I want to equip you with sufficient knowledge and with the Word so that you will understand that you can win in the biggest spiritual battle of your life. That battle is the struggle against sin. If you have a hunger for God and a desire to please Him, you must understand that your enemy is called the accuser of the brethren.
Every believer on the planet is facing a multidimensional battle against sin. It has been that way down through history. I think that because we are in the end times, the battle has gotten more intense. Satan knows his time is short. You must not only be able to identify the three battle zones you will fight in, but also be given biblical strategies to overcome in those three areas. Those battle fronts are the world, the flesh, and the devil. I want you to be able to defeat Satan, overcome the world, and crucify the flesh so that you will not be ashamed to stand before him when he comes.
I am teaching this series of messages because in our world today there seems to be many Christians who do not understand the ramifications of continuing to sin. This article will help you understand that.
You have a real enemy whom the Bible identifies as Satan. He is not God or God’s equal – but he is your enemy. The bible calls him your adversary. We as Christians must study and know how he functions and what schemes, tricks and strategies he uses. Like a general studying his enemy, we also as soldiers on the battlefield, must know how our enemy likes to work. 2 Corinthians 2:11 “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” In other words we could rephrase the truth of this verse by saying: If we are ignorant of his devices, Satan will gain the advantage.
I want to show you a strategy of the enemy. Satan is know by many titles.
- He is Lucifer
- He is the Devil
- He is the Dragon,
- He is seen in scripture as a Serpent.
- He is also known as The Accuser of the Brethren.
This name shows us one of his favorite strategies and that is accusing you before God. What is interesting to me, is that Satan and his world system tell those who are not Christians one thing, and then once you accept Jesus, he tells you another thing.
Stop and think about this for a minute. Isn’t this true? The world system tells people before they accept Jesus the following:
- You aren’t that bad.
- You don’t need Jesus.
- You are just as good as the next guy.
- You are okay.
- You haven’t murdered anybody.
But as soon as you get saved and you give your life to Christ. Satan comes against you in your mind and says:
- You are a no good.
- You are a horrible sinner.
- Look at all you have done.
- Look at the sins you committed in the past.
- You still mess up.
He starts accusing you. He will remind you every moment of how terrible your past was. All the horrible things you have done, every sin, every mistake. He will not let you forget your past. And in the present, he points out every flaw you have. He will tell you that you are a terrible Christian. You are filled with sin and wickedness. You are not good enough. You will never be able to please God.
That is because he is the Accuser. Who does he accuse? Those who belong to Jesus – the brethren. That is his role and that is one of his strategies.
Let me build a biblical foundation. I don’t want to go deep into the context of this verse, but just to show you Satan’s role. Zechariah 3:1 “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.”
One of the things that many do not understand about Satan is that he still has access to God. He can access the court room of God, where he goes to accuse the saints. Satan although he is kicked out of heaven is able to talk to God. He presents himself before God. And he talks to God about believers and his role is accusing them. We know that Satan and 1/3 of the angels were cast out of heaven to the earth. But Satan has had access to God. He may not dwell in that place where God is. But he does go there to accuse the saints.
End Time Bible Scholars including Tim LaHaye believe that in the middle of the tribulation period. Satan’s access to the court room of God will be denied. He will cast permanently to the earth where he will become furious that his access has been cut off. Revelation 12:9-10 speaks of that event. “The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
Satan is the great accuser. If you are feeling his accusations, I have good news for you! If you have confessed your sins, and have turned from them. You are forgiven! He removes your sin as far as the east is from the west. Those sins are cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness. And he remembers them no more. The scripture tells us in Romans 8:1 NKJV “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” In other words, as long as you are walking according to the Spirit. There is no condemnation in your life.
But now here is the question I have for you today. What if somebody does not walk according to the Spirit but walks according to the flesh. In other words, they give their flesh what it desires. They do not crucify the flesh, they sin, they mess up. I can guarantee that your enemy will see that and take advantage of it. Satan, the accuser of the brethren will accuse you if you mess up. If that is who he is and that is his role – he will do what he has done for centuries. He will accuse you before God.
