180. THE UNBELIEF OF JUDAS ISCARIOT
(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)
The reason, in my view, why Judas Iscariot was lost and went to hell was not just because he had sinned by betraying Jesus and thereafter, committed suicide. It was because he NEVER believed that Jesus Christ was Lord, although he had had the opportunity to be around him frequently, to see the miracles that he worked and to witness his one-of-a-kind wisdom. This unbelief is what was at the core and led to him committing the other sins, including the betrayal of the Lord and suicide.
Throughout his whole life, it is clear, in my view, that he NEVER believed on the Son of God and who he said he was. Before he was selected by Jesus to be one of his disciples, while he walked with Jesus as one of his disciples and even after he had betrayed him therefore, he continued on in unbelief. He was therefore condemned because of this unbelief.
John 3:18 states: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
We tend to look at what Judas did (which was horrible), as the reason why the Lord Jesus referred to him as “lost”, “the son of perdition” and why he went to hell. However, as horrible as what he did was, the reason why he went to hell, in my view was because he had a heart of unbelief and therefore, died outside of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is why I believe, in John 13:10-11, Jesus said to Peter, in relation to the twelve disciples: “…ye are clean, but not all.” The scripture further states “For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.”
In this Article, I will attempt to show persuasively from the Word, that Judas never believed that Jesus Christ was truly the Messiah and therefore Lord over all and that even up to the point where he ended his own life because his conscience pricked him for what he had done, he still did not believe and so, went to his grave not believing.
THE PROOF THAT JUDAS DID NOT BELIEVE THAT JESUS WAS LORD
1. He was habitually doing wrong by stealing, without ever being remorseful.
He was stealing from the bag that was used to store funds, which was to be used by Jesus and his disciples. This was a bag that was entrusted into his hands so he was a Treasurer and trustee of the funds. Yet, he habitually exploited such trust by privately taking funds out of the bag for his own personal purposes. He did not do this in one moment of weakness and temptation but kept doing it on an ongoing basis without any conviction of wrongdoing or discomfort in his spirit and absolutely no repentance.
This is not possible for a true believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, to continue doing wrong without being convicted of his sin.
2. His words revealed that he did not consider Jesus to be of much worth.
As if stealing from the bag was not bad enough, he had the audacity to get upset when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a very expensive pound of ointment. Because he did not believe that Jesus was the Son of the true and living God, the one who had created him and therefore, one to whom the best of our sacrifices would still not be enough, he obviously thought that Mary had wasted the ointment, by pouring it on a mere mortal man, who, in his view was not God and not equal to God.
Furthermore, he esteemed his own selfish ambitions and sense of importance as being of more worth than the worth of Jesus (which he obviously did not think was much). In lamenting over what the lady had done and the money that was lost as a result, he thought regrettably to himself, how he could have derived money for himself from the sale of that ointment, if only it had been entrusted into his hands and the proceeds placed into the money bag which he kept.
The Bible states in John 12:3-6:
- “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”
Every true believer (even the backslider) knows, that as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus is to be highly valued as he is of countless worth. Every true believer knows that there is nothing we could do or give in this life that would be valuable enough to equate to the value of Christ. Judas however, saw little or no value in Christ and therefore thought Mary’s actions to be a complete waste.
3. Jesus was not on the throne of his heart. Self was.
All that Judas was concerned about was how he could benefit. Everything else and everyone else was irrelevant. All he considered was what was in it for him. In his heart, Jesus was not Lord. He was. He was not therefore Jesus-focused but self-focused. He was so self-important, that he dared to be upset over not being able to benefit through theft, from the price of oil that was not even his own.
John 12:3-6 states:
- Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”
Every true believer knows that to follow Jesus, we must deny SELF, take up our cross and follow him. Like John the Baptist declared, he (Jesus) must increase and we must decrease and every true believer aims for this to be a reality each day, in his life. Judas however was only about one thing and this took priority above all else: Himself. He therefore saw situations as an opportunity to benefit himSELF, lamenting when such opportunity was lost.
4. For his own selfish reason or reasons, he chose to exercise deception by pretending to follow Jesus from the very beginning and to be committed to his cause, when he could have just been honest and walked away, as others had done.
Although he obviously never truly believed that Jesus was the Messiah and therefore Lord, he did not object when Jesus included him in the twelve disciples he handpicked.
