Unfruitful Works of Abuse

King Saul appeared to be a good king, but his reign ended in disappointment.

We tend to celebrate people who produce good works. Should we look the other way when their heart is reveled to be full of perversion?

Man looks at the appearance of good works on the outside. But God always looks at the fruit produced inside the heart. 

1 Samuel 10 says this when the people first laid eyes on Saul:

23 Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

The Lord warned against Israel even having a king. He relented when they kept asking. And so the Lord provided them with a man tall in stature. Surely he can lead the Israelites into victory and prosperity. In fact it was this very thing that would lead to his downfall.

1 Samuel 15:

7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves[b] and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.

Saul was asked by the Lord to destroy everything. Saul cared more about appearances and so kept what was not given to him by God. This at its very heart is envy incarnate. And so it is with abusers. They want what they cannot have so they will say and do anything they can to attain it. They will produce works that appear to be good. But Jesus warns against people who live a double life. In Matthew 7 he calls them “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. 

Abusive people who claim Christianity are faking it. Eventually we shall know them by their fruit and it will be as rotten and sick as the tree it came from. 

1 Samuel 15:

17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 

King Saul’s heart is suddenly revealed here. He starts blaming others and then lying about his true intentions. If you know someone like this, their heart is wicked. They must repent!

20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

The chapter ends with regret.

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Chapter 16 begins with Samuel being prompted by the Lord to stop grieving and look to the son of Jesse for the next king of Israel. 

6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Eventually, Jesse’s youngest son, a lowly shepherd named David, was anointed as king. And this is why David was called a man after God’s own heart. 

David’s life was far from perfect… it was very flawed in fact, but when the prophet Nathan revealed David’s sins of murder against Uriah and adultery with Bathsheba, the great king of Israel didn’t blame others. He didn’t lie. He repented which means to turn away from.

How does King Saul and King David factor into the unfruitful works of abuse?

Paul actually covers sexual abuse in Ephesians chapter 5. It begins by asking us to be imitators of God. Then it condemns those who are sexually perverse. 

5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 

This is not directed towards the victims, but the instigators. Christians under the covenant of grace don’t sexually abuse. This is obviously not imitating God. Paul then warns that abusive people try to manipulate their victims with arguments that are empty.

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 

Abusive people aren’t going to heaven. God’s wrath comes upon them. They are not Christians. Their fruit is perverse and of the flesh. It is not of the Spirit (Galatians 5). The fleshly fruit of sexual immorality is very much lacking in love and self-control which are fruits of the Spirit of God. 

The next few verses in Ephesians 5 are directed towards the victim.

7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 

I’m not trying to make light of the various situations that victims find themselves in. In many respects a victim claiming that they forgive their abuser is very commendable and admirable. But is it true forgiveness? Victims feel trapped in their situation. They will do whatever it takes to minimize the abuse. This makes it very easy for them to forgive their abusers. But Paul is saying something else here. He is saying that while you are in an abusive situation, you should not partner with them, that you should eventually leave the situation. Pray that the Lord will proved a way, and then immediately take that way out once it comes.

8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Once the abuser is exposed and the law takes over, then in the midst of a difficult healing process, when victims are no longer powerless, when they are free to be their actual selves… that is when the victim must learn to forgive the abuser. True forgiveness means, you have the power to be bitter, but you instead choose to release those who hurt you to the Lord.

For vengeance is His and His alone. 

  1. Don’t partner with abusers
  2. Expose wisely 
  3. Forgive

If you are looking for help in an abusive situation, especially in the church, I highly recommend this website: https://www.netgrace.org/ 

They are made of various professionals in the field. They are a Christian ministry dedicated to wisely exposing abuses in the church.

Praying for you and your others like you. Be well in Christ.

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