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The Great Pretender – a blog post

March 16, 2018

Judas Iscariot is arguably the boldest cautionary tale in recorded history. One who was chosen by Christ to be an apostle, yet could never get past his own agenda. One who saw the miracles, yet never truly believed. One who heard all of the teaching of Christ, yet was not transformed by the Gospel.

A true believer certainly could not have been such a willing participant in a plot to murder Jesus. A true believer certainly would have valued Jesus’ life at more than 25 bucks.

I call this a cautionary tale, because I believe that, sitting in our worship centers every week, are people who are religious but have no relationship with Christ. They may have walked an aisle at some point, may even be serving in the church in some capacity, but there is no fruit,  no real Gospel engagement, no burden for souls, and no depth.

In the spring of 1984, as a high school junior, I was sitting in a revival service in my home church. At the altar call time, our Music and Youth Minister went forward, laid his head on the shoulder of the pastor, and sobbed. When they invitation was concluded, the pastor announced to the congregation that this man had confessed that, though he had walked an aisle as a kid, professed a call to ministry and had been serving the church for several years, that he had never truly repented of his sins and trusted Christ for his life. He grew up in a pastor’s home as well. It was a short time later that Ken shared with the congregation that he felt the call to pastor. It was only short time later that he went in view of a call to pastor a church, a church he still pastors 34 years later.

Ken went from religion to relationship, and now bears much fruit.

The primary issue with Judas was the same issue Ken had. Judas was not truly a believer.  We see this evidenced in Scripture with phrases like “Then Satan entered Judas” (Luke 22:3), and “After Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him,” (John 13:27a). Satan could not possess a true believer. Judas was active in his religiosity, held a position in the ministry, and was perceived to be one of the true believers by most, but he wasn’t.

When he realized what he had done in betraying Christ, he felt great remorse. He tried to undo what he did – tried to give the 30 pieces of silver back, but it was too late. The guilt overtook him and he ended up taking his own life.

Continuing the idea of the cautionary tale, here are 5 realities in Judas’ life that we should try and avoid:

  1. Close but not connected – He was in the “club”, but not a part of the family. He didn’t have the true brotherhood that would have come in true fellowship.
  2. Remorseful but not repentant – He obviously felt terrible for what he had done, but he never repented of his sin. No repentance = no relationship.
  3. Flame but no fire – there was religious activity in his life, but no fire of the Holy Spirit. No power, no inner direction.
  4. Protest but no production – Judas protested the idea that he would betray Christ “Surely not I, Lord” (Matthew 26:25), but ended up doing just that.
  5. Heritage but no legacy – Judas’ name means “praised one” and scholars believe his parents were likely believers. However, Judas had to own his own faith.

Though God used Judas to complete the Gospel, one can’t help but see how Judas’ life could have had a completely different outcome if he had just believed IN Jesus.

  • Romans 10:9, If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
  • John 3:16, For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

The sum of our lives will be what we’ve done about and with Jesus. It will not be about our circumstances, but our Savior. The answer for life’s question is Jesus.

Blessed,

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

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