A few weeks back, I was considering how we as believers ar suppose to put ourselves under authority, and yet in doing so we must be so cautious not to put ourselves in a position to be spiritually abused. 

At that time, in my mind, the abuser would be the leader of a congregation, and the victim, a member of that congregation.

But today I find myself considering another outlet for spiritual abuse, that seems perhaps even more difficult to identify, prove, and confront.

What if the abuser is someone who has not put themselves under any authority?  This person is a believer, appears to be walking in truth, is talking the talk, they just aren’t committed to a particular church. 

This person is under the authority of Christ, connected and operating in the body of Christ in various groups, just not at a Sunday morning fellowship.

This person appears to be mature in relationship with the Lord, and so a younger believer can be easily ‘star struck’ by the mature believers procalamtions of the ‘the Lord is doing this’ and the ‘the Lord is saying this’ and ‘I am discerning this’.  Even  the memory of scripture, that can be shared in our out of context to make a point woos the young believer into the good graces of the mature believer.

This is not a bad thing, if the mature believer is truly submitted to the Holy Spirit’s control, and not on their own agenda.  But if the mature believer is out to make a name for themselves, find a place for themselves, find a following for themselves, this can become a dangerous, potentially abusive situation for the young believer.  

So the questions are:

Why isn’t the mature believer under any authority?

How do you test the fruit of their ‘gifts’ when they are not connected to a body of believers?

Who do you confront after steps one and two of Matthew 18?

When is it appropriate to warn younger believers?

When does it cross the line from advice to abuse?