In this sermon, Pastor Joe Babij examines Jude 3-4 and the main purpose of this short letter: to urge believers to contend for the faith against infiltrating false teachers. Pastor Babij explains Jude’s primary exhortation as a call to two actions:
1. Know What You Believe (v. 3)
2. Live with a Cautious Awareness (v. 4)
Let’s take our Bibles and turn to the epistle of Jude. That’s right before the book of Revelation. So if you don’t know your Bible very well, it’s right at the end of your Bible.
I do want to admonish people to vote this week. That is your right and power, the only power that you have as a citizen right now, to vote for various offices, governor and other things this coming week. And so be sure to do that. Take that right and use it. Then of course, you want to vote for somebody who is going to make righteous decisions in our state so those decisions that are righteous benefit us. Others usually end up hurting us. So I just wanted to remind you to do that. Just don’t sit back and do nothing. Do something, right?
Jude, it only has one chapter. We have been mentioning this morning about Martin Luther on of course October 31, this very day, 1517 – 504 years ago. What happened was that there was a Dominican friar named Johann Tetzel. He would have been selling indulgences near Wittenberg Germany to raise money for construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. And according to Tetzel, those who purchased an indulgence would receive remission of purgatory. Indulgences of court could also be purchased on behalf of dead relatives and friends. The punchline of Tetzel’s sermons were as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.
Now the sale of these indulgences infuriated Martin Luther, who was a Catholic professor in biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg. And he decided to hold what the professors would call a disputation with other faculty members. What they would do is the professor would take the things that he wants to dispute and nail the thesis to the cathedral door. And so Luther posted his 95 theses on the great wooden door at Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Some of Luther’s talking points or discussion points were, his first article was number one – our Lord and master Jesus Christ is saying, repent ye, intended that the whole life of a believer is repentance. Article 32 said, those who believe that through letters of pardon that they are made sure of their own salvation. He said about them that they will be eternally damned together with their teachers. Article 37, every true Christian, whether living or dead, has a share in all the benefits of Christ and of the church, given to him by God, even without letters of pardon or indulgences. And then in article 62 he says, the true treasure of Christ is the holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God. So Luther actually knew from his own studies, his own conversion and repentance and trust in Christ.
And his study of the Greek New Testament that the word repentance, metanoia, really meant a change of hearts, not mere performance of outward works as the theologians of his day was saying it is. And so Luther wrote his ninety-five theses in Latin, intending them to be discussed just among the scholars and not circulated among the populace. It wasn’t his intention for that to happen. But as Luther himself acknowledged, in a fourth night they flew over Germany translated into German and sold as far as Rome. So that got him in a lot of trouble. But I tell you what, from what he said there and what he did there, and throughout his life, he preached and taught God’s promise of redemption to the repentant sinner in Christ Jesus. And so Luther died on February 18, 1546 at the age of 62. As word of his death spread to Wittenberg, the bells tolled and people crowded the streets, wanting to pay their last respects to their leader. And on Monday, February 22, 1546, accompanied by a caravan of people including his wife Katie and his four children and a throng of followers, Luther’s casket was born through the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, on which more than 28 years before, that young monk nailed the 95 theses. So through the same door, Martin Luther started the reformation, he passed into eternal rest. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. Little did Martin Luther realize the forces that would be set in motion in posting those 95 theses on the door of that Castle Church in Wittenberg. He felt necessary to speak against error in his day. And he was willing to stand up for it against that error and stand for the truth. And of course that resulted in the reformation and millions of churches being started because of that. And not only that, he captured the gospel again. It’s not the gospel of works. It’s the gospel of grace, right? That God calls us by His grace and faith in Christ Jesus. Repentance towards the Father, and faith in the solution Jesus Christ Himself, that’s what happened.
So, it’s amazing that I’m in the book of Jude when this day happens, this Sunday is the 31st, because that’s exactly what Jude is writing about. He’s writing about defending the faith. Now some believe that the reason why he changed his mind here is because possibly at this time Paul had died, Peter had died, and some false teachers took advantage of that and started infiltrating into the church. So Martin Luther contended for the faith when he posted the 95 theses on the Castle Church door at Wittenberg and that’s what we ought to be doing too. The last time I was in the epistle of Jude, I said it was like a big sandwich. It begins with God’s sovereign actions in salvation and ends with God’s actions on behalf of His people so that they can actually carry out the appeal to contend for the faith. In the middle of the sandwich is the information needed to accomplish the task. God’s sovereignty includes human responsibility.
