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Todd discusses twenty characteristics of the apostate leader - and why we must be diligent about evaluating programs, teachers and instruction.
To Build Up or Break Down: The Job Descriptions of Saints and Scoffers
Profile of a Serial Sheep Killer
Beware the Creepers
How to Play in Such a Way that the Program and the Coach are Famous
Anybody else uncomfortable? Spurgeon used to ask folks who were believers to leave so folks who were not believers could come and there'd be room for them. We just offend all the believers so nothing but non-believers would be here. Yeah, it's good stuff.
I've found the band's threshold of pain. They will let me absolutely mutilate a Toby Keith song or a Kenny Chesney song. I rewrote "Hey Jude" this week, and they said, "No way are we desecrating Lennon and McCartney." Sit down! It started, "Hey, dude, don't make me sad. Take a bad church and make it better." Then it went downhill from there, and they said, "We're not doing that." I'm serious. Let me pray for us.
Lord, thank you so much that you love dudes like us. I know that even offends some people, that they go, "Gosh, that doesn't sound much like a pastor or certainly the way you talk to a holy God." I'm even more grateful that you know us just for who we are, and you don't expect a bunch of thees and thous. What you've always been after are hearts.
That's all you've ever wanted, Lord, and we have made you out to be something that has offended you. We're made you out to be a God who has wanted piety and forms. We've dumbed you down to some God who wants some ticket punched. We just want to get our heads right again.
Likewise, we don't want to be flippant. We realize what has happened so we can call you Abba, Daddy, Father. We realize what has happened so that we can come boldly before your throne of grace. Your Son, you yourself, have died. You took a beating, you let us curse you, you let us whip you, you let us mock you while you were naked, you let us spit in your face because you love us in all of our brokenness and frailty.
Lord, we thank you that we can talk to you in our tongue, but that tongue, we pray, is always informed by what your Spirit has shown our hearts. This morning, we come, and we pray that we would get our thinking corrected by your Word, that we would have fun. Thank you that we can laugh. Thank you that we can love each other, but we really want this to be about Jesus Christ, who he is, what he has done, and how we should respond.
We thank you for Jude. We thank you that this book can correct us, sharpen us, and spur us on. We ask that you would accomplish with this perfect book in our imperfect lives what you in your perfect goodness have desired for us. So we come, we pay attention, Father. We pray every time we hear those familiar melodies Lennon and McCartney wrote that they would remind us of the melody of truth you have sung from the heavens, that you would get the attention of dudes like us by using your servant, Jude, to communicate truth. Do that now. We thank you that, Lord, you love us enough to give us that. Amen.
Welcome. We are making our way through this little book called Jude. I hope you always bring your Bible, and I hope if you have yours today, you'll turn with me to the book of Jude. It's the second to last book in your Bible. It's a short book, but it is loaded with a punch that will wake you up.
We've talked about how God, before he closed the revelation he has given to us so we wouldn't be left on our own, wandering to and fro, he wanted to remind us that there were going to be individuals who came and wanted to compromise his call on our lives, who wanted to pull us off task from being people who live lives the way he wanted us to live our lives. He said, "I don't want to just tell you again about my love for you. I want to tell you that there are folks who don't love me, and they aren't concerned for you. So be aware. Wake up."
Jude, we know, was somebody who believed, "If you know the truth, the truth will set you free." He said, "I'm going to tell you one more time the truth, and you should contend for it. You should agonize, strain with every muscle, every fiber of your being, to protect it because this is the truth of God, once and for all revealed to the saints.
There are going to be men and women who come along who don't care much about you. They'll call themselves pastors, they'll call themselves priests, they'll call themselves prophets, they'll call themselves social commentators, they'll call themselves friends, they'll call themselves spouses, they'll call themselves neighbors, and they will not ask of you what I ask of you. They won't call you to what I call you to."
Last night, I was driving home with my oldest daughter and a friend who were together at a little school party and dance. On the way home, we got to talking, and the conversation turned toward an opportunity to address spiritual things. I said to this friend of my daughter's as we were in the car, "Hey, tell me, when you think about stuff like that, and specifically spiritual things, and you think about God, what do you think of?"
This sweet little seventh-grade girl gave a great answer about what she thought of when she though about God. Basically, she said, "I think about how much he loves us." I said, "That's exactly right. Do you know when I was your age, I couldn't get my arms around the fact that God loved me? I was convinced that what God was trying to do was just lay on me a bunch of rules."
I said, "Have you ever thought about how many rules God has?" She goes, "Well, I guess I kind of have." I go, "What do you think about a God who would give you that many rules? It rubs me wrong." I was just goading her a little bit, and she must have been thinking, "I thought this girl's dad was a pastor."
I said, "You know what it took for me? I had to get to the place where I understood that God's rules weren't rules, but they were instructions for me that I might live my life in a way that I would experience life the way I've always wanted to live it. Let me ask you guys a question. Do you have friends who, even like tonight at that party, are trying to offer you instructions on what you should do, how you should live, how you should relate to others, think about others, and things you should participate in so you could have more fun?"
They go, "Oh, yeah." I go, "You have friends who are going to come from two different angles at you. You're going to have friends who are going to have their own ideas about what fun is. Some of their ideas are going to feel really good for a while, are going to taste really sweet for a while, but they're going to come with an awful aftertaste.
Do you know what's really something? The older you get… In fact, between how you old you are and how old I am, you're going to get bombarded with people who have all kinds of ideas about how you could experience life. It took me about twice as long as you have lived to figure out that God's rules weren't rules to oppress me. I found out that God loves me, and he wants me to experience life like I couldn't imagine it. Do you know what the hardest thing in my life is? It's trusting him, that he has my best interests in mind for me."
I went right back, and I said, "Do you know what you said at the very beginning? When I came to understand that God loves me, and that when I live my life the way he's revealed to me I should live my life, I get the quality and character and components of life I've always been searching for and things that, sometimes, the instructions of the world offered to me but never delivered."
