Why is there so much evil and corruption in the world? Why do children need to be taught to behave, whereas disobedience and naughtiness come rather naturally? What exactly is sin, where does it come from, and how does it relate to our view of God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ?
While this topic of sin is no longer fashionable to voice, the world needs to understand its plight before it comes to believe in the wonders of God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. On this program the hosts will discuss these questions and more as they begin a new four-part series on the doctrine of Original Sin on the White Horse Inn.
“Sin is rebellion against God. If we start talking about sin as ‘I’m not fulfilling my potential or something like that,’ we’re already starting off wrong. We need to ask how sin relates to God if sin is rebellion against God. There’s ways that the Bible has talked about this; sin is about missing the mark of God’s law.
“God is holy and the way that the Bible depicts sin is there’s guilt that comes with our rebellion, there’s corruption that comes with that, but it also talks about sin as folly. So talking about original sin actually helps describe to us our present reality.” – Justin Holcomb
6.2 Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
6.3 They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.
6.4 From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. (1689 London Baptist Confession, chap. 6, Sections 2–4)
What is Reformation Day? To answer that question, let’s ask another question. When is Reformation Day? It’s October 31; it commemorates the events of October 31, 1517. On that day, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Now, why would Luther do that? To answer this question, we need to introduce a few more characters.
One of those characters was Albert of Brandenburg. Albert was not old enough to be a bishop, yet in 1517, he was already bishop over two cities, which was against church law. On top of that, he wanted to be archbishop of Mainz. To hold three offices was also against church law, which meant that Albert needed a papal dispensation.
So now, Pope Leo X enters our story. Leo was from the Medici family of Florence. The Medici were a prominent banking clan and patrons of the arts. It was Leo who brought Michelangelo in to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican. Albert met with Leo about getting a dispensation, and like good businessmen they struck a deal. For ten thousand ducats, Albert could have his three bishoprics. But Albert had a problem: his money was largely in land and not in cash, so he needed to raise the money.
The real main character in Reformation Day is not Luther. It’s the Word of God.
And so another character enters, the enterprising friar Johann Tetzel. He sold indulgences on Albert’s behalf, and some of the money went to help Albert pay the cost of becoming archbishop of Mainz. These indulgences were supplied by the pope and not only provided for past sins to be forgiven but for future sins to be forgiven as well. And these indulgences also allowed the buyer to get his relatives out of purgatory. And so Tetzel began selling these indulgences, using a jingle to sell them: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”
This development deeply troubled Luther. He saw how these things were contrary to the church’s doctrine at the time, and he watched as the people under his care went to buy Tetzel’s indulgences. So, he did what a scholar could do. He went into his study and penned his Ninety-Five Theses to invite public debate. He posted the theses on October 31.
The very first thesis says this: “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said ‘Repent,’ willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” It’s fascinating that Luther makes this reference to Jesus’ calling people to “repent” in Matthew 4:17. There is something else that came into play here, something else that explains Reformation Day.
In 1516, the Greek New Testament was published by the humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus. And when Luther read the Greek New Testament, he realized that the Latin Vulgate—for centuries, the official text of the church—was wrong. The Vulgate had translated the Greek word in question—rendered in English as “repent”—as “do penance.” This translation had served for centuries to support the Roman Catholic sacramental system.
The real main character in Reformation Day is not Luther. It’s the Word of God. What Luther discovered as a monk is that for centuries, the true teachings of the Word of God had been hidden by century upon century of tradition. That’s what Reformation Day is about: it’s about pulling back the covers and releasing the power of the Word of God and the beauty and the truth of the gospel. That’s why we celebrate Reformation Day.
(This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
If you are a disciple of Jesus, then God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, just like he did for the first disciples! What kind of wonderful plan?
Well, Peter was crucified upside-down. Andrew, his brother was also crucified. James was executed by the sword. John, his brother was exiled and died of old age. Philip was tortured and then crucified upside-down. Bartholomew was skinned alive and he, too crucified upside down. Thomas was speared to death while praying. Matthew was also killed by the spear. Thaddeus and Simon and the other James…all crucified.
