“City Worker Stole $100K”
“Con Man Offered 19 Excuses As To Why He Couldn’t Pay Back Investments”
“Ex-Teacher Guilty of Sex Charge”
Most of us would look at these current headlines in shock, maybe even with what we might think of as righteous indignation, and wonder how a person can sink so low as to commit these crimes. But sin doesn't take over a life overnight. It’s a process of giving in to temptations, justifying the acts and deceiving one’s own heart. And none of us are immune to it.
If we were in Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago, we might see this headline in the local paper:
“Judas Iscariot Betrays ‘King of the Jews’”
“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests. And he said to them, ‘What will you give me, and I will betray Him to you?’ And they appointed to him thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” (Matthew 26:14-16)
Why did he do it? Why would Judas betray this man--this friend whom he walked with for 3 years, who taught him, who trusted him, who had just knelt before him and washed his feet--for a mere 30 pieces of silver, the wages of a slave?
I think we find the answer in John, chapter 12.
Many are gathered in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus where a dinner was being given in honor of their friend, Jesus. Mary had just unsealed the lid of a very expensive jar of perfume and had washed the feet of the Guest of Honor with it, wiping them with her own hair.
Judas said, “’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.” John 12:4-6.
Instead of confessing to Jesus that he had given in to the temptation to steal from the money bag, Judas gave in to the temptation time after time, letting greed take over. And in 3 short years, Judas’ love of himself and of money became more important to him than any love he would have had for Jesus. And at some point evil took over as satan, the enemy of Jesus, entered into Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:3), carrying out the betrayal through him. And by the time Judas' conscience caught up with him, it was too late. He had handed over the Son of God to His death.
(Yes, Jesus' death was planned for by God all along; yes, it is by His death that we are saved from our sins and are given eternal life, but I wouldn't want to be the one who betrayed Him, would you?)
Once again, instead of confessing his guilt to the one Man who would have forgiven him, Judas confessed to the chief priests and the elders who couldn’t have cared less. Guilt consumed him and he hung himself.
All of us are faced with the temptation to sin every day. Being tempted is not a sin; even Jesus was tempted, but He remained sinless. It's when we've given thought to the temptation, however brief, and choose to submit to it that we've sinned.
In the beginning, it may seem as harmless as taking a few coins here and there from a money bag, or looking at a picture on the internet every now and then that we know we shouldn’t, or flirting with that co-worker. If we continue to deceive ourselves, thinking it's no big deal, or we can handle it, we may look back someday and realize we've made the biggest mistake of our lives.
Whatever your temptation is, before it gives birth to sin and the consequences are more than you ever wanted to pay, confess it to the one Man who can and will forgive you, the God Who can help you, the Lord Who loves you--Jesus Christ.