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Jude 1 by Robert Dean
Series:Jude (2012)
Duration:55 mins 33 secs

God's Judgment on False Teachers.  Jude 4-5

 

Jude focuses on these false teachers who have crept into the congregation. They have come in in a way that is unnoticed and have infiltrated the ranks of the church so that their false ideas have begun to have an impact. They sound good and yet they are erroneous and are beginning to distract people in terms of their spiritual life.  He writes this letter to challenge them to contend for the faith.

 

Every culture has thinking that is reflective of the thinking of Satan as a rebellious creature to God. That has been boiled down to two basic characteristics which have to do first of all with autonomy. The individual asserts his autonomy, his independence from God, exerting a self-law—that we know what is best, not God; the individual sets himself up as the ultimate authority. That can manifest itself in different ways.

 

In each generation and each age what Satan does is take the core idea, whatever that may be—rationalism, empiricism or mysticism—and he camouflages it in new culturally adapted, culturally acceptable vocabulary, forms, ideas, things of that nature.  So it is always important to understand how Satan's original thinking of autonomy and antagonism to God and how they are mingled in these different human viewpoint philosophies. They all reflect satanic thought. We have to analyse the thinking of our day because that is the manifestation that we see today and that is how it is expressed today. It is the same old lie but it is given new clothes. Granted, they are the emperor's new clothes and they don't cover anything, but there is this façade that is there and we need to penetrate it and expose it in our own thinking. 

 

That is where contending begins—in our own thinking. We are to do it with earnestness, with willingness, with diligence; it is to be a conscientious objective to content for the faith.  It is the faith, clearly showing that this is a set body of doctrine. We start with our own thinking and we work out to the thinking of those in our immediate vicinity—family, where fathers are given the responsibility of bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is within the realm of the family that we contend for the truth, and then as we move out into the context of the church or the congregation. One of the things that is distinctive of West Houston Bible church is that we have a detailed doctrinal statement. One of the reasons for doing that is not because everyone who is a member of the congregation understands all of the theological nuances and details that are there but so that when they read the entire doctrinal statement—not just a short summary—they then understand why we hold to the distinctives that we do. And it also helps us to have a standard that everyone has agreed to. That then becomes the basis in case there is someone who does slip in and begins to teach something that is not acceptable. We have a standard by which to judge, evaluate, and to take action. 

 

All satanic thought is equivalent to human viewpoint thinking, which is equivalent to worldliness. It has different manifestations, different emphases, different proportions of ingredients; but it is all basically the same thing: autonomy and antagonism to God.

 

As we have looked at this in the past we have had rationalism, empiricism and mysticism set completely over against revelation. We have chosen to call this category revelation because we are dealing with the Bible and the authority of God and God's revelation or unveiling of His truth to us—truth that we cannot know apart from His revelation. There are certain things God has chosen to reveal to us that is the critical missing information. Without is we are just guessing like blind men in a dark room.  Revelation gives us the information we need, it turns the light on so that we can then properly organize and understand and interpret what it is that we have experienced or what has gone through in our reason.

 

A question that has come up is: Why can't we say that faith is a means of coming to know things? It is, but faith is what under girds all of these for three reasons.  First, the hidden assumption in rationalism is faith in human ability, belief that man has the innate ability in his mind to, starting from first principles, assumptions, start and achieve truth and know everything. This is what Plato and Descartes did apart and distinct from utilising knowledge that comes from the senses. That would be empiricism: the starting point is what is perceived through the senses. Then that writes itself upon the mind and this is when knowledge begins to be organised by the mind.  Mysticism is the dark side of either rationalism or empiricism. Rationalism and empiricism believe in the vigorous use of logic; mysticism rejects logic, is inherently irrational; it's starting point is what is perceived mentally through some sort of internal perception, feeling, experience.

 

In all of those there is an implied faith in human ability, the human mind, to correctly organise the information. So even though they don't talk about faith there is an implied faith there that man can know enough to come to truth through the use of his own faculties.