So let me just read the passage this morning, verse 1 through verse four. It says,
Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Let’s pray. Father, this morning as we approach the word of God, we know Lord that it is the word of God. It is the very truth that we need for life and godliness, for salvation. Lord, we thank You that we have it. We thank you, Lord, that You have protected over the ages. We thank You, lord, for those who have preached it and proclaimed it and held it to the conscience of people who came to faith because of it. We thank you, Holy spirit, that You bring the word of God to our minds. You illuminate us. You show us. You penetrate the darkness with the gospel of Christ and You show us the light of the gospel of Christ, and how we can be made right with God for what Christ has done. Lord for this we’re eternally grateful. So bless us, Lord, again as we are called on in our day to defend the faith, to stand firm, to not give in to the current day mindset of religion and no faith. And so I pray Lord You would impress it upon our mind this morning. And I asked it in Christ’s name, amen.
So, the last time that we were in the text, I looked at verses 1 and 2. There we see God’s sovereign actions in salvation included the order of salvation. It says in verse number one, to those who are called. Someone has to be called by the gospel of Jesus Christ. There was an outward call where you hear the gospel, but you don’t have to respond to that. And then there’s the inward call, and the inward call is whereby the Holy Spirit calls His people to Himself effectually by working a miracle in their hearts and bringing them from spiritual death to spiritual life, opening their eyes to see. And then those of course who are called, they realize that they have been beloved by the Father, elected in Christ before the foundation of the world. And then there is a security in salvation. In verse number one, they are kept for Jesus Christ. The whole redemption program is not done yet. It’s going to consummate at the end in Christ, where we meet Him and we are with Christ forever. So we are kept until that day. And then salvation has abundant blessing connected to it while we’re here on this earth, where it says in verse number two,
May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
So it is the wish here that if a Christian is not robbed of blessings by false teaching, then these three blessings will increase and multiply in daily life of those who are called by the gospel of Jesus Christ and respond to it. They will be multiple mercies. There will be multiple peace. There will be multiple love given to the believer.
So this morning, we come to the place where he gives us the purpose of the book. The purpose of the book in verse number 3 is,
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
Now this first point is simply this – know what you believe. Know what you believe because what you believe will come under attack. And make sure that what you believe comes from the Bible. And so what are we called to do in this passage? We are called to defend the delivered faith. So this faith has been delivered by God, not just to anybody. It’s not even delivered to the established church. It’s delivered to the saints, to those who have come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. And this very word that we are contend, I already mentioned, it is a term that quickly brings to our mind the thought of the boxing ring, where two fighters contend against one another to see who is the more skillful, who is the more trained, who is the more hungry in order to win against the other. And even the biblical term contend earnestly is defined like to make a strenuous effort on behalf of something, or a struggle for something, that one contends for something when there are antagonists or something is worth fighting for. It is really the human characteristic for the survival of the human being to defend what is most precious to them, like their home, and their family, and their freedom. Also, God’s truth as found in the Bible are of infinite value. And they are under attack. They’ve always been under attack. So they need to be contended for. Jude is intensely concerned about the threat of heretical teachers in the church and the response that Christian should have concerning this particular threat. Now some people may say, well I don’t even know there was a threat. Oh there is a threat. There’s always a threat.
Therefore Jude is really a hard-hitting epistle which really seeks to motivate us, to really stir us out of our complacency and to put before us a battle against false teachers and those who reject the truth. Jude was calling for the faithful to go to war against the intruders who have come into the church and fight for the truth of Christian faith. He didn’t mean to take up swords and guns. He meant to take up the truth. So you have to know it. So the appeal to the saints is to defend the faith. And what is the best way to fight? First, we must be trained to fight. And how do we do that? By knowing the delivered faith. Not any faith, not any truth, but the truth that has been delivered to the church.
Now, I want you to notice a phrase here in verse number three, where it says in the middle of the verse,
to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith…
There’s a definite article before the faith. That means this is the one. There’s no other one that has been delivered to the church. So we don’t have to go looking for what to believe. We already have it. The faith which was once for all handed down to the saints, we have it in our hands. One of my diplomas that hangs on the wall in my office has a medallion in it with the inscription “Pisteuthenai to euangelion.” Now that simply means entrusted with the gospel. Now that actually comes from 1 Thessalonians 2:4. If you’d like to turn there very quickly, do that. Because the whole passage reads, 1 Thessalonians 2:4,
but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.
