One of You Shall Betray Me
Keys for Today:
“Verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.”
– Matthew 26.21
“‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.’ Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake…‘He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.’ And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, ‘That thou doest, do quickly…He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.”
– John 13.21, 26~27, 30
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
– I Peter 4.17~18
“‘…be not, as the hypocrites…’”
– Matthew 6.16 (vv. 2, 5, similar)
“Verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” – The words of Jesus Christ. Someone who reads this and calls him/herself a Christian is going to betray Jesus Christ today. Someone today will betray Jesus Christ. How many of us, who call ourselves Christians betray Christ Jesus in the same fashion as he was betrayed? How many of us, who say that we are following the Lord, go out of the church sanctuary, and/or out of that Bible Study, and betray Christ with our lives the rest of the week? In doing so, just how do we appear before an unbelieving world?
Playing “The Game”
All of us like to play games, don’t we? We may even have a favorite. From sports, to board games, to video game entertainment systems, to childhood games, to puzzles and mind twisters, each of us have probably played a game at some point in our lives. What game do you like to play? Did you know that Christians often play games? Actually, it should be stated that people who go to church like to play games, and guess who church people play games with most often? It’s God. Now this sort of game is similar to chess, where certain moves are made in order to corner the opposition’s king and force him into checkmate; it is a lot like the strategy game Battleship, where two players blindly fire at one another by calling out coordinates, hoping to sink the enemy’s fleet; it is like charades, where contestants are not allowed to speak, and instead are relegated to using gestures, mime, and sign language in order to get their message across; and finally it is similar to the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, or one of the more recent shooter games on Nintendo Wii or Sony X-Box, where the player takes on a persona different (often diametrically so) from reality. The game Christians and churchgoers like to play is called “Hypocrisy.”
“And The Academy© Award for Best Actor Goes to…”
So how do churchgoers play this game of Hypocrisy? It involves a lot of strategy, intrigue, misdirection, and deception. It is, in fact, really just learning how to be and knowing how to live as an actor. Certainly, we have all seen how this game works, right? Bill is a fine, upstanding church going man. He and his wife, Jane, and their two children, Bobby and Suzy, have been a part of streetcorner Church for a number of years. Bob is heavily involved at church on Sabbath, leading a Sabbath School class, while Jane is busy with women’s ministries. Bobby and Suzy are both regular participants at Youth and Children’s events at the church. There’s only one problem with this family: when they leave the doors of the church and head out into the week, they live no differently than their unchurched next-door-neighbors. Bill works hard for his corporation, but is all the while envious about the younger subordinate who got the promotion over him; is busy gossiping and slandering his newly promoted co-worker every chance he gets; and is working out the details for sneaking some of the company’s money into his own account (that’s called “embezzlement”). Jane works part-time at a local grocery store, relishing in the stories of the sexual exploits of her co-workers. Thinking of her own life and marriage with Bill to be boring, she’s contemplating an intimate relationship with a single man across the street. While Bobby is a good student at the local High School, he’s also a drug and alcohol abuser. Suzy is a straight “A” student at her junior high, but is regarded by her peers and classmates as an uppity snob. Do you see how the game is played? We play the hypocrite game, acting all good and well and righteous at church and around our churchgoing friends. We know the words to say, the Bible verses to quote, the attitude of (false) humility to carry, and prayers to pray. We even know how to dress the part and look our level best when we walk into the doors of the church. We pay our tithes even so far as being generous with a little extra offering in the plate each week. We know where to nod and say “Amen!” during the pastor’s message. We know how to raise our hands at just the right moment during the worship and praise time of singing. We know the names of the hymns, the choruses, and can even sing them around our church friends verbatim. Yes, indeed, we look GOOD at church and around our church friends.
