This is the eighth message in my series on sin. The series will end next week. For these last two messages we will focus on our willpower to turn away from temptation and put to death the things of our flesh.
The Bible instructs us to:
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
When our minds are on Christ, by the power of His spirit we can put to death those things that used to control us (Romans 8:13). To put to death means to deny our flesh of its desires. The verse above instructs us to deny our flesh of greed (covetous), which is idolatry. We deny our flesh of greed by continually making God the Lord of our lives, not money and other earthly possessions.
In the first message, I talked about keeping our lamps full so we are ready for Jesus’ return. Living with an eternal focus is the key to denying our flesh of greed. The perishable things of this world won’t mean anything to us once we are gone. So why hold onto them and make them lord of our lives?
My grandma, who I loved dearly, spent her life accumulating wealth and earthly possessions. My mother was adopted by her, but my grandma never acknowledged us as her real family. When my grandma was too old to care for herself, even though we were the only ones who truly loved her, she chose to move across the country to live with her greedy brother and his family because they were “blood relatives.”
She didn’t realize when she moved away that they would wipe out all her accounts and sell all her possessions. On her death bed, with deep regret, she held tightly to the last remaining possessions she had, the three rings on her fingers. My mother was appalled when she saw one of my grandma’s greedy family members trying to pry the rings off her fingers before she died. My grandma fought with all her might to hold onto those rings until my mother reached out for her hand. My grandmother peacefully released the rings into my mother’s hand to give to me and my two sisters as a token of her love for our family.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Remember last week when I talked about envy and how the KJV calls it an evil eye? The original Greek word for eye in the verses above is “of-thal-mos,” which means “envious.” When we envy the things of this world, we are filling our hearts with darkness. Notice that it says “If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Jesus is talking to those of us who have received the light and then choose to make the things of this world our god instead of Him. The darkness will then be greater in us than those who don’t know Christ because we are a greater target for the devil.
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”
2 Peter 2:20-22
I believe that is how Judas was deceived into betraying Christ. Judas followed Jesus. He was His disciple (pupil), and then designated as an apostle (one sent forth with orders).
When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
I don’t believe Judas intended to betray Jesus. The verse above says that he became a traitor. I believe Judas gave into his greed and it opened the door for the devil to take him captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26).
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.
We can see Judas’ sin of greed when he earlier objected to the woman who poured expensive oil on Jesus.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
When Jesus rebuked him in the following verse, Judas did not take heed and turn from his greed. His greed ultimately led him to use Jesus as opportunity to get more money.
Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Sadly, Judas was like my grandma and filled with remorse for making money his god instead of Jesus.
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.
We praise You for giving us these examples to turn our focus to You and set our minds on the things above, not the perishable things of this word. Help us to put to death anything that we hold onto as god of our lives instead of You. We praise You that You are faithful to help us by Your Holy Spirit in us. We will not live in darkness and allow Satan to take us captive to do his will. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world!
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!
*The “Sin Series” will continue next Monday.