The Devil Amongst Us – Lessons From John 6

last_supper_restored_da_vinci“’Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?’” (John 6:68-70, NASB).

This declaration by Jesus spoken at the end of a lengthy John Chapter 6 may, at first, seem ambiguous. But, given the events of this chapter, Jesus’ response to Peter’s question is quite revealing. So, let’s do a quick recap of John 6 to see why Jesus would tell Peter that He chose a devil to be one of His disciples.

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Waiting for Grace – Isaiah 30:18

alone-with-god“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him” (Isaiah 30:18, NASB).

Notice the amazing logic of grace that is explained in this verse:

  1. God’s people have forsaken Him for a false salvation (vs. 1–17).
  2. God is gracious to them, but He waits for just the right time to extend His grace.
  3. Because He is the God of justice, He knows the perfect way to achieve his purpose and  the perfect time to take action.
  4. Then, those who wait on God to extend His grace and mercy will certainly receive it and be restored.

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Genuine Faith – I Peter 1:6-7

faithprize“There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.” (I Peter 1:6-7, NLT).

As Christians we talk a lot about faith and we profess to have faith. But, in this passage the Apostle Peter says that until our faith is put to the test by the trials of life, it is not genuine faith!

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God’s Merit Badges – Job 36:15

“God rescues the afflicted by their affliction; He instructs them by their torment” (Job 36:15, HCSB).

In the story of Job, Elihu was the fourth and last to speak from among Job’s friends. Elihu was younger than the others and waited to speak, giving deference to the older men.

Though younger, Elihu believed he was speaking God’s truth in confronting Job, but he claimed neither human superiority nor inferiority to Job.

Elihu had listened carefully to Job’s claims of being pure and innocent and being unjustly oppressed by God.

And Elihu reminded Job that as a human being, he was not in a position to bring accusations against God, his Creator.

Elihu declared to Job that instead of being a sign of God’s unconcern as Job had supposed, affliction was a mark of God’s mercy, keeping one from the path of iniquity.

In other words, the very thing that afflicts you may also be what saves you.

God can use your affliction to rescue and restore you to Him and His will. Your affliction can spiritually develop you into a human being that is prepared for spending eternity with God!

Admittedly, affliction is not my first choice for spiritual growth. In fact, I like to avoid affliction as much as possible. So, I often recite from the Lord’s prayer the supplication that Jesus teaches us to pray for protection from affliction: “And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, HCSB).

Indeed, our affliction may sometimes be one way that God deals with issues in our lives that could potentially cause us to be unfaithful. But this verse does not say that God afflicts us, but that He rescues and restores us through our affliction. (Remember, it was Satan that afflicted Job; it was Satan that tested Job, not God.)

Because affliction causes us to throw ourselves on God’s mercy!

That which causes my pain and suffering is also that which can restore me to intimacy with God.
     That which causes me to give up and quit is also that which empowers me to endure and persevere.

So what we perceive to be our problem is actually the solution to our problem!

In fact, our affliction may even prevent evil or temptation from overtaking or overcoming us: “Be careful that you do not turn to iniquity, for that is why you have been tested by affliction” (vs. 21).

When I was a boy, I joined the boy scouts. In scouting you earn merit badges for demonstrating a useful skill or a good behavior. By earning merit badges, a scout may advance in rank. Advancement in rank acknowledges the scout’s growing ability to serve others better.

Our afflictions are God’s merit badges. They are designed to empower us to become more obedient and productive as Jesus’s disciples.

“Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons.” (Hebrews 12:7, HCSB)

In Training for Eternity – Hebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

The Hebrews writer uses the metaphor of running a race to describe the life of faith.

Referring to the many examples of faith the writer identified in the previous chapter, he now advances the discussion to the matter of faithfulness–faith that endures.

Runners wear light clothing because any extra weight hinders them when they compete. Sin can “weigh” a person down who is running the race of life. But the Hebrews writer tells us how to shed the weight of sin from our life of faith: stay focused on Jesus.

Jesus is like a racing champion because He has already lived, died, and been resurrected. He sets the pace for the race we are running.

When we do, He sends us a personal trainer for our faith, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit trains us by perfecting our faith so that we will finish the race.

This life is a training ground for eternity. When you keep your focus on Jesus, then God can train and discipline you in a way that strengthens your endurance and makes you more like Him.

“But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:10-11, NLT).

Who Is a True Christian? – Hebrews 3:14

“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Whether you believe that Christians who are once saved are always saved or if you believe that Christians can fall away, the sober warning in this passage should be taken seriously by Christians of both views. Being a Christian means you have resolved to be faithful to God no matter what happens in your life—it is a lifetime resolution. When a Christian experiences the ups and downs of life and remains faithful to God, it builds a confidence and assurance that one does, in fact, share in the eternal life of Christ. Because being a Christian doesn’t always come easy, this verse provides a grave warning to everyone who claims to be saved to examine yourself carefully to be sure that you have the fortitude and resolve to persevere in your faith in Christ. Never mind trying to figure out who is a true believer and who is not; build up your own endurance because you belong to Christ if you hold fast your confidence to the end (vs. 5, 14).