“But Are within Full of Dead Men’s Bones…” (Matthew 23.27)
The tragic part of playing this game is that when we leave the church, when we part company with our church friends, we look and act no differently than the rest of the world. We listen to the dirty jokes of our friends. We go to the theatres and watch the “R” rated films with all the sex, violence, language, and filth. We turn on the television and relish as actors, actresses, talk show hosts, late-night TV, commentators, and pundits bash, mock, deride, and blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ. We snicker and laugh at the witty newspaper, magazine, and other print media articles which make a laughing stock of Biblical and Godly values and virtues. We turn on Beyonce’, Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Aerosmith, Korn, and a host of other “musicians” and singers as they croon about how “good” sex is with someone we aren’t married to; the wonders of drug use and alcohol abuse; and how liberating it is to defy Mom and Dad. We go out with our friends and laugh right along with the dirty jokes or the mocking of God. Let me ask this: How many of us have – in our daily lives – sat and laughed at sin? How many of us have gone home, switched on the TV, and laughed at sin? How many of us who call on the name of Jesus Christ go to the movie houses, the dance halls, or the bars and alcohol joints and have not only partaken of sin, but relished n it? How many of us have, in the week that just went by, went to our schools, our places of work, or some other place with our friends and laughed at some sick, dirty joke, or some blasphemy of the name of Jesus Christ? To quote a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene: “Some of you have sat in your homes and laughed at sin? Shame on you!” Indeed, shame on us! Jesus stated this very thing in the Book of Matthew when he spoke out against the Pharisees and scribes:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but are within full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
– Matthew 23.25~28
When we play the game of hypocrisy with God; when we choose to make room for sin and unrighteousness, we are acting no differently than the Pharisees and scribes. Actually, if we claim the name of Jesus Christ and his cleansing power, we are actually worse than these, and are more akin to someone else altogether.
The Iscariot Factor
Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, had an enviable position: he was one of Jesus’ first twelve chosen apostles. He walked with Jesus Christ for three years, saw countless miracles performed at the hands of the Lord, saw lives changed in front of his very eyes, saw Jesus cast out devils, demons, and evil spirits, and heard Jesus preach innumerable sermons, teach countless lessons, and speak a multitude of parables (and had them explained to him in detail by the Lord). Judas saw Jesus raise Lazarus form the dead, cure the ten lepers, and walk on water. He was there when Jesus fed five thousand men (and possibly anywhere between five and ten thousand women and children) with five loaves and two fish, and when he did it again a week or so later, feeding four thousand men (again, with as many as another fur to eight thousand women and children [and likely more in both cases]) with seven loaves and a few small fish (both groups leaving a total of nineteen baskets of leftovers). Not even the Children of Israel who saw the ten plagues of Moses some fifteen centuries before saw the same amount and variety of miracles of Jesus Christ. And yet…Judas betrayed Jesus Christ to the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, the High Priests, and the Sanhedrin. You see? The reason Judas betrayed Jesus is because Judas had an idea of what Christ was, is and should be, and refused to move away form that idea even at the point of death. Judas had the idea that Jesus was supposed to be the conqueror Messiah who would – when he saw the torches, swords, staves, and weapons of the soldiers coming to take him – use his Godly powers to free himself and Israel from the hand of the Romans. You see? He had an idea of the Lord that was false, and when his false idea of the Messiah came not to pass, Judas was bereft of hope. This isn’t too much different form those of us who play the game. We have our idea of God, what he should be, and how he should act. We have some crazy, mixed-up idea that we are, somehow, fooling God in that he can’t, won’t, or just doesn’t (for some inexplicable reason) see how we are living. We think that we can get away with all sorts of sin and debauchery through the week, all the while, when we come to church, we think that paying our tithes and offerings, saying all the right words, doing all the right things, and singing the right songs in church will somehow make up for all the rottenness we committed during the week. We seem to have this idea of God – not too dissimilarly from Judas – that we can just call on him in our times of trouble, but ignore him the rest of the week. To many of us, God is cool only when we think he is cool, when we want him to be cool, or when the situation calls for us to think of God as cool. Friends, this is no different than what Judas believed about God and about Jesus Christ. Judas believed that he could steal, yet, somehow, his thieving actions never coming to light and was unknown to God. Judas thought that Christ would redeem the world in the way that he wanted, and not in the way that Scripture spoke. Don’t we do the same thing? Don’t we carouse with sin and our unbelieving friends and/or family, yet try to look good for the camera when we come to church? But there’s a problem with playing this game and following in the Iscariot Factor.
