I Am Full Of Guilt, What Shall I Do?
January 24th, 1982 @ 7:30 PM
I AM FULL OF GUILT WHAT SHALL I DO?
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
1-24-82 7:30 p.m.
And for the multitudes of you who are listening to this service on radio, on KCBI, our Sonshine station of our Center of Biblical Studies, and on KRLD, the great voice of the Southwest, this is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message, a second in a series around the theme, “What Shall I Do?” The sermon next Sunday night is I Am Afraid to Die, What Shall I Do? Then the following Sunday night, I Do Not Know God’s Will, What Shall I Do? Then the following Sunday night, I Have Trouble in My Marriage, What Shall I Do? Then again the next Sunday night, I Have Trouble with My Children, What Shall I Do? Then again, I Feel No Security, What Shall I Do? I Feel Inferior, What Shall I Do? I Am Bored, What Shall I Do?
Friday, I received a letter from a national and famous lecturer. He goes to all of the big corporations in America and speaks to them. And he said, “I see you have a subject, I Am Bored, What Shall I Do?” He said, “I deliver a lecture to these big corporations on that, and I call it “The Chairman of the Bored,” b-o-r-e-d. And the last, I Am Depressed, What Shall I Do?
Now once in a while along the way there will be a break in the series because we will have an Easter message at choir. We have our revival meeting. There will be things along the way to break into it. But unless those things arise, this will be the series.
I have one other observation to make about them, and that is this, they are not psychological or psychiatrical studies. You can go to any library or any bookstore, and you can buy a whole series of volumes on any of these subjects. These that are presented by the pastor are biblical studies. They come out of the Word of God. They are not psychiatrical. They are not psychological. They are not sociological. They come out of expositions of the Bible. And this one tonight: I Am Full Of Guilt, What Shall I Do? It is a message concerning conscience.
Now I want you to turn in your Bible to Matthew 27, Matthew 27, and we are going to read verses 3 through 8. Matthew 27, verses 3 through 8. Twice in the Scriptures is there a recounting of the suicide of Judas. And this is the one recorded in Matthew. The other is recorded in Acts. And we are going to read out loud together the one recorded in Matthew; Matthew 27: 3 through 8, now together out loud:
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 priest 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.
And the chief priest took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them in the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
Wherefore that field was called the Field of Blood, unto this day.
Now I am going to read the passage as it is told by Luke in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, beginning with verse 16:
The Scripture was fulfilled spoken by David concerning Judas, concerning Judas who was guide to them that took Jesus.
For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
And it was known unto all of the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, an Aramaic word that means The Field of Blood.
For it is written in the Book of Psalms, That his habitation will be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and, his assignment, his bishopric let another take.
In the Bible, there are recorded five suicides; four of them in the Old Testament and one of them in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, Saul, the king of Israel killed himself. His armor bearer when he saw that his king had committed suicide, he also slew himself and fell by his side [1 Samuel 31:4-5]. Ahithophel was the third one. He was the moving spirit back of the rebellion of Absalom against David. And when Ahithophel, the counselor, saw that his counsel was not followed and that the kingdom was lost to Absalom, he hanged himself [2 Samuel 17:23]. The fourth one is Zimri, the fifth king of Israel, who burned his house over his own head and so slew himself [1 Kings 16:18-19]. And the fifth one is Judas [Matthew 27:3-5]. Hanging was very rare among the Jewish people; just two of them, Ahithophel, the counselor to Absalom, and Judas of the New Testament.
This streak that finally became seen and overt in Judas was from the beginning. A year before the Passion of our Lord, when John describes the attempt to make Jesus king [John 6:14-15], Judas, of course, furthered that. He was politically and avariciously ambitious. And when the Lord refused the kingdom to be made an earthly and temporal king, Judas, in his heart began to question the wisdom of the Lord and the kind of a kingdom He had come to found. And the Lord speaking to the twelve upon that occasion said, “And is not one of you a devil?” speaking of Judas [John 6:70-71].
You see it again when Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of our Lord [John 12:3], as He said for His burial [John 12:7]. And Judas, looking at that waste, to him, commented, “It should have been sold and place in the bag and given to the poor [John 12:4-5]. Then John says, “For he carried the bag and was a thief and took therefrom” [John 12:6].
