Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 94: Beware False Practitioners
November 11, 2012
SCRIPTURE READING: Jude 1-4 (Peter T.)
JOHN WAS WRONG
We just finished up 1 John, but I SKIPPED over a PASSAGE that has always bothered me:
1 John 4:2-3a This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.
Q Mormons, JW’s, Buddhists, and most atheists acknowledge that Jesus CAME in the FLESH – are they from God?
This is a quick lesson in HERMENEUTICS – part of understanding the Bible is understanding the context it was written to rather making a blanket application to every situation.
Q John was dealing with a SPECIFIC SITUATION; what do we do when the heresy is NOT so CLEAR?
Like James, Jude was written by one of Jesus HALF-BROTHERS. It is one of the shortest books in the NT, only 25 verses long. It is roughly the same length as Philemon and a little longer than 2nd and 3rd John.
* But it is arguably the most IGNORED book of the NT, along with 2nd and 3rd John.
Like so many of the epistles, Jude was written to refute FALSE TEACHER who were attacking the early church. But Jude basically says NOTHING about what they BELIEVED.
Unlike the false teachers in GALATIANS who said we had to follow Jewish laws or the ones in 1 JOHN who said that Jesus wasn’t really a man, the emphasis was on how they lived.
* Jude is more interested in “FALSE PRACTITIONERS” than “FALSE TEACHERS.”
While this makes things more FRUSTRATING for SCHOLARS who have to write articles about who the opponents were, it makes Jude more HELPFUL to us.
* That makes Jude more applicable to a wide VARIETY and SEVERITY of false TEACHINGS.
WATCH WHERE THEY WALK
Jude 1:4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
They turned GRACE into PERMISSION to sin and DENIED Christ as LORD. They didn’t come out and said, “Jesus isn’t Lord,” that would have made them easier to identify.
* By their LIVES they denied that Jesus was THEIR LORD.
Last week we talked about how we need to make sure we are walking in the light.
* Giving GOD the KEYS analogy.
This is kind of a DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE on the same issue: Jude’s readers were looking on the outside and were able to say “these guys are not walking in the light.”
GROWING UP PENTECOSTAL
The reason IMPACTED me so much is because I know a lot NICE, yet dense, people who have some FUNNY ideas but live very BIBLICALLY, their goofy doctrine doesn’t affect their lives.
But I have also know a lot of people who have the DOCTRINE and did all the SPIRITUAL STUFF, intelligent people whose doctrine is not AS FAR OFF, but who have lived it out into GODLESSNESS.
* You can’t DEBATE them, their answers are SLICK and ARGUMENTS safe from your attacks – that doesn’t mean they are right.
Notice, the WARNING: “They have SLIPPED in among you.” You need to watch carefully for the false practitioners, because they are like SECRET AGENTS who have snuck in.
* EG: Argo, pretending to be Americans.
A GOOD START IS NO GUARANTEE
Q Here is an important question: Where they ALWAYS secret agents or did they DEFECT?
Jude 1:5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.
* Jude spends several verses to make ONE POINT: Even though the STARTED out WELL, that doesn’t mean they’re still one of you.
I said last week that some passages make it appear that you can LOSE your SALVATION, others seem to say the opposite. This is of those “can” passages.
I don’t bring this up for the sake of a PET DOCTRINE, but because this CONTRADICTS one of the DANGERS of that doctrine taken to an EXTREME.
* Story of FAITH talking to CALVINIST – two people can hold the same belief, yet one can still walk in the light.
But Jude’s point here is NOT to refute ETERNAL SECURITY, it is the warning I made last week: Don’t REST on your CONFESSION of faith, nor TRUST SOMEONE ELSE’S.
BEWARE THE ROCKS
In effect, Jude is saying, if something SMELLS ROTTEN, then something is rotten. Don’t worry so much about nuancing what is rotting, GET RID of it.
Jude 1:12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm – shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted – twice dead.
The word “blemish” is not a good translation – the word is actually “HIDDEN REEF.” These men are like a reef just beneath the surface who can shipwreck your faith.
Again, the point is NOT DOCTRINE as much as FRUIT, “by your fruit you will know them.” They may look the part, but they are empty of every good thing.
* EG: From SERENE WORSHIPPER to snarling at child in .5 seconds.
I have learned to pay a lot more attention to their PRACTICE than their DOCTRINE.
Q Do you have FRIENDS like that?
Q More importantly, are they INFLUENCING you?
Jude has HARSH WORDS for these false practitioners:
Jude 1:13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
This basically saying “GOD DAMNS THEM” in the truest and most proper sense. The greatest condemnation is for those who not only living falsely but leading others to do the same.
