Shutting Up the Accuser

Icebreakers

Use one of the following questions to open up discussion. (If you have first-time guests, be sure to have people give their names as they answer the icebreaker question.)

  1. What did you think of the sermon on Sunday? What did you agree with? What did you disagree with?
  2. In what way have you dealt with evil – supernatural or personified?

Our Study: Shutting Up the Accuser

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.'”

Revelation 12:10-11

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?'”

Zechariah 3:1-2

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'”

Jude 9

Objectives

Small group members and guests will:

  1. Know the Biblical basis for the extent of Satan’s power and God’s supremacy over evil
  2. Commit to make Christ’s friends your friends and His enemies your enemies
  3. Experience liberation from evil and be an agent in liberating others

Study

This is a difficult topic that should not be broached lightly. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, there are two ways we can go astray – by giving no attention or by giving undue attention to the demonic. Make no mistake, there is the presence of a supernatural evil all throughout creation (Gen 3; Rev 12:9; Rev 20:2) but there are also real limits to the power of Satan: as a created being (this is, he is not God the creator but a creature) he does not posses omniscience or omnipotence. He cannot read your mind nor can he overpower God. This is not a dualistic struggle between the ultimate evil and the ultimate good; God’s decisive victory has been won on the cross, where, in the words of N.T. Wright, evil has exhausted all of its effort.

We will look at two stories in the Old Testament where people had encounters with demonic, supernatural evil.

Job (1- 2, 38-42)

Hopefully everyone is familiar with the story of Job. To say that Job is about human suffering is like saying the Bible is about sinful humanity; the bulk of the material may be about it but that does not exhaust the plot. Job must be read through the first two chapters and the last four – Satan, the accuser, wants to prove that God is only worshiped because of the blessings He gives (1:11; 2:5) and yet “in all this Job did not sin” (1:22) and even through Job’s complaining he spoke right of God (42:7). Note that Job is never given an answer as to why suffering happens but is given more than seventy back-to-back questions about the created order.

Zechariah 3

Joshua, the high priest, is standing before God and is accused by Satan. The LORD rebukes Satan. Joshua is dressed in filthy clothes, and God gives him clean clothes. Note that Joshua was filthy – that is to say that Satan had a legitimate ground of accusation against him. God both defended Joshua and replaced his clothing.

Application

Job is never given an answer for why he suffered, Satan was never revealed to him. We do not “deserve” an answer for the evil we endure, even if that evil be grievous. It is arrogant and self-righteous for sinful human beings to demand answers from a holy God. If we cannot even fathom how to run the physical universe, on what basis do we have to question God about the moral one?

The accuser brings a legitimate claim against Joshua. There is no need to deny the claims of the accuser if they are themselves true! We can admit the truth of these claims and still throw ourselves on God who will both defend us and cleanse us of our sin.

There are no systematic answers to evil, supernatural or otherwise. We do not have the space here to go through a systematic evaluation of evil, but know that in the Gospels not every epileptic is demonized and not every demonized person is epileptic. We are not given any direct casual connection between sin and disease or between demonization, and it would be prudent not for us to make such simple systems.

Prayer

  1. Open with the Lord’s prayer. The phrase often translated as “and deliver us from evil” really refers to a person and not a concept, that is, “and deliver us from the evil one”
  2. Thank God that he has brought everyone safely thus far and ask for his continued protection, blessing, and guidance.
  3. The persistent widow in Luke 18 asks for vengeance on her enemy. Continue to ask God to deliver us from machinations of our enemy.
  4. Ask God to protect those who are missionaries in foreign lands, who are leaders of our churches, and for the leaders of the governments of the world.
  5. Ask God for strength to remain in Christ and to cling to him as your only security.
  6. Ask God to reveal any places where we might be weak or have given the devil a foothold. If that involves sin, repent. If it involves being sinned against, forgive.
  7. Close with 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

    To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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