That was our conversation driving home, and it was great for us to be reminded that God is good and has our best interests in mind, but the reality is there are going to be people you are going to be confronted with who are going to give you instructions, ideas on how to live, who will not have your best interests in mind.
They're going to be about their own interests, and sometimes they want you to adopt their thinking so they can lead you, because they love to pull others down the same road with them, because they want you to participate with them in some of their acts of rebellion because it would pleasure them if you joined them. Or, maybe just because they don't want your life to stand in contradiction to theirs as a reminder of the judgment that is due them as an individual who lives their life in a way that is contrary to how a God who is over all of us expects us to live.
I shared with them this, and a number of us have been memorizing a couple of verses as we work our way through the Bible. If you have not joined us on the journey, the pace is so much better this year, and we're all getting our arms around a few Scriptures. I want to show you as we get ready to dive into Jude some things the false teachers are not, why it's so important that we are careful to not listen to people who don't love us well and why it is so significant that we are careful ourselves with how we lead.
One of the verses in Matthew 6:33. The translation I memorize verses in is this one, and it talks about how we should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and when we do that, all of these things shall be added unto us. "These things" is a reference to the things we always think we're going to need for our life to be made up of that which would please us or fulfill our heart's desire.
This is really what I was talking about with my seventh-grade daughter and her friend last night. What I had to come to understand was that God cared enough for me to map out for me a life that if I lived it would give me what I was looking for. This is what Jude knew. Jude knew that when Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free," he said, "Contend for the truth, and don't let people knock you off your pursuit of the truth."
What's amazing is that we live in a world today where only 33 percent of the folks you're going to bump into in this world believe there is such a thing as truth. Let me say that again. Right off the top, I can tell you there are a number of folks you're going to bump into who are going to even disagree with the fact that there's any truth to contend for.
The fact that the world maybe has adopted that mindset shouldn't surprise all that much, but the fact that about 50 percent of people who will fill up churches today believe that ought to sober us up a little bit and make us go, "Wow. Even people who are in places that I think are for me, to seek this kind of life, are going to question whether or not we can even agree that there is a life we should seek."
Listen to this. There's another verse we've been working at. It's Matthew 12:36. It says this: "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment." This verse, specifically, is in reference to false teachers during the time of Christ who had rejected Jesus' testimony about himself.
Jesus came and said, "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly. Not just in terms of quantity after the grave; I'm talking about in quality right now. I've come to set you free. I've come to lead you to a place that you can experience a quality of life that is free from guilt, hopelessness, fleetingness, folly, and things that bring about destruction, pain, and disease into your life and your community's life because I love you.
I'm going to lead you down a good path. I'm a good shepherd, so I'm going to take you to a green pasture beside still waters that you can be refreshed by and drink deeply from because I'm for you. I'm the Good Shepherd, and so I will instruct you in the way you should go. Don't lean on your own understanding but listen to me."
There were a group of men who came around and said, "Look, Jesus, you're a rabbi, you're a teacher, you're a master, but you're not who you say you are. You are not the final and full revelation of God." This verse we are thinking about is much more than just saying you shouldn't tell off-color jokes or express words that capture the fullness of your frustration.
The specific context of this verse is that before you give some flippant idea about who Jesus was and what he was doing on the cross, be careful. What you say about him determines everything. In other words, if he is just a rabbi, a good teacher, a good prophet, a good man, then you're going to treat him like that. When your opinion contradicts his opinion, you're going to go with whatever way seems right to you.
But if you know that Jesus is God's greatest revelation of love to you to lead you down the road that you might have everything your heart ever wanted experientially now, the kind of life that is free from the hurts, the habits, and the hang-ups that so easily entangle us… If you know that Jesus is the means through which you can be restored into relationship with God, given that you don't follow his instructions as perfectly as we all should, and that God, in his love, has provided a means through which you can then boldly come and call yourself his friend again…
If you acknowledge that he alone is the name through which we can be restored to God through his finished work on the cross, good for you. But if you say, "I'll get there my own way and figure out my own way through my own discernment," it's going to cost you big time, both now and in the day to come.
Who was Jesus, and what was he doing on the cross? There are going to be people who come around you all the time. They're going to say, "I'm for your Jesus, but don't make him out to be too big of a deal." Careless word because it's impossible to make God out to be too big of a deal. It's impossible to be too consumed with knowing the one who loves you and will call all of us into account.
Jesus says, "Just beware." In Matthew 16, he and the disciples were having a little conversation. It says, "And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, 'Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'"
A leaven is basically yeast. Guys, most gals aren't baking much of their own bread anymore, so we don't know that it just takes a little yeast to affect an entire lump of dough. What he's saying is, "Watch me and listen to me because there are others who are going to tell you they are God's agents, who are going to give you some teaching, and if you just get a little bit of their teaching in your life, it can lead to huge problems."
These guys didn't get this at all. "They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, 'He said that because we did not bring any bread.'" But Jesus, aware of their idiocy, stupidity, and the fact that they were educated in public schools, said… Like me, big proponent of public schools. A little levity; don't get too bent out of shape. "But Jesus, aware of this, said, 'You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?'"
"Do you not yet understand or remember the 5,000 loaves I gave when I fed the 5,000 men and their wives and their children? Or don't you remember the fact that I fed 4,000? And when I got done with the 5,000, there were 12 baskets left over, and when I got done with the 4,000, there were 7 baskets left over? How is it you still don't get it? Why don't you understand that I don't speak to you concerning bread? When you're with me, Lunchables are never a problem."
"Here's the idea," he says. "'But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching…" A little compromise can go a long way in pulling you off course. You have to be really careful what you're taking in, because you will start to get subtly led astray, and then you can be in big trouble. This is what he says to us about the fact that trouble is coming for people who have a wrong view of truth.
In Matthew 18, the disciples were talking amongst themselves about who the greatest was. He says, "I'll tell you who the greatest is. Whoever humbles themselves as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name, receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble…"
This is a reference both to the biological age of individuals who are still having their worldview shaped and little ones who are beginning to understand the fullness of who God is in his revelation of himself through Jesus Christ. "If you cause one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for you that you have a death that the Mafia would sometimes introduce you to, that a heavy millstone would be hung around your neck and you'd be chucked into a lake. It's not good to have a careless word about me."
