When the Lord's Workers Do the Devil's Work
“I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.”
Is it possible that I, who have surrendered my entire life to be spent in the Lord’s work, could be giving the majority of my time and effort toward getting the devil’s job done? Is it probable that many, many of the Lord’s servants get tangled up in doing the devil’s work? It is a shocking and sobering thought, but one that must be examined carefully. According to scripture, what exactly is the devil’s work? How might a child of God who desires to serve the Lord find himself spending his time and energy in doing the devil’s work? We need to find out what happens WHEN THE LORD’S WORKERS DO THE DEVIL’S WORK.
Imagine in your mind the excitement of a basketball or football game with the fans cheering and a member of your team gets the ball. Now your team’s prize player takes the ball and heads in the wrong direction, and, much to your dismay, scores for the opposing team. How would you feel or respond? Shocked, disappointed, upset -- those are just a few of the words that first come to mind. I wonder what God thinks when those of us who claim to be serving Him are more successful at carrying out the jobs that only the devil cares to do. Many of us are guilty of ‘scoring points’ for the devil’s team repeatedly, and its about time someone stops the game long enough to point out which goals belong to each team.
One of the busiest jobs that occupies the devil’s time is described in Revelation 12:10 where he is called “the accuser of our brethren...which accused them before our God day and night.” Job chapters one and two give us one account of how the devil carries out this task. One day the Lord began to brag on Job’s integrity and character, and Satan was angered by it. He began to accuse Job to God, to try to cause the Lord to question Job’s motives in doing right. He declared that Job would certainly cease to be faithful if God would remove his protection and blessing. The devil did not accuse the worst person he could find, but the best -- the one in whom God delighted.
They say that the three fastest methods of getting a message out are telephone, telegraph, and tell-a-woman! Women have been the subject of many jokes about talking too much, too loud, too fast, and saying the things that ought to be left unsaid. Though men are often just as guilty, still we need to examine ourselves in this area which can so easily get out of control. Charles Spurgeon wisely said, “If all men’s sins were bound into two equal bundles, one entire bundle would be sins of the tongue.” Gossip, slander, criticism, complaint, angry out-bursts, lying, pessimism, flattery, sowing discord -- these are all ways that we ‘score points’ for the devil, further his cause, and honor him rather than Christ.
While Satan’s work is to do the accusing, the Lord’s work is very different. When Jesus met an adulterous woman in John 8, did he speak accusingly to her? Did he accuse her to the scribes and Pharisees or to God? No! He wrote on the ground, and whatever it was that He wrote silenced the accusers. Jesus did not need to accuse her, for she accused herself in her conscience, those around her accused her, and surely Satan himself accused her before God. Her need was for forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus did not excuse her sin -- He just knew how to love sinners while hating their sin. That seems to be a hard lesson for the rest of us to learn.
Our job, if we are doing the Lord’s work, is to silence the accusers, to forgive others and to reconcile them with the forgiveness of Christ. “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:18-20)
It helps no one when we point an accusing finger or dangle condemnation over their heads. They need to hear of the forgiveness and cleansing that was purchased at Calvary, and that’s the ONLY news we ought to be repeating.
Benjamin Franklin, who won the hearts of colonial America with his wit and wisdom, said, “I will speak ill of no man, not even in the matter of truth, but rather excuse the faults I hear, and upon proper occasions, speak all the good I know of everybody.” It is evident in Job chapter one that there were plenty of good things to say about Job, but the devil did not mention one of them. What he did was accuse Job of doing right things for wrong motives, and cast a shadow upon Job’s sterling character and dedication to God. Beware of the person who mentions nothing good about others, but never misses anything bad. They have too much in common with the devil. They are more than likely doing the devil’s work and will mislead you into the same error.
