I was a sophomore in college when I began receiving a series of harassing emails from an unidentified person. Each one was loaded with expletives and insults that cut into my stomach like rusty razors, leaving me with a cold, sick feeling. The worst part was that it was clear that I somehow knew the person, who I assumed was male based on the tone of the emails.
He described my favorite navy blue jacket and an old sweater, both of which I wore too often. He also mocked me for openly talking about my faith. He even appeared to have some idea of my class schedule.
With each email, I became more self-conscious and paranoid. I wondered if it was my fault. Did my jacket not look masculine enough? Was I talking about God too much?
The anonymity of my faithful accuser only multiplied the impact. The fact that it could be almost anybody at my university left me feeling like it was everybody. His anonymity, however, was short lived.
Naming my Accuser
One day, I took a second look at the email address my harasser was using. The domain name was @981theMax.com, which didn’t mean anything to me at first, but then I went to the website: It was the web address for a radio station in Memphis, Tennessee. And for some reason, I associated that city with a classmate, I just couldn’t figure out which one.
I racked my brain, trying to put it together, and then it dawned on me: My hateful penpal was Matt, the quiet, clean-cut guy who sat in the back of both my management and statistics classes. At the beginning of the semester, he had introduced himself in both classes, and he was the only person from Memphis.
I went back through his emails and pieced it together. I had never had a conversation with him, but apparently, whenever I made references to my faith during class discussions, it infuriated him.
I decided I would respond to his email, something I hadn’t done yet.
“Hey Matt. I know you’re sending the emails. Please stop. If you choose to keep doing it, I’ll report you to campus police. I don’t want to hear from you again. Thanks.”
He had been called out, and the coward didn’t have anything more to say. The emails stopped.
A New Round of Messages
That wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten messages like that, and it won’t be the last. In fact, you’ve inevitably gotten those messages too, because at any given time, God’s children are subject to hearing the accusing voice of Satan, “the father of all lies,” “the accuser of our brothers and sisters” (John 8:44, Revelation 12:10).
Satan and his demonic forces have practiced accusation for thousands of years. Their accusations hit us at our weak spots: fear of rejection, loss of social status, the shame of old mistakes, our body hatred, our failed performance at work — whatever — we’ve all got our triggers. We believe the lies, agree with them, and then unconsciously embrace Satan’s anti-Gospel: I should be ashamed of myself and work very hard to cover it up.
We’ve got to identify the source of that message, call it out, and refuse to put up with it anymore.
Yelling at the Hand from Hell
When I was little, there was a couple named Mike and Madelaine who taught Sunday school at my church, and they took lessons on spiritual warfare to a whole new level. One of them would get behind a curtain and slowly raise up this menacing, blackened hand that would turn toward us and begin insulting us and telling us that God didn’t love us. We knew who it was, and our teachers had prepared us for how to deal with him.
We yelled the truth at the accusing voice: “In the name of Jesus, that’s a lie! Jesus loves me!” And with each declaration, the hand withered further down until it went away.
This wasn’t evangelical Sunday school hocus-pocus. It’s the way Jesus responded to the temptations of Satan, who found Jesus in a weak moment and tried to lure him with this accusation: You aren’t who You think You are. You’re less than that. You need me to make you more. But Jesus responded with the truth. He started every rebuttal with “The Scriptures say.” “Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus” (Matthew 4:11).
An Appropriate Response
In Christ, we have the authority to follow Jesus’ example when we hear accusations from our enemy.
Your body is a joke — nobody wants you.
“[My] body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in [me] and was given to [me] by God (1 Corinthians 6:19).
If people only knew what you did in the past.
I’m “forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead[.] I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling [me]” (Philippians 3:14).
After all these years of trying, you’ve never really done anything with your life.
God raised me “with Christ and seated [me] with Him in the heavenly realms because [I am] united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).
You haven’t changed and you never will.
I “see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes [me] more and more like Him as [I am] changed into His glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
You doubt too much to be a true believer. You’re going to hell when you die.
I’m in a process. My Father “has forever perfected those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14).
Don’t agree with the lies of the enemy. Be aware of them, and be prepared for them by knowing what Scripture says about who you are. “Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).