Now that particular passage tells us what we are to speak. We are to speak the gospel, and the gospel is the whole of the word of God actually. And before whom we are speaking actually counts. It says not before men. Our speaking counts before God. So when we’re preaching, when we’re teaching, when we’re living the gospel, we’re living it before people, but most importantly we’re living it before God, and that’s what matters the most. That’s what matters the most.
So we have a body of truth delivered to the church. What do we have to do? We have to hear it. We have to study it. We have to meditate upon it, memorize it, and then hide it in our hearts. And I know that many of you have already been doing this. Keep doing that. Some of you not as of yet, but you must, if you are going to stand firm in what is taught in the word of God. Why do we need to stand firm? Because you and I have an aggressive enemy who has planted his own missionaries in the world system, and yes even in the church. And that’s what Jude’s concern is, that Satan wants to make or keep people ignorant of God’s word, the body of faith delivered once for all to the saints. As Paul said to the 2 Corinthians,
the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
So Satan identified in this verse as the god of this world, he supplies ample disillusionment for people to keep on believing lies. He’s good at it. Trusting their eternal soul upon lies. That’s what he likes people just to rest in. It’s all right. Don’t worry about it. And again, the word world in the passage refer not to the material earth, but to the floating mass of thoughts and opinions and maximums and speculations and hopes and impulses and aims and aspirations. At any time current in the world, Satan guides the various thought patterns of the world in an effort to keep people in the dark about Christ and about His gospel.
So how are Christians to hinder the progress of the adversary? How are they to do that? Well, one of the ways the believer is to do that is to stand against the enemy’s false teaching is to resist him. That’s what it says in 1 Peter – resist him. And that word resist means to oppose him, to withstand him, to hold your ground. The idea of holding one’s ground, the Christian, his part, or her part in defending against the devil’s assaults. And yes, Jesus surely will achieve the victory, but the believer is called to hold their ground. Another way Paul says it in Ephesians 6, similar stance he takes. He says,
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
So resisting with the truth causes one to stand firm. So the believer is to resist. In other words, God has given believers a detection system, making it possible for them to be aware of Satan’s evil methods. The alarm system that God gives them is the faith, the Christian’s perfect personal confidence in God and the system of teaching given to them by God in the Scriptures. You know, many Scriptures actually support the idea of the faith to resist the enemy. Now take your Bible for a minute and let’s look up a few passages in Jude right here 1:3. Notice again that we are to contend earnestly in verse 3 for the faith. There’s the body of truth deliver to the saints. And then Philippians 1:27. Paul writing there says,
I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
So the whole body of truth supports the message of the gospel. From Genesis to Revelation, we have the gospel because the Lord laid out all the foundation from Genesis onward for us to be looking for a Savior, a Messiah, someone who could deliver us from the condemnation of our sin. That’s the whole of the gospel. And then in Colossians 1:23, again he uses the term,
if indeed you continue in the faith,
There it is. What does it do?
firmly established and steadfast,
So the faith gives us the sense that we can be firm and established in the truth. And then that passage of Scripture that Paul gives us at the end of his life in 2 Timothy 4:7,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
The body of truth given it to him. That was the most important thing for him, and that’s what kept him all the way to the point where his head was put on a chopping block and they chopped his head off for the gospel. They did that. So the faith also applies to one’s convictions, which must be well grounded in the Scripture and able to make, as Charles Bigg in his critical exegetical commentary says, one solid and strong, impenetrable like a wall. That’s what Christians ought to be. And truly, as Christians learn scriptural truth, they become strong in the faith. And when they’re strong in the faith, they develop strong convictions that God will never leave them or forsake them, that the word of God is truth, and there’s only one way to be made right with God. So God’s truth, which is light, will expose Satan’s dark mixture of lies and half-truths because Satan is a master Scripture twister. Why should you read the bible? Because Satan read the bible, that’s why. You need to be up on what the Scriptures say so you can detect when you hear something false.
