Sermons & Sunday Schools

Book of Jude

Contending for the Faith: The Characteristics of False Apostate Teachers, Part 3

In this sermon, Pastor Joe Babij considers the third description of false apostate teachers according to Jude: the portraits of deception false teachers exemplify. In Jude 12-13, Jude provides five metaphors that expose the destructive and empty ministries of false teachers: hidden reefs (v. 12a), waterless clouds (v. 12b), fruitless trees (v. 12c), storms that dump dirt (v. 13a), and pathways that lead to darkness (v. 13b). Christians must both know the enemy and know God’s word to be able to escape from false teaching’s enslaving and destructive power.

Full Transcript:

Let’s take our Bibles again this morning and turn to Jude. And Jude is right before Revelation. Verse number three,

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing to you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Now that is the verse of the whole book. That’s the purpose of why he’s writing. He originally intended to write a treatise on salvation, but when he heard the news of supposed Christian teachers denying Christ and using the grace of God to justify immoral behavior, he had to change the direction in which he was going to write. So he is writing now to motivate Christians to wake up and be discerning in order to battle against and recognize false teaching when they hear it.

So Jude was calling for the faithful to go to war against anyone who would teach other than the word of God and the proper understanding and handling of the word of God. So if we are to contend for the faith, we must grow in discernment. And in these latter days in which we live, when apostasy is blowing through our land in a very significant way, we must grow to successfully identify false teachers whenever and wherever they or their teaching may show up.

So I’ve been looking at five characteristics of false teachers mentioned in the epistle of Jude, verses 8 through 16. The first one we looked at is the pride of the apostate teacher. The second one we looked at is the profound resemblance of Old Testament apostates, how they are similar to today’s false teachers.

And so this Lord’s Day, I want to examine the portraits that exemplify false teachers in verses 12 and 13. But before I do that, I do want to just recap and review where we were and where we’re going. And this is very important. When I was in the military, one of the things that we used to teach our young Marines, and that was taught to me too, was that if you’re going to go into battle, you have to know your enemy. And so we would begin to look at silhouettes of ships to see what the ships that we own and the ships that the enemy uses look like. We were looking at their planes and how they look in silhouette form, and then also their weapons, and then finally how the soldiers would look and the equipment that they would have. We would be studying the enemy to see what their strategies were, what their plans were, what their motives were, all those things we were studying so we can fight the best battle possible against them and identify them when we came in contact with them.

So that’s an important thing that we ought to be doing. And so, just by way of review, the first thing is the pride of apostate teachers in verse number 8. Their sinful pride really is depicted in their rebellion. Verse 8 says,

Yet in the same way these men also by dreaming defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.

So they are promoting deluded teachings through false dreams that they actually claim are from the Lord, but they are not. They fantasize and they dream up things. They are actually filthy dreamers that really do not struggle very much at all with wanting to have pure and clean thoughts and thoughts that are honoring before the Lord.

Their sinful pride is depicted in their arrogance. Everything they do is about themselves and their self-interest. That’s what they’re ruled by, and it was a contrast against the archangel Michael. Michael’s interest was the Lord’s interest. False teachers’ interest is their own interest.

Their sinful pride is also depicted in their ignorance. In verse 10 it says,

But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these they are destroyed.

So that means that these things they do understand, they revile, they go against, they speak against. The things that they do not know by instinct, they follow to their own destruction.

False teachers really follow not biblical thinking but natural thinking. They know bodily appetites and what makes them happy. They know how to satisfy their fleshly desires because their desires rise no higher than the instincts of animals because their mind is not being transformed by the Word of God. Their reasoning and actions are off base. In other words, their minds are not being renewed and being bent toward knowing the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God.

Another thing about these false teachers is that they respond instinctively to things, not biblically to things. In verse number 10 it says these false teachers may claim to be in the know concerning the Christian life. However, when they speak, they speak out of their own ignorance. They have abandoned divine revelation for human reasoning, even forsaking sense and logic. All that is left if you do that is to do things like an animal would do them, out of instinct, naturally, what you desire. So they’re slaves. They’re slaves to their own animal instincts. And the basic drives of all animals are that of eating and drinking and mating and survival.

So these apostate teachers have passions and drives for eating and drinking and sex and all which are really all out of balance and inflamed by the sinful desires just to gratify self and their indulgent flesh. They’re earthbound to the max. They’re not thinking about eternity. They’re not looking towards anything that would go past this earth.