You see it again in the life of Judas when, when John [John 13: 2, 27] and [Luke] say that Satan entered into him [Luke 22:3]. And he went out to conspire with the priests and the elders to betray the Lord Jesus and to deliver Him into their hands [Luke 22:4-6]. And you see it again when he planned the treachery in the blackness of the night [John 13:30]. What motivated Judas was avarice, love of money.
Isn’t it amazing that the Scripture should point out that the love of money is the root of all evil [1 Timothy 6:10], avarice? He saw, as the Lord’s ministry continued, that he was riding in a sinking ship. It had no future for him. And he conspired to get out of it all of that he could, thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-15].
When you look at society, you cannot but be astonished at the indefensible, immeasurable social wrongs that are permitted in the social order and defended because of avarice, because of money. Such a thing is gambling which destroys homes and lives and people but is legalized all through America. If you will go to Atlantic City, there are tremendous hotels built there over casinos. If you go to Macao; if you go to Monte Carlo; if you go to a thousand places, you will see those things permitted by law and society.
Same thing about liquor; the most devastating of all of the afflictions of society is liquor traffic. Thousands are killed every year, and uncounted thousands of homes are broken up, and lives destroyed, and uncounted thousands of man-hours of labor is lost because of the liquor traffic. Avarice, the government makes money off of it, and society condones it. That was the motive back of Judas; money, getting what he could out of a lost cause.
Now, when the deed was done, when the treachery was consummated and Judas had delivered the Lord Jesus in the night of the prayer of Gethsemane into the hands of His enemies [Matthew 26:47-50], it says here that when Judas who betrayed Him saw what was done, he repented himself and brought the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and to the elders [Matthew 27:3-4], saying, “I have sinned. I have betrayed the—look at that article—the innocent blood [Matthew 27:4].
Now you get a wrong idea when you read that like that. And Judas repented himself [Matthew 27:3]. There are two words in the Greek language that are translated “repent” in the King James Version of the Bible. One of them is metamelomai, that’s the word used here. The other word is metanoeō, which is an altogether different world. But both of them are translated repent. Metamelomai literally means remorse, regret. Metanoeō means to change, to really to repent.
And when it says here, “And Judas repented himself” [Matthew 27:3], metamelomai, he fell into the abysmal depths of remorse. Conscience struck him, pulverized him, when he saw the Lord Jesus condemned and led away to be crucified; his conscience slew him. The thirty pieces of silver were like fire in his fingers. It was like a viper clinging to his hand. How do you shake it off? How do you escape? Conscience is something that belongs to the human family, and is a mark of the image of God. And all of us possess it, conscience: the striking, burning, driving thrust of conscience.
Did you ever think of this? In the Book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God [Genesis 3:1-6], they hid themselves in the garden [Genesis 3:8]. Why hide themselves? They were the only two in the whole world. There wasn’t anybody but just they. And the animals had not yet fallen. The lion and the tiger and the wolf were domestic animals, tame. Why should they hide themselves? Conscience. They looked at themselves naked and fallen and sinful, conscience [Genesis 3:2-8].
When Cain cried out before God, “My punishment is greater than I can bear” [Genesis 4:13], the voice of his brother’s blood not only cried to God from the ground, but it cried to him, conscience! [Genesis 4:10]. When Ahab walked over the ground, stained by the blood of Naboth, to take possession of the vineyard that belonged to Naboth that he had inherited from his fathers [1 Kings 21:3-16]; when Ahab arose to take possession there stood in the garden, in the vineyard, Elijah, just standing there, and Ahab cries out, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” [1 Kings 21:20] Why is Elijah standing there? A rebuke to Ahab, king of Israel; conscience [1 Kings 21:17-29]. When Belshazzar is drunken in the sexual orgies of that drunken Babylonian night, there came a hand out of the black sleeve of the darkness of the midnight and writes on the wall. And his teeth chatter and his knees knock together and he trembles [Daniel 5:1-6]. Why? Conscience!