So Satan is a master Scripture twister, and the Christian must fill his mind with God’s word so that it bends his thinking away from the world’s thinking and towards God’s thinking and God’s will. It bends it towards God’s will. Romans tells us,
And do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
So by developing convictions based on study of the Word, the believer is able to cling to the faith in the face of spiritual attack.
Now just a word about Scriptures. The Scriptures have such power because of their origin. The second half of Psalms chapter 19 emphasizes the idea that the word of God has as its source not man but God Himself, that it is God-breathed. As Paul told young Timothy,
All Scripture is inspired of God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training and righteousness.
Psalm 19 and other Psalms helpfully describe the supernatural uniqueness of Scripture. And following just a summary of those Psalms, we find that Scripture is also cited. It is an expression of comprehensiveness covering everything and lacking nothing essential for life and godliness. The word of God gives testimony about who God is and what God requires. The word of God can make an unlearned simple person into someone who is skillful in matters of practical godly living. Scripture can show believers the right spiritual path and guide them into the way of true understanding. The word of God provides illumination in the midst of moral, ethical, and spiritual darkness. It is sufficient for all humanity’s spiritual needs because it sheds clear light concerning essential truths. The word of God is alone pure. It is unsullied by sin. It is untainted by evil. It is devoid of corruption and is without any error of any kind. As the Psalm says in Psalm 119,
how can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
And then again in Psalm 119,
let my tongue sing of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.
So the word of God never ever needs changes. It needs no alteration, no matter what generation anybody’s lived in, including ours. False teachers though have no problem making changes to the word.
So the word of God is always true and therefore always dependable, relevant, and applicable. Christians who realize the present spiritual battle need to know that Scripture is what is necessary for life and godliness. So, Christians must then treasure God’s word more than anything else. It is worth fighting for. It is worth defending. And biblical spiritual warfare is about knowing God and what He has revealed in His word. It’s about walking with the Lord so that the believer more readily recognizes the counterfeit offers of the enemy. It’s not about coming up with new techniques and strategies for doing spiritual warfare or fighting for the truth. It’s about finding the strategies that are already present in the biblical texts.
And one of those basic principles for spiritual warfare is very simple and it’s this – you must know the Scriptures. You must know theology. You must grow in doctrine. Believers ought to know the Bible in order to identify God’s redemptive work from Satan’s stratagies. The enemy is no fool. He has a strategically designed game plan, a diabolical method he employs time and time again, and he’s good at it. He plans to deceive, to confuse, to neutralize, and to finally destroy. And if the enemy could get Christians just to sit on the sidelines and become directionless and dormant, then he’s won. And that’s exactly what he wants to do. Just sit around, don’t say anything. Don’t do anything. As we learned in Sunday school, don’t discipline yourself for godliness. Godliness is not magical. It takes work and discipline, right? And then coupled with contentment, it’s a great gain for us, as the word of God says.
So, we’re called the struggle and fight for the body of truth once for all delivered to the church. But to do this, we must know what the Bible teaches. We must know what we believe. And there has been a faith that has been delivered. It has been taught. It has been witnessed. It has been held by those who have gone before us. We must do the same and know what we believe concerning the inerrancy and infallibility of holy Scripture, about the full and eternal deity of Christ, about the miraculous virgin birth and sinless life of Jesus the Messiah, about the historical creation of man and woman made in God’s image, about the sanctity of all life from conception to natural death, about the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman, about the sinfulness of all human persons, about the substitutionary death of Christ for sinners, about the bodily resurrection of Christ from the grave, about salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. The exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ for sinners is only one way. And then, of course, to believe the return of Christ and the assignment of all people either to eternal blessedness in heaven or eternal condemnation in hell. That’s what the Bible teaches.
