14 Aug Battling Satan, Guilt and Accusations
Basically, there are 3 enemies to a believer’s faith: flesh, world, Satan. Flesh’s desires and the world’s evil are what we can most easily detect. That is because we can sense desires and we can touch the world. However, the enemy that believers find hard to defend against is the one who is invisible; has a personality, with mind, emotions and will – Satan. Only Bible tells us of his real existence and work. In the modern world today, when science and technology are becoming more advanced, people increasingly do not believe in the existence of devil and Satan. Even if they believe, it is in an abstract way. That is because science calls us to accept what is observable and can be verified empirically. Also, as people do not believe in the revelation of God, they will understand devil and Satan through their cultural background. As a result of these, a common person will just see Satan as an extremely ugly and weird creature. Therefore, while there are those who are superstitious, and there are those who are influenced by science, they end up not knowing the existence and work of Satan. Even many Christians living in comfort and stability only know Satan as the one bringing about depressing things, like illnesses, problems at work, financial problems, breakdown in relationships, etc. Therefore, in today’s church, we often hear believers say, “Lord, we ask you oppose the evil one! Lord, bind the one who came to steal, kill and destroy, so that the path to wealth can be opened up, tumors in the body can be removed!” Such prayers fill the modern church and remain in the minds of believers. Believers’ “theory of the devil” is only restricted to such level of understanding.
Actually, when Bible first talks about the work of Satan, it describes him as craftier than other creation. He is attractive, persuasive and is imbued with spiritual power. He uses his charisma and truly persuasive lies to cause Adam and Eve to sin. The Bible says he will masquerade as the angel of light <2 Co 11:14>. He speaks what is believable to people of the world and he promises what humanity desires. Even our forefathers who had yet to sin would be deceived by his words.
When Bible first talks about the work of Satan, it describes him as craftier than other creation. He is attractive, persuasive and is imbued with spiritual power.
The way he appears among us is definitely not in the form of a monster or a crude person. He will surely be like a person filled with good intentions and who is convincing, thus the Lord said in <Mt 24:24>, “If possible, his work can even deceive the elect”. Thus, when the Lord taught believers how to pray, He said, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”. The “evil” mentioned here refers to that “evil one” (that is, Satan himself). Indeed, he is stronger and smarter than us. Thus, even when such brave and strong Peter told the Lord that he was willing to die with the Lord and suffered with Him, Lord Jesus told him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat” <Lk 22:31>. Indeed, Peter’s faith and courage were like wheat in the eyes of Satan, which could be sifted anytime. Within 24 hours after saying this, he would deny the Lord, and not just once, but thrice. What truly preserved Peter was the prayer of Lord Jesus. Because of the Lord’s prayer, he did not lose faith, and could turn back to strengthen his brothers. Thus, we truly cannot be proud, and cannot look down on the power of the evil one. <Ep 6:12> says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
What truly preserved Peter was the prayer of Lord Jesus. Because of the Lord’s prayer, he did not lose faith, and could turn back to strengthen his brothers.
It tells us here not to underestimate the work of Satan, because he has spiritual forces, which cannot be overcome with human knowledge, will or any weapon. But we also need not overestimate his work, such that we are always binding the work of Satan and neglect the work of evil brought about by our own desires and the world. We must know that the evil of the current era and the frequent gratification of the desires of our flesh truly give the evil one opportunities to attack us, and the Bible tells us the main work of this evil one (Satan) on humans is his accusations day and night. His accusations bring to our lives great harm. Indeed, we must clearly know Satan and his work, then we will know how to rely on the Lord. In particular, in today’s message, we must know how to handle the accusations Satan gives our conscience.
Satan, the enemy who accuses us day and night!
The strongest force Satan has on believers is his work of accusing mankind
Perhaps most believers only confine the work of Satan to temptation. Accusation is different from temptation. Temptation lures people to boundaries not permitted by God (examples: what should not be seen, heard, done), but the main motive behind Satan tempting man is so that after man falls, Satan can accuse him. Indeed, accusation is most lethal to believers, and the evil one uses his accusations to torment the conscience of believers, so that they are filled with guilt and cannot stand before the righteous God. Therefore, after our ancestors, Adam and Eve, sinned, they hid from God because of the guilt in their hearts. They were all the more afraid when they heard God’s voice. Their hearts were not only filled with guilt, but they also lost their self-image, falling into powerless weaknesses, such that they erred again and again. From then on, no one person escapes accusations. And when a person is severely accused for a long period of time, his mental and physical state will also be damaged and captured by the devil. Some people cannot do one good thing in their whole life; that is not only due to their sinful nature, but it is also related to them being accused. This is like after Adam was accused, he grumbled against God and his wife. After Cain was accused, he killed Abel out of anger.