In James 3, watch this. This is what humbles me week after week, and I'm going to bring this full circle at the end and tell you it ought to humble you. "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." Why is that? Because teachers who teach error are not only fools for themselves, but they invite others to participate in their foolishness and futility, and God doesn't take that lightly.
Before he wrapped up his Word to us, that we might have life, he said, "Beware because there are going to be some folks who come along who are going to try and dumb down truth. They're going to sneak in among you, and they're going to change the meaning of words. They're even going to embrace words you use, but they're going to subtly redefine them. They're going to talk about Jesus, but their Jesus isn't going to be your Jesus."
I can remember a long time ago my parents and I were traveling through Utah. We stopped at this little tabernacle and temple in Utah. We went in there and we were part of a church that wasn't, at the time, teaching who Jesus was and how to respond to him. We walked in and there was the biggest statue of Jesus my dad had ever seen. They had in their name that they were the church of saints of Jesus Christ.
My dad got all fired up about what these people were doing and the fact that there were even some things in there that promoted unity and family time together. There were things that were very attractive. It took a long time for some of that stuff to be seen, that just because they embrace the name of Jesus doesn't mean they embrace the name of our Jesus.
I've used this illustration before, and this is going to show you the subtly of false teachers. I've said to you sometimes that I love Barney. I admit that's kind of foolish, it's kind of crazy. I know I'm a grown man. I know he's a little dorky, but I'm a big Barney fan. I think he's funny. As far as deputy sheriff goes, he's the best one Andy ever had.
The reason I do that is because most you guys were thinking about a big purple dinosaur when I started talking about Barney. I wasn't. I was talking about Barney, but I was talking about the deputy sheriff. When you hear people talk about Jesus, did you know the Islamic people will embrace the name of Jesus? Did you know the Mormons will embrace the name of Jesus? Did you know the Jehovah's Witnesses will embrace the name of Jesus?
Did you know there are churches all over America today, pastors and priests all over the world today, who will talk about Jesus? But they will not talk about the deputy of God. They will not talk about the visible image of the invisible God. They will not talk about the fact that he alone is the means through which men must be saved. They will not call him "Lord," and they will deny his authority in your life. Just because they say, "Jesus," just because they call themselves a church, just because they say they're Christian, just because they call themselves pastor, beware.
Are you ready? I'm going to give you now, basically, a profile of serial sheep killers. What I mean by that is the FBI will go through and they're going to tell you, "This is what a serial killer looks like. He walks around for his own lust and pleasure, raping and murdering others." No serial killer has every characteristic the FBI goes through, but some of these are always present in their lives.
This is what God did in Jude, chapter 1, the only chapter in the book of Jude. In verses 8-16, he's going to give you about 20 different characteristics you can use as a profile for people who don't have you best interests in mind. If you will, this is the DSM. For those of you in the psychological, psychiatric, counseling world, the DSM is the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
A group of men got together, and they said, "If you have about X percentage of these characteristics we've observed in people's lives, then we're going to label you with this psychological tag." What's going on right here is you want to diagnose people in your life. If they have some of these elements, then you had better be aware. They might be a serial sheep killer, and you ought to get away as fast as you can.
Here we go. Look with me in Jude, verse 8. Start right there. I put in some basic observations that we walked through so you can follow me. In verse 8, it says, "Yet in the same way these men…" It references back to the folks who were there in verse 4-7, the nation of Israel, who didn't respect God even though they were individuals who were part of a throng that moved and followed faithful men as they led them out of bondage into a place of life. There were some guys who were tagging along who didn't really respect God, and God judged them.
There were some angels who were in the presence of God in heaven who decided that God wasn't somebody to be worshiped. They lacked reverence, and God judged them. Then there were individuals who lived in a nation and in a land where they did not live the way God wanted them to. They lacked righteousness, and God judged them. His point is, "Even though these guys sneak in amongst you unaware, God knows who they are, and God has always judged these people. Stay away from them so you won't incur the judgment they incur."
In the same way as apostate Israel, apostate angels, and apostate citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, the same way as these men became corrupt, so do false teachers. This is what he says: "They do it by dreaming." It's no coincidence that in upstate New York, one Joseph Smith said that he had a dream, he had a vision. He saw certain things that led him down a road, so that you can have an idea now where truth is. Muhammad, through a vision, through a dream, saw things that you Christians, stuck with your little Bible, can't see.
These men have ideas that they get through their visions and dreams that you can't test. When you can't verify something by testing it according to history, geography, science, and things of that sort, it's nonsensical by nature. These men are dreamers. They defile the flesh. They are cancer; they are bacteria. They take you away from the life God wants you to live in a way that's going to hurt you. They reject the authority of God who has the right to tell you how to live because he created you and is going to call you into account for the way you steward your life.
They not only do that, but they revile angelic majesties. They are scoffers whose arrogance will cost them. In other words, they take on spiritual battles that they have no idea what they're getting themselves into. This is what it says right there in verse 9. It's going to give you an illustration of this.
It says, "But Michael…" who was an archangel, whose name means, "Who is like the Lord?" He was an angel who maintained an attitude of humility and respect for God. He had a moment, that Jude's going to tell us, where he was confronted by Satan, Lucifer, if you will, the antitype of Michael. Lucifer was the angel who rebelled against God, who said, "I will make myself like the Most High." Here is Michael who says, "Who is like God? I want to serve him." Lucifer says, "I'm like God; I'll take him on."
If anybody can take on Satan, it would be Michael, especially when Michael is given a task by God to accomplish something, and he is being challenged by somebody who doesn't have authority. You would think Michael would say, "You want to throw down? God's on my side. Let's go." But what he's going to say here in verses 9 and 10 of this section is even Michael dared not revile this angelic majesty.