Really, We Aren’t Fooling Anybody
The truth of playing “the game” and the Iscariot Factor is that sooner or later, we will be found out. First and foremost, God already knows what we’re doing. He sees how we act like a Christian on Sabbath , then live like the devil the rest of the week. The sad, tragic thing is so do our loved ones and the people around us every day. Here is what Paul states concerning this fact:
“Wherefore seeing that we are encompassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”
– Hebrews 12.1
Did you catch what Paul is saying here? Friends, if we call on the name of Christ, whether in truth or in “the game” hypocrisy, we are being watched. An unbelieving world watches us in every thing that we do, and every move that we make. Often we hear this phrase from unbelievers:
“Bah, I don’t need church. Church is full of hypocrites anyway!”
Why is it that unbelievers say this most often? Why is this the seemingly number one phrase from an unbeliever when one is invited to church, or when the subject to f the need for church attendance arises? The fact of the matter is, there are too many of us playing this game, folks, and not only does God know it, but so, too, does an unbelieving world. When we listen to Beyonce’ as she sings about wanting it “right now”, does the world think she’s singing about the gift of the Holy Spirit? Or is the “it” she’s wanting “right now” something else? When we groove with 5O Cent as he raps about “Getting’ some”, is he singing about the glory of the Father, or his own desires? When we sit by and laugh with Comedy Central as they mock Jesus Christ, what does the unbelieving world think about our walk with Christ? When we go to a movie such as any of the Saw Series, and grisly violence is portrayed in front of our eyes, what do our unbelieving friends think? When we who call ourselves Believers in Jesus Christ take in a daily diet of sin and unrighteousness, relishing in each and every sinful detail, what should this unbelieving world believe about us? When we take into account that things in the church are just as bad – and in many cases, worse – as outside, should we really be surprised to hear unbelievers saying that the church is full of hypocrites? Are we not the whited sepulchers that Christ spoke of? Outwardly, we may appear to be holy and righteous and god-fearing-and-following, but the truth is, folks, most of us are trying to play the shell game of hypocrisy with Christ and the world, and the glaringly tragic fact is we are losing and failing in it…and an unbelieving world sees every false and hypocritical move we are making. We may look good around our friends and coworkers and classmates and loved ones, but the sad fact is, we are seen for what we are: a traitor to the name of Jesus Christ.
Hypocrisy Leads to (and, Really, Is) Treachery
The fact of the matter is, when we lead a double life with regards to our walk with Jesus Christ, sooner or later, we will be found out, and we will be labeled a traitor. Sooner rather than later, while we are living this double life of “fun” and sin and debauchery Monday through Saturday, and playing the game on Sabbath is that there will come a time when our true values will rise to the surface. The Bible is replete with verses stating that sooner or later, everything that is secret about us will be made plain. Possibly the most glaring statement in the Bible concerning sin is as follows:
“…and be sure your sin will find you out.”
