Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:33–34)
The devil is not only a liar who seeks to deceive us, a murderer who seeks to kill us, and a beast who seeks to devour us. He is an accuser who seeks to condemn us.
The very name Satan means “accuser.” Hence we read in Revelation of “the accuser of our brothers, . . . who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10). In his misery, the devil not only loves company — he demands it. He labors night and day to surround himself with the condemned.
And for those whom he cannot condemn (because they are in Christ), he labors night and day to destroy their spiritual peace. He will meet them at midnight with a catalogue of the day’s failings. He will send them deep within themselves to scrutinize every motive and question every feeling. He will whisper alongside all the promises of God, “But does this really apply to a sinner like you?”
In such moments, our only safety is to look again to the “God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). When we do, we will find the Christ “who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
Christ Who Died
The devil’s accusations would be easier to dismiss if they were manifestly false. The trouble is that they carry so much truth. We are sinful. We are guilty. We do deserve condemnation. We will never find peace, then, by arguing for our innocence.
Peace will instead come as we remind Satan that “Christ Jesus is the one who died” (Romans 8:34). Yes, we are sinful, but Christ has died for sinners (Romans 5:8). Yes, we are guilty, but Christ’s blood has covered our guilt (Romans 3:24–25). Yes, we deserve condemnation, but Christ was condemned in our place (Romans 8:3).
As Martin Luther once counseled a despondent friend,
When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: “I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Christ Who Rose
Perhaps, however, the devil may respond, “Ah, I see. Putting your hope in that bloody and crucified one, are you? Yes, what a savior he must be! Remind me again how a dead man saves the dead?”
But the Savior who died for us is no longer dead. He is “Christ Jesus . . . who was raised” (Romans 8:34). And “raised” by whom? By the Father who was so satisfied with his Son’s work, so pleased with his sacrifice, that he reached his hand down into death, grasped the Son of his love, and raised him back to the land of the living.
If Christ had not been raised, we might well wonder whether his death removed our sins. How would we know he was not another fraud, another impostor — that he was not indeed “smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4)? But Christ, who was “delivered up for our trespasses,” has been “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
So if we wonder whether Christ’s death was sufficient to save us — to forgive our worst sins and cover our deepest guilt — we need only look to the empty tomb.
Christ Who Intercedes
The prophet Zechariah once saw a vision of “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan at his right hand to accuse him” (Zechariah 3:1). As long as we are in this world, we may feel, with Joshua, that the devil is always at our right hand, ready to parade our filthy garments before the throne of God (Zechariah 3:3). Infinitely more important than who is at our right hand, however, is who is at God’s right hand: “Christ Jesus is the one . . . who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
At our right hand is our accuser, but at God’s right hand is our Advocate. And for every argument the devil speaks against us, Jesus speaks a greater one. He not only died to remove our sins, and he not only rose with his finished work in hand, but he also lives forever to plead the sinner’s cause.
And if Christ is in heaven, interceding for us, then nothing can separate us from his love: not tribulation, not distress, not persecution, not famine, not nakedness, not danger, not sword (Romans 8:35) — and certainly not the accusations of a devil doomed to die. Christ has taken our condemnation. He has given us his righteousness. And as long as he lives and reigns in heaven, no accuser can keep us from him.