Title: Beware of False Prophets
Text: Jude 3-7
Introduction: Start the Recording; Read the text: v3-7; Last week we simply took time to look over Jude’s introduction and greeting. We answered the questions:
- Who is Jude?
- Who are we ‘in Christ’?
- What do we have ‘in Christ’?
At this point of the letter, Jude, the little brother of Jesus, turns his attention to the purpose in writing his letter. This is the 1st point of my message today. A simple breakdown of the passage would look something akin to this:
- The Purpose: A Call to Contend
- The Warning: False Teachers Clothed as Sheep
- Three Reminders: Jesus Punished Those who rebelled against Him.
- Jesus Destroyed the Hebrews who rebelled against him.
- Jesus has kept the angels who rebelled in chains until the Day of Judgment.
- Jesus has set before us an example of punishment in Sodom, Gomorrah and their surrounding cities.
Just reading this outline already has me ruffled. I can feel my spirit beginning to move and wonder if some of you are thinking the same things. Let me take a moment to pause and say: if this is happening to you, take a breath. Let’s not miss the intent of Jude because we are angry at the Supreme Court. Let’s not use this as fuel to feed the fire already kindled in our hearts. There is a danger we must keep before us as we move forward: Legalism is as dangerous as liberalism.
Ill.: In the days of Christ, he faced both ends of the spectrum in the Pharisees & Sadducees. Both groups hated him and both groups wanted him gone. A simple way to describe them would be with the words: Laws & License.
- The Pharisees: loved the laws. They had hundreds of laws to describe the Law of Moses. In their eyes, everyone needed to be like them. They set the standard. They tithed everything, even down to their spices: mint, dill and cumin. They fasted not just the one time a year, but 2x’s a week! And on and on and on – ad nauseam. The missed the Law of Grace. For them, salvation is something you earn.
- The Sadducees: loved their freedom. They didn’t believe in anything. Not angels, not in afterlife, not the resurrection. If you asked, well, what do you believe? They’d say: I believe I’ll have another drink! They were the exact opposite of the Pharisees. The Sadducees would do well in San Francisco or Hollywood today.
Most of us would bristle at the thought of being labeled the same as a Sadducee. But I’ve got to admit that a Pharisee doesn’t turn me on either!
And I think that’s sort of the way we’re supposed to feel when we begin to read Jude’s letter – not anger, not pleasure, but concern. Let me show you a way to get the flow of a message. If you read the passage with only the subject and verb of each sentence, you’ll see that Jude isn’t angry at all.
- I found it necessary to write.
- Certain men have crept in unnoticed.
- Let me remind you about Jesus: He destroyed, detained and demonstrated.
Wow… I think Jude displays for us a deep reluctance to write what he had to write. He wanted to write about something totally different: rd v 3;
The Purpose: A Call to Contend
exp.: The subject is Jude; he’s writing to the ‘beloved’ in God (v1); The verb is found or lit.: have necessity; Jude wanted to write about ‘our common salvation’; lit.: the shared of us salvation; κοινή; not common as in ‘everyone around here has it’ but rather common as in shared. But he was pressed to write about something else: he needed to change the subject to encourage them and warn them to contend for the faith.
He continues: I found (have: vb; aor act ind) it necessary to write (nfn) appealing (pres act ptc) to you to contend (nfn) for the faith (note the def. art. which describes not what we believe but rather the content of that belief) that was once for all delivered (aor pass ptc) to the saints. He describes this Faith as that which was once (and not needed again) delivered over to the saints.
Do you see the difference? We’re not talking about the manner in which each one comes to a place of belief and surrenders their lives by what they now understand in their minds. No, Jude here is talking about an objective reality of the truth of the Gospel.
Gal 1.23 – 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” – ‘the faith’; Gal 1.6 – 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel… here it is termed the Gospel; This faith is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are the facts:
- Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life. Thus, qualifying him to serve as our Passover lamb.
- He died on a cross, shedding his blood to pay the penalty for our sin.
- He was placed in a borrowed tomb where his dead body lay for three days.
- He rose from the dead and lives now in glory and honor.
- He ascended to the right hand of the Father where he makes intercession for us.
- By placing your faith in him, you can receive the forgiveness of your sins and the hope of eternal life.
This is the objective reality of the Gospel and it is what Paul is telling the Galatians not to abandon. It is the passionate plea of Jude to these recipients, and to us to contend for this Gospel. Don’t tamper with it, Don’t dilute it to make it palatable and don’t distort it to make generic – contend for The Faith!
ill.: Bob Woods tells the story of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns. As always, when the tour reached the deepest point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth’s surface. The little girl, suddenly enveloped in utter darkness, was frightened and began to cry. Immediately was heard the voice of her brother: “Don’t cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights.”
app.: In a very real sense, that is the message of the Gospel: Light is available, even when it seems that the darkness is gloomy and overwhelming! And Paul and Jude are saying – you know how to turn on the lights! This is the Gospel, which you have received! Don’t change it…Don’t let it be changed by others!
Point # 2:
The Warning: False Teachers Clothed as Sheep
exp.: rd v 4a; The subject is men – specific or certain men; he doesn’t name names, but he tells them, and this is the verb: Certain men have crept in unnoticed; one word in the Gk, 4 words in the English.
This word appears only here in the NT. It’s related to many words with similar structure. A similar word ἔνδυμα/ἔνδυω which means clothing and to cloth; Mt 7.15: 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. This word in Jude means to cloth oneself in such a way that one might be able to blend in and go unnoticed. But the motive of this one is to bring harm to those who are unsuspecting.
These people don’t come into the church through the front door and announce they’re here to challenge the sufficiency of Scripture, or to shed doubt upon efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice.
