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A Line in the Sand [10-22-23]

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

October 22, 2023


“A Line in the Sand”

Some of you might remember one of my favorite cliches. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I’m too predictable, I suppose. Through eons and eons of human history, our nature is consistent and predictable. The only thing that changes is the technology.

It is not surprising, then, to know that the same themes infecting the church two thousand years ago linger with us today. As strangers living in a strange land, we do our best to remain separated, in thought and action, from the flowing stream of a perverse and wicked culture. Yet there remains the threat. It’s not always easy for us to live out our faith in a secular world. Moral absolutes are fading as moral rebellion increases. We understand where Jude was coming from.

Remember, Jude abandoned the original purpose of his letter because bad actors were bringing theological toxicity into the church. So let’s jump back into the letter with the first four verses:

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake. I don’t care what the culture believes. I don’t care what truths pagans want to pursue. Unsaved people will go chasing after worldviews reflecting how far away from God they are. That is their business. They’ve given themselves over to their own wickedness. Pagans

gonna pagan.

Our primary concern rests in maintaining our footing on solid Biblical ground. Here’s something you might want to write down {again}:


That’s why Jude changed gears. He sounded the alarm against unsound teaching. That’s something every generation has to have the courage to do. Jude was unafraid to call out the enemies of the gospel. I love what Psalm 27:1 says:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Charles Spurgeon perfectly captures it this way:

“Courage is a Christian grace and one in which many are terribly deficient. Our Christian courage will always increase in proportion as we know Christ. We have far too many timid Christians who have not courage enough, I was about to say, to speak to a cheese mite; they would not be able to profess the name of Christ before the smallest creature in the world; they would almost be ashamed to declare that they loved the Savior even within bare walls.”

Jude courageously stood against those who were defecting from the truth. In technical terms, he was battling apostasy. Here’s a good definition of apostasy:

Apostasy in Christianity is the repudiation of Christ and the central teachings of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian (Christ-follower).

It has been described as deconversion.

As a side note, today, many mainline denominations are in a position of apostasy, while individual pastors, teachers, and authors are heading in that direction.

Here were the two prominent manifestations of apostasy faced by Jude:

  • First, antinomianism. It is a compound word, anti=against; and

nomos=law. “Against the law.” It means that since Jesus died on the cross, he abolished our need to obey the moral laws as described in the Bible. God doesn’t expect us to live a life of morality, integrity, and love. Weird position, right?

  • Second, as we touched on last week, were the Carpocratians. They believed they had power over all things, which gave them the liberty to do what they pleased. Again, weird stuff, right?

But it makes sense. If your heart and mind have not been captured by the gospel of Jesus Christ, then you can just make up stuff as you go along. And rebellious human nature being what it is, you can do what you want – the old if it feels good, do it, credo – while wearing a mantle of spiritual righteousness, so you can entrap others to go along with you. That’s how the pro-abortion movement thrived in churches and denominations in the 1970s and beyond. Self-centeredness and narcissism will always find a home in the compromised heart.

In the face of our challenges, what do we do? How do we defend ourselves against the lies of a pagan culture? What is our first line of defense? Listen to Psalm 42:8:

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

In other words, God’s unfailing love and joy are greater than any earthly struggles. So we can courageously stand against any enemy.

So, let’s now turn to the battle faced by Jude. Remember, he referred to the enemy as people who crept in unnoticed. Here’s something else you might want to write down:


Throughout this series, we’re going to see how that expectation drives our desire to hold fast to Biblical truth. When Jesus returns, we don’t want him to find our faith lacking of substance or seriousness. I think it’s fitting that Jude is a prelude to Revelation. While The Book of Revelation describes for us how Jesus is going to bring history to an end, Jude describes for us the battle that’s going to take place until the very end. Again, it is a battle for Biblical truth.

Here are but a few examples have how timeless this battle is.

Matthew 7:15-20:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Jesus was already preparing us for the rise of ungodly people.

Matthew 16:11-12:

“How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Jesus was already preparing us for false teachers.

Matthew 24:10-14:

“And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

You have to love the beauty of this passage. Jesus gave us a clear-eyed warning of the troubles to come. It was a prologue to both Jude and Revelation…warning and then the return of Christ. Jude is the warning phase. We need to filter out the apostates.

Paul gave clear warning in Acts 20:29-30:

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

What is Paul saying about the enemy? The enemy of Christ is most devastating from the inside out.

Our responsibility…and that is all of us…is to know how to recognize false teachers. We are growing together in knowing what we believe. We have to be aware lest anyone creeps in unnoticed. That’s why I have encouraged you in the past, that if I ever stray from Biblical truth… hopefully by mistake, not by design…but if I ever do that, you need to talk to me about it. Any error in teaching needs to be corrected. Are you with me on that?

Years ago, at another church I served, someone wanted to teach an adult Sunday School class. Great, says I, what are you going to teach and what resource are you going to use? The topic and study book were so theological liberal, they didn’t just flirt with apostacy. They blew past the boundaries and landed smack dab in the middle of apostasy-city. Needless to say, I said he could not teach the class. A few people left the church

over that. Which wasn’t a bad thing.

Here are some warnings from the epistles when it comes to the importance of theological gatekeeping.

1 Timothy 4:1-2:

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.”

Some of them want to use you. Some of them want to abuse you. You need to know how to recognize counterfeits and forgeries by having a clear knowledge of the truth. That’s why Biblical truth is so important here at Covenant Church.

2 Timothy 3:1,8-9

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty…Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.”

Could Paul be warning against people with advanced degrees and credentials from prestigious educational institutions? They claim to possess great knowledge but are ravenous as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Reject their teaching. Recognize the warning signs.

1 John 4:1-6:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

John was saying, “Watch yourselves. Be informed. Take responsibility for knowing Biblical truth.” Do not let yourselves be deceived.

Let’s close with a question. Will you be serious-minded about knowing God’s Word? Be equipped to spot the ungodly. They claim to teach something new, or something that has remained hidden until now. Be clear. All has been made plain in God’s Word. The truth has been fully revealed in Jesus Christ. There’s no new interpretation or understanding. There’s no recent discovery that is going to change the meaning of God’s Word. Let’s fortify one another against false teaching. Amen?

Listen to Jesus’ final word on this, from Luke 18:1-8:

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

By the grace of God, may our answer be yes…may our answer be a resounding yes.

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