Publication:Pastoral Letter, March 2020
We live in a culture of accusation; false charges intended to bring harm and destruction to others. This problem has existed since the Garden of Eden when the enemy of God and of us accused God to Eve. While it is not new, it is a vicious virus that has destroyed more lives than any other cause. Accusation is highly contagious, spreads rapidly, as it cuts across all boundaries. It may begin with an innuendo and rapidly become a howling mob, especially in this age of technology. In the past, it might have been contained in small village but now affects continents.
Unfortunately, accusation also affects the Christian culture, as evidenced by the numerous divisions both among groups and within groups. Local churches and even small groups are always having to deal with this destructive virus. It is not the problem of one group, religion, or political party; it is a human problem of our fallen nature. I think that all of us, at some point in life, have been both accusers and victims of accusation. So, what is the source of this disease and can we develop an immunity to it? How do we combat it and overcome it?
Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan accuses us before God day and night. He inspired accusations against Jesus by religious leaders and even one of the thieves crucified beside Him. If “the Accuser” accused Jesus, Who was without sin, will he not accuse us who do have sin? No one is safe from accusation!
Yes, in some measure, intentional or not, we are all guilty. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). However, there is a clear distinction between how God handles our sin and the way the Accuser does. The Lord is a Redeemer, full of mercy and grace. The enemy is called the “Destroyer” (see 1 Corinthians 10:10; John 10:10). So, God’s motive is to help us; the enemy’s motive is to destroy us. Motive matters, not only between God and Satan, but to us as well, and determines which side we have chosen. Sad but true, believers often do the devil’s work.
True friends are those who bring their differences directly to you (see Matthew 18). The enemy’s plan is to share disagreements about you to others. The enemy’s desire is to spread conflict, destroy unity, and even destroy lives. A true friend’s purpose is to help not harm and while addressing our faults to us cover our sins with God’s love (see 1 Peter 4:8).
The Lord was often accused, and sometimes He defended Himself with scripture, parables, questions, or direct rebuke. But many times He did not. Given that He was always led by the Holy Spirit, and always did those things that pleased the Father, we have to believe that the Holy Spirit led His responses to accusations and charges (see John 8:29). It is important to know that Jesus often remained silent when accused, and that is evident during His trial and crucifixion when He was physically tortured (see Isaiah 50:4-8). He committed Himself to the Father.
I think that the basic issue is our trust in the just Father. A lack of faith will cause us to believe that we must always defend ourselves and retaliate. That is when the war begins. But do not be confused about defense or passivity. As parents, we have a responsibility to defend and protect our children. Pastors have a responsibility to defend their church families. Government and military have a responsibility to protect citizens. Citizens have a responsibility to protect property. Passivity in such cases can be criminal. I have a burglar alarm and even a gun that I would use to defend.
However, I need to hear from God before reacting to every threat or accusation. He does not create accusation nor does He prevent it. He certainly did not prevent accusation against Jesus nor anyone else. The prophets were accused and even killed. Martyrs are dying daily. As I discussed in the January Pastoral Letter, Nahboth was accused by Jezebel and Ahab, and then he was murdered. Job was accused by this own friends, but later vindicated. Sometimes vindication takes awhile in this life, or even in the one to come.
Vindication is the cleansing of the record, to be cleared of charges. According to Isaiah Chapter 50, Jesus believed that His vindicator was near. He believed that the Father is just and would take care of the accusations. Faith in God and His justice prevents us from taking justice into our own hands (see Deuteronomy 33; Romans 12:19). Yes, sometimes it takes awhile for God’s plan to override the enemy’s plan, but it will eventually.
The Resurrection of Jesus is the greatest of all vindications. Jesus overcame death and Hell (see Revelation 1:18). What Satan planned in order to disgrace and destroy Jesus, the Father used to exalt Jesus and to deliver countless multitudes from Satan’s grip! God’s way is superior to ours. Satan is not omniscient! He may be wiser than we are sometimes, but not as wise as the Father.
If we allow God to vindicate us, He will do so in amazing ways. Self vindication is temporary at best. Mordecai did not vindicate himself but God did. The gallows Haman built to hang Mordecai eventually became where Haman himself was hung (see the Book of Esther). Job did not vindicate himself but in the end God did. We can either try to vindicate ourselves or trust the Lord to do it if He so chooses. If He vindicates us, it shuts the devil’s mouth and that is something that we cannot do.