He could have simply been honest and informed Jesus then, that he did not believe that he was the Messiah as he claimed to be and declined the invitation to serve as one of his disciples. That would have certainly been the honest thing to do. Why sign up for something that you do not believe in and pretend to be committed to a cause that you have no regard for?
In fact, there were others who were previously walking with Jesus and when he said something that they found too difficult to accept, the Bible states that they chose to walk away from him. That was their prerogative and it was Judas’ as well. However, he decided from inception, to accept Jesus’ call, although he knew full well, that he did not believe that Jesus was who he said he was.
If Jesus was an imposter as Judas obviously thought, then why align yourself with him, unless for some sinister motive? Worse yet, he continued with this charade up until the night when he openly betrayed Jesus, without ever coming to conversion, despite all that he had experienced in his walk with Jesus.
It is therefore safe to say, in my view, that it appeared that he had ulterior, self-serving and wickedly calculated motives from inception. Maybe he saw this as a way to obtain what he considered to be easy money or to appear before others as being special because he was walking with a man that did such awesome miracles or perhaps he deluded himself into thinking that Jesus might work a miracle and create lots of money, that he could benefit from. Whatever his motives, we know that he did not believe that Jesus was the Son of the true and living God and therefore, they were self-serving.
John 6:53-71 states:
- “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
- But there are some of you that BELIEVE NOT. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. FROM THAT TIME MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES WENT BACK, AND WALKED NO MORE WITH HIM. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.”
5. He genuinely believed that he had hoodwinked Jesus from beginning to end and that Jesus did not know of all of his actions, thoughts and motives.
Judas’ actions from beginning up to the point where he betrayed Christ with a kiss, shows that he did not believe that he was Lord. For, had he believed that, he would have known from the beginning, that Jesus could read his selfish motives for accepting his invitation to be one of his disciples. In fact, had he believed, he would not have had such selfish, evil motives to begin with.
Furthermore, throughout his walk with Jesus, had he truly believed that Jesus was Lord, he would have known that Jesus, as the all-knowing, omniscient God, would have known that he was not sincere. That alone would have caused him to be uncomfortable and to confess his wrong and repent, so that he could become a true follower of Christ. However, this never happened.
Had he truly believed that Jesus was Lord and all-knowing, he would not have dared to steal money from the bag, not one time, much less over and over again, as he would have known that Jesus would have seen him EVERY time he stole. Even after he stole, if he truly believed that Jesus had seen him, he would have come to him and confessed and repented for what he had done, putting away the evil practice. Yet, he did not.
Had he truly believed, he would not have gone in secret to the enemies of Jesus with a plan to sell him to them, as he would have known that Jesus would have seen his every move and heard his every word and known his every thought and could frustrate and bring to nought his diabolical purpose.
Nevertheless, all of Judas’ actions highlighted the fact that he thought that he was in control and had succeeded in deceiving not just the other disciples but Jesus himself, over and over again. He thought he had succeeded, even when Jesus made mention that one of the twelve would betray him and even when Jesus frankly told him right before he left to do so on the night that he was betrayed, that whatever he was about to do, to do quickly.
He thought he had succeeded in all of this because he did not believe that Jesus was who he said he was and therefore, by default, he must have believed that Jesus was either a con-artist who was also in the deception business like him or mad. At best, he may have figured that he was a Prophet with limited knowledge like other human beings and therefore that this may have accounted for his ability to do miracles but he certainly did not believe that he was Lord.
For, he genuinely believed that Jesus had not a clue as to all of the wickedness he was up to and he took confidence in the fact that he was a good actor.
A true believer knows that, given that Jesus Christ is God the Son, that he is not only omnipotent but omniscient (knows everything) and omnipresent (able to be everywhere at the same time). Whe he or she sins therefore, he or she knows that Jesus saw it as everything is naked and open in his sight.
Hebrews 4:13 states: “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
6. His betrayal of Jesus for financial gain was not a spontaneous act in a moment of human weakness but one that he diabolically plotted, meditated on and planned to perfection for some time, so as to devise the best possible opportunity to carry it out.
This was not a big deal to him as he did not consider himself to be betraying the Lord of the Universe, the one who created him and the world because he did not believe that he was Lord.
