LESSONS FROM JUDAS ISCARIOT
By Rodney W. Francis
In John’s Gospel 12:4-8 we read of Judas Iscariot displaying a non-caring heart for the poor. The Bible reveals that he was a thief and was stealing money that was not meant for him. It amazes me that someone could be called to walk so close to Jesus, yet could still maintain a sinful, evil heart. It was a very deceptive situation, because none of the other disciples discerned the state of Judas’ heart. They all thought he was fully one of them. Jesus tried to make them aware of the fact that they were not all clean (John 13:10 ). Then in verses 21-30 Jesus spoke more directly that there was a betrayer in their midst. But still the disciples did not know who it was that Jesus was speaking about. In verse 27 we are told clearly that “Satan entered him (Judas)”. Yet the disciples still did not discern the difference in Judas.
What a lesson there is for us in this example. There are many professing Christians today, who, like Judas Iscariot, have wrong motives or are carrying on with deceitful and sinful lives; yet at the same time professing to be fully committed to the cause of Jesus Christ. Some get Leadership positions in a church or Christian ministry, which makes it all the more subtle for other Christians to detect there is a wrong life-style. It is very sad when Christians cannot discern the difference between a righteous life and a sinful life.
This is why it is so important for us to be people who are filled with the Holy Spirit and seeking to allow the Spiritual Gifts to be operating through our lives.
We especially have a great need for the Gift of Discerning of Spirits and the Word of Wisdom in these days (see 1 Corinthians 12 ). God has given us these Gifts (they are in the Holy Spirit Who lives inside of us), and He expects us to use them for His praise, honour and glory.
Over the years I have seen it numbers of times where someone is promoted to a position in their church and community, when the heart and motives have not been right. So many church problems arise when the wrong person is made responsible to lead a department or church. It all looks good to start with, but as time goes on, the true heart manifests itself, people get hurt, confidences betrayed, even families divided and people leave the fellowship to go elsewhere – or nowhere at all.
If these wrongly motivated persons do not come to a place of true repentance before the Lord, they will continue on a path that will take them to self-destruction. The Bible declares: “And be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 ). Judas could not let go of his desire for money to the point that he would steal to get it. That wrong desire caused him to betray Jesusand sell Him for 30 pieces of silver! (Matthew 26:14-16 ). But his sin found him out and his life ended very sadly when he went and committed suicide ~ he hanged himself! (Matthew 27:3-5 ).
Because Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve that Jesus called to walk with Him he would have witnessed the many signs, wonders and miracles that Jesus did. He would have seen the provision of God in the feeding of the thousands of people, etc. yet all the time he harboured a wrongly motivated heart that caused him to be a thief and a deceiver ~ even to his closest friends.
Jesus warned us: “And a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:36 ). While this is speaking very much of our natural families, households, etc., it is also true of those in our spiritual households. Many who are called of God to walk and live the life of faith will have experienced the criticisms, rejections and being told “that’s not God calling you to this or that”, and try and bring you into submission to their will. Those are very hurtful times, because you believe that if anyone should understand the calling and purpose of God on your life, it should be those nearest to you in your spiritual family. Yet often they do not understand (just like the disciples did not understand or discern the wrong motives in Judas Iscariot ~ while that is a negative example, it also applies in the positive when people seek to fully obey God; many do not understand and so criticize our decisions). Jean and I have experienced these hurtful experiences at different times in our lives, and we have had to quickly practice forgiveness, place those people criticizing us on to God’s altar, and receive a spiritual healing as quickly as possible. Jesus told us that we would not go through life without experiencing these times of being offended, etc. (Luke 17:1-4 ). It is part of God’s way of applying the cross and getting us crucified! When we allow these negative, hurtful happenings push us closer in to Jesus, then He uses them to purify us to be more like Him. The end result is that we become more fruitful and effective than we ever were before those negative criticisms and hurts came our way!
Nothing is wasted in God when we allow life’s experiences to push us closer to Jesus.
PRINCIPLES IN LIFE
There are principles in life. Whether one is a true believing Christian, or not a Christian at all, there is a principle which affects all of us: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8 ). The decision is ours. We cannot blame others for our problems.
We do reap what we sow.
Even though Judas Iscariot mixed with the very disciples of Jesus, he continued to sow to the flesh and go after corruptible things. He lived a double life ~ making out he was a follower and believer in Jesus; yet secretly following his own heart and fleshly desires. He reaped what he sowed. His sin found him out! He gave the devil a foothold into his life and became a tragic example that we cannot live with a divided heart ~ making out we are a Christian and yet living after the desires of the world. The Bible is clear that we are either for God, or for the world: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world ~ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life ~ is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17 ).
When we think of the tragic ending of Judas’ life, it makes us realize that it is simply not worth living a double-life and making out to be someone we are not.
He lost everything and is suffering in eternity as a result.
The Christian life has to be one of total openness and honesty before God and men.
No one can hide before God.
It will all come out in the end.
The lesson we learn from Judas Iscariot is that his life was an example to us that we should not copy his deceptive ways and put this world’s lust of riches, etc., before the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Bible warns us: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:9-12 ).
Here we are clearly told that we are to pursue right motives and desires in our relationship and walk with Jesus Christ. It should be done in such a way that people will see and know that we are the “genuine article” ~ true sons and daughters of the Living God through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said (with regards true followers of Jesus Christ): “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3 ). Let us be those open and genuine epistles of Jesus Christ for all to see!