seek to understand abuse. Abuse is sin. Jesus labels even verbal abuse as murderous: You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21–22; see also Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 11:9)

Why Do People Abuse?

The Bible also explains why people abuse: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1–2). People abuse because they want something so badly that they are willing to kill (verbally or physically) if they don’t get it. A desire becomes sinful when we want something so badly that we are willing to hurt others when we don’t get it. A biblical label for this kind of desire is “idolatry,” which means putting anything or anyone above God in our affections.

Abusers Have False Beliefs

Abusers believe that they have certain rights, including the right to be angry (and to express their anger) when those rights are violated. In the moment when they are sinfully venting their anger they believe they are acting justly, giving the victim what he or she deserves for certain wrongdoings. By doing this the abuser is (in his or her mind) playing God, taking righteous vengeance upon those who have wronged him or her (Romans 12:19). Instead the abuser should realize that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)…. Such sins, however, are not limited to those who are guilty of domestic violence. Each of us will be tempted to become angry and vengeful when others fail to meet our expectations. We may choose to express our anger in more socially acceptable ways such as silent, sullen bitterness, but the root of the sin is the same.

Characteristics of Abusers

Abusers lack the fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially self-control (see Galatians 5:22). “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). They tend to be proud and self-centered, rather than considering others more important than themselves (Philippians 2:3–4) and sacrificially loving others (Ephesians 5:25–33). While abusers may profess remorse over their behavior, their sorrow is often a worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Cycles of Abuse

It has been observed that abuse typically follows a cycle:

  1. Build-up stage. Tension builds as the abuser becomes increasingly irritable, seething with anger.
  2. Blow-up stage. The abuser loses control and verbally or physically assaults his or her victim(s).
  3. Remorse stage. The abuser may appear to be deeply troubled by what he or she has done, even crying and pleading for forgiveness.
  4. Build-up stage. Once the crisis of the blowup stage has ended and life has returned to “normal,” tensions start to rise again.

By God’s grace the cycle of abuse can be broken, either as the abuser is humbled and broken before God, or as the victim is helped to find safety.

[The above post is excerpted from HELP! Someone I Love Has Been Abused by Jim Newheiser. For instruction on the difference between abuse and appropriate child discipline, see HELP! My Toddler Rules the House and Shepherding a Child’s Heart.]

MORE RESOURCES on abuse

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July 1, 2016
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Flashback Friday: Bearing One Another’s Sin Burdens

Flashback Friday: Bearing One Another’s Sin Burdens

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load (Gal 6:1-5).

The one-another ministry of restoration, described in Galatians 6:1-5, includes supportive accountability for fellow believers who are struggling with sin. The exhortation “Bear one another’s burdens” (v. 2) means that the ministry of restoration involves helping carry the weight of another person’s sin. The “burden” in this context is the weight of sin or the “burden of temptations” that has trapped sinning brothers or sisters. To bear this weight is to help them carry their sin burden. Richard Baxter encouraged his fellow pastors to serve their sheep in this way:

Another class of converts that need our special help, are those who labour under some particular corruption, which keeps under their graces, and makes them a trouble to others, and a burden to themselves. Alas! There are too many such persons. Some are specially addicted to pride, and others to worldly-mindedness; some to sensual desires, and others to frowardness or other evil passions. Now it is our duty to give assistance to all these; and partly by dissuasions, and clear discoveries of the odiousness of sin, and partly by suitable directions about the remedy, to help them to a more complete conquest of their corruptions.

Nevertheless, though spiritual ones are responsible for carrying the burden with them, they do not carry it for them: “For each one will bear his own load” (v. 5). Continue reading…

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