Snakes Around the Water - Part 2

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberIn this second article about false teachers we want to look a bit closer at the lack of substance in what they teach.

The message of a false teacher has nothing in it to quench thirsty hearts, yet there are so many people today supporting them with their hard-earned money. Jude, in his short but powerful epistle, exposes these false teachers as all show and no substance.

Jude says in verse 12 that they are "clouds without water." The phrase "clouds without water" takes on a different meaning if you live in the desert. Living in the Southwest high desert as I do, we often see clouds coming in which bring the blessed hope of refreshing water which is always desperately needed. When the water does come out of the clouds it is amazing how quickly the thirsty soil turns green when it falls upon it.

But, when the clouds come in with the promise of rain but have no water in them it is such a disappointing and discouraging time. That is a picture of the lack of substance in the message of a false teacher. The Book of Proverbs clearly nails them when it says in chapter 25:14: "Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely." In fact, Jude says that they are waterless clouds that are "carried along by winds."

Just like out in the desert Southwestern United States on summer days, in the Middle East clouds could sometimes also be seen approaching land and giving hope of rain but then passing on-which resulted in excessive heat instead of refreshing rain. The number of people listening to and supporting false teachers today baffles me, when they have nothing at all that would even begin to quench thirsty hearts.

But Jude is not finished. He says in verse 12: "These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted." In saying that these false teachers were "autumn trees without fruit" he continues to paint a vivid picture for us. The word "autumn" is not in the Greek text but is implied in the rest of the phrase, "without fruit." This would signal the end of the harvest season in late fall; not only had these trees lost their leaves but they had no fruit.

He says further that they are "doubly dead." Figuratively, this tells us that there was no spiritual fruit in these false teachers, nor would there ever be any. They were twice dead. These false teachers were also "uprooted." Farmers would dig up trees that produced no fruit and destroy them.

So, their message, as we saw last time, has within it a hidden trap; but their message also has no substance to it. It has nothing within it able to feed and nourish anyone who is hungry for Truth.

Jude goes on to show that they spread their shame everywhere they go: They are "wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam" (v. 13). "Wild" translates the Greek word agrios, which means "wild, belonging to the field." It is that which is wild; turbulent; tempestuous. You could, according to some scholars, translate the word as "stormy." Jude describes stormy waves crashing down on a sandy beach, casting up bits of filth and debris on the shore in their foam. False teachers spread the evidence of their filthy evil doctrine and depraved lifestyle everywhere they go, like filth and debris on a clean sandy beach.

Jude continues in verse 13: "casting up their own shame." "Shame" in the Greek is aischne, meaning disgrace. This shame is the evidence that is foamed up in their wake.

So, let me ask: Are you sure that you want to listen to false teachers and help perpetuate their ridiculous message?

We will continue next time as Jude exposes these snakes for what they really are!

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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