Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Battle with Guilt

"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" (Zechariah 3:1).

One of the primary ways Satan and his legions paralyze the believer is through accusation. (Satan means “accuser.”) One way is for the devil to tempt us to commit some public sin or indiscretion, and then accuse us and destroy us. Satan works with our guilty consciences to make us feel despair. He tells us we are not worthy to be saved. In ourselves we are not, but Christ is in us. Every Christian sins every day, and thus the problem of sin and guilt continues to be a roadblock to Christian holiness and health.

The Holy Spirit also brings guilt to our attention, but His purpose is the opposite of Satan’s. Satan wants us to wallow in despair, while the Spirit wants us to confess our sins and get back to work.

We see a picture of Satan’s accusing work in Zechariah 3. This chapter is part of the “night visions” of Zechariah, and in one of these visions, the prophet sees the current high priest, Joshua, standing before God. It was the task of the high priest to minister before the Lord on behalf of the people.

Zechariah saw the accuser standing next to Joshua. Of what was Satan accusing Joshua? We can see it in verse 3: “Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.” This filth represented not only Joshua’s own sins but also the sins of the whole nation, which he represented.

Normally the high priest wore “garments of glory and beauty,” which symbolized his position as God’s anointed and glorified leader. Now, however, Joshua was dressed in degrading garb. His filthy garments represented the defilement of his life and of his office. Satan was pointing these out to the Lord, and Joshua was standing ashamed.

But “the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!’ ” (v. 2). God refused to hear Satan’s accusations, and instead stripped Joshua of his filthy garments and reinvested him with beautiful clothes (v. 4). This is how God deals with us as well. God refuses to hear Satan’s accusations because He deals with us only through His Son.

Do not allow Satan to burden you with your sin. Rather, confess your sins, confident that God will forgive and cleanse you of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Do not wallow in guilt over sin which God has forgiven. Trust His Word that His forgiveness is real and final.