But to most of you this may seem very difficult. You might believe that putting yourself first is selfish, or feels wrong in some way. You might even be confused with what self-love is!
Part 3 of 4 by Rev. Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries One of the popular marks of the modern evangelical movement, out of which the Charismatic and Pentecostal worlds have emerged, is how eagerly it identifies itself with what is best described as "old time religion.
Indeed, this is a spiritual supposition rooted in the kind of restorationism we've been talking about. This historical connection to the neverending progression of Christian church history is undeniable, although there is much about the restorationist ideal itself that could be questioned.
The point is that the concept of "old time religion" is near and dear to the ideals of virtually all Christendom, even if how it is understood varies from church to church.
But along with old time religion has come an equally old time deception, a scourge that has done more to confuse, mislead, smother and outright destroy many earnest and zealous people who have sincerely sought to serve God as Christian believers.
This terrible phenomenon can literally be defined as spiritual abuse and it is the sad context in which this has taken place in places where the fivefold idea is held that we must now examine.
The bottom line of spiritual abuse is that it occurs when edification is cloaked manipulation. Unscrupulous leaders inflict spiritual abuse through the domination and control of followers who are compelled by induced fear or pride to adopt lifestyle changes that serves their own agenda - not the love of God or the spiritual health of the follower.
Ultimately, this exploitation leaves them in a piteous dependence upon their association with the church or religious group to provide them meaning, Catch 22 the inherent abuse of power relationship with God, and even any notion of personality or significance.
This is a tragic and all too common reality in both cultic movements and aberrant churches. What is even more tragic, however, is that most spiritually abusive leaders of aberrant churches sincerely believe that the degree of unbiblical submission they are demanding of their followers is necessary for their good.
There are few more devastating personal intrusions into life then the spiritual trauma inflicted by twisted people who claimed divine authority to gain trusted access into the deepest part of someone's heart, soul and mind and to manipulate them at their will in degrading, terrifying ways beyond belief.
Biblical Insight Into Spiritual Abuse One of the accusations made by skeptics today is that the Bible is an ancient, dusty old book that is out of touch with the needs of modern man, offering answers to questions no one has asked for thousands of years in a completely different culture.
While this sounds like an airtight argument, it implodes once the pages of the Bible are fairly considered. The full counsel and wisdom of God's Word speaks authoritatively and completely to not only the need of humanity in the past but today and in the years to come should the return of Christ tarry.
And on the subject of spiritual abuse, the Scriptures give clear and sobering insight into how spiritually abusive authorities plagued the people of God in Bible times with the same kind of shameful behavior that we see today in the Christian church.
In the book of the prophet Ezekiel is recorded one of the most gripping indictments of Yahweh himself upon the rulers of Israel whom He addressed as "the shepherds" of his own people. It stands as probably the most detailed divine insight given in the Bible as to how followers, referred to as sheep, are abused by spiritual leaders: Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: The prophetic utterance of God as delivered by Ezekiel sternly rebukes Israel's leaders for their vicious exploitation and manipulative control of the people of God.
God's divine perspective misses nothing as He reveals how Israel's population were systematically being neglected due to the self-centered interest shown by these errant "shepherds", and promises them that their rule will be cut short by the extension of His judgment upon them. In John 10 in the New Testament, Jesus uses the same shepherding metaphor in the parables he told that sharply rebuked the self-righteous Pharisees who were confronting him for his healing of a blind man on the Sabbath.
For them, this was an intolerable breach of their legalistic mindset that forbade any "work" on such a day. Christ's parable in verses sharply contrasted the care of a flock of sheep by a cowardly and self-centered hired hand with that of a self-sacrificial shepherd when danger threatened it: But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
In relating this parable, Jesus gave further insight into how spiritually deficient ministers conduct themselves as their flocks are confronted by other leadership figures who are plainly abusive. True shepherds stand to defend their flocks, but those lacking in Christian character and integrity will instead stand aside and allow the attack upon and exploitation of Christian churches continue:an act revising the penal code and other penal laws.
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