Blog Post by Sister Diane Foster

Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism: A Biblical Perspective


The series on Spiritual Abuse (SA) continues. Part 1 gave a working definition of SA. Citing that there are many definitions, Spiritual Abuse is “any attempt to exert power and control over someone using religion, faith, or beliefs.” SA can happen within a religious organization or a personal relationship. SA is not limited to one religion, denomination, or group of people. SA can cause severe trauma and significantly affect your mental health. (


SA takes many forms: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, social, and spiritual. Each of these definitions is relevant across all denominations. Another misconception of SA is that it is sometimes mislabeled as spiritual zeal or spiritual maturity. (Source)



Part 1 went on to define many of these groups as cults and sects. The Oxford Dictionary defines a sect as a small group of people who belong to a particular religion but who have some beliefs or practices which separate them from the rest of the group.” It defines a cult as a way of life, an attitude, an idea, etc., that has become very popular.”


Webster’s Dictionary defines sect this way. A body or number of persons united in tenets, chiefly in philosophy or religion, but constituting a distinct party by holding sentiments different from those of other men.” It defines a cult as a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious (false, fake, and counterfeit).


Both definitions for cults and sects have similarities. They belong to a particular religion or philosophy, their beliefs are separate from others, and they are distinct. Additionally, these types are unorthodox (not holding the genuine doctrines of the Scriptures-Webster), not conforming to rules, traditions, or modes of conduct as a doctrine, religion, or philosophy; not orthodox: an unorthodox ideology.


Using the word cult can be ambiguous. It is not used often in Scripture, and that depends on translation. The ESV uses the word cult.


Deuteronomy 23:17. None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. (English Standard Version-ESV)


The KJV uses the word whore, as do so many other Bible versions.


Deuteronomy 23:17. There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. (King James Version-KJV)


Cult in both versions uses similar terms such as whore, prostitute, and sodomite to express those who practice acts of sexually immoral character. Yet another definition is that they use Bible passages about sexuality to justify rape and sexual assault.


Part 2 looked at what the Bible says about SA. For sure, SA is not something new. Historically, the first occurrence traces back to Eden, where Satan deceived Eve’s spiritual nature of faith by telling her she would not die for partaking in the fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil. From this point in history, times have changed little. Moving to the 1st century, Yahusha said to the people:


Again Yahusha spoke:


He replied: Isaiah was right [Isaiah 29:13, emphasis mind] when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. You have let go of the commands of God/Yahuah and are holding on to human traditions. Thus, you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:6-8, 13) (NLT)


He spoke it again:


These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. In vain, do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men? (Matthew 15:8-9 (ESV)


Yahusha spoke of the oral traditions of men when He said these things.


Be careful not to let anyone rob you of this faith through a shallow and misleading philosophy. Such a person follows human traditions and the world’s way of doing things rather than following Christ the Messiah(Colossians 2:8, GW)



These Scriptures correlate to the definition given above, identifying the characteristics of SA written in the first paragraph of this blog. Other correlations to SA create a common thread that weaves between them all. This detailed list provides greater exposure to the nature of SA. As you read, refer to them, where you will find insightful correlations.


    1. Exploit the doctrine of our fallenness to accuse, berate, critique, attack, belittle, condemn, or produce guilt in the victim.
    2. Exploit the doctrine of our fallenness to excuse or minimize the severity of their behavior.
    3. Exploit the doctrines of forgiveness and reconciliation to demand that a victim forgive the abuse, even if there has been no genuine repentance.
    4. Use the busyness, stress, pressures, or responsibilities of ministry to excuse abuse.
    5. Use the Bible to justify abusive behavior and insinuate or explicitly state that if the victim understands the Bible differently, the difference of opinion is a product of sin.
    6. Use the Christian (this article comes from a Christian website; however, as seen, the characteristics of spiritual abuse cross all religions) community to protect the abuser and isolate the victim. The abuser may make themself vital to significant ministries.
    7. Isolate their victims socially, making excuses why the victim cannot participate in social or spiritual gatherings and limiting their access to either information or support, or both.
    8. Appeal to the work of evil spirits as explanations for the victim’s accusations or behavior.
    9. Attribute accusations against them to the work of Satan.
    10. Use Bible passages about generosity to justify controlling the victim’s access to money.
    11. Use Bible passages about faithfulness in marriage to justify limiting the victim’s social life.
    12. Use Bible passages about rebuking to justify verbal abuse.
    13. Use Bible passages about sexuality to justify rape and sexual assault.
    14. Use Bible passages about unity to justify silencing the victim.



Once again, commonalities surface, such as the word exploit, to describe those using the Bible to justify abusive behavior, use their community to isolate the victim, appeal to the work of evil spirits to weaken their heart, and use Bible passages to justify further exploitations for money, verbal abuse, rape, sexual assault, and to silence the victim. These are not the attributes of a Holy and Righteous leader; instead, these identify unholy, unrighteous leaders. What can be said about such a spirit as this? Many of these leaders are guilty of sexual immorality, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, sedition, and even envy. A comparison is made between these attributes and Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV)


Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God/Yahuah. Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV)


None of these attributes relate to the Fruits of the Spirit.


Peter spoke well of these things to come.


But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Master that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their destructive ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingered not, and their damnation slumbered not. (2 Peter 2:1-3-RNKJV)


From the beginning, deceit and denying the truth of Yahuah was found in Satan.



What do you think? Comment below!


  1. Shantel on November 30, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    I did not notice that SA can also be done at home and that there are many different forms of it. it is so sad to see many people whom I once knew of that were going through SA and did not even know it was SA.

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