Thursday, June 25, 2020

Against Every Accusation: What to Say When Satan Whispers

Against Every Accusation

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. (Romans 8:33–34)

The devil is not only a liar who seeks to deceive us, a tempter who seeks to ensnare us, and a murderer who seeks to kill us. He is an accuser who seeks to condemn us.

The very name Satan means “accuser.” Hence we read in Revelation of “the accuser of our brothers . . . who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10). In his misery, the devil not only loves company — he demands it. He labors night and day to surround himself with the condemned.

And for those whom he cannot condemn (because they are in Christ), he labors night and day to destroy their spiritual peace. No matter how much these saints hate their sin and long to please their God, the devil will strive to blot out the light of God’s favor. He will meet them at midnight with visions of God’s wrath. He will send them deep within themselves to scrutinize every motive and feeling. He will whisper alongside all the promises of God, “But does this really apply to a sinner like you?”

Our only safety in such moments is to lift our eyes again to the “God who justifies,” remembering that “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” (Romans 8:33–34). Christ died. Christ was raised. Christ is interceding. These three assurances, grasped in faith, raise a shield against every accusation of the evil one.

Christ Who Died

The devil’s accusations would be easier to dismiss if they were manifestly false. The trouble is that they carry so much truth. We are sinful. We are guilty. We do deserve condemnation. We will never find peace, then, by arguing for our innocence.

Peace instead will come as we remind Satan that “Christ Jesus is the one who died” (Romans 8:34). Yes, we are sinful, but Christ has died for sinners (Romans 5:8). Yes, we are guilty, but Christ’s blood covers our guilt (Romans 3:24–25). Yes, we deserve condemnation, but Christ was condemned in our place (Romans 8:3).

John Newton shows how to take hold of this truth in his hymn “Approach My Soul the Mercy Seat”:

Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without, and fears within,
I come to thee for rest.

Be thou my shield and hiding place,
That, sheltered by thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him thou hast died.

Christ has died for our sins. And if he has died for them, then we need not.

Christ Who Rose

Perhaps, however, the devil may respond, “Ah, I see. Putting your hope in that bloody and crucified one, are you? Yes, what a savior he must be! Remind me again how a dead man saves the dead?”

But the Savior who died for us is no longer dead. He is “Christ Jesus . . . who was raised” (Romans 8:34). And raised by whom? By the Father who was so satisfied with his Son’s work, so pleased with his sacrifice, that he reached his hand down into death, grasped the Son of his love, and raised him back to the land of the living. On Good Friday, Jesus declared, “It is finished”; on Easter Sunday, the Father spoke his eternal “Amen.”

If Christ had not been raised, we might well wonder whether his death removed our sins. How would we know he was not a fraud, an impostor — that he was not merely “smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4)? But Christ, who was “delivered up for our trespasses,” has been “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

So, if we wonder whether Christ’s death was sufficient to save us — even us, no matter how guilty we feel — we need only look to his empty tomb.

Christ Who Intercedes

Sometimes, even after recalling Jesus’s death and resurrection, doubts still darken our assurance. A vague sense of condemnation still clings to us, and the redemption Christ won in the past seems disconnected from the guilt we feel in the present.

The prophet Zechariah once saw a vision of “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (Zechariah 3:1). As long as we are in this world, we may feel, with Joshua, that the devil is always at our right hand, ready to parade our filth before the throne of God (Zechariah 3:3). Infinitely more important than who is at our right hand, however, is who is at God’s right hand: “Christ Jesus is the one . . . who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).

At our right hand is our accuser, but at God’s right hand is our Advocate. And for every argument the devil speaks against us, Jesus speaks a greater one. He not only died to remove our sins, and he not only rose with his finished work in hand — glorious events of the ancient past — but he also lives now and forever to plead his people’s cause.

And if Christ is in heaven, interceding for us, then nothing can separate us from his love: not tribulation, not distress, not persecution, not famine, not nakedness, not danger, not sword (Romans 8:35) — and certainly not the accusations of a devil doomed to die. Christ has taken our condemnation. He has given us his righteousness. And as long as he lives and reigns in heaven, no accuser can keep us from him.



from Desiring God https://tracking.feedpress.com/link/10732/13675243/against-every-accusation
via DG