I told you last week about the number of pastors who today don't even believe in the existence of angelic majesties. One of the ways you can revile angels is by saying they don't exist, or revile Satan is by saying, "There's nothing there to worry about." The Scripture says that we have an Enemy, and he is like a roaring lion, prowling about, seeking whom he might devour. If we are callous, careless, and flippant about spiritual things, it's going to cost us.
This is a reference to a book that was in Jewish tradition called the Assumption of Moses, where it talks about what we do know in the Scriptures, that in Deuteronomy 31, it says, "When Moses died, the Lord took his body and buried him." He knew the Israelites were a people given to idolatry. If Moses would have been buried by them, they would have built some shrine there and worshiped at the tomb of Moses. He's saying, "Moses is not the key to you all; I am."
God took the body of Moses, and what we know from Jude is that he gave it, if you will, to Michael. He said, "You go bury this body." Apparently, on the way, Satan said, "I get that dude's body because he was a murderer, because that body is material, and I'm lord of the material world. Give me that body."
Here's Michael on a charge by God to go bury this body. Here's the Enemy who's accusing Moses of being unworthy to stand before God. You would think if anybody was going to revile this angelic majesty, it would have been Michael, the archangel, but Michael just sat there quietly and said, "The Lord rebuke you," and that's exactly what happened.
The Lord rebuked him and said, "Get away from here. You're prince of this world, but what is mine is mine, and I don't lose even one. Moses wasn't a perfect man, but Moses believed in me, trusted me, followed me, and I dealt with the corruption in his heart. I gave him the means through which he could offer a sacrifice to me that I would find acceptable until the day that my own perfect blood redeems him. Get out of here."
The point of all of this is these guys, these false teachers, have no idea what they're jacking with, and it's going to cost them. Specifically, it goes on in verse 10. It says, " [They] revile the things which they do not understand…" First Corinthians 2:14 talks about how unspiritual men can't talk about spiritual things because their minds aren't spiritually appraised.
They don't think about anything else other than what they can see. They deal in the now, they deal in the temporal because they aren't individuals who the grace of God has allowed to come to a breaking point where they realize their instructions for living are causing pain in their lives and the lives of others that they should flee from. It says, in fact, that the things they know, they only know by instinct. They are like unreasoning animals, and by these things, they are destroyed.
I had some roommates in college who were good friends and to this day are great friends. They were men like this. We would get in conversation all of the time. They would look at me, and they would say things like this. They'd say, "Todd, I don't get why you live your life the way you live your life. I don't understand why God would give me the desires he's given me, in all my heterosexual vigor. Why would God design me to want to have physical relations with others and attach immense pleasure to that if that's not how I was mean to live?"
What they didn't understand was that God spoke into our nature, which had become corrupted by our leaving his instruction on how to live and going our own way. God speaks backs into this sex drive we have, which is a gift from God. Sex isn't a bad thing; it's a great thing, but he says, "If you take that out of the context of which I have given it to you, it will not bring peace, harmony, and celebration. It will bring guilt, shame, insecurity, emptiness, and addiction in a way that will not be life to you."
My roommates, because they did not think of spiritual things because they were not spiritually appraised, as the Scripture says, were only like animals. What's an animal like? An animal has no spiritual insight. It is driven only by its flesh and its nature. If you get a Saint Bernard that walks by a little French Poodle that's in heat, he doesn't go, "This will probably create family problems here if I move in this direction." All it does is charge. It doesn't care if that French Poodle is on the other side of an eight-lane highway and there are bunch of dead French Poodles halfway there and a bunch of dead Saint Bernards all over it. They'll just charge.
It's interesting that my friend, by the grace of God, was constrained in some ways because he was a higher animal than a Saint Bernard. There were other elements of life, of his flesh, that he did discipline. For instance, anger. I talked to him, and this guy was an All-American athlete and had the ability to take folks apart. I said, "I hear the way people frustrate you sometimes. Why don't you take them apart? Why don't you murder them? Why don't you kill them? Why don't you strangle them?"
His answer was, "Because if I do, I won't be able to cross the eight-lane highway to hang out with French Poodles. They'll stick me with other male Saint Bernards, and that's not what I'm looking to do." Luckily, society was constraining him a little bit, or so he thought. What he did do is he took what society gave him, because even though society said, "You can't kill other living, healthy Saint Bernards, you can kill young Saint Bernards we can't see yet, and we're getting quickly to where we can kill old Saint Bernards that really don't much anymore."
This man's instincts did lead to murder, did lead to emptiness in his life, and did lead to pain. And yet, he kept going back to one thing, and that was his intense pleasure associated with what he wanted to do. "I'm not going to think about things that are beyond the drive of my flesh."
Whenever you see a false teacher, you're going to see one of three things. You're going to always see an individual who is getting more power, you're going to see an individual who is getting more plentiful, or you're going to see individuals getting pregnant, and I mean that. You're going to see immorality, and they're going to see their doctrines and beliefs allow them to sleep with as many wives as they want.
"Isn't this convenient? We'll create a religion that allows for that. We're going to create a religion that allows me, through my health, wealth, and prosperity, to show you how spiritual I am. No matter what level you live at, as your shepherd, the more wealthy I am, the more evidence I am that I am God's man. Follow me, and maybe one day God will allow you to have some verification of your spirituality because you'll be as wealthy as I am."
Or, you'll see men getting more and more powerful. Typically when men get more and more powerful, they'll go for that which will give them plenty and that which allow them to impregnate others. You'll always see it in some form or fashion. You saw it with Mormons, you saw it with Jehovah's Witnesses, you saw it with Muhammad. You see it with false teachers in the church today. It's out there.
When men reject God, they reject God not because the Scripture contradicts itself. They reject him because it contradicts them. They are unreasoning animals, and they don't want anything to get in the way of the French Poodle they have set their eyes on. Not just sexually, but any other area they have instructed themselves that there is life over here. This is what it says.