 

So the first point is, faith under girds all of these. The object of faith is what is different. Faith is in human reason, in human sense perception, faith is in the intuitive meaning of the mystical experience, or faith is in revelation. Among philosophers who talk about things of this kind what they will use instead of the term "revelation" is authority. An authority tells us something. We don't arrive at it through our own reason, we don't get it from the starting point of empiricism; it is something we are told by an authority; we trust the authority. So the authority we trust is the Word of God. It is God who has revealed Himself through the Word, and so we believe God's Word.

 

Everything goes back to faith. When discussing this with someone who is an unbeliever, who is an evolutionist, his whole theory ultimately hangs on his faith in being able to organize the sense data of the fossils, what he sees in the stars, his scientific information, and that he can organize that from just an infinitesimally small amount of data he can extrapolate and understand the true meaning of the universe. And yet, if he is missing just one critical piece of information then is can completely destroy every theory that he sets up, no matter how brilliant it might be. His faith is in the wrong object.

 

All of these systems of knowledge are based on faith ultimately—faith in human ability; faith in God's Word. It is one or the other; those are the only options.

 

A verse to reinforce the fact that we are to be engaged in this personal battle to root out, to contend for the faith in our own thinking:

 2 Corinthians 10:2 NASB "I ask that when I am present I {need} not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. [3] For though we walk in the flesh [our human bodies], we do not war according to the flesh …" That is not how we handle those who are in opposition. We do not war according to the principles of the sin nature out of anger, resentment, bitterness, vindictiveness, we war on a different basis. [4] for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh [not of the sin nature], but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses." He is using a military metaphor of warfare and uses a term for a fortification. We all have fortifications in our soul protecting these cherished areas of autonomy and antagonism to God because we think that helps us understand reality, it helps us make life work. We have to pull those down; we have to destroy them; we are on a search and destroy mission from God to wipe out every place where we are holding on to these human viewpoint ideas. And that involves [5] "… destroying speculations and every lofty thing …" So we are to be involved in analyzing, critiquing and refuting arguments in support of positions set forth by the world system of our day. We can't be dismissive and say well it is postmodernism, it is relativism, Satan was the first relativist. That is all true. Plato was the first rationalist so why read Descartes, why understand the different forms that rationalism took? Why deal with the reaction to rationalism, which was empiricism? Because each of these takes on different aspects, different nuances, different dimensions, and Satan uses those little subtleties to drive wedges into our souls to separate us from the truth of God's Word. "… raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." Every thought. That is not just talking about the content of the thought, not just talking about a thought that is perhaps a mental attitude thought of anger, anger or bitterness; it is talking about thinking, the areas of intellection in human history—areas of the arts, areas of literature, area of politics, areas of government and of law. Every area of thinking is to be brought under the spotlight of the Word of God, and that which is not part of God's Word or can't be derived from God's Word is excluded, it is not within the framework of divine thought.

In our age we have as part of our mental baggage—the younger the person the more this is part of their mental baggage—certain ideas picked up from the culture around us and part of this comes from the idea of multiculturalism. In multiculturalism is the idea that everything is good, every culture produces some values, every culture is good because there is no external reality beyond human existence, there's no overriding ultimate criteria for making evaluations that one culture is good and one culture is evil. In practice they can't do that. Sooner or later they use words like "that is wrong". Usually they use it against Christians—Christians are wrong because they are so judgmental—by why isn't that so judgmental, the attitude that they express? Why is it that they are the only ones allowed to be judgmental against Christians and against those who hold to views that oppose theirs?

 

As part of this idea that all cultures are equal, whether it is an Islamic culture that is going out and abusing women in any number of different ways, promoting their form of Jihadist warfare, that that culture is superior to Christian culture that is not based on Jihad, destroying the enemy, but is based on love for God and love for one another. But modern man and postmodernism think that all these cultures are equal. For them one of the worst evils is to evaluate any form of thinking and to conclude that someone else's form of thinking is wrong, is judgmental. So if you are involved in contending for the faith the very fact that you think that there is something that you should contend for that is superior sets you at odds with the culture; you are by definition bad. There is a battle for the mind that is going on.