Old Mamie was a woman in a small town who had a reputation for saying something good about everybody. It became a joke and a pastime among the townspeople to try and figure out what she would say. When an old drunken thief died and was going to be buried, no one in the whole town could think of anything good about him. Everything they knew of his life and his character was corrupt. The little town was buzzing, and some were even placing bets on whether or not Mamie would find something good to say about him. On the day of his burial, everyone got quiet when it was Mamie’s turn to pass the casket. With a smile on her face she said, “My, couldn’t he whistle a pretty tune?” Don’t you think Mamie could teach us something?
It has been said much and practiced little: “If you have nothing good to say, then say nothing.” In spite of that, many of us have the attitude, “If you don’t have anything good to say -- let’s hear it!” As far as many Christians are concerned, the rest of us are guilty until proven innocent. No matter how faithfully we have served God over the years and given of ourselves, someone is just itching to hear something ‘juicy’ about us, and they instantly believe it no matter how many times it has been repeated and revised, and in spite of the fact that there are no witnesses or evidence to support it. Since each of us knows how wicked we are in our own hearts, I guess it is a boost to our ego if we can believe that everyone else is worse.
“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” (Proverbs 18:8) Gossips have been guilty of many heinous crimes. Years ago in a small midwestern town, a misunderstanding resulted in one woman mentioning to another that she had seen a certain married man stop to talk to a single young lady along the sidewalk, though she could not hear what they said, and had never seen them together at any other time. This second woman, who had not even seen the conversation, was only too glad to have some news to tell, and she passed it on, with just a bit more drama, of course.
Within a week it was reported all over town that the two had been having a long-standing affair, and this was repeated to the young man’s wife. Grief-stricken, ashamed, and hurt beyond understanding, the young wife did not even wait to ask her husband if the gossip was true. When the innocent man arrived home from work that evening, he found that his wife had hung herself and their three children in the basement. He read the note that she left explaining that since he was in love with someone else and had been unfaithful, she could not stand to share him or see the children hurt by it. Her note was the first thing he knew about the ‘long standing affair’, and those gossips were guilty of murdering a happy family.
Why is it that human nature just loves to be the first to tell the nasty news? The same people who can go for months on end and never share the good news of salvation with anyone when it would help them, will be the ones who can’t wait ten minutes to repeat some bad news, that they don’t know is true, that will be a hindrance and discouragement to the person they tell it to. If for no other reason, the fact that we love to tell bad news is proof beyond any doubt that we’re all a bunch of sinners! In reality, if we would tell the Lord what is wrong with people as much as we tell others about it, they would probably have nothing wrong with them. They’d be nearly perfect if we prayed for them that much!
We somehow entertain the mistaken notion that gossip and criticism is only wrong if it is untrue. When Saul was killed in battle, fulfilling the judgment prounounced upon his sin, David lamented, “...how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.” (II Samuel 19-20) David was pleading that this tragedy not be rehearsed in the ears of the world, for it brought reproach upon the Lord’s name and God’s chosen people. Proverbs 25:26 says, “A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.” To advertise the sins of Christians before the world does nothing but bring further shame and reproach to the name of Christ. Like poisoned water, it cannot cause anything but harm.
If you know something that someone has been guilty of, do the Lord a service and yourself a favor and SHUT UP! Most of what we repeat does not bring one iota of glory to God, but it sure makes the devil happy when the unsaved world and baby Christians hear bad news about a brother’s sin. We need to lament over sin and ‘tell it not in Gath’. Jesus did not tell the sin of one person to another even when He knew it to be true.
One Christ-like quality we would do well to imitate is the art of forgetting. “And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17) Many of us lay claim to a bad memory, but our memory works amazingly well concerning the past sins of others. Long after God has forgiven and forgotten the sin of another Christian, many of us are still bringing it up for discussion.
It must be true that Christians comprise the world’s only army that shoots at its own wounded. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) Many people prefer to use the method of “kick him while he’s down” in dealing with a faltering Christian, yet God said to ‘restore such an one’. We desperately need to learn of the love and compassion of Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit to duplicate those qualities in our relationships with other Christians.