As it continues, Jude warns us about these guys. He says, "Woe to them!" Because they are reaping their own destruction. "For they have gone the way of Cain…" Specifically, the way of Cain was to reject the means through which God gave them to be rightly related to him. The way of Abel was to bring what God told him to bring, which was a member of his flock, a choice animal that could be sacrificed, that would be a picture of the fact that God, in his grace, covered the initial rebellion of humankind.
When Adam and Eve first rebelled against God, they did what we all try and do. They created their own means through which they could cover their nakedness and shame. They grabbed fig leaves, and they sewed the fig leaves together and made for themselves clothes so they wouldn't be ashamed of each other because now they're no longer others-centered individuals who looked to love and serve other people.
Now they're self-centered individuals with insecurity, and their nakedness is a picture of their self-absorption. They're naked before each other and ashamed, and they're naked before God. They try and cover their sin their own way, and God says, "Unacceptable. Take your fig leaves off and wrap yourself in this animal skin." It should cause you to ask the question, "Where did the animal skin come from?"
It came from, probably, some lamb, I think, because God, the master teacher, is always telegraphing his move. He took little Fluffy and slit his throat in a place that, previous to that, there had never been any death. Now, all of a sudden, there's death in this perfect paradise, and this innocent lamb's blood was spilt.
God, in his grace, covered them and said, "I told you there'd be death in the day you sinned. It should be your death, but I'm going to show you that I love you. I'm going to take this thing, I'm going to sacrifice it, and it anticipates the perfect Lamb who will one day be sacrificed so my justice can be met. I'm going to cover you and adorn you with the covering I say is acceptable."
Cain, when it came time to offer a sacrifice, said, "You know what? I'm a farmer. I'm not going to go humble myself and ask Abel if I can have one of his lambs to go and offer you a sacrifice, God, because frankly, I don't think you're that holy. I'll present to you what I want to present to you. If what I have to present to you isn't enough, then to heck with you."
God says to him, "I found Abel's sacrifice acceptable." Cain goes, "I'll take care of that." He went, and he killed his brother Abel because he said, "Look, God, I'm going to be angry at you. I'm going to be angry at others who are going to make me appear before you as less holy than I am. I'm going to stand against them; I'm going to stand against you." The way of Cain is to say, "I will give you what I have, and if that ain't good enough, I don't care what you think."
Second, it says there are individuals who follow headlong into the error of Balaam. Balaam was a man who said that he would not speak unless it was consistent with what God had said until somebody came alongside of him and said, "I will make you more plentiful. I will give you more if you'll just say what I want you to say." Balaam, eventually, was bought.
The error of Balaam is to be an individual who says, "I'll serve God unless it's really, really profitable to not serve God, unless it will advance me politically, unless it will advance me interpersonally with somebody else, unless it will advance me professionally and feather my bed, then I'll figure out a way to justify what God really once said." False teachers do that.
The rebellion of Korah… Korah was somebody who had a hard time with the fact that God was going to use Moses, Aaron, and the Levitical tribe to be a means through which he would minister to the people of Israel until such a time as the perfect High Priest came in the image and person of Jesus Christ. Korah said, "I don't want to go through Moses. I don't want to go through your high priest. I will stand before you myself and offer what I want to offer. I don't need anybody else shepherding me."
The rebellion of Korah was basically this idea that God's mediator was not a necessary mediator. God consumed Korah in judgment. I'll come back to those three things at the end as a purpose of application but watch this. They continue to go on. It says, "These are the men who are hidden reefs…"
In other words, they are disguised and deadly. They call themselves the Jesus Seminar, and yet it's a different Jesus that they're telling you about. They are individuals who are hidden just below water's edge, and many a ship has been shipwrecked off of them. They're not easily seen. They don't telegraph themselves by saying, "Danger over here." They call themselves pastors, priests, friends, leaders, social commentators.
They say it is just an unwanted pregnancy; they don't say it's murder. They change the words, take it below the level so you don't have to deal with the reality of what you're dealing with. They say all you're doing is following who you are; they don't tell you you're following the rebellion that our flesh is all bent toward. They're hidden reefs.
It goes on to say that these individuals are entering into love feasts when they feast with you without fear. This is just a reference to that day and age… What happened was Christians used to get together on the first day of the week and celebrate the Lord's resurrection and what he had done for them. These guys would take what the church would bring together as they celebrated what God had done. Everybody would bring what they could, and everybody would share what they had so everybody could celebrate in God's provision for them.
There would individuals who would take advantage of that and go, "Look at these idiots. They bring what they have, and all I'm going to do is use this as an opportunity to feed my face. Not to care for others but just to take advantage of these weak-minded people who think that somehow they honor their God by loving each other. I will eat to my heart's content, I will drink until I'm drunk, and I will make sure I get what I want."
There are individuals right there within houses of worship who think they're on scholarship. They don't ever throw in, they don't ever participate in serving others in the body, and they don't ever care for people outside because all they want to do is feed themselves. They are consumers, and they are shepherds who are selfish.
They are clouds without water, people who are full of self-promise. They say to you, "Hey, this is the secret. Come on over here; it will change your life." Not only that, it says they're going to come a little bit later, and they're going to say they are individuals who are carried along by winds. They are full of false promise.
In other words, "Here comes this cloud that's going to refresh you and bring you rain you need into your life to bless you," but the clouds come, and they pass. It just makes it more humid and hot. They never deliver what they say.
But that's no problem because they're going to blow something else in in just a second and say, "That wasn't it; this is it!" They're going to move, one way and then another. This stands in direct contrast, by the way, to what God's Word says it is. In fact, let me take you to Isaiah 55:10-12. Let me read this to you. This is what it says in Isaiah 55:10, talking about what God does:
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
In other words, "If you follow my instruction, it will be well with you." In contrast to these men; they are clouds without water. It never brings the refreshing source of life you want, but that's not a problem because they'll pop up with some modification, or some new truth, or some new teacher will come along and say, "Let's go this way."
