Thursday, April 13, 2017

So Close, But So Far Away

I’ve often thought what it would have been like to have been one of the twelve
disciples who spent three years on earth with Jesus in His humanity. For three years these men were with Him day and night. They saw His face, heard His voice, and the words He said. They heard and saw much that we are not privy to today.

“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

To me, the one disciple that jumps off the page is Judas, revealed at the end of Jesus’ ministry to be a false disciple. Nevertheless, one wonders how anyone could spend three years with Jesus, day and night, shoulder to shoulder and miss the mark. He didn’t just miss the mark, he became a traitor to someone he spent three years with in close proximity, to someone who loved him and would give him eternal life if he believed, to someone who never did anything to him, to someone who proved during those three years that He is God in the flesh. However, Judas chose to succumb to Satan.

Satan tried to draw Peter away from Jesus by luring him to dispute Jesus’ words (Mark 8:31-32). Jesus rebuked Peter by saying (in verse 33), “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Jesus warned Peter in Luke 22:31 that Satan desired him that he may sift him as wheat. In verse 32 Jesus told Peter He was praying for him that his faith does not fail, and when he is converted to strengthen his brethren.

In Luke 9:46-56; 22:24 and other Scripture passages, we see that the disciples had a problem with their pride. Each was vying for title of being the greatest.

Let us remember that Jesus was also tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1-13), but never sinned. Also, Peter reminds us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Back to Judas, we see in Scripture passages like Mark 8:33; Luke 22:3; John 6:70; and 13:2, 27 that Judas was listening to Satan and obviously preferred Satan’s message to Christ’s. We know also from John that Judas was a thief (John 12:6).

So Judas, this man who spent three years with God in the flesh (Jesus) on earth, night and day, is now seen lying on a bunch of rocks with his guts spilled out on the ground. A broken rope dangles from a tree above; a thief, a traitor and a murderer who now resides in hell, because he never believed in Jesus as his Savior.
This son of perdition was Satan’s man of the hour and now he resides with his father.

There will be another man in the future who will also be the man of the hour for Satan. He shares many names with his father. Just a few of those names are; Antichrist (1 John 2:22), man of sin and son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:8), the beast (Revelation 11:7), little horn (Daniel 7:8), and the prince that shall come (Daniel 9:26). These two men (Judas and the Antichrist) are unlike any other in that Satan consumes their very being.

Since Satan can be in only one place at a time, most of mankind never deals with Satan directly, but those fallen angels of Heaven who followed him in his rebellion, work diligently on his behalf.

When Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8), we can be sure that Satan’s angelic followers are working as his proxy to drag as many to hell as possible.

So perhaps we see more clearly why so many are drawn to hell by Satan’s lies even though they may have had Christian parents, or been raised in the church and heard sermon after sermon about their need for Jesus Christ. Satan’s lies are very deceptive and very enticing. Judas found out, and so will the future Antichrist.

Why is it that this country began and was founded on a strong Christian foundation, but today is spewing out nothing but the vilest sins against God that could be imagined? Why is it that one generation was raised in the pew, and the next has no interest in God? Paul had the answer.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Mankind has one great weakness that Satan relies on. We generally won’t accept what we can’t see. We live in a physical world, and most are entirely unaware of the spirit world that wrestles for our souls.

In this country especially, availability in knowing about Jesus is all around us. There are true Christians in many families. There are churches on most street corners (some who are still faithful to Jesus). There are books, magazines, and Christian movies. Even in prisons, Bibles are available. The anti-God force has had much success in pushing anything to do with Jesus out the door, but despite that, the opportunity to know Jesus is often very close by. Many lost souls are so close, but yet so far away from knowing the Truth. That’s why it is so important for those of us who know Jesus as Savior and Lord to be His witness in a fallen world.

Those in Jesus day saw His miracles, heard Him speak and saw the sinless life He led, but most still did not come to Him to be saved. They were close to the Truth, but still so far away.

Even though the knowledge of God is not as near as it once was due to Supreme Court legislation, Jesus is still near to any who will reach out to Him. Only a cold heart will keep Him far away.

Grant Phillips