Our church is doing a Women’s Bible Study on Priscilla Shirer’s “The Armor of God” and let me tell you – if you haven’t gone through this study, I highly recommend that you start asap! We are only on Week 3 and I have already learned so much and been so challenged by the teachings in this study. It takes you through the Armor of God, found in Ephesians 6 and Priscilla takes you through each piece of armor and describes in detail the significance of each piece and how we can apply God’s armor in our own lives so we can defend ourselves against the enemy’s attacks. One of the main ideas we’ve been discussing so far is having a firm foundation in your spiritual life so that the rest of your armor can be effective. If we aren’t anchored in God’s truth we are left vulnerable so that we’re not strong enough to stand up against temptations and trials in our lives. It talks about how vital it is that we meditate on God’s word and pray for guidance and courage to live righteously.
While I was reading my Bible this morning I was listening to the words about the Last Supper, leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. Suddenly, it hit me – Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus, was someone who was in his inner circle. He literally walked with Jesus in the flesh every single day. He heard the teachings of Christ with his own ears and saw miracles with his own eyes. It would seem like he would have a pretty strong faith and firm foundation in the significance of who Jesus is, right? I mean, how could you walk daily with someone like Jesus, who is so wise, compassionate, and powerful and not be amazed and thoroughly convinced that he is the Son of God?! So it got me thinking – how did Judas go from friend of Jesus to betrayer of Jesus in such a short amount of time? Here’s what God has taught me about Judas:
- Appearances are deceiving. From the outside, Judas probably walked, talked and looked like all of the other disciples. The other 11 disciples clearly didn’t know that Judas was going to betray Jesus. Luke 22:21 says “But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.” (Note it says AS A FRIEND.) Then it goes on in verse 23 to say “The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.” Judas didn’t look like a betrayer. He looked like a friend. He acted like a friend. It just goes to show that we can say, do and be a lot of things on the outside but we shouldn’t let that appearance fool us into thinking our heart is free from sin.
- God allows us to be tempted. I think sometimes we have this false idea that if we’re a Christian God will keep us from ever going through anything difficult or being tempted in any way. I’m not sure where this idea came from but I can tell you – it’s not true. Not even a little bit. In fact, Jesus himself was tempted by Satan while he was on this earth. So if God will allow his own Son to be tempted, you better believe you and I will be influenced by Satan as well. If you read on in Luke 22, Jesus is talking to Simon (Peter) in verse 31 where he says “Simon, Simon, take heed: Satan has been given leave to sift all of you like wheat.” Notice it says he’s been given leave. Not that he’s doing it by his own accord, but that he has permission to sift all of the disciples and test them each personally. Don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that once your life is “on track” or you’re at a certain point in your walk with Christ that suddenly everything will be perfect and you won’t face anymore temptation. Satan is always trying to “sift” believers. There is no immunity to his attacks.
- We have to make a conscious effort to resist the enemy. In Luke 22:3-4 it says “Then Satan entered Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them.” So it started by Satan “sifting” the disciples, getting into their thoughts and tempting them with ideas and false promises. It’s the same thing he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He convinces us, through our own thoughts, that our desires outweigh God’s commands. But notice that Judas was the only one who “Satan entered.” He was the only one open to these ideas, allowing Satan free reign to come in and take control of the situation. He was tempted the same as all of them, but the difference is that he allowed those temptations to take root until they got out of control and he acted on them. We have to actively resist the temptations of the enemy in our own lives. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to allow Satan to enter our mind, our hearts and our body until we’re no longer making decisions that are led by God but we instead become puppets of the devil, doing exactly what he wants us to do.
I love when I read God’s Word and I’m reminded that no matter what our circumstances, no matter how hard we try or how good we are, no one ever has been and no one ever will be righteous on their own. Even our best efforts to follow Christ will fall apart at some point. We will make mistakes. We will have struggles and sometimes those struggles will grow into obstacles which might even grow into stumbling blocks. But that doesn’t mean that God loves us any less or will ever get to the point where He says we can’t receive grace and forgiveness. We can learn a lot from what Judas did, but we can also learn a lot from what he didn’t do. Even though he made a terrible mistake I know (because God’s Word clearly says) that if he would have confessed his sins and repented, God would have forgiven him. Even on the cross, Jesus said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). If He said that of the people who physically beat and tortured Him, He would have done the same for the one who betrayed him too. It is heartbreaking to know that Judas allowed Satan to convince him that he was unforgivable, when all along God was saying – the forgiveness is right here, all you have to do is ask for it. So whenever you’re facing a difficult situation I hope that you’ll remember Judas. Remember that you can choose to be a friend or you can choose to betray. You can open yourself up to temptation or you can “resist the devil and he will flee” (James 4:7). And even if you do give in to temptation and fall into sin, you can always come to God, repent and ask for forgiveness and receive the grace that He has already made available to you.
2 Corinthians 2:9 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'”