And also we see here that these false teachers, they really have no sanctifying effect on people. They actually have a destructive effect. And that’s why it says in the passage in verse number 10 they’re destroyed by these things. So their corruption will destroy them and those who follow them. 2 Peter calls them

born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed.

So these false teachers do not promote the conduct of holiness and godliness. These false teachers actually cannot do that. They’re unable to do that. They do not have the spirit of God in them to do that. They could have somewhat of a head knowledge of the truth, but there is no regeneration of the heart. There is no supernatural work of grace having been formed in their souls. So then the lusts and the temptations of the world and what the world desires proves to be way too strong for them. And that’s what they’re controlled by. That’s where they go.

A second thing, a second characteristic was that they had a profound resemblance of the Old Testament apostates. In verse number 11, it says,

Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

So there’s three people mentioned there, these Old Testament personalities. The first one was Cain. And what did he do? He decided to go the wrong way. Cain went off the rails or the right path when he strayed from God’s word, when God spoke to him about how to approach Him.

And then the second person was Balaam. And what did Balaam do? He rushed ahead without thinking of the consequences. As long as there was money to be made, that’s where he was. So he decided everything based on how much he could make. And then of course Korah is mentioned and Korah’s sin was rebelling against God and God’s chosen order of leadership. He didn’t want to do it God’s way; he wanted to do it his way.

So if we are to contend for the faith, we must grow in discernment. We must be able to know what is God’s way and what is every other way. We have to know the difference between what is holy and what is unholy, what is godly and what is ungodliness, what pleases God and what doesn’t please God. Those are all areas of discernment that rise up out of the word of God once we start to understand it.

So in these latter days, as the spirit of apostasy blows not only through our country but through the church, we must be able to successfully identify false apostate teachers whenever and wherever they show up. So today what Jude is doing and what is being communicated to us in scripture is how to do that. This is how they look. And he really does focus in on specific details about even the inner motive of what’s going on with these false teachers.

So this third point, the portraits of deception that they exemplify, that’s where scripture is pointing us now, to certain pictures that we can visualize in our mind about how they are. Before we do that, let me pray.

Lord, this morning as we look at the word of God again, Lord, teach us, grow us in discernment that, Lord, we would not be duped by every wind of teaching that is out there, whether it be in the church or outside the church, but, Lord, we would be steadfast disciples of the word of God, knowing what You’ve spoken in truth in the word of God, so Lord, when we hear something other than that, we can identify it quickly. Lord, make us discerning Christians that we can know these things because we are growing in our knowledge and wisdom of the word of God. And I pray this in Your name. Amen.

So the first thing underneath this title is the unsuspected dangers that lead to destruction. In verse number 12, notice what it says,

These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves;

Now, that’s the first part there. There remains really a stealth nature of false apostate teachers. There are some that are easily identifiable, but others are not so easily identified, and the best strategy of any enemy is to blend in in order to remain unidentifiable. However, they are planted for the destruction of the persons that they infiltrate. They have no good motive for doing what they do.

So if you look at scripture in verse 12, this is what scripture calls them. It calls them hidden reefs, in other words, rocky hazards hidden beneath the water. Hidden rocks are really the greatest fear of any seaman or sailor because these are dangerous reefs that can shipwreck a seaworthy vessel. And just as these rocks can tear the bottom out of a ship or out of a boat, if we are talking about false teachers, their teaching can rip the bottom out of the church and cause it to take on too much water, making it unstable and even sinkable.

Now, who are those who can wreck churches? Well, it could be those who wreck the unity and the peace of a church by rejecting the faith, by questioning the word of God to the point of not finding out what it says, but the other side of actually causing doubt in people’s minds. In fact, just take your Bible and turn back to 1 Timothy for a moment, because Paul uses the same language when describing those who ultimately reject the faith. Notice in 1 Timothy 1:18-20, it says:

This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

So again, here in this passage, they disrupt the unity and the peace in the church by rejecting the truth of the word of God and therefore causing trouble. And then there are those who would prevent the gospel by evil deeds. 2 Timothy 4:14-15, again Paul mentions in verse 14,

Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself too, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

Now, of course, he was an idol maker, and because he was an idol maker and people were getting saved and hearing the gospel and no longer buying the product, it inflamed him and he went against those who were preaching and teaching the word of God, and to evil ends, he wanted to destroy what they were saying.