We can either try to vindicate ourselves or allow God to do so. When God vindicates, He also promotes. Jesus was vindicated and promoted. He now sits at the Father’s right hand (see Hebrews 10:12). Job was vindicated and promoted. Mordecai was vindicated and promoted. We should also note that some are vindicated and promoted by history after their passing on to glory. I would rather be promoted after passing on to glory than to be demoted by God and by history. Self-promotion is usually like that. As we live in a self-vindicating culture, we also live in a self-promoting culture. True prophets did not self-promote, but their names are recorded in the eternal Word of God. That is vindication and promotion!
Psalm 75:6-7 tell us that true promotion comes from God. Self-promotion is temporary at best; God’s promotion is just and eternal, if we trust Him to handle our reputation. God sets down one and exalts another. Lasting promotion is an act of God, as is lasting demotion.
Accusation is a test of our own motives that is intended to purge us of pride and examine where our real trust is. To quote Joseph’s words to his brothers, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good” (see Genesis 50:20). Once again, the Lord used the devil’s plan against him.
How we treat our accusers after our vindication and promotion is also important and reveals our hearts. Even at the Cross, Jesus said, “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” I think that is most often true of accusers, though it is also true that others have guile and are judged by God in a more severe way. In any case, our attitude in accusation, vindication, and promotion is profoundly important. Anger, bitterness, retribution, and pride will corrupt our future. “He has showed you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (see Micah 6:8). And Proverbs 24:17-18 tell us not to rejoice when our enemy falls.
WHAT TO DO
When we are accused, there are things that we can do. First, take it to the Lord, trust in Him, and wait for a response from the Holy Spirit before doing anything. Commit to whatever the Lord desires, whether passive, or defense, or denial. If we have erred or sinned, confess it to the Lord and to appropriate people. David chose to allow God to deal with his sin rather than for his enemies to do so (see 1 John 1:9).
Then, if accusations are false and malicious, remember it is Christ who justifies. Go to the scripture for confidence (see Romans 5 and Romans Chapter 8). Look at others in the Bible who were falsely accused and how they handled it (see Joseph, Mordecai, Jesus, Apostles). If you have confidence in Christ’s justification after examining your heart before God, believe what He says in your heart and confess with your mouth what He says (see Romans 10:8-10). If you believe that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, say so to our spiritual enemy!
Make a serious and consequential decision: Am I going to justify myself or am I going to trust the Lord who shed His own blood to justify me? When we justify ourselves, it is in the eyes of people. Jesus’ justification is before the Throne of God and the accuser of us all. Quietness and confidence is our strength (see Isaiah 30:15).
Finally, have close trusting friends pray with you. When accusations come heavy against us, friends and family are important and their trust is vital. Be open for counsel and encouragement (see Ecclesiastes 4:9). Covenant love is a powerful antidote to accusation. Many years ago, my father was under spiritual attack and accusation. A friend told him, “Don’t respond; your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.” How we respond matters not only to God, friends, and enemies, it matters to non-believers who are watching.
LIGHT IN A DARK CULTURE
Jesus came to open eyes that had been blinded by spiritual darkness (see John 12:46). The Bible also speaks about light, God’s light, and our being light in the world (see Matthew 5:14-16). There are numerous ways that we can be light and reveal God’s ways to our culture that has lost its way in the darkness: Faith, morality, steadfastness, love, hope, endurance, compassion for others, family, and many other ways. Certainly one way is how we handle the culture of accusation, criticism, division, and personal destruction. If our way is no different than the world’s ways, then we have nothing to offer and that is the greatest hindrance to evangelism.
In New Testament times, it was apparent to others that the disciples had been with Jesus. One of the most convincing traits that reveals our devotional life is how we respond to those who falsely accuse us. There will be accusers who will test us; our response will testify to our life with Jesus.
Don’t give control of your destiny to others, especially to our spiritual enemy. Don’t allow criticism, accusation, or hatred to get you off course. Love your enemies, do good to those who do harm to you, and move forward in your God-given purpose. If God is for you, who could be against you? Stand fast into the liberty to which you are called.
I have written these things to encourage us and all who have been bound by accusation and criticism. God has a better plan for you and for all of us! Be blessed with the blessing of God who has made us rich and adds no sorrow to it!
Your Brother in Christ,
P.S. Please continue to remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving this month. Thank you for your friendship!
Scriptures: Romans 3:10; 1 Corinthians 10:10; John 10:10; Matthew 18; 1 Peter 4:8; John 8:29; Deuteronomy 33; Romans 12:19; Revelation 1:18; Book of Esther; Hebrews 10:12; Psalm 75:6-7; Genesis 50:20; Micah 6:8; Proverbs 24:17-18; 1 John 1:9; Romans chapters 5 and 8; Romans 10:8-10; Isaiah 30:15; Ecclesiastes 4:9;John 12:48; Matthew 5:14-16