 

When we get into the next verse in Jude we are going to get into the core area of this epistle talking about the fact that there is a set group of men referred to as the ungodly. Jude 1:4 NASB "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

 

The body of this epistle is going to focus on these opponents and the certainty of divine judgment upon those who have rejected God's truth and who are false teachers. In the context of Jude he is dealing with a specific historical situation where the source of this false teaching is coming from unbelievers. This is very clear from the text. Even though believers can be influenced by false teaching, true born again children of God can promote false teaching, that is not the situation Jude is facing. These are not believers who have been subverted but are unbelievers who are subverting believers and so the job of the believer is to contend for the faith.

 

How these unbelievers are described: "godless men," v. 4. We are going to see that that term "godless" is always used of unbelievers. Believers are not godless. They may act like the godless but they are not Godless, not the ungodly; they "turn the grace of our God into licentiousness," they "deny … Jesus Christ," v.4; they are compared to Sodom and given over to sexual immorality, v. 7; they are compared to dreamers who pollute their own bodies, v. 8; they are compared to unreasoning animals, v. 10 who destroy themselves; they are blemishes or spots, or some translations have underwater reefs upon which you shipwreck yourself, v. 12; they are "shepherds," so this indicates they are in positions of leadership, "who feed only themselves, v. 12; "clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; [13] wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness [another term for eternal judgment] has been reserved forever"; they are identified by characteristics such as grumbling, faultfinders, v.16; scoffers who follow their own ungodly desires, v. 18; they do not have the [human] spirit, [that immaterial part of man which is gained at regeneration], v. 19; they flatter others for their own advantage, v.16; and they are those who are divisive, v. 19. This is describing this group of "ungodly," which means they are unbelievers.

 

That does not mean that believers can't do this. Anybody who has been a pastor for any length of time knows that there are Christians who fit any or all of these characteristics.

 

In verse 4 Jude explains why he has given this command to contend for the faith. This is indicated by the English word "For." The Greek word is gar [gar] which often indicates the giving of an explanation, explaining why something is a certain way. So the reason we are to contend, strive for the faith, is because there are enemies of the faith who have snuck in, who have joined with the church but it is not obvious that they are unbelievers. They are covert disciples of Satan who have infiltrated the local church and are the root and the cause and the source of false teaching and false doctrine, causing division within a congregation.

They are identified here as "certain persons have crept in unnoticed." This is the Greek verb pareisduno [pareisdunw]. It is in the aorist tense indicating it is just simple past action. This is what has taken place in the past, whereas the warnings in 2 Peter refer to future false teachers that are coming. Here in Jude these are false teachers who have already entered into the congregation. This word pareisduno is translated a number of different ways. It has the idea of creeping in, sneaking in stealthily, of covert activity, infiltrating a group. They are not noticed; it is not obvious. They are described in the text as a group of individuals who have been identified from the past, previous writings (Old Testament writings), from previous revelation as "those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation," those who will be judged by God. Unbelievers will reap the judgment of God in time or in eternity, or both.

Then they are called "ungodly," the Greek word asebes [a)sebhj] which indicates those who are without God. In Romans chapters 4 & 5 the context is justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Justification means that when we believe in Jesus as savior at that instant God the Father imputes or credits to our account the righteousness of Christ. The terminology is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us. It is ours at that instant. It doesn't change us, it is not imparted to us, we don't become righteous in an experiential sense; it is ours positionally or legally; it is assigned to us in an accounting or judicial type of procedure. At that instant that that is assigned to us God looks at us and sees that we are righteous and He declares us to be legally justified.

At the instant of salvation God the Father is imputing righteousness to an unbeliever at the instant that he believes. The ungodly is being justified. That is the process. So the word "ungodly" there clearly means the unbeliever.

