The Accuser of the Brethren
Apr 8, 2005
More churches have been destroyed by the Accuser of the Brethren and its fault-finding than by either immorality or misuse of church funds. So prevalent is this influence in our society that, among many, fault-finding has been elevated to the status of a "ministry!" The Lord has promised, however, that in His house accusing one another will be replaced with prayer, and fault-finding with a love that covers a multitude of sins.
In an attempt to hinder, if not altogether halt the next move of God, Satan has sent forth an army of fault-finding demons against the church. The purpose of this assault is to entice the Body of Christ away from the perfections of Jesus and onto the imperfections of one another.
The fault-finder spirit will incite individuals to spend days and even weeks unearthing old faults or sins in their minister or church. The people who are held captive by this deceitful spirit become "crusaders," irreconcilable enemies of their former assemblies. In most cases, the things they deem wrong or lacking are the very areas in which the Lord seeks to position them for intercession. What might otherwise be an opportunity for spiritual growth and meeting a need, becomes an occasion of stumbling and withdrawal. In truth, their criticisms are a smokescreen for a prayerless heart and an unwillingness to serve.
Christ Himself could not satisfy the "standards" of this spirit when it spoke through the Pharisees. No matter what Jesus did, the Pharisees found fault with Him.
If you personally have not consulted with and listened to the individual of whom you are critical, how can you be sure that you are not fulfilling the role of the accuser of the brethren? Even the ". . . Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him" (John 7:51).
The enemies' purpose in this assault is to discredit the minister so it can discredit his message. I have personally listened to scores of pastors from many denominational backgrounds. The timing of this spirit's attack upon their congregations almost always was just prior to, or immediately after, a significant breakthrough. The unchallenged assault of this demon always stopped the forward progress of their church.
When this spirit infiltrates an individual's mind, its accusations come with such venom and intimidation that even those who should "know better" are bewildered and then seduced by its influence. Nearly all involved take their eyes off Jesus and focus upon "issues," ignoring during the contention that Jesus is actually praying for His body to become one. Beguiled by this demon, accusations and counter accusations rifle through the soul of the congregation, stimulating suspicion and fear among the people. Devastation wracks the targeted church, while discouragement blankets and seeks to destroy the pastor and his family, or other servants of God in the Church.
Nearly every minister reading this has faced the assault of the fault-finder spirit at one time or another. Each has known the depression of trying to track down this accusing spirit as it whispers its gossip through the local church: trusted friends seem distant, established relationships shaken, and the vision of the church quagmired in strife and inaction.
To mask the diabolical nature of its activity, the fault-finder will often garb its criticisms in religious clothing. Under the pretense of protecting sheep from a "gnat-sized" error in doctrine, it forces the flock to swallow a "camel-sized" error of loveless correction, attempting to correct violations of Scripture! Where is the "spirit of gentleness" of which Paul speaks in Galatians 6:1, the humility in "looking to yourselves, lest you too be tempted?" Where is the love motive to "restore such a one?"
The church does need correction, but the ministry of reproof must be patterned after Christ and not the accuser of the brethren. When Jesus corrected the churches in Asia (Revelation 2-3), He sandwiched His rebuke between praise and promises. He reassured the churches that the Voice about to expose their sin was the very Voice which inspired their virtue. After encouraging them, He then brought correction.
Is this not His way with each of us? Even in the most serious corrections, the voice of Jesus is always the embodiment of "grace and truth" (John 1:14). Jesus said of the sheep, ". . . they know His voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow but will flee from him" (John 10:5). Remember, if the word of rebuke or correction does not offer grace for restoration, it is not the voice of your Shepherd. If you are one of Christ's sheep, you will flee from it.
To find an indictment against the church, it is important to note, the enemy must draw his accusations from hell. If we have repented of our sins, no record of them nor of our mistakes exists in Heaven. As it is written, "Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies..." (Romans 8:33). Jesus is not condemning us, but rather is at the Father's right hand interceding on our behalf.
The second weapon this spirit uses against us is our past mistakes and poor decisions. Each of us has an inherent propensity toward ignorance. One does not have to read far into the history of the saints to discover they were not called because of their intrinsic wisdom. In truth, we all have made mistakes. Hopefully, we have at least learned from them and developed humility because of them. This fault-finding spirit, however, takes our past mistakes and parades them before our memory, criticizing our efforts to do God's will, thus keeping us in bondage to the past.
When the enemy pits us against one another, it first provokes us to jealousy or fear. The security of our place in life seems threatened by another's success. Perhaps to justify our personal failures or flaws, we magnify the past shortcomings of others. The more our jealousy grows, the more this demon exploits our thoughts until nothing about the individual or his church seems right.
In the final stage we actually wage a campaign against him. No defense he offers will satisfy us. We are convinced he is deceived and dangerous; and we think it is up to us to warn others. Yet the truth is, the person whose mind is controlled by the fault-finder spirit is the one who is deceived and dangerous. For his own unrepentant thoughts toward jealousy and fleshly criticism have supplied hell with a "lumber yard" of material to erect walls between members of the body of Christ.
The fault-finders and gossips are already planted in the church--perhaps you are such a one! When the living God is making your pastor more deeply dependent, and thus more easily shaped for His purposes, do you criticize his apparent lack of anointing? Although he did not abandon you during your time of need, do you abandon him now, when your faith might be the very encouragement he needs to fully yield to the cross?
Those who are sympathetic to the accuser of the brethren fulfill, by application, Matthew 24:28, "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather." The backbiting of these vulture-like individuals actually feeds their lower nature, for they seek what is dead in a church; they are attracted to what is dying.
When the accuser comes, it brings distorted facts and condemnation. Those who are trapped by this spirit never research the virtues in the organization or person they are attacking. With the same zeal that the fault-finders seek to unearth sin, those who will conquer this enemy must earnestly seek God's heart and His calling for those they would reprove.
True correction, therefore, will proceed with reverence, not revenge. Indeed, are not those whom we seek to correct Christ's servants? Are they not His possessions? Is it possible the works of which we are jealous, and thus critical, might the the very works of Christ? Also, let us ask ourselves: why has God chosen us to bring His rebuke? Are we walking in Christ's pattern?
These are important questions, for to be anointed with Christ's authority to rebuke, we must be committed to melt with Christ's love. But, if we are angry, embittered or jealous toward another, we cannot even pray correctly for that person, much less reprove him. Jesus, the great Lion of Judah, was declared worthy to bring forth judgment by virtue of His nature: He was a Lamb slain for men's sin. If we are not determined to die for men, we have no right to judge them.
Our attitude should be one of prayer and love, leaving a blessing for what we gained by our time spent in the church. If there has indeed been sin in the ministry, we should contact the church authorities and leave the situation with them.
Indeed, the Lord's word to us is that in the House of the Lord criticism must be replaced with prayer, and fault-finding eliminated with a covering love. Where there is error, we must go with a motive to restore. Where there are wrong doctrines, let us maintain a gentle spirit correcting those in opposition.
Lord Jesus, forgive us for our lack of prayer and the weakness of our love. Master, we want to be like You. When we see a need, instead of criticizing, help us to lay down our lives and meet it. Lord, deliver Your church of this fault-finding spirit! In Jesus' name. Amen.