If you follow me on Twitter (considering the extreme dustiness of this blog, I expect that’s rather likely), you probably saw when I tweeted this:
I had a few more thoughts on it as I’ve been mulling it over.
I remember being a kid and learning that Satan was called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10). In my mind, that language combined with the imagery of the roaring, devouring lion (1 Peter 5:8), and then with the opening scenes of Job where Satan is standing before God and asking to do mean things to God’s loyal servant (Job 1 and 2).
It scared me spitless.
To be fair, when I was young, I was often unsure of my salvation. I made a decision for Jesus when I was three, and got baptized when I was seven (which was the youngest my church would allow). Yet in the years that followed, I still went up to more than one altar call, because the preachers would say that dreaded phrase: “If’ you’re not sure you’d go to heaven if you died tonight…”
As a good church kid, I knew that the phrase was coming. Of course it was coming. It was there every altar call. But it still put a knot in my stomach. I had read about people who will find out at the judgment seat that Jesus never knew them, and I was terrified of being one of those people. I figured I had better do a salvific top-off, just to be safe.
See, when I heard the language of Satan accusing us to God, I imagined God sitting at a judge’s bench, with a book full of all of my good and bad deeds, and Satan pointing out, “Aha! SEE? See here? She yelled at her brother! And look here! She snuck something out of the pantry without asking permission from her mother first!” (And Mom: sorry about that; I can buy you a box of crackers next time I’m in town.) I imagined the devil gleefully pointing out every single area of my failing, intentional or not, repentant or not, and making God aware of them.
I would picture God checking the book, and to His somber dismay, discovering that, Oh dearie Me, yes, she has indeed been naughty in all of the ways Satan says. I wasn’t quite sure what happened next, but I felt like it put me that much closer to meeting my Maker, only to discover that, whoops, you were a goat—guess it’s fire and brimstone for you.
In my late teens, I got a much better and more biblically-accurate idea of God’s emotions for us. I guess you could say I “outgrew” my courtroom imagination. I stopped being afraid that God was teetering on the edge of running out of patience for me. I stopped being afraid that I could fail at being a real Christian while I was sincerely trying to follow Jesus. I renounced a lot of accusations that the enemy had directed to me, but I never really revisited what it meant that the devil might be accusing me to God.
Yesterday I was thinking about Jesus as our Advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1). I thought of how cool it was that there’s not just someone accusing us before God night and day; there’s Someone advocating for us.
Suddenly I remembered my childhood fear—and almost laughed out loud at how absurd it was. Not to be too hard on my nine year-old self, but I was missing a few incredibly important facts about my accuser:
- He’s not the only one before God giving his perspective on my life.
- He’s a pathological liar.
- The Judge doesn’t like him. At all.
- The Judge REALLY likes my Advocate.
Back to that tweet—if, in a real-life court situation, the judge hated the prosecuting attorney and was related to the defense attorney, the case would never be allowed to go to trial. Of course the judge is going to be biased towards his son. Now obviously, the Lord God Almighty is not in any way crooked. He is completely just. He always judges rightly. He’s not swayed by bribery or well-crafted sob-stories. He can see the truth no matter who’s saying it or how lousy their motives are.
But because of this, He also knows a lying, thieving usurper when He sees one, and isn’t about to give that testimony precedence over the Son whom He loves, who is righteous altogether, and who shed His own holy blood that we might be saved.
It’s no accident that the one verse which describes Satan as the “accuser of the brethren” depicts his humiliating defeat.
Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they [the brethren he accused] overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. (Revelation 12:10-11)
If God is our Judge, and Christ is our Advocate, then our accuser is pretty well out of luck on this one.