John 17:12 “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
How often have you heard someone give this excuse for why they don’t attend church or why they aren’t Christians: it’s because of the hypocrites that do attend church? The argument goes like this: “If ‘so and so’ is a Christian, then who needs Christianity, because I’m at least as good as that guy?!” And it is a fact that there really are some scoundrels and hypocrites that attend church. There are some really evil people that call themselves Christians. How many of the slave owners who abused their slaves in the South were good church-goers? How often have you seen people who act one way while they’re within the walls of a church but an entirely different way within the walls of their own home or when they are with their unchurched friends? I know how it is, for I was once one of those people (and sometimes I still am). It’s not good, but it’s the truth.
However, that should never be the justification for not following Christ and whenever each of us stand before Him someday, such an excuse just won’t wash. You see, just as there are hypocrites in the church today, Jesus had a despicable hypocrite within His own inner circle. And not only did He have a hypocrite with Him day in and day out, He knew the truth about Him all the while. We see this truth spoken about elsewhere in the account of the tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:25) and the goats among the sheep (Matthew 25:32). God always has His reasons for why He allows these situations to occur. In the account of Judas, we know that it was prophesied hundreds of years before that there would be one of Jesus’ own inner circle who would one day betray Him unto death. It was God’s design – turning the despicable actions of an evil person for His own good purposes – to Judas’ eternal loss, but for the rest of the world’s eternal gain.
Another reason we know God allows impostors to be part of the church is that to uproot them can sometimes be more detrimental to the body of believers than to root them out. In the account of the tares among the wheat (i.e., unbelievers among the believers) in Matthew 13 Jesus said, concerning the idea of removing them now, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
In allowing the evil to be mixed among the good, God may be demonstrating His patience by giving the evil time to repent. At other times, God tests and refines believers as they are subjected to the persecution and evil influence of those who are pawns of the enemy. Surely, God always has His reasons, though we may not know them at the time. In any event, whenever a person justifies His sin by pointing to “so-called believers” who are sinners just like them, they are actually showing that they would rather follow the example of Judas, who also rejected Christ, then the example of Christ, who was perfectly righteous and holy in spite of the treachery of the one who betrayed Him.
So, whose side would you rather be on: that of false disciple Judas, the one among the twelve, or that of the other 11, who were true followers of Christ? The choice has always been the same: the Judas choice or the way of God. Which one will we follow? Just as in the Old Testament Joshua was one of the few of all in Israel who truly followed God, so we must decide today what we will do in the face of so much unbelief that is all around us. May we, like Joshua in the Old Testament, and 11 of the 12 disciples in the New, have the wisdom to say that no matter what anyone else does “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).