So knowing what the Bible teaches will also cause us to be on guard. The purpose of Jude is to appeal to us to defend the faith. And then in order to defend the truth, we must know the truth, but then we all also must know our enemy. Now I want you to go back to Jude and noticed in verse four because he now tells us like this, live with a cautious awareness. Live with a cautious awareness. Number 2, that the evil persons against whom Jude is warning is Satan’s missionaries. That’s how I kind of identify them. And the first is this, look at verse four – be careful of Satan’s sneaky missionaries. In verse four, it says,
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation,
So these are the intruders. I said the intruders have arrived. And these intruders enter the church covertly. They enter through the backdoor. They at first present themselves as allies and fellow followers of Christ. However, a great tactic of the enemy is the ability to remain undetected and invisible to the unsuspecting as they spin their webs and teach their false teaching. So the false teachers may feel secure in their message of peace peace, and think they are being blessed by God. However, the Lord is not asleep on the throne. He will act decisively and quickly. In fact, the sentence has already been pronounced against these false teachers, for it even says here in our text in verse four,
were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation,
Thus the endemic problem with false teachers and false prophets is that they have their eschatology and their ethics wrong, like believing that there will not be a future coming judgment, and believing that one’s behavior will not be called to account in God’s final examination and judgment. Whether they know it or they don’t know it, they are already condemned in their teaching. They don’t walk around with name tags saying I’m a false teacher, or what I’m teaching you is wrong. No, how are you going to know that anyway? Well, you know what, you’re taking the word of God, you’re looking at it yourself. You already know what it says. In fact, many times the truth is so true, when you don’t hear, your antenna goes up and say, there’s something wrong with what that person’s saying. And so, Jude wants us to know the character of these false teachers. They are sneaky.
The second thing about them in verse number four, all these come out of verse four, is to be careful. Satan’s missionaries are godless. It says ungodly persons, and to be ungodly is a person who is without worship or reverence toward the true and living God. They just don’t think about God. They don’t make plans with God and view. They don’t want to please Him in the sense of how Scripture says to please Him. They do not have a humble fear of God, which is evident usually in their deeds and their manner of living and in their speech and their desires. Look at verse number 15 of Jude chapter 1. It says this,
to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way,
That’s a lifestyle.
and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners has spoken against Him.
That’s ungodliness in their speech. And then in verse number 18 of Jude chapter 1,
that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lust.”
So these people are not saved. They are sent missionaries of the father of lies and they are infiltrating the church.
There’s a third thing in verse number four of Jude chapter 1, be careful of Satan’s missionaries who reject and replace the truth. Notice what he says,
who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness…
They exchange the grace of God into excess. The excess is not just sexual, but all kinds of sensual appetites like fleshly sins of gluttony and drunkenness and sexual inappropriate conduct and speech and in worldly thinking. Look at verse eight of chapter one,
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.
In verse number 16 of chapter 1,
These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining advantage.
And then in verses number 18 and 19 of Jude chapter 1,
that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
No wonder they would cause divisions. They don’t have the truth. Everything is coming out of the flesh, the world. But they’re in the system. They’re in the church. They are not people outside of the church, they are in the church. So they have a platform, at least they’re getting a platform. Now, some people also believe that what’s behind this and why the false teachers have this sense of just living free anyway you want, whatever you want to do you’re free in Christ. Do what you want. Live the way you want, is because there was a type of gnosticism behind this, that they higher knowledge because they had a libertine spirit. And in this gnosticism, matter was inherently evil. So that means the body would be evil, and spirit is inherently good. So the two had nothing to do with each other. So that really worked out in what one would call anti-law, where they had no obligation to the moral law because they weren’t going to be held responsible for anything they did in the flesh. And then also it also would let things like the abuse of the body for spiritual promotion, or spiritual advancement. We know that even some of the things that Luther was involved with, beating himself, denying himself food, so he can become more godly. And he found out that that’s not the way it works when he became a Christian.
And then what finally it led to is that they believed that Christ’s body was not real. So this may lead to one of the last things, but these missionaries, these intruders feel that they have no need for moral restraint or no rule because they’re free. To them, the cost of holiness and godliness are unnecessary because it restricts their spiritual freedom. A lot of times people who are in the free grace movement often believe this way, that I can sin and then later on i’ll just repent of it or turn from it or confess it. When they think like that, they’re actually committing another sin and that’s the sin of presumption. You’re presuming something that’s not actually true. And so it just multiplies sin. Their understanding of Christian freedom is God loves you and wants you to be happy. Do you feel is good and right for you. However, we know from Scripture that God establishes our freedom with boundaries. Really the Christian is the freakiest person in the world. That is true, but it doesn’t mean that we can live the way we want. Surprisingly, a Christian is free most precisely because he doesn’t have to obtain by his own efforts his own righteousness. It’s a lot of work to attain your own righteousness. You can’t do it. You’ll never do it. That’s why works based righteousness to be right before God and saved in forgiveness of sins will never happen.
