There are those, even among Christ’s followers, that are worse than any one can imagine them to be, and lack nothing but opportunity to show it.” (Matthew Henry)
Matthew Henry, that great preacher and Bible Commentator of old, made this statement as he was commenting on Judas’ betrayal of Christ as set out in Matthew 26. I suppose that one reason the Lord included the details of Judas’ betrayal in Scripture was to educate us not to be naive. Judas! And the rest of the disciples, that inner circle of the 12, were shocked when Jesus told them one of them would betray Him.
Over the years I have spent many, many days – years of time in fact – in what I thought were friendships with other genuine Christians, only to have time eventually prove me wrong. The disguises can be ingenious and not until, as Matthew Henry puts it, the Judas’ among us are afforded an opportunity to betray the Lord they claimed to serve, will we see their real character. Some test, some opportunity, some allure of the world or some temptation comes and these children of the devil go the way of their real master.
Is there any local church that can be certain that no Judas resides among them? I know of no such place that can have such misguided and foolish confidence. Each one of us personally, in fact, are commanded by the Lord to examine ourselves to be sure that we are in the faith and not counterfeits.
While Peter was no Judas, nevertheless even he denied Christ and he did so three times, even after Jesus warned him of the upcoming tempting trial. Peter couldn’t believe he would ever do such a thing, and yet he did. But the Lord prayed for him and he was restored. If then we must be on guard regarding our own sin, surely it should be no unbelievable thing that there may well be, and probably is, some Judas in our fellowships.
Knowing all of this then, we must ask this question – How is it that pastors and church members find it so unbelievable when one of their members or deacons or other church officer turns out to be a wicked abuser of his/her spouse? Why do they typically respond in denial of the thing?
I suggest that not only must we not deny it, we must expect it. And that is precisely what our Lord has warned us to do.