So here is an important question today. What does God do? How does he respond? Does he take an eraser and say, “Aha! That child of mine messed up! That is it! Forget it! I am blotting him out of the book?” I don’t think so. Does he ever blot someone out? I am going to deal with that in a minute.
Here is what we know God does when the accuser of the brethren accuses us:
- The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin.
I know that there is a modern teaching that says that the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict Christians of sin. That is a ridiculous false doctrine. The Holy Spirit comes to us and deals with us about our sin. He does that in innumerable ways. Here is how He does that:
- We experience pricks of our conscience.
- Verses we know or have heard come floating back to our mind.
- We have a fear of getting found out.
- We feel distant from God.
- If you try to pray – God reminds you of your sin.
- We feel like Adam did, disrobed in front of him, looking for a place to hide.
- You go to church and the pastor preaches just what you need –like he read your mail.
- You turn on Christian radio, and the song is singing something that stirs you.
- Consequences from our sin start coming our way.
- We receive the discipline, the chastening of the Lord.
All the time the Holy Spirit is calling us back to the path of right living. The bottom line is this: Your heart will harden or soften at the Spirits calling. There is a powerful group of verses in Hebrews that tell us not to harden our hearts. We harden our hearts when we willfully ignore the sweet still small voice guiding us.
Hebrew 3:7-13 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
The great deception of sin is that we think it has no consequence in our lives. But it does. It hardens us to his voice. The author is using the story in the Old Testament that talks about the people that God brought out of Egypt. Those people continued sinning, going astray, in unbelief. God said to that generation, “You aren’t going in. You aren’t going to enter my rest. You will perish in the desert. They did not enter due to unbelief.”
Now here in the New Testament. We have powerful warnings about continued sinning that need to be heeded. It is a powerful warning to us, and should be read slowly with great thought. “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
I have read the New Testament in its entirety several times. Do you know what I find in there? Two things:
- Strong warnings about continued sinning.
- Equally strong promises of forgiveness for those who repent and those who continue in him.
Do you believe that you can lose you salvation? Yes, if I continue to sin. That is why this is a serious subject. Do you believe God has a giant eraser and your name goes in and out of the book every time you or I make a mistake? No I don’t.
But I do believe this that it is possible to lose your salvation and that is one reason why Satan accuses you. He wants you to lose your salvation. I know it is possible to lose your salvation because of Romans 11. You cannot believe in Eternal Security–once saved, always saved- and Romans 11 at the same time.
The author is using a metaphor. It is an olive tree. An olive tree has often symbolized the Jews. He says that the Jews did not believe, therefore they were broken off as a branch. And the gentiles, a wild olive branch was grafted in. Romans 11:21-22 “For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” If being cut off does not mean losing your salvation, What does it mean? To be cut off from the tree means that you are no longer a part of it.
The bottom line is that if a person is a believer who continues in sinful things, the Holy Spirit will do all he can to convince that person in regard to their sin. They will respond either by softening their heart, repenting, turning to God, confessing their sin. Or, they will respond by hardening their heart, continuing in sin, and ignoring the Holy Spirit.
When does a person get cut off? Where is the line? I don’t know. I am not God. But I know that there is some place out there somewhere when a person has hardened their heart enough that God says that’s it. Take their branch out of the tree. I cannot tell you where the line is today. I am not God –I am no mans’ judge. All I know is that it is a dangerous thing to harden your heart and continue in a life of sin.
When Satan accuses us before God.
2. Jesus Defends us.
It is verses like this one that give me hope. I want someone to defend me. In a very real sense, Jesus is our lawyer. He is our advocate. The word advocate means: One who pleads another’s cause, as an attorney. One who speaks in support of something. 1 John 2:1-12 “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
The minute you sin, the accuser of the brethren comes and accuses us. We have an advocate that stands before God. Jesus says, “This is one I shed my blood for. This is one I died for. This is one who gave his life to me.” I am not certain all the arguments that get used. He does defend you.