– Numbers 32.23
Right here, God, through the prophet Moses, is making it crystal clear that sin can never be hidden for long, and Christian Friend, be aware that God will expose you if you are leading a hypocritical life. The reason is because Hypocrisy leads to treachery. When the chips are down, and a stand must be taken, where do the hypocrites usually fall? They fall on the side of sin. They choose to fall in with the sinful crowd, and why? It’s usually because falling in with the wrong side is the path of least resistance. It is the path of the least amount of physical pain, ridicule from peers, or seemingly the path of greater rewards. In Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler, Germans were offered rewards to turn in Jews and religious or political dissenters to the authorities. Often friends and family members would be the ones to do the betraying. Same said for the time of the Inquisition in Europe and South America: those who disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church were more often than not betrayed and handed over to the State Authorities. In the old Soviet Union of Russia and the Communist and Islamic dominated countries of today (yes, including the so-called “leaning-capitalistic” Mainland “People’s Republic” of [Red] China), house churches are and were betrayed by those who were double-dealing and playing “the game”. A story out of the Soviet Union (or Red China) goes along this line:
A house church was meeting in secret, and a large group of believers had gathered. It was late at night, and as the service was entering its most worshipful stage, a sound that all house church members dread was heard: the jack-booted kicking in of the door, and soldiers rushing in. In moments, a group of four soldiers headed by a lieutenant appeared in the house church, and the four heavily armed soldiers blocked soon all exits. There was nowhere to escape. With a bellowing voice, the lieutenant, drawing and cocking his pistol, said, “We are going to shoot anyone in here who is a real Christian; anyone wanting to leave now will be free of repercussions and reprisal by the law, but those who stay will be shot. You have one minute to decide. Go now, or take a bullet.” At his words his soldiers also cocked their AK-47s. Several of the attendees of the house church got up and left. The Lieutenant spoke again, “You have one more chance! Anyone else wanting to leave, go now, for we will shoot all those who remain!” A few more rose and left. The Lieutenant spoke once again, “Is there anyone else who wishes to leave these who will be shot?” Two or three more left. Finally, a handful of believers were left, and the lieutenant spoke again, “Are there any others who wish to leave? This is your last chance to live.” When nobody left, the lieutenant uncocked and holstered his weapon, the four soldiers holding their AK-47s doing the same. He spoke softly, reassuring the house church members, “We, too, are Believers in Jesus Christ, having come to know the Saviour some months ago. Brethren, it was necessary for us to enter this way, because those who are hypocrites or unsound in their faith will always fall away. They are also the first to betray you to the authorities. We have been going to every house church in this area to root out those who are potential traitors. Now, let us all worship and praise our Lord together.”
It is the same with us here in the USA. Just as those who are wishy-washy in their faith, in places where Christians are criminals, will betray their friends to the authorities, so too, in the USA will hypocrites be the first to turn against believers. And don’t think that persecution and betrayal of Christians won’t in the “civilized” west and/or Technologically Advanced nations. Friends, Jesus said it will happen again:
“But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake…And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and they shall cause some of you to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”
– Luke 21.12, 16 ~17; John 16.2
This is the result of hypocrisy: black, wretched treachery. This is partly the reason the Bible so pointedly speaks out against hypocrisy. There is a great warning to those who choose the route of hypocrisy and betrayal.
The Dangers of Treachery (It’s Never Just About the Traitor)
Nobody trusts a traitor. The trust and the respect lost from betrayal can never truly be regained. Benedict Arnold can attest to this fact. After winning miraculous victories in the American Revolution for George Washington and the Thirteen Colonies, Benedict Arnold turned and betrayed the nascent United States. Following the defeat of the British in 1781 and the end of the war in 1783, Arnold was, obviously, unwelcome in the New USA. Moving to Britain, he wasn’t received as the heroic general who turned form rebellion to serve the King and Crown, but instead was scorned as not only the general who’d defeated the king’s redcoats at Saratoga, but was also shunned as being a turncoat. Arnold died in obscurity in Britain and to this day remains the supremest of enigmas in the United States, his monument at the Saratoga Battlefield being vacant.
After betraying and murdering his overlord Oda Nobunaga, Japanese Daimyo Akechi Mitsuhide – hoping to capitalize on the assumed chaos that would reign among Oda’s loyal subordinates – was defeated three days later by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. While fleeing the battlefield, Akechi was impaled by a farmer whose only weapon was a bamboo spear. Today in Japan, you may hear “Mitsuhide-no mikka tenka”, which means “the three-day reign of Mitsuhide”, a term of scorn and derision.
In China during the time of the Three Kingdoms, a brilliant general named Lu Bu won many battles for his superior Zhao Dong, going even so far as defeating – in single combat – the three heroes of the northern kingdom, Yan Liu, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei. The problem with General Lu was he later murdered his overlord Zhao, and was later beheaded by the Southern Warlord, Cao Cao.
Judas Iscariot was in a similar place, and is forever known – even by those who regard the Bible as fable and Christianity as a farce – as the supremest of traitors. The name “Judas” became such a tainted name that even Jesus’ earthly brother changed his name to Jude, other disciples and followers of the Bible being named Judas going by other names as well. If these were the only reasons for treachery being dangerous to the traitor, it would be bad enough, but treachery often involved others.
