Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

Have you ever wondered what kind of a person Judas Iscariot was or have you brushed him aside as a “misfit” and/or “loser”?

Actually, a study of Judas Iscariot is not only interesting but it can serve as a gauge by which to check our own attitudes and walk with Christ. It may surprise you to know that the “Judas spirit” is still alive and well within Christian circles today. In this brief article I hope to outline some of the characteristics of the “Judas spirit”.

In Matthew 10 we read that Jesus called His twelve disciples. It is interesting to note that Judas’ name is listed last. In this portion of scripture we see that Jesus “…gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease.” Judas, who obviously made the decision to accept Christ’s invitation to be a disciple (student) was also given power to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils…” vs. 8a. He was given “equal opportunity” with the other disciples. Jesus even entrusted the moneybag to Judas, knowing full well that Judas justified stealing.

How many Christians today would decline if offered, directly from the lips of Jesus, instant power to cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead AND oversee the offerings? In it all, Judas saw a golden opportunity to become a “somebody”. We know he never truly had a heart to help the poor and needy, even though he gave lip service to it. Judas had his own agenda and his own cause, which blinded him to the reality of who Christ was. This is an important fact to consider. The moment we refuse to allow our own perception or frame of reference to be challenged by the Word of God, at that point our course is set to walk in the darkness of our own vain imagination.

Like so many people today, the promise of a “big ministry” and “big money” fed Judas’ prideful image. In other words, he saw certain personal advantages and benefits when initially called by Jesus. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul who wrote to Timothy, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” 1 Timothy 6:10. I am sure Judas felt he somehow deserved to “dip” into the moneybag. Perhaps he justified his actions by reminding himself of what he had left to follow Jesus. Or perhaps his high opinion of himself (now that he was “in the ministry”) gave him the excuse he needed to justify his actions. Obviously, his darkened heart despised the poor as so many wealthy “Christians” have done down through the centuries. Let’s face it, most religious people today would far rather support a “big” name or a “big” church than get into the trenches with small, unknown ministries who are truly of God!

Judas had three-and-a-half years with the sinless Son of God. Time to come to the knowledge of Jesus’ true identity—time to search his own heart and repent. But nowhere do we read of Judas ever coming to grips with the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh–that Jesus was indeed the way, the truth and the life. Obviously Judas’s idea of what the Messiah should accomplish for Israel was based on his own religious standards and images. Yet, Jesus publicly stated His purpose in Luke 4:18, 19.

One can wonder how a man could be so blind, so deluded—yet this kind of destructive delusion continues around the world to this very hour. Daily we receive heart-wrenching emails from devastated Christians who write of loved ones, family and friends who have walked straight into the abyss of spiritual darkness. And every one of these lost souls is totally convinced that what they are doing is “right”—that it is of “God”. Yet, the fruit of the Spirit is missing in their lives! You will not find genuine love or concern for others within the Body of Christ but you will find a mesmerized type of obsession with their leader. Obviously, this entails powerful soul ties and control that the deluded followers define as “love”. Judas Iscariot may have been “religious” according to his own standards, but he displayed no love for God, his fellow disciples, the needy, the women who continually ministered to Jesus or even to Jesus Himself.

Joy, the second fruit of the Spirit, is a deep, abiding joy within the heart of every born-again Christian. This joy is not to be acquainted with the shallow, fleeting, worldly happiness that so many seek today. Those who have been caught up in error, a cult or delusion have lost the joy of the Lord. Have you ever noticed that people who are under the wrong spirit are intense, rigid, strict (legalistic), judgmental and joyless? There is a vast difference between the sobriety that the Word of God admonishes us to have and the “seriousness” of those who do not have the joy of the Lord. Judas represents joyless people who are ungrateful and who have a critical eye.

Peace is another indicator of the presence of the Holy Spirit. People who operate under another spirit, such as Judas, lack the “peace that passes all understanding.” At this time we live in a neighborhood that is predominately inhabited by members of a well-known cult. While these people keep up their houses and yards and all other outward appearances, they are without a doubt the most uptight, stressed out people you could meet. Loveless, joyless and lacking real peace they tenaciously cling to their godless leaders, false prophets and dead beliefs. What a tragedy!

As we consider the remaining fruit of longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance we see that the fruit of the Spirit is indeed of the SPIRIT. The fruit of the Spirit is a description of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. It only follows that the lives of true believers, who are adopted into the family of God, will produce the fruit of the Spirit as well. No one who is under another spirit, or who has accepted another Jesus or believed another Gospel will produce the true fruit of the Spirit.

Another problem Judas had is that he felt superior. This feeling of superiority is common among those who believe that they are the “only ones” who have the truth. It goes without saying that “Superior” Christians are prideful and lack godly love as well as the other fruit of the Spirit. This allows them to become judge, jury and executioner of any or all who disagree with them. Judas was no exception as he carried out his plan to betray Christ with a kiss.

To me, the most telling scripture concerning Judas Iscariot is found in John 12:4-6. This is where we find the beautiful story of Mary, who took “…a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.” Judas gave himself away when he complained, publicly, that the ointment could have been sold for much and given to the poor. Under the guise of “religious generosity” he rebuked Mary directly, and Christ indirectly, for “wasting” money. Then Jesus, in front of everyone, said this: “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

Think about it! How would you feel if Jesus, in front of your co-workers and friends, soundly rebukedyou? Judas’ “good guy” image had been shattered; his pride and selfish motives exposed. On top of this, Jesus had accepted and approved of the ministry of a woman! Rather than humbling himself and repenting, Judas’ anger, jealousy, resentment and pride dictated that this was the “last straw”. Scripture reveals that after this incident Judas sought to betray Him.

Afterwards, when Judas had betrayed Christ and saw that Jesus was condemned, he “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” Matthew 27:3,4. Notice that Judas did not say, “I have betrayed the Son of God.” Nor did Judas repent godly repentance but rather worldly repentance, which gave him no hope (2 Corinthians 7:10). Judas never appreciated and accepted the fruit of the Spirit—he didn’t respect it in Jesus’ life; neither did he desire it for his own life.

How does one, who has followed the Lord for years, deteriorate to the place where he or she is able to betray Him? The answer is relationship. It is possible for people to be involved in ministry, talk the talk, play the game, look the look, but never humble themselves at the feet of Jesus in true repentance and surrender to His Lordship. A relationship with Christ can only come as we confess Him as Lord and give up all of our rights to ourselves TO JESUS–not to a leader, a creed, a doctrine, a cause, a set of do’s and don’ts, a religious movement or a church.

A person with a “Judas spirit” will eventually turn against and betray the true Christ (and His followers) because they have never come to know Him through the process of giving up their right to themselves. The “Judas spirit” can only submit to a god of his or her own making—a god who satisfies unregenerate religious perceptions, concepts, images and ideas.

Jesus said to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-5, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

May this simple essay be a solemn reminder to all of us that we need to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith—asking God to reveal to us our hearts and motivations. As Peter wrote, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:1-2).

May God richly bless you for your faithful love, prayers and support without which it would be impossible for us to continue the Lord’s work. Amen.