One of the worst, most insidious, heresies to plague the modern church is that demonic doctrine misnamed Eternal Security. Nothing has tempted and consumed more spiritually immature Christians than the lukewarm, legalistic heresies that claim the church in it’s infinite wisdom and power can countermand God’s written judgment against the unrepentant. And the single most deceptive of these is the false teaching that God will eternally overlook the habitual, post-conversion rebellion and sin of an authentic Christian.
This false teaching holds that most cardinal sins are simply childish errors, once you have become One of the Elect. And it claims that the only real sin is doubting that you are secured. You said the magic words, experienced the initiation, now you have a free ticket to live in licentiousness and the worst that can happen is God will take your toys away. And all of this happens against the backdrop of a world in torment that will see eternal damnation for simply failing to say and never doubt those aforementioned magic words, sometime in childhood, after receiving the official indoctrination. And anyone who tries to show you otherwise is treated with, at best, the condescending status of weaker brother.
Just to give context, the criticisms of Judas Iscariot were few and minor all through Jesus ministry. He is mentioned marginally more than Andrew, Thomas, the other Judas, etc. He healed the sick, preached the gospel, was chosen by Jesus and sent out to recruit disciples. We see this in the fact that Judas isn’t singled out as an exception whenever Jesus collectively sends his disciples to do these works. It seems quite likely that Judas was one of the seventy right alongside the other eleven Apostles. All this is evident in the text, and my text for this musing is, all four gospels in their entirety.
We often view Judas’ betrayal as greater than that of the other apostles and the rebellious present-day believer, because he received money for his betrayal. But, Peter was called enemy or Satan for his blase’ denial of the coming crucifixion and for tempting Jesus to avoid his mission. Peter joined in with those calling for the crucifixion, denied Christ three times, and cursed Jesus name with profanity. The other ten faded into the woodwork and failed to have faith in Jesus power to save them, just like Judas.
So why aren’t there epistles of Judas? Why isn’t he still one of the apostles? Why aren’t the other apostles in their own place. Is it because his regret wasn’t genuine? The man tried to return the silver. He was as sorry for his sin as Peter. His problem was that he took that sin unto to death into death with him. He never turned back to the risen Christ and let the blood cover his sin. He never truly tried to make amends for his crime and he didn’t live with the knowledge of his guilt until opportunity for reconciliation was available. He tried to move-on in the only way his guilt ridden conscience could conceive.
What Peter, Thomas, Andrew and the rest did differently was they turned back. They returned to some semblance of their normal life and tried to cope while waiting opportunity to make amends. They met and they grieved. And, when Jesus made an appearance, they confessed their guilt and returned to obedience. But imagine with me. What if Peter had continued to deny Christ. What if he joined with Stephen’s killer and began to hunt the believers? Not only would he not have been the leader on the day the Spirit fell, fifty days after Passover, on Shavuot the feast of weeks. He would have been as damned as Judas.
Judas was a true believer, and authentic apostle, and he found damnation. If you strive for it you too can seek and find damnation after becoming an authentic Christian. But why would you do such a monstrously self destructive thing?