Overcoming the Accuser
By Jessie Penn-Lewis
In Revelation 12:9-11 we read, “…that old serpent, called the devil and Satan…and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony: and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Here we have the personal, experimental way of victory over Satan. “They overcame him” – a person. The members of the Church on earth (not the nominal church that plays “whist drives,” nor the professing church with ninety-nine parts of it belonging to the world – but the spiritual members of Christ’s Body) are seen in a personal, individual fight.
Do you recognize Satan as a person? I do not mean in the abstract. If a man came and wrestled with you, and attacked you, would you speak to him or to “it?” If he said, “I will pull you down,” you would speak to him, and say, “No, you will not.”
They overcame “him” – a person. You may believe in the abstract that Satan is a person. You believe Christ is a Person, too often in the abstract, miles away, very dim to you. But what Satan fights so much is the being recognized and spoken to directly.
This is quite different to believing in a general sort of a way, and saying, “Yes, I know it is Satan hindering, or attacking.” This conflict with the erect dragon is a direct recognition that he stands in your path ready to devour you. And in verse 11 you are shown the way of victory. It is not in your experience, nor your growth nor your “advanced stage” of the spiritual life, nor in your personal strength; nor in your grasping and understanding what it means to be united to Christ in the heavenly places.
“They overcame him BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB.” But you do not overcome the dragon if you do not recognize him. You recognize Christ as the Conqueror, and as your Saviour; but you must also recognize His enemy. Are you afraid to speak to Satan? There is a block in your path. It may be like an invisible wall and you do not know what to do with it. No praying seems to touch it, nothing moves it until at last you break through, and say, “Satan, I know it is you; in the name of Jesus, get thee hence.”
The very saying the words breaks the wall. You say to the Adversary, “I know it is you in my path, but you are conquered by Jesus Christ. I belong to Christ, and I overcome you by the Blood of the Lamb. You must go, because you were conquered by the Lord at Calvary.”
Then again, “BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY.” The word of testimony is not something you whisper so that nobody can hear, nor is it only an “attitude.” You say you are “standing in the attitude of victory.” The “word of your testimony” means speaking out loud, and saying something that is a testimony.
Notice, too, that IT IS A TESTIMONY DIRECTLY TO SATAN. It is not a testimony to the Church, or in the class meeting. It does not say, “They overcame him by
giving their testimony to the class meeting,” nor “by giving testimony in the Mission Hall.” This testimony has to do primarily and directly with Satan. “Him!” It is speaking to him. The whole verse has to do with “him,” not with a testimony meeting. “They overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb,” and “they overcame him, by the word of their testimony.”
It does not say “words.” It can be very short. It is a testimony directly given to Satan. Now what do you testify to Satan when he attacks you? I am persuaded we have to learn more of this direct dealing with the enemy. It is what we may call “refusing.” It is saying the word to him, “I refuse to yield to you, because I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Giving Things Their Right Names
A great factor in victory over the powers of darkness is to “name” things, and call them by their right names. For instance, naming Satan, and saying, “Yes, I know that is Satan standing in my path” and “I resist you, Satan, in the Name of Jesus.” What else are you to testify? You tell other people, and say, “I testify to the victory of Calvary,” but do you testify directly to the enemy himself?
When the pressure of conflict comes upon you, let the words fly to your lips, and you will find it victory. Testify to the enemy, and say, “Satan, you are conquered, Jesus Christ conquered you and I am Christ’s.” It is the “word of your testimony.”
Notice again in regard to this word of testimony that the special characteristic work of the red dragon standing in the path of the Church is that of an ACCUSER – “The ACCUSER of our brethren is cast out.” His great attempt to devour you is by accusing you. He pours on you, morning, noon, and night, a stream of accusation: “You are wrong, you are out of God’s will,” etc.
Have you not been conscious of this stream of persistent accusation which you thought was all from yourself? Not having recognized the source of it, it has turned you in upon yourself until friends have called you morbid, hypersensitive, or nervous, or “giving way,” while others again say it is your make of character.
Is not your self-condemnation one of the great hindrances in your life against a bold, fearless service? You can not do anything happily, because of this stream of “self-accusation,” as you call it. You cannot “speak,” you have nothing to say. You do not know how to pray, you are this, and that and the other. You are thus turned in upon yourself, and round and round yourself you go, thinking it is yourself all the while.
It crushes you, takes the smile from your face, for you are always feeling that you are not what you ought to be. You never reach your ideals. If you could only be like Miss So-and-So, you might be happy. You have been seeking the blessing she has for years, but everybody can get it but you. And thus you go along with a shadow on your face, a weight on your spirit, and always a mocking word whispered to you, “Ah! You are always wrong. You cannot do anything right!”
Feeble In God’s Service
There are thousands of God’s children who are feeble in God’s service because of this apparent self-depreciation and self-centeredness. Some go to their knees to seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and something to lift them out of, what they call, this low-plane life. They think if they can only get some mighty floodtide of blessing, it would take this shadow off them!
