“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
I feel the truth of this statement like a sinking stone in the pit of my stomach.
I know I am a follower of Christ.
I know I have repented of my sins and trusted in Jesus’ finished payment on the cross to reconcile me to God the Father.
But I also know I am a great sinner.
While I can’t undo Christ’s payment for my sin, I feel the blackness and wickedness of my old self oozing out, threatening to infect and reclaim my new heart for itself.
There are dozens of warnings in the Bible telling us to keep watch over our hearts because they are prone to go astray. While I do not believe that people can lose their salvation (Christ keeps all whom the Father gives to him), if we let our hearts wander too far, for too long, we may find that we never truly repented and believed in the first place. This is a startling and sobering thought.
Judas was a follower of Christ, one of the twelve closest to be exact. He willingly listened to Jesus’ teachings, ministered and performed miracles in Jesus’ name, dined and prayed with him, and held an important role in his service as treasurer.
And yet in John 13:2 we read these words:
“During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him (Jesus ) . . .“
How could one who had walked so intimately with Jesus now turn on him?
If I let myself continue in sin, how do I know that I, too, am not a Judas?
Not only are our hearts deceitful, they are fertile plots of soil for seed sowing.
The word translated put in verse two is a form of the Greek word ballo which literally means “to throw”, “to cast”, or “to scatter”. The idea here is of sowing—taking a handful of seeds and scattering them onto the ground. Satan cast seeds of evil suggestion into Judas’s heart. Judas willingly acted upon it.
It is not temptation itself that is the sin, nor is the tempter to blame for causing us to sin. We choose it ourselves.
As J.C. Ryle puts it, “The sin of man consists in opening his heart to the suggestion, giving it a place, and letting it sink down.” Satan may cast the seed, but we let the seed settle down and find a warm, moist place in our heart’s soil.
Once there, it is allowed to germinate then be nourished and fed by the wickedness that already exists in our hearts. Then once it has sprouted, desire has given birth to sin. It begins to poke its spindly little tendrils down into our hearts to take root, grasping onto it and claiming it as its home.
The roots sink deeper and deeper. As they become more established, it becomes harder to remove them because they have such a firm grip! Then, once sin has fully grown, it brings forth death (James 1:15).
This is how someone becomes a Judas.
This is how I could become a Judas if I am not keeping watch over my heart.
I am not so naive as to think that it could never be me.
It is no wonder that the Bible warns us, “Anyone who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12), and “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1b).
I am not saying I cannot have assurance of salvation, but having assurance doesn’t equal being lazy or lackadaisical about sin.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”.
Likewise, Proverbs 4:26 instructs, “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure”.
God commands us to be aware of how we walk. He commands us to be watchful and alert, like a security guard or a soldier guarding the perimeter. Yet we are not merely guarding a bank or a city; we are guarding the very thing from which life itself flows. Our hearts are eternally more important than anything of earthly value!
Do you think Judas was keeping watch over his heart? Or did he think he was safe?
The Bible says that on Judgment Day, many people will honestly think that they lived as followers of Christ, saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” (Matthew 7:22).
All of the things Judas did.
And yet Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).
Those are the worst words that anyone could ever hear.
I don’t want to hear the Lord say those words to me on the last day.
I must take seriously the exhortation found in 2 Corinthians 13:5 that says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves”.
I must remember that there were three types of soil that didn’t believe, and only one that did (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Two of the three unbelieving soils even showed signs of growth and endured for a while, but ultimately proved to be shriveled stalks.
I must remember to be diligent in the following five areas:
#2 Sitting under the regular preaching of the Word
#3 Remembering that I will reap what I sow
#4 Remembering that If I am not careful and continue to sow to my flesh, I will reap corruption
#5 Remembering that if I sow to the Spirit, I will reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-9)
I must keep watch over my heart, lest I become a Judas. My friend, keep watch over your own heart, lest you too should become a Judas.