I read the lines a few times to make sure I understood what I was being accused of. Even though I didn’t believe it was true, the accusation still stung. Words can do that whether or not they are true, and sometimes they can hang on you like heavy snow on the branches of a pine tree.
Satan is the master of accusation. He never misses an opportunity to bring full-blown charges, subtle insinuations, or outright slanderous accusations against Jesus’ followers. It’s easy to succumb to Satan’s accusations because, all too often, the sins he points out are true: “Yes, I did that; yes, I said that.” I’m learning I don’t have to run and hide or sink into despair in the face of the accusations because, truth is, even though they are true, the accusations don’t stick.
The reason the accusations don’t stick is tied to the New Testament concepts of being blameless and above reproach. Neither of these virtues refers to a sinless person because being above reproach or blameless is not the same as being perfect, in the way we commonly use that term. The Apostle Paul never claimed such perfection in his earthly life as seen in his personal testimony in Phil. 2:12-14:
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul did not attain sinless perfection. It wasn’t his pursuit. Obedience to God’s call was. This blameless, above reproach living I’m describing is not a life that is free of errors, in which a sin is never again committed. The pursuit of that kind of perfection will lead either to pride or utter defeat. As songwriter Andrew Peterson wrote, “You can’t expect to be perfect, it’s a fight you’ve gotta forfeit.”
Yet, because a sinless life is not possible, Satan will continue to point out my sins, leaving me vulnerable to his ongoing accusations. What then is my hope?
Imagine a courtroom scene. I am the defendant on trial. The prosecutor is Satan, the accuser of Christians (Rev. 12:10). The defense attorney is Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2). The presiding Judge is God. I have sinned. Satan levels the devastating charges, accusing me of violating God’s law, thus worthy of condemnation and its accompanying punishment. But when Satan is finished, Jesus rises to my defense, both acknowledging the truth of the accusation, and declaring that the penalty for the sin has already been paid in full through His own sacrifice on the cross. Justice has been served. The defendant is not guilty. There is no double jeopardy in this courtroom. Case dismissed!
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…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” (Rom. 8:1,33,34).
Satan’s accusations are dirty but they’re not deadly. They sting because they are too often true, but they don’t stick because Jesus is rewriting my story.