FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS,
volume 13, number 41, October 9, 2014
. . . for the accuser of the brethren has been thrown down, Revelation 12:10.
The Airbus A380 is the largest commercial airliner on the planet. With a double deck that runs the length of the fuselage, it carries 525 passengers, has a 261 foot wingspan, is 238 feet long, and 79 feet high and has forty percent more cabin space than the Boeing 747-8. It has four engines with a ceiling of 43,000 feet and a range of 9800 miles. The sales price is $414 million each and the A 380 began commercial operation in October, 2007. As massive and magnificent as this aircraft is, though it clearly is an engineering masterpiece, without fuel it will not move down the runway, much less get off the ground to begin its transcontinental journey.
You likewise are no match for the devil. Your self-discipline, your knowledge of the Scriptures and theology, your well ordered plans for ministry and personal holiness will not stand against the work of the evil one. You need power. You need the Holy Spirit working actively in your life each day. In Revelation 12 John the apostle records an amazing vision. A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, was with child, and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. The vision goes on to show a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, wearing seven diadems. With his tail the dragon swept away a third of the stars of heaven (messengers or angels, Revelation 1:20, referring to the angels who fell with Lucifer) and threw them to the earth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she did give birth, the dragon would devour her child. John continues his report of the vision by saying the woman gave birth to the son who is to rule the nations with a rod of iron. This clearly is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 2:9, 47:3, 110:1-2, Revelation 2:27, 19:5).
So from the beginning the dragon, the serpent of old, who is called the devil and Satan has sought to destroy the Lord Jesus. It all began in the Garden of Eden after the fall when God told Satan that He would put enmity between him and the woman and between her seed and his seed. The devil would bruise Christ on the heel but Jesus would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). The devil is mainly behind the scenes in the rest of the Old Testament but he significantly steps up his desire to destroy the Savior of the world when Jesus began His earthly ministry. Soon after Jesus was baptized and the Spirit came upon Him, He was cast out into the desert and was sorely tempted by the evil one. Constantly in the gospels we see confrontations between Satan and Jesus when Jesus is casting out demons. And the greatest temptation of the devil was his effort to cause Jesus to shrink from His death on the cross. We know that he also tried to destroy Jesus soon after His birth when Herod found that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem and ordered the murder of all boys, two years old or younger. He tried to destroy Jesus numerous times before His time had come (John 2:4, 7:8).
And certainly after Christ’s ascension the devil is still at work, seeking to deceive the nations, blinding unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). He also manufactures false religions to serve as counterfeits, drawing people away from Christ’s person and work. Both Islam and Mormonism impugn the person and work of Christ, denying His deity and therefore His effectual work in purchasing our redemption. But the devil also tempts the believer to fall into sin, seeking to convince him that he is unworthy of God’s grace, that the Father can no longer forgive him for the horrible things he has done. On the front end, the devil convinces the believer that repentance is easy. “Go ahead and sin. God is merciful. All you need to do is repent and all will be well.” However after the believer “buys in” to this lie, the devil then says, “You have gone too far now. There is no hope for you. Give up your faith because God has certainly rejected you.”
So how do you overcome the accuser of the brethren? John reminds the seven churches of Asia Minor, writing some thirty years after Christ’s death and resurrection, that salvation and power and the kingdom of God and the authority of His Christ had come, for the accuser of the brethren had been thrown down. This references Christ’s victory over Satan by His death, resurrection, and ascension. He goes on to say that the believers of the day overcame the devil by the blood of the lamb (this refers, not to Christ’s second coming but His first, when He destroyed the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8) and the word of their testimony. In other words, Christ’s death and resurrection is supernaturally applied to every true believer. We have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13-14). Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Since we have been buried with Christ through baptism into death, we also have been raised up with Him so that we walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This is what is meant by “the blood of the Lamb.” The word of their testimony is two fold. First, it refers to the apostolic preaching ministry of Jesus’ apostles, who proclaimed the truth and gave us the canonical Scriptures. Second, this also refers to all true believers who have publicly identified with Christ and have suffered joyfully with Him (Hebrews 13:12, Romans 8:18).
So how do we overcome the accuser of the brethren? Let’s face it. Sometimes the accusations of the devil are “right on.” We in fact did the things of which he is accusing us. There is a big difference, however, between the conviction of God the Holy Spirit and the accusations of Satan. God always means conviction of sin to bring us back to Him in repentance. He means it for our good. The devil, on the other hand, always brings accusation to discourage and paralyze us, to move us to despair and to stop seeking the presence and power of God. Left to our own devices and the temptations of the evil one, we are sure to be destroyed.
When Paul instructs the Ephesians to put on the full armor of God so that they can stand firm against the schemes of the devil, he then says, “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit,” (Ephesians 6:18). So, we not only need the Holy Spirit to empower our ministries; we must also have His presence and power to overcome the devil’s temptations and accusations. Mary was filled with the Spirit and the glory of the Lord came upon her (Luke 1:35). Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit (Luke 1:41). So was Simeon (Luke 2:25). After His baptism the Spirit came upon Jesus to empower Him for His earthly ministry (Matthew 3:16). Jesus promised the Holy Spirit after His ascension (John 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:13). He came at Pentecost (Acts 2:4) and again to the Samaritans, God-fearing Gentiles, and the pagans of Ephesus (Acts 8:17, 10:44, 19:6).
He comes today to those who acknowledge their need of Him. But you must see your sin. You must be brought low to contrition, a deep sense of your own sin, not explaining it away as a personality quirk, nor projecting it to your parents or your spouse. You must own up to your own sin. When you see it, when you confess it, and claim the cleansing blood of Jesus, then the Spirit once again fills and empowers you. This is what Jesus means by abiding in Him (John 15:1-5). Your life is constantly to be one of repenting and rejoicing. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, when He brings contrition, then confess your sin and repent. Claim afresh and anew the filling of the Spirit. As you walk on the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35) Jesus walks with you. You enter the “interstate highway of holiness” by only one entrance ramp, the cross and at the bottom of the cross is a small door through which you must bow down humbly. When you do, then you are walking in the light as He Himself is in the light, and you will have fellowship with other believers, and the blood of Jesus is constantly cleansing you from your sin. You overcome the devil by the finished work of Christ, the apostolic teaching of the Scriptures, and by applying the ministry of the Spirit to your daily life of repenting and rejoicing.