In any discussion about the problem of spiritual abuse, particularly when it concerns excessive attempts to control an individual by withholding restoration and grace after failure, someone will always come up and try to refute the discussion. They do this by asking why grace isn’t offered to the person who is bullying the other.
In most of these discussions, a person can be talking about the sin of immorality or they can be talking about the sin of disbelief. Both are referred to as ‘sin’, but only one is referred to as ‘the sin that leads to death’.
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. -1 John 5:16-17
There are scriptures that seem to obligate believers to judge others. These scriptures are used to support spiritual abuse more than they are used in any other way. But they’re being misused and everybody knows it. They just don’t know why. It’s because people ‘judge others by their fruit’, but they don’t know what ‘fruit’ they’re looking for.
Scripture can get improperly interpreted if you don’t know some very basic facts. There are two ‘governments’ with their own ‘laws’ in the Bible. One is the called the ‘Old Covenant’ and the other is called the ‘New Covenant’. You cannot size people up under the Old Covenant if you are living under the New Covenant and you cannot size people up under the New Covenant if you live under the Old Covenant.
If the Old Covenant is prison and the New Covenant is release, then those who are in prison cannot govern those who are free. That would amount to prisoners yelling through their barred windows at the non-imprisoned pedestrians. Those who are free cannot be understood by those who are imprisoned unless you are talking about their release. Free people cannot tell imprisoned people that they can go to bed whenever they want, go outside whenever they want, or even eat when they want. The freedom does not apply to them as long as they believe they are under the law of the Old Covenant.
These are two separate worlds of existence.
You know who is under which covenant by their love. Love is the fruit to be ‘judged’ by.
A religious person who claims to live in the New Covenant but judges according to the old is a person who is so confused that scripture tells us to not even associate with them. Not until they awaken to grace. Shake the prison dust from your feet when you leave.
“…if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” -Jesus in Mark 6:11 (see also Matthew 10:14, Luke 9:5, and Luke 10:11)
So the disconnected and self-deceived response would be: “Aren’t you judging them by making a point to dust their dirt off your feet and making a point to display a statement against them?”
You have to understand the difference. Every single thing that we do wrong is sin. However, there is a sin that leads to death and scripture goes further than instructing us to have nothing to do with it. It goes as far as telling us, “There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.” I’m thinking that it’s because only God can burn out the self-righteousness and self-reliance that causes the sin of unbelief. Not only do the prisoners refuse the gift of freedom, they claim to be the holders of the key. That is such a deep deception that maybe only God can reason with those who think they have it all figured out. They’re not going to listen to you unless God causes their eyes to open.
Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. –Acts 13:38-39
The religious leaders rejected this New Covenant truth. Some still do. People believe there is more to it. They believe that you have to prove yourself and earn it. They try to make a cocktail between the two. Remember what you call drinks that you mixed together as a kid? A ‘Suicide.’
This is what the disciples and Paul did with people who claim spiritual authority, but do not accept or offer grace… this is what they did when the religious leaders instructed their devout to shun and demean those who did not follow their rules:
And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. -Acts 13:49-52
Spiritual abuse is real and you should get away from it. Walk away and take nothing, not even the dust, with you. Let it be a statement. God knows how to teach them and they are more inclined to listen to Him than to you. You can’t influence someone who thinks they are religiously superior to you. You can’t lead someone who thinks they are leading you.