His eventual betrayal was therefore not a spontaneous act. It was one that he wanted to do because of the payoff that would come. He therefore willingly (and uninvited), approached the enemies of Jesus and presented his idea to them, hoping that they would agree to it.
This alone shows the extent of his unbelief. He was not tempted with a payoff like Delilah, who was minding her own business when she was approached by Samson’s enemies and promised payment if she betrayed Samson to them. He took it upon himself to go to the enemies of Jesus and raise the idea of selling out Jesus for money, to them. He saw Jesus as nothing more than a ticket to get rich!
When the enemies of Jesus agreed to the deal, he negotiated the payoff for the human trafficking of Christ. On the night that he betrayed Jesus, he left the gathering where Jesus was with his disciples and deliberately set out to go meet with the enemies of Jesus, so as to execute and complete the plan that was his brainchild (not theirs), so that he could get his hands on that money.
Given that Jesus and his disciples left the location where Judas had last seen them before he went out from them, either of two things transpired, both of which cast Judas in a very wicked and unrepentant light. These are as follows:-
- POSSIBILITY 1: When he and the enemies of Jesus got to where Jesus had been with the disciples, they were not there but Judas was still not deterred. He was determined to complete the mission although he was not under any duress to do so. He then deliberately used his knowledge of the practices of Jesus and the disciples (since he had spent so much time in their company), to locate where they had gone to and he guided the enemies of Jesus there. There was ample opportunity therefore for Judas to change his mind, for example: (1) When Jesus said that one of the disciples was a devil, (2) when Jesus said that one of his disciples would betray him, (3) when Jesus told him that what he had to do, to do it quickly and (4) when he led the enemies of Jesus to the location where he had been and saw that he and the disciples were not there. Nonetheless, he was hell-bent (no pun intended) on carrying out the betrayal, without any conviction, remorse or repentance, so he went to the second location where he had knowledge that Jesus would be. OR
- POSSIBILITY 2: Although Judas left the disciples and Jesus at one location when he went out because Jesus clearly operated with a pattern in terms of places he visited and times, Judas knew before hand that by the time he had met with the enemies of Jesus and they were on their way to take him, that Jesus and his disciples would not be where he had left them. He knew where to go to directly therefore, due to his intimate knowledge of his operations. He did not know that these patterns were deliberately set by Jesus, so as to make it easy for him to be captured, taken and then crucified, which was the plan of heaven.
John 18:1-3 states:
- “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.”
A true believer may do wrong occasionally but he will always be convicted of the wrong that he has done or is engaged in, which will lead him to humbly come to God in repentance and to ask for forgiveness for his wrong. He cannot continue to do evil, over and over again without any remorse or sorrow for that wrong and be completely fine with this.
Despite all that time that Judas spent around Jesus (who was the light) and him witnessing first hand, the miracles that he worked (such as was never seen before), his heart was hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and so he remained in darkness and unbelief.
The case of those mentioned in John 12:35 and 37, also applied to Judas therefore. In John 12:35, Jesus stated unto the people:
- “…Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not wither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of the light…”
In verse 37 though, it states:
- “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him…Therefore they could not believe because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”
7. When it was time to complete the deal he had hatched, he openly stood with the enemies of Jesus without shame or remorse.
Although he pretended from the day he was handpicked by Jesus, to the day he betrayed him, that he was a believer and therefore one of his faithful followers, at the point of betrayal, when the enemies of the Lord Jesus stood in unison against the Lord, Judas no longer hid who he really was and to whom he really had pledged allegiance. He stood openly, boldly and brazenly with them, not by coercion, manipulation or threats but by choice.
Matthew 26:47 states, that on the night that Jesus was betrayed and as he was speaking to other disciples: “…lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.”
Judas did not therefore select an option where he could betray Jesus secretly and shamefacedly or else he may have chosen to lead the men to Jesus by discreet, surreptitious means, whereby he could ensure that Jesus was identified without Jesus and the other disciples seeing him openly supporting their enemies. He could have alternatively agreed to point out Jesus by standing at some distance from him (shamefacedly) and pointing to him, so that the men would know who he was.
However, without an ounce of remorse and feeling absolutely no guilt or shame, Judas did not just stand boldly on the side of the enemy in the presence of Jesus and his other disciples. He also had informed those enemies, that he would identify Jesus by going up to him and kissing him, although he knew that according to their culture, the kiss back then was meant to convey friendship, love and faithfulness.