 

Romans 5:6, talking about the work of Christ on the cross: NASB "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…. [8] … while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." He died for unbelievers. "Ungodly" is a term that describes those who are without God, without Christ, without hope, without eternal life.

 

We see it again in 2 Peter 2:5, talking about the world wide flood at the time. NASB "and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly." Everybody in the world except Noah and his family were unbelievers. "Ungodly," again, is a term used as synonymous with all of the unbelievers in the world. Peter uses another example in verse 6 "and {if} He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing {them} to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly {lives} thereafter." Those who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah were called ungodly.

 

Remember in Genesis chapter 19 before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah He informed Abraham that He was sending His two angels to destroy the cities of the plains because of their sexual perversion. Abraham enters into this dialogue and says, "If there are a hundred righteous people would you deliver it." God said yes. The point that Abraham is getting at is his nephew Lot, his wife and daughters were there and he wants God to preserve them. Those are the only ones considered righteous. Later on Lot is called "righteous Lot." All the others are unbelievers, and so God brings that judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

2 Peter 3:7 NASB "But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction [perdition] of ungodly men." They will be destroyed because they did not believe in Jesus Christ—eternal destruction in the lake of fire. So we see very clearly that "ungodly" is a term for unbelievers exclusively.

 

Jude says that there are certain men who have infiltrated the local church and bringing in false doctrine. These men were identified as a category in the previous writings in the Old Testament as those who would be brought to judgment. That is the theme of this epistle: God judges false teaching.

And what have these unbelieving men done? They have perverted the grace of God. The term is metatithemi [metatiqhmi]. It describes removing something, changing something, transforming something. It is to exchange one thing for something else, so they are exchanging the grace of God for licentiousness. The grace of God doesn't give permission to sin; the grace of God provides a solution and recourse if we do sin. Licentiousness has the idea of sensuality; often it refers to sexual sin, immorality—fornication, any form of sodomy, lesbianism, any form of sexual activity outside of the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman—a lack of self-control, anything outside the bounds of God's standards and thinking well it's fine because God's grace has covered it. This is the idea of licentiousness, a license to sin without retribution. 

And second, they "deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." That term "Lord" for the Lord Jesus Christ is the Greek word despotes [despothj] which is a term that refers to His sovereignty, His authority, and it is used in 2 Peter 2:1. In both of these passages they are talking about unbelievers. "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master [despotes] who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." This is a great passage for unlimited atonement: that Christ died for the lost.

 

So we see in Jude 4 the warning that these infiltrators are there teaching destructive heresies which will destroy the spiritual impact of the congregation, it will wipe out the spiritual growth of the individuals. Why? Because they failed to contend. The solution is to contend for the truth; first and foremost to know the truth.

 

Now Jude will go forward. He talks about examples of how the Lord in the past has brought judgment on this kind of people. He wants to remind them, to bring it back to their memory. He says: You knew this. In other words, what he is saying is you've been taught this in the past and I want to bring it back to your recall. "…the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe."

 

Here he is using an example of God's judgment on false teaching that included believers. He is not making a distinction here between believers and unbelievers. It is clear from everything he says in the epistle that he is talking to a historical situation where the false teachers were believers. His point is that God judges false teachers. He applies it to his current situation where the false teachers are unbelievers but he also will use examples of God judging false teachers who are believers. Because the principle he is talking about is not God judges unbelievers or God judges believers, but God judges false teachers. In this context they are unbelievers but the example he uses in Jude 5 is of being rebellious grumblers who were part of the group of saints that came out of Egypt—the Israelites who were believers but they rejected God's grace provision, rejected the authority that God had set over them, and who rebelled against Him. And because they didn't believe God or trust God in the wilderness they were brought to judgment. The object of faith here is not salvation, that original circumstance in the Old Testament was related to God's provision in the wilderness. It is an example of the principle that God judges those who oppose Him.