So how does one do it then? Well, as it says in Philippians, he receives not a righteousness of his own derive from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. I can’t work my way to heaven. There’s nothing I could do to save myself, or you save yourself. I have to come with all my sin and all my baggage to Christ and Christ says come unto me, you are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Rest for your what? Souls, your eternal souls. Why? because I’m the way, I’m the truth, i’m the life. No one goes to the Father who is in heaven unless they come through Me because I died in your place. I took the wrath of God for you. I paid the full price. I defeated Satan in death. I ascended into heaven and I’m now preparing a place for you, and I’m praying for you that you are kept to the end and I’m coming back again. And where I am, you will be also. That’s the promise that we have in Scripture.
False teachers are not giving that promise. They never even get close to that promise because everything’s here and now. Your life is fulfilled now. Most of the apostles died and they were martyred for the faith. But they already knew where they’re going. For me to die is Christ. Paul says, right. For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. That concept is completely foreign to anybody who’s thinking in the world. That’s a Christian concept. But that is the truth. And the truth is what we need to hold to and it’s the whole point here. See, our freedom is the righteousness that comes from God, not ourselves. And brethren, that’s freedom. It takes all the pressure off of us. I don’t have to save myself. It has been done. He has redeemed us. He has made us righteous. And we are awakened to a new reality that you are free for holiness and free for all God wants you to be.
Now go live your life and enjoy it. Enjoy everything God’s given you. That’s what the Scripture says. You know what, I can now. I don’t have to worry about my soul. God is taking care of the most important thing in my life. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. Now I can go live my life and I can receive, verse two, mercy and peace and love being multiplied to me everyday because of what Christ has done on the cross. And believe me that’s the way to live and nobody can find that in the world. It only comes through Christ. And sometimes Christians don’t find it. You know why? Because they have wrong teaching. Because they’ve gotten false teaching in their head, and it’s robbing them of those things. They’re still under guilt. They don’t know if they’re forgiven. They don’t know where they stand before God. There’s always this doubt and guilt that should not be as you grow in Christ. I’m trusting everything to the Lord. Now, really Christians are saved to have freedom to serve Christ and holiness and godliness. So in other words, truth will lead you and I to a certain place. And really 2 Peter told us this where 2 Peter 3:11 says,
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
That’s where God is leading us. The Spirit of God is leading us into holy conduct and godliness. And when we live there, we will find joy. We will have peace. Freedom to serve Christ because I want to, because I’ve already been accepted in the beloved. That’s a mindset. That’s something the Spirit of God is going to do for you and I. So we don’t serve go live in this vicious worry cycle. He’s taken care of our soul and we can rest in that, and we can live in that.
But notice in our passages in verse number four, this led to something, this false teaching. It says in verse number four,
and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
So in other words, he’s saying be careful of Satan’s missionary who reject the exclusive claims of Christ. There’s not many ways to God. There’s only one. So these false teachers are really denying the Lord God their Creator who made them. And as Creator He owns them. So false teachers claim to be part of His household, but refuse to submit to the master of the house. They deny their sovereign master in that they do not obey Him. They deny the Master in their teaching by adhering to false teaching and propagating it. And then they deny the Master by their behavior, by a sinful lifestyle. They are actually living in contradiction to His life and His teaching. So that means they’re in complete rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior. And they think that they can live any way they choose because they have received God’s grace. Well, again, the grace of God leads to pursuing godly lives and that is what the epistle of Titus tells us in 2:11,
For the grace of God has appeared, bring salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
so living under the lordship of Jesus Christ, this whole thing where I’ll trust Jesus as Lord and later on I’ll make Him my Lord. I trust Him as my Savior and later on make Him my Lord – no. In scripture, if you notice, Lord is usually put before savior. He’s the Lord. He has always been the Lord. He’s the creator. He’s always been that. You cannot say I’m going to divide Christ and believing Him as Savior and then make Him Lord. No, we trust in Christ as Lord and Savior. So under the lordship of Christ, it always include, always includes obedience to the gospel of Christ and an ongoing pursuit of holiness, cooperation with the Holy Spirit in your sanctifying process. Anything less, anything less denies Jesus as Lord.