Now, why is confronting error so important? Well, there’s one word, actually two words: the gospel. Failing to engage against false teaching will lead to the dissolution of the gospel. If you allow error to creep in, it will eventually corrupt that which is central to all of us as believers. If the Bible does not provide the definition of the gospel, then something else will. There will never be a void; something will always fill the void and consequently, something will either be added to the gospel, like, for example, works-based salvation, that you have to do something to get saved, or it will be subtracted from the gospel, like people saying, "Well, there’s really no such thing as sin so bad that God will judge you for it and send you to hell," or "God’s judgment will be upon all people." All those things will go by the wayside. Something will be subtracted from the gospel.

So a faulty view of scripture allows for an alternative authority to scripture and thereby an alternate gospel, which we know is no gospel at all. So the errors we face today operate the same way. We already dealt with it, that those who deny the essential doctrines of the faith. Peter dealt with it: the lordship of Christ is a very essential doctrine, that we are to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Yet people deny the lordship of Christ. We have the doctrine of creation – reinterpreting or ignoring the theology of Genesis 1-3. If these are reinterpreted or ignored, we will actually lose the gospel. How can you have a second Adam without a first Adam? Well, Paul brings that up in Romans 5. How is the gospel effective if death happened before the fall and sin was not the cause of death?

So you’ve got to go back to the doctrines of scripture to get the gospel right. If you reinterpret those things, you lose the gospel. What about a faulty eschatology? Peter dealt with it: "Where is the promise of his coming? He’s not coming back. Look, things have been the same all along. There’s no second coming of Christ." Or that the day of the Lord possibly has come already, like it says in Thessalonians. See, we need to know these things so we’re not thrown off track.

What about marriage? Marriage in scripture is one man, one woman, right? Well, today that’s not the case, is it? There’s same-sex marriage. People are marrying their animals. They’re marrying themselves. They’re marrying their robots. Crazy stuff going on out there. And it’s being propagated and normalized, and that’s the danger of it. It’s being normalized in people’s minds. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody’s doing that. There’s no problem there in that area. And, of course, that does lead to homosexuality. The incorrect thinking on the issue of homosexuality can result in the corruption of the gospel.

Now, just take your Bibles and look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. The reason why I want you to look here is because of this, because God sanctified people from sins like homosexuality. That’s not the only thing he sanctifies them from. So if we redefine and end or dismiss the doctrine of conversion and sanctification, which really go together, then if somebody says homosexuality is never wrong, then some may conclude that the gospel made a mistake. But look at what it says here in verse number 9:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And then in verse 11:

Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Saying this, that all sinners need conversion. All sinners need conversion. It doesn’t matter what sin that you were bent to when you came out of the womb. You need conversion. And without conversion, you will not enter the kingdom of God. That’s pretty clear in Scripture.

Now, I’m sure you have all heard about the House of Commons in Canada just passing the bill called the C-4 bill. It was passed without any opposition whatsoever on the conservative or the liberal bent in their government. And did you know that on January 8th, which was yesterday, it is against the law in Canada today to preach, teach, or counsel regarding God’s design for marriage and sexuality. We prayed about it. We mentioned it in the prayer list on Wednesday. But they’re not very far north of us. As a matter of fact, they’re our border country.

See, the bill will criminalize anyone who what they call will engage in conversion therapy, convincing someone, whether it’s a sexual orientation that they want to pursue or somebody who wants to become a Christian, or in any counseling situation that you’re giving the gospel to lead someone to Christ, that now is a criminal activity in Canada. And according to Canadian law, the belief in God’s design for marriage and sexuality will now be seen as a myth. Now everyone who knowingly promotes or advertises conversion therapy, whether you’re preaching it, teaching it, counseling it, is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a prison term up to two years. And all you have to do is promote it. If you teach it, I think it’s a prison term up to five years.

What about in the USA? The Senate Bill 1172 was dealt with in 2012, banning gay conversion, banning trying to convert gay people to Christ. Also in the Democratic Convention in 2020, they declared that they will ban harmful conversion practices, the same thing as Canada.

So we’re dealing with things that are going on, but I’m saying this, that all sinners need conversion. So how can we avoid that? We can’t. None of us can. I can’t. You can’t. If we want people to come to Christ, if we want people to be delivered from their sin, we have to preach the gospel. I can’t save people. You can’t save people. God saves people.