I don’t want you to despair, I want you to be encouraged. He is pleading your case. In fact, He is praying for you. Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Ultimately, when we stand before God, the only righteousness that we have is imputed to us. Our advocate not only pleads our case, but paid the price for our forgiveness and freedom.
Now this next point just mess with your mind a little bit. When Satan accuses us
3. God Gives Satan permission to try us.
There are two biblical examples of this today where you can actually see how this happened, what went on, and the final outcome. Those two examples are Job and Peter.
The first case we want to look at is the person of Job. Remember that Job is really the oldest book found in the canon of scripture. It is a book of antiquity. It does take place after Satan fell from heaven. You will see Satan speaking to God. It gives in startling detail, the concept that Satan comes before God to accuse those who follow Gods paths.
Job 1:6-11 “One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD , and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
I want you to understand that God knows those who are his. He was delighted in Job. He was thrilled that there was a man on earth who feared God, who shunned evil. He was thrilled at Job’s obedience and he blessed him. And then we find Satan’s accusation.
Job 1:6-11 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
In other words, Satan accused Job before God that the only reason he served him was because God was protecting him. We know the end result that God said to Satan, “Okay. Test him.” I don’t think there has ever been a man who was as tested as Job. He lost his kids in a day. He lost his wealth in a moment. He lost his health. He was covered with boils from head to toe. The only thing he didn’t lose was a wife who encouraged him to curse God and die. Nor did he lose his three friends who came to tell him it was all his fault that this happened, and that it was because there was sin in his life.
But this story shows that Satan is the accuser. We learn some valuable truths from this lesson, when it comes to this story that I want you to grasp today.
Lessons from when Job was accused:
- GOD HAS CONTROL OVER OUR LIVES
God, not Satan has control over the lives of those who serve him. Every aspect of Job’s life was underneath the protection of God. God is the one who gave Job blessing, and wealth, and children. That alone makes it worth serving him. Your life as a believer in Jesus is exactly the same way. You are protected by Jesus. You are underneath his wing. Your life is hidden with Christ in God. God is protecting you.
The next truth we learn is that
- SATAN CAN’T GET TO US WITH OUT GOD’S PERMISSION
Satan had to ask permission to get to Job. The enemy cannot touch you unless God gives him permission to do so. I think this still happens in the spiritual realm. The enemy accuses you before God because he cannot touch you without God’s permission.
The third thing we see is that
- TESTS ARE ONLY FOR A SEASON
If God does allow you to be tested, it is only for a season. Testing’s come. Trials come. Job was severely tested. But even in that testing we look at it and think that his whole life was one giant test. No! It wasn’t. This was a few months, but it was not his whole life. In the end, God gave Job double for his trouble. He blessed him by doubling his wealth and giving him a beautiful family.
This is the most powerful thing you learn.
- GOD BELIEVES YOU WILL PASS THE TEST
If God allows you to be tested, it is because he believes in you. God is the one who said, Consider Job. Why? God believed in Job. The only way that Job could be refined as Gold was to be put to the test. Did you know that God believes in you in the same way?
Someone said, I am going through a difficult moment right now. I am serving God, I am walking with him, but it is hard at this moment. Why is God letting me go through this? They come up with the false conclusion: “I can’t handle this.” Don’t fall for that lie. It is not true. You can handle whatever life throws you! He is letting you go through it because he believes that you will pass the test! He has confidence in you!
Jobs life is interesting. It is a good example. But I think more Christians relate to the life of Peter than the life of Job. In fact, I don’t know of any Christian who is honest, that walks around saying. “Satan is accusing me because I am so perfect.”