When Paul stands before Felix, the Roman procurator of Judea, and reasons of righteousness, and temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled [Acts 24:25]. Why? Because of conscience! In one of the most dramatic of all of the stories in literature, is Pontius Pilate, unable to find in himself courage to stand by that innocent Man, Jesus of Nazareth, he calls for a bowl of water and washes his hands. “See to it,” he says, “that I am guiltless of the blood of this just Man” [Matthew 27:24]. Isn’t that an amazing thing? He thinks blood is on his hands! Blood is on his hands. When that bronze servant took that bowl away, he didn’t carry away the guilt of Pontius Pilate.
I think of the cry of Macbeth when he looked at his hands after he had stabbed to death Duncan, the king of the Scots. Looking at that blood on his hands, he cries, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hands? No rather this my hand will the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” Conscience, conscience.
And this man, Judas, seeing the evil and the hurt and the tragedy of his treachery, repents himself, metamelomai. He is buried in deepest remorse. And he makes his way to the priests with whom he had conspired [Matthew 27:3-4].
Now why that? It is very apparent why that when you look closely at the life of this fallen apostle. He had rather face his own treachery and his own guilt than to face God. So his soul is narrowed, not to God. Then he cannot face the blessed Lord Jesus with His crown of thorns and the blood streaming from the flagellation of His back [Matthew 27:26-29], and then, bearing His cross, going out to a hill called Golgotha [John 19:16-17]. He can’t face Him. And he can’t face his fellow apostles, Peter, James, and John, and Nathanael, and Bartholomew. He can’t face them.
And finally, in his agony of remorse, he turns to his fellow conspirators. He turns to the priests and the elders of the people. And coming before them, he says, “I have sinned. I have betrayed the innocent blood” [Matthew 27:3-4]. And wouldn’t you think when they saw the agony on his face, there would have been some kind of tender response or loving remembrance? Instead of that, they look upon his hurt and his remorse and his agony with a sneer of derision and contemptuously say, “What is that to us? See you to that” [Matthew 27:4]. They’re like wolves in the case when one of them is hurt or wounded; the others devour it up and then continue in the chase.
And when Judas saw the contempt and the derision of these with whom he had conspired, he took the thirty pieces of silver. And there is a word there that in the translation isn’t quite seen by us. The temple refers to the whole area; the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women, the Court of the Priests, then the sanctuary. The word that is used here to describe what Judas did is he took those thirty pieces of silver, and he flung them into the sanctuary [Matthew 27:5]. The wall separating the court of priests from the people was about eighteen inches high. And there stood the altar of sacrifice and then the door into the sanctuary itself, and on one side, the seven-branched lampstand, the other side the table of showbread and just before the veil, the golden altar of incense [Exodus 40:26]. He took those thirty pieces of silver, and either he went over the wall and standing at the door flung them into the sanctuary, or else standing just this side of the low wall, he flung those thirty pieces of silver into the Holy Place.
And when God saw it, when God saw what the priest had done and the elders of the people had done and what Judas had done, and what Christ had done, God took that veil and tore it apart! [Matthew 27:51]. And a few years later, he destroyed that temple from off of the face of the earth. And today, you have a mosque where it once stood; the treachery of Judas and the cynicism of the priests of God.
If you read Dante’s Inferno, in the lowest hell is Satan and in his mouth and in his teeth is Judas. And he forever tears him apart. And had I been writing the Divine Comedy, in the same mouth and in the same teeth, I would have pictured the high priests and his fellow priests and the elders of the people who conspired that awesome treachery [Matthew 26:14-16].
Now the conclusion: I am full of guilt, I have sinned, what shall I do? Would not have it been a marvelous and incomparably beautiful and precious and glorious thing had he come to Jesus and laid himself at the feet of our dear Lord? But you say, “Jesus was surrounded at that time by Roman soldiers, and He had been taken to Pilate to be tried before the Roman government [Matthew 27:1-2]. How could Judas have ever come close to the Lord Jesus to fling himself down?”
It is a good point that you make. Suppose the soldiers had cut him down? He would have been in Paradise before the thief on the cross [Luke 23:43]. Isn’t that right? Suppose the soldiers had cut him down? He would have been a martyr to repentance, metanoeō, to confession, to faith, to salvation.
