The Accuser of our Brethren
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 30 August 2003
"Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "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 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. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time" (Rev.12:10-12, NKJV).
I wonder if perhaps sometimes we forget that there is an enemy accusing us before the Throne of Yahweh. We know - because we encounter it all the time - that there are men and women who are accusing us of wrong-doing. They never seem to relent. Recently I have been following the life of a pastor who currently is at the receiving end of a constant barrage of criticism. He has, to be sure, made some mistakes, and at times acted unwisely, forgetting that when you have a high public profile, your tiniest faults are magnified a hundred times and made to look like capital offences. And there's not doubt that he has some issues to work out.
Our scripture this morning reminds us that Satan stands before Yahweh, day and night, accusing believers. One gets the impression that that is about all he ever does. We are first given a glimpse into the activities of the devil in the story of Job and in this case the accusers of Yahweh's servant are religious people. Yes, religious people can be amongst the worst. When Yahweh's servant, Job, was down, at the end of his tether, when even his own wife had advised him to curse God and die, his best friends came along with very reasonably-sounding arguments and tried to make him confess sins of which he was not guilty.
Traverse the centuries to the trial before Pilate of the Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus), and the well-meaning but deceived friends have now become a mob of bloodthirsty, demonised murderers. Not only did they want to put the Saviour of Mankind to death, but they were even willing to have their children cursed for generations afterwards in order to fulfil their wicked lust for blood. It is not hard to see the spirit of Satan in that angry mob who preferred the life of a murderous revolutionary called Barabbas to Yah'shua (Jesus). That is pretty clear-cut. But how many of us, perhaps unwittingly, fall into the trap of believing that Job's friends were not so bad? Worse, how many of us actually believe their arguments?
Both the mob before Pilate, and Job's useless counsellors, were accusers. The word haSatan means "the accuser". It is not the Adversary's proper name, anymore than Lucifer was before he fell. The devil's real name is Heylel which means 'Morning Star' or 'Bright One', for that is what he once was. And to this very day he still poses as the unfallen 'Morning Star' and 'Bright One', luring and deceiving mankind.
It is not a pleasant thing to be reminded of, but whenever we accuse a servant of Yahweh falsely we become a satan. The first time I read the Book of Job I was not even aware that there was anything wrong with Job's friends. I thought that they were well meaning people. And perhaps they were. And yet it escaped me at the time as to just how serious their crime was. Their fate actually lay in Job's hands. This is what we read:
"Yahweh said to Eliphaz: 'What my servant Job has said about Me is true, but I am angry at you and your two friends for not telling the truth. So I want you to go over to Job and offer seven bulls and seven goats on the altar as a sacrifice to please me. After this, Job will pray, and I will agree not to punish you for your foolishness.' Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar obeyed Yahweh, and He answered Job's prayer. After Job had prayed for his three friends, Yahweh made Job twice as rich as before. Then Job gave a feast for his brothers and sisters and for his old friends. They expressed their sorrow for the suffering Yahweh had brought on him, and they each gave Job some silver and a gold ring" (Job 42:7-11, CEV).
What we learn from this story, and from the Lord's Prayer, is that a person who accuses a servant of Yahweh is a servant of the devil, even if they are ignorant of the fact. We also learn that Yahweh's anger is kindled against them and will not be abated until they have repented. Under the Old Covenant, that required that blood sacrifices be offered. Under the New, that sacrifice is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. But even that is not enough. To be finally off the hook, the three accusers needed Job to pray for them before they were finally absolved.
Now this principle we have discussed before but it needs repeating, because unless we understand it, many people will continue to suffer even after they have shown remorse for their sins. Yah'shua (Jesus) taught that Yahweh, our Father in Heaven, will only forgive our sins as we forgive the sins of others against us (Mt.6:12; Lk.11:4). A lot of sinners are still suffering even after they have repented because they have not been released of their debt by those they have sinned against. The one wrongly accused suffers because he will not forgive, and the accusers suffer because the one they wronged will not forgive either. In one of the most important pieces of New Covenant Torah legislation that Yah'shua (Jesus) gave, men and women the world around are suffering because they will not give heed to it. And yet this principle of mutual repentance and forgiveness was known as far back as in the days of Job, long before the Law of Moses was revealed, and long before the nation of Israel was born.
As a deliverance minister I keep on meeting people who are suffering with demon problems because of this perpetual cycle of unforgiveness. Our greatest weapon against the enemy is forgiveness of our enemies - the people Satan is using against us. Yah'shua's (Jesus') parting words in mortality were: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Lk.23:34, NKJV). He forgave the blood-thirsty mob that condemned Him before Pilate and those who mocked and hated Him as He died an agonising death for them on the Cross.
