Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Temptation and Accusation

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?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by.(Zechariah 3:1-5)

The devil has two roles: to tempt us and to accuse us.  Usually, it's a one-two punch.  He first tempts us, and then when we have given into the temptation, he then accuses us, something along the lines of saying, "God would never love you now, after what you've done."

We tend to think of these temptations as being for heinous sins, but sometimes it is something as simple as engaging someone in conversation.  Face to face conversation is usually very good, but sometimes anonymous social-media conversation is an example of Satan tempting us into sin.  We see someone who seems to be struggling with Biblical truths, seems to be honestly seeking God, but we have to remember that anonymous (and even non-anonymous), social-media is not the place to engage in these type of discussions.  We are to engage each other to help each other with our walks with Christ, but face-to-face engagements are part of the ministries God puts us in where we are geographically.  Missionaries don't "phone it in" over the Web from their homes.  They travel great distances for the face-to-face engagement.  Chances are, these Internet "seekers" are merely tools of the tempter, to a trap us in a discussion that will go nowhere. After we have engaged and have tried to be faithful to the scriptures and our Lord, the accusations then come flying.  You're not a REAL Christian!  You're not faithful to God!  You are just like the Pharisees!  Why would God ever love YOU?

We have to remember the lessons from the Zechariah passage above:

1. The devil is the one tempting us, not other people.  The other person in the conversation was tempted by the devil to engage us in the first place.  Forgive and bless them.

2. We can't listen to the accusations.  Of course, we are not worthy of God's love.  None of us is worthy of God's love, but God has taken our filthy rags away.  He has dressed us in clean clothes.  We don't deserve any of his love, neither person in the conversation, but God has done this for us anyway.

3. Remember that God's elect have been snatched from the fire.  We have been saved, not by anything we have done to deserve it, but because God has chosen it.  God has done the work of salvation, not us.  We will backslide and give into even small temptations like engaging in social-media arguments, but when the accusations inevitably come out, remember that we are brands plucked from the fire.  Focus on Jesus by studying scripture and receiving encouragement from other Christians, and the temptations will lessen and finally cease.  Remember, we are children of the Lord, and the tares will eventually be ripped up from among the wheat and thrown into the fire.

Stand strong, residents of Jerusalem.