But see, we’re swimming upstream, and the current’s getting quite violent, but we cannot stop. We cannot go along with these particular things. These are the times where we have to disobey laws that are coming out. So it’s not going to be very long before that trickles down into the central part of our country, it’s already on the coast, and just squeezes us all in there, that there’ll be the same kind of laws coming up too.

The reason for that is because of the wokeness ideology that is in our country that is really undoing what is usually normal. Feminizing men, there’s a lot of talk about toxic masculinity. Wokeness comes down to this, that it’s really not as the Bible describes humanity as being divided into two groups, the saved and the unsaved, but as being in the group of the oppressed and those who are the oppressors. And it doesn’t mean there’s not some truth that they’re trying to get out there, or some injustices that they’re trying to present that maybe has been buried, but ultimately it is a false gospel. It will destroy the gospel.

So fighting against error for the sake of truth is the task of every Christian thinker. We must engage error in order to preserve the gospel, not only for our generation, but for the next, and the next is going to have a tough time. The next generation, we need to pray and make them ready for what’s coming.

And some really struggle with the idea that we need to think and learn and discern. They might not believe thinking is a priority, since everything or most things in our culture are about emotions, not about truth. In our time, the church is being seduced from historic orthodoxy with feel-good theology, Christianity light, Jesus made to order.

So the Word of God not only demands that we think though, it also determines how we are to think because the Word of God explains the totality of what things are actually real. These are real. Sin is real. The judgment of God is real. The creation mentioned in Genesis is real. These are real things that actually took place. Jesus coming back again is also real and will take place based on everything that’s happened before that. So, the Word of God is the only place that we are going to get the real scoop about life.

The first step in knowing how to think rightly is always to anchor our thinking only in what is right and what is true – that is the inerrant, infallible Word of God which we hold in our hands. Thank the Lord for that, that we have it. We are then to devote our thinking to engage false ideologies, exploit error, and defend sound doctrine wherever it comes up. It’s not always easily identifiable. We’re to beware of dangerous teaching hidden below the surface, for the purpose of perverting the Gospel, distorting the Gospel, and ignoring the Gospel.

Now if you look back in Jude, verse 12 says this about these false teachers:

And men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts, when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves…

So these false teachers carry out their solicitations at a particular time, at the very time the church is commemorating the Lord’s demonstration of love for His people in the Gospel elements, which we’re going to do today, the bread and the fruit of the vine. They are using that fellowship time for a recruitment meal. At these meals, false teachers are able to carouse with people, to spread their teaching and their agenda with the possibility of undermining the faith of some. These teachers are submerged reefs that wreck seaworthy vessels.

It was supposed to be, and it still should be, on the Lord’s Day, a very simple meal. The body of Christ gathered together, both rich and poor, and shared a plentiful meal that partook together with others, demonstrating our commonality. What do we have in common? We’re one with the truth. We’re one in faith. We’re one in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what makes us one. What Christ has done and now we’re children of God. We’re in the family of God, so that makes us a big family and we’re all in common with that. But these teachers brought in probably a lot of luxurious food, like it says in Corinthians 11, destroying the simplicity of this ordinance and causing division because the poor people probably were being set aside and not being taken care of.

So Jude refers to the feasting of the false teachers as during the Lord’s table. Historically, the Lord’s supper was a full meal. It was a solemn and joyful time of celebrating the presence of the Lord and it focused on the two elements of the Gospel. The bread is Jesus’ incarnation and the fruit of the vine is Jesus’ death. It was not a time to indulge oneself in gluttonous eating or drunkenness, or to disturb the unity of God’s people and the commonality that people had together because of Christ.

Eating together was a way for them to fellowship, to demonstrate common concern for one another. Biblical fellowship really encompasses something vital because when we become Christians, we become one. We enter into a community that is united with certain bonds that are not able to be broken. They’re permanent. Christians are not only devoted, as it says in Acts chapter 2, to the apostles’ doctrine, they desire to hear it and to know it, but they are devoted to fellowship. And Christian fellowship is much deeper and sweeter than secular fellowship. Biblical fellowship means a spiritual communion with one another, a joint partnership with one another, a joint sharing with one another.