But don’t be afraid! God knew about them long before they even breathed a breath. Rd 4b; 4 Descriptions:
- Who long ago were designated (pft pass ptc) for this condemnation, Prophesied about – Maybe Peter in 2 Peter; Maybe a common source for Jude and Peter; Maybe an OT Source or extra biblical literature, like Enoch; Dunno – but I do know that God has already known about it. He’s not surprised!
- Ungodly people; godless – not atheist per se…Douglas Moo writes: The word connotes a person who is “without religion” who ‘fails to worship.’ Hellenistic Jews used it especially of irreverence in an ethical sense: not theoretical atheism, but practical godlessness. In other words, their lives were filled with immorality. Their actions are the actions of someone who doesn’t have God in their lives; however their speech probably does. And this comes through in the next statement:
- Who pervert (pres act ptc) the grace of our God into sensuality; this could be sexual misconduct, drunkenness, gluttony, and so on. Sins of the flesh, if you will.
I wonder if this fits with Gnosticism. You know, you can do anything with the body because it is separate from the spirit. Someone would ask, as in Romans 6: Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound? Yes! Absolutely!
I wonder if there were these men pushing for all the men to be circumcised. A procedure done in the flesh, but not necessary any more; however, these teachers wanted adherence to the Law. I don’t know; Jude doesn’t tell us. Maybe that is why he doesn’t name them – we can apply this principle across the board. But he continues…
- Who deny (pres mid ptc) our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. There is one def. art.
Three Examples of Punishment
exp.: rd v 5a; 5 Now I want (vb; pres mid/pass ind) to remind you, although you once fully knew (pft act ptc) it, …
- Jesus destroyed the Hebrew slaves
exp.: rd 5b; The subject is Jesus; The verbs are destroyed, has kept, has set
…that Jesus, who saved (aor act ptc) a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed (vb: aor act ind) those who did not believe (aor act ptc). You and I know this is the exodus from Egypt (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and into Deuteronomy).
- Jesus has kept and is keeping the Angels
exp.: rd v 6; 6 And the angels who did not stay (aor act ptc) within their own position of authority, but left (aor act ptc) their proper dwelling, he has kept (pft act ind) in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— This is one of two stories:
- The Rebellion in heaven and the fall of Satan and his followers.
- Genesis 6.1-4; Elaborated on in 1 Enoch. Which Jude refers to in v 14;
- Maybe they’re one and the same;
- Jesus has set Sodom, Gomorrah, surrounding cities before us as an example of punishment
exp.: rd v 7; 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged (aor act ptc) in sexual immorality and pursued (aor act ptc) unnatural desire, serve (pres mid ind) as an example by undergoing a punishment (pres act ptc) of eternal fire.
So Jude is saying: Let me remind you that this Master and Lord of ours has destroyed, is detaining and has demonstrated for us the punishment that awaits those who rebel and lead others astray.
Conclusion: Some years ago, when I was really struggling as a pastor, Lisa asked me to take a moment – she wanted to share something she’d read in her quiet time. She told me that she doesn’t go looking for messages for me in her quiet time, but this was something that really stuck out. So, I listened. She took me to Galatians 5.7ff – 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? She said, that verse was a picture of my life: I had been running this race, but something happened – someone cut me off. Then she read verse 8 – 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
That truth hit me hard: I had indeed let others cut me off and they were keeping me from obeying my calling. That sort of thing wasn’t from the Lord. I needed to do a serious gut check. Lisa doesn’t know this, but I returned to that verse many times. The context was different, but the principle was the same. God had called me and I was letting people move me away from that calling. The passage continues: 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.
Satan is good at using people to derail your movement and obedience. The sinful nature of a person causes that person to seek prestige and power – and they’ll use that to get you to follow them and not the Lord.
- Do not lose the sense of urgency Jude had. He could have acknowledged to himself that there were indeed false teachers around, but he would write about them later. NO. He changed his plans because he sensed the urgency of the moment.
- False Teachers abound in this day and age. We need to be diligent. Set up barriers and alarms. Can you identify when something isn’t just right in what you’re hearing?
Ok, let’s make it personal:
- Are you listening to the Lord or pursuing your own passions? Are you one who is leading others astray? This is a very serious matter – to be so head strong about a program or ministry that you’ll sacrifice relationships to get your pet project off the ground?
Some years ago, our little church where I was serving was doing a Bible Study which was also a weight loss program. I was involved and was dropping a few pounds myself. It was all about portion control – and eating only when you were hungry. Good principles! However, some things were said in the Bible study time that bothered me. A couple of people noticed it, too and asked me about it. I did a little research and found that one of the tenets in their statement of faith was that Christ was the 1st Created being. According to their statement of faith, they did not believe in Christ’s eternal existence – He always has been and always will be. This group didn’t believe in the Trinity – they couldn’t conceptually grasp the idea of the plurality of the Godhead. I met with some of my leaders and made a decision that we would not host that Bible study anymore. Fssht – cancelled.
Do you think everyone was ok with that? No, there was one lady in our church was very upset. The mother of this family just happened to be losing more weight than she had ever experienced before. For her, that success was a litmus test – it was good enough. She was so angry with me. And her argument was very emotional: for the first time in my life I’m experiencing real weight loss. Fortunately for me, she found no followers interested in my lynching.
Each of us as believers is called to faith and called to service. In your service, are you listening to the Lord or pursuing your own passions? I’m not just asking if you prayed about it – What does the Lord say through His word.
- Note the three examples and what exactly were their egregious offenses? Why did they not follow the Lord?
- Rebellion due to a lack of trust.
- Rebellion due to a sense of pride.
- Rebellion due to selfish lusts and desires.
- You know how to turn the light on. There are others around you who live in darkness. What are you going to do?