Among the many warnings Paul gives us in 2 Timothy 3 about the last days is the warning about false accusers. We can see how his prophetic words are being fulfilled all around us every day, especially if we pay attention to the news. Any of us can go about minding our own business and end up targeted by false accusers through no fault of our own. False accusations can especially be harmful when leveled against us by people in power. That’s what more than a dozen people in California found out when they were falsely targeted by the FBI.
They rented safe deposit boxes from a business called U.S. Private Vaults in Beverly Hills. Unbeknownst to them, the FBI was plotting a raid to steal their stuff using false accusations before a federal grand jury. The trap was set when government informants and an undercover DEA agent, who were planted in criminal organizations, decided to rent safe deposit boxes at U.S. Private Vaults. Then the FBI used this “criminal activity”, that they helped set up themselves, as a pretext to go before a federal grand jury to get indictments and a search warrant to raid the business.
Yet, even in their set up, the FBI decided to go beyond the scope of the search warrant to confiscate $86 million and other valuables (including expensive jewelry) found in hundreds of the safe deposit boxes of innocent citizens, falsely accusing them all of unspecified crimes. When the renters found out what happened, over a dozen of them fought back by filing lawsuits. Last Friday, a federal judge ruled against the feds in one of the cases and decided they had no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, providing no justification for their actions. Thus, the FBI had blatantly violated the rights of the renters. Now the fight will be on to get the FBI to return what they stole under false accusations.
Centuries ago in the New Testament, the apostle Paul had a legal case of his own towards the end of the book of Acts. It was a case where he was the victim of false accusations from the government of Judea, namely the Sanhedrin. So when he warns us in 2 Timothy 3 about false accusers, he was also speaking from personal experience. They falsely accused Paul of violating not only Jewish law, but Roman law as well when Tertullus in Acts 24:5 said Paul was stirring up sedition among the Jews throughout the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, Paul was prepared with a solid defense to counteract their falsehoods. At the end of Acts 26, even king Agrippa admitted that Paul’s defense was enough to free him of the false charges. But Paul knew that with all the political games and shenanigans at play with the Jews, it was probably best for him as a Roman citizen to exercise his legal right to appear in Rome before Caesar’s court, the highest in the land. His legal move also served to spread the gospel even more, despite the fact his case wasn’t resolved by the end of Acts.
We can learn from Paul’s ancient case as well as from the recent safe deposit boxes case that it pays to be prepared to mount a defense against false accusers and their deceptive practices. Christians should especially have this mindset given how militantly anti-Christian the world is becoming. We are well within our God-given rights to defend ourselves when unjustified attacks are unleashed against us. It’s one of many reasons why we are taught to obey and fear God above men.