Later, we are taken to a parallel scene, to the first Christian martyr, who was stoned to death by an angry mob of zealous Talmudists led by a man who would later repent and become the apostle Paul (Sha'ul). The scripture tells us:
"Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him (Stephen) with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Yah'shua (Jesus), receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep (died)." (Acts 7:57-60, NKJV).
That act of forgiveness on the part of Stephen was critical for Paul's future well-being. Had the charge of murderer remained on him because Stephen had not absolved him, his ministry, I am sure, would have had a major brake on it. We can't know, of course - for who properly understands the grace of Yahweh? - but perhaps the history of the New Testament Messianic Community (Church) might have been very different had Stephen not uttered those life-giving words, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin."
Now we must not deceive ourselves into believing that we of our own selves have the power to forgive sin. The power to forgive sin is derived from the blood shed by the Son of Man on the Cross of Calvary. But neither must we deceive ourselves into thinking that we do not have this power, because it is very clearly a power that has been delegated to us. Why? Why have we been given this terrible burden? Why has Yahweh entrusted men with this awesome responsibility? For if you think about it - and you only have to look at the story of Job, of Stephen, and of others to see that it is true - our salvation actually depends on each other and not just Christ alone. I repeat, all salvation is of Yah'shua (Jesus), yet Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) has ordained that this power be shared, to a certain extent, for a grand cosmic purpose for the redemption of man's soul.
Yahweh has so structured the plan of salvation that we are under no illusions concerning the importance of the Body of Christ. Salvation, as I have preached from this pulpit a dozen times or more, is not just about a one-to-one relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus). The Messianic Community (Church) does not consist of thousands of solo-Christians who get together every now and then for a meeting or two. Elohim (God) has so structured the Plan of Redemption that we clearly understand that we not only need Christ but each other too.
Let me give you a well-known but worth-repeating illustration. Anyone who has read the New Testament carefully will know that the twelve tribes of Israel have an important rôle to play not only in the last days but in the Millennium to come. The prophet Ezekiel describes their inheritances in the Holy Land - the parcels of land that Yahweh will give them. Paul talks about their restoration. This means that the twelve tribes are important. The Book of Revelation tells us of 144,000 special sealed witnesses - 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev.7:4-8). Every one of those tribes is important - they are not only present, but they are distinct too. Will anyone deny that?
And yet few people consider how these twelve tribes came to be. By a serious of seemingly chaotic circumstances, with not a few instances of human failing, these twelve tribes descend from one man and four women - Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah. There was a co-dependency of these five servants of Yahweh in a marriage relationship. Take any one of them away, and the prophetic and eschatological purposes of Yahweh are destroyed.
The same is true of us. We need each other. The Messianic Community (Church) is described as an allegorical bride to the Bridegroom, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) (Eph.5:22-32). The Messianic Community (Church) can under no circumstances fulfil the rôle assigned to her unless she works together in oneness or echad - and the only way she can do that is by living Torah, and especially learning to forgive.
Painful a reality though it is, Satan is using members of the Body of Christ to accuse other members in an ungodly, and often hypocritical, manner. Yahweh has ordained procedures in the Body of Christ for dealing with transgressors. He has established a system of judges whose responsibility is to expose wanton sin in the Body and to excise it, by either getting people to repent or - if they will not - by putting them outside the fellowship. There are procedures for such things. These are realities of true Christian life.
But what I am concerned about today is false accusation - not so much for the ones being accused, but the accusers or 'satans' themselves. When a person is falsely accused, a relationship is established between the accused and the accuser. What the accusers have to understand is that they cannot accuse and simply walk away. If they have falsely accused they become dependent not only on Christ for forgiveness but on the ones they have falsely accused for forgiveness too. Without the forgiveness of the accused, they are doomed! And if the one falsely accused does not forgive either, he too is doomed! Because unless he freely forgives, Yah'shua (Jesus) has plainly stated that he will not be forgiven for his other transgressions.
What this does not mean is that the accuser can then point a finger at the one he has falsely accused and smugly say to himself: "Hey, you've got to forgive me!" Such displays a wrong heart. The accused cannot ultimately forgive the accuser until the accuser has fully repented - and that means getting a right heart. And whilst the accused may - and should, nay must - always have a forgiving heart even if the accuser never repents - the accuser is never in a position to demand anything from the accused. Never! All the accuser can do is fall down on his knees, beg forgiveness from Yahweh, and beg the accused to forgive him too. He can make no demands.