They will be carried whatever the popular idea of the day is. "They're carried along by winds; they are autumn trees without fruit." That's the time a tree is supposed to produce what it should produce, but they can't produce it because they are not rooted in the source of life. They are doubly dead. They have no life on the outside, and they will never revive because the roots are not embedded into the source of life.
"They are wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam, relentless and constant." You want a graphic picture of this? Isaiah, in chapter 57, talks about this, where he says, "The wicked are like the tossing sea." It's never ending. Do you ever feel like that? Saying, "Come on, go this way."
I can remember in college, folks were always trying to crash up against me and say, "Wagner, do this with us." Nowadays, folks would say, "Don't be so radical in your calling to folks to follow Christ." People are always just knocking you one way or another, and they're relentless. They cannot be quiet, as waters toss up refuse and mud.
There's always stuff on the shore after that wild, turbulent night at sea. There's dead wood, there's all kinds of seaweed and things of that sort. That's what he's saying: false teachers are like that. They're going to be relentless in their coming and their pounding, and there's going to be all kinds of junk and debris that is stirred up as a result of that. "These men are like wild waves of the sea," it says.
It goes on to say that they are wandering stars. The word we get the word planets from is the Greek word which means wanderer. In other words, if you go out and try and navigate your way by the stars that are in the heavens at night, you'll be fine because the stars are fixed. They're on an axis, and we can always tell where they are.
If you go the Big Dipper, you go to the end of that Big Dipper, you draw a line through those two little stars at the end, they're called pointer stars, it's going to take you right to the seventh brightest object in the sky. It's called Polaris; it's the North Star. It's always there. But if you go out, there are a bunch of objects that are brighter than the North Star. Right now, Venus, Jupiter, and Mars are very bright, but they are wanderers.
The Greek scholars and astronomers assigned the Greek name for wandering to these things, and we have what's called a transliteration. We brought a word across, and we call them planets. That's basically the Greek root word for wanderer. If you set yourself by these guys, you'll never make your way because they're never in the same place. You can't fix yourself and guide yourself by them because they're all over the map. They're unanchored and untrustworthy.
For these men, "the black darkness has been reserved for," it says in the Scripture. They're destined for destruction. Stay away from them. He's going to say, "It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam…" He says that because there were two Enochs in the Scripture. The one who was seven down from Adam was the good one; listen to him.
This is what he said: "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way…" You see a common theme here? "…and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
In other words, people who have gone their own way, have sought their own way, that haven't listened to the instruction of God. These men are headed for real trouble. They're going to bring other people into trouble with them. "These are the grumblers…" They're always saying just what the Enemy said at the beginning. "God doesn't care for you. God wants to suppress you. God wants to keep you from experiencing life abundantly."
It says that they will find fault. They will follow after their own lusts, what makes sense to them. They will speak arrogantly. "It's the enlightened reason of our age and day that will free us." They will flatter you. "You don't need a cross. You don't need your flesh crucified. You need to be set free, O great people. You yourself need to think for yourself because you are like a god in and of yourself." It's the original lies all rolled into one. They are flatterers.
There's a guy who spoke not many years. I want to read you a quote of his, and then we're going to hit the application straight away and hard. This is what A.W. Tozer said about our message and what we're called to do. He said, "[The kind of] evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers."
In other words, if we come and try and tell people, "You're okay. You just need to be unleashed to a greater potential. You need to unleash the giant within. You need to become all the fullness of what you should become…" The fullness of what we should become as individuals left to ourselves is rebels who continue to go our own way. God is saying, "Let me tell you. Return to me. Believe in me. Don't determine good and evil on your own. Let me lead you to life."
What Tozer is saying is people who speak the good news of God are not always trying to reconcile people's ideas with God's ideas. "The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die."
Watch this. This is what Jude's saying: contend for the faith. "We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum."
You hear that, and you go, "Whoa." I want to say this. I know some of you guys might have a problem with me. I mean, you might. You might go, "That guy is arrogant. That guy speaks up there like he's the only one who knows what truth is." I'm going to walk you through that here in a minute when we get to the application, on what you do with me.
I think if Jude were speaking here today, this is what he would say to you. "Look, guys, if the way I wrote this letter offends you, I want to tell you I'm sorry. I went to the heavens, I went to the sea, and I went to land to give you illustrations that would let you know what's at stake." Because you are so valuable to God, I'm trying to get you to listen to what he's saying about people who are trying to pull you away from the life he wants you to experience and the restoration of relationship with him that he intends for you.
If the way I said it offends you, would you forgive me? But if what I said offends you, there are two purposes of God's Word. It is to comfort the afflicted. If you're here today and you are heavyhearted, I want to take you back to the beginning of Jude. God wants to call you out of your affliction.
He wants to instruct you as to the ways of life. He wants you to come if you are heavyhearted. If your soul is reaping the wages of your wandering, he understands. Come to him. He'll forgive you. He's not afraid of your rebellion. He's not afraid of your error. He's not ashamed of the way you have taken, but he wants you to call you to deal with it.
The other purpose of Scripture is to afflict the comforted, who are kind of limping along, thinking, "The way we go is okay." Jude would say, "If what I've said has offended, for that I can't apologize." I'll say the same thing. If the way I'm talking about this stuff is what offends you, I want to deal with me. But if you're honest enough to say, "I don't care how he says that, if that's what he's saying, that offends me," that we have to do.
I could flatter you and tell you that you're okay, but that's not what God calls his people to do. We are to be iron which sharpens iron. That means when two pieces of metal come against each other, sparks sometimes fly. Huge chunks fall on the ground. If iron had nerves, you would go, "Oh, man, that hurts." The purpose is to help us all be more of what we want to be shaped into being. It is the furnace which melts the dross away from the gold so we can be that unblemished, glorious person we want to be.
Here's your application. We're not to flatter each other; we're to shepherd and love each other. This is the way I would say it to you. I'd say, first, beware of false teachers. "Oh, really? That's insightful." Watch this. Be aware that we are all teachers and leaders. Do you understand what I mean by this? I read James 3:1 at the very beginning, and I said, "Let not many of you be teachers, for teachers will incur a stricter judgment."