So let’s take a minute or two to look at Peters life. Now we know a lot of things about Peter. He was a person who impetuous. He had weaknesses. One of his weaknesses was that he had pride. Peter thought that he was the most dedicated of the disciples. The disciples were celebrating that final Passover with the Lord and during that time Jesus spoke that there would be one who would betray him. For Peter, he just couldn’t deal with that.
In fact, in Luke 22 we find that the disciples were having an argument about who would be the greatest. Judging from Jesus comments to Peter a few verses later. Peter must have been one of the main contenders in that argument. After Jesus stopped the argument and he taught about servanthood, Jesus turned and he dealt with Peter. Let’s look at what he said. Luke 22:31-33 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
I want you to see that in the New Testament, Satan has to deal with the same scenario as back in Job. You can see the same lessons here
- GOD HAD CONTROL OVER PETER’S LIFE
How much control was there? To the nth degree. Jesus knew that before the rooster crowed that Peter would deny him three times. We look at so many areas of our life and we think it is happenstance or circumstance. God had that rooster crow at exactly the right moment to remind Peter of all that Jesus had said, knowing that Peter would go out and weep bitterly and repent. I tell you God is involved in your life. Jesus knew what was going to happen in Peter’s life.
- SATAN HAD TO ASK PERMISSION
When we are accused, Satan has to ask permission to get to us. Notice the words, Satan has asked to sift you. eter could be categorized as one of the fully devoted followers of Jesus. Here was a man who left his fishing boats, he left it all to follow Jesus. His devotion to Jesus was never in question even though his character needed a little work.
What is amazing as you think about this today. Both Job and Peter were wholehearted, sincere, devoted followers of Jesus. God allowed each one to be tested by Satan. The scary part about that is that each one of these men were tested by God through Satan. I hope no other child of God will have to face what Job went through, but I can tell you this that God’s word tells us that we will all be tested so that we can be refined as gold.
What is interesting to me is that both Job and Peter talk about the analogy of tests refining them like gold.
Job 23:10 “But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
1 Peter 1:7 “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,”
Peters test was more than just a test. Peters test was a sift. When you sift something, you put it through a process so that something that is there that is not wanted is removed. When you sift wheat, you remove the chaff. When you refine gold, you remove the impurities. We ask our self the question. When Satan accuses us, why would God give Satan permission to sift us? Why would God allow us to be put into the fire so we could be refined like gold?
And this is a critically important point for us to remember in this scenario. Only one reason exists why God would give Satan permission to sift a dearly loved, devoted disciple of Jesus: BECAUSE SOMETHING NEEDED SIFTING. I don’t want to go any further until that sinks in.
I think Gods answer to Satan to sift Peter would have been denied if there was not something in Peter that needed sifting. Satan’s strategy is to accuse us. He wants to bring us into disrepute before God. But you see God is committed to our sanctification. God takes this strategy of Satan and he will use it to our benefit. Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians shows us Gods desire for us. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who called you is faithful and he will do it.”
When Satan comes and accuses us, God who knows our life, and knows our reactions, and knows our weakness, will give permission to the enemy to sift us.God is faithful to set us apart even if it means a time of testing and trial.
How does God defeat Satan’s accusations?
By convicting us – causing our hearts to soften and turn back to him.
By pleading our case before a holy God as our Advocate.
By allowing us to be sifted for a time by Satan that the impurities in us might be removed.
We look at that process and we think of our failures and we think that God must be sorry that he ever saved us. No, before Peter ever messed up, the moment Jesus called him, he knew his weaknesses and sins. But he also knew that Peter would turn back to God. I know it is kind of a painful part of the story, but that day when the Rooster crowed, Peter was there near Jesus. He had denied him three times. He looked into the eyes of Jesus and saw him looking at him.
Peter went out and wept bitterly because of it. The amazing thing was this. That part of Peter was proud got sifted out. He became humble. That part of Peter that was afraid got sifted out. The day of Pentecost, it was Peter that stood up and preached. He died by giving his life upside down.
If you are being accused, expect God to take action for your benefit. Satan’s schemes will be defeated!