In the courts of the Lord (ii): Withstanding the Accuser of the Brethren when the sense of failure presses in

Sep 9, 2022 | INSIGHTS

This is a very important section for those who are feeling in any way under the cosh of condemnation’s hammer.

What Micaiah saw in the courts of the Lord is a powerful reminder that far more goes on in the courts of Heaven than ‘just’ beautiful worship. Just as God invites us to reason together with Him (Is. 1:18), so there are times when it appears He welcomes discussion and even vigorous debate before His throne, before strategic decisions are reached and acted upon.

In Zechariah 3:1-9 we come across a scene in the heavenly court in which satan is vigorously accusing God’s chosen representative, the high priest Joshua. Satan, like many a forensic prosecutor, doubtless came armed to the scene with valid points to the effect that Joshua was not a flawless person – symbolised by the fact that he was wearing filthy garments – though whether represented his own sins or of the sins of all Israel is rather less clear. What is clear is that from his perspective, that he had a legitimate legal right to seek to goad God into action against this imperfect person, and to insist that he deserved to die.

It is his constant endeavours to entice people into sin to the point where God is obliged to judge them, the forensic warfare often ramps up to intense levels as satan forcibly points out all pour many faults and failings to the Lord. Under such pressure, many of us find it easy to start believing the accusations levelled against us, and end up giving credence to the dark thoughts that the Accuser plants in the depths of our hearts.

The satanic aim is to make us forget the glorious truth that, for us as believers, Jesus is our defence lawyer – and as our heavenly advocate He never loses a case before His Father! (Romans 8:33-34) Praise God for this truth – but may we be quick to apply it when we find ourselves under the cosh of hammering thoughts and accusations.

It is so important to remember that satan is only our accuser and not our judge. The fact that there was considerable truth in what satan said of Joshua was not the most important thing. God would have none of his haranguing, because He had taken his priest’s iniquity away. Instead, He roundly rebukes satan, effectively saying, “Accuse as much as you like, satan; that’s your nature and that is what you do – but you are not the one who gets to pass the final sentence. So far as I am concerned, this is a man I choose to rescue. He is a brand plucked from the flames of judgement!”

Read 1 John 2:1-2, alongside of Zechariah 3:4-5, and see how an angel is instructed to dress Joshua in clean new clothes. Add in, too, the seraphim of Isaiah 6:7, who touched the prophet’s lips with a hot coal, thereby removing his guilt and atoning for his sin.

Once he is dressed, the angel proceeds to spell out the Lord’s conditions to Joshua: that he must actively seek to walk in the ways of the Lord and keep His requirements, so that he can indeed govern in the house of the Lord and have charge of His courts on earth, before coming at last to his place amongst the Host of Heaven. (Zech. 3:7)

But when satan launches full-blown accusations that entice us into despair, such a privilege feels very far away. (Cf the example Chris Wickland gives in his powerful message, The Joseph Generation.) These are the times when we have to dig in very deep and refuse to take ourselves out of the fray.

God is not thwarted, and James’s words are never more true: ‘That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. [But] Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.’ (James 4:6-8)

Jesus’s work of intercession is so precious to recall, especially when we know ourselves (or feel ourselves) to have disobeyed His leading and failed to do as He asked. God Reports tells of a man who failed to witness, despite the Holy Spirit’s prompt, on two separate occasions. In both cases, the person he should have spoken to took their own life a few hours later, causing the evangelist to feel that he could never go anywhere near God again after failing him so abysmally. It is a story well worth the reading. Some of us too may have wanted to run away and hide in the wilderness when we feel as though we have failed the Lord badly.

When Jesus told Peter that satan had asked to sift him, the word ‘you’ is in the plural – ‘satan has asked to sift each one of you’ – (Luke 21:31-32; Heb. 7:25) Satan tests our thoughts, and our mind can spin in all directions, but Jesus wants to renew and transform them, even if they have been damaged by addiction, illness or, as in the case of the story above in God Reports, under the weight of a crippling sense of failure and condemnation.

How we need to keep on seeking the Lord, and applying the victory of the cross to our lives! There is both restfulness and right and proper effort involved in this, as we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)

We are His precious children, and it is absolutely vital that we learn to differentiate between condemnation – which can come in so many ways – assailing our soul, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They can feel similarly intense, but whereas the one leaves us feeling worthless and guilty of we-know-not-what, the Lord’s conviction, however deep His knife may have to go, will reveal a concrete thing for which we can repent, together with the promise of hope for the future, because we are forgiven.

Yes, we all fail and let the Lord down. Yes, we even grieve and sometimes, unfortunately, quench the Spirit. (Ephesians 4 30; 1 Thess. 5:19) Yet still His work of redemption remains true, no matter how great the inner or outward battles we have to fight. So when the devil says’ ‘You’ve really blown it now’ It is so important that we have the courage not to believe him. No matter how deep a pit we are in, or how deep the pit we have created for ourselves, God’s forgiveness is still greater.

‘In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace’ (Eph. 1:7) And this is what the Lord has promised: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.’ (Heb. 10:17-18) Jesus has done all that is necessary, and we are the recipients of His amazing grace.

I wonder if you can identify areas where you are being accused and condemned? Perhaps you are being plagued by an underlying sense of failure? Do not let yourself succumb to these feelings, and don’t give in to satan’s assessment of you nor believe it. Keep your mind trusting steadfastly in the Lord, and you will know His perfect peace. Trust in Him forever, for God the Lord is the eternal Rock. (Is. 26:3-4)
Sarah Begaj’s ‘Ephesian’s Song’ is a good antidote along those lines!

1 Comment

  1. Sheila Daniel

    Dear Robert
    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this post. Have been struggling lately. Thank you x

    And how challenging and important Chris Wickland’s prophecy is. Will be praying for direction from this moment of serious re set.

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