Christendom is Warned About Apostasy
The Believer's Attitude Towards the Apostates
The false teachers were encouraging Christians to be free in the expression of their Christianity. These relatively new Christians were not experienced to discern the truth from error. By and by, the apostates were having quite an effect upon the new born Christians because they offered them liberty.
A. Recognize The Shackles Of Heresy
Peter gives an honest appraisal of heretics (2Pet 2:19-22). Although they promise liberty for their followers they themselves are “Servants of corruption”. Evidently the false teachers whom the Apostle had in mind had once professed to be followers of Christ; but had returned to their lustful wicked selfish ways of life.
Profession without Possession
Chiefly, it is possible for a person to appear to be a Christian without having been born again. He may enter into a church and become involved in its activities; he may serve willingly on various committees, but if his belief in Christ is a mere mental assent to certain Biblical truths, he does not possess the saving faith. The time will come when the external nature of his profession will begin to make itself known. The superficial character of his changed life will then become increasingly evident. Finally, he will return to his former life of sin; his heart hardened, and his degraded state worse than before. Peter describes them as follows: “the latter end is worse than the beginning” (2Pet2:20-21).
Due to hidden mental reservation, pride, or some other reason, some people do not come to know Christ in a redemptive way. The proof of genuine conversion is evident when a person who has made his profession, goes on with the Lord throughout his life and produces spiritual fruit and a Christ-likeness.
B.Response to False Teachers
Jude tells us that we are to contend for the faith. To some in history, to contend for the faith meant to attack those who have deviated from the sound doctrine. Such an approach led to men and women burned at the stake; wars fought, and inquisitions fashioned in order to enforce conformity.
There are several principles that we can follow in order to contend for the faith.
1. Stand on Unshakable foundation
We may proceed with the firm conviction that while we may be uncertain who belongs to the Lord, He knows; but at the same time, the one who confesses the name of the Lord must turn from wickedness. Open sin requires judgment and discipline in the Christian community.
2. Give Gentle Instruction
Rather than trying to silence the false teacher with shouting, Paul instructs, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid questions (arguments) (II Tim 2:23)".
The fleshly approach of the false teacher is to attack, challenge authority, ridicule, strike out and abuse. The Christian must respond with love recognizing that he is not battling against an enemy, but for a fellow human being. In this spiritual confrontation the warfare is between God and Satan. As for us, we are to simply be merciful to those who doubt, snatch them from the fire, and save them; to others we ought to show mercy mixed with fear, hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh (v22).
3. Depend on Divine Judgment
Our response to heretical challenges to the Christian community should not be confused with compromise. There can be neither retreat from the truth, nor a withdrawal of our love. God knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous unto the Day of Judgment (2Pet2:9). We can entrust the false teachers to God; and be free to concentrate on building ourselves up in faith.
4. Protection against False Teachers
These letters not only warn us of dangers from within the Church but also describe safeguards. If we as individuals and fellowships are firmly committed to these principles, we can be confident that we will be immune to any heresies that might appear.
1. Be aware of the characteristics of false teachers and false teaching so we can recognize and reject them.
2.Follow only leaders who meet the qualifications given by Paul in his letter to Timothy and Titus.
3.Study, to understand the apostolic doctrine preserved for us in the Scriptures.
4.Commit ourselves to the holy way of life and unique values to which God calls us in His Word.
C. Security To The Believer
Jude offers four principles that Christians should follow; and that offers security for the believers in the last days of apostasy.
1.Remember (v 17- 19)
a. The Command (v 17a)
Jude talked about Cain, Balaam and Korah (v II), the Children of Israel in the wilderness (v 5), the angels that left their habitation (v6) and Sodom and Gomorrah (v7). Having mentioned those incidents, Jude looks to the more recent past and encourages his readers to remember the words that were spoken by the Apostles. The New Testament truth that came through the Apostles and their close associates is in direct contrast to the pompous rhetoric and vain words of the apostates and the false teachers that Jude alludes to in verse16. In other words in order to stand firm in the day of apostasy, one has to avoid the lies of the apostates and remember the words of the apostles.
b. The Content (v17 b)
The apostles informed the early Christendom about apostasy before it ever occurred. The apostasy that crept into the early church was a fulfilment of their prophecies. They predicted it would come; this prediction is recorded in the following verses: Act 20: 29-30; 1Tim 4:1; 1Tim 6:20-21; II Tim 3:1, 5, 7-8; II Tim 4:3; II Cor11:13-15; Col2:4-5; 1 John 2:18-19; II John7.
i. Its Specific Warning (vv18-19)
“There should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lust” (II Pet 3:3-5).