God’s wonderful plan for you is to preach the Gospel and make disciples – just like these men did. It’s why they were killed. The same Jesus who personally called these men has called us to do the same… even if it hurts. (And it might hurt!)
In Acts, chapter five, the disciples were arrested and beaten for preaching the Gospel. When they were let go, they left rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Christ. And every day they continued to share the Gospel.
And when they had called in the Apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. They left the presence of the council, rejoicing hat they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:40-42)
Jesus said that you are blessed when others revile and persecute you and speak evil against you falsely on account of Him. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven!
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad! For your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:11-12)
So you shouldn’t tell an unbeliever that God has a wonderful plan for their life. You should tell them to turn from their sin and follow Jesus. Only His disciples are forgiven their sins, saved from death, and know his ways are wonderful… when we understand the text.
The word “sin”, as it appears in the Bible, comes from the Greek word Hamartia or the Hebrew word Hata, which both mean “to miss the mark” or “flawed”. The word was used in archery and spear throwing. When a person missed the center of the target, they erred, or “hamartia-ed”. So, as this applies to sin, we should ask, “What is the mark that we are missing?”
And the answer is: The holy righteous perfection of God.
When it comes to missing that mark, we’re not just veering off a little and barely missing the bull’s-eye… on our way to the range, we took a wrong turn and drove off a cliff!
We don’t come anywhere near the holiness of God. Understanding sin requires more than knowing the definition of the word. We must consider how sin is framed in the Bible. It’s worse than simply missing a target or making a mistake.
Sin is treason. It is rebellion against the law of the High King of heaven, and for that we deserve death.
Joshua 1:18 says,
Whoever rebels against the Lord’s commandment and disobeys His word shall be put to death.
That’s sin and its consequence. Romans 6:23 says,
For the wages of sin is death… but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!
See, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
That’s everyone. No one on their own merit will stand innocent before the throne of judgment. But…
God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.
Since therefore we have been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. (Romans 5:8-10)
Followers of Jesus are saved from His wrath – no longer enemies of God; but we’ve been reconciled to God into His people. Now we are fellow heirs of His kingdom.
…so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life! (Titus 3:7)
From treasonous criminals to fellow heirs… that’s the love of God through His Son, in whom we have the forgiveness of sins… when we understand the text.
Welcome back to the Ask Pastor John podcast with longtime author and pastor, John Piper. Pastor John, here’s the next question on the list, and it’s a heavy one, an email from an anonymous man: “Pastor John, did God cause, or would God cause, my wife to miscarry our child because I have a struggle with lust and pornography? I have a lot of guilt right now, and I don’t know how to think about God’s discipline and punishment for my sin. I’m very confused, please help.”
Wow. I see four issues at least in this question.
Let’s take those one at a time.
I don’t know what our friend, unnamed, means by “struggle.” He struggles with pornography. It might mean daily bondage of joining sinners on the screen in their wickedness by supporting them with our interest and our attention and our pleasure and then feeling guilty about it when we are done every day. I don’t think that is much of a struggle. Calling it a struggle is a little less damning than what it really is; namely, capitulation and participation.
Or, he might mean that he conquers the temptation 99 times out of 100 and in a moment of weakness gives in, but quickly turns away and repents. That may be what struggle means. That would be a little more meaningful to call the world struggle. Whatever he means, I am glad he calls it sin, which he does, because Jesus takes this sin so seriously, he uses a horrible picture to describe the warfare against it — and the worst possible warning against failure in the war.
Here is what he says: “If your right eye causes you to sin” — so he is talking about lust — “tear it out and throw it away.” What? With a screwdriver? This is gross. This is horrible. What? Your fingernails? “For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). So, tearing out the eyeball is the most horrible description of the nature of the warfare, and hell is the most horrible warning of failure in the warfare. So, I doubt that any of us has ever overestimated the danger of failing to fight lust. And I am glad that our anonymous questioner has called it sin and is feeling bad about it.
Does God discipline his children for their sin? Yes, he does. This is described, perhaps, most fully in Hebrews 12. He even speaks of bloodshed if necessary as the price we might pay for our sin. “Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:5–6). It never feels that way. But we need to believe that because the Bible says so. God says so.