Do you guys know that every single one of us, in some way, is a teacher? People are watching your life, and they're determining their life is okay based on what they see by you. Do you know if you're at your office, and they get in conversation with you, and they talk about what a good person you are and how much they love you, and they ask you what forms the basis for your thinking, if you are not an individual who says, "I want to tell you something. Don't look at me and think I'm better than the next guy?
Do you want to know who I am? I'm not somebody who one day is going to present to God the fact that I fed the hungry, that I was more compassionate at the workplace than the rest of the people. Do you want to know who I am? I'm an individual who is trusting in God's good provision for me through the death, burial, and sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, I have nothing to offer God."
If you don't clearly communicate before other people that your confidence before God is related to what Jesus has done, not to what you are doing, you are guilty of being a teacher who is consistent with the way of Cain. If you are at work, or in your neighborhood, or in a dating relationship, and that girl is so beautiful that you can't resist because the pleasure associated with certain activity has gotten to a level that you can be bought, or you're of a certain age that you think God no longer wants you to pursue purity…
Or, if you're at a business deal and you know a little compromise can all of a sudden close the deal… If there's an area of your life that has a number or a level on the pleasure meter that you'll say, "I can't say no to this one," than you are a person who is a false teacher guilty of the error of Balaam.
If you are an individual who says, "I don't need elders, I don't need shepherds, I don't need community, I don't need others. It's just me and Jesus. I'll go directly to God myself and work my way through God on my own," and you model for other people isolation, you are guilty of the rebellion of Korah.
God says, "Others are going to watch you." Are you aligning yourself with the body the way he says you should? Are there areas in your life where every time you get to that level of pleasure or that level of profit, you bail out on the instructions God has given to you? You're teaching. Kids are watching, neighbors know, coworkers see, and they think that's what followers of Christ do, they compromise when it's convenient. Are you clearly talking about the work of Christ being the work you trust in? That's the way of Cain if you don't.
Second, evaluate everyone and everything, especially your teachers, shepherds, pastors, and prophets. The things you watch, the things that are influencing your life… Evaluate me. Don't ever come in here and get lazy because we've said good things in the past. Be like those who were in Berea, who were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, who when Paul got done teaching, it says in Acts 17:11, "They went to the Scripture and studied those things to see if they were so."
Go to God's Word. That's what's anchored in the heavens. Let that be your measure. Let that be your standard, and you be diligent to show yourself approved as a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed, who accurately handles the Word of truth, so you don't get led into some crazy error. Go to God's Word. Learn to study it. Grow in your understanding and appreciation of it.
Application: pray for me. Let me tell you, I am capable of every form of idiocy I have ever talked about false teachers doing. I am capable of pursuing pleasure. I am capable of pursing plenty. I am capable of pursuing power. If you ever see me do it, you love me enough to say, "Buddy, you're wandering. You'd better get re-anchored." If I don't respond to that, you had better run.
Pray for your shepherds. Pray for those you're in life with. Pray for your friends, that they would be iron in your life, that they wouldn't just flatter you. "Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." Pray that your friends love you enough to wound you and say, "You're living according to your own destruction, according to what seems right to you, and this is where it's going to take you, where it's always taken people who have turned away from God."
Pray for your pastors. I hope when you think of pastors, you don't just think of me. I pray that you pray for me because I have the privilege of serving you this way each week but pray for those who you're in community with because you're not in the rebellion of Korah. What happens is a lot of guys who are involved in positions of spiritual leadership have only wanted to keep you at a place where you will continue to come.
There is a study that just came out by one of the leading statisticians and pollsters in our country today. There's Gallup, and there's Barna. They are the two most respected men who basically are in touch with the American culture and American thinking. I want to read to you a study that just came out that talks about the fact that in today's day and age, the average pastor says that 70 percent of the people in their body live Matthew 6:33 lives.
In other words, pastors in America would say, "If you ask me how my body is doing, I would tell you that 70 percent of my body is living like Matthew 6:33 says. They are seeking God first. They are prioritizing their lives based on God's Word, and all things fall underneath that specific main idea."
About 15 percent of pastors say over 90 percent of people in their church live that way. Barna went back to the people in their church and asked them that question. "How many of you guys are living that way?" They said about 15 out of 100…15 percent…said, "We're living lives that we say are characterized by seeking God first."
What is the cause for this huge separation between people who are saying, "We're not following God; are you kidding me? Yeah, we go to church, but we're not following hard after God, and what's the big deal because our pastor thinks we're doing fine? He thinks we're wholeheartedly devoted to him. This is all he asks for us."
I'm going to read you this. This is Barna's commentary. He says, "The unifying thread of pastors' responses to an open-ended survey question regarding how congregational health is assessed was that the most common measures do not assess much beyond the superficial participation in church or faith-related activity."
They want to flatter you that just because you show up in church, everything is okay because their main deal is not how you are doing, but who they are doing as a shepherd. The way they're going to measure how they're doing as a shepherd is how many people come to their flock. They are deluded in their responsibility.
"On average, a pastor might seek information as to attendance relative to previous years. How many people, if any, had professed to follow Christ and whether there were enough people involved in the church's ministry to keep the existing program going." That's what they're about, their program.
In other words, "The typical pastor measures the spiritual health of congregants by considering one or two numbers. Specifically, church and Sunday school attendance, and a handful of vague impression." In other words, "What comments did folks say about what I said?" Watch this. "Perhaps the most telling information relates to the measures that are not widely used by pastors to assess people's spiritual health. Less than one out of ten pastors mentioned indicators such as the maturity of a person's faith in God, the intensity of the commitment to loving and serving God and people, the nature of a congregant's personal ministry," and on and on it goes.
Watch this. Barna went through and said, "This is what American shepherds are not concerned with today. First, they're not concerned with stewardship." He says this: "Stewardship is rarely deemed a meaningful measure of church vitality. Church budgets are typically set [in the average American church] based on the assumption that the average congregant will give 2% to 3% percent of their income to the ministry. Consequently, the fact that only 6% of born-again [Christians in this country give even just one tenth of what God has given them] is not seen as any indicator of lukewarm commitment."
In other words, the fact that we don't view what we have as a gift from God, as a whole, as a group of people who say, "Everything we have has come from God," is not a problem because shepherds go, "Do you know what? If you just give us 2 to 3 percent, that's going to be enough to feather my bed, which is really all I'm about. I'm not concerned about the fact that you lay up for yourself treasures in heaven. I'm not concerned about the fact that you worship God with the first of all of your produce."
I know for a fact I can look out and see a friend today who sat in a very large church near here, that is well-respected in its denomination around the country, where the pastor said, "It's that time of year where we talk about money. I know for a fact that you guys aren't going to give me ten percent, so let's just do this. Give me three percent, and that will work."
This guy was a young believer. At the time, he wasn't even sure if he was a believer, but he knew that was crazy. He was like, "Are you kidding me? If God is who he says he is, can we just keep cutting deals as long as we keep the machine rolling? If this is about the machine, let's get out of here because I don't want to worship a machine."
How about this one? Evangelism… "Evangelism is not a priority in most churches, so the fact that most churched adults do not verbally share the gospel in a given year is not deemed problematic. Only one out of every eight churches bothers to evaluate how many of their congregants are sharing their faith in Christ with non-believers."
I was near a world-renowned church at one point that made it their goal that members of their church would share their faith with somebody who didn't know Christ at least once in the next year. I said, "Are you kidding me? We're going for once?" They go, "It'd be more than we are doing." I'm going, "But we're going to ask them to do it once?" They may not do it all, but it's our job to call them to be people who did that with their life all the time. All of us are going to fall short, all of us are going to struggle, but are we really going to dumb it down to once?
How about this one? "When pastors described the notion of significant, faith-driven life change, the vast majority( more than four out of five) focused on salvation but ignored issues related to lifestyle or spiritual maturity." In other words, "Just check the box. Say you trusted Jesus. Who cares what you do after that because I'm going to measure the success of our denomination or our church just by baptisms?"
It says, "Go and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," but then, "teach them to observe all that I have commanded you." He doesn't even finish the sentence before he tells you, "Finish the equation." "The fact that lifestyle of most churched adults is essentially indistinguishable from that of unchurched people [which is a fact] is not a concern for most churches; whether or not people have accepted Jesus as their savior is the sole or primary indicator of 'life transformation.'" How nuts is that? Do you know what Jesus says about that? "Depart from me, you who said, 'Lord, Lord,' for I never knew you. I don't care what you call me."
How about this one? "Churches are prone to looking for indicators of serving people within the church more often than seeking signs that needy people outside of the church are being cared for. In fact, for every two churches that consider the congregations breadth of ministry to people not connected to the church to be an indicator of spiritual health, there are five churches that focus on the amount of 'in-reach' activity undertaken."
In other words, "Are our programs continuing to go, because this is about us?" Folks, no, it's not. No, it's not. The point is, and Barna goes through a number of different things right here, showing that pastors don't even care anymore. This is why we do the 5C. From the very beginning, this study just came out January 9 of this year…
We've been, for five years, trying to say, "We love you enough that if we're going to call ourselves family and friends, let's care about the things God cares about. Let's be people who live spiritually attuned, and let's just pray. Let's pray with a spiritual mindset." When you hear the word pray in this next song, think of living with a mind that's attuned to God, that doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked, that doesn't stand in the path of sinners, that doesn't sit in the seat of scoffers. That's what it means when people pray. Let me pray for us; we'll close with a song.
Lord, again, we go through this section of Scripture, and there's tons of stuff here. What you're trying to say here is, "I want my people to represent me on this earth by acknowledging the fact that nobody lives perfectly before me and so they need a Savior but to see then that Savior cares for them enough to instruct them, to care for them, and to be authoritative in their lives, that they might the fullness of the desires of their heart…"
I pray, Lord, we would learn to seek you first, that we'd learn to pray, that we'd learn to humble ourselves before you, not deny your finished work for us on the cross, not be able to be bought by those who promise us greater pleasure or power, and not be individuals who live in isolation from other people and say, "It's just me before you, and we'll work it out together," but to humble ourselves and take all of the shepherds, community, and lovers in our lives that we can handle.
Father, we want to be people who live spiritually appraised, folks who walk in your way, who relate to you, communicate to you, and are attentive to, at all times, pray in the Spirit. Would you make us a people who pray?
Folks, here's the deal. We want to be people called by his name. We want to extend each other grace. If you're here this morning and you are afflicted, we want to comfort you with the comfort with which we've been comforted. We want to tell you; we have a great Lord who is patient with the likes of me. This isn't about performance. This is about knowing the one who has sacrificed himself for us and responding to his gift of love as best we can.
If some of us are too comfortable, and if we can afflict you in a loving way, so you might be a person whose life is a life of prayer, we want to help you because this God who has shown his love is going to come, and he's going to show that he holds people into account. We want you to look forward to that day, that you would look forward to him when he would say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," and not, "Oh, sluggard," not, "Oh, wicked," not "Oh, lazy…"
We want to be God's church, and we need all of the encouragement we can get from each other. Extend each other grace, celebrate Jesus Christ, and spur each other on to love and good deeds. That's worship. Would you let us comfort us? And would you afflict me in love, as I want to afflict you in love? For his glory and our good, amen? Have a great week of worship.
In this world it is easy to become deluded, tolerating sin and succumbing to isolation. This series, based on the New Testament book of Jude, challenges devoted followers of Christ to recognize who we are in Him. We are wooed by the call of an irresistible suitor, we are loved with the love of a wonderful savior, and we are kept by the will of an unstoppable keeper. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live exemplary lives that are worthy of imitation while standing firm against teachers and doctrines that are not consistent with the character of Christ. This 4-part series explores Jude's exhortations to be different, provides guidelines for spotting false teachers, and explains our role as contenders for the truth.