How dare you? Indignation. Though I have few hairs left on this bald pate, the few that I have will come to attention pretty quick should my dignity be assaulted. Especially disturbing are those moments in life when someone, the very perpetrator of the act of which you are being accused, has the audacity to shift the blame on you. “How dare you, indeed!”
As much as we hate it, blame-shifting is a game that we often engage ourselves in with the master of perpetration himself, the devil. We sin and fall short of God’s goals for our lives. Enter the devil: “Hey! You know what? What you did was pretty awful, wasn’t it? And you know what else? The Bible tells us that God demands perfection. Unless you are perfect you won’t get to heaven. You’re the one, not me, who is responsible for all these bad things happening to you. It’s your sin that did it!” The blame-shifting is so subtle that we sometimes just don’t recognize what he is doing. His slander is always well-timed for those moments when we are the weakest and most confused by our sins. The very perpetrator of sin, in his most audacious and cunning manner, serves up the blame to us. And, in a weak moment, we are often willing to accept it. Pile those accusations upon other accusations, and it isn’t long before fear turns to despair and despair leads to submission; submission to the sin and the Servant of Sin, the devil.
Martin Luther, the lowly monk who changed the face of Europe in the course of his lifetime, faced many foes in his battle to reform the church. There were those who accused him of slander and those that accused him of hypocrisy and greed. Often times the very things he was fighting against would be charged to him by his enemies. They knew that if they could deflect his criticism back unto himself, their lot would be all that easier. No greater foe did he face in that regard than the devil. Luther wrote and spoke about the presence of Satan, his nearness to the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Luther often painted Satan as a mock friend, one who was deceptively there, putting on airs of godliness only to plunge the dagger in when given the chance.
Luther knew that there was no human defense against such evil; that Satan’s insidious attacks could only grow stronger and more frequent the harder we struggled against him with our puny weapons of reason and self-will. But, he noted, there was one weapon that Satan could not resist: the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He wrote: “Here shall a Christian learn how to grasp and use the Gospel message, when the time of battle is come and the Law attacks and accuses him, and his own conscience tells him: this wrong you have done, and you are a sinner, and what you deserve is death, and so on, that at such a time he may with true confidence reply: Alas, I am a sinner and I have well deserved death. You are right, but condemn and kill me on that account you shall not. There is One who will hinder you, who is called my Lord Christ, whom you have accused and murdered, although He was innocent. But do you not know how you were burnt and bruised by Him, thus losing all your rights over me and all other Christians? For he bore sin and death, not for His own sake, but for me. Therefore I grant you no right over me, rather I have a right over you, because you attack me although I am innocent, you who were before conquered and condemned by Him, so that you should leave me in peace. For I am no longer merely a child of man; I have become the child of God; for I have been baptized in His blood and His victory, and arrayed in all the riches of His bounty.
Behold, in such a manner must all Christians arm themselves with the victory of Christ and repel the devil with it.” (Sermon from the year 1532. w.a. 36. 693 f.)
“How dare you, Satan? Indeed! You of all beings have the audacity to accuse us of sin? You of all God’s creation have the temerity to heap the blame on us? You have no right to accuse or blame, for you yourself are the guilty one, the one who must suffer the inevitable punishment for rebellion and lawlessness. No, Satan. It is you, not I. I am made perfect through Christ Jesus and you cannot mar that perfection. How dare you accuse me!” When the devil accuses us of sin, we ought to properly cloak ourselves in indignation. We will confront temptation for the rest of our lives but there is no need to bear Satan’s taunts or accusations because of them. He has no right. Turn away in indignation from the one whispers blame and raise your repentant heart to the One who offers only forgiveness, Christ Jesus, our Lord.
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