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THE FALSE REPENTANCE OF JUDAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 2, 2017

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5).


Matthew 27 begins early in the morning, after Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, after He was brought before the high priest and the Sanhedrin, after false witnesses had testified against Him, after He had been beaten in the face and mocked, and after Peter had denied Him.

“When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor” (Matthew 27:1-2).

They led Jesus through the palace of the high priest. Judas came in and stood near Jesus. But Judas did not turn to Jesus and ask to be forgiven. Had he turned to Jesus, even at this late hour, he would have been saved. The thief on the cross next to Jesus was saved right before he died. Why did Judas turn to the chief priest instead of turning to Jesus for forgiveness? I believe there are two reasons.

I. First, Judas had already committed the unpardonable sin.

Jesus said,

“All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).

Dr. John R. Rice said that Judas seemed “to have committed the unpardonable sin,” that is, he was already given over to reprobation. Dr. John R. Rice said,

The unpardonable sin is a complete and final rejection of Christ so definite...that it insults and drives away the Holy Spirit forever. Then [the Holy Spirit] no longer moves the heart, brings conviction or arouses desire for salvation...One who has [committed the unpardonable sin] is unconcerned since the Holy Spirit has withdrawn from him. All true turning to God must be caused by the Holy Spirit’s acting on the heart. If [the Holy Spirit] withdraws Himself, God has no other agency with which to convict and save a sinner (John R. Rice, D.D., A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1980 edition, p. 183; comments on Matthew 12:31-32).

Dr. Rice’s song, “If You Linger too Long,” describes Judas!

You have waited and lingered still refusing the Saviour,
   All His warnings so patient, all His pleadings so kind,
Thus you ate fruit forbidden, you believed Satan’s promise,
   Thus your heart has been hardened; sin has darkened your mind.
Then how sad facing judgment, you’ll recall with no mercy
   That you tarried and lingered till the Spirit was gone;
What reproaches and mourning, if when death finds you hopeless,
   You have tarried and lingered and have waited too long!
(“If You Linger Too Long,” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Judas “lingered till the Spirit was gone.” He committed the unpardonable sin. He did not turn to Jesus that morning. It was too late for him to be saved. Too late! Too late! Everlastingly too late!

There’s a line that is drawn by rejecting the Lord,
   Where the call of His Spirit is lost;
And you hurry along with the pleasure-mad throng –
   Have you counted, have you counted the cost?
Have you counted the cost, if your soul should be lost,
   Though you gain the whole world for your own?
Even now it may be that the line you have crossed,
   Have you counted, have you counted the cost?
(“Have You Counted the Cost?” by A. J. Hodge, 1923).

I plead with you, do not wait until the Holy Spirit leaves you forever! When He convicts you of sin – come to Christ. You may never have another opportunity! I plead with you, come to Christ before it is too late forever!

II. Second, Judas’ “repentance” was only “the sorrow of the world.”

The text says,

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself...” (Matthew 27:3).

The word “repented” here is translated from a form of the Greek word “metamelomai” which means “to regret” (Strong), “to feel sorrow for” (George Ricker Berry). But “metamelomai” does not lead to salvation. It is only “regret,” not conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. It is only sorrow for being caught committing a sin. This kind of sorrow and regret only leads to depression, self-pity, and hopelessness. The Apostle Paul said,

“Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (II Corinthians 7:10).

Godly sorrow produces true repentance, which leads to salvation in Christ. The word which is translated “repentance” in II Corinthians 7:10 is different from the word in Matthew 27:3, where Judas “repented himself.” The Greek word in II Corinthians 7:10 is a form of “metanoia” – which means “a change of mind” (Vine). My Chinese pastor Dr. Timothy Lin (1911-2009) was a Hebrew and Greek scholar. Dr. Lin said, “It is a new ‘nous,’ a new mind.” It is a thorough change of one’s heart and mind that only God can produce. Dr. George Ricker Berry (1865-1945) said that “metanoia” is a “nobler word [than mere metamelomai], the regular expression for thorough repentance” (Greek-English New Testament Lexicon). The Puritan author Richard Baxter (1615-1691) called it “a change of affection” – a change of mind about God and sin, a change of what you love and what you hate.

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (II Corinthians 7:10).