As the SHEPHERD of THIS CHURCH, I get this emotion – I get passionate and angry when anything THREATENS this flock.
Jude 1:17-19 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
They can be more dangerous than OVER the TOP HERETICS because they are hidden below the surface, ready to divide and conquer.
* This is a key reason for CHURCH DISCIPLINE: Both PROTECTING the CHURCH and to help YOU SEE the REEFS.
PROTECT YOURSELF FIRST
This all sensible in THEORY, but what about when the FALSE PRACTITIONER is a FRIEND whose company you really enjoy? What about when they are FAMILY MEMBERS?
Q Are we just supposed to GIVE up on them?
Not necessarily, Jude says, but you need to take PROPER PRECAUTIONS to keep yourself safe before you try to help them.
* It’s like the OXYGEN MASKS on the AIRPLANE – put it on yourself first so you can be able to help others.
I wonder how many Christian have been HURT because they tried to HELP other before they were READY. Here is how you prepare:
Jude 1:20-21 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Don’t spend all of your energy RESISTING FALSE TEACHERS and practitioners. Don’t NEGLECT your own HEALTH. In fact, spend MORE time taking care of yourself than worrying about others.
Q So how do we BUILD OURSELVES up?
You can’t really see it in the NIV, but there is ONE basic COMMAND here, one way to protect ourselves from false teaching and practice: KEEPING YOURSELF in GOD’S LOVE.
Q Does that mean God’s love for us or our love for God?
With the way GREEK works, either is easily possible, in fact I think Jude meant both, otherwise he would have clarified himself.
* Ultimately, the FALSE PRACTITIONERS don’t suffer from a lack of KNOWLEDGE, but by a lack of LOVE.
The way that we guard ourselves and keep from error is by:
1. God’s love for us
The more secure we are in GOD’S LOVE the LESS ATTRACTIVE sin is.
2. Our love for God
The more we LOVE GOD the less willing we are to live how we want.
3. Building ourselves up in “The Faith”
This doesn’t mean “FAITH” in the “believe” sense, but “The FAITH.” Know the Bible, know good DOCTRINE and good PRACTICE.
4. Praying in the Holy Spirit
Does that mean you have to speak in TONGUES to pray? “IN” means “IN, WITH, or BY.” Pray with the Holy Spirit’s GUIDANCE, pray by his POWER.
* It means that prayer isn’t an INDEPENDENT ACT, it is done in cooperation with him.
5. Waiting patiently
VINDICATION isn’t IMMEDIATE. It would be nice if the false practitioner self-imploded on the spot so it was easy to know they were wrong.
* We are waiting FOR MERCY – we have doNe NOTHING to make ourselves BETTER than them.
As you are building yourself up, you will be able to try to HELP both the false PRACTITIONERS and THOSE being SWAYED by them, but with CAUTION.
What I love about this passage is it warns us against “ONE SIZE fits all” solutions.
Q Have you ever hear the expression, “If the only tool you have is a HAMMER, every problem will look like a NAIL”?
The trick is to UNDERSTAND where any given person is before you respond:
Jude 1:22-23 Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Let’s say you have a FRIEND who seems to be falling under the influence of a FALSE PRACTITIONER:
1. Some are genuinely confused.
Show mercy, rebuke gently. Don’t fly off the handle
2. Some are in danger of leaving Jesus.
The time for niceness has passed. Let them complain about how harsh you were, so long as you pull them out. This may mean MOVING THE FIRE instead of the believer.
3. Some are dangerous.
With these, BE AFRAID, be very afraid. CONCERN easily turns to TOLERANCE, and that easily turns into ACCEPTANCE.
* HOPE for REPENTANCE, but be CAREFUL lest they pull you away.
Jude drives the point home using some DISTURBING IMAGERY. The word for clothing refers to undergarment and “stained” alludes to an OT reference to excrement befouled clothes.
* EG: Bruce’s incident.
When we look at FALSE PRACTITIONERS, we need to view them like a BABY drenched in FILTH. We want to be very, very CAREFUL lest we also be stained by their filth.
* What this means in practical terms is that you may still try to REACH them, but the RELATIONSHIP CHANGES.
* Please text “Sunday School Teacher” ; service is almost over
But in the end there is NO FEAR, ONLY WORSHIP, one of the best doxologies in the Bible.
* Even with the current EVIL, this is the picture of what will be.
Jude 1:24-25 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy to – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Ultimately, our HOPE doesn’t rest in our OWN ABILITY to keep ourselves, but in JESUS.
Q & A