How do I know?
It was a question posed about when is someone’s sin more than just “they’re having a bad day”; when does sin become abuse?
Aren’t we called, as Christians, to give grace, to offer mercy, to forgive and forget, to allow love to cover over a multitude of sins? Yes we are, and we are also called to hold one another accountable, to confront sin, to be iron that sharpens iron, to live in community that encourages and supports holy living. Speaking the truth with love in order that we might gently restore one another to a right standing with God.
We are enabling others to sin when we simply overlook a consistent pattern of sin in a person’s life.
So when does sin cross the line to being abuse?
If it is damaging to you or others. If it is malicious, controlling, and belittling. (A quick google search will give you more specifics to consider.) Physical and sexual abuse are more obvious than verbal abuse. Yet God never condones such behavior; especially from His children.
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18)
 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.  Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. (Proverbs 4)
2 Timothy 2:19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
We are to speak truth with love and for the purpose of restoration. We are not to sin in our anger. Read Ephesians chapters 4 and 5 and see if the behaviors of you or your brethren are lining up with God’s word.
If you feel or believe that you may be in an abusive relationship, my counsel to you would be to tell someone. Seek Godly counsel. Seek safety. Understand that in no way does God wish for you to continue allowing yourself (or any children) to be placed again and again in harm’s way. God’s desire is for the one who is sinning to repent and be held accountable so that He may do a mighty work in that person’s heart. It may require a temporary or even longer term separation or even legal action. But sin has consequences for the sinner and for those around them. Be wise with the wisdom that is from above. Study God’s word. You and I cannot change another person’s heart – that is God’s work.
Pray for healing (for yourself and the one caught in sin). Pray for forgiveness and restoration. Love never leaves us in our sin. Love never continues to enable us in sin. Love rebukes with God’s word. Love address the heart. Love speaks truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 5:11-13  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (ESV)
Sin destroys. It destroys the person and it destroys their relationships. Our enemy is prowling around like a lion seeking to kill and destroy. Protect your relationships.
I pray that if you are the sinner in this scenario that you will bend the knee to your Creator and repent. Seek godly help. Set up some boundaries and accountability to help you return to the LORD. Seek forgiveness from God and from those whom you have injured. Then accept that forgiveness. Remember that there is now no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). God is able to do all things in and through us if we are willing to submit to Him. He is able to redeem the years that the locusts have eaten.
Father God, I pray for my brothers and sisters who are hurting and who need Your healing touch. Lord forgive them and soften their hearts. Help them to walk in Your ways and to study Your word of truth. Give them the wisdom and strength that they need to live holy lives that bear fruit for Your Kingdom and bring glory to Your great Name. Amen.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)
Seek Him. Lean on Him. Be encouraged. God is in the business of changing hearts and changing lives. Press on!