It is very important to remember that this book of Hebrews 12 is the same book that in 10:14 says, “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” — that means in the warfare.” Perfected. In other words, God can view his children both as perfected by Christ and still in need of perfecting in this life. And we should take tremendous heart from his painful perfecting work as evidence that we are perfected.
Or, we can add with trembling: He may see us in need of such protection from temptation that he takes our life. That is what it says in1 Corinthians 11:29–30, “Anyone who eats and drinks [the Lord’s Supper] without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” Fallen asleep means died. “But when we are judged by the Lord” — that is, put to death — “we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). That is breathtaking. In other words, death, the death of a saint, the death of one who is perfected, the death of one whom he loves, the death is the discipline of deliverance from condemnation. God takes him out so that he will not be taken out by the devil and by sin and go to hell. So yes, the Lord disciplines, and his ways are not to be trifled with or made little of.
May that discipline come in the form of harm, even death, to others that we love, as well as ourselves? And the answer is yes, it may. This was certainly the case with David’s sin of adultery and murder with Bathsheba and her husband. Nathan the prophet said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin” (2 Samuel 12:13). And then the next thing, “Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord” — and surely that is what pornography is — “the child who is born to you shall die” (2 Samuel 12:14).
So, I would certainly say in my own life — now hear this carefully — I would certainly say in my own life, the most painful and humbling disciplining from the Lord has regularly been though the pain and suffering and sometimes death of those I love, rather than through any blows against my own body. Oh, that we only suffered in our own body. This has been the way the deepest Christians have always thought about the losses through the death of those they love. Jonathan Edwards preached numerous sermons about the way the Lord disciplines a church by taking away a godly pastor in death. Edwards’s godly wife Sarah spoke about kissing the rod of God in the death of her 54-year-old husband — a rod of discipline that she felt more than anyone. She called it a rod of God on her back. And she kissed it.
Every loss that we endure as sinful children of God have two designs: one from Satan, one from God. Satan designs our unbelief and rebellion and renunciation and guilt and paralysis and loss of faith. God designs our purification and that we would hope less in this world and more in God who raises the dead.
I don’t know whether our friend who wrote this question lost his child in miscarriage as a direct discipline from God because of his pornography. I do not know. He does not know. I do know that in the loss of the child, God wills a new humility and a new submission and a new faith and new purity through the pain of this loss.
Here is the fourth and final thing: What should you do? What should this person, this man, do if he believes that God has dealt him such a painful blow? And the answer is not in doubt. Many things are in doubt. Many things are uncertain in this situation. But the path of gospel obedience is not uncertain. The glorious truth of the gospel is that we never need to be sure whether a specific suffering is owing to a specific disobedience. You don’t need to know this. You don’t need to figure this out. I have dealt with so many people over the years who come into my office longing to know whether there is some connection between some pain and some sin. And I always start and end with the fact: You don’t need to know that.
And the reason we don’t need to be sure about that is that the gospel forgiveness and gospel righteousness imputed through faith in Christ does not depend on that certainty of understanding. It depends on Christ and on faith in him. We don’t need to be sure about the connection between our particular sufferings and our particular sins in this life, because the death of Christ is sufficient to forgive the worst sin in spite of the worst suffering. That is the glory of the gospel.
So, what our friend must do in this confusion — he says, “I am confused.” Okay, so I am saying, what he must do in his confusion is stop fretting about whether his pornography was the direct cause of his miscarriage. He should stop fretting about that. He will never know for sure the answer to that question, short of some direct revelation. Whether he knew it was or wasn’t, the lesson remains the same. The Lord gives and the Lord has taken away. And God’s merciful design for our friend is that he worship. Blessed be the Lord (Job 1:21). Worship more deeply the way Job did.
God also designs that he renounce sin more fully the way Job did and that he lay afresh on the power of the Holy Spirit to flee all temptation and that he renounce in the presence of his wife for her joy that he is done with this sin.
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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.
(By Desiring God. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
“I just remember loading my syringe stronger and stronger each time, just wanting a way out of this, and the only way for me was to kill myself.”