So the false teachers, they knew the truth. However, they turned from it. They’re professors in word, but reject the authority of the Creator and actually deny the redemptive offer and purchase of Christ. They say no to the one who has power and authority. And it’s not like they were ever genuinely saved. So no matter who the teacher is, no matter how smooth and charismatic the teacher, no matter how fluid and great an orator, no matter how creative and sharp a thinker, no matter how authoritative in presence, no matter how well-liked and appreciated, no matter how popular and well-known, if he or she denies the lordship of Christ in their teaching and lifestyle, he or she regularly mishandles or twists God’s word, then he or she is a false teacher. They must be immediately abandoned and exposed because they have departed from the faith, the body of truth delivered to the saints. They’re apostates. An apostasy happens when someone lets their guard down and ends up being swept away by error and that means the body of faith once delivered to the church would need to be explained and defended in the church continually, and that’s what it ought to be.
So we are contenders in a boxing ring and our opponent is false teaching carried by aggressive false teachers. False teachers will say God will accept you just the way you are. No gospel. There’s nothing to be saved from. No Savior. No sin. No substitutionary atonement. No heaven. No hell. See, the gospel will be under attack the most. And so we must make sure that we know what the gospel is not, and what the gospel is. And the gospel is not you have low self-esteem and you need more. The gospel is not that. The gospel is not moralism, that you need to straighten up and fly right. The gospel is not reductionism, that Jesus wants to be your friend. The gospel is not simply God loves you. Gospel is also not wokeism. The basic belief of wokeness comes down to this, it is not as the Bible describes humanity as divided into two groups, save and unsaved, but those who are oppressed and those who are the oppressors. See, the cheap remedy for overcoming the oppression is not through evangelism and the changing of sinful hearts. They believe the problem is beyond the gospel. The gospel is too simple. The gospel cannot overcome. However, neither the woke diagnosis nor those woke cures will bring about unity and justice and hope and healing that wokeness promises. It’s really hard to define in just a short time, but wokeness is really a different system entirely than christianity. Those who’ve studied it, and I’ve read about it, it is in fact as they say a different gospel. In the final evaluation, they say that wokeness is not just not the gospel, wokeness is anti-gospel. So christianity and wokeness are not compatible. They are not compatible. Christianity is the truth of God found in the word of God and wokeness is a different religion altogether. It is a religious system that traps a person in their works, taking them captive as one trust works to attain social salvation. That’s what it is. Let’s save the society and this is the way you do it. No, it’s got to be the transformation of the heart, right?
So what is the gospel? The gospel should always include God. God is both our sovereign creator and our righteous judge. God therefore has the right of ownership over us by virtue of creating us and has the right to punish and reward us by virtue of His royal judicial office. And because God is both our creator and judge, we are doubly accountable to him for all our behavior in word and thought and deed. Also man is created by God in God’s image to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But man’s sinned against God. He disobeyed His holy Law. Therefore man separated himself from God’s holy and satisfying presence and incurred His wrath and displeasure. And then, of course, Jesus is the gospel. Jesus’ death, was the substitute payment for the penalty that we deserve for our sin, that His death is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of man’s sin and the appeasement of God’s wrath against us. As it says in the gospel of John chapter 36,
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
And then of course, there’s always the response. You have to respond to that. We are called to respond to the good news in repentance and belief, turning away from our sin and self-sufficiency towards God and trusting in the shed blood of Jesus Christ as a substitute penalty that we deserve for our sin. He died in our place. Just like Mark 1:15 says,
The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
So the gospel is going to be the very thing that’s always under attack. We have to know it ourselves. We have to know that we are truly believers ourselves. We have to know that we’re secure in the beloved. And we have to know the way to be made right with God through Christ and Christ alone. And then we are given the Spirit of God and sanctified by God and we start growing in the truth. Right? And so the appeal to us is really in his purpose statement is to know what you believe. And then you and I will be equipped to carry out the appeal to defend the faith. And then while we do that, we live with a cautious awareness that intruders are here and they’re not easily detectable unless you know the truth.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for the word of God and this passage and the passages mentioned. Lord, make us people who are engaging in the word of God on a regular basis. So the word of God, Lord, is transforming our mind and bending it away from our flesh and away from the world and it’s bending it towards Your will, to know what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. I pray, Lord, when we do that, then we will understand what’s going on in the world and we will understand more of ourselves. And then we will be freed up to serve You and Your people with zeal and love. Make us those kind of people in these days, which we have so much information available to us all the time and it’s overwhelming, Lord. Help us to sift through that stuff and see the truth because we know Your word. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.