There are many experiences I hope I never have. I hope I never lose my freedom. I hope I never exist without love. I hope I never live in circumstances that show me no respect. I hope I never live in a situation completely ruled by fear. I hope that I am never forced to exist without hope.

It appears to me that people use two basic approaches attempting to escape adversity. The first approach simply stated is never attract attention to yourself. Be as invisible as you can. If no one sees you, other people never think of you. Therefore they do not cause you trouble. The second approach also simply stated is maintain a high profile that radiates strength and power. If you are too important to bother, no one will bother you. If you are too powerful to bother, no one will bother you.

Both approaches can be stated simply. Neither approach is accomplished simply. People who attract no attention are sometimes considered weak. Their perceived weakness can attract a lot of attention when adversity strikes. People who maintain a high profile that radiates strength and power are sometimes considered the target. People who use adversity greedily want their position. When adversity strikes, high profiles can become challenges.

Whose attention do you want to avoid if at all possible? Some do not want to attract God's attention. Speaking personally, I want God's attention. I would like to avoid Satan's attention.

  1. One day Satan had the audacity to walk in on a meeting God was conducting (Job 1:6).
    1. Instead of making Satan leave, God interviewed him (Job 1:7-12).
      1. God: "Where have you been?"
      2. Satan: "Roaming around the earth."
      3. God: "Did you notice Job? He is the most outstanding follower I have on earth."
      4. Satan: "He should be the way You protect him. He is not stupid; the only reason he follows You is because he knows it would be foolish not to follow You. If he lost Your protection, Job would curse You."
    2. God knew Job followed Him because of faith, not because of the physical blessings.
      1. God said, "You can do what you wish, but do not touch him."
      2. In quick order, Job lost everything, but Job did not blame God (Job 1:13-22).
    3. Satan visited God again, and God again interviewed him (Job 2:1-6).
      1. God: "Where have you been?"
      2. Satan: "I have been roaming around the earth."
      3. God: "What do you think about Job now? He lost everything without cause, and he still is a man of integrity."
      4. Satan: "Oh, but You still protect him. Let him suffer, and he will curse you."
      5. God: "You may cause him suffering, but you may not kill him."
    4. In that way we are introduced to an ancient question that we still struggle with today: why does a godly person suffer?
      1. Three of Job's friends came to visit and explain why these ordeals fell on Job.
        1. They take turns explaining why this happened.
        2. All their explanations were wrong, and Job knew they were wrong.
        3. Job answered each argument presented to him.
      2. The fact that the arguments were wrong made Job increasingly bold.
        1. Job was so convinced of the injustice of the whole situation that he was certain he could argue the injustice to God...and win (Job 23:1-7)!
        2. Finally God spoke to Job, and instantly Job realized there were aspects of the situation that he knew nothing about (Job 38-40:5).
    5. There are a lot of questions we have about Job, but there is one certain thing we never want to happen: we never want Satan making accusations against us to God.

  2. Zechariah 3 informs us of another interesting situation.
    1. Some of the Israelites who were in Babylonian captivity returned to Jerusalem.
      1. The first tasks were to rebuild the temple, reestablish the priesthood, and restore sacrificial worship.
        1. Zerubbabel started rebuilding the temple, but the project came to a stand still (Ezra 4 and 5).
        2. Even when the temple was completed, the priesthood had to be activated and a high priest put into position.
      2. Both challenges--the rebuilding the temple and putting a high priest in place--were enormous challenges.
    2. This is my understanding of what happened in Zechariah 3:1-5.
      1. God selected Joshua to be high priest [Joshua was the grandson of the high priest in office when the temple was destroyed].
      2. Satan stood at Joshua's right hand to accuse him.
        1. Satan's accusation: "God, you cannot make Joshua high priest. By Your own standards this is not right."
        2. "Joshua is not pure; his impurity prevents him from serving as high priest."
      3. God rebuked Satan.
        1. God had an angel standing near Joshua to remove his filthy clothes.
        2. By removing the filthy clothes, God destroyed Joshua's iniquity.
        3. Then God clothed him in clothing suitable for the high priest's work.

  3. In both situations, Satan served a common role.
    1. Satan was Job's accuser before God.
      1. Satan challenged Job's motives.
      2. Satan questioned Job's faith in God.
      3. Satan the accuser caused Job's suffering in an attempt to prove that Job had ulterior motives for following God.
    2. Satan was Joshua's accuser before God.
      1. That is why Satan was there: to accuse Joshua.
      2. It was Satan who challenged Joshua's fitness to be high priest.
      3. It was Satan who wanted God to focus on Joshua's mistakes.
    3. I think I can predict many of our reactions: "I certainly do not want Satan making me and my mistakes a topic of his accusations before God."
      1. If you are a Christian, Satan cannot do that to you.
      2. Satan does not now have the access to God that he had when Job and Joshua lived.
      3. God does not listen to Satan's accusations now as He did then.
      4. Now God will not listen to Satan's accusations against His people.
      5. Why? What is the difference between now and the ages when Job and Joshua lived?
        1. The why and the difference have the same answer, the same reason.
        2. Satan does not have access to God now because of Jesus Christ.
        3. Satan cannot accuse God's people now because of Jesus Christ.

  4. Perhaps your reaction is, "Aw, David, that is ridiculous! I think you are just pulling that out of the air somewhere."
    1. Consider with me Romans 8:31-34.
      What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
      1. Paul wrote this statement to the Christians in Rome who experienced a lot of suffering.
      2. Paul wanted them to understand these things:
        1. Our eternal blessings will make the sufferings of now seem insignificant.
        2. We are sustained in our painful experiences by this expectation.
        3. When we are so distressed that we do not know what to say, the Spirit intercedes for us.
        4. If we love God and seek to fulfill God's purpose, God will use every experience we have to produce eternal good for us.
    2. This is my understanding of the scripture we read.
      1. God is on our side--always.
      2. If God invested His son's death in us, we should understand God will do whatever it takes to keep us for Himself.
      3. No one can accuse the man or woman who lives in Christ because God justified that person.
        1. When God looks at His people, He does not see our flaws and failures.
        2. Justification in Jesus Christ destroys our flaws and failures.
        3. No accusations can be made; in Christ we are forgiven; our mistakes are destroyed.
        4. Jesus did and does three things for us: he died for us; he was resurrected for us; he intercedes before God for us.
      4. If we belong to God, there is nothing Satan can do that will remove us from God.
        1. Can we be tempted? Yes.
        2. Can we sin? Yes.
        3. Can we choose to leave God? Yes.
        4. But if we do, we separate ourselves from God; Satan cannot.
        5. We have a tempter, but we do not have an accuser.

God's justification makes it impossible for us humans to be each others judges. Satan cannot accuse the person in Christ, and people cannot judge the person in Christ.

Why? Justification destroys Satan's power to condemn. Justification destroys people's right to judge.

Does that mean godly people are free to do ungodly things? No, it means quite the opposite. Justification is not a license to sin. Justification means God did for us in Jesus what it was impossible to do for ourselves. We are totally dependent on God's forgiveness. God knows the heart, knows the struggles, and knows our motives.

The issue will never be, "Are you perfect?" The issue will always be, "Is your heart and mind faithful to God?"

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 4 February 2001

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