The Accuser vs. Our Justifier

You hear the accusations, the criticisms, the condemnations that echo inside your head. Although the accusations are heavily laced with lies, it is the elements of truth and the diabolical logic that oppresses your thoughts, pierces your heart, and rips at the very fibers of your soul.

The accuser reminds you of sins and bondages of the past. He will try to rub your face in the struggles of the present. Here are the elements of truth, for you and I both have certain sins we are guilty of, as well as struggle with. The bits of truth are then laced with lies. “This is unforgivable!” “A real Christian would not do that!” “Grace covers most sins, but you need to try to earn back God’s love after this!” He thus tries to shatter hope for the future.

All of this is bad enough, but it is the diabolical, absolutely ruthless and relentless, apparent logic that would kill—were it not for God’s faithfulness! The accuser would have us believe that our sins, failures, and vileness is our very being and identity. That is, he would strip us of the image of God, albeit marred. He would not have us simply believe our sins are vile and profane, but that we are the very essence of vileness and profanity (i.e., we are not simply dirty, but we are in our very being dirt itself). To some, I suppose this all seems silly, but there are many who know exactly what I am talking about. The accuser can spin his lies in a way that can convince a person that not only are they sinful, but they are the very essence of the evil of sin.

If left to ourselves, we would be utterly helpless. In spite of the ruthless lies the accuser spins, our sins certainly would be cause to condemn us. However, we have One who has redeemed us, and who justifies us. It is vitally important to understand our justification is entirely His work—not ours!

In Zechariah, we read of the high priest, Joshua, who was accused mercilessly by Satan.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. ~ 3:1-5, (ESV)

Notice, the accusations were not entirely false. Joshua’s garments were, indeed, filthy. However, although Satan is the accuser, he is not the judge or jury—and he certainly does not have the last word! Joshua was incapable of cleansing himself, but it is Lord who stripped him of his filthy garments and replaced them with clean ones.

Similarly, when the prophet Isaiah witnessed the glory and holiness of the Lord, he became very aware of his sinfulness.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” ~ Isaiah 6:5-7

In this passage, the very presence and holiness of God brought to Isaiah awareness of his sin. Notice again, however, it was the Lord’s doing (yes, by means of an angel and hot coal) that purged the prophet’s lips. Isaiah was helpless to do this himself—just as we all are!

All of this is crucial to understand, especially when the evil one is accusing us. Satan’s accusations are only to confuse, condemn, and destroy. The Holy Spirit brings conviction—not to condemn but to bring us to Christ who redeems is by His shed blood. This is a tremendous difference!

Romans chapter 7, as well as Galatians 5:16-26 deals honestly with the internal struggle of every Christian. While Satan, who tirelessly accuses us (see Revelation 12:10), we have a Redeemer who is our Justifier. Romans 8:1 tells us that for every person who is in Christ, there is NO CONDEMNATION. Why?

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. ~ (Romans 8:3-4)

Jesus took our sins upon Himself! While this does not give us license to sin, but it does give us hope when we do sin. Because of Jesus and His work on the cross, and His work in us, we can get back up. Ah, but what about our accuser? Oh, he is still going to accuse you and I. But we are also told:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 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. ~ Romans 8:29-34

Who shall bring a charge against us? Oh, our accuser will try, for sure, but it is God who justifies us! Who will condemn us? Again, Satan will try, but it is Christ who died—and was raised— and continues to intercede for us!

Those whom the Son sets free are free, indeed—even from all condemnation. Look to Christ, dear one. For all those who are in Christ, no one, or thing, or situation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:37-39).

Depression in the Faithful

There are natural laws that have nothing to do with being either “Christian” or “secular.” If a person goes beyond the edge of a roof, gravity pulls a person downward, regardless of beliefs or ideologies. Or consider a car collision, the law of “cause and effect” are the same for the religious person, as well as for the atheist.

There are laws connected to mental health, as well. So many things can affect one’s mental health: chemical imbalances, stress, grief, unresolved anger, guilt (real or false), lack of rest, hunger, loss, disappointment, etc. Christians are not immune to depression.

