We read in Matthew 27:3-5 of the account concerning the actions of Judas after our lord and savior was betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and elders. 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 the 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. There are several points which are necessarily inferred in this reading which we should realize. One is that Judas was self condemned within his own conscious or in his own heart. When Judas saw that the intent of the chief priests and elders was to harm Jesus " when he saw that He (Jesus) was condemned" Judas knew that he had done something very wrong. Judas had lost all confidence in his relationship before God.
We read in 1 John 3:20,21 "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God". But notice that it was not until after Judas saw the consequences of his action that it is said that he repented. Judas chose the path that he went down because of covetousness and worldly gain. The thirty pieces of silver beckoned unto him and that was his desire and passion not giving heed nor forethought to the possible consequences of his action. It was not until after Judas suffered in being involved in the consequence of his actions upon another did he repent.
The Greek usage of the word "repent" as used in this verse " repented himself" carries the meaning of one to regret. It is to have an after-care or annoyance at the consequences of an act of sin rather than a deep regret at the cause from want of not knowing better. It plainly refers to an emotional change and has reference to particulars. It signifies nothing but regret even though amounting to remorse. Plain and simple, Judas regretted the consequences that followed his actions rather than the cause which led to his actions. The remorse of Judas was to the point that he confessed his sin "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" and even relinquished the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders as if that would make amends for his actions and make him less guilty in his sin. Judas perceived afterwards that a change needed to be made but the sin had already been committed. Judas did not perceive beforehand nor gave thought of what his actions would do and their effects and consequences. This is the repentance seen in people today as in long ago. They give no forethought to their actions but after they have carried out their decision and are faced with the consequences of their action then they have regret and remorse. They then realize that often quoted remark "I wish I hadn't done that". They wish that they hadn't done something because of the consequences suffered afterwards and the regret and remorse is due to having to deal with the consequence. That is what grieves and gives pain causing regret and remorse. This is what is conveyed by Paul's statement to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 7:8. "For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season". Paul did not regret for instructing the Corinthian church to do what he was instructing but he did have remorse over consequence of the letter making them sorrow. He further tells them concerning of what type of repentance that was needed. They were made sorry after a godly manner which works true repentance. Godly sorrow brings about the actions of carefulness in our living, the clearing of ourselves in God's presence, the indignation concerning an action before hand, the fear and vehement desire and zeal to be pleasing to God and abiding in His word. True repentance is a real change of mind and attitude toward sin itself and the cause of it (not merely the consequence of it) which affects the whole life and not merely a single act. We have the above listed actions (carefulness, clearing, indignation, fear, vehement desire and zeal) because we are conscious of our sins and are intent on obtaining God's pardon.
True repentance refers to a change of choice and not just an emotional change. True repentance refers to the entire life and not just in reference to particulars, True repentance leads to that reversal of moral purpose rather than signifying nothing but regret and even remorse over an action. Why do people repent and then fall into the same trap time and time again over the same thing that they have repented over? The scripture confirms that true godly sorrow resulting in repentance has not taken place within their life.
- Larry Bumgardner