The Bible describes Satan as the accuser of the brethren. In Revelation 12:10 we read that Satan “accused [believers] before our God day and night.” Whenever Satan is present in Scripture, someone is being accused. He is there in the form of a tempting snake in Genesis and we see Adam and Eve mutually accusing each other cruelly. The people murmured in the Old Testament, plagues devoured them, and the apostle warns: “These things happened for our teaching, our understanding. Do not murmur as they murmured and were destroyed by the destroyer” (see 1 Corinthians 10:10-11).
“We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2.11). Peter “accused” the Lord, and Jesus answered him, “Get thee behind me, Satan, you don’t realize by what spirit you are speaking” (see Mark 8:33).This spirit of the accuser is real and terribly active in our world today. Husbands accuse wives, teenagers accuse their parents, nations and entire regions of the world are torn apart by one group, nationality, color or clan endlessly accusing and attacking the other. Believers and leaders blame pastors, and ministers complain one to another, “Today’s believers are not like they used to be.” That is the spirit of the accuser. However, you can choose a different life. You can cry out, “Father, fill me with faith with a revelation and the Spirit of the Advocate.”
The Bible teaches that “we have an advocate (a defender, and intercessor) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and . . . He ever lives to make intercession in our favor” (see 1 John 2:1 and Hebrews 7:25).
We can also be filled with and live in and by a Spirit that prays, intercedes, stands with, loves and forgives. Each day we truly have a choice to make: division or destiny; resentment or restoration; breaking or building; to hurt or to heal; to be bitter or to bless; to release or to be reduced; pettiness or power; my agenda of advancement or His authority; the accuser or the Advocate!
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
Right now, God is at work preparing a new world—a new heaven and a new earth—for His people. And this new creation will comprise a New Jerusalem, including a home for Christ’s Bride. Isaiah saw this new world that God is creating, and the sight of it must have overwhelmed him. God says through the prophet, “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy” (Isaiah 65:17–18).
God is making a powerful statement here to the Bride of Christ. He’s saying, in effect, “In the midst of your present trial, fix this truth in your mind: the present world is not your home. Everything you see is going to pass away—earth, moon, sun and stars. I am creating a new world, where there are no fires, floods, devils, trials or afflictions.”
Do you get the message? Your trial is going to end, and your troubles will pass away. Therefore, focus your eyes on Christ, and set your affections on spending eternity with Him in the new world. According to Him, the world we toil in now, with all its pain and sorrow, will not be remembered when that day comes. It won’t even enter our minds!
Beloved, this tells me that the trial many are enduring right now isn’t testing—it’s training. We are being prepared for a world where there will be no more pain. And that world is going to be populated with brand-new bodies. Paul tells us the body that goes down into the grave won’t be the one that comes out of the grave. We’re going to have a brand-new body, one with the DNA of Christ Himself.
Abraham is an example of one who was focused on the world to come. The Bible says of him, “By faith he sojourned . . . as [an alien] in a strange country . . . for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9–10).
The truth is, not all our trials are tests of faith. Often, the Lord is after something more when we’re in the furnace of affliction. Indeed, the closer you walk with Christ and the deeper your trials, the more He is working in you to accomplish something other than faith.
Yet, don’t misunderstand: whenever our faith wavers, tests of faith will come. We will never be completely beyond such testing. But here is another of God’s purposes in our trials: The Father is preparing a Bride for His Son.
He wants more from us in our trials than greater faith. This Bride is going to be tried severely, and her love for the Bridegroom will come through the fire. Her trust in Him will be refined through fires, floods and afflictions. Yet, these trials aren’t a matter of testing her love and devotion. Rather, they’re about refining a love that is already fully committed. Let me explain.
I believe many reading this message are fully committed to Christ. Jesus is the great love of your life, and your trust in Him is flourishing. Certainly, there still are times when that trust is tested. But God is looking for something else from you, something more. His preparation of the Bride requires that He do a supernatural work in you.
This Bride—Jesus’ chosen beloved—must be consumed with a longing to be with her Bridegroom. She has to be weaned from all other attractions. She must be obsessed by a desire to always be in His bodily presence. Paul refers to this longing when he writes of his own desire “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
This was not a morbid fixation with death on Paul’s part. The apostle clearly lived a full, useful life, but he said, “Something in me yearns to be with the Lord, where He is. I long to be face-to-face with Him.” To make such a claim, Paul had to be completely weaned from this world and its attractions.
Paul testifies of being afflicted with trials yet finishing his course having won the faith test. He writes, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Of course, Paul knew he still had much work to do. There were great trials and suffering ahead for him. But he was able to honestly say:
“I may not have apprehended Christ as I wanted, and I haven’t been perfected. But when it comes to faith, and trusting God through every trial, I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded. When the enemy comes in like a flood, I know the Lord will raise a standard against it. And I learned all of this in the furnace of affliction.”
I share this testimony with Paul. By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit has enabled me to come through a number of trials in recent years, the hardest being the death of our twelve-year-old granddaughter, Tiffany. The Lord provided strength and faith through that excruciating ordeal, and I came out of it saying, “I know whom I have believed, and I know he has a plan. God would not allow this kind of deep hurt to come upon me or my family without a purpose behind it all. Oh, Lord, I give this over to you by faith.”
Think about your own present ordeal or trial. Have you had doubt, fear or anger as you’ve endured it? Have you accused God of putting too much on you, of placing you in your trial needlessly? Are you on the verge of giving up, thinking, “I’ve been faithful to pray, to read the Bible, to go to church, but nothing is working”?
Or, can you still look to heaven and say, “I know the Lord is good and I’m going to trust Him through this. I will not live in doubt. He will bring me out, to His glory.” If this describes you, then your faith has endured the fire. But if it doesn’t, I have a question for you. How many more trials and afflictions must you endure before you are able to say, “My faith has prevailed”?
God takes no delight in the testing of His children. The Bible says Christ is sympathetic toward us in all our trials, being touched by the feelings of our infirmities. In Revelation 2:9 He tells the church, “I know thy . . . tribulation, and poverty.” He is saying, in essence, “I know what you’re going through. You may not understand it, but I know all about it.”
It is essential that we comprehend this truth, because the Lord does test and try His people. Scripture says, “Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried” (Psalm 66:10). “Your faith . . . be tried with fire” (1 Peter 1:7). “The Lord trieth the righteous” (Psalm 11:5).
Indeed, everyone who follows Jesus is going to face afflictions. The Psalmist writes, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19). Paul speaks of having “much affliction and anguish of heart . . . with many tears” (2 Corinthians 2:4). And Hebrews describes saints who are “destitute, afflicted, tormented” and “[enduring] a great fight of afflictions” (Hebrews 11:37, 10:32).
The fact is, the Bible says a great deal about suffering, trials and troubles in the lives of believers. According to the Psalmist, “My soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave” (Psalm 88:3). Likewise, David writes of enduring “great and sore troubles” (71:20).
I can’t name a single follower of Jesus who hasn’t endured all of these things that Scripture mentions: trials, tribulations, troubles, afflictions, anguish. I know I can say along with David, “I have endured sore and great troubles and trials.” And I know that many others reading this message can say, “That sums up my life right now. I’m facing several anguishing trials and afflictions.”
For this reason, every Christian has to know and accept that God has a purpose in all our sufferings. No test comes into our lives without His allowing it and one of God’s purposes behind our trials is to produce in us an unwavering faith. Peter writes, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Peter calls these experiences “fiery trial(s)” (4:12).