Not only was Benedict Arnold despised in the USA, but so was his family; Akechi Mitsuhide wasn’t alone in his destruction, his entire household was also brought down by the hideyoshi Dynasty; General Lu wasn’t singular in his demise, as the sons who accompanied him also felt the blade of the executioner’s sword. The same it is and will be for any of us who play “the game”.
Traitors, Players of “The Game”, and Us
Think of someone you know that is wishy-washy, a habitual liar and not true to his word, and/or known for backstabbing his or her friends. What thoughts come to your mind when you think of this person? Are they good, or are they not so good? Are you close to this person or these people, or do you keep as far away form them as possible? Do you place much stock and/or faith in their word and words? Now lets look at our own lives: where have we been treacherous? Where are we betraying the Lord?
Really, friends and brethren, if we are calling ourselves Christians, Believers in and Followers of Jesus Christ, how are we doing? How are we living? Honestly, let’s ask ourselves: how many of us were as excited about spending time with the Lord as we are about the new Twilight movie Eclipse? Which have we done more of this week: did we gossip and defame someone or did we speak the truth in love of Jesus Christ to our neighbor? Think about it: did we listen more to Beyonce, crooning and crying about how she “wants it right now”, or did we listen to music that is wholesome and uplifting of the virtues of sexual purity? Did we rap along with Fifty-Cent, Eminem, and Jay-Z about “Gettin’ Some”, reducing women to mere objects for illicit pleasure, or did we raise our hearts and hands to God in worship and praise of his Holiness, Love, and Glory? Did we watch The Family Guy, Comedy Central, South Park, or How I Met Your Mother, and laugh along as they mocked the Name of Jesus Christ, or did we stand up and defend him?
Please understand that this is not to say Christians cannot have fun: Christ came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10.10). However, the abundant life that Christ speaks of is one that is in step with him. When Christians play the hypocrisy game and give in to commission of sin, we are – in effect – showing the world that we’re playing a game of double-dealing: Again, the words of Jesus Christ:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
– Matthew 7.15 ~20
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
– Matthew 6.24 (Luke 16.13 similar)
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.”
– Luke 11.17 (Matthew 12.25 and Mark 3.24~25 similar)
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
– Revelation 3.14 ~15
Here also are the words of Christ, again, through his followers:
“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
– Galatians 1.10
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
– James 1.8
“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same time sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”
– James 3.9 ~12
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
– James 4.4
“Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh unto you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners: and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
– James 4.8
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
– I John 5.15
You see? When we show the world – as followers of Jesus Christ – that we are really no different than those without Christ we are betraying Jesus Christ. There are many in the world today, many Christian believers, who believe that there is no problem with having a beer or other alcoholic drink with their unbelieving friends. A large number of Christians think that this makes them somehow “more accessible” to the world (in a way, they are correct, but not in the way that they believe) and to their lost friends. However, people see alcohol is as an instrument of and for drunkenness. The lost of this world, when they see someone who has professed Christ in their lives and testified to his change go out and drink alcohol at a bar, do they really think that the Christian(s) doing so are more accessible…or do they label them “hypocrites”?
When an unbeliever sees a Christian watch a movie or TV show where Jesus Christ’s name is blasphemed and mocked, does that unbeliever really see that believer as someone who is truly bound to Christ, or do they see a charlatan? And when a professing follower of Jesus Christ lauds and listens to on a regular basis such singers as Beyonce’ or Aerosmith or any other musicians or groups that mock Biblical, Judeo-Christian, and/or Traditional values, does the watching world take their testimony and believe, or do they continue on their way, heading for an eternity in hell simply because the walk didn’t match the talk? You see? Sooner or later, our backs will be against the wall, and we will have to choose. Will we choose Christ, and take the ridicule, derision, and persecution that will result from such a choice? Or will we betray the Lord, and run with the crowd? Not only is there loss of trust in this world with regards to betrayal, but there is also the loss of eternal life…and not just for the traitor. Those watching who are in sin’s darkness will take what we have lived, and said, balance them, and discard anything we testify to concerning Jesus Christ if our lives do not match what we preach (see Romans chapter 2).
