After completing the creation process God saw and declared everything to be very good for neither does He leave anything incomplete nor bad. After the sin of disobedience, the nature of man deteriorated to such an extent that many people appear to be created for evil only. God’s love is not hidden from anyone and He desires that all must know His Son and turn to Him.
What is the real nature of man? – There are two views about the nature of man, first is, that man is by nature good, it is bad laws and customs that suppress him and once these laws are removed, man would have infinite possibilities to show his worth. The second view is that man in his fallen nature has taken on animalistic traits and only controls can bring out something decent in him. It is presumed that man is perpetually striving for power and this only ends at death. They say that the theory of natural selection and struggle for survival makes man, genetically like hawks. God created mankind for both competition and cooperation for God said, ‘it is not good for man to be alone’ (Genesis 2:16). Man would compete for the same resources to grow but can only survive within groups. We are aggressive to strangers while being altruistic toward members of our group. The woman was accepted by Adam as ‘bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ and the two become one (Genesis 2:23-24) but after sin entered their lives, they started blaming each other and the serpent.
‘Spirit of God was hovering over the waters’ and the Hebrew word used here means ‘to flutter, vibrate or hover’ and the vibrations created by the Holy Spirit resonate with the Word of God to bring everything in tune with God. Man being created in the image and likeness of God is about his intelligence, awareness and sense of purpose. It is about being in tune with God for being in unison with God ensures that man would walk in victory over evil for since the tree provided this knowledge, evil had to be pre-existing. This knowledge revealed the inherent power of man to do evil, the ‘yetzer hara’ which is in opposition to ‘yetzer tov’ or the power to do good or be in harmony with God.
God created a universe of order and it is man who changed it into its state of chaos and ‘the land was filled with violence (Genesis 6:13). God finally took it back to the same state of being ‘formless and empty, darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters’. In Genesis 1-2 and 8-9 there is a key word repeated seven times; in the first case the word is ‘good’ while in 8-9 it is ‘covenant’ and the ‘rainbow’ in the cloud was the sign of the covenant. The second is about man being created in the image of God but then God redefines this to say that, ‘whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood will be shed, for in the image of God has God made mankind’ (Genesis 9:6). The difference is conspicuous where earlier it was about ‘I’ being in God’s image but later it is ‘you’ my likely victim to be in God’s image. Earlier it was about human power to rule and dominate but Genesis 9 is about moral limits of that power; I can kill but I must not.
When Lord Jesus chose the twelve disciples, they were to be with Him for three years, the normal period of training of religious leaders at that time. They were then supposed to go and find their own disciples to train. Lord Jesus reinforced the promise of the Old Testament ‘the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:6). We operate in His power and authority with the harmony created by the indwelling Holy Spirit but this harmony has a role for us to remain in tune. Judas Iscariot was the only non-Galilean disciple in the twelve and he was entrusted with the money bag of the ministry of the Lord (John 12:6). But the Lord knew that he was ‘a devil’ (John 6:70). In the Garden of Eden after entrusting all authority and power, God met Adam and Eve daily to lead them to follow their inner instinct of ‘yetzer tov’ to do good and be in tune with Him. In like manner Lord Jesus gave the purse to Judas to help him to overcome ‘yetzer hara’ the desire to do evil.
Abraham was promised by God to give him an heir and to witness the covenant, God asked him to bring a three year old heifer, a three year old female goat, a three year old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon. The animals and not the birds were cut in two and placed opposite the other. At sunset a deep sleep fell over Abraham and God repeated the words of the covenant and in the dark ‘a smoking oven and a burning torch passed between those pieces’ as confirmation of God moving through to confirm the covenant (Genesis 15:1-18). God was and is aware that Abraham and all mankind are unable to stick to their end of the covenant and He walked alone to confirm it. Lord Jesus knew about Judas Iscariot, yet he fulfilled His part of the covenant right till the end. Judas could have sought forgiveness but he did not for he never knew his Lord.
Why Lord Jesus did not check Judas Iscariot? – Lord Jesus at Nazareth synagogue read out the prophesy about Himself from Isaiah 61:1-2 – ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD’ (Luke 4:18-19). The covenant with Abraham was confirmed by God alone walking through the offerings and Lord Jesus walked in fulfillment of this prophesy about His work as a human being. Right in the beginning Lord Jesus had warned that no one can serve two masters, God and money, for you will love one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24).
Covenant law is a moral law which is a rule of conduct as compared to a scientific law which is about regularities in the nature, though both are established by God. It is not about me but about others for they are also created in the image of God for ‘Have we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us?’ (Malachi 2:10). Thus from a group now it is about universal brotherhood. God recognized that we are not by nature good and He promised, ‘I will never curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth’ (Genesis 8:21). The first emotion of man after the desire to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was fear. Fear lies just beneath the surface and is the first emotion to crop up leading us to aggression without time for thinking.