So it is because we enter into a new family relationship and when we’re born again into God’s family and we’re quickened by the Holy Spirit and made alive to the things of God, there’s spiritual movement, there’s spiritual life, there’s spiritual growth. So we can have fellowship with those who possess the same life, but with those who don’t, we can’t. So these false teachers cannot have fellowship with real believers. They could only carry on their dastardly deeds.

It was Jerry Bridges who said the idea of biblical fellowship is the idea of an active partnership in the promotion of the gospel and the building up of believers. That’s what it is. I get saved, the Spirit of God is in me, I have the Word of God, now we are going to learn more of what the gospel has done for us, and then together as a church we build up other believers in the faith so we become strong and unmovable.

So the false teachers were turning the Lord’s table into something deceitful. They in turn destroy the whole purpose of the fellowship meal. And if you notice in verse number 12 what it says, they do it without fear, and then notice a little phrase, caring for themselves. That’s the same thing that was the indictment in Ezekiel chapter 34 that was read this morning. They don’t fear God, they don’t revere God, they don’t respect God. It says they care for themselves. The word there is actually the word for shepherding. It literally means they shepherd themselves. Rather than tending to and feeding the flock, these men are concerned only for their own interests, not caring for the church’s welfare and edification. As it says in Ezekiel, “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?”

So now back to Jude, we see here that he zooms in the camera on the characteristics of false teachers in verse number 12, and he gives us this – the promises that they give actually disappoint. So Jude further uses four metaphors to portray false teachers’ effect on the community of the faithful, that these false teachers are all show and have nothing to give to those who foolishly listen to them and follow them. Look at verse number 12. What does it say at the end of the verse? They’re waterless clouds carried along by the wind. Now maybe at first these individuals gave some promise of a fresh gain for the church because they tend to be very strong, large personalities, very engaging people, but end up as disappointing as clouds who give a promise of rain but do not deliver. These false teachers’ words promises refreshment but brings none. In other words, all thunder and wind, no rain. They promise refreshment but they leave their followers parched.

Now just imagine in the east, this would be a most grievous disappointment, in a desert area, right? Just imagine a farmer’s disappointment when the wind brings in clouds but without a drop of water falling on their land. That’s disappointing. Well, that’s what false teachers are with their teaching. It doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t give any kind of refreshment. The false teachers provide no useful doctrine for the spiritual health and well-being of the gathered church. And being too familiar with their teaching could actually shipwreck the faith and leave one spiritually parched.

I remember years ago I was down in Florida and I was watching TV. I was watching a TV preacher who really was a good showman and had a forceful convincing voice. And he promised that if you reposition your life, that you will open yourself up to all kinds of blessings. I don’t remember if he referred to any particular scripture. I was listening for it but didn’t hear it. He could have mentioned it in passing. He was a good storyteller, very engaging. Then it ended. And the listening TV audience, which I was one, was given the unique opportunity of a lifetime to purchase a hat or a T-shirt with the saying, reposition yourself. So his promises were vague and empty. And there was no substance at all. He was an advertisement to sell product and to gain money.

Now, if you took that same person and you dug a little bit deeper on what he believed, he also taught that the Godhead was three modes of one person and not three persons. He was a modalist. And those doctrines are dangerous and yet they have control of the airways and many people watch them faithfully thinking this is the truth and it is not.

So you see, we need the reign of God’s word upon us, not the arid clouds of false teachers. That’s what Deuteronomy chapter 32 says. Just listen to what it says:

Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. Let my teaching drip as rain, my speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass, as the showers on the herb. For I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to God!

See, we need the life-giving, transforming word of God. And brethren, that’s all we need.

So that’s the first picture. The second picture is in verse number 12 at the end of the verse, that they’re described as fruitless trees. Notice what it says,

Autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted.

Now, a certain calendar is used in this historical period, I believe it’s the Julian calendar, between the dates of August 11th and November 10th, there would always be the hope of fruit. There would always be the hope of the harvest of olives or the harvest of figs or the harvest of pomegranates or dates. But if there is no fruit, there’s a problem. Fruitless trees.

Now the possible reason for no fruit, there could be several reasons. It could be just a bad tree. And so what you do with a bad tree, you tear it out. It could be that there is defective soil, like in the parables of the sower. There could be the shallow soil or the rocky soil or the thorn-infested soil or drawing from the wrong source, like self and the world and Satan, not from Christ or His word or His spirit.

