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Jude 4

Faith Under Attack

We are looking again at the letter of Jude in the New Testament of the Bible.  We are going to look at verses eight to eleven.  I have called this talk "Faith under attack".

First of all I want to ask the question, "Does it matter what we believe?"  Or, to put it another way, "Is it dangerous to deviate from the faith?"  The Bible has been under attack for many years, perhaps never more so than in our day.  We might also ask the question, "Who is it that is attacking the Word of God?"  Sadly, very often it is religious people and even religious leaders who do this.

Why is it that they cast doubt on the truth or the accuracy of the Scriptures?

One reason is that, although they profess religion, they do not truly belong to God.  You will remember that we have discovered that this small letter by Jude is dealing with the subject of apostasy, which is turning away from the truth and falling into the sin of unbelief.

So, in verse eight, Jude refers to false teachers.  In the previous verses he has referred to the Children of Israel, the fallen angels and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as examples of those who became apostate through their unbelief, their disobedience and their immorality.  Now he says, concerning those who had secretly slipped into the churches with their false doctrines, "These dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings".  These false teachers, he says, are very like the Israelites in the desert; they are very like the angels who rebelled; and they are very like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Like the Sodomites, they defile the body; this speaks of their behaviour.  Like the fallen angels they reject authority; this speaks of their heart’s attitude.  And, like the Israelites in the wilderness, they speak evil of those to whom God has given spiritual authority; this speaks of their words.  So the conduct, the heart and the words of the apostate are false.

Here are the results of apostasy - or going astray from the truth.  First of all there is sexual immorality.  How often in our time have we seen false teachers draw people after themselves with teaching that condones immoral practices?  It is not a true church, but an apostate church, that allows such things.  We have to say from the Scripture that all immorality brings shame and dishonour to the Lord Jesus and to his church.  Whatever form it takes, whether it is homosexual practice, or fornication or adultery or pornography, it is sin in the eyes of a holy God.  The only sexual relationship that is allowed by Scripture is the marriage relationship between one man and one woman.

And then the result of apostasy is the rejection of authority.  The Bible is rejected as the sole authority for Christian faith and practice. It is replaced by, or added to, with traditions of men, or by so-called "special revelations".  In apostate Christianity the divinity of the Lord Jesus is rejected, and the truth of salvation by God’s grace alone through faith is rejected.  Sin is no longer taught as rebellion against God, it becomes a mere human failing, a guilt feeling.

False teachers will deny the righteous wrath of God against sin.  They will deny the judgement to come. They will deny the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus for sinners and point to it only as the example of a great man.  So, beware of any who add to or take away from the Scriptures, who deny Christ and the seriousness of sin, they are false teachers.

Thirdly, these evil men "speak evil of dignitaries" or they "slander celestial beings".  In their arrogance they are careless in the way they talk about beings in heavenly places who are superior to humanity.  Verse nine tells us that, "Even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!""  He dared not go any further than that. How restrained and careful Michael was as he addressed even an angel who was in rebellion against God, and condemned.  Apostates are often marked out by the unrestrained language they use in their preaching and in their reference to the Lord and to spiritual things.  Because words are very important and words are very powerful, great care is needed in the language we use, especially when we are speaking about the things of God.

He calls these men "dreamers".  They are the false teachers that Peter refers to in his Second Letter chapter two verses one and two: "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.  They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them - bringing swift destruction on themselves.  Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute".

So, as we read through this letter of Jude we find that it is not written primarily about atheists, those who are in total spiritual darkness.  It is certainly not written about true Christian believers.  It is written to warn again those who profess to believe.  "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good", as we read in Titus chapter one verse sixteen.

In verse ten we see that three things are true of them.  This is what the verse says: "These men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals - these are the very things that destroy them".

The three characteristics of these false teachers are these: Number one, there is evil speaking.  Secondly there is spiritual ignorance, and thirdly, says Jude, they corrupt themselves.  First then, these apostate teachers speak evil against things that they do not understand.  They denounce Christian teaching that does not accord with their own views.  They say wicked things against churches that stand for the sound teaching of God’s Word, and for reverent worship, and a biblical approach to the preaching of the Gospel.  These men are blind leaders of the blind and often they come like wolves in sheep’s clothing, appearing to be genuine but full of evil intent.

Secondly these apostates are guilty of spiritual ignorance, says Jude.  They have only a superficial understanding of the Scriptures.  This superficiality leads them into all kinds of error. Here is the natural man, not the spiritual man.  He appears to have a form of godliness, he is certainly religious, but his sinful nature dominates him and he scorns those who hold to the faith, who are true believers.

Thirdly: It is these very things, evil speaking and lack of spiritual understanding that lead to their own destruction in the end, Jude tells us.  They are spoiled or ruined by the sin that has stained them.  In verse eight we are told that they are "polluted" or "stained" and the inevitable consequence is the corruption we find in verse ten.

Thank God, there is One, Jesus Christ the Son of God, who has taken all our sins upon himself on the cross of Calvary.  It is only through His sacrifice that the pollution and stain of sin can be removed from our lives.  He has born the judgement that was due to us and is the Saviour of all who will repent and believe.  This is the true Gospel.  Do you believe it?

Click here for part 4.