A Warning To The Church
“….. It was needful (suggests an urgency) for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend (a vigorous effort) for the faith……..for there are certain men (false teachers) crept in unawares..” (Jude 3,4)
Jude’s epistle addressed a serious issue the church faced concerning false teachers who had crept into the church even at this early date in church history. Jude originally thought to write his epistle on our common salvation, like Romans, but the Holy Spirit had him redirect his efforts to convey a warning of a great danger that threatened the well-being of the early church. False doctrine, that would destroy the church if not addressed and stopped, had come into the church through false brethren. We face the same danger today. False brethren spewing false doctrine has been a serious problem from then until now. If not recognized and addressed it will destroy a church. Many are in Hell today for following false teachers.
It’s interesting to note that Jude said that these false teachers “crept in unawares.” It suggests these men stole in slowly and carefully without notice. They had an outward appearance of wisdom and they taught some correct doctrine, but with it, they cleverly included false teaching. He referred to them as “ungodly men.” The spiritual health of the church was in grave danger from these false teachers who had come in among them unnoticed. The Holy Spirit referred to them as “brute beasts” and “twice dead”, meaning they were like unreasoning animals who had once known the way of salvation but had turned from it. No wonder the Holy Spirit moved on Jude to address this critical issue. The flock was in great jeopardy.
There is a sense of urgency in Jude’s words as he goes on to tell us just what these false teachers were propagating. However, before we list the false doctrines these false teachers were advocating; I think it important that we acknowledge the fact that false doctrine is always initiated by “seducing spirits”(see 1 Timothy 4:1), and it gains entry because seducing spirits make it look very attractive. Deception is one of Satan’s greatest weapons! The Bible tells us that Satan, at times, comes in as an “angel of light,” and so do his emissaries.
Just what were these false teachers pedaling? Well, they had turned grace into license. In other words, they taught that it didn’t matter how much you sinned because grace covered it. They also denied, “the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” When you divert to a false way you inevitably leave “the faith”, which is belief in the inerrancy of scripture and belief in Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Jude goes on to refer to them as “filthy dreamers” intimating that what they believed was made up out of their own perverse imagination. He said they “defile the flesh” which speaks of the fruits of their teachings. Also, he said that they “despised dominion” which means they refused to live by the Word of God and made up their own doctrines. They were “clouds without water” meaning what they promised sounded good, but they couldn’t deliver on what they promised. Jude goes on to refer to them as “raging waves of the sea” which points to the destructive nature of false doctrine which can totally destroy a church. They spoke “great swelling words” and sought to gain men’s confidence and their own gain (money) by flattery. Their end is also spoken of by Jude. He says, speaking of these false teachers, “to whom is reserved for the blackness of darkness forever”.
So, these false teachers crept in without notice and propagated their false doctrine for profit by way of deceit and flattery not able to deliver on all that they promised. They would not live by the Word of God but made up their own doctrines. They also denied the Lord and the atonement. They taught that because sin was covered by grace it was to okay to sin (license). And the fruit of their doctrines resulted in the defiling of the flesh. We may find it hard to believe that the church was unaware of the presence of these false teachers, but the false teachings these ungodly men were advocating sound suspiciously like some of today’s false teachings that have made their way into the church.
How do we recognize false doctrine and what can we do to protect ourselves against it and the purveyors of it that may be in our very midst? The lies that Satan and his ministers sell can be very subtle. 1 Timothy warned that, in later times, “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits.” The danger is very real and we must be aware of it and know how to avoid its pitfalls. Jude’s admonition to “contend for the faith” points the way to walk in victory. “The Faith” is faith in Christ and Him crucified which is the chief doctrine of the Bible. We must know the Word of God to protect ourselves against false teachers and false doctrine, and we must make the cross, what Jesus did there, the object of our faith both for salvation and for sanctification (our daily living). When we know the Word of God and the cross becomes our anchor, false doctrine can be seen for what it is. We are to place our faith in the One who loved us and died for us on the cross. Yes, Jude, we hear you. Our enemy will try to sneak in unawares with his false ways, but we are wise to his schemes and have anchored our faith in the One that defeated all our enemies at the cross. In Him, we stand.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
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