“From my earliest Christian years I’ve heard questions about Jesus’ comment concerning Judas Iscariot:
“Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70).
What did Jesus mean? Was Judas genetically a devil and not a man? (Jesus didn’t say Judas had a devil; He said he was a devil). Can a devil actually live among people as a human? While I am no scholar in ancient Greek, I think truth is better served reading the literal translation of this verse. The word translated as “devil,” diabolos, is the same word translated elsewhere in the New Testament as “slanderer” or “malicious gossip” (see 1 Timothy. 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3).
When Jesus says that Judas is a devil, He is saying one of you is a “false accuser,” a “slanderer,” a “malicious gossip.” Judas could not keep his negative perspective to himself.
Remember, just before Judas delivered Jesus to the Pharisees, he was offended that Jesus allowed a expensive ointment to be poured upon His hair. Judas indignantly complained: “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?” (John 12:5). His words spread strife among the other apostles as well (Matthew 26:8).
Judas said, in effect, Who permitted this thoughtless luxury? Well, it was Jesus. The woman had anointed Him for His burial. Yet, to Judas this was an extravagance that Jesus shouldn’t have taken. In the angry mind of Judas Iscariot, here was justification to go to the chief priests. He had grounds to break ranks with Christ (Matthew 26:14-15).
God Has a Problem with Grumblers
Betrayal is never a sudden thing; rather, it is an accumulative response to the unresolved anger and disappointment one feels toward another. The offenses we do not transfer to God in surrendered prayer inevitably decay and become a venom we transfer to others through gossip. In the process, we embrace slander, but we feel justified. We become malicious gossips, but in our minds we’re only communicating a “truth,” a character flaw, that we self-righteously “discerned.”
To understand Judas’ betrayal of Christ, we must unearth its source: Judas Iscariot was a grumbler. When we lose sight of the many things for which we should be thankful, we become murmurers and complainers, increasingly darkened by a thought-life engendered by hell.
Beware when your anger toward another Christian has led you to gossip about him or her, especially if you are embittered and are now sowing criticisms about him to others. Yes, beware: you are no longer being conformed to Christ, but are actually becoming more like Judas than Jesus.
The Thankful Heart
Personally, I’ve declared war on grumbling. An unthankful heart is an enemy to God’s will. Can you join me in this? Can you crucify a murmuring spirit? We have received too much from God to allow ourselves opportunities for ingratitude and unbelief! We have received too many gifts and privileges to allow grumbling to disqualify us from our destiny.
The thankful heart sees the best part of every situation. It sees problems and weaknesses as opportunities to grow. My prayer is for each of us to possess the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. I want to drive that little, ugly, grumbling demon away from our hearts and replace it with a living awareness of the goodness of God!
“Nor let us . . grumble, as [Israel] did, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:9-10).
The “destroyer” (called Abaddon in the Hebrew and Apollyon in the Greek) is actually the prince over the bottomless pit of hell (see Revelations. 9). Listen well: the moment we open ourselves to grumbling, we simultaneously open up to destruction.
Thus, Paul tells us to fix our minds on the things above (Colossians 3:1). Elsewhere he says,
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable . . . is right, whatever is pure . . . lovely . . . of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Remember, Paul was writing to people in the ancient Roman world. It was full of evil, full of injustice, full of reasons to grumble and be upset; but instead, God calls His people to a higher realm, where we dwell on the things that are above.
You say, “Who then will point out all the things that are wrong with life?”
Oh, there are plenty of volunteers for that task. Better to ask, “How can I attain the blessed life Jesus came to give me?”
You say, “But the world is wicked. We need to decry and defeat evil.” Yes, and I totally agree. I often decry evil myself. But I must live and offer a better life if I am going to defeat evil. God doesn’t want His people to be grumbling about the difficult conditions of existence. He wants us to be mercy-motivated, redemption-orientated, prayer-empowered ambassadors of Heaven.
If we are merely complaining about what’s wrong with the people around us, we should beware: we may actually be more like followers of Judas rather than Jesus.
Read: Acts 9:1-31
Do you know someone with a hostile attitude toward God? It can be hard to imagine such a person accepting the Lord’s salvation, but no one is beyond the reach of our loving heavenly Father.
Saul of Tarsus is a perfect example. This self-righteous Pharisee was so confident of his obedience to God’s Law that he couldn’t see his need for a Savior. His goal was to get rid of Christians, but God had other plans for his life. Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light and confronted him about his persecution of the church. Saul repented, placed his trust in the Savior, and spent the rest of his life spreading the good news that salvation comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Conviction of sin is an uncomfortable but important step for a life of faith. Before we can understand our need for a Savior, we must recognize the hopelessness of our sinful condition. Then we can repent and receive the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.
Like Paul, we are saved only because God reached down to rescue us. And He will never leave or forsake us but is always present to mold us into Christlikeness.
Hebrews 13:5 “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”