As it is Simon Peter, writing about him in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, said, “And he went to his own place. Judas went to his own place” [Acts 1:25]. Isn’t that an unusual passage? “He went to his own place.” That’s one of the great, maybe harsh, and rude, and crude, and awesome facts of life; we make our own place. We do. We make it. We make the bed we lie in. We frame and shape our lives. That’s freedom of choice. That’s another part of our image of God. We make our own place. Ah, that he had made it in the presence, and in the love, and in the mercy, and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus.
May I close? Here in the story that we have been following out of the Holy Scriptures, there are such vivid contrasts, vivid, poignant, livid ones. There are two Josephs in this story; Josephus names Joseph called Caiaphas, the High Priest, and there is another Joseph in the story, there is Joseph of Arimathea, both of them high in the echelon of society and of economic affluence, but how different. Joseph called Caiaphas who presides over the destruction and crucifixion of Jesus [Matthew 26:57-68], and Joseph of Arimathaea, one of the humble disciples of the Lord who asked for His body and lays it in his own new tomb [Matthew 27:57-60].
Or look again; the contrast. The Scriptures are very emphatic as they tell the story that the Lord Jesus was crucified between two felons, between two seditionists. They were enemies of the Roman government. One was crucified on His right side and the other one on His left side [Matthew 27:38]. And the Scriptures say that both of them cursed and blasphemed and railed on the Lord Jesus [Matthew 27:44]. But in the midst of the railing and the blasphemy, it says one of them, one of them turned. It is all he could do. Just turn his head. He was nailed to a tree. But what he could do, he did do. He turned his head and said, “Lord, when You come into Your kingdom”—faith, He is coming in His kingdom—”when You come into Your kingdom, Lord, remember me. Call my name.” And the Lord said, “Today, sēmeron, this day you will be with Me in Paradise” [Luke 23:39-43]. And when the Lord walked through those gates of glory, He had by His side the first convert of the new dispensation. What a contrast. One dying in blasphemy and the other saved in repentance.
And the other vivid contrast between Simon Bar-Jona, whom Jesus named Petros, Peter [Matthew 16:18], and Judas Iscariot, Iscariot, Judas, man of Kerioth, a village in Judea. Simon Peter was tried like Judas. Simon Peter fell like Judas. Simon Peter cursed and denied the Lord like Judas. But Simon Peter, weeping bitterly [Luke 22:54-62], came back to Jesus.
I don’t think in literature there is a more moving story than the addendum to John’s Gospel, the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of John, written in tribute to his old friend, Simon Peter. “Simon, three times you deny Me. Three times do you love Me.” And the Lord prophesies Simon will follow Jesus unto crucifixion and unto death. He will die with the stretched out arms by crucifixion [John 21:15-19].
And then what a contrast, Judas, Judas. Why? There is something about Judas that sometimes we don’t recognize. Simon Peter at this time didn’t face that Sanhedrin, didn’t face those chief priests, didn’t face those elders. Judas did. In his shame and in his treachery, he stood in their presence and confessed his treachery, his betrayal of the Master, his iniquity in killing the innocent blood. Judas did that [Matthew 27:3-4].
Simon Peter didn’t do that. Simon Peter hid away and went away [John 20:19]. It was only after the resurrection that he came back [Acts 3:1]. But Judas faced these men who had conspired with him [Matthew 26:14-16], and confessed to them the treachery and the evil of his life [Matthew 27:3-4]. Why oh why didn’t he do just one other thing? Instead of looking in himself and drowning himself in remorse, and in sorrow, and in tears, and in heartache, why didn’t he go to Jesus? Why don’t we? I don’t know.
When you look inside of yourself, your whole life will be filled with remorse, and regret, and sorrow, and heartache. It is not the inward look that saves us. It is the upward look. It is not on the inside of us that we find salvation. Salvation is outside of us. It is in Jesus. It is in His mercy and love and grace and forgiveness [Ephesians 1:7, 5:2]. And had Judas instead of turning inward and drowning his life in remorse and regret, had he just turned and outside of himself found hope, and forgiveness, and salvation in Jesus, he would have stood by the side of Simon Peter, an apostle of the grace and mercy of the saving Lord.
