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Last time we were in Jude, he spoke of Enoch’s prophecy regarding the second coming of Christ. Jesus is coming again to execute judgment. He will convict the ungodly for all their ungodly deeds that were done in an ungodly manner. He will also convict those ungodly sinners for the harsh things they said. This morning, Jude continues describing the creepers in some very graphic terms.
Jude 16 says, “These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”
Can it get any worse? Is Jude piling on? He’s blasted the creeper’s theology, he’s blasted their doctrine, he’s blasted their character and motives. Jude has compared the creepers to some of the most rebellious men of Scripture. Are you getting to a point where you’re thinking, enough is enough? The Holy Spirit through Jude wants to be sure we get it. Jude would be deemed intolerant by today’s standards. So the answer to the question is yes, it can get worse. For clarity’s sake let’s review. Verse 4 tells us that certain men snuck into the church and no one noticed. These men, these creepers turned the grace of God into a license to sin and denied the Lord Jesus Christ. Nobody recognized their impure motives, their unbiblical teaching, or their inconsistent lifestyle. It appears they were accepted into leadership without reservation and were serving themselves according to v. 12. Not only do we need to be aware of people like this, we must lovingly confront them with truth.
Jude’s not finished describing the creepers. To be sure, he is still talking about the same guys he first mentioned in v. 4. “These are” refers back to the men Jude began this letter talking about and he has something else to add. It also points to those people that Enoch prophesied about. If we move too quickly through these verses, we’ll miss the significance of this letter and potentially lose what God wants to show us. These men are, “grumblers.” The word means to complain. We don’t know exactly what they complained about. The point is that Jude characterized them by their attitude. These men “find fault” This is a very dangerous habit to develop. It’s very easy to point the finger at others and see how they don’t measure up. It’s very safe to believe that everyone else is messed up, that you’re the one that’s good, doing everything you should be doing, but those people, everyone else, well they just need to get right with Jesus. Remember these men are in the church in leadership type positions and they find fault. It’s always someone else. Have you ever had an opportunity to speak with someone like that, someone that is without fault; someone that had arrived?
They “follow after their own lusts.” Instead of discovering how they could invest in others, they did what satisfied their own pleasure. Instead of seeking how they could serve people, they were wondering and complaining about why they weren’t being served. When you are pursuing things with tunnel vision, with a total self-centeredness, it’s easy to see how everyone else around you will be ignored. They had a, “What’s in it for me” attitude. “They speak arrogantly.” Arrogant means having an exaggerated sense of your own ability or importance. Keeping in mind what you know about these guys, this makes sense doesn’t it. They snuck in and availed themselves of leadership and used that influence for their own gain. They think they are all that. If it weren’t for them, the church would crumble. The truth is the church is weakened because of people like this. Some people think they are God’s gift to the church. They think the church exists to fulfill their personal desires for fulfillment and satisfaction and when the church cannot meet their unrealistic goals, they leave or they force others to leave. We sometimes see this in churches where there are a couple of power people.
We’ve got to remember that the church exists for one primary purpose. Following His resurrection, Jesus gave His followers a very important two pronged mandate. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20) So why have we complicated that simple instruction? In fact, some have misinterpreted the verse to emphasize the going part, but the Greek sentence structure actually emphasizes the disciple making process that is the most important thing we will ever do and it begins with the conversion decision. There likely is a lot of love and time invested in a person prior to the decision to become a Christ follower. When we fall prey to the idea that the church exists to provide for the material needs of the people instead of the spiritual needs, we’ve missed it. There are many wonderful things the church does and should do, but the focus must be on discipleship. That’s another reason the creepers were so dangerous: they really didn’t care about truth or people unless it was their version of truth or unless it somehow benefited them.
What’s the creeper’s motive? Fundamentally, Satan knows he cannot destroy us. That being said, there are tools he uses to negatively impact our walk with Christ. He uses doubt, discouragement, depression, circumstantial happiness, and busyness among a long list of other things to get us off track. Recognizing this fact is just the beginning. If you know it, but don’t act on it, what good does it do to know it? What motivated the creepers? At least one thing is greed. Peter said they, “loved the wages of unrighteousness” in 2 Pet. 2:15. Here Jude says they, “Flatter people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” This is yet another piece of evidence to support the idea that they really do know what they are doing. They say nice things about people or to people so they will be rewarded the comforts of life. They were charmers. Going back to v. 11, the advantage is likely money.
It’s funny how these men grumble and complain, yet they still manage to gain an advantage by talking. The people in the church do not recognize what is happening and they are being duped by these false teachers. Paul warned Timothy that, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (1 Tim. 4:3-4) I wonder . . . is Jude talking about the same thing that Paul warned Timothy about?