Fearless Witness: Part 3 – Overcoming the False Witnesses
From childhood I have suffered through false accusations. These allegations began in the family, continued at school and into ministry. Such blaming episodes seemed to be more devastating than being confronted with actual wrongdoings. New insight into this condition came as I was listening to someone’s testimony about being harassed by evil spirits. The condemnation and torment which evil powers bring to each of us is a projection of their own personal experience before the judgement seat of God. This understanding contains a tremendous possibility of liberating believers from experiences of shame and guilt and releasing them into fearless witness.
The Hell of Evil
The Bible does give us evidence about the demonic state of mind. Jesus taught that “the eternal fire (was) prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). In the presence of Christ their Judge the demonic host cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matt 8:29). The powers of evil live in a state of condemnation, perpetual anxiety and hopelessness awaiting the impending final judgement (2 Pet 2:3-4 cf. Eph 2:12). Since their “father” and head is a liar and destroyer they can know neither peace nor security (John 8:44; 9:11cf. Isa 48:22). It is totally impossible for any spirit separated from the love of God as Father to suffer and die, in their case “the second death”, with assurance (Rev 20:10, 14). The demons greatest present fear is to be confronted by holy and blameless sons of God whose faith in Jesus holds up to them a mirror of their inescapable condemnation. In order to diminish this testimony the forces of darkness are restlessly driven to accuse Christians before the throne of God (Rev 12:10).
From his Fall as a son of God Satan has adopted the identity of accuser, this is a projection of his own unpardonable guilt (Job 1:8-9; 2:3-5; Zech 3:1-5; Rev 12:10). Outside of God’s covenant protection “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). The book of Revelation describes the attacks of fear-inducing spirit beings that afflict lost humanity with inescapable mental and spiritual “torment” (Rev 9:1-11 cf. Matt 8:29). Satan has “the power of death” that keeps lost souls “through fear of death all their lives subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14-15). The devil relentlessly accuses human beings of breaking both the laws of God and the standards of our own consciences; all lost humanity stands self-condemned in their own hearts (Rom 2:15 cf. 1 Cor 15:56). The experiences of guilt, shame, anxiety and the fear of death and punishment come to lost humanity through the distorting and merciless lens of a demonised conscience. Our society obsessively avoids the subject of death, not because mortality is inevitable, but because we know we deserve to die. Only a blameless person could ever deliver us from such a dominating presence of evil.
Christ’s personal presence traumatised the powers of evil, “whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” (Mark 3:11 ESV). In his absolute submissive Sonship Jesus resisted the “king” of the demons in the wilderness, his faithful testimony witnessed to their miserable and certain condemnation (Matt 4:10-11; Rev 9:11). Christ confidently exclaimed, “the ruler of this world is coming, but he has nothing in me” (John 14:30). All accusations directed at Jesus were empty because the faithful Son of God was free of personal sin, shame and guilt (Heb 4:15). In putting Jesus to death the devil could only raise up false witnesses against him, even then “their testimony did not agree”. (Mark 14:56). Jesus faced the highest human court free from blame for the Spirit constantly testified of his impeccable Sonship (1 John 5:6). The vilifications of the crowd and religious authorities meant nothing to the crucified Jesus; but the cross did embrace an unlimited sacrifice. The sacrifice of the cross is that in bearing our sin Christ must lose the Spirit’s testimony of Sonship; ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (2 Cor 5:21; Mark 15:34). The resurrection transforms all this; it reinstates Jesus to Sonship in the presence of the Father far beyond all possible false witness (Rom 1:4). As a blameless human being Christ now shares life and victory with us (1 Tim 3:16).
Jesus knew no human or demonic power could “convict him of sin” (John 8:46); and this was the shared testimony of the first disciples. Once Christ-denying cowardly men became the fearless witnesses found of Acts (Matt 26:56; John 20:19; Acts 4:19-21; 5:27 ff. etc.). These were men whose consciences once cleansed by the blood of the cross now experienced the accusations of evil as a sign of sharing Christ’s glory (Heb 10:22). Social rejection, abuse and false accusation were transformed from a terror into the badge of honour Jesus predicted, ““Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”” (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV).
Today we can share the fearless testimony of the apostles for like them we will be presented faultless before God on the Judgement Day (Rom 8:1; Jude 24; 1 John 4:17-18; Rev 14:5). The Accuser has nothing in common with our Father whose verdict alone is final. The Lord may well lovingly rebuke us, but he can never as the Father of the Son who indwells us speak with an accusing voice (Mark 8:33; Rev 3:19). For the children of God all accusation is false accusation, for it is a denial of the finished work of the cross. This is our testimony.
Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44) who has surrounded the children of God with many accusing witnesses. A chorus of condemned demonic and human sons of disobedience have intimidated generations of believers into falling silent to the gospel of Christ (Eph 2:1-3). Through the lens of the cross it is time to consider social rejection, abuse and slander as positive evidences that we are considered worthy of Jesus and his Father (2 Thess 1:4-5). If we are in Christ all accusation against us is false accusation and is to be recognised as evidence of the lost state of its bearer (Rom 8:31-39).
The worst form of condemnation however is self-accusation? For a Christian to accuse him/herself is the height of self-contradiction; but we must not berate ourselves over our inconsistencies. Even when “our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3:20); may our God and Father who sent his Son to the cross for us, and raised him from the dead, send his Spirit to testify to us that as his sons we have been raised above all accusation (Eph 2:6). This surely is our fearless testimony.