For Anthony, the abandonment of his earthly father led him to seek comfort in the atmosphere of gay bars and the rollercoaster high of designer drugs. After hearing the gospel, the darkness that shrouded Anthony’s life was overtaken by the true hope and new life found in Jesus.
“I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. And, my mom and dad divorced when I was young. So, I remember my mom, many times, begging for money from my dad. He had left my mom and wouldn’t support his children. So, to me, that was a huge form of rejection.
So, through my growing up years, I was always looking for acceptance. And, the way that I would find acceptance was to go out to gay bars and hanging our and doing designer drugs. When I was doing drugs, I felt a lot more comfortable in my skin. Because while I was on drugs, I was in a place where everybody liked one another and everything was cool.
Eventually, I got a job working for a hair color manufacturer. While there, I got to travel the world and do a lot of different things, and I became very successful. Through my success, I felt that acceptance by people wanting to know who I was, what I had to offer, and people wanted to see what I knew.
All this attention really filled me up, almost to the point where I was very prideful. And, all the while, I didn’t know Jesus.
I remember working at a hair conference. And, the night before, I was online with this guy and I invited him over to my hotel room; and when he arrived, he offered me some crystal meth. My motto was “I’ll try anything once!… (or twice just to make sure I didn’t like it)” and I had tried just about every other drug at that point, so why not?
So, when I was getting high that night, this feeling came over me. I felt like I could conquer the world at that point. And then the night turned into morning and the morning turned into afternoon, and without realizing it, I had completely missed the conference that I was supposed to speak at.
As a result, I ended up losing my job.
I quickly fell into a spiral of depression. I couldn’t believe that I had just lost my job. And, instead of realizing where I went wrong, I went further into the drug world. Crystal meth had become a huge part of my life by this point. I was snorting or smoking it five to six times a day. It had become my god. While I was high, I was having a great time, I was popular. All the things related to acceptance that I had longed for were finally in my grasp. It even got to the point where I was using when I was alone.
And, while I knew there was a God, I had no idea how God would factor into my life or what my responsibilities to God were.
I just remember loading my syringe stronger and stronger each time, just wanting a way out of this, and the only way for me was to kill myself. So, after many botched attempts at suicide, I was a total wreck.
I wound up getting busted for possession.
Yet, in God’s sovereignty, He provided a way out. After several unique court cases, I ended up being released.
I was living in Florida at the time, and I received an invitation to a wedding for people that I didn’t even know. I knew the brother of the groom, but I didn’t know anyone else. I had no family in town. I felt as if I had nothing.
Yet, it was as if something was calling me… compelling me to go to the wedding. And, I found that being unknown, instead of striving to be known, was nice. I liked it. In fact a week later, I moved to the town where the wedding was held.
What I didn’t know was that for nearly two years, an old friend and her Bible study group had been praying for me. And, when I finally made my way through the doors of her church, I introduced myself and I was instantly surrounded by people who said they knew who I was because they had been praying for me for so long. That acceptance that I had so longed for and an overcoming joy washed over me. It was incredible.
So, I was sitting in the sanctuary and the worship set began. Then, all of a sudden, I felt a calm and a peace. That’s when I realized something, and I prayed:
‘Lord… You have this!’
I realized that I had been bought with a price. And, my body is not my own. I have to treat my body as a temple. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me. And now, I live my life for the Lord.
I’ve been sober for three years now. I’ve also been celibate for three years. And all that I had and did back then is nothing compared to the life that the Lord has given me today. He has allowed me to become the man that He has created me to be.
So, I sit here today as a man who is in love with Jesus. I just want to proclaim His Name and share the Gospel with anybody I can!”
The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.
(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
It’s getting real. Real fast.
As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, something in the last few days of Jesus’ final week triggered Judas to do the unthinkable.
You talk about someone selling their soul to the devil, literally or figuratively? Well, Judas did both. Judas sold his soul to the devil, literally and figuratively.
“Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” (Luke 22:3) Why here? Why now? Why this?
In order to answer these and additional questions, let’s meet Judas the Betrayer up close and personal.
