The arguments of the accuser of our brethren is beyond human understanding, but perhaps include allegations that God is demanding, that His law is selfish and that His judgments are unjust.
This is the fifth article on the War in Heaven.
The first article identified the role-players in this war:
● The Male Child, who was caught up to God,
● His mother, who existed both before and after Christ, and
● The Dragon, that stood ready to devour the Child as soon as He is born.
● Michael, who wages war in heaven with the Dragon.
The second article analyzed the chronological sequence of the major events:
● The war in heaven,
● The ascension of the Male Child,
● The victory in the war,
● Satan cast down to earth and
● The woman hiding in wilderness.
The third article explains how Michael overcame the accuser of our brethren. Satan deceives and accuses. To explain how “the blood of the Lamb and … the word of their testimony” were able to overcome Satan’s accusations, this article explains the origin of evil, God’s judgment of evil, and how evil defends itself against God.
The previous article concluded that Christ’s death defeated the accuser of our brethren, but verse 11 adds that they overcame him because of “their testimony.” The fourth article asks who they are, and why was their testimony required to expel Satan from heaven?
The accuser of our brethren and Jesus’ evidence
Satan specifically accused God’s people (Rev. 12:10). A previous article argued that Satan effectively accused God of bad judgment. The accuser of our brethren claimed that God is unfair when He forgives people their sins, but condemns Satan and his angels. To refute Satan’s charges, God required evidence, and Christ’s death showed that God is just when He justifies sinners.
But exactly what did the accuser of our brethren say, and what evidence did Christ provide? The answer to this question is beyond human understanding, and is not clearly revealed in Scriptures. The following are some of the evidence which Jesus possibly provided:
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5). In other words, Satan said that God did not tell the full truth. If Satan did this with Eve, then we conclude that one of Satan’s basic strategies is to tell lies to about God.
However, Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature (Heb. 1:3); “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), and He revealed the truth about God.
The cruelty of the accuser of our brethren, as displayed in his malicious persecution of the only begotten Son of God, demonstrated Satan’s nature and the consequences of his principles.
Jesus became a human being, and as a man He overcame by faith. In this way He demonstrated that human beings are able to obey God’s law perfectly. In other words, He showed that there is nothing wrong with God’s law.
God justifies sinners “by grace … through faith” (Eph. 2:8), but the accuser of our brethren argued that God is unjust when He justifies sinners by grace. Jesus showed that faith is a valid basis for justification, thereby validating God’s grace.
The conflict between Jesus and Satan, after Jesus became a human being, therefore reveals much about God, about the accuser of our brethren, about God’s law, about God’s redemption and about many other things. This will probably be our main subject of study in the ages ahead, and not something which we can comprehend in this life, even after a lifetime of study.
Some of the concepts above require clarification:
Jesus overcame by faith.
Romans 3:25 indicates that Jesus’ death was a public display of God’s righteousness “through faith.” This is understood as saying that His death demonstrated faith. People do not like to say that Jesus displayed faith in God because they think of Jesus as God Himself. But a series of articles on this website shows that the New Testament maintains a clear distinction between God and Jesus. For example:
“There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:5).
God made the world “through” His Son (Heb. 1:2), which means that God is the Source and Power of all things.
Only two beings have “life in Himself,” namely the Father and the Son, but the Father “gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (John 5:26).
Like the “LORD of hosts” Jesus could say “I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17; cf. Is 44:6). This is understood to mean that there was no time that the Son did not exist. Nevertheless, He is not the Ultimate Source of all things.
Before He became a human being, Jesus existed in the form of God and had equity with God (Phil. 2:5). This also shows how the NT makes a distinction between God and Jesus. This verse shows this distinction before Jesus became a human being. But Jesus “emptied Himself” (v7) of the form of God. He became fully and only a human being, and had to exercise faith. When He hanged on the Cross, and cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me,” He did not act in knowledge, but in faith.
Jesus validated God’s grace.
The accuser of our brethren argued that grace is not just.
“Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly … in His blood … to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed … so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:25-26)
Over the centuries theologians explained this passage as that God’s righteousness demanded that sins cannot be forgiven; that someone had to pay. But it is proposed here that God had to demonstrate His righteousness because His righteousness was questioned. This is actually explicitly stated in the text, for it tells us why He had to demonstrate His righteousness, namely “because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins.” In other words, He forgave sinners their sins: He justified them “as a gift by His grace” (Rom. 3:24); “by grace … through faith” (Eph. 2:8; cf. Rom. 4:16). Romans 3:25-26 could be understood as saying that the accuser of our brethren accused God of being unjust when God, through grace, forgives sinners merely on the basis of their faith. Due to Satan’s extremely sophisticated arguments, the heavenly beings were not all convinced that God is just, and God had to demonstrate His righteousness
The standard theory of atonement today also questions God’s grace. It says that God cannot forgive sins, that somebody has to pay, and Jesus paid that price. If Jesus paid for our sins, then our sins were not forgiven, for to forgive a debt is to cancel it without payment. We do not support the standard theory of atonement, for God is love (1 John 4:8), and love ”does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Cor. 13:5). In other words, God does not keep our sins against us.
Jesus showed that grace is just.
“Our brethren … overcame him … because of the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:10-11). These verses do not use the word “faith,” but testimony is another word for faith. Faith is not just a nice feeling; it is what you are; it permeates the entire being; the thoughts, the desires, the words and the deeds. However, they remained sinners. “Through one man sin entered into the world” (Rom. 5:12). Therefore “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). Over the centuries many people have overcome Satan’s temptations, but the accuser of our brethren was always able to point out sins in them. The testimony of His people was powerless against Satan’s accusations.
“All have sinned,” but Jesus never sinned. It is therefore assumed that He was born without the human tendency to sin. He did not inherit our inclination to evil. Somehow our predisposition to sin is carried forward from generation to generation, but the Son of God was not Mary’s natural child. Mary was only His surrogate mother.
He was a sinless man in a corrupted world, and had to resist the maximum possible provocation and temptation, but never sinned. “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient (without sin – Heb. 4:25) to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8).
God’s people overcame, but always remained sinners. Jesus, through faith, overcame and never sinned. It is possible that Jesus thereby validated the faith of “our brethren” as a sufficient basis for justification; that God is therefore just when He justifies sinners “as a gift by His grace” (Rom. 3:24, 26). Perhaps Christ demonstrated that God’s people will remain free from sin, once God restored them, and they no longer have this lust for sin.
See the article on Romans 3:23-26 for more information. on those verses
Through Jesus’ life
People are “justified … through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). The next verse explains this redemption by saying that Jesus was “displayed publicly … in His blood.” Similarly, in Revelation 12:11 the accuser of our brethren was overcome “because of the blood of the Lamb.” These are reference to His death.
However, the evidence was not provided by Jesus’ death, but by His life. If Jesus sinned anywhere in His life, His death would have been without value. His entire life was a test. At the beginning of His ministry, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mt. 4:1). The Bible emphasizes on His death because the days and hours before He died was the highest test which He had to pass, and because His death was the end of His test. “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).
Satan specifically accused God’s people. A previous article explained that Satan effectively accused God of bad judgment, but that Christ’s death showed that God is just when He justifies sinners. These matters are beyond human understanding, for it has been the subject of dispute for many millennia, by intelligences much larger than ours. This article proposes that what Christ revealed includes God’s love, Satan’s cruelty, the benevolence of God’s law and the justness of God’s grace. These and related matters will be the subject of our study in the ages to come.
Articles on Revelation 12’s War in Heaven:
1. Who are the Male Child, His mother, the Dragon and Michael?
2. When was Satan Defeated?
3. How did Michael overcome Satan?
4. Who are they who overcame Satan because of “their testimony?”
5. What evidence did Christ provide that refuted Satan’s accusations? (Current)
6. Why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross? (Next)