The chief focus of modern psychology is to resolve human’s sense of guilt
If we visit any bookstore, we will discover that the best-selling books are those related to self-help. This includes all books on positive thinking, positive energy, and upgrading ourselves. These books mainly teach people how to reflect and introspect, so as to help them improve their self-image; otherwise they will offer suggestions to people on how they can satisfy themselves. In fact, these books are very unhealthy for the human soul, because they will make a person more self-focused, and package himself to be a very hypocritical person, but in essence, he has yet to truly resolve the issue of his damaged self-image. But this also shows that modern psychology already discovers that modern people are more and more concerned about the need for self-image. As men want to self-help more and more, they will realize that they more and more need to be approved and recognized. Actually, this is because we fallen humans are a group of guilt-filled people. Our conscience knows we have wrongs. Indeed, we humans are born with a guilty conscience, and we remain unable to resolve the guilt in our conscience. Some psychologists said that human guilt is the chief problem in the mental field, and that is one problem which not only affects a person for a few days or a few years, but that can shape a person’s lifetime personality and nature. Therefore, we can tell that some people have been living their whole lives in fear, or they are very timid, or they defend themselves a lot, or they always lie to cover themselves, etc; these are in fact brought by the subtle guilt in men.
Thus, the power of the gospel must resolve the problem of human guilt
Guilt is not merely the problem before we are born again and saved, even in the process of our sanctification, we realize that as we want to love the Lord more, submit to Him more, and grow our faith experiences more, guilt always becomes our stumbling block. We always carry the burden of our guilt, and bring all kinds of guilty experiences into our faith. Many brothers and sisters always say, “I have not been praying and reading the Bible for a long time, I am willing to submit but my flesh is weak, may the Lord have mercy on my powerlessness, etc.” Numerous believers only retain such powerless and sighing words, but they cannot boldly get up to follow the Lord, and they have not been renewed for very long, why is this so? That is because there is guilt remaining in their lives, and they mix these experiences into their faith experiences. Although on the one hand, they know God is loving and merciful, but on the other hand, they are continuously accused because of their weaknesses. If we do not know how to lay aside these sins which easily entangle and resolve the accusations brought by sins, then our guilt will increase by the day, because we are practically overcome by transgressions everyday. We must know that the guilt hidden in our hearts will certainly paralyze our entire faith. Indeed, not only God’s word, but the world’s psychology also tells us that guilt is the greatest factor which paralyzes the human spirit. We know that fear paralyzes us, but guilt too will paralyze us. Believers who are filled with guilt cannot unleash their potential. They not only will easily gratify the desires of their flesh, but they also have no power to testify for the Lord. Thus, Christ’s gospel must resolve the issue of our guilt.
God said, “The Lord rebuke you… Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
We are like Zechariah, being accused by Satan
Joshua was a great priest who represented God’s people. He stood before the glorious angel of the Lord but on his left hand also stood Satan who accused him (and opposed him). Satan torments the conscience of man in two ways. First, the name of the devil is called “the slanderer”. The work of his slander shows that he has falsely accused us of mistakes we had never made before God. He falsely accused God in front of Adam and Eve <Gen 3:5>, and also falsely accused man in front of God (Job’s example). Therefore, our over-sensitive conscience is a channel that Satan often uses to slander us. This is why we should be cautious. Second, it is also more common that we truly have many wrongdoings, just as Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes. This symbolizes us as royal priests of God, often serving God and proclaiming the goodness of the Lord, but what we often think, say, and do is filthy. Even if we conceal ourselves as much as possible in front of people, this is something God and the fallen angels know. Therefore, Satan’s accusations have validity.
But God rebuked Satan and snatched us from the fire
First, God stands by us to rebuke the accuser. What is the evidence of God’s rebuke? It was He who personally snatched us out from the fire. When we are burning a firewood, if we extract a burning stick that has not been burned to ash, our hands will be stained with burnt ash. Indeed, in order to take us out of the fire of judgment, our Lord Jesus came to the sinful world, to be with sinners, and to bear all our sins on the cross. Indeed, the Lord saved us from the fire and is also standing by us to rebuke Satan. In addition, God not only saves us from the fire, but He also puts on for us fine garments and clean turban on our heads. Therefore, God not only forgives us in Christ, but He also continues to sanctify us. <Jn 16:8> tells us that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. Some teachings say that God does not ask us to blame ourselves for our sins. This is a very wrong teaching. Precisely because the Holy Spirit rebukes us, we will know our sins and hence will not remain in sin. But some believers may ask again how the rebuke of the Holy Spirit is different from Satan’s accusation because both bring feelings of guilt. The difference is that the rebuke brought by the Holy Spirit is not only feelings of guilt, but it also gives us a heart that seeks forgiveness. Although the guilt felt in our hearts is not good, it will not make us depart from God; instead, we will be shown mercy and be accepted. But Satan’s accusation is to destroy the image of our entire person and throw us into despair. Perhaps we will meet two kinds of people in our lives.
