Silencing the Accuser
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(Total reading time: 7.7 minutes. All scripture quotations are from the NIV 1984 Bible.)
In an earlier article, we discovered the word “Satan” is a title used as the devil’s name and the Hebrew and Greek words translated “Satan” mean “adversary” or “accuser.” We saw examples from both the Old and New Testaments that showed Satan constantly watches us, looking for anything we do wrong. He also might identify when we miss God’s plan for us, as written in God’s books. In either case, he brings formal legal charges against us before the judge, who is God. Let’s consider a few ways we can be aware that he’s doing that.
Sin in our lives
At times we can be certain Satan will bring charges against us. James Chapter One states, “… each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). Satan is aware of our evil desires because he observes what we do, so he presents opportunities for us to be tempted and reminds us how good it feels to indulge those desires. In other words, he tries to influence us to give in to our desires so he can accuse us before God of sinning.
Succumbing to weakness
The Book of Hebrews says Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses because he “has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15). This verse shows a correlation between our weaknesses and temptation, which leads to sin, because we’re tempted to give up when we’re pressured in our areas of weakness. Jesus said Satan had asked to sift Peter as wheat – to test him – but he had prayed that Peter wouldn’t fail (Luke 22:31). This suggests Satan knew Peter’s areas of weakness and had requested permission from God to test him, looking for opportunities to accuse him. In that case, Jesus intervened.
The Holy Spirit brings our sins and mistakes to our attention without condemnation so we can correct them. However, Satan (the accuser) plants condemning thoughts in our minds when we sin to discredit us in our own eyes and discourage us from trying to serve God. The devil wants to neutralize us, so we’re no longer a threat to his kingdom and can no longer fulfill our life purpose.
He most often accuses us when we pray, interrupting our prayer with condemning thoughts like, “I can’t expect God to listen to me or answer my prayer because of what I’ve done.” He might also remind us of our failures when we’re about to do what God predestined for us.
He can anticipate what we’re about to do because he’s seen what we’ve done in the past. At times, he also can anticipate what God’s about to do because he can see God’s favor toward us and what he’s done. In every case, Satan uses condemning thoughts to make us feel disqualified from doing or becoming what God has planned. We can be confident that Satan will use our sins and failures as opportunities to accuse us, and those condemning thoughts or statements are expressions of his accusations.
The issue is what we should do when we’ve been charged. In this article, we’ll consider how to silence the accuser and in the next one we’ll examine how to present our case before the judge. We need to respond to accusations before we present our case.
There are three simple steps to silencing the accuser; three steps that should be almost second nature to us, but we need to be very deliberate about them when we’re accused.
Step 1 – Exercise Humility
Humility is extremely important in God’s kingdom, his presence and his court. I suggest humility is the opposite of self-centeredness, which is the attitude that leads to sin. The Bible describes what happened at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Gen. 3:6). Eve thought she would benefit from eating the forbidden fruit; it would be tasty, it was pretty and it’d make her wise. She was motivated by self-centeredness – concern for her own well-being and pleasure. I suggest self-centeredness was the sinful attitude that motivated that first act of disobedience and is the basis for all other sin. Sin begins in the heart and mind; sinful thoughts and attitudes produce sinful acts, because what we think governs what we do.
The Bible doesn’t describe Adam’s motivation for disobeying God, but I’m certain it was self-centeredness, too. Maybe he had the same selfish desires Eve did, or he selfishly didn’t want to lose her so he did the same thing she did. For whatever reason, Adam disobeyed God the same way Eve did.
God calls on us to humble ourselves, to reject self-centeredness. Jesus said whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4). Humility is an extremely valuable trait in God’s kingdom. It allows the Holy Spirit to reveal issues in our life or bloodline that need action. Humbling ourselves is beneficial at all times, even when we’re not accused of sin. We can’t overcome the devil’s accusations by acting like him, so we must humble ourselves.
Step 2 – Confess Guilt
Jesus said, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court” (Matt. 2:25). We’re not to defend or justify ourselves when we’re accused, in part because those actions are motivated by self-centeredness. Besides, Jesus’ blood justifies us before God and that’s not something we can do. So if the accusation was legitimate, confess “Yes, I’m guilty as charged,” because “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The Greek word in this verse translated “confess” means to admit to a punishable deed or sin. “Faithful” refers to God’s commitment to the covenant he made with us through Jesus’ death, and “just” means he always responds with justice by forgiving every sin we confess. When we confess, God is free to legally forgive us. So we should agree with our adversary’s legitimate charges and confess our guilt to God.
Step 3 – Repent
Repentance is the missing key in most cases. The word translated “repent” is a compound word; the first part relates to transforming or changing the nature of something and the second part refers to how one thinks or what one thinks about. So “repent” literally means to change the way we think, which in God’s kingdom means to make our thoughts compatible with his.
There’s an important principle we need to recognize that’s related to this: What we think and believe determines what we do. For too long, the church has described repentance as behavior modification; focusing on controlling one’s actions. This produces two results: (1) focusing on the sin only increases its appeal, which (2) results in frustration or hypocrisy. God tells us to think right, then doing right will come more naturally.
The New Testament is written to believers and most of its pages require us to change the way we think about something, even if it doesn’t use the word “repent.” We’ve spent far too long thinking like the world. When we think like the world, we get the world’s results, so we need to begin thinking the way God does. The absolute best way to do that is to meditate on God’s word – what we read in the Bible and what he says to us personally. How much time do we spend filling our minds with what the world says? How does that compare with the time we think about God, his kingdom and his plans for us? We absolutely must repent; change how we think and what we think about.
When we repent, we change the attitudes and motivations that caused us to sin, which resulted in the accuser making formal legal charges against us. When we realize or even suspect Satan is accusing us, we should humble ourselves, confess and repent; this also applies to accusations against our families, our bloodlines, our churches and our nation.
Exercise humility, confess guilt and repent. When we do this, Satan the accuser has no legal right to use our sin or failure against us. Then we’re free to present our case before God, which is the topic of the next article.
Satan is our adversary or accuser. He brings formal charges against us before God when we sin, give in to our weaknesses, or entertain condemning thoughts about ourselves. There are three simple steps to silencing our accuser.
First, exercising humility counters self-centeredness, which is the motivation behind all sin. Second, we must confess our guilt without defending or trying to justify ourselves, both of which are motivated by self-centeredness. Third, repentance literally means changing the way we think to be compatible with God’s thoughts; a step we often overlook.