Rather than being an accuser, Christ’s command is for us to be “forgivers,” following His Example, doing His work. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’’ (Ephesians 4:32) Likewise, when we speak condemningly of lost people and their vices, we are doing the devil’s work and driving them farther from the Gospel. The Lord’s work is not to accuse, but to show them the way to Christ’s blood-bought forgiveness.
The statements “I just tell it like it is” and “The truth hurts” are usually just excuses for the Lord’s workers who prefer to do the devil’s work. I know women who pride themselves in being able to control every one around them and always get their own way with their cutting, caustic words. A sharp tongue does nothing for your Christian testimony, but cut it into little pieces. There is nothing ‘Christian’ or ‘Holy Spirit-led’ about words like those.
We need to pray each day as the Psalmist did: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) A watchman or doorkeeper was someone who was always present at the door or gate, and they inspected and approved anyone before they could pass through. If we would pray that prayer, and consciously make it our practice that every word we say must pass the Lord’s inspection before we allowed it to pass from our lips, how much heartache we would save ourselves and others.
I see such a need for this in my own life, that even when I mean to be serving the Lord, thoughtless words often escape from my mouth that don’t bring glory to Christ at all, and how deeply they grieve my heart and the Holy Spirit in my life. I know that that many times I have keenly felt that I was living proof of the old saying: “Many things are opened by mistake, but none so often as the mouth.”
Scripture warns us that ladies need to be busy in their homes so that they do not fall into the trap of becoming an ‘idle tattler’ and a ‘busybody.’ “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear chldren, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan.” (I Timothy 5:13-15) Idle tattlers are those who ‘speak things which they ought not’. The same women in our churches that never have time to go soulwinning or visit a nursing home, or clean the church, or cook a meal for someone who is sick can spend hours upon hours over the phone or over a cup of coffee going over the preacher and the church members with a fine-toothed comb, and come up with all sorts of imagined ‘transgressions’ of which we are guilty. All I can say about these women is “BEWARE!” Don’t be caught up in their sin.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17) It is often illustrated that praying in Jesus’ name is the same as having permission to sign His name to a check. We are not using our own buying power or reputation but His. When we do something in Jesus’ name, we are saying. “I am doing for Jesus what He would do if He were here.” Can we accuse and criticize in Jesus’ name? No! Because Jesus would not do it. He would stand for the accused as being ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ rather than believe and propagate gossip and hear-say. He would forgive and restore even those who were proven to be guilty of sin if they are willing to get right, and we should do the same.
Beware of those oft-repeated phrases like: “Have you heard...” “Can you believe...” “You’ll never guess..” and even the pious, “Please pray for so-and-so because I heard...” Someone has said, “There is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it doesn’t behoove any of us to talk about the rest of us.”
If you’ve been guilty of being an ‘accuser of the brethren,’ then you’ve been doing the devil’s work. I need to remind myself often of the difference between the Lord’s work and the devil’s work and examine just what I am accomplishing through my life. It is a tragedy of huge proportions that robs God of His rightful glory and satisfies the devil and the unsaved world immensely WHEN THE LORD’S WORKERS DO THE DEVIL’S WORK
My sins are washed away, I know
They’re under Jesus’ blood
My guilty heart condemns me still
But God’s peace then will flood.
Other folks accuse me still
They know something God can’t recall.
“Lord You remember what she did.”
He says, “I’ve forgotten it all.”
When you look at me, you’re not looking at me
You just see the clothes that I wear.
That’s just the way God’s forgiveness has dressed me
Christ’s righteousness now I share.
So you see what a sore awful deed that we do
If at others or self we point fingers?
Once God up in Heaven forgives and forgets
We’re wrong to make sin’s memory linger.
Why sin over sin that’s forgotten and gone
Buried in God’s deepest sea?
Confess and forsake this sin over sin
Be forgiving -- like Jesus would be.