One of the central things we have to remember about accusation is that condemnation has a point. “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56).
It will not do for us to say that the devil accuses the brethren day and day (Rev. 12:10), and the devil is bad, and so we should be done with accusation. It is not that simple. The devil is evil, but the nature of his evil is that it is righteousness folded over.
If all we had to learn was that accusation is to be rejected, we could be saved by that information. We could be saved by knowledge. We have been to the magician’s show enough times that we have figured out the trick. But the task before us is to reject the way of accusation while acknowledging that the accusations are correct. That is more difficult than it sounds, and it sounds pretty difficult. The devil’s accusations have authority because the devil is right.
God wants to justify sinners, but He also wants to be just. He could simply justify us, but that would be unrighteous on His part. He could justly sentence us to the condemnation we all deserved, turning us over to the accusation, but then He would not be the God who justifies. We serve a God who would be just and the one who justifies (Rom. 3:26).
So it is not enough simply to reject an accusing spirit. We must have an answer in hand for an accusing spirit who is correct about absolutely everything. And for that, there must be blood. In C.S. Lewis’ fine novel Til We Have Faces, there is a stark contrast made between the Fox, an instructor in the cool rationalism of the Greeks, and the priest of Ungit, a primitive and grotesque god — and the priest knows something that the Fox cannot know, given his clean and very spacious principles. What the priest knows is that there must be blood.
In the ancient world, this blood necessity expressed itself in an endless cycle of blood, and the altars were never satisfied. All over the world, columns of smoke ascended to the sky, in order to propitiate gods who could never be successfully propitiated. It is no wonder that some men recoiled from that, and it is no wonder that they developed pure religions for the enlightened man. But they had been doing this for some centuries, and still the sacrifices continued on, unabated. The sacrifices did not cease until Constantine ordered them stopped, and he did that because Jesus died and rose again. He was only able to do that because all the blood shed from the foundation of the world to the end of it was encompassed by that one, efficacious death. Jesus was the propitiation for the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2). There is a reason why our city councils no longer inaugurate the beginning of the civic year by sacrificing a heifer
But we are in the midst of revolt against the name of Jesus, which is a revolt against His blood, and the authority of it. And since we do not want to rest in the authority of His blood, shed once for all, this consigns us to the vain attempt to rebuild the kind of civilization that existed before — the kind that cannot stop killing. That endeavor cannot succeed — because Jesus died, rose, and ascended — but it can proceed far enough in the attempt that believers can be brought by the Spirit to see how bloody it necessarily is.
There are various examples of this, but I will take the abortion holocaust as the most obvious. The “right” to dismember a child is touted as an individual right, but it is actually the cornerstone of a particular view of civilization. We have to slaughter millions of chilren in order to be able to hide from ourselves the fact that we are slaughtering millions of children. We have to shed blood so that we will not come to know that we are a bloody people. Our shedding of blood is a vain attempt to cover up the fact that we are shedding blood.
Conversely, if we are enabled to see how Jesus died once for all, we can then see that we have been a people of blood. The sacrifices can only cease if the accusations — accurate accusations, remember — have been answered. The cessation of the sacrifices was one of the most profound blessings the human race ever received. “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Heb. 10:18). And our current attempts to return to the old order, with human blood under the cornerstone, is a most grievous and unnecessary apostasy. It is grievous and unnecessary because Jesus died on the cross.
But in the futility of our thinking, we are attempting to rebuild an endless, recurring, twisted cycle of sacrifice and propitiation. The only answer to this twistedness is to look to Christ, twisted on the cross. There is no beauty there so that we might desire Him (Is. 53:2), but the beauty is found in the relief of being done with our murders on civic altars. And that is the beauty of holiness — only Blood can answer blood.
“Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, see Him dying on the tree . . . But the deepest stroke that pierced Him was the stroke that Justice gave.”