Satan is the great accuser of the saints. Jesus is the great defender of the saints. They are in heaven waging a relentless courtroom battle for our souls.
On one side stands Satan as “the accuser of our brothers… who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10). On the other side stands Jesus as “our great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (Hebrews 4:14), “who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). Both are passionately arguing their case before God the judge.
Satan is unrolling his endless scroll of charges against us. Maybe he’s talking about you right now. Maybe he’s talking about me. He’s reminding God of our past sins. He’s highlighting our present sins. He’s questioning our motives. He’s suggesting and speculating and slandering and accusing. He’s saying smooth, believable things like, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).
We cannot defend ourselves. Mainly because Satan is right — we have broken God’s law excessively and we deserve severe punishment. And because even though there are some areas where Satan’s accusations are false (like he falsely accused Job of having selfish motives), we aren’t there to defend ourselves. Not that it would matter if we were present to give personal testimony. For every defense we might give for ourselves, our mere presence would bring 10,000 more valid accusations.
But Jesus Christ is there. He stands before His Father as the glorified God-man. He has a lifetime of perfect, confirmed, documented, human righteousness to his name. He has scars on his hands, his feet, his head, his back, and his side. As Satan rails against us and demands that God exercise justice and judgment, our defender holds out His hands before His Father. “Father, you know that it is finished. These sins have been punished. Once and for all. Let them go. They are paid for.”
God the judge looks at Satan. He looks at His Son. He knows that this courtroom battle will continue until Satan is bound and finally cast into hell. But He knows what His answer will always be. He loves His Son. He loves His Son’s righteousness. He loves His Son’s sacrifice. And He loves His new children who have been made righteous through the death of His Son. So He hears the pleas of intercession, while Satan’s shouts of accusation and demands for justice and cries of unfairness go unacknowledged once more. It’s not that Satan’s calls for justice carry no weight with God. It’s that God has already fulfilled His justice by crushing His own Son under its eternal weight.
Satan will try again. He will try constantly. He will question God’s justice and undermine the Son’s sacrifice and and condemn our brothers and sisters around the world, but Jesus Christ our Mediator will speak more powerfully and persuasively. He will intercede for us by pointing to His own devastating sacrifice and pleading for God’s blessing on us. And God will listen to His Son.
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:33-34). Why is no one able to condemn us? Because Jesus died? Yes, but more. Because Jesus was raised? Yes, but more. Because Jesus ascended to the Father and sat down at His right hand? Yes, but more. Because of all these things, yes, but finally and decisively because Jesus is currently interceding for us.
This is really happening in heaven. Satan is really accusing us. And Jesus is really interceding for us.