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Walking Away From Woe [12-10-23]


December 10, 2023

Jude 11-13

“Walking Away From Woe”


Here’s how Jude captures the calamitous situation people were facing:

Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for 

whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Jude is here talking about bad people doing bad things. He’s driving home how the wickedness of those who have infiltrated the church is simply another manifestation of age-old patterns and behaviors. Specifically, in the time of Moses, Korah was from the group responsible for overseeing items of worship. But as Moses was to learn, he was filled with ingratitude and a grasping for power. He was rebellious and vain.


I love the phrase waterless clouds. They are clouds without rain, driven by winds. They are good for nothing and no one. They grow nothing. They produce nothing. They are an arid wasteland of self-centeredness.


Woe to them, Jude says. Don’t be like them. Walk away from them. Walk toward the truth of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Let yourself be embraced by new life in Christ. Are you with me on that?


Here’s where we take a deep dive into what Charles Spurgeon said about 

Christmas. 


Charles Spurgeon lived in England during the Victorian era. Queen Victoria, 

along with Charles Dickens, greatly influenced the cultural celebrations and understanding of Christmas. Spurgeon was not a huge fan of this. However, his attitude toward Victorian England Christmas was not altogether negative.


When Spurgeon’s grandfather was a boy, Christmas had fallen out of fashion among some traditions. However, as a child in the 1840s, Spurgeon saw a total revitalization of the holiday in his nation. He was nine years old when Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol – a story highlighting the struggles of the working class. It put a premium on generosity and selflessness. Spurgeon loved it and even purchased a copy to include in his personal library.


When Spurgeon was fourteen years old, Queen Victoria and her German husband, Albert, brought new life to Christmas. In 1848, The Illustrated London News published a picture of the royal family gathered around a Christmas tree. When he moved to London in 1854, Spurgeon’s puritanical reservations about Christmas were confronted with a new emphasis: the importance of family.

When properly understood, Spurgeon believed it would be spiritually edifying to remember the Meaning of Christmas. As he observed:

  • “When God stoops down to man it must mean that man is to be lifted up to God.”

  • “Behold, how rich and how abundant are the provisions, which God has made for the high festival which he would have his servants keep, not now and then, but all the days of their lives!”

  • “O blessed thought! the Star of Bethlehem shall never set. Jesus, the fairest among ten thousand, the most lovely among the beautiful, is a joy forever.”


With these affirmations in mind, here are some thoughts on Christmas, in 

Spurgeon’s own words.                     


“If this child who now lies before the eyes of your faith, wrapped in swaddling clothes in Bethlehem's manger, is born to you, my hearer, then you are born again! For this child is not born to you unless you are born to this child. All who have an interest in Christ are, in the fullness of time, by grace converted, quickened, and renewed. All the redeemed are not yet converted, but they will be. Before the hour of death arrives their nature shall be changed, their sins shall be washed away, they shall pass from death unto life. If any man tells me that Christ is his Redeemer, although he has never experienced regeneration, that man utters what he does not know; his religion is vain, and his hope is a delusion. Only men who are born again can claim the babe in Bethlehem as being theirs. ‘But’ saith one, ‘how am I to know whether I am born again or not?’ Answer this question also by another: Has there been a change effected by divine grace within you? Are your loves the very opposite of what they were? Do you now hate the vain things you once admired, and do you seek after that precious pearl which you at one time despised? Is your heart thoroughly renewed in its object? Can you say that the bent of your desire is changed? Is your heart, that once longed for deep draughts of sin, now longing to be holy? And whereas you once loved the pleasures of the world, have they now become as draff and dross to you, for you only love the pleasures of heavenly things, and are longing to enjoy more of them on earth, that you may be prepared to enjoy a fullness of them hereafter? Are you renewed within? For mark, my hearer, the new birth does not consist in washing the outside of the cup and platter, but in cleansing the inner man. It is all in vain to put up the stone upon the sepulcher, wash it extremely white, and garnish it with the flowers of the season; the sepulcher itself must be cleansed. The dead man's bones that lie in that charnel-house of the human heart must be cleansed away. Nay, they must be made to live. The heart must no longer be a tomb of death, but a temple of life. Is it so with you, my hearer? For recollect, you may be very different in the outward, but if you are not changed in the inward, this child is not born to you.”


