Monday, March 29, 2010

Sinister entry

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 22:1-23

TO CHEW ON: “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains how he might betray Him to them. Luke 22:3-4

How chilling those words, “Then Satan entered Judas…” How sobering their continuation, “… (Judas) Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.” If a member of Jesus’ closest circle was not immune to Satan’s entrance how all the more must we be vigilant against it.

The tendency is to think of Satan’s entering and controlling someone as a bizarre paranormal thing, evidenced by spooky behaviors  or a cursed, sickly life. But I believe it can be a lot subtler than that.

We need only think of our “besetting sin.” Do we struggle with anger, or find ourselves often covering our tracks with deceit, or letting bitterness cloud our outlook? There is a section in Ephesians 4 which mentions specific sins Holy Spirit-controlled followers of Jesus are to “put away.” These are common, run-of-the-mill sins that we all have no doubt been caught in at some time or other: lying, anger, stealing, corrupt talk, bitterness, wrath, clamor, evil speaking with malice. Right in the middle of that list (immediately after the reference to anger) are these words: “nor give place to the devil.” Doesn’t this warning imply that we are at risk of giving Satan entrance when we cultivate these behaviors and attitudes?

How tiny it starts as the devil squeezes into that sliver-thin crack of our dissatisfaction, takes more territory as we augment our complaints with imaginings, then cements them in us when we voice them to others (compounding our sin as we influence them to join us on this destructive path). How big it eventually ends. In Judas’s case he betrayed his best friend. It earned him the very woe of Jesus.

We do well to follow Peter’s warning: "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

PRAYER: Dear God, I want no one but You in my life. Please sensitize my “spiritual antennae” to the presence of anything that would give Satan opportunity or entrance into my life. Amen.

MORE: What happened in Judas’ mind and heart to make him regret what he’d done? Once the betrayal was accomplished, did the devil’s strong influence leave him? Or had he rationalized that his action would force Jesus’ hand to reveal Himself as king and when that didn’t happen, he realized the immensity and gravity of what he’d done? What do you think?

“Judas Returns the Money” (1886-1894) by James Tissot


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