Belial has captured the heart and soul of many churches. When abuse is exposed, all too often the hierarchy and membership side with the perpetrator, not the wounded. Instead of due diligence to discover whether there is indeed a tormenting cancer in their midst, they fall into line behind the abuser’s all-too-common tactic of deny, deflect and defame. Very quickly, the victim is painted as the perpetrator and vice versa.

This can particularly be the case where the organisational motto is ‘believe the victim’. So, whoever claims victim status first in the conflict—regardless of whether they’re actually abused or abuser—is usually the one supported without question.

In a situation where Belial is influencing perceptions, where group mind control is rampant, where fear and shame manipulate the victim while pride and shame control the perpetrator, no one should be implicitly or unreservedly believed. The unexamined mantra, ‘believe the victim’, serves the purposes of Belial just as effectively as blaming the victim does. Both stances are shields against true redress, against lancing the boil of complicity, against exposing the interlocking dependence of abuser and abused. We cannot reward either victim or perpetrator with unsifted, unchecked, unchallenged support. The biblical principle of two or three witnesses—bearing in mind these witnesses do not have to be ‘human’—always applies.

Moreover, unless victims are confronted with the lies they’ve believed about themselves, abuse will cycle repeatedly through their lives. They need a support group that will gently bring them face-to-face with their own inverted thinking—all too often a desperation for love that accepts abuse as one of love’s faces and in addition accepts the excuse, ‘I abuse you because I love you so much.’

What level of mind control allows us to see self-serving, self-centred narcissism as a form of the self-giving, self-sacrificial ‘agápē’ love practised by Jesus? What level of mind control allows authorities to actually defend self-serving, self-centred narcissism, to feed the cancer in their midst and not excise it, to even promote the offenders and reward their sin and loyalty to God’s enemy?

Sometimes, admittedly, what appears to be mind control is in reality an aspect of grief. One of grief’s first stages is denial and it’s possible for shocked friends of the perpetrator, facing the loss or even death of a friendship, to simply refuse to believe the truth. Often this is made more complicated because the friends have to deal with the additional grief regarding a hitherto-unsuspected disease afflicting their own discernment: they are unable to believe they could not have detected the true personality behind the friend’s mask. Sometimes such people are helped simply by saying, ‘Grieving is right and proper, but don’t get stuck in denial.’

Recognising the wounds of ‘bystanders’ is important because a failure to realise that collateral damage has occurred actually deepens the divisions—and they are no longer between victim and perpetrators but between their supporters.

Belial wins, yet again.

This is Grace Drops and I’m Anne Hamilton. May the Lord bless you with ‘unstuckness’ from denial.

Thank you to Lorna Skinner of for the background music.

More on the spirit of Belial can be found in the paperback, Dealing with Belial: Spirit of Armies and Abuse, Strategies for the Threshold #8.