Revival WILL NOT Come If We Are Playing The Game
It’s as simple as this, folks: if we are playing the game week after week, revival will not come. God will not honor a person, a church, or Christian group if all we do is play games with him with our lives. Instead, there will come the test, as Jesus speaks of in his parable of the sower, and many of us, if we are not truly founded and rooted in Christ, will fall away, turn coat, and betray those nearest us who believe right along with the Lord Christ himself. We may think that we’re getting away with something. We may think that we’re clever. We may think that our friends will be hoodwinked and that our believing friends will accept us as genuine, and that our worldly friends will bring us into their circles because we don’t preach to them. Sooner or later, however (rather, sooner than later), the truth of our lives will come out, and when it does, we will be seen by both the brethren of Christ and the unbelieving world as tricksters, charlatans, and untrustworthy.
Until we get this thing straightened out; until we make the decision to walk with the Lord wholeheartedly, we cannot and will not experience revival. You see? God will not use us if there’s sin in our lives. God won’t allow sin to remain in his presence, and more we try top play the game, the worse it will be for us. Eventually, there will come a day – the day – when we will have to choose. This writer’s own life is testament to that. He was saved and came to know Christ as Saviour when he was seven years old. When he was fourteen, he was sanctified, and at the age of eighteen was baptized. However, when he was a high school senior, the Lord called him to missions, and he said “No.” For three years, this writer tried to play “the game”. While trying to live the Christian life, he was running from doing God’s will, and rejecting Jesus’ call to missions. He’d go to church on Sunday, and Wednesday, and during revival times, but all the while, during those three years, he was choosing to do has he wanted, as he pleased. Finally, the day came when this writer hit rock bottom. There was a car accident; there were two knee surgeries; there were months of rehabilitation; there was a period of almost a year, altogether, of walking on crutches; there were dark nights of excruciating pain due to the injuries suffered form the accident. Doesn’t sound like a fun-filled, enjoyable life, does it? Trust these words that this period of time of life was the lowest this writer had ever experienced before or since. But there came a day where God revealed his will a second time, and when he did, this writer said, “Yes!” Ever since then, ever since the time that playing “the game” ended, life has taken a dramatic turn! No, things haven’t been all pleasant, serene meadows full of colorful flowers and cool sunny days, but it must be said that life has been a lot better than it could’ve been. It can be said, and must be said, actually, that God has totally and truly blessed this writer’s life.
Friends, revival cannot and will not happen until we get straight with the Lord. So long as we toy with him, revival won’t happen. God doesn’t play games! Either we are with him 100%, or we are totally against him: there is no middle ground! We cannot be 80% for him, and 20% against; we cannot even be 99.9999% for him and 0.0001% against. Its black and white with God: For or Against. Where do you stand?
The Bottom Line – There’s Judas…But There’s Also Peter and Paul
Did you know that there was another who betrayed Christ on the night he was arrested? Did you know that the Apostle we venerate to be the highest, Peter son of John, was also a traitor? Check out the closing chapters of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and you’ll read how not only did Peter betray Christ, but was told that he’d do it from Jesus himself! Why, then, do we remember Judas with derision and scorn, but Peter we venerate as the one who we meet at the gates of Heaven? Why is Judas’ name the last popular in history, but the name of Peter as common as water?
The reason is because – though Peter gravely sinned in his betrayal – Peter returned and repented of his act of playing “the game”. While Judas was casting his blood money of thirty pieces of silver at the feet of the priests and proceeding to hang himself, Peter was weeping and remorseful, seeking redemption…and as a result, Peter was fully restored (see John 21).
Paul the Apostle, as well, was a persecutor of the Church, yet he, too, is known as the greatest writer in the New Testament, and actually wrote more books n the Bible than anyone else. He also was the first foreign missionary. How is it that Paul – who forced people to betray others and Christ, hauled them to jail, and approved of their executions (see Acts 7) – could become such a staunch believer in Jesus, while Judas turned and killed himself?
