Have you ever been accused of something (whether or not you actually did it)? There’s a sinking feeling when one of us is put on the spot, and we find out (often in front of other people) that we broke something, hurt someone, or generally did something stupid.
I’ve been there. In one situation, an off-hand remark that I made to a group was really inappropriate. It wasn’t intended to be negative at the time, but when I looked back, I was ashamed to have said it in the way that I did. So, I got a call from the human resources department, who explained how I had offended a colleague with what I said. Of course, I immediately worked to repair that situation, with a call and an apology. However, the memory of that still lingers, and I occasionally still worry about getting another call like that. (After all, I say a lot of things that I regret, which is one reason that I like to write, instead. I may still say things the wrong way, but at least with writing I get multiple chances to proofread and try to get it right!)
Still, even if we don’t beat ourselves up, we are often reminded of our errors from other sources. Satan and his forces often bring up our failures, replaying the times that we have fallen short. Other people become “historical”, dredging up past indiscretions and mistakes to make themselves feel better in return.
Have a look at what the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, though:
Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Romans 8:33-34 NLT
Do you see what that says? No one has the right to accuse or condemn those who are in Jesus. In the courtroom of the universe, nobody is allowed to even bring charges (not that the accuser doesn’t keep trying) against those in God’s kingdom.
Courts will sometimes hold a trial to see if an accuser has “standing”. As I understand it, this means that the judge determines whether or not an accusing party even has the right to bring charges against another party. This is sometimes necessary in situations where an outside group tries to bring another party to court for a misdeed, but since the first group was never actually impacted by the person or company that they want to sue, they aren’t even allowed to go to trial. Instead, in the world of civil law (i.e., outside of the criminal world where the state handles prosecution), those who have been harmed must generally be the ones to make the formal accusation.
At the largest scale (and, indeed, the only sphere where justice is truly fair and free from human bias), it is God whom we have insulted, offended, and rebelled against. Yes, our sins can harm others, but none of our fellow human beings are responsible to determine whether or not we can spend eternity with a supremely holy God. Our souls are accountable to their Creator, not to other people…and definitely not to “third parties” of evil (who are sometimes responsible for leading us towards sin in the first place).
Upon accepting salvation from Jesus, the penalty for the charges against us is paid, and God can “settle the case” that was pending against us. Note that the sentence for our crimes still had to be paid. God can’t just ignore the consequences of what we have done. But, since God loved us so much, He sent Jesus who voluntarily served our sentence for us. Jesus’ death for our sins is now a “done deed”, though. The sentence (for our sins) was served, and our subsequent shortcomings – the temptations that still trip us up, even as we strive to follow Jesus – do not change that.
Defending ourselves against the ultimate accuser (Satan) can be a daily battle, but perhaps the best solution is to point to the infallible source of our innocence. We are not innocent through our own actions. Each of us has fallen short, and made decisions that harmed others. However, for those who have accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation, His righteousness covers our shortcomings, so that we will certainly be pronounced “not guilty” in the final judgment.
While we should generally seek to make things right with other people, where we have wronged them and can fix the problem, let us remember that – once we are dwelling in Jesus’ salvation – forces of evil have no standing to even bring charges against us.
This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,
“It has come at last—
salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
before our God day and night.
Revelation 12:9-10 NLT