Jude’s statement is almost a direct quote of the Apostle Peter’s condemnation of apostates. The word translated “scoffers” in II Peter and the word translated, mockers in Jude are the same Greek word. Apostate false teachers are scoffers, who deceive others regarding the truth of God’s word and its application to spiritual issues.
Peter goes on to say in verse 5 that scoffers are willingly ignorant! Apostates characteristically know the word of God and wilfully reject it (II Peter 2:19).
While they promise others liberty, they themselves are the slaves of corruption.
False teachers walk in their own lusts and are enslaved by their own evil desires. Having rejected the truth of God’s law, there is no way for them to control their lust.
ii. The Separatists Confirmed (v19a)
“These are they who separate themselves…”
Apostates not only mock the truth, seeking to be rich, famous and sexually fulfilled; they also separate themselves. That term is found only once in the scripture. It refers to people who think they are superior.They probably formed a clique at the love feast whose only desire was to feed themselves (v12). They evidently despised the leaders of the church according to verse 8, which says that apostates despise dominion. They arrogantly associated with the rich and the educated, believing themselves to be the spiritual and intellectual upper crust of society.
iii. The Sensualists Exposed:
The Greek word for sensual is “psuchikoi” which means “soul”. It refers to the physical life. Apostate and false teachers consider themselves to have risen above the physical realm into the spiritual (pneumatikoi) realm.
iv. The Secularists Revealed (v19c)
“…having not the spirit…”
Jude says that the false teachers are not even Christians, as they are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13), thereby clearly indicating that the false teachers are not led by the Holy Spirit but are bound by their own inventions and misinterpretations.
2. Remain (v 20-21)
Knowing that God is going to unleash his wrath in the last days, we must make sure that we remain in the place of blessing. Do not let your faith be wiped out by the rolling tide of the false teachings.Firmly stand on the word of God.
3. Reach Out (v22-23)
In the day of apostasy, we are not only supposed to build ourselves in a secure place within the sphere of God’s love but we are also to reach out to people who are in danger of being trapped in apostasy. Jude presents three types of people and a method of approach for each of them.
a. To The Doubting (v21)
“And have mercy on some, who are doubting”. The Bible commands us to have mercy, on those who are doubting.
b. To The Deceived (23a)
“Save others, snatching them out of the fire…” NASB
Here a more drastic situation is in view. This group includes those who have gone beyond doubt and are at the edge of hell, people who have been deceived by Satan’s lies and dragged into a false system of religion. Whether it is liberal Christianity or Satan’s worship – these infidels need to be snatched out, as if they were a brand about to be burned (Zech3:21).
c. To the Defiled (v23b)
“…and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (NASB)
In other words, keep a clear perspective: love the person, but hate their sinful life-style.
4. Rest (vv24-25)
a. In the power of God (v24a)
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling..”.
For a Christian it may cost him a massive loss: attacking his faith and freedom, or a drift from the truth twisted by the false teachers; but God is going to watch over us to make sure we are safe. God not only keeps us with watchful care; but He guards us as one who knows that we must be in safe custody when under attack.
b. In the Promise of God (v24b)
“… [He will] present you faultless; the word faultless describes a lamb without blemish. We will be as faultless as Christ Himself, when we enter into His presence.
c. In the Praise of God (v35)
To the only wise God, our Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever Amen.
Recapitulating, what does Jude say to the believer in the age of apostasy?
1. Remember: Do not be surprised; God said apostasy would come.
2. Remain: Stay in the sphere of God’s blessing by building yourselves in the word, praying and looking for the Second Coming of Jesus.
3. Reach out: Help people who are in danger of hell fire.
4. Rest: Do not fear for HE is able to keep us from falling and is able to present us faultless. Therefore, our response should be praises to God.
The False Teachers of Today
- The False Teachers of Today
The false teachers of of St. Peter's day, spoke solemnly of the punishment that awaited them. God is not idle, nor is he asleep. God remembers His children, He knows how to punish the unjust.