It could also be a bad atmosphere in the sense of taking on toxic materials, reading books that are toxic, visiting media sites that are just spewing out falsehoods, or having relationships with people that are completely the opposite of the way you’re going and they begin to influence you in their way, not the way you ought to be going as a believer. So all of these could be poisonous influences or they can be influences for good.

It could be a lack of attention, no prayer, no Bible reading, no study, no faithful attendance, no diligent hearing and doing the word of God. Or it could be really the lack of use. You know, fruit decays if not used as a proper time, right? Everybody has bananas, usually during the season of buying food, and if bananas are not eaten, they go bad quick. So you have to do something with them. You have to eat them or you have to freeze them, and then you use them somewhere else.

But here, this is not backsliding. This is apostasy. Look what it says again in verse number 12. It says,

Autumn trees without fruit, and then it says this,

doubly dead, uprooted.

That means that this tree is dead first because it bears no fruit, and secondly, doubly dead because it’s pulled up by the roots, incapable of being revived. That’s apostasy.

Then there’s a difference between a backslider and an apostate. A backslider, most likely, could be a genuine believer, but gets away from the Lord, gets caught in sin for a period of time. And they’re convicted of that sin finally, and because they’re miserable in their worldly sinful environment, they repent and come back. Or the Lord has to discipline them to come back, but they come back. An apostate is someone, despite their profession of faith, has never been saved. So if he or she leaves the faith, they have nothing in their desires to turn them back to the true gospel. They just don’t.

So the solution and remedy for the backslider would be return, repent, and resolve to walk, to pray, to be diligent, to advance in godliness and holiness.

But the apostate tree, there’s no way this tree could be connected to any soil in which is able to produce life or produce fruit. These false teachers are not connected to the spiritual life-giving source of Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus says,

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it so it may bear more fruit.

He goes on to say in John,

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.

And this is a common theme in scripture, that every tree, like it says in Matthew, that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. It says then in Matthew 7,

So then you will know them by their fruits.

They have either bad fruit or they have no fruit. But I tell you this, that all Christians have fruit. All Christians have fruit. The fruit of godliness and holiness are going to manifest in many different ways. Even the Old Testament example of judgment where it says in Proverbs,

But the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

So these false teachers just have no ability to bear fruit in themselves or those who hear them. And then the next thing in verse number 13, a third picture, storms that dump dirt. It says in verse number 13,

Wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam.

These seas are unstable, and so are false teachers. They are like the troubled sea that cannot be quieted. The dirty foam that ends up on the crest of the wave is dumped on the beach, which is what false teachers have to offer to those who follow them. In other words, what do they have to offer? Dirt. That’s what they have to offer, dirt. They dump dirt and ungodliness into the lives of their followers. Isaiah 57:20 tells us this,

But the wicked are like the tossing sea for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. There is no peace, says God, for the wicked.

In our passage in Jude, it says they’re casting up their own shame. Their own shame is their shameful ways, their dishonorable deeds that flow out of their lifestyle, filthy words, lives that are filthy. And they cause trouble to the church by their own pride, by their own vanity, by the loss of any restraint of modesty or morality. And they rage in their own opinions and their practices. So false teachers, really what they do is they exploit people in their base fleshly desires, and they blur the lines between right and wrong. The physical drives become the motivating force in a person’s life, and false teachers do not help people put boundaries on their physical drives and appetites. The Spirit of God will do that through the Word of God. Feelings, not truth, play a dominant role in deciding what is right and wrong. They say stuff like this, “If you ask Jesus into your heart, you are forgiven and free to live as you please. If it makes you happy and it feels right, then do it.”

False teaching leads feelings astray and leads ultimately to shameful thinking and shameful living with no repentance, with no transformation. It was the same thing that 2 Peter said, that these false teachers are like a dog that returns to its vomit, who repeats its folly, like a pig that just goes right back into the slop. So these teachers are really foul within, they’re filthy without, they have perverted appetites and they feel at home in the mud. Rather than cleansing the saints with the Word of God, they pollute them with false philosophies and arrogant justifications for personal sin.