There are some Christians who speak condescendingly of believers who battle depression. After all, if those suffering depression had such great faith and spirituality as them, then they would not be depressed. James says Elijah was a man just as the rest of us (see James 5:17). There is no doubt Elijah was a man of incredibly great faith, who won a great spiritual victory on Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings 17-18). Nevertheless, afterward we read of him being exhausted, stressed, and hungry. This prophet of great faith fell into a deep depression. He felt like a total failure, and simply desired to die (see 1 Kings 19).

Was Elijah a failure? Does God criticize him for his depression or accuse him of lacking faith? No, but encourages the prophet to rest and to eat.

Are you feeling down today? Let me ask you, are you getting adequate rest? Are you eating a healthy diet? Perhaps you feel like a failure. I will venture to say that each of us have our share of both victories and failures; however, our redemption is solely based on Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. If we experience victory, it is because of His power. If we suffer failure, God does not withdraw His love. He gives us a wonderful promise of forgiveness in 1 John 1:9. Furthermore, because of what Christ has done, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence (see Hebrews 4:16; 10:19).

Perhaps you are one to look down on those dealing with depression. Be grateful you have not been brought to the edge of despair. And know this, the Lord can easily strip you of such smugness and allow you to feel what others feel in order to teach you empathy. Each of us are dependent on His strength and grace.

Be encouraged. You are loved!

Light in the Darkness

This morning at church, during the worship, I felt the Lord wanting me to go in a different direction with this site. Initially, I wanted to touch on issues that are often neglected in churches, but I feel the need to use this site to encourage weary travelers.

See, we were singing the song, “Way Maker,” and a reoccurring line goes: “Way maker, Miracle worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the darkness, that is who You are.” For me, God being the Light in the darkness resonates with me for two reasons. First, when God saved my soul when I was a teenager, He rescued me from a deep darkness. Second, about a year and a half ago, I fell into a deep depression. This, after walking with the Lord for some thirty years, and being in ministry, etc. I was in deep darkness, and closer to the edge than I realized.

When I was was still in my darkness, I read a promise in Micah: “I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light” (7:8, CEV). I remember the Lord giving me an illustration: a person can be sitting in the dark at night, but this does not mean the sun has fizzled out. No, the sun is merely hidden. Mind you, this did not pull me out of my depression, God would do that later; however, I was reminded today that God, indeed, is our Light in the darkness.

Depression is not necessarily sinful. In fact, a number of godly persons in the Scriptures dealt with depression (e.g., Moses, Jeremiah, David, Hannah, Elijah, etc.). Christians—including pastors—can experience depression. Again, the reasons vary.

If you are struggling with depression, please know that Jesus is your light. Confide with some persons you can trust. And I hope you will continue to check in on this site. It had been my goal to try to post something at least once a week.

Although you might feel forsaken (this is a horrible feeling), but please know that God is faithful to His own—even when He seems to have withdrawn!

An Evil Under the Sun

Jesus is life, and the source and giver of life.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. ~ John 1:1-4 (ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. ~John 6:33

This God and Savior, who is life, also has a deep love for children. In fact, he is intimately involved in their development, and He cares deeply about what happens to them.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. ~ Psalm 139:15-16

And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left. ~ Jonah 4:10-11

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. ~ Matthew 18:5-6

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 19:13-14

There is a great evil under the sun in these modern times. Men and women writing and passing laws permitting the destruction of the innocent and helpless babies in the womb—even out of the womb. Adding to this evil is that many even applaud laws that permit such brutality.

A greater evil still is so many who profess the name of Christ, who would say they share His heart, applaud these laws—or will make justifications for not crying out against these laws and declaring them as evil.

In Genesis God tells Cain that the blood of Abel was crying to Him from the ground (see 4:10). Does not the blood of millions of unborn babies not cry out to God? For all who profess the name of Christ, will not their blood be as much on our hands if we do not cry out against such evil?

Let us understand, we are well past the “what if” situations. We have entered an age of celebration of death of the helpless and innocent. This is not a political issue, but a moral one. For all who profess the name of Christ, consider His character, love, and involvement in the lives of these little ones very carefully before ignoring or justifying this terrible evil under the sun.