ACST 47: The Accusers

 

accuse

An interesting picture of Satan’s activity is revealed in the last book of the Bible:

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”[1]

The enemy of our souls is depicted as a great dragon, doing warfare against believers. He and his angels (the demons) have been thrown down to earth, and are in their final battle against their great enemy (God). The dragon is enraged because his time is short and he knows it. He is described not as a tempter or a deceiver, but as an accuser. He does battle by accusing the brothers day and night before God.

Satan’s accusations in Job.

The book of Job describes Satan in his work of accusation. He came before God and accused Job of being faithful only because he was being protected and blessed. He told the LORD “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”[2] Whomever God commends, the accusers condemn. Charles Swindoll paraphrases this text as “Look, God, talk about kid glove treatment! The man gets penthouse perks.”[3] The enemy of our souls has an extremely negative attitude about human beings. He does not believe in human potential, and explains away all human accomplishment.

Satan challenged the LORD to “stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”[4] Satan was actually asking the LORD to inflict Job in order to reveal what he was sure would be his true character. “Because the believer belongs to God, Satan must operate within God’s sovereignty and cannot function beyond what God allows.”[5] The book of Job partly answers the questions we all have about why the innocent suffer. Sometimes the reasons for suffering have nothing to do with personal sin. Sometimes suffering is allowed in order for the LORD to prove to Satan and his demons that their accusations are false.

Joshua, the High Priest

One of Zechariah’s prophetic visions begins this way:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”[6]

Here again Satan is shown to believe the worst about a man of God. The vision goes on to describe Joshua as a man clothed with filthy garments, but God proceeds to clothe him in purified ones. This reveals a very important thing about demonic accusation. The demons are often partly right. The difference is that they do not see us after grace.

Whenever the unseen accusers target us, our best defense is not to try to prove them wrong with a history lesson. We fail too often for that to be an effective strategy. Our best defenses against accusations that we are not who we should be are the following:

1. Remind the accusers that our relationship with God is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He is our atoning sacrifice. Even the most filthy sin can be washed clean by means of the blood of Christ.

2. Remind the accusers that the Holy Spirit chooses to reside in us. In spite of the fact that our actions sometimes grieve him, he is faithful. It is his faithfulness that is the key to our complete sanctification and ultimate glorification.

3. Remind the accusers that God is infinite. He already sees our future, and so he relates to us on the basis of that future. It will do no good to tell God about our present shortcomings when he already foresees us living in holiness for billions of years. Our destiny is already settled in God’s mind.

Jesus’ Prayer for Peter

Jesus had told Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”[7] Jesus was aware that a battle was going to ensue in which Peter’s commitment was going to be challenged. Peter was going to fail, and deny even knowing Christ. But Jesus promised to bring Peter through that time, and use him afterword. Often, believers are convinced that once they fail in a particular area that their witness is forever marred in that area. This incident shows that times of failure need not weaken our faith. Grace operates in a person’s life when she allows God to rescue her.

Paul on Condemnation

Probably the most famous passage relating to the issue of demonic accusation is from Paul’s letter to the Romans:

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[8]

The reference to “angels or rulers” shows that the demonic realm will surely seek to condemn believers. But Paul reveals that believers have a sure-fire remedy to any accusation coming from that realm. God’s love in Christ Jesus was demonstrated on Calvary. It is an event that is settled historically. It forever shows that God has decided in the believer’s favor. Earlier, Paul had said “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”[9] Although bad things may happen to us, none of those bad things should be interpreted as condemnation from God.

The practical result of this truth is that believers can be assured that if they are being accused or condemned, it is not coming from heaven. Heaven’s forces are mustered for our defense, not our condemnation.

When Satan begins to accuse believers of wrongdoing, lack of integrity, or falsehood, the believer’s often feel like God is watching from a distance, judging them. He does not do that. He is present at every accusation, and our Advocate, the Holy Spirit, always takes our side. Even when the believer sins, God stands for her, and not with her accusers. Even when there are consequences that come from that sin, God is ready to restore and heal.

In the end, all personal sins must be punished. But for believers, that punishment has already happened. The Bible says that Jesus Christ “was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”[10]

The Eternal Truth

The best way to overcome accusations is to counter them with the eternal truth. The eternal truth is not the mess a person might be in at this moment. The eternal truth is what God has decreed about believers for all eternity. The Bible tells believers to stand on this truth, and believe what God sees in them.

He Sees…

  • “the salt of the earth”[11]
  • “the light of the world”[12]
  • people of value to him[13]
  • people he has blessed and heirs of his kingdom[14]
  • branches of the Vine[15]
  • people “not of the world”[16]
  • “God’s fellow workers… God’s field, God’s building.”[17]
  • “God’s temple”[18]
  • “the body of Christ”[19]
  • “sons of God, through faith”[20]
  • “Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise”[21]
  • “no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God”[22]
  • “no longer strangers and aliens, but … fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”[23]

One More Strategy

The enemy has one more method that he uses, but it is a “when all else fails” method. He usually has no problem enslaving people through temptation. When that method needs a little help, he resorts to deception. If people learn to discern between truth and his lies, he falls back on accusation and condemnation. But when even that strategy is defeated, Satan and his demons try to enslave people through fear. His final method – which will be discussed in chapter 48, is intimidation.


[1] Revelation 12:7-12 (ESV).

[2] Job 1:9-11 (ESV).

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009) 10.

[4] Job 2:5 (ESV).

[5] John MacArthur, 1, 2, 3, John Jude (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005) 75.

[6] Zechariah 3:1-2 (ESV).

[7] Luke 22:31-32 (ESV).

[8] Romans 8:33-39 (ESV).

[9] Romans 8:1 (ESV).

[10] Isaiah 53:5 (ESV).

[11] Matthew 5:13.

[12] Matthew 5:14; Ephesians 5:8.

[13] Matthew 6:26, 10:31.

[14] Matthew 25:34.

[15] John 15:5.

[16] John 15:19.

[17] 1 Corinthians 3:9.

[18] 1 Corinthians 3:16,17.

[19] 1 Corinthians 12:27.

[20] Galatians 3:26.

[21] Galatians 3:29.

[22] Galatians 4:7.

[23] Ephesians 2:19.

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