And all the time, it is a stream from the dragon as the accuser, pouring through your ears to your mind and as pictures to your mental vision, a flood of accusations about yourself, which, if you only recognized that they came from him, you would thrust away.
Satan carries out this work by means of his wicked spirits, and their speaking to you is like a ceaseless running comment upon your actions all the time. Do you do anything without a question mark about it? That exactly describes the speaking of evil spirits – ceaseless whisperings, morning, noon and night. Now reason it out for yourself – it is not you thinking, because there is not action of our brain in the matter. You do not really “think” those things. This ceaseless strain of comment is forced on you, in spite of yourself, although you do not want this commentary going on all the time.
That apparently inward, ceaseless “buzz” of something making comments upon you, and your actions all the day, is directly from evil spirits of Satan. The moment you recognize it, and name it, you are on the first step to deliverance.
You say, “I thought it was myself, but I never reasoned it out. Now I recognize the accusing enemy. I will take no more lies from lying spirits.”
They have been whispering in your ears simply to keep you from being happy and praising God. They want to stop you having a testimony to give, stop you praying, yea, stop you doing any service for God. The lies of the accuser and his emissaries poured in morning, noon and night, can be made to cease through the Blood of the Lamb, for “they overcame him by the Blood.”
I am not now speaking about conscience. There is a distinction between the deep inward conviction of the Holy Spirit in your conscience, saying, “You know you are wrong” and the “nagging whisperings of the enemy.”
Then these wicked, accusing spirits accuse others to you, and comments about others are going on continually in your mind. They do not come from your heart, nor from your will. Who but these same evil spirits make ceaseless comments to you upon everybody you meet? And you take them in and listen to their whispers.
It was neither you, nor the Holy Spirit who suggested to you that unkind thought about your friend. Then where did the whisper come from? Wicked spirits. Ah, they are doing this wicked work in the Church and paralyzing God’s children with persistent accusations about themselves, and doing the same thing about their fellow workers in the Mission, and God’s people everywhere.
Now what are you to do? First, recognize him, that is, Satan working through his evil spirits. Secondly, on the ground of the Blood of the Lamb you say to the accuser, “You are conquered.” Thirdly, you give the “word of your testimony,” and testify to the Victory of Christ, and say to the conquered enemy, “I choose to refuse your lies about myself, or others.”
The Bible calls a lie a lie, and you cannot soften the word when you speak of what evil spirits do. They are liars. Satan is a liar. Christ said that Satan was “a liar from the beginning,” and that he is the “father of lies.” Every lie he whispers produces a thousand-fold more.
When these things are pouring in on you, do not try to go on with your work, and shake them off, for they will not go. They are there, and you must deal with them. Just examine them one moment and see whether they really come from your will, and if they do not, give the word of testimony and say, “I refuse, in the name of Jesus Christ, all the lies from lying spirits about myself, my fellow workers, and the Church.” And declare too, “I close my ears to their speaking and refuse it.”
These are some of the things that explain why the Church is so feeble, and why God’s children are so powerless. The Holy Spirit is in the spirits of those who have received Him, but they are powerless because they do not know the enemy, do not recognize him, and do not refuse him, and do not speak to him and do not say, “Go, in the name of Jesus!”
What are you to do? When you are in this conflict, you cannot have time always to get away to your knees, and when you do get to your knees, these accusing spirits do not stop their work, but pour into your mind while you kneel to pray. You may cry to the Lord and say, “O Lord, stop them,” but they do not always stop. Christ has given you the weapon to use against them. Just say, “Lord Jesus, I stand with You against the powers of darkness,” and then say to the enemy, “Go, in the name of Jesus.” “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
“They overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb.” It does not say here that JESUS overcame him, but the believer overcomes on the ground of the Blood. It is YOU overcoming. Christ has overcome for you on the Cross, but you have now yourself to overcome on the ground of the Blood, and use His weapon. YOU are to overcome, and the Risen Lord says, “To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with Me in My throne.”
It means no self-indulgence, no grasping of anything for yourself. It means that it will take the whole force of the divine life in you to stand and to overcome. In this chapter in Revelation it is not a warfare with sin, but a warfare with Satan.
“They overcame him by standing in the conflict even though it means death. Warfare with sin precedes warfare with Satan. If you are covering up any secret sin, that must be dealt with first because that is enough to weaken any warfare with Satan.
It is a war between saints and Satan. And the ground upon which they fought and conquered was the ground of Calvary – using what Christ did there. Therefore, speak directly to the dragon in your path and say, “You are conquered!” But do it in the Spirit of Jesus, and in dependence upon the Lord Jesus, resting upon the victory of His name and of His blood. Say to the accuser, “I stand with Christ against you,” and then declare your testimony, “I choose to be Christ’s. I choose to declare in Jesus’ name it shall be victory!”