Lord Jesus did what He preached, no love for money and total dependence on God the Father and Judas was taught with others to follow this. The miracles performed by the Lord were all about His obedience and dependence on the Father in heaven. The training of disciples was not about removing the temptation but to overcome that and Lord Jesus prayed to the Father in heaven about our being retained in this world while protecting us from the ‘evil one’ (John 17:15). The model prayer given to us by the Lord is also about seeking God’s help to escape the devil. While eating His last meal with the disciples, Lord Jesus told them, ‘One of you will betray Me? And each of them began to say to Him, ‘Lord, is it I?’ (Matthew 26:21-22). Nobody except the Lord could discern the real Judas and everyone felt concern himself, for we are all morally corrupt.
Evident is the infinite patience of Lord Jesus’ love, for despite knowing what will happen, Judas also received the same love from the Master all along. Calling all the disciples friends, Lord Jesus confirmed that He had made known to them all things that He had heard from His Father. Further He took the onus of choice on Himself saying, ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you’ (John 15:15-16). After having fixed a signal, Judas Iscariot ‘went up to Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, Rabbi’ and kissed Him (Mark 14:44-45) but Lord Jesus still called him ‘friend’ (Matthew 26:50). Our Lord told the disciples, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father’ and His gentleness is the long-suffering of God and His tenderness is the love of God (John 14:9). Sin cannot stop God from loving us and the teaching of the Lord is to love your enemies and to bless those who curse you, ‘That you may be sons of your Father in heaven, for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’ (Matthew 5:44-45). On the cross He prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified Him.
God has given the Holy Bible as a guide book for our life and just as Adam and Eve were not stopped, God does not desire forced submission but surrender from the heart. God wants to rule our heart, mind, soul and strength and all the teaching was always in the open and not in secret (Luke 10:27). Judas Iscariot was well aware of all this and yet he chose a different path and allowed the devil to rule him. Like Judas we also retain the Creator’s image in us but are also prone to the devil’s temptations. Who do we choose to serve is our choice!
Why did Lord Jesus not pray for Judas also to save him? – It is a basic teaching of the Scripture that you cannot serve God and mammon both (Matthew 6:24). And this is reinforcement of the very first of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses ‘You shall have no other gods before Me’ (Exodus 20:3). Money became god for Judas Iscariot and he lost out and God was betrayed by him.
How can we know we are serving this false god? – Some of the very apparent symptoms are being always worried and filled with anxiety over money; money mismanagement due to greed; consistent lack and despair, ‘I don’t have enough’ attitude; I can’t afford it mentality; impulsive buying of things, just because it is available or there is a discount on it; stinginess and greed; bondage to debt; over emphasis on money and less honor to God. God’s warning is ‘You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, this whole nation’ for the Israelites had stopped bringing offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem (Malachi 3:9). Apostle Paul warned his disciple Timothy, ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness’ (1 Timothy 6:10).
Without being aware of our going astray we may succumb to such a low point that our whole being may become totally different. The great artist Leonardo Da Vinci has painted the great masterpiece ‘The Last Supper’. Legend has it that he would first pray for guidance, develop a likely face to represent a disciple and then start roaming the streets to look for that person. The painting was almost completed and the last person to be painted was Judas Iscariot. He kept searching for the right person with hardness of facial features but could not find the right person, forcing him to shelve the project for a time. After 11 years, suddenly one day in the street, he found the right person with the facial features and demeanor that he had been looking for and requested him to sit in for the painting. On the second day that person suddenly started crying and on being asked for the reason, he revealed that he was the same person who had posed for the portrait of Lord Jesus in the same painting some 12-13 years back. Sinful living changes us internally as well as in our appearance and behavior.
Both desires of ‘Yetzer hara’ and ‘yetzer tov’ are present in us and whatever option we choose decides our path in life. Lord Jesus is our intercessor in heaven but if we refuse to accept His help by depending on anything else, He cannot and will not do anything. God created man in His image and likeness and we are inherently good but our uncontrolled desires lead us away from God. Just as Cain was warned by God, we also always face the same situation that ‘sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you, but you should rule over it’ (Genesis 4:7). We have the capability to rule in the power of the Holy Spirit and little effort on our part will succeed!
Washed by the blood of the Savior Lord we have been justified before God the Father but the indwelling Holy Spirit leads us onto the path of holiness through the process of ongoing sanctification. This is God’s part and our part is to resist the ‘roaring lion’ in the power of the same Holy Spirit and force the devil to flee from us. God is fully aware of our inherent weakness and is always ready to forgive our occasional stumbling and genuine repentance and efforts to change. But are we also ready?