by Lynn Buzzard
For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accuses
them before our God day and night. And they overcame
him by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:10b, 11).
Of the many titles of the Devil—father of lies, deceiver of the world—none is more frightening than the image of the Devil in Revelation 12 that he is an "accuser." In fact, a persistent, "day and night" accuser. Talmudic writings had even suggested every day Satan accuses God’s people before God. Like a relentless prosecutor, a la Les Miserables, he will not let it go. He is a tenacious accuser, pointing the finger of guilt directly at us. In the spiritual courtroom, he’s an awesome figure who has honed his prosecutorial skills to a maximum. When he stands to accuse, the courtroom hushes. He is like a boxer whose body punches and jabs just keep coming, taking their toll.
What is the substance of the complaint—the accusations? What are the charges? We can all imagine them. The Devil says to God, and to our own psyches, "Are you really a Christian? Look at yourself! You think you are spiritual? Why just look at the broken promises you’ve made to God. A saint—surely you’re joking." The Devil has a lot of material he can work with to accuse us of phoniness, shallowness and failure—in spite of our protests that we are children of God.
And it takes a toll. Like the recipient of those constant body jabs of the fighter, perhaps no one is a knock-out punch, but the total effect is debilitating. And the problem is that in large part the Devil’s accusations are often true—much of what he says about us can be proved. He has a good case. He has witnesses. Perhaps he has documents and video recordings to prove our guilt and hypocrisy. He can even put us on the stand where no constitutional 5th Amendment against self-incrimination will protect us.
So it is easy to lose joy, confidence, and assurance. We begin to question our own relationship with Christ. We are robbed of victory. As the accuser reads the complaint of charges against us, we emotionally and spiritually shrink under the weight of its indictment. In the times of the book of Revelation, when the church was under enormous persecution and the pressure on believers to be unfaithful was enormous, these accusations probably took a specific toll.
But the good news is that like the courtroom drama, after the accuser had made his best case, it’s time for the defense. And what will it be? What defense is there against these often true accusations of our sin and failure?
In western legal imagery, it is a brief defense—a motion to dismiss, a motion for summary judgment, a motion for a directed verdict. Revelation 12:11 tells us that the believers were not defeated by the accuser of the brethren, they were not overcome, but prevailed. The accuser lost the case!! The famed prosecutor was caught unprepared for the novel defense.
Note, the defense strategy was not denying the charges or refuting the witness. The defense counsel did not introduce character witnesses to say what a wonderful people these Christians were, nor even suggest they have alibis. The defense did not try pointing to extenuating circumstances. The defense had but one simple element: "The blood of the Lamb."
How is the church in Revelation victorious in the face of the relentless accusations? By declaring the "blood of the Lamb." You see, the defense here is interesting—it does not deny the charges, but says they’ve already been taken care of. Like a charge for a debt, the answer is "paid in full." "Your honor, we move to dismiss the complaint, because the debt’s been paid, the note has been cancelled."
There is an old and crucial truth here that goes to the core of the gospel and is crucial to our spiritual vitality. We will all feel the power and battering of the Devil’s accusations against us. We may even assist him in joining the accusations and sensing our weakness and sin. We are indeed unworthy. Our answer is not to challenge the facts but to tell the "rest of the story." It is to declare that the debt is paid. As the old gospel hymn put it: "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow." Or as Paul declared in Romans: "There is therefore now no condemnation . . . ." Paul said it clearly: "in whom we have redemption through his blood." (Eph. 1:7); and John proclaimed it: "and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). The prosecutor, the accuser had prepared a failed case—he’d forgotten the debt was paid.
"Your honor, we move for a dismissal of all charges."
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This article [slightly edited] comes from the "No Higher Calling" devotional published by Advocates International, CLS' international sister ministry. Lynn Buzzard is a former professor at Campbell Law School and the former executive director of Christian Legal Society.