The spirit of Judas Iscariot

The spirit of Judas Iscariot

Robert Wurtz


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


Before the abominable betrayal of our Lord as He exited the Garden of Gethsemane, the name Judas was a respected and honored name. It comes from the Hebrew Ioudas from the root Yehudah, meaning “celebrated” or “praised.” Iscariot likely refers to the town he was from. In the first century, AD, Judas was a common name that no parent hesitated to call their son. But after Judas Iscariot treacherously betrayed the innocent blood of the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver and a kiss on the cheek, the name Judas has been synonymous with a traitor (Luke 6:16). The word betray is a common Greek word paradidomi that means “to hand over.”


Because Judas was a common name in the time of Jesus, the New Testament writers went to great lengths to clarify who they were writing about, lest we mistake that person for the traitor. They attached a distinguishing epithet to the name to identify him to be another person. It is always either “Judas the brother of James” (Acts 1:13), “Judas, not Iscariot” (John 14:22), “Judas who was surnamed Barsabbas” (Acts 15:22), or “Judas the Galilean” (Acts 5:37).”


The Character of Judas


Understand that when I say “the spirit of Judas Iscariot,” I do not mean that his spirit is walking the earth or that there is necessarily a demon spirit after that name. I’m defining “spirit” as those qualities that form the definitive or typical elements of a person’s character and attitude. Judas Iscariot was a thief who loved the god of Mammon and despised Jesus Christ (Luke 16:13). When Satan entered Judas, the saying was proven that the thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). 


In the end, we discover that Judas would do anything for money and occasionally stole from the coin purse that he and the disciples shared with our Lord to pay for their needs (John 12:6). In modern times, we call it embezzling funds. What a selfish and treacherous thing to do! A person like Judas Iscariot routinely does unconscionable things and seemingly gets by with them — emboldening them to do worse things until they finally commit unfathomable evil. 


The Trappings of Money


Judas was called and commissioned by the Lord Jesus and would have preached the Gospel, healed the sick, and cast out devils with the rest (Luke 9:1-2). There was great potential for him, but he made the fatal mistake of disregarding the very message he heard and preached (Matthew 7:26). He was a hearer, not a doer of the word (James 1:23-25).


Jesus counseled the disciples about the trappings of material wealth and reserved some of His strongest warnings for selfish and greedy people (Luke 16:13, Luke 12:18-21, Luke 18:25, Luke 16:19-31). He told them plainly that they could not serve God and Mammon (materialism and money), but this never stopped Judas from repeatedly attempting it.


Gospel Hardened


People who are of the spirit of Judas Iscariot are Gospel-hardened (John 12:40). They read the words of Jesus and don’t apply them to themselves (Romans 2:21). Judas fussed over wastefulness — such as when the sister of Lazarus poured the costly ointment on Jesus’ feet and wiped it with her hair, not because he cared about the needy but because he was a thief (Mark 14:5). “It could have been sold,” exclaimed Judas. He elevated money over more precious things, such as acts of worship. Judas could have invented the phrase “the almighty dollar” because he elevated money even above the Almighty.


What makes Judas particularly evil is that he betrayed the Lord Jesus after receiving so much good from Him. Judas disregarded the words of Jesus and ended up coming under the control of the Devil himself. The scripture says that Satan entered Judas and presumably possessed him (Luke 22:3, John 13:27). Whoever heard of such evil? That must be the most frightening thing that has ever happened to a human being. He became the son of Perdition (John 17:12). The man was the poster child for the saying,” Sin will take you farther than you want to go and keep you longer than you plan to stay.” He wasn’t demon-possessed; he was Satan-possessed.


Blind to His Condition


I must emphasize that Judas Iscariot and others like him are blind to their own condition (John 9:39). Pride, arrogance, rebellion, envy, jealousy, hatred, greed, and many other sinful personality traits sear the conscience (1 Timothy 4:2). The sins that a person practices deceive them into believing they are a privileged character and can get by with almost anything they do (Romans 2:4-6). Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve and behaved as though he was above God’s law —when in reality, his calling elevated his responsibility and accountability before God (Luke 12:48, James 3:1 ESV). To whom much is given, much is required. Judas Iscariot ignored this fact.  