I often hear people who have been wrongly accused demanding apologies from the accuser. That also is wrong. We are not to demand anything. Such stems from arrogant pride. When a person demands an apology they are placing themselves in the position of God. Only Yahweh can make that sort of demand. Those who are falsely accused must patiently wait until those who have wronged them have their hearts melted by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). The falsely accused must, of course, preach the truth, as Job did, by defending Yahweh's holiness and righteousness. When we lay our life down in love, if is never for self, but for others.
It is a simple matter to discover where a man is coming from in his behaviour towards others. In Yahweh's scheme of things, notice how the falsely accused is expected to think of the accused, and not himself. He is not supposed to pour out complaints about his maltreatment, but have his heart on loving his enemy, bless the one who curses him, do good to him, and pray for the one who despitefully uses him (Mt.5:44). And yet he knows - because Yahweh has ordained it - that he holds the power to that false accuser's redemption. If that is not sobering, I don't know what is.
So, I repeat, if you have ever falsely accused someone, you have created a humbling situation for yourself, because you at once become dependent on the accused for your own salvation. You have to get their forgiveness before Yahweh will forgive you. You may not like that, but it is Yahweh's Law, and there is no way of getting round it.
What if the person you have falsely accused refuses to forgive you, or dies before he has the opportunity to do so? In such a situation, all we can do is get right with Yahweh, and leave the rest up to Him. Sometimes there are unknowns in life, loose ends that frustratingly cannot be tied. Sometimes the resolution to such matters must await the next life. Which is why it is important to effect a resolution in this life if at all possible, and not to procrastinate the day of our repentance. For not only does it get harder to repent the more time we allow to slip by, but we ourselves may risk becoming hardhearted, thus making it harder for us to repent. The old adage remains: don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. And when it comes to repentance and salvation, how critical can that be! For you do not know how long you will live.
Our personal purification and sanctification depends on our relationship - not just to the good but to the wicked too. Would it sound strange to you if I suggested that Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself is also dependent on our purification from sin? For it is written of Christ that He "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14, KJV).
People have this idea that once they have received Yah'shua (Jesus) as Lord and Saviour that the purification of their souls is accomplished. Well, jurisdictionally-speaking, yes, that is true. Yahweh can now look upon us and see the holiness of Christ. But that is not all. The atoning power of the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus) must yet cleanse us from all iniquity. If accepting Christ was all that were required of us, why would we even need to bother about forgiving our enemies? We could just say: "I believe in Yah'shua (Jesus), I am cleansed in the blood of the Lamb. I am off to heaven. I am a part of the Bride. I am headed for glory!"
But that's the point. When we receive Christ, we aren't fully married to Him - it's only a betrothal. And the betrothed bride is supposed to purify herself in anticipation of the final consummation in heaven.
Let me give you an illustration. Let's say a woman is betrothed to a man. She and he are in love with each other. They enter covenants but do not consummate the marriage. What if she then goes off and plays the whore? According to Torah that is adultery, even if the marriage isn't consummated. What if she goes and has a mud bath in pig swill and appears on her marriage day stinking like a pigsty? Would you consummate your marriage with such a woman? Our purification is more than just legal purification to satisfy an offended God. Purification must also take place within, otherwise there will be no Marriage in Heaven.
My message to you today is a simple one: if you are a false accuser, it is to remind you that you are a servant of Satan, who is the "accuser of the brethren", against whom the wrath of Yahweh is as a fiery furnace. It is to remind you that you not only need the forgiveness of Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) for your salvation, but that you need the prayer and forgiveness of the one you have accused. Get to work, you have much to do.
If you have been falsely accused, my message is to remind you that you have an obligation to forgive if you in your turn wish to be forgiven by Yahweh of your undoubted sins. It is to remind you that the false accuser is in your hands, and that you in your turn are in Yahweh's. These are awesome responsibilities. Get to work, you have much to do.
Finally, it is to remind regenerated, repenting Christians that they ultimately need each other, just as Jacob's wives needed each other to fulfil their husband's destiny as the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. And this means working things out together until we are one. To the unrepentant, I say, beware. The grace of Yahweh is not inexhaustible. Amen.
"All those who watch for iniquity as an occasion for accusation shall be cut off" (Is.29:20, Amp.Ver.)
This page was created on 22 August 2003
Last updated on 22 August 2003
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