The Accuser

The Lord revealed to Zechariah a heavenly scene in which Satan’s accusations of God’s people were put in perspective (see Zechariah 3:1-10). The cast of characters resembled a heavenly courtroom. God the Father was the judge. Satan was the prosecuting attorney. Joshua, the high priest who represented all of God’s people, was the accused.

Under the Law, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the great Day of Atonement. It was an awesome experience to go before a manifestation of a Holy God. The high priest would go through elaborate purification rites so that he could enter God’s presence ceremonially undefiled. Over time, it became the practice to tie bells around the hem of his garment and ropes around his legs. The other priests would stay outside the veil and listen for the bells, and if they heard no movement, they would use the rope to pull the priest out, as no one else dared to enter.

Now Joshua was standing before God in filthy clothes. Not a good thing! However, “the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’” (verse 2). God rebuked the devil, not Joshua. “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (Revelation 12:10). What the devil didn’t count on was Jesus being our defense attorney. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, there is no way we are going to lose this court case. Every born-again child of God has been snatched from the fires of hell.

Satan is not the judge. He cannot decide a verdict or pronounce a sentence. He can only bring accusations. The reason Satan’s accusations are groundless is because God has solved the problem of our filthy garments. He has removed them and clothed us in Christ’s righteousness. While Satan is bringing charges against us in heaven, his emissaries also accuse us personally by bombarding our minds with false thoughts about our unworthiness and unrighteousness. How could you do that and be a Christian? You’re not really a child of God. God doesn’t love you, and He isn’t going to save you. If that doesn’t work, his evil spirits pepper us with blasphemous or foul thoughts that we think are our own, which causes us to question our salvation.

Freedom in Christ Ministries once contracted with George Barna to conduct a survey of people in the Church. The participants were given a set of statements to which they could respond, “strongly agree,” “somewhat agree,” “somewhat disagree,” “strongly disagree” or “don’t know.” Fifty-seven percent strongly agreed and 25 percent somewhat agreed with the statement, “The Christian life is well summed-up as ‘trying hard to do what God commands.’” Fifty-eight percent strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement, “I feel like I don’t measure up to God’s expectations of me.” Apparently, legalism is still plaguing many believers. How could you not feel condemned if you are living under the Law? “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2:23).

Dr. Neil

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