The Wisdom of Silence

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Last week we learned that grandchildren are awesome and are a crown to old men. Grandparents should influence their grandchildren, but God’s design is for parents to raise their children not grandparents raise grandchildren. When I say this, please don’t think that I’m saying it’s sinful, wrong, or unethical for grandparents to raise their kid’s kids. We are in challenging times and we must adapt and overcome, and what a blessing it is to have grandchildren and grandparents in your lives. Excellent speech doesn’t taste good in the mouth of the fool just like speaking nonsense or lies is foreign to someone of high moral character – a quality all Christians should be growing in. Finally, Solomon told us that bribes work like magic, but you shouldn’t have to bribe someone to receive love or forgiveness. Today, we kick off a series of verses that relate to how we interact with others, but don’t seem to follow any particular pattern.

Pro. 17:9-11 says, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. A rebellious man seeks only evil,
So a cruel messenger will be sent against him.”

Our first verse seems like a contrary principle from what we’ve already heard. “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” The best way to have peace is to get along with everyone. That seems to be obvious. I’ve often said, you may not want to go on vacation with everyone, but you should be able to get along with others. If you want to maintain or establish a friendship with someone, you’ve got to be willing to overlook the faults of others, just like they need to be willing to overlook your faults. If you’re the one that doesn’t seem to make friends, you’re the only one that doesn’t get invited to the party, when you enter the room everyone else leaves, you