I don't know if I put the right title for this post, but it's the best I could come up with. It seems lately that many of my grace friends have been coming under attack lately, having people close to them bring serious accusation and condemnation. Well, I guess I decided to join in! Well, not really...but I'm getting a small taste here and there. Honestly, it's been good for me and I hope it will be even better for my friends, since their attacks have been more brutal I can only imagine God will step up with an even more amazing demonstration of the grace and blessing they already believe in!
It seems that when people come to us with accusation, it is often a thinly cloaked attempt to change or conform us to their idea or standard of who and what we should be. They hold us up to themselves and/or other ideals they have invented as 'godly' and see us as fallen short. They are not happy with our performance or even our whole personality and therefore they come to us demanding us to change. They come assuming they know us, what we truly think and feel; they come presuming they can control us by humbling us (or perhaps more accurately, humiliating us) through judgements they pronounce on us. Often all this is very subtle, and most often it is a reflection of how these people live from day to day, under constant condemnation and fear of failure. They are not happy people, but insecure and beaten down. They are trying to change the people around them so they can feel better about their own lives.
My unbelieving response to this kind of pressure to change through guilt manipulation would be to try to defend myself against accusation, trying to justify myself even by repenting and confessing sin to the human accuser, apologizing for something that may not even be wrong. But the way I respond to accusation is changing, because the more I realize I AM JUSTIFIED ALREADY, the less power condemnation holds over me. I still struggle at times with people trying to put guilt on me, especially when those people are very close to me (such as husband or parent...) but God's grace is changing me.
This change is coming by a deep trust in God's love for me, that when I hear accusation I KNOW it is not from him. Immediately when accusation comes, the first thing I feel is God's love, his manifest presence, his voice speaking to me that he loves me just the way I am. He loves everything about my personality, my weaknesses do not concern him. I can trust that his grace IS changing me and I can live in rest and joy knowing that it's his timeline, his seed will grow and grow because it is supernaturally powerful to overcome all hindrances that may come. This amazing security I have in my Father and his love for me is producing fruit! I am able to handle accusation, even closely examine it without being angry with the person bringing it. Without bitterness, resentment, or fear or doubt!
My ideas about how to change people are changing. The more I understand that it is God's love changing me on his schedule, the more I have patience and love for my brothers and sisters who are also on God's schedule. There is only one thing we do to change people, or ourselves: sow grace. I recently listened to Rob preaching on the parable of the sower (which was excellent by the way!) so I've been thinking about it a lot.
"But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:23
Before we can sow the word of grace, we have to receive it, hear it and understand it. We have to let it stay in the soil of our hearts until it grows, not giving up when it doesn't yield a crop on the first day, or second, or third...being patient and trusting the power of the seed that God has planted in us.
I think the best way to deal with accusation is to boldly and unashamedly stand in the gift of righteousness before our accusers, understanding that ALL accusation ultimately comes from Satan and never our father in heaven. We can allow our shield of faith to quench every fiery dart and our temptation to pick up the same demonic weapons of condemnation and accusation will be overcome as we realize God has already fully equipped us to stand firm against these attacks. God has accused Jesus of ALL our sin (yes, past, present, and future), has completely punished it in his body, and given us perfect righteousness as a gift because we have believed in Jesus. He will never never accuse us of sin or faults. The more we understand this, the more accusation becomes irrelevant. God changes us by his loving presence, by speaking the truths of the gospel to us over and over in fresh ways.
So when accusation comes, I can peacefully recognize that someone is merely regarding me according to the flesh and not according to faith and I don't need to panic or hang my head in shame. I bring the accusation to my Father, and he says 'That's a LIE, I have declared you RIGHTEOUS!!!" I am free to be who I am because I am in Christ! And now that I am free, I can joyfully allow others to also be free without feeling I need to be changing them either. Changing people, either ourselves or anyone else, is not our job. We sow the seeds of grace that come from Jesus, and he makes the seeds grow!
Some more resources for overcoming condemnation:
Victory Over Condemnation (Rob Rufus)
City Church International message archives
Dynamic Love Ministries (Bertie Brits)
Joseph Prince Ministries