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Beware Godless People [11-12-23]


November 12, 2023

Jude 4-5

“Beware of Godless People”


As I’ve shared several times over the course of our series on Jude, we’re going about this in a slow and methodical pace. Not because we have to, but because we can.


Here is Jude 4-5:

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.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.


Before we seek to understand verse five, verse four tells us why Jude is 

writing. People are trying to undermine the truth of who Jesus is and what it means to follow him.


How many of you know what BART is? It’s the public transportation system in San Francisco…Bay Area Rapid Transit.


When they started operation, the transit authority contracted with a company to repair seat covers on the trains. Any seat torn or ripped or otherwise damaged needed to be repaired or replaced. So guess what happened, almost from the beginning? The firm contracted to fix the seats started paying people to slash the fabric. By the time the scheme was found out, they accounted for 85% of damaged seats.


It’s horrible when damage is done from the inside.


Jude is addressing false teachers trying to pervert the gospel of grace. Here’s something you might want to write down:

A PERVERSE VERSION OF GRACE EMPLOYED IN THE PURSUIT OF LUST.

Like the seat repair grifters, wicked people are always after something. They’re not just doing it for their health.


Probably the three biggest motivators for people to behave poorly are:

  1. Money

  2. Power

  3. Sex


A lot of cases involve one or two. But it’s a safe bet that where religion is concerned, it’s usually all three together. Wicked people know what buttons to push.


In Jude’s case, the certain people who crept in pretended to be committed to the local church. They were adept at faking faith.


As we see in verse four, there will always be assaults on the truth from inside. These assaults are best classified as apostacy. We’ve already talked about it. It is a concept we need to be familiar with. Apostacy is a departure from the faith by those who once claimed to have it. We know it 

happens. And it will continue to happen until Jesus returns.


Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4:

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

Before Paul revealed these truths, Jesus predicted that people would fall away from the faith. And then John, in several different places, goes to great lengths to help us discern our own true spiritual condition so we will know if we are ever under attack or leading ourselves astray. We have to know the difference between a spirit of error and a spirit of truth.


Let’s work through what Jude is up against. We face such things, as well.


First, apostacy is a denial of Biblical truth. This includes a denial of God’s nature. As we’ve seen, the false teachers said anything goes sexually because we are already forgiven. That is, among other things, a rejection of the holiness of God. Paul spells this out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Apostacy is an outward denial of the holiness of God.


Apostacy can also be a denial of the character of God. How has God been revealed to us in Scripture? What do the 10 Commandments reveal about the true nature of God? How about the gospels?

Over two decades ago, after a worship service one Sunday, a regular attender said to me, “Richard, you talk too much about Jesus. What about the other ways people can connect with God?” Seeking clarification, I was told that there were other paths to God. That is apostacy.


Do you remember when Michigan was on the verge of enacting an equality in marriage act? I was asked if I wanted to attach my name to a letter going out to Lenawee County media opposing the act. As some of you know, I don’t do that kind of thing. Pagans gonna pagan, as I’ve said before. My realm is here within our church and within our denomination. We know what the Bible teaches and what Jesus teaches. Matthew 19:4-6 says:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Who am I to say to the Savior who died on the cross for me that I know 

better than him on issues of gender and marriage? Any other position is apostacy. It is an attack on the person of Christ.


Here’s something else you might want to write down:

APOSTACY IS ALWAYS A DENIAL OF SOUND DOCTRINE.

What, dear pastor, is sound doctrine? Well, whether you’ve been a part of Covenant Church for a little while or a lot of while, sound Biblical doctrine is what you’re going to get here. We’re not milk and bread people here. We feed on the fullness, depth, and challenging truths of God’s Word. We want to equip ourselves to recognize apostacy when we hear it.


So the question becomes, why? Why are some in the church denying the true God or the true Christ or the true gospel or the true faith? Clearly, they were never devoted followers of Jesus Christ from the beginning. So why were they faking it?


Oh, my goodness, I do ask some tough questions. Why are they this way?


