Snakes Around the Water - Part 5

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberA recently popular series of movies tells the story of a man, Jason Bourne, who had lost his identity and didn't know who he was. He had several passports that each had the right picture on them but each had a different name from a different country. He spends his life trying to find out who he is.

Bourne's story has many parallels with today's Christians: we don't seem to know who and whose we are anymore. We keep changing passports depending on which crowd we're with and live such frustrating lives searching for our identity. We don't seem to what we believe. When we begin to take our Christianity seriously and live on the passport that Christ has given to us, however, everything changes.

It was important to Jude that we cease to be fodder for false teachers to feed upon. We have said over and over that the best way to stop false teaching is to live out what we say that we are. Jude has described for us the characteristics of what a false teacher is. He has called them ungodly persons who turned the grace of God into licentiousness, refused Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, based their false doctrine on dreams and visions, defiled their flesh in sinful living, rejected any authority in their lives, blatantly reviled even angelic majesties, did not understand the seriousness of what they were doing, and lived as animals with no limits to their sinful behavior.

He has told us that their message has within it a hidden trap as he calls them "hidden reefs". He told us that their message has nothing within it to quench thirsty soil like clouds without water blown by the wind. He told us that their message has nothing in it that can feed or nourish like autumn trees without any fruit. He told us that they spread their shame everywhere they go like stormy waves of the sea that dredge up the filth from the bottom of the ocean. He told us that their doom is that they are destined for eternal darkness. He has described them in like manner to Cain, who thought and cared only for himself. He has compared them to Balaam, who did what he did for profit. He has said that they are like Korah, who knew no authority but his own. He told us that they constantly grumble and find fault with everyone but themselves. He told us that they chase after their own lusts knowing no restraint. He showed us that they were air bags full of flattery in order to get from their listeners what they want. Nice bunch!

In verse 17, Jude says we shouldn't be surprised that these false teachers are here. He says "But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Greek used for "words" in this passage is rhema which refers to the subjective words that were spoken. He refers to words that were spoken to them personally. The "spoken beforehand" is in the perfect passive which points back in time to a specific instance. From this we can infer that the recipients of Jude's letter actually heard the apostles speak the words of warning. But, we must remember that what the apostles said had jurisdiction wherever it was read or repeated as this framed the body of Christian doctrine.

Jude writes that the apostles said "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts" (v. 18b). The word "last" is translated from the word eschatos, which points to the extreme: the most remote, the very last! He says that in those days there will be mockers (empaiktes: one who mocks; who makes fun of; who scoffs). And just as Jude has already said, they will be following after their own ungodly lusts. They are easily identified by the division that they will cause in the church, "These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit" (v. 19). These false teachers are "devoid of the Spirit" and are in no way believers. They do not have the Spirit of God in them.

We shouldn't be surprised that these snakes will show up, but how then should we live? Verses 20-23 show us just that.

Jude tells us first that we should continue to build upon the firm foundation of our faith, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith" (v. 20a). "But you" (as in vs. 17) shows that we are to be different than the false teachers. Our lives as believers should totally contrast them. "Building yourselves up" uses the word epoikodomeo , which means to build upon. It is in the present tense, indicating that they should continue to build themselves upon something. Upon what? "Your most holy faith." This phrase uses the word hagios (separate and unique) for "holy". Our faith is that which is separate from the world's idea of faith. It is that which is unique and special. The word for faith here has the definite article which points to the doctrines of our faith. So, we should be constantly building up ourselves up on the doctrinal foundation of our faith. This is so simple! It means that we should keep on building ourselves upon God's Truth which is His precious Word.

Jude tells them to keep on building themselves upon the doctrines of their faith because false doctrine can destroy in a moment what may have taken years to build if someone listens to it. It is the doctrines of our faith such as the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of Christ that hold us up against the onslaught of false teaching that seeks to erode our beliefs.

Do you know whose you are? Do you love His Word and are you building your life upon that which God says? Beware, the snakes are lurking!

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

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad