Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Matthew 4:1
The word devil conjures up only thoughts of one kind: negative. We think of the enemy, the wicked one, a roaring lion with jaws and claws seeking to devour and destroy. We think of opposition, hatred, hostility, darkness, destruction and evil. We rightly picture a malicious tempter, a being who desires nothing less than our ruin with relentless, undying determination, fueled by an insatiable hatred, to abolish anything with the possibility of bringing glory to God. The word “devil” in Greek, is diabolos meaning: false accuser, slanderer. Dia actually means “through” and bolos means “divide”. Devil: false accuser, slanderer, divider, separator. What an awful picture. Thankfully, our God has the final say and the devil’s terrible end is fixed (Revelation 20:10). But very sobering is this fact: the same word "devil" - diabolos (false accuser, slanderer) - is also used of men,
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers (diabolos - devils), incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 2 Timothy 3:1-3
and of women.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness not false accusers (diabolos - devils), not given to much wine, teachers of good things; Titus 2:3
In the last days, men shall be… false accusers (devils). The aged women are not to be…false accusers (devils). Is it possible that I have actually been such - a false accuser, aligning myself with the devil himself? What an appalling thought. And yet, I must confess it to be true. False accusations have arisen in my mind and, even worse, spread from my lips to the ears of others. Even just recently in fact. After trying to befriend a new acquaintance on two different occasions, I finally said to my husband, “She’s not very friendly”. Two days later, however, it just so happened that we met again. This time when I said hello, she responded and we shared a few minutes of enjoyable conversation! What had happened? What made her a sudden conversationalist in contrast to our first two encounters? I don’t know and most likely will never know. And it really matters not. One thing I do know and one thing that does matter is this… I had been a false accuser. How else can false accusations arise in our mind? Here are possible examples. I don’t think they like me. I know why they did it. She says nothing is wrong but I don’t believe it. He didn’t answer. He must be angry with me. They think they’re better than everyone else. I know who told so-and-so. They purposely ignore me. She did it just to bug me. They know it’s the truth, but just won’t admit it. We second-guess, read between the lines and analyse the behaviour of others. We put words in their mouths and motives to their actions. We criticize. We judge. We question. We falsely accuse. But what if our accusations are true? Is this not possible? Yes, the possibility is there, but more often than not, we are in the wrong. And besides this, the Lord Jesus Christ states very clearly in Matthew 7, Judge not that ye be not judged. One commentator on this verse says, “Christ … does not condemn our forming an opinion of the conduct of others, for it is impossible not to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and of expressing such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed.”1 (emphasis mine). Matthew 7 continues with these words of Christ,
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:3-5
Revelation 12:10 says,
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:10
The devil, the accuser of the brethren, is accusing us day and night before our God! May the Lord keep us from doing the same! Years ago an author’s thoughts on Philippians 4:8, made a deep impression on me.2 Although the entire verse is an excellent one to memorize and seek to practice, the author’s focus was on the first four words.
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
Her challenge to both herself and her readers was to focus only on what is true. Real. Factual. Thinking on whatsoever things are true eliminates the judging of motives, removes the possibility of false accusations and aligns us with God and His virtues, as opposed to the despicable character of the devil. Do I know for sure why they did not respond to my voice mail? Do I know for sure why they said no to my request? Do I know for sure why they do what they do? If I do not know for sure… then I must choose to think only on what I know to be true. I will not surmise. I will not assume. I will not make conclusions based on what I think. I will not take a chance to sin by forming a false accusation against another. Whatsoever things are true… think on these things. Hebrews 10:24 gives us clear instruction concerning our relationships with others.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Hebrews 10:24
Consider one another. Observe fully, discover, perceive. Observation is more than a quick glance: it looks beneath the surface. Discovery doesn’t happen at the first encounter, nor is perception and insight is gained from first impressions. We do not know the whole story – and maybe it is not for us to know. Our vision is limited – impaired by only what we can see on the outside. Instead of accusing, consider. Consider their background. Consider their circumstances. Consider their possible struggles. Consider… not to accuse, but to love. Remember, God alone is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12), not you and I. Consideration instead of accusation in my recent experience would have led me to think differently. Why did my new acquaintance respond differently the third time? Perhaps she hadn’t been feeling well. Perhaps she felt uncomfortable in the new surroundings. Maybe she was dealing with family troubles. Maybe her mind was dwelling on a burden of heart that I know nothing about. Consider one another and show love and good works. It has been estimated that when we are not engaged in thinking about a definite problem, we spend 95% of our time thinking about ourselves. How selfish is that?! Let’s change our focus! Let’s consider others. I find the contrast in Titus 2:3 very convicting. The aged women… be in behaviour as becometh holiness… (and the very next words?) … not devils (diabolos). Holiness or diabolos? Accusation or consideration? The choice is ours. Whatsoever things are true…think on these things. Paul encourages the Ephesians with words that may need to be our daily prayer…
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32
1 Albert Barnes notes on the Bible 2 Elizabeth George, Loving God with All Your Mind (Eugene Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1994).