I love what Charles Spurgeon said about apostacy:

That where ministers and Christian churches have held fast to the truth that the Holy Scriptures have been given by God as an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered very seriously out of the right way. But when, on the other hand, reason has been exalted above revelation, and made the exponent of revelation, all kinds of errors and mischiefs have been the result.


Notice how Spurgeon weds errors – faulty beliefs – with mischiefs – faulty behaviors. The two always go together. Which gets us to the question we just asked: “Why are apostates this way?”


They are this way because false belief…however well-constructed…exists solely to serve weak and fallen flesh. What Jude is up against has nothing to do with intellectual reason. It is moral rebellion. Jude’s opponents constructed a belief system that allowed them to do and say anything that brought them pleasure or gave them what they determined to be a source of happiness.


For example, leaving the sensuality stuff out for now, some people drift 

from true Biblical faith because they need to conform to the culture. They go along to get along. They use the faulty reasoning of, “We don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” Which is often simply an indication of moral or Biblical weakness.


After years of watching The Price is Right, I have developed what I call “The Bunching Theory.” Now, stay with me here. Four people in contestant’s row. An item is up for bids. The first person bids. More often than not, at least two, some time all three follow in that same range. They are bunching. Outliers are quite rare. People want to go with everyone else. One person sets the bar, and most of the rest follow.


In how many areas of life do people want to go along to get along? How many ape the crowd? A sort of mind virus takes over. It can infect and damage an organization or institution from the inside out.

  • Show Slide of Sheeple effect.


This effect can hit those with a superficial sense of spiritual reason. 

They love darkness more than light. It reminds me of the choice of servings at Coldstone Creamery. “Like It,” “Love It,” “Gotta Have It.” Nothing like excess in the pursuit of ice cream. If I want it, I’m going to have it. There are no limits. This is easy to achieve when you make your own rules.


Then there’s a superficial kind of spirituality. I’m a spiritual person because I don’t drink alcohol. I’m a spiritual person because I only watch Fox News. I’m a spiritual person because I only vote for Democrats. I’m a spiritual person because I’m vegan. I’m a spiritual person because I don’t read romance novels. I’m a spiritual person because I never watch “R”-rated movies. I’m a spiritual person because I don’t use sarcasm. While not a spiritual gift, I do consider sarcasm to be an endearing personality trait. Paul sums it up best in 1 Timothy 4:1-3:

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, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with 

thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

It’s nothing more than spiritual virtue signaling. Or as the British are fond of saying, “Keeping up appearances.” I wear the mask of holiness. All in the pursuit of ungodly ends. Again, Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Make no mistake. Jude’s enemies are those who, for whatever reason, pursue self-centered dreams and desires. It is a tough fight.


Finally, a lovely person in Covenant Church sent me a quote the day I started working on this message. It hit the sweet spot for our conclusion:

“SATAN DISGUISES SUBMISSION TO HIMSELF UNDER THE RUSE OF PERSONAL AUTONOMY. HE NEVER ASKS US TO BECOME HIS SERVANTS. NEVER ONCE DID THE SERPENT SAY TO EVE, ‘I WANT TO BE YOUR MASTER.’ THE SHIFT IN COMMITMENT IS NEVER FROM CHRIST TO EVIL; IT IS ALWAYS FROM CHRIST TO SELF. AND INSTEAD OF HIS WILL, SELF-INTEREST NOW RULES AND 

WHAT I WANT REIGNS. AND THAT IS THE ESSENCE OF SIN.”

  • Dennis F. Kinlaw {1922-2017}


Two wonderful things happen when we learn to recognize apostacy.


First, we hold fast to our authentic community of faith, where love and grace and mercy abound. Our genuine love for God’s Word produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our lives. And those are all good things. That is the source of joy and contentment in our lives.


Second, the more we learn from and about Jesus, the deeper our desire to reflect his grace and glory in our lives. To know the truth about Christ is to know true peace and joy in our lives.


Here’s the last thing you might want to write down:

WITH CONTENTMENT, WE CONTEND FOR THE FAITH HANDED DOWN TO US.

Amen.


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