Matthew 26:48-49 states:“Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.”
Judas obviously did not care about how Jesus would feel or his disciples. He had only one thing on his mind, which was to secure the pay-out he was promised, once he delivered his end of the bargain.
While I am sure that Jesus would have looked at him with pain in his eyes, Judas looked at him with dollar signs in his. He had only pretended and hid long enough to get what he wanted and now that the deal was complete, it was pay-day time. He had no qualms, no shame, no shyness about openly showing who he was, what he supported and where his allegiance lay.
This is so true of many false teachers, pastors and prophets today. They use the name of Jesus to advance their own selves, agenda, popularity, name, prestige and bank account and once they have what they want or are on the way to obtaining what they want according to the lusts of their hearts, they openly show who they truly are and stand unashamedly on the side of the enemies of Jesus.
Once again, a person who truly believes that Jesus is Lord, would not use him, sell him out or disregard him for financial mileage or to promote his own agenda and then stand without repentance and without shame, on the side of the Lord’s enemies, when that mission is complete or about to be complete.
8. Judas may have confessed Jesus as Lord with his mouth but his heart was never convinced of it.
It is highly likely that throughout the time that Judas pretended to walk with Jesus, that he would have called him ‘Lord’, even as the other disciples did. After all, he did not want to stand out. He needed to be perceived as fitting in.
In fact, when he openly betrayed Jesus by going up to him and boldly planting a kiss on his face, he referred him as ‘master’. However because he never truly believed on the Lord Jesus (as all of his actions to that point had overwhelmingly revealed), his words of confession were just that: mere words. They did not and could not lead to cleansing, healing and conversion because he did not truly surrender his heart to the Lord.
Since both believing from the heart that Jesus is who he said he is and confessing him as Lord are precursors to salvation, Judas was therefore, even up to the point where he betrayed Jesus, not saved. Romans 10:10 clearly states that: “… with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
It took a heart that did not believe to act so wickedly and consistently, without remorse and repentance.
Although Judas had been afforded many opportunities to change his mind therefore, he never did because he did not want to. He clearly placed zero value on Jesus, who he did not really believe was Lord and high value on amassing riches, so much so, that a trade-off, to him, seemed to be the logical conclusion to his charade and the sensible, business-minded thing to do.
For, if you have an item that you consider to be worth nothing but people keep pandering that they want it, to the business-minded and money-loving person, the logical thing to do is to sell it to the highest bidder and that is exactly what Judas did. It is what false teachers, prophets, speakers and pastors who have absolutely no relationship with Jesus and think of him as worthless, do today.
Thirty pieces of silver, which was the negotiated price, seems now like not much money but I imagine, it would have been a whole lot of money back then. Make no mistake, it was a transaction that Judas hatched to make himself rich. It was certainly enough to purchase land (which it was eventually used for after Judas died) and land is not cheap.
9. His situation was clearly different from that of Peter and Thomas, whose faith Jesus restored.
It wasn’t an issue where Judas struggled to believe on Jesus or had believed at one point but then doubted like Thomas did, when the other disciples had testified that they had seen Jesus, after he had risen from the dead. It wasn’t an issue where, like Peter, he had believed but in a moment of fear for his safety, denied Jesus.
In both of these situations involving Thomas and Peter, God showed mercy and Jesus restored the faith of these men. In the case of Judas though, he had NEVER believed the truth but had pretended from the beginning. There was therefore, no struggle within to believe (like Thomas) or remorse for something he had done faithlessly upon impulse (like Peter).
Given that he never believed that Jesus was Lord, when the betrayal was done, there was nothing to restore.
10. He died without ever truly believing that Jesus was the Christ.
From the point that Judas became one of the Lord’s disciples and up to the point where he betrayed the Lord, he did not believe that he was Lord and this did not suddenly change after the Lord was taken to be crucified.
Given that due to his unbelief, he had acted wickedly and betrayed the Son of God, he had secured his condemnation to hell and I believe that his conscience began to prick him, not because he suddenly believed that Jesus was Lord but because the devil, who had full access and control to him, tormented him.
