Monday, November 26, 2007
Charging The Brethren
Do you ever think or feel like, “How could God love somebody like me? Somebody who has failed so many times in my Christian life? Somebody who has sinned that sin for the 100th time? Somebody who failed to witness to so and so, and they died? And now they’re probably in hell? How could God really love somebody like me who has had so many blessings, and owns 15 bibles, and knows what to do, and just doesn’t do it enough?”
I want to start with a couple of verses of Scripture, and then deal with why sometimes we might feel that way.
Romans 8:33, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?”
We may firmly say, “No one!” And that’s true, ultimately. But make no mistake about it, there is one who tries. And that’s the devil and his fellow evil spirits.
And if we’re honest, we will have to admit that when he starts charging us Christians with our sin and failings, sometimes we allow him to get under our skin, so to speak, and make us feel like he is right, and that God maybe hasn’t justified us, or declared us righteous, or at least is angry with us.
Revelation 12:10, "Then 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 BRETHREN has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night."
Let’s begin by asking a few questions about this Accuser.
1. Who is the accuser of the brethren?
Well, let’s make that very clear by reading Revelation 12:9:
"And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world."
So clearly this accuser of the brethren is Satan himself.
2. When does he accuse the brethren?
Well, look at verse 10 again: “...he who accuses them before our God day and night."
Can you imagine that? There is really no end to the accusation. Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of sins among us brethren, is there?
I once read of a guy trying to convince someone that they could become sinless. In fact, this guy considered himself to be sinless. Can you believe that? Be honest now, can you honestly imagine someone thinking himself to be sinless?
I’d like to talk to his wife for about 60 seconds, just to see if he’s on the up-and-up. What do you think?
Anyway this guy’s argument went like this: He says to his friend, “Do you think you could go one minute without sinning?”
And his friend said, “I guess so, yeah.”
So he said, “How about 5 minutes?”
“I guess so, yeah.”
“Well, how about half an hour?”
“Well, maybe for a half an hour, yeah.”
“An hour...mmm...I guess so...that’s just two half-hours.”
“Well, then, if you can go without sinning for an hour, then all you have to do is to do that 24 times and you’ve gone a day. Do that 30 times and you’ve gone a month, and so on. Simple. Then you’d be sinless, like me.”
Now that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
I hope you’re not foolish enough to buy into that kind of thinking, though.
We’ve gotta be honest here, friends. That just isn’t going to happen! We are going to sin. Now, I’m not advocating sinning. I’m against it, in case you have any doubts. But I’ve lived quite a few years, and if that man exists who doesn't sin any more, I haven’t met him.
In fact, even if I met him, I wouldn’t believe him, would you? You see, we’ve gotta be honest if we’re going to make any headway in this Accuser of the Brethren stuff.
So when does the Accuser accuse? Day and night. And there’s no shortage of sins he can accuse us of, is there?
3. What exactly does he accuse us of?
Well, certainly he accuses us of our actual individual sins. If we ever find ourselves unable to remember them, he will be happy to remind us. And he will take every opportunity to remind God.
But also, he accuses us of a lack of faith, casting doubt on our relationship to God, or even our very salvation. Creating doubt by his accusations.
We see that in the story of Job. Satan appears before God and doesn’t accuse Job of specific sins, but he says that Job honors God only because Job has it so good. Job is blessed by God. Satan says that if God would allow him to hurt Job, that Job would curse God.
So he accuses us of our specific sins, and he accuses us of our weak faith and standing before God.
But we sure don’t want to leave things there, do we?
It would be a horrible shame to gain insight into the Accuser of the Brethren without seeing what the Lord of the Brethren has done for us.
The Devil's Little Helpers In The Church
Sometimes the continual day and night accusation by Satan is not enough for some Christian brethren, so they join Satan and become brethren accusing the brethren.
Now I’m not talking about biblical correction or admonishing of an unrepentant brother, but that kind of condemnation which is carelessly heaped on other Christians, by laying down the rules, and making Christians think that God will only love them if they measure up to some standard.
They are quick to condemn, slow to encourage.
They are quick to build guilt, slow to build a bridge of grace.
They are quick to jump on a mistake, slow to put their arm around a brother, and gently restore.
In other words, quick to accuse and criticize, slow to understand and teach.
Let me say this. Satan doesn’t need these little helpers. He has enough helpers already. They abound, and they are teachers, believe it or not. And what they teach, the Bible calls doctrine...doctrines of demons.
O.K., so is there any good news here, in view of this accusation going on day and night?
In fact, there is so much good news, it’s literally hard to know where to begin. So let’s begin at the very beginning...Genesis. Way back then, God promised that Satan would bruise the heel of the Messiah to come, referring to the Cross...but that the Messiah would crush the head of Satan, ultimately destroying him.
As the great hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” puts it, “Lo, his doom is sure.”
But what about in the meantime?
1. Our sins are forgiven…past, present and future.
We don’t want to be so silly as to say that sin is “OK”, but we honor God by believing His word, and His word tells us that our sins ARE – past tense – forgiven.
Let’s not take this lightly.
Let’s resist the temptation to think, “Yeah, yeah, I know that already.”
But let’s meditate on the wonder of that truth. They are forgiven. All of them. All that will ever be. This is part of what Jesus meant when He said on the cross, “It is finished.” Paid in full. Forgiven.
Satan can accuse all he wants, and his accusation may even be true, but what of it? The sins are forgiven!
2. We’ve been declared righteous.
That’s the bible word "justified". And Jesus became sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ.
Satan can say, “You are unrighteous. Who are you kidding? Look what you did. You call that righteous? You fool! You aren’t good enough to earn righteousness!”
And of course, he’s right on that last count. We’re not good enough to earn righteousness. And so it’s been given to us as a free gift, the gift of God’s own righteousness, through our precious Lord Jesus Christ.
3. We Have An Advocate
1 John 2:1 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Satan approaches the bench and says, “Your honor…this Christian has sinned and here’s the list of his offenses. Now I demand justice. You call yourself a just God…bring justice on this one who has done these offenses.”
Ah, but our Defense Attorney (that’s the concept of this Advocate), our Defense Attorney is also our Propitiation, taking the wrath of God on Himself, in our place.
Our Defense Attorney is also our Sacrifice Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world.
Our Defense Attorney is the one who cried “Eli, Eli Lama Sabachtani! My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” And at the end of that terrible ordeal our Defense Attorney is the one who cried, “Tetelestai, it is finished.”
And although He gave up His spirit on that cross, He rose again from the dead, and is now at the right hand of the Father, the Judge, as our Defender, our Defense Attorney.
And when Satan accuses us at the bench of the great Judge, and demands justice, our Defense Attorney, the Alpha and Omega, the Son of God, our Advocate, speaks up, ”Your honor, Abba, Father...those sins have already been judged. They are paid for, your honor, Abba, Dad. I paid for them on that cruel, but awe-inspiring day."
And our Advocate asks the Judge, His Father, for a dismissal.
And the Judge...our Defense Attorney’s Father...our Father, slams down his gavel and says, “Case dismissed! The defendant may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (That’s Hebrews 4:16)
And the Accuser of the Brethren loses another case. In fact, he never had a case to begin with.
And lo, his doom is sure.
So who will bring a charge against God’s elect? The answer really is “No one.” For it is God who justifies. It is God who has declared us righteous. Praise His name.