If Judas had known that his secret sin would someday lead to the Lord saying, “Good for that man had he not been born” (Matthew 26:24), he may have repented long before the sin controlled his life. His remorse came too late—it came after he had already accomplished the Devil’s will and betrayed the only innocent man to live and die in this world. Jesus did everything to see this man repent and even referred to him as a “friend” (Matthew 26:50). But Judas kept playing with sin until it finally brought him to unprecedented disgrace, regret, and ruin.


Risking Your Soul


People who are of Judas Iscariot’s “spirit” risk their everlasting souls for some temporal pleasure—while rubbing elbows with people who are legitimate children of God. Most of the time, people around them know they are vile, but nobody ever confronts them (1 Samual 25:17). Even sinners knew what type of man Judas Iscariot was because they dealt with him in business and were probably put off regularly by his greedy ways (Proverbs 20:11). He justified his greed as if to say, “It’s required of a steward to be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2) or some other pious-sounding phrase. But only he was fooled. The disciples may not have known, but everybody else probably knew he was greedy.


If people in the first century were anything like they are today, I suspect that the disciples overlooked a lot of bad behavior from Judas, and he took their mercy as a green light to do even greater evil. In other words, he thought they didn’t notice or didn’t care enough to say something. So it is with those who are of the spirit of Judas Iscariot. They often mistake mercy for a license to sin. 


False Assurance


Is there any hope for the type of person who could kiss the door of heaven (John 10:7-9), while driving a knife deep into His back (as it were)? If there is, it will begin with recognizing that God’s word applies to them like everyone else. A person must agree with God and His word, or there is no way to have a relationship with Him. We can’t be saved until we agree with Him. We must let God be true (Romans 3:4).


John the Baptist warned people about the deception and false assurance of thinking that they are saved because they are children of Abraham. A child of Abraham will do the works of Abraham (John 8:39). Abraham was no thief, but Judas Iscariot was a thief who stole from the bag. His type steals any way they can and believe they are still saved. Why? They have a false sense of security. They could look a person in the eyes while stealing from him or committing adultery with his wife, another form of theft (Proverbs 9:17). All the while believing in their own heart that they are as blessed and protected by God as was Abraham, or some other highly-favored man or woman of God. It is complete deception.



The Bitter Sorrow of Deception


It will be too late once disaster strikes and the scales finally fall from the eyes. Judas Iscariot wept in what can only be described as a foretaste of his own personal hell, a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Peter disregarded the Lord’s words, denied him, and went out and wept bitterly. But unlike Peter, Judas never found a place of repentance. He tried to return the thirty pieces of silver but found that the sale was final. Like Esau, he found no place of repentance though he sought it with tears. 


Judas Iscariot committed an irreversible act so terrible that he couldn’t cope with it. There was nothing left but bitter weeping. On the other hand, Jesus restored Peter. What about Judas? He went out and hanged himself. Satan got what he wanted and used Judas Iscariot’s secret vices of greed, filching, and pilfering to pull it off.


Devotional Thoughts


What sin, if any, is the enemy convincing us that God is overlooking or that He doesn’t see it? Many on that day will say, “Lord, Lord, in your name have we not cast out devils and done many wonderful works?” Only to hear, “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:22-23) It is sobering to know that Judas did all of those things, and they didn’t save him. Nor will they save you and me. Judas was anointed to do miracles but ended up the son of Perdition.” Judas didn’t know that Jesus could read his thoughts and intentions. He behaved as if God couldn’t see.


Judas Iscariot was a worker of iniquity while living around Jesus. His sin ultimately destroyed him. May we learn from his example and renounce that “spirit” lest we also share in his fate.




Check out these articles as well:

A Cave of Bandits (Jesus Cleanses the Temple)

The spirit of Mammon 

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