The guilt that Judas felt in the aftermath and before he killed himself in despair, does not appear, in my view, to have had anything to do with him coming to the realization that the Jesus he had just betrayed was Lord. He did not appear to have had a moment of epiphany with the hardness of his heart suddenly being rolled away and belief pouring in like a flood.
No. His guilt appeared to only be about the fact that he knew, from his experience with Jesus, that this man, who had healed many and done so much good in the world, had done nothing worthy of death.
He must have known that those who wanted him dead only wished to do so due to jealousy and their sense of power being undermined. In light of all this, it appears to me, that Judas repented of his wicked involvement in the act that led to the capture of Jesus and that would lead to his crucifixion but it was not a repentance unto salvation as is experienced by a sinner, who believes on the Lordship of Jesus Christ and wishes to come to him in order to be saved.
While he repented of his involvement in the capture of Jesus, he did not however, repent of all of his sins and such repentance does not appear to have been motivated by a sudden realization, that this man who he had just sold out was the Christ. He sensed that he was in trouble, that he had done something very, very bad and was convinced that he now stood condemned for it. For, it appears that the devil made sure to drive home these points to his mind AFTER he had done what he had done, so that he would not have a moment’s peace. However, there is no evidence that Judas finally believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah and the Son of the true and living God.
This is why, in my view, Judas did not say ‘I have betrayed the Messiah or ‘I have betrayed the Christ’ or ‘I have betrayed the Lord’. He simply stated, “I have betrayed the innocent blood…”
Matthew 27:3-4 states:
- “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood…”
Finally and to further reinforce my point, if Judas had suddenly believed that Jesus was Lord and if he had genuinely repented, not only because he had betrayed the innocent blood but of all of his sins committed from the time he was born, to date, before God, then he would not have committed suicide.
Suicide is an act that loudly declares to the world, that the person who did it, felt helpless and beyond hope. It clearly shows therefore, that Judas did not place his hope and trust in the Lord, as a sinner does when he repents of his sins, asks for forgiveness and thereafter receives peace in his soul that those sins are settled.
If he believed that Jesus Christ was Lord, then he would have known that Jesus, although now captured was omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful) and with this knowledge, I believe that he would have cried out to him right then and there (although he was not physically around), knowing that he could still hear him, letting him know that he was sorry for what he had done and for all of his sins, that he believed that he was Lord and to please forgive him of all of his sins. Had he done that, the outcome may have been different. For the Bible states that whoever comes to the Lord, he will in no wise cast him out (John 6:37).
Also, when men of God in the Bible felt down and depressed, they did not take their lives, even when they knew that they had displeased God or they felt discouraged by what had transpired.
For example, Elijah was weary of his life when Jezebel was searching for him to kill him and asked the Lord to take it from him but he did not kill himself.
David was depressed after he had sinned with Bathsheba and the baby that was born from that union became terminally ill. However, in his depression, he fasted and I am sure, prayed to God, in the hope that he would change his mind. He also repented for the sin he had committed.
On another occasion, when David listened to the idea which was planted in his mind by satan, to conduct a census of Israel, when he was confronted afterward for his sin because God was not pleased, he did not kill himself but repented of what he had done and thereafter, accepted God’s punishment.
When Peter denied Christ three times and realized that he had done so, he was so depressed that the Bible states he wept bitterly. However, he did not commit suicide.
These men who believed on the Lord, did not take their lives in their low seasons and when they had failed God terribly because genuine belief means that they understood that their lives were not their own but belonged to God who gave it and therefore, it was his prerogative and his alone, to take it, whenever HE pleased. This was irrespective of how they may have failed him or how low and bad they felt. They also knew that there is always an opportunity to repent before God and to be restored when one sins, not to lose all hope and wallow in despair.
Yet because Judas still did not believe in the Lord and that he had the power to forgive sins, he did not turn to the Lord for forgiveness after the betrayal. His act was one whereby he demonstrated that he still felt that he was in control of his life and could therefore take it. His reasoning was also clearly clouded, as if he had truly believed on the Lord Jesus, he would have known that committing suicide would have only ushered him into eternity more quickly, to face the wrath of the true and living God.
In the final analysis, he listened to the devil’s voice and in obedience to this, took his own life.
(Written on 7th September, 2018)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be informative, edifying, interesting or beneficial, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 242 – ‘What Is Repentance?’