Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

March 17, 1891

The Example of Judas

By Mrs. E. G. White

Jesus said in his prayer for his disciples, “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” The betrayer of Christ might have had eternal life if he had been a doer of the words of Christ and not a hearer only. Judas had the same opportunities, the same privileges, as had the other disciples. He listened to the same precious lessons, but he failed to practice the principles laid down by our Lord, and would not yield his opinions and ideas to receive the teaching of Heaven. The practice of the truth, which Christ required, was at variance with the purposes and desires of Judas.

The disciples were not chosen because they were imperfect, but in spite of their imperfections, that through the knowledge and practice of the truth, through the divine grace of Christ, they might become transformed into his image. Christ brought them into his school, and they had the privilege of listening to the instructions of the greatest educator the world ever knew. Judas was brought under the influence of the divine Teacher, and how tenderly did the Saviour deal with him who was to be his betrayer. Jesus knew the dark phases of his character, knew that if his evil traits were not overcome, he would betray his Lord. Jesus presented principles of love and benevolence that struck at the root of covetousness. He pictured before the covetous Judas the heinous character of greed, and many a time Judas realized that his character had been portrayed, his sin pointed out; but he still cherished his evil, and would not confess and forsake his unrighteousness. He was self-sufficient, and instead of resisting temptation, he followed his fraudulent practices, and this in the light of the teaching and life of Christ. Christ was before him, a living example of what he must become if he reaped the full benefit of the divine mediation and ministry. Lesson after lesson fell unheeded on the ears of Judas. How many today follow in his steps. In the light of God's law, selfish men see their evil characters, but fail to make the required reformation, and go on from one state of sin to another.

The lessons of Christ are applicable to our own time and generation. He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” The same testimony is brought to us in these last days as was brought to Judas. The same lessons which he failed to make practical in his life come to men who hear, and yet make a like failure, because they do not put away their sin. But all who finally have a seat with Christ upon his throne will be those who have overcome. All selfishness must be rooted from the heart. The apostle says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The world's Redeemer has given himself our sacrifice, and he has left us also an unerring pattern. We cannot excuse our defects of character on the ground that others are defective, for we are to see Jesus only. We are not only to assent to the truth, but we are to yield joyful obedience to its requirements. With the cross of Calvary before us, can we harbor pride, selfishness, and rebellion, as did Judas? Christ took step after step down the path of humiliation and self-denial, that we might become the sons and daughters of God. What returns are we making for all this manifestation of infinite love? How cold, how indifferent we are! How little we give to Jesus, when he has given all for us! He died the death of lowest shame for us, and yet how feeble is our service, how reluctant our hearts to yield all to him!

Who of us are copying the pattern? Through the grace of Christ are we mastering pride of heart? have we uprooted selfishness? have we opened wide the door of the heart to let in the precious love of Jesus? Or are we cherishing sins that will ruin us at last? We cannot meet Christ in peace with one sin unrepented of, unconfessed, and unforsaken. But John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Jesus bore long with the perversity of Judas, and he bears long with our perversity. Although we have before us the example of Judas, how many dare to do as he did! But in our case, as in the case of Judas, there will come a time when the boundary line of God's mercy and forbearance will be reached. We shall either heed the sayings of our Lord, and carry out their instruction in our lives, or we shall be hearers and not doers, and fall under condemnation. We shall either overcome our evil traits of character, and become like Christ, or we shall cherish our defects, and fail of the divine standard. In the latter course we set up our will in opposition to the will of Christ, and enter into conflict with him who has given us the most unmistakable evidences of his love. O that we may not reject him and choose our own deficiencies! From his heart flow forth waves of blessing to every heart open to receive his love. We have only to love him, to trust him, to obey him, and he has pledged his immutable word that we shall have the riches of his glory. We have only to come to him in child-like simplicity and meekness, and he will make us one with himself, and we shall be the sons and the daughters of God. It is our place to learn the lessons that Judas might have learned from the lips of the divine Teacher, and we shall become Christ-like in character.

Let us not be in the position of those for whom the Saviour has died in vain. In Christ there is sufficient grace to overcome all our evil traits of character, and strength is found alone in him. He bears long with us. If he had been like many, he would have sharply rebuked Judas for his covetousness; but what divine patience he manifested toward this erring man, even while he gave him evidence that he read his heart as an open book. He presented before him the highest incentives for right-doing, and if Judas rejected the light of heaven, he would be found guilty and without excuse.

Those who profess to be the followers of Christ are in danger of taking a course similar to that of Judas. If they do not hourly make Christ their strength, and through his grace become overcomers, their unlikeness to Christ is strengthening; their evil habits are confirming. Those who are spiritually proud, selfish, and stubborn, may now make diligent work in repentance, and their sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. The precious light shining upon us, shone upon the disciples; for it came through them to us, and it is of the same value today as in the early days of Christianity. Christ did not compel Judas to receive the light; neither will he compel us to receive it. The Lord sends his servants to open the treasures of truth to the understanding of all who will accept evidence; but if men choose to cherish their own notions, and resist the truth, refusing to be sanctified through it, their hearts will become hard and unimpressible.

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