But I think here’s the last thing and maybe the saddest of all of the picture that Jude gives for these false teachers. It’s a disturbing one. Notice what it said, because they lead to directionless paths. Verse number 13, it says this, they are

wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

Most scholars refer to wandering stars as comets and meteorites. Some refer to them as shooting stars that appear in the sky for a moment with a quick blast of light, which very soon vanishes. They promise something glorious and even beautiful, but it ends up becoming lost forever in darkness.

So false teachers really provide no guiding light to its followers. They only lead their followers into further darkness. Instead of providing the light of Scripture that would aid Christ’s followers to be the lights in the world they ought to be, as Paul told Philippians, so that

you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you appear as lights in the world.

That’s what believers ought to be. But they can’t lead them there. All that they can lead those followers to is darkness.

And notice what it says. It identifies really the nature of the darkness, it’s black darkness. That means all light is sucked out, leaving complete darkness, no light at all. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where you could be in a dark room, and if there’s a little beam of light coming into the room, there’s light. But being a place where there is absolutely no light to penetrate that particular area, it’s a scary thing. One summer, my family and I went to the Lackawanna Coal Company, and they had a coal mining tour. And what they did is they lowered you into a mine, a coal mine that was empty and not used, as an illustration. When you got there, they put you in this little room, and they shut the lights off. It was the scariest experience in my life because they shut the lights off and there was no way any light can get into that room. And you felt it. It began to consume you and overtake you. It was dark, so dark it’s undescribable. There’s nothing.

And this is the kind of darkness he’s describing here, that it doesn’t lead to any place where there could be any kind of fellowship or any kind of interaction or any kind of joy or any kind of anything that would produce in our life what the Spirit of God produces. It says here, for whom the black darkness has been reserved: to those who spew out false teaching. They have reserved seats in the blackest darkness, unless they turn and truly repent and believe the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and surrender to his Lordship and return to the truth of Scripture. For all life and godliness, eternal doom is their state and destiny because their depravity is so extreme, their punishment is extreme. Jesus mentioned it more than anybody where He says that, for example in Matthew 22, it says that the king said to the servants,

Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13

A horrible thought to have in your mind is to never get out of darkness. I mean, we have gloomy days, but we have light all around us. This world is penetrated with light. But he also mentions not only the nature of darkness, that it’s black, deep black, but it’s also the duration of darkness has been reserved forever. This is eternal punishment. To die in one’s sins is the darkest of deaths. Either you will die in the Lord or you will die in your sin.

So do you realize the privilege that real believers have in receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ and having real salvation and knowing really what the light of truth does in our own heart and life, giving us the joy of knowing where we’re going, knowing that we’re forgiven, knowing that we have a relationship with God through Christ, and knowing where we’re going to end up. For it says that they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

So don’t be naive to think that you can’t be influenced by false teachers. Their influence is everywhere. Their pride, their greed, their immoral behaviors are clear marks to who they are. But people seem to want to look past that. So be aware of the enslaving destructive power that their teaching can bring one into. And remember, sin will always carry the power to enslave someone.

Discernment today is greatly needed in God’s church. We need it in order to understand what is true, what is false, what is God’s way, what leads to life and godliness, and what leads to darkness and death. We must know these things to be confident in them ourselves and then to be able to identify them in everything that’s flying around out there, whether it’s in the church or outside the church. It’s everywhere. Christians, don’t be duped.

However, we must be careful with our judgments so that we do not call bad men good and good men bad. Some judgments we must leave up to God. We can judge outward actions and words, but we cannot always judge motive. Only God can judge that. So all I can say is, "Lord, please grow us in sound biblical discernment so that we will not be enticed or entrapped by false teachers and their teachings, but we would be consumed and immersed in God’s Word, where the Word of God is constantly transforming our mind so that we would know the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God." Amen?

Let’s pray. Lord, thank You this morning for the Word of truth. Lord, if this was not in the Bible, we probably would not know what to look for. And we know, Lord, that Jude and other Bible writers that write on these things, write on them from the perspective of the Old Testament.

So, Lord, please today give us discernment as believers. Help us to be careful about what goes into our mind, what we dwell upon, what we imagine. And, Lord, make us sensitive to your Spirit. Always give us a hunger for the Word of God and the truth in the Word of God that will make us into your light-bearing disciples, that we would be the salt of the earth, and that it would be real and effective in our life. So, Lord, let us give ourselves to the teaching of God’s Word so we become disciples that know what we believe and can discern when others teach otherwise. And I pray this this morning in Christ’s name. Amen.