“But I put another question. Although the main matter of regeneration lies within, yet it manifests itself without. Say, then, has there been a change in you in the exterior? Do you think that others who look at you would be compelled to say, this man is not what he used to be? Do not your companions observe a change?...Do you think now that if an angel should follow you into your secret life, should track you to your closet and see you on your knees, that he would detect something in you which he could never have seen before? For, mark, my dear hearer, there must be a change in the outward life, or else there is no change within. In vain you bring me to the tree, and say that the tree's nature is changed. If I still see it bringing forth wild grapes, it is a wild vine still…The proof of the Christian is in the living. To other men, the proof of our conversion is not what you feel, but what you do…the outward walk is the main guide. At the same time, let me observe that a man's outward life may be very much like that of a Christian, and yet there may be no religion in him at all. Have you ever seen two jugglers in the street with swords, pretending to fight with one another? See how they cut, and slash, and hack at one another, till you are half afraid there will soon be murder done. They seem to be so very much in earnest that you are half in the mind to call in the police to part them. See with what violence that one has aimed a terrific blow at the other one's head, which his comrade dexterously warded off by keeping a well-timed guard. Just watch them a minute, and you will see that all these cuts and thrusts come in a prearranged order. There is no heart in the fighting after all. They do not fight so roughly as they would if they were real enemies. So, sometimes I have seen a man pretending to be very angry against sin. But watch him a little while, and you will see it is only a fencer's trick. He does not give his cuts out of order, there is no earnestness in his blows, it is all pretense, it is only mimic stage-play. The fencers, after they have ended their performance, shake hands with one another, and divide the coppers which the gaping throng have given them; and so does this man do, he shakes hands with the devil in private, and the two deceivers share the spoil. The hypocrite and the devil are very good friends after all, and they mutually rejoice over their profits: the devil leering because he has won the soul of the professor, and the hypocrite laughing because he has won his pelf. Take care, then, that your outward life is not a mere stage-play, but that your antagonism to sin is real and intense; and that you strike right and left, as though you meant to slay the monster, and cast its limbs to the winds of heaven.”


“I will just put another question. If thou hast been born again, there is another matter by which to try thee. Not only is thy inward self altered, and thy outward self too, but the very root and principle of thy life must become totally new. When we are in sin we live to self, but when we are renewed we live to God. While we are unregenerate, our principle is to seek our own pleasure, our own advancement; but that man is not truly born again who does not live with a far different aim from this. Change a man's principles, and you change his feelings, you change his actions. Now, grace changes the principles of man. It lays the axe at the root of the tree. It does not saw away at some big limb, it does not try to alter the sap; but it gives a new root, and plants us in fresh soil. The man's inmost self, the deep rocks of his principles upon which the topsoil of his actions rest, the soul of his manhood is thoroughly changed, and he is a new creature in Christ. ‘But,’ says one, ‘I see no reason why I should be born again.’ Ah, poor creature, it is because thou hast never seen thyself. Didst thou ever see a man in the looking-glass of the Word of God - what a strange monster he is. Do you know, a man by nature has his heart where his feet ought to be: - that is to say, his heart is set upon the earth, whereas he ought to be treading it beneath his feet; and stranger mystery still, his heels are where his heart should be: - that is to say, he is kicking against the God of heaven when he ought to be setting his affections on things above. Man by nature when he sees clearest, only looks down, can only see that which is beneath him, he cannot see the things which are above; and strange to say the sunlight of heaven blinds him; light from heaven he looks not for. He asks for his light in darkness. The earth is to him his heaven, and he sees suns in its muddy pools and stars in its filth. He is, in fact, a man turned upside down. The fall has so ruined our nature, that the most monstrous thing on the face of the earth is a fallen man. The ancients used to paint griffins, gryphons, dragons, chimeras, and all kinds of hideous things; but if a skillful hand could paint man accurately none of us would look at the picture, for it is a sight that none ever saw except the lost in hell; and that is one part of their intolerable pain, that they are compelled always to look upon themselves. Now, then, see you not that ye must be born again, and unless ye are so this child is not born to you.”


“Then, lastly, and I pray God help you here my dear hearers, when thou hast confessed thy sin and given up all hope of self-salvation, go to the place where Jesus died in agony. Go then in meditation to Calvary. There he hangs. It is the middle cross of these three. Methinks I see him now. I see his poor face emaciated, and his visage more marred than that of any man. I see the beady drops of blood still standing round his pierced temples - marks of that rugged thorn-crown. Ah, I see his body naked -naked to his shame. We may tell all his bones. See there his hands rent with the rough iron, and his feet torn with the nails. The nails have rent through his flesh. There is now not only the hole through which the nail was driven, but the weight of his body has sunken upon his feet, and see the iron is tearing through his flesh. And now the weight of his body hangs upon his arms, and the nails there are rending through the tender nerves. Hark! earth is startled! He cries, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"’ Oh, sinner, was ever a shriek like that? God hath forsaken him. His God has ceased to be gracious to him. His soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. But hark, again, he cries, ‘I thirst!’…But no, his murderers torture him. They thrust into his mouth the vinegar mingled with gall - the bitter with the sharp, the vinegar and the gall. At last, hear him, sinner, for here is your hope. I see him bow his awful head. The King of heaven dies. The God who made the earth has become a man, and the man is about to expire. Hear him! He cries, ‘It is finished!’ and he gives up the ghost. The atonement is finished, the price is paid, the bloody ransom counted down, the sacrifice is accepted. ‘It is finished!’ Sinner, believe in Christ. Cast thyself on him. Sink or swim, take him to be thy all in all. Throw now thy trembling arms around that bleeding body. Sit now at the feet of that cross, and feel the dropping of the precious blood. And as you go out each one of you say in your hearts:

"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,On Christ's kind arms I fall,He is my strength and righteousness,My Jesus, and my all."

And that, Jude would agree, is what Christmas is all about.


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