A fitting title because the very first time we encounter this tragic individual, we are introduced to him with these telling words: “Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).” (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:19 & Luke 6:16)
How would you like that as your moniker?
Who was this guy? And what does it all mean for us today?
Allow me to set up this discussion in this way: It’s one of the most precious passages in all of the Bible. That is no exaggeration or overstatement. Yet, it gets relatively scant attention because in most of our English translations it’s rendered rather clumsily. The words of Hebrews 4:15-16 don’t exactly roll effortlessly off our tongues, with its double negatives and cultural references with which we might not be familiar. But since this is such a precious picture of exactly who Jesus is, and how Jesus relates to our lives, I’ll read it to you in the NKJV, and then paraphrase it for you so that you can hear it as original readers heard it.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (New King James Version)
In other words, in my own expanded paraphrase:
You and I have an unbreakable bond with our High Priest – THE High Priest – Who regularly approaches God the Father on our behalf, praying for us and keeping us front and center of God’s compassionate care.
As our High Priest, Jesus knows exactly what it is to be one of us. He has been there Himself, experiencing every trial, every temptation, every situation that can so easily discourage and defeat us.
In a word, Jesus UNDERSTANDS us.
He understands what it is like to be us because He became one of us. Yes, it is true, Jesus faced everything that you face: every heartache, every fear, every disappointment, every anxiety, every insecurity, and every human weakness. Because, he was in every sense of the word HUMAN.
The amazing thing is that while He experienced all of this, and so much more, He never sinned. He never once succumbed to any trial or temptation. He felt the full fury of every human weakness, yet never gave into them. Not even once. If He had, He wouldn’t be any different than us. He would have nothing to offer us. But, as it is, because He understands us so completely, He lavishly gives us His mercy and grace just when we need it the most.
Consequently, we can approach God boldly… without hesitation or fear of God’s condemnation.
God was there for Jesus. He will always be there for you and for me. He is on your side. He is your number one advocate. He is for you. He will never be against you. Consequently, you can share with God your every heartache, fear, anxiety, or insecurity and beyond a shadow of any doubt, He will meet us at our very point of pain and shower us with His grace and mercy.
All this because, in Jesus, God actually became human like us.
And these words were never more true than in what we will discuss this week. Specifically when we speak of the pain, heartache and heartbreak of betrayal by someone near and dear.
Have you ever felt it?
Jesus certainly did… with life crushing consequences.
But, listen to what Jesus said, just months earlier to Judas, in an attempt somehow to persuade Judas to stop his betrayal before it was too late:
Jesus told his disciples, “I chose all twelve of you, but one of you is a demon!”71 Jesus was talking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. He would later betray Jesus, even though he was one of the twelve disciples. (John 6:70-71)
With Judas standing there, listening to every word, Jesus said that one of them is a demon! What must have been going on in Judas’ mind at that moment?
Here’s some stats for you: Judas is mentioned 24 times in the New Testament, by name, 17 of these references appear alongside the word “betray” or some form of betrayer. And of the seven times that “betray” is not mentioned in connection with Judas Iscariot, he hardly gets a pass, as in Luke 22:1-4,
The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is also called Passover, was approaching. 2 The leading priests and teachers of religious law were plotting how to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people’s reaction.
3 Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples,4 and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them.
Being listed for all eternity as someone who Satan entered into is hardly a glistening credential to bare!
So, what do we know about Judas Iscariot? How did he go from absolute obscurity to chosen Apostle to ultimate betrayer?
First off, the name Judas was quite common in his day. Many of them, in fact, are mentioned throughout the New Testament… even within the twelve Apostles!
The other Judas, not Judas Iscariot, then spoke up and asked, “Lord, what do you mean by saying that you will show us what you are like, but you will not show the people of this world?” (John 14:22)
Jesus even had a brother named Judas, as we read in Matthew 13:55, when the people of Nazareth were wondering if Jesus was the same guy who grew up there.
Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.
You see, Judas is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Judah, which means “praise”, and as many know, was the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. And, it’s from the tribe of Judah that our friends from Israel today have derived the name “Jews”.
