An Appearance of Godliness (Pt 20) – The Judas Moment

Mat 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests (15) and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. (16) And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

“And from that moment…”. Judas of course was an evil man before this. He used to steal money out of the treasury that was meant for the poor. But this little phrase – and from that moment – is fascinating to me. It seems that it was a moment of decision. A kind of point of finality at which Judas made a once and for all choice. A point from which there was no going back.

Mat 27:3-5 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, (4) saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” (5) And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

I have heard ear-tickling preachers claim that Judas repented and we will see him in heaven. That is ridiculous. Repentance became impossible for him at the moment he chose to betray Christ. His fate was sealed.

I have observed something all these years that I have been a pastor. It is a pattern and it has repeated itself quite a number of times in my own experience. It goes like this:

  • A person has a very convincing appearance of godliness.
  • In fact, their Christian profession appears to be quite real. They might even become your very good friend.
  • This state of affairs goes on for quite some time, even for many years.
  • And then, very suddenly, in a flash of a moment, their entire demeanor changes. One day they are your Christian friend and fellow church member, the next they want nothing to do with you and even hate you.
  • They never repent. They never give an explanation. And when you run into them some years down the line, it is as if those past years never existed.
  • If you ever do have opportunity to ask them what happened, they will only give a vague, general answer that will always put blame on you – never on themselves.

So what did happen? I can tell you. They arrived at their Judas moment. A choice had to be made for Christ or for the world. They chose the world.

You see, in order for these people to continue with Christ, to continue to walk with you as you follow Christ, there is a price that must be paid. That is true for any real Christian. To follow Christ we must take up our cross and follow Him, turn out backs on the world, and be willing to pay whatever price Christ requires. So, for example, I have known people whose Judas moment meant:

  • They were going to have to stop associating with evil family members who were pressuring them to cease from this “nonsense of religious extremism.”
  • They were going to have to suffer financial loss.
  • The image they enjoyed presenting to the world, an image which gained them popularity and acclaim, was going to be lost.
  • They realized that if what the Bible says is true, then they themselves or their family and friends were most likely not Christians at all. They were not willing to admit this. (I had one man who had been in our church for 4 years and who claimed to be my friend, literally turn to me and say “I don’t care what you say, my mother is in heaven! I saw her pray once.” I had never said anything directly about his mother, and I had never met her.) This “friend” has hated me from that moment on.
  • They realized that their wicked real self was being exposed and if they were to continue with us they were going to have to confess their sin and repent.

The list of course could go on, but the point I want to emphasize is that just as Judas was brought to a point of ultimate and final decision, so it is with these kind. They have an idol. They have a treasure. They serve another master than Christ. And at the critical and final moment, they are brought to a point of decision.

It turns out then that just like Judas, these people were never Christians at all. They were never our brothers or sisters in the Lord. Their Christianity was a facade. Esau sold his soul for a bowl of oatmeal, and in that moment repentance and salvation became an impossibility for him.

Heb 12:15-17 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; (16) that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. (17) For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.