Ah, for us. He is not the only one that’s done wrong. We all have sinned, and come short of the grace of God [Romans 3:23]. It is not my place to point to you or you to point to your friend or neighbor. We are all alike; we are sinners. The only difference is some of us are like Simon Peter, and ask God to forgive us. And some of us are like Judas, looking on the inside of himself for his own salvation and dying in remorse and despair.
I am full of guilt, what shall I do? I shall take myself to the Lord Jesus. “Lord, in Your grace and goodness and mercy, have pity upon me, and lift me up, and set my feet on a rock; forgive my sins; wash them in the blood of the Lamb that I may be whiter than snow” [Psalm 51:7]. That’s the gospel. That’s the message of salvation to a whole lost sinful world [John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2]. May we stand?
Our Lord, what a merciful forgiving Savior Thou art! Thy loving kindness is without bounds. In forgiveness, in love, in tender appeal, Christ bids us come to Thee. The only contact we have with Thee is in our sins. Thou art too holy. We cannot measure up. We cannot stand in Thy presence, great and mighty and omnipotent Lord. But bowing, bending, confessing, the Lord reaches out His hand and touches us. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden” [Matthew 11:28]. “I am come to seek and to save that which was lost” [Luke 19:10]. “I am come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance” [Matthew 9:13]. “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” [Matthew 9:12]. And Lord, we are self-confessed sinners in Thy sight. And may the loving mercy of God reach down and touch us. And our Lord, thereafter, may our lives flow in praise, in thanksgiving, in Thy worthy and marvelous name, washed in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 1:5].
And while we stand in the presence of our Lord and while our people pray, a family you to come to God and to us, make it now. A couple you or one somebody you, “Tonight, tonight, I open my heart God-ward, and heavenward, and Christ-ward. May He write my name in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27]. May He wash me clean and white. May He give me strength for the pilgrim way. May He save me in the hour of my death. May He walk with me as my friend through the days of this pilgrimage.” Give your heart to God. Come to Jesus, bow at His precious, blessed feet. And our Lord, in this holy and heavenly moment, give us these tonight the Spirit is adding to the kingdom of God and to His dear church. And thank Thee for each one, in Thy saving, precious, forgiving name, amen.
While we sing our song, down one of those stairways from the balcony, down one of these aisles in this lower floor, on the first note of the first stanza, “Here I come, pastor.” Make it tonight. God bless you, angels attend you while you come and while we sing. Welcome. Welcome.
I AM FULL OF GUILT, WHAT SHALL I DO?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Matthew 27:3-10, Acts 1:16-20
1-24-82I. The Bible records five suicides
A. Saul and his armor-bearer(1 Samuel 31:4-5)
B. Ahithophel(2 Samuel 17:1-3)
C. Zimri, fifth king of Israel (1 Kings 16:9-20)
D. Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:3-10, Acts 1:16-20)II. The character of Judas streaked with avarice from the beginning
A. In the attempt to make Jesus king (John 6:70-71)
B. Murmured at the affection of Mary who anointed feet of Jesus(John 12:5-7)
C. Satan entered him and he conspired to betray Jesus(John 13:27, Luke 22:3)
D. He was motivated by avarice, love of money(Matthew 26:14-15)
1. Immeasurable social wrongs permitted, defended because of avariceIII. The deed is done
A. Judas metamelomai – “remorse, regret”(Matthew 27:3-4)
B. Conscience belongs to the human family, a mark of the image of God(Genesis 3:8-10, 4:13, 1 Kings 21:20, Daniel 5:1-6, Acts 24:25, Matthew 27:24)IV. The mocking priests
A. Judas makes his way to priests with whom he had conspired
B. They look upon his hurt and remorse with derision, contempt(Matthew 27:4)V. The alternative
A. He went to his own place(Acts 1:25)
B. Vivid contrasts in this story
1. Joseph called Caiaphas vs. Joseph of Arimathaea
2. Two felons on either side of cross of Jesus(Luke 23:43)
3. Simon Peter vs. Judas (John 21)
C. It is not the inward look, but the upward look that saves us(Romans 3:23)