Iscariot is not Judas’ last name. Rather, it references the geographical region he was from: Judas, the man from Kerioth. But get this… out of the twelve Apostles, Judas was the only one who came from the South, Judah (or Judea). The other eleven all came from the North, the region of Galilee.
Other than that, we know little more about Judas. The Gospels tell us many of the other Apostles’ careers before meeting Jesus (fishermen, tax collector, etc.). All we know of Judas Iscariot is that his father’s name was Simon.
Throughout Judas’ tenure as an Apostle, treachery pumped like a poison within the ventricles of Judas’ dark heart. It wasn’t as if, all of a sudden, Satan entered him and Judas did the unthinkable. From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Judas lived a double life. He was the consummate phony, a hypocrite of the highest order. It was a pattern well-established throughout his three years with Jesus.
As we look at the four Gospels together, we see a series of seemingly small compromises which, over time, ballooned into a singular disastrous deed. In Judas’ case, all of his small compromises seemed to revolve around money.
Over the course of several years, he sold his soul to Satan over his love of money… the thirty pieces of silver he was paid for handing Jesus over was merely the final transaction.
And none of the other eleven Apostles knew or even suspected that this was the case.
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man He had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with Him.3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. (John 12:1-6)
Judas was an embezzler of – quite literally – Biblical proportions! Only in hindsight, did John realize and write about Judas’ doings.
But, despite all this… no matter what terrible things he did and can be said about Judas, Jesus loved this man. He loved Judas to the very end.
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end. (John 13:1)
Notice that there is no exception clause for Judas. In the following passages, Jesus’ acts of love, including washing His Apostle’s feet and partaking of the Passover meal, included Judas, even though the devil had already grabbed a hold of Judas’ heart.
It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:2-5)
That is an amazing picture.
Almost as amazing as the expression of utter devotion and love that Jesus showed to Judas at the very moment when he betrayed the Son of God and handed Him over to the 600 soldiers who came to arrest Jesus. Sadly, our culture has made the word almost meaningless, but to a Jew, there is no higher acclaim that one man can bestow upon another…
The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.
50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” (Matthew 26:48-50)
Even Judas had to be awestruck that Jesus chose those words, even at that moment. In the Middle East, when someone calls you their friend, there is no higher descriptor that anyone can refer to another as. It’s an amazing word!
What Jesus was basically saying was, “Even as you betray me right now, Judas… I am your friend and I will never turn my back on you.”
Jesus gave Judas so many opportunities to rethink his actions and repent of a sinful heart. Judas sat at Jesus’ feet so many times, hearing sermons about the pitfalls of the love of money, the torment of a prideful heart, and the judgment for those who chose to not repent.
Even on the night that Judas would hand Him over, Jesus seemed to plead with him… if by nothing else than revealing to Judas that his secrets were not so secret…
[Jesus said] “…this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me’…
21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”
…Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night. (John 13:18-30)
Now, let me assure you. Jesus did not need Judas’ betrayal to get to the cross. There were plenty of people who hated Jesus, who wanted to kill Him and were capable of doing so. They could do it with or without Judas’ assistance.
Perhaps this is why Jesus begged him, pleaded with him over and over again to not do this! Perhaps this is why Jesus called him friend.
This is why, in fewer than twelve hours after Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we read about how it all caught up to him.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. (Matthew 27:3-5)
Now, say what you want about what Judas did. But, as I read this passage I see something that too often goes untaught…
This is textbook repentance. Many ask, “Was that the equivalent of repentance to salvation? Was it enough of a repentance that Judas was actually saved?”
Every study Bible that I have ever seen answers this question with a resounding, “No. Judas went to hell.”
Yet, Jesus called him, “My friend.”
Now, have you ever been betrayed? Perhaps by your spouse? A child? A family member? A co-worker? A friend?
Well, guess what… you have a High Priest who knows exactly what you have gone through. He was betrayed by His friend, too.
And I would suggest that you and I will never know the depths of the heart of Jesus until we personally know the pain of betrayal.
But, I wrap up with this: No matter how dark your betrayal of Jesus may ever be, you will be His friend no matter what. You may betray Him, but He will never, ever betray you.
