by Mike Ratliff
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48 ESV)
When the dogs and swine come to harass and distract it is not pleasant, but I can bear it. However, when someone approaches this ministry as if a friend only to be discovered later to be a deceiver, it is a difficult pill to swallow. When one breaks the bread of the Word of God with us then turns on us it is a hard thing to bear. Why? Deceitfulness is as the word suggests, it is the process of deception, for whatever purpose, that causes trusts to be broken and fills us with anguish and grief.
Think of our Lord on the night prior to His crucifixion. God has given Him over to the authority of evil men, but before this no one had authority over Him in any way. Now the wicked men who sought His life have been enabled by God to arrest, try, and execute Him. Even though this was the will of God and the very reason our Lord was born, it still took the deceit of one man to betray Him in order for this to happen. Of course that man was one of our Lord’s own disciples, Judas Iscariot. Judas used a kiss on our Lord’s cheek as a signal that He was the one to be arrested by the mob.
The kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Let me be on my guard when the world puts on a loving face, for it will, if possible, betray me as it did my Master, with a kiss. Whenever a man is about to stab religion, he usually professes very great reverence for it. Let me beware of the sleek-faced hypocrisy which is armour-bearer to heresy and infidelity. Knowing the deceivableness of unrighteousness, let me be wise as a serpent to detect and avoid the designs of the enemy. The young man, void of understanding, was led astray by the kiss of the strange woman: may my soul be so graciously instructed all this day, that “the much fair speech” of the world may have no effect upon me. Holy Spirit, let me not, a poor frail son of man, be betrayed with a kiss!
But what if I should be guilty of the same accursed sin as Judas, that son of perdition? I have been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus; I am a member of His visible Church; I sit at the communion table: all these are so many kisses of my lips. AM I sincere in them? If not, I am a base traitor. Do I live in the world as carelessly as others do, and yet make a profession of being a follower of Jesus? Then I must expose religion to ridicule, and lead men to speak evil of the holy name by which I am called. Surely if I act thus inconsistently I am a Judas, and it were better for me that I had never been born. Dare I hope that I am clear in this matter? Then, O Lord, keep me so. O Lord, make me sincere and true. Preserve me from every false way. Never let me betray my Saviour. I do love Thee, Jesus, and though I often grieve Thee, yet I would desire to abide faithful even unto death. O God, forbid that I should be a high-soaring professor, and then fall at last into the lake of fire, because I betrayed my Master with a kiss. – C.H. Spurgeon from Morning by Morning
My brethren, are you a Judas? Are you living in such a way that it brings shame upon the Lord? Are you so in love with the World, entertainment, possessions, fleshly things, that it dominates your days? Do you give our Lord and His death on the cross any consideration before you pursue those things that only gratifies self and your flesh? You may be in the camp, but you may also not be of it. Your are one who is great danger of hearing the Lord tell you, “Depart from me for I never knew you!”
To those who may perchance read this who preach cheap grace, shame on you. Why? You are of those who lead people into believing they are Christians who have never been born again. If you do not preach the real gospel including the Law of God to break men’s hearts over their sin and helplessness to save themselves without God’s grace then how can they repent and be saved? Christianity that is devoid of repentance is some other religion. It is not genuine Christianity. These professing believers, being unregenerate, attempt to live the Christian life, but they have no ability to do so because they have not the Holy Spirit, nor has their faith been quickened via God’s grace. All you have created are religious people who believe they can be Christians while living any way they want. Since they can’t repent, you teach them that repentance isn’t necessary. Shame on you, you workers of iniquity!
Christian leaders who operate like this, all man-focused and power-hungry, prove that each of them is no better than Judas. They betray their Lord with their false gospel and false religion. They compound their sin by creating flesh oriented churches that are built around their personalities instead of being centered on God and His Sovereignty. They may not experience the shame of their sins here and now, but they will have to stand before their Lord some day and it will be a very frightening thing for them.
How can we not be a Judas? It all starts with God. When we believe that it is all about us then we will not live with God as the focus. This must change. We must repent of this and God will help us, His children, to mature and grow in grace to become Spirit-filled as we saturate our lives with His Word, obey Him in all things, and submit to others in humility and meekness. When our hearts become servant hearts like our Lords, it does not mean that the Father stops the pruning. No, we must abide in the vine (our Lord Jesus Christ) as the Father (the vinedresser) prunes us so that we will be fruitful in the Kingdom. Notice those who are fruitful in God’s Kingdom abide in the vine and are pruned. They obey God and honor His Word. They do not change His Word in order to line up with someone’s fleshly notions of relevance.
Do you want your ministry to honor God and bring Him glory? Do you want to be used by Him in ways you could never image? If so, then obey Him, expound the Word of God exegetically, never eisgetically. Shun being a man-pleaser and those who are. Forget listening to men. Instead, listen to God and obey Him. We do this by immersing our lives in His Word and spending as much time as possible in prayer. Those who do this will find themselves in the center of God’s will. Their churches may not be as large as that “relevant” church across town, but those in their flocks are being fed God’s truth. In this, God is glorified, the sheep are being discipled, and the leaders that God is using this way are laying up treasure in Heaven where it really counts.
Any other way to minister besides this is how one who should know better become a Judas. Do you betray the Son of Man with a Kiss?