Godly sorrow is produced by the Holy Spirit. Then the Spirit produces repentance, a new mind, that leads to salvation in Christ.

Judas only experienced the false repentance of feeling sorry for getting caught. “When he saw that he was condemned, [he] repented himself.” The King James Bible gives the sense of it. He “repented himself.” God didn’t produce it. It was purely human sorrow. It was not “godly sorrow [that] worketh repentance.” It was not “godly sorrow” which produces a true change of mind. It was only self-pity! Only “the sorrow of the world [that produces] death.” So Judas “departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).

Cain was a type (or picture) of Judas. Christ called Judas “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). Judas was humanly responsible for Christ’s death. “Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (Genesis 4:8). The Scofield note on Cain says, “Cain...is a type of the mere man of the earth...destitute of any adequate sense of sin, or need of atonement” (The Scofield Study Bible; note on Genesis 4:1). Cain never had “godly sorrow.” Cain never had “repentance to salvation.” He only felt sorry for himself. Cain said, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13). Self-pity! That’s all he felt. He only felt the “sorrow of the world.” It was nothing more than sorrow for being caught. It led to self-pity, and nothing more. It left Cain in a hopeless condition. Some of you think you are under conviction of sin, but you are not. You are only feeling sorry for yourself, like Cain. Self pity is not conviction of sin! It is “the sorrow of the world that worketh death.”

Esau was another type (or picture) of Judas. Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew, like the thirty pieces of silver Judas received for betraying Christ. The Scofield note says, “Esau stands for the mere man of the earth” (ibid., note on Genesis 25:25). When Esau found he had lost the blessing, “he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father” (Genesis 27:34). Esau, like Cain and Judas, was filled with “the sorrow of the world.” He never felt “godly sorrow [that] worketh repentance to salvation.” He only felt self-pity and remorse, like Judas. Also, like Judas, Esau said, “Then will I slay my brother Jacob” (Genesis 27:41). The Book of Hebrews calls Esau a “profane person...who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:16-17). He never found true “repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Yes, Esau had tears. But they were not tears of conviction. They were tears of feeling sorry for himself. If all you do is feel sorry for yourself, you will not come under conviction of sin. You will only have “the sorrow of the world that worketh death.” And you will never be saved!

I hope you aren’t like Cain, Esau and Judas. I hope that you will come under deep conviction of sin. I hope that you will not be like Cain, a “mere man of the earth...destitute of any adequate sense of sin, or need for atonement.” I hope that you will not be like Esau, a profane person. I hope that you will not throw your soul away for the things of the world. I hope that you will not be like Judas, who betrayed Christ for a few pieces of silver!

Come away from the world. Come away from its sins and false treasures! Come away from sin, and come to Christ. While the Spirit of God is calling you, and your heart feels the burden and weight of your sin, come to Jesus and be washed clean from your sin by His Blood! Come to Jesus now, before it is too late forever!

Then how sad facing judgment, you’ll recall with no mercy
   That you tarried and lingered till the Spirit was gone;
What reproaches and mourning, if when death finds you hopeless,
   You have tarried and lingered and have waited too long!
(“If You Linger Too Long,” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

A young man once said to my associate, Dr. Cagan, “At this rate I’ll never become a Christian.” He was right! All of your learning and prayers cannot help you unless you come under conviction of sin. Only then will you turn to Jesus. As one woman said, “I became thoroughly disgusted with myself.” That is “godly sorrow [that] worketh repentance to salvation.” Soon after feeling “disgusted” with her sinful heart, that woman was drawn to Christ and converted. May God’s Spirit make you “thoroughly disgusted” with yourself, that your “mouth may be stopped, and [you] may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). May God’s Spirit draw you to Jesus for salvation from sin through His Blood atonement. Amen.


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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Noah Song: Matthew 27:3-5.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“If You Linger Too Long” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE FALSE REPENTANCE OF JUDAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5).

(Matthew 27:1-2)

I.    First, Judas had already committed the unpardonable sin,
Matthew 12:31-32.

II.   Second, Judas’ “repentance” was only “the sorrow of the world,”
II Corinthians 7:10; Matthew 27:5; John 17:12; Genesis 4:8, 13;
Genesis 27:34, 41; Hebrews 12:16-17; Romans 3:19.