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False Teacher Profile (Jude 4)
by Gino Geraci
3/28/2007 / Bible Studies
"For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 4, NKJV)
As we already covered in Jude 1-3, the presence of false teachers and false teaching made it necessary to fight for the faith (pistis). The fight is against apostates. An apostate is not a true believer in the Jesus who is revealed in the Old and New Testaments, but rather is a person who, according to Warren Wiersbe, "has professed to accept the truth and trust the Savior and then turns from 'the faith which was once delivered unto the Saints.'"
When the police department is trying to catch a crook or a criminal they issue a bulletin or a profile. The profile includes a description of the suspect including gender, height, weight, hair color, distinguishing features, tattoos etc.
In the same way that the police department puts together criminal profiles, God has, in the Bible, provided to us a profile of false teachers. The following are the distinguishing characteristics of false teachers.
FALSE TEACHERS CREEP IN UNNOTICED
False teachers are deceitful. They worm their way in to the church. They pretend to be Christians and at times pretend orthodoxy, or use deceitful ploys to win disciples. Like Satan, they appear as an angel of light but they are in reality messengers of darkness. Satan is called the "Father of lies" (John 8:44), and the false teachers follow his example of deception.
The Greek expression "crept in unnoticed" means to "steal in undercover" or to "slip in secretly." Sometimes Satan's undercover agents are brought in secretly by those already on the inside (Galatians 2:4), but they can also come in on their own, as seems to be the case in the book of Jude.
How can such a thing happen? How can false teachers creep in unnoticed? The spiritual leaders must bear part of the blame. Such a thing can happen when the church is not alert, and when the soldiers who should be guarding the church are asleep on their post.
This is why it's absolutely essential for the church to be awake, alert, and on guard so that more people don't fall victim to the kingdom of the cults.
FALSE TEACHERS ARE UNGODLY MEN, MARKED OUT FOR CONDEMNATION
False teachers are ungodly. The word for ungodly in Jude 4 is "asebes." Jude seems to like to use this word as a descriptor. The word seems to imply a person who is without religion or fails to worship. It is an all encompassing word that describes all kinds of sins and all kinds of errors. The word means impious, irreverent and wicked. The Greek speaking Jews used this word to describe practical wickednessas opposed to theoretical wickedness. Jude's emphasis is not even on the specific false teaching but rather the wicked lifestyles of the people who teach.
Jude writes that the false teachers' judgment is certain. We cannot always say that a criminal will be caught, but the Bible says, ". . . be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23).
I believe that when Jude wrote the words, "who long ago were marked out for this condemnation" that he was making reference to the historical precedents of the Old Testament where rebellion and unbelief are dealt with by God.
FALSE TEACHERS TURN THE GRACE OF GOD INTO LEWDNESS
False teachers are enemies of God's grace "who turn the grace of our God into lewdness." This means they use God's grace as a license for immorality. The Greek word for lewdness is "aselgeia." The term was used primarily for sins of the fleshsuch as sexual sins, drunkenness, gluttony, etc.
False teachers twist God's grace into permission for sinful behavior. They are Paul's worst nightmare because they take the grace of God as a license to sin. They teach that because of God's grace you are free to sin without punishment or consequence. The false teacher twists the scriptural meaning of grace to include giving people permission to live any way they please.
Their twisted logic might cause them to say something like this, "Didn't Jesus forgive every sin, past, present and future? Isn't the essence of grace, forgiveness? Didn't Jesus pay our penalty at the cross? How can there be any penalty for sin ever again? We can live as we please!"
You may think that such an attitude would never describe you, but whenever you choose to sin and you justify your sin by saying, "Oh well, God will forgive me" you have turned the grace of our God into a license to sin.
Although God's grace is real and beyond measure, one thing we know for sure is that Jude calls Jesus, "sovereign." This sovereignty means Jesus can demand and expect obedience from us. John 14:15 reads, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." This clearly shows that Jesus can demand and expect obedience from us. We do not have a license to sin.
Jude teaches that belief and behavior are inseparable. Confessing the right Lord must lead to living the right life. The truth of God in Jesus Christ sets people free from sin and now we are free to live a holy life. The power of the gospel and the blessing of the gospel is the power of Jesus to change lives.
FALSE TEACHERS DENY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
False teachers deny God's truth about the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude uses language that can only apply to God and then applies it to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not told how the false teachers denied Jesus, but I suspect it had something to do with the nature of Jesus as being both God and man. The false teachers taught things inconsistent with the faith (belief) once delivered.
The litmus test of authentic Christianity is what you say and believe about God and the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are wrong about Jesus, it doesn't really matter if you are right about social justice, war in the world or any other number of important issues.
OUR RESPONSE TO FALSE TEACHERS
I will confess something to you. Sometimes I get angry with false teachers and false teaching. I get angry when I watch Christian television and hear false teachers distorting the Scriptures, denying the truth of God's word, ripping off God's people and perverting Christian's understanding of the Scriptures. I get angry when I see God's people robbed of their blessings in Jesus Christ.
But what should be our attitude towards people who promote false teachings, ungodly living, and deceitful doctrines that corrupt the true gospel and mission of Jesus Christ?
Matthew 5:44 says, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."We are to love those people who oppose the gospel, who distort the Bible, who corrupt the Church and who seduce the saints.
Loving them does not mean that we are to never mention them by name. It's true that Jude does not mention names or numbers, but in 2 Timothy 2:16,17, Paul specifically mentioned the names of Hymenaes and Philetus as the types of false teachers whose profane and empty teachings would spread like cancer.
Loving them also does not mean that we are to be passive in our response to them. Jude talks about the burden to contend for the faith, and now we must be battle ready. We are to "contend earnestly for the faith." We are to defend God's truth and God's Word. We are soldiers fighting against an enemy.
We are to contend earnestly against all who deny, distort or diminish the identity and mission of Jesus Christ, the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, and the true gospel once delivered. We are not called to simply resist false teachers and false teaching, but rather are called to be passionate and active in our fight on behalf of the true gospel.
Dr. Walter Martin writes on page 22 in his classic book Kingdom of the Cults, "The biblical perspective, where false teachers and false teachings are concerned, is that we are to have compassion and love for those who are enmeshed in the teachings of the false prophets, but we are to vigorously oppose the teachings, with our primary objective the winning of the soul and not so much the winning of the argument. It must never be forgotten that cultists are souls for whom Christ died, for "he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world"(1 John 2:2).
Over a decade ago Josh McDowell and Don Stewart wrote that Jehovah's Witness spent 835,426,538 hours distributing literature in 1990. They published more than 56 million issues of Watchtower and Awake magazines in 128 languages. The Mormon Church has 40,000 full-time missionaries promoting and propagating the doctrines of Joseph Smith. The Mormon Almanac proudly declares 350,000 plus baptisms a year and three quarters of those were formerly Protestant.
Those who embrace false teaching are certainly diligent in promoting a wrong, imbalanced and unbiblical view of Jesus. We need to be even more diligent to fight for the true gospel found in the Bible.
Copyright by Gino Geraci
Gino Geraci is pastor of Calvary South Denver ( www.calvarycsd.org ). His radio broadcasts can be listened to live, M-F from 4:00 - 6:00 pm MST on www.krks.com. He can be contacted by emailing [email protected] .
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