The answer may not be as obvious as you think!
I mean, it was a gem in the sense that it was a treasure – a phenomenally helpful paradigm for my relationship with others, our thoughts about one another, and our reflection of the Lord.
But I must say, my initial reaction was a bit incredulous.
At first, it seemed so strong that my natural, sort of knee-jerk reaction was to want to think it wasn’t true. To try to think of a way it couldn’t be true. Or perhaps, it was to *desire* that it wasn’t true.
But I kind of think it is.
I was sitting in a counseling class. In a very average spot – middle desk in the middle row. The professor was talking and teaching, and we were discussing and note taking. It seemed like a normal class on a normal day. And then, in the midst of the ordinary, he asked an intriguing question,
Do you know why it is such a heinous sin to falsely accuse your brother or sister in Christ?
Wow. That really got my attention. If I’d been daydreaming, I certainly wasn’t anymore.
Heinous sin? Wow.
Now granted, any good philosophy student or any good logic student would have a heyday with that question. Yes, it is a loaded question. It carries very loaded assumptions.
The question first assumes that people falsely accuse fellow believers. Maybe it’s not as egregious as a total, out-of-the-blue, radical sin – I don’t know many of us who walk around falsely accusing people of murder. Maybe the false accusations are more subtle: “You were selfish when you did this.” “You acted entitled when you did that.” “You expect us to serve you.” “You were arrogant when you made that comment.” I mean, those things might be true. But they might also be false. There are many reasons why a person may have done what they did or said what they said. And to presume to know the motive of a man’s heart – Yikes. That’s way above all our pay grades!
So maybe such ‘false accusations’ are simply just mistakes. Maybe they’re really just mistaken accusations. Or misperceptions, perhaps. Should we really be calling them heinous sins? I was intrigued to see how my professor was going to answer it.
We all sat there sort of like deer in headlights processing this hugely loaded question. Would the response justify its wording?
And this was his answer:
Because that’s what Satan does.
That had to sink in a bit.
The devil is the false accuser of the brethren.
I mean, that’s true. I can’t argue with that. That’s how he’s described in Revelation 12:10. In fact, that is what his name means: devil means ‘false accuser.’ He attacks people’s character as he did in Job 1-2.
But the implication? Wow.
So the devil is the false accuser of the brethren. That’s true. He attacks character. And as the rest of the chapters in Job illustrate, others can quickly follow suit.
When they do… when they join in being a false accuser of fellow believers… um, whose team does that most resemble?
- Christ’s – our advocate before the Father
- Or Satan – the accuser of the brethren
It’s a bit stunning.
I must say that I think my professor’s question is merited. It seems indeed to be a sin if we’re rallying on the wrong team. But ‘heinous’? Oh yikes. Yet I think even this word is merited. Playing for the wrong team is indeed dangerous – and has potentially been called worse. Traitors – whether intentionally or unintentionally – give a path for the enemy to advance.
Such a stunning question with such convicting implications.
And such revealing implications as well. Committing to a singular conviction of challenging people according to God and His Word – not speculated motives – is a huge threat to the devil. He likes it when he can trick us into taking jabs at other believers. He loves the help.
So whose team will you play on? You may get a little pushback from the weakening devil. But squashing heinous sin is worth it - Amen?