It’s simple: Paul (as Peter) repented, asked for Jesus’ forgiveness, and turned from his sin – including that of playing “the game”. Friends, there’s always a choice. Just as we have Judas the ultimate betrayer, we have also Peter and Paul – likely the two greatest apostles in the Bible.
The same can be said for the rest of the Bible and those whose stories are found in it: two thieves on either side of Jesus – one believing, the other rejecting; the first two anointed kings of Israel, Saul and David – Saul rejected the Lord, David clung to him with all his heart; two of the cities that the Children of Israel encountered in their conquest of Canaan Jericho and Gibeon – Jericho was destroyed for their unbelief, Gibeon was saved; Abraham’s sons Ishmael and Isaac, and Isaac’s two sons, Esau and Jacob – Ishmael and Esau rejected the Lord, and later became enemies of Israel while Isaac and Jacob are known for being forefathers of Israel right along with Abraham; and there is the Rich young ruler and the centurion – the rich young ruler rejected Jesus because he couldn’t give up his riches, but the Centurion believed Jesus and trusted in him despite his position in the Roman army. It’s the same today with us. We know, and we see, people every day who are trying to play “the game” and thinking that they’re getting away with fooling God when the fact of the matter is they are just fooling themselves.
Conclusion – The Hand or The Sop?
Judas didn’t have to go out into the darkness of sin, and the blackness of an eternity without Christ. In our Scripture Keys, we read that Jesus held out the sop for him, and when Judas took it, Satan entered into him. All the while, Christ was waiting, hoping even, that Judas wouldn’t make such a horrendous choice as he really did make. The same it is for us. We are offered Christ’s hand of forgiveness and the sop of treachery. Which one will we take? Which one will you take? Friends, if you’re living the life of playing “the game” with God, understand that you are taking the sop of sin. You are on the road to betrayal of the Lord! If you call yourself “Christian” but run with Satan, you must understand that the day will come when the chips are down, and you will have to make a decision…and very likely – as Judas Iscariot – you will take the sop instead of the hand. You will go out into the night of sin, the blackness of a Christless eternity, and the hopelessness of separation from God. You may try to fool yourself that you’re all right, and you may even convince yourself that your friends – and even God – believe you, but the truth of the matter is that you will lose your soul. Matthew 25 speaks of this.
There are those who – after having played “the game” for their entire lives here on earth – will say to Jesus on the last day that they did things, worked great wonders, and did mighty acts, all in Christ’s name, only to be ushered out of his presence eternally. Does this description fit you? Are there areas of your life that you’ve not turned over to God? Are you living for Jesus on Sunday and Wednesday, but the rest of the week slander his name, and run with the devil? Friends, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to take the sop of treachery. You can resist the devil and overcome the temptation to play “the game”.
The decision is up to you: will you take Christ’s hand of forgiveness, turn to him, repent of your sin, and walk with him in Spirit and in Truth (see John 6)? Or will you take the sop of treachery, and walk out into the night and darkness, relishing in your thirty pieces of silver (and don’t we often betray Christ for so much less? Don’t we betray him for a few minutes of abruptly ended pleasure? Don’t we betray him for the pat on the back from people who’d just as soon pick your pocket? Don’t we turn on Christ merely for television entertainment and movie enjoyment? It doesn’t have to be this way…)? Let’s Pray…
Prayer – Father in heaven, we praise you today. We love you, and we want to follow you. Help us Lord: some of us here today are playing the game. We’re trying to please our friends all the while trying to please you. We are living like the devil five or six days of the week, but act like we’re following you when we come to church. Forgive us, Lord, in Jesus’ Name. Forgive us for acting all holy and just on certain days, or when we are around certain people, but betraying you, stabbing you in the back the rest of the week, and when we are around friends we deem “cool”. We want revival, O Lord, and we want it to start inside of us, for that’s where you tell us that all things begin: in the heart. Cleanse our hearts, Father, we ask, and we pray, in Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.
Verse to Remember:
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”– Matthew 6.24