The book of Job explains that Satan was the cause of the sickness that he suffered. However, there are different views about why Satan was able to afflict Job with such terrible pain. Some say that Job let down his "hedge of protection". Others say that Job succumbed to fear. Neither makes sense, because the book is clear that Job was not sick because he sinned.

A key message of the book is that his sickness was caused by the spiritual powers of evil. The reason why Job becomes sick is that Satan is an accuser. His name is a Hebrew word meaning accuser or adversary. Satan is a prosecutor who attacks God's people by making accusations against them.

Satan accused Job of serving God with impure motives. He did not really love God, but loved the stuff that God had given him. If God took his wealth away, his true motives would be revealed. Satan accused Job of serving God for what he could get out of it. He claimed Job's love of God was really selfishness.

By making this accusation, Satan forced God to take away Job's wealth and health. How was he able to do this? He is a liar, but he knew better than to lie to God. So what evidence did he have to present against Job? He must have had testimonies from people who knew Job well and had influence in his life.

The answer becomes clear when we look at what Jobs friends said to comfort him. At first, they were kind, but when he refused to admit that he deserved what had happened to him, they got frustrated and revealed their true thoughts about him. They said he was greedy and deceitful. Here is Eliphaz,

Your iniquity teaches your mouth,
And you choose the tongue of the crafty (Job 15:5).
Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land (Job 22:5-9).
Zophar agreed,
For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure (Job 20:19-20).
Bildad was quieter, but pursued the same theme.
The steps of his strength are shortened,
And his own counsel casts him down.
For he is cast into a net by his own feet,
And he walks into a snare (Job 18:7-9).
People do not change their opinions about other people. If Job's friends believed these things after he had suffered, they would have believed them while he was prosperous. They might not have accused Job to his face, but they would have spoken their accusations to each other, while gossiping about him. They would have said these things to other people when they asked about Job.

When Satan appeared before God, he accused Job of impure motives. He said that Job was deceitful and greedy. This is exactly what Job' friends said when he was suffering, and would have said earlier when he was still prosperous.

Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad were Job's friends. They knew him well and had influence in his lives. This gave weight to their testimonies. Their accusations against him allowed Satan to make the same accusation about Job to God. Satan was able to claim it was true, because these men knew Job well and they agreed that he was greedy and deceitful.

Three Witnesses

Satan did not make up his accusation against Job. He was just repeating the accusation that Job's friends had already spoken. Because they were men of integrity and authority, God had to accept their testimony. Their testimony proved Satan's case against Job, so he was legally entitled to inflict sickness on him. The devil brought sufficient testimony against Job that God had to agree and allow him to be punished.

Satan twisted the rules of justice to do evil. God's principle of justice is that facts are established by the testimony of three witnesses.

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deut 19:15).
Jesus confirms this in Matthew 18:16. These laws existed in heaven before God gave them to Moses on earth.

Satan was able to accuse Job effectively, because he found three reliable witnesses who had testified against Job, without realising. This gave Satan the right to accuse Job and afflict him with sickness.

Christians need to understand the role of the accuser. He is looking for witnesses whose testimony he can use as accusations against God's people. When we criticise other people and speak negative things about them, Satan can pick up these testimonies and accuse them before God. If he can find three people saying the same thing, he has the three witnesses that he needs to establish the accusation as fact. This gives him the right to afflict the accused person with sickness.

Many Christians are sick, because brothers and sisters in the Lord have spoken words of accusation against them and the accuser has taken these words and used them as testimony to accuse the person before God. Before they can be healed, the power of these testimonies must be broken.

The accusations of people in authority, such as parents, pastors and employers, provide even more powerful testimony. The enemy can say, "His parents said that about him, so he must be bad; it must be true."

Idle Words

Jesus warned his followers that they would have to give an account for all the "idle words they have spoken.
I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt 12:36).
On that day when we stand before the Lord, we will be embarrassed by our sins and the things that we have not done. We will be shocked most by the harm that we have done to other Christians by our idle words. These are words that we have not thought about much, but Satan had heard them and used them to accuse the person and punish them with sickness or trouble.

Idle words are spoken, or thought, in various situations. Often they are part of a conversation that turns into gossip. Sometimes they can be a response to a question about someone. Idle words can become testimonies that support and accusation can in two different ways.

Satan can use these words as a testimony about the person spoken about. Ideally, he needs to find three people saying the same thing. He really loves gossip, because that is a good way to get people to agree with an accusation. Satan likes testimonies from Christians because they have more credibility. He can say, "This witness is a Christians, so their words are reliable."

The biblical principle is that we should never say things about another person that we have not said to them (Matt 18:15-19). If we are concerned about something a brother or sister has done, we should speak to them first. Only if they refuse to listen should we speak about it to others.

We must learn to be more careful about how we speak about others. Idle words spoken against other believers become testimonies that Satan can use to accuse them. If he can get several witnesses to agree, he gains the right to harm the believer. Several idle words that agree can be used by the spiritual powers of evil and used to gain authority over the person accused.

Nullifying Accusations

When praying for people who are sick, we might need to deal with accusations that have been made against them. If someone is not healed, it might because the accuser is using accusations against them to justify the sickness. The power of the accusations will have to be broken before the person can be healed.

The power of accusations are broken in different ways, depending on their nature.

When Job was sick, he made an appeal to God who declared that he was not at fault. God's testimony overturned the testimony of his friends and Job's health was restored.

Some of the sickness amongst Christians is the consequence of Satan's accusations against them based on testimonies by their brothers and sisters in the Lord. When we pray for them, we must nullify these accusations by declaring that their sins that they have been accused of have been covered by the blood of Jesus.

Anyone struggling to be healed should seek the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if there are any accusations against them that are holding back their healing. These may need to be broken before healing can come.

We do not need to know the nature of an accusation to deal with it. It is probably best not to focus on the accusation, as it might distract us from our true calling. It is more important to focus on the words that God has spoken about us. Sometimes the accusation may have been made against the sick person's father or husband. Job's family were afflicted when Satan was able to make accusations against him.

End Twist

Under the biblical model of justice, the person who gives false testimony against another can be given the penalty that their testimony would have inflicted on the victim of their lies.
If a malicious witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing... the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness... then you shall do to him as he intended to have done to his brother (Deut 19:16-19).
At the end of the book of Job, God restored Job because he was innocent. Since the three friends had given false testimony against Job, they could have experienced what they had allowed the accuser to inflict on him. However, God asked Job to offer sacrifices for his three friends and pray for them.
My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly (Job 42:7-8).
God heard Job's prayer and protected them from the consequences of their false testimony. They could have been inflicted with sickness and poverty, but were kept safe.

Some Christians will be sick, because they have given false testimony against a brother or sister, and they are receiving the consequences that the person they were accusing would have received, if their testimony had been accepted. This is another reason why we should be careful about our words. A false accusation can harm a brother or sister, but it can also fall back on us, if our testimony is confirmed to be false.

If the Holy Spirit convicts us of speaking words that have harmed a brother or sister, we should ask the Lord for forgiveness. We should declare to the spiritual powers of evil that we are withdrawing our testimony and that we will not testify against the person they are trying to harm.