Dr. John MacArthur recently taught:
“The greatest Gospel verse in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:21,
For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Let me unpack those 15 Greek words…
He – God – made Jesus sin. What do you mean He made Jesus sin?
Only in one sense – God treated Jesus as if He had committed every sin ever committed by every person who would ever believe though, in fact, He committed none of them. Hanging on the cross, He was holy, harmless, and undefiled. Hanging on the cross, He was a spotless Lamb. He was never for a split second a sinner. He is Holy God on the cross.
But God is treating Him as if He lived my life.
God punished Jesus for my sin, turns right around, and treats me as if I lived His life. That’s the great Doctrine of Substitution; and on that doctrine turned the whole reformation of the Church. That is the heart of the Gospel.
And what you get is complete forgiveness covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When He looks at the cross, He sees you and when he looks at you, He sees Christ.”
He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
When God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the Garden of Eden and told them they could eat from any tree they wanted, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The day they ate of it, they would die.
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
And you know how the story went…
Eve was tempted by the serpent, ate the fruit, gave some to Adam, and because they sinned, they were separated from God, kicked out of paradise, death entered into the picture, all creation was sent into upheaval. And everyone born of the seed of Adam – that’s us – are under the same curse, born into sin, and fallen from grace.
Way to go, Adam!
But wait a second…
God knows everything (1 John 3:20)
His understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:5)
Will any teach God knowledge? (Job 21:22)
Why, even the hairs on your head are numbered! (Luke 12:7)
If God is all-knowing and He knew that eating the fruit would result in the fall of mankind, why did He even put the tree there in the first place? Isn’t this His fault?
Well, you know, Adam tried blaming God too…
“The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate…” (Genesis 3:12)
Yeah… guess how that went for him.
In Psalm 119, David said,
Oh how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day…
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep Your word…
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:97, 101, 103)
In other words, there is great joy in obeying God.
Adam and Eve lived in perfection and God showed His goodness all the more by giving them a command to obey. And by obeying it, they would experience the greatest joy possible, needing nothing else but God.
Then the devil came along, and convinced them that God and all His blessings weren’t enough. “God is selfish and is keeping something from you,” he said. So they ate the fruit, believing they needed something other than God to be satisfied.
Such is the case with our sin, too. We are all willing participants in Adam’s sin.
But, God so loved us that He sent HIs Son, Jesus, to destroy the work of the devil.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever will believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
All who believe in Jesus have their sins forgiven and will be restored to eternal paradise with God… when we understand the text.
(Many of the Bible stories and verses we think we know, we don’t! When We Understand the Text is an internet-based video ministry committed to righting some of the wrong understanding of scripture, all while advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check out more at WWUTT.com!)
A youth leader stood before a group of teens and quoted Romans 5:8, “but God shows His love for you in that while you were messed up Christ died for you!” Now you’re going to read in the bible “That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Why change the wording. The youth pastor would say, “Well Sin is such an archaic word. Who knows what it means anyway? Let’s just put it in words the students can understand. Or the word is too offensive and I don’t want to offend anyone. So messed up is just a little more relatable!”
Oh come one their students right? So teach them! Read the verse anyone would read it then explain what it means.
What is sin?
It’s anything against the perfect law and nature of God, believing that our ways are higher than God’s ways. That is offensive, it offends God.
Another problem from changing the word from sin to messed up is that a mess can be anyone’s fault. My life is a mess because my parents got divorced, my family doesn’t make enough money, I can’t get the job I want, my team didn’t win. None of that is your fault right?
Your sin is your sin and no one else’s. You lie, steal, lust, which is the same as committing adultery according the Matthew 5:28.
Jesus said if you hate another person or call them contemptuous name you have committed murder in your heart. You blaspheme the name of God, the list goes on and on.
God demonstrates his love for you when though you deserved death Jesus the perfect son of God died for you. So that you can repent of your sins, God will forgive you and you will receive eternal life. Don’t repent and you’ll go to hell.
That message is too important to soften or change, so know it and keep it when you understand the text!