When Christians Do the Devil’s Work
In the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation, Satan is described in very vivid terms, referred to as, “The great dragon . . . that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. . . . the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:9-10). That is who he is, and that is what he does.
All too often, however, we do his work for him to the point that he could take an extended vacation and his work would continue without interruption — all because of us. All too often, we become accusers of the brothers and sisters.
This not only divides the Body — the very family of God — but it wounds the heart of our Father. How He hates seeing His kids at war.
Accusing Our Brothers and Sisters
To be clear, we are called to make righteous judgments (see John 7:24), to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to rebuke our neighbor when he or she sins, especially when that sin is against us personally (Leviticus 19:17; Luke 17:3; note also the principle of Proverbs 28:23).
There are even explicit directions for dealing with accusations against Church leaders: “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism” (1 Timothy 5:19–21).
All this is very different than being an accuser of the brothers and sisters.
Satan brings up our past — things that have been forgiven by God, things that have been dealt with properly, things that we have forsaken and renounced, things that are “under the blood” (meaning, washed clean by the blood Jesus). Satan hurls those in our face again or accuses us of guilt to God or others.
Satan sows discord and suspicion, spreading lies and false judgments and misinformation. He points out the worst in others, puts the worst construction on what they say or do, then spreads those evil conjectures far and wide. It truly is devilish.
Satan accuses and attacks and demeans and degrades, speaking of them in the ugliest ways. Yet all too often, we follow in his tracks, doing these very things to one another.
That’s why, according to Paul, things like strife, gossip, slander, hatred, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissensions, and factions fit in the same category as thinks like God-hating, idolatry, witchcraft, murder, sexual immorality, and orgies (see Romans 1:28-31; Galatians 5:19-21). They are all, according to Paul, works of the flesh and symptoms of a depraved mind.
How then can we, the people of God, the redeemed of the Lord, those who have been set apart to be holy, partake in such things? How can we, who sit in heavenly places with our Savior, get so low down in the gutter?
We Use Satan’s Tools
Think back to the 2020 elections, regardless of your own voting choices.
Our social media pages were filled with vicious attacks against one another. Some of us even condemned one another to hell based on our voting choices. This makes the devil glad.
And of the many qualities we put on display in 2020, one was conspicuously lacking: love! Yet this was the very quality by which Jesus said the world would know that we were His disciples – by our love one for another (John 13:34-35).
Even the devil understands the principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand (see Matthew 12:25-28). How, then, can we expect to overcome the enemy of our souls when we are at war with each other?
These days, no sooner does a controversy arise in the Body, whether it surrounds a doctrine or a person or a movement or a group, and within seconds, there’s a flood of gossip, suspicion, discord, malicious speech, judgmentalism, and more being aired out in public for the world to see. Yet Paul discouraged believers from even taking one another to court to settle disputes lest we bring reproach on the name of the Lord. He exclaimed, “one brother takes another to court — and this in front of unbelievers!” (1 Corinthians 6:6). For him, this was absolutely shameful.
Yet for far less than a legal dispute, we drag one another before the court of public opinion. This, too, is shameful.
Praying for Others as If They Were in the Room With You
Many years ago, I read a story from the life of John “Praying” Hyde (1865-1912), one of the greatest men of prayer in church history. He was praying for a Christian leader who had grown spiritually cold, saying to the Lord, “You know how he no longer loves You the way He used to.”
Immediately, he felt the Lord’s rebuke, realizing that he had just become an accuser of the brethren. So he began to thank God for all the good qualities in this man’s life, and not long afterwards, that man came to repentance and renewed his devotion to Jesus.
Ever since then, I have made it a practice to pray prayers for others as if they were in the room with me. In other words, rather than saying, “Father, You know what a mean-spirited person so-and-so is,” I pray, “Father, give him a fresh spirit of love for You and love for others, and help him to be kindhearted and compassionate.” Then, to cover the bases, I pray the same for myself.
Under no circumstances do I want to become an accuser of the brethren myself.
Even here in this article, my intention is not to embarrass individuals or shame anyone by name. My intention is to say, “My brothers and sisters, let’s step higher. Let’s honor the Lord. Let’s show the world the beauty of our faith and the depth of our love for another. And by all means, let us not do the devil’s work.”
Instead, let us stand together against our deadly foe rather than opening the door and inviting him in. This is a matter of life and death.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Why So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.