The difference is that the rebuke brought by the Holy Spirit is not only feelings of guilt, but it also gives us a heart that seeks forgiveness.
Some people rebuke us very harshly, but we can feel their mercy for us in our hearts and they also feel hurt for us. But there are others who rebuke us completely without considering our feelings and just want to step on us.
The assurance that our sins are forgiven is based on the truth that God says, not on feelings
<Ro 10:17> says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” The assurance that our sins are forgiven cannot be dependent on feelings but on the truth of God, which is God’s word. When God says that He has forgiven us, we cannot doubt or have misunderstanding that is brought about by our over-sensitive conscience. It is like when a person is being declared guilty, it is not based on feelings. We must understand that guilt can either be objective or subjective.
In the face of the extremely cunning enemy who accuses us day and night, we absolutely cannot rely on feelings, but on what has been fulfilled by the precious blood of the Lamb and the word as testified by brethren (which is the word of God).
When a person is born in sin and live in sin, but considers his behavior as good in his own eyes, subjectively speaking, he has no sense of guilt. But objectively speaking, God sees him as sinful. Therefore, a person’s sin cannot be judged by his feelings, but instead, it is based on the word of God as the standard. The same is true about forgiveness. If a person feels that he has been forgiven, it is already a subjective experience. Instead, he must use the word of God to know the truth that God has forgiven him, and to seek evidence from it. In the face of the extremely cunning enemy who accuses us day and night, we absolutely cannot rely on feelings, but on what has been fulfilled by the precious blood of the Lamb and the word as testified by brethren (which is the word of God) <Rev 12:11>.
Therefore, the assurance of salvation is the most basic and necessary foundation of faith in Christians
Regardless of the situation we are in now, are we a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire? That is the most critical issue we have to ask ourselves. In the whole of history, there are two statements concerning the assurance of salvation. One statement says that until we see the Lord, we cannot know whether we are truly saved, and those who are sure that they are saved, are arrogant. But another statement (which is also the correct one) is that we do know that we are saved while we are still alive, and that God’s word also commands that we have assurance of our salvation. This is what was said in <2 Pe 1:10>, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.” <Ro 8:33-34> also tells us, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? …Christ Jesus who died… who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” If we do not have the assurance of salvation, how can we claim these promises in weakness and transgression? How can we “delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties”? <2 Co 12:10> Therefore, the Christian faith is definitely not one where we can only be sure of our salvation on the day of death. If so, we definitely cannot overcome the evil one who accuses us day and night.
Those whose transgressions are forgiven will also forgive others
The Lord instructs us to forgive our brethren 77 times
When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” <Mt 18:21-22> The 77 times mentioned here refers to complete forgiveness, just like how the Lord forgives us. The faith experience of our entire life tells us that the transgression which makes us most accused is the sin we repeat again after confessing our sin. There are strongholds in such sin, and this is not sin we can immediately overcome with our will. But we know the Lord’s way is to give us complete forgiveness, and the Lord’s forgiveness is shown every time when we repeat our sin, and the agony in our hearts increases, until one day when we totally renounce that sin. If we truly experienced such forgiveness, we will not hate those brethren who offended us a few times. On the contrary, we will ask that the Lord’s mercy on us will enable us to have mercy on our brethren. Thus, we Christians have no enemies.
Yet, not every relationship has such perfect ending, but we should always live at peace with others
Perhaps the most beautiful relationship of our whole life is the relationship which has been through cracks, but are later restored due to forgiveness. Maybe that is husband-wife relationship, parent-child relationship, or perhaps it is our relationship with some brethren which has been mended after certain conflicts. Such relationships once again manifest God’s love and mercy.
Perhaps the most beautiful relationship of our whole life is the relationship which has been through cracks, but are later restored due to forgiveness.
But sometimes, reality tells us that not every relationship can be repaired like this. Thus, <Ro 12:18> says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” “If it is possible” tells us that not every situation is possible. Because there is the work of the slandering and accusing spirit, so we can only ask God to have mercy on us. However, if we seek to live at peace with everyone, the Lord’s peace will surely be with us.
Throughout our lifetime, we must preach the gospel of forgiveness
Because Satan’s work of accusing mankind is widespread, there are all kinds of unforgiving thoughts and attitudes in human hearts. Therefore, for our whole life, we must preach the gospel which enables men to have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ <Ro 5:1>. When the human spirit is paralyzed, let us not seek any modern positive teachings or self-help theories, because that will only make humans more and more self-centred. On the contrary, we must all the more see through and have mercy on the guilt within the spirits of modern people, and boldly preach the gospel of the forgiveness of sins, so that humans’ spirits can truly enjoy the freedom that is given by the grace of forgiveness.