“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.” (John 16:1)
Scripture Reading – Matthew 26:47-75
The gospel is God’s power to destroy the works of Satan. Satan masterfully manipulates the nations from age to age by creating new deceptions. Different political and economic systems give the appearance of independence from God yet all of these deceptions result in the same thing: They keep the nations from returning to God and worshipping Him. When the gospel comes, the nations are confronted with the reality that they are not God and that their devices are but a mere vapor. The true power to change the world is found in Christ. His death and resurrection have won the victory. And the amazing truth of this is that this power is in each one of us as we abide in Christ, and we go out into the world to proclaim Jesus Christ is Lord. Through our testimony, the nations will be brought to Christ.
Satan knows that he has lost. He tried to derail Christ’s mission but failed when Christ rose from the dead and ascended to His eternal throne. As a result,Satan has now shifted his strategy to attack the messenger in order to prevent the spread of the gospel. The tools in his arsenal are varied. Satan tempts us to sin so our words are discredited and we’re disqualified to run this race. He also pressures us to live in fear and shame so that we will not proclaim the gospel.
Jesus warned His disciples that they are under the threat of failing. On the this night after Judas departed and Jesus finished announcing His imminent arrest and death, Peter began to boast that, even though everyone else deserted Jesus, he never would. In response to Peter’s boasting, Jesus informed the disciples of the spiritual warfare going on to discredit their witness and render them fruitless. Jesus said to Peter, “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus knew that Satan would shift his attacks towards the disciples and that these attacks would result in some of them falling away. The Apostle Paul, from his prison cell while awaiting death, would write to Timothy, “all who are in Asia turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). The Apostle Paul recognized that Timothy, too, might fall away. Satan continues to attack disciples in hopes that he can keep many from hearing the gospel and believing in Christ.
The gospel records the events that happened before and after the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane. Judas departs into darkness as he goes to sell Jesus, Jesus is arrested, and the disciples flee from Him, leaving Jesus alone in chains. Then the gospel recounts Jesus’ faithful and bold testimony during His interrogation by Caiaphas, the High Priest. And, finally, we read of Peter’s denial of Christ. The contrast could not be clearer. Judas betrayed, Peter denied, and the disciples fled, but Jesus stood firm in His testimony. What differentiates us from the actions of Judas, Peter, and Jesus? It’s abiding. Jesus is God incarnate; therefore, God’s power was fully in Him. Judas was not a believer, so there was no life flowing through him. Peter, on the other hand, would only bear fruit as he humbled himself and abided in Christ. Christ prayed for Peter so that his faith would not fail. Christ also prays for our faith in the midst of Satan’s attacks.
Satan’s attacks are real and powerful. We cannot withstand them apart from the life of Christ working in us. That’s why abiding in Christ is so important. Abiding in Christ is not a slogan to be repeated, but it’s our source of strength in fulfilling our calling as disciples. As you live out your calling to make disciples of all peoples, stay connected to Christ, and abide in Him so you won’t fall away. Don’t give Satan a foothold in your heart. Instead, fill your heart with love for Christ, and let Him dwell richly in you (Col. 3:16). Are you in danger of falling away?