The Set Up

“Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)

More than ten years ago I was sharing a place with my friend Joe (not his real name). Now Joe is a great guy. However, one day he got quite mad at me. He said I wasn’t acting responsibly, because he had intentionally “left” something out for me to put away! For days he had been watching to see if I would put it away in its rightful spot. I can’t even remember what it was. But the bottom line is that I didn’t do what he expected me to do. Or, I should say, I didn’t do what he expected me … NOT to do! You see, Joe was “setting me up” for failure when he “planted” that item in the house. He was “testing” me. Why was he testing me? What was in his heart that would lead him to do such a thing?

Well, the Bible tells us that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. His desire is to find fault in us. That is, he is constantly “pointing the finger” at us, wanting to find fault, or actually … even finding fault! At that point in time, we may fall into condemnation (if we are not careful). There is a way out, however. First, “be not condemned” (Romans 12). If God is for you, then who can be against you? (Romans 8) If someone is trying to “set you up” for failure, or is wanting to indiscriminately accuse you, that is their problem, not yours.

Does that mean we can do anything we want or that we don’t make mistakes sometimes? Of course not! We often do make mistakes. Sometimes, if coupled with pride and an unwillingness to repent, the Lord may even send someone our way to set us straight, as was the case with David when he sinned with Bathsheba — or when Paul confronted Peter when he sinned (Galatians 2:11). But that is not what I am dealing with here. In this case, I am dealing with the spirit of accusation, or the spirit of condemnation, which is not born of God, but of Satan, the “great accuser”. It is a “fault finding” spirit.

What is the root of such behavior, in which we desire to accuse others? First, we ourselves may feel condemned for something we have done — or for no reason at all, if we are simply believing the lies of the enemy. In this case, when we “find fault” with others, we are actually acting as a “spiritual medium” for Satan! Imagine that! And that happens through Christians as well as non-Christians! How do I know? Remember when Jesus rebuked Peter? What did he say? “Get behind me … Satan!” That was Satan speaking through Peter. Peter was acting as a spiritual “medium” for Satan! So the words we speak to others may be words that come right from Satan, the accuser of the brethren.

You need to learn how to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). In some cases, you may feel tremendous pressure to “speak out” some of the nasty words that are in your mind. Be assured that while he cannot “read” our minds, Satan puts thoughts in our minds, oftentimes. Before you decide to speak those thoughts out, make sure that they are holy thoughts. If not, you will be sowing bad seed. And bad seed has a way of coming right back on you in the end! Ouch! (I’ve done that many times, I admit, and had to repent later.)

Secondly, I am convinced that a refusal to believe that God loves us deeply and unconditionally is the reason for many a “fault finding” spirit. You see, the person who does not feel unconditionally loved has only 1 recourse to somehow “make themselves” feel better — and that is to put someone else down, or find fault with them. By finding fault with them, they feel elevated in their own eyes (“not so bad after all”). Truly, they do feel quite badly about themselves – self-condemned, in other words – and that is the reason why they desire to put others down.

What is the key to “undoing” this destructive behavior pattern? I believe there is nothing like intimacy with God, opening up to him our “true and honest” heart, and baring ourselves before him, even — and especially, sometimes — with tears. The tears may act as a “cleansing” and “let God in” to do his healing work in us. You’d be surprised at how spending intimate time with the Lord will suddenly “take down” that desire to find fault with others.

Have you spent time with him recently? Do you feel like you sometimes suffer from this “fault finding spirit”? Do you feel damaged emotionally? Well, friends, I have been there and continue to be there on occasion. God is the great healer and desires to heal us all. If we would but spend time in his presence, then he would be able to do the work that he wants to do in our lives. And it is a glorious work indeed. It leads to wholeness, purity, and passion for the Lord like we may have never experienced before. Suddenly, like never before, the desire to find fault with others will vanish, and scarcely reappear, except under certain stressful occasions, which may act as a “sign” from the Lord to get back in fellowship with him again.

And let us also take instruction from the Scriptures on this point, which warns us not to allow an unbelieving, evil, heart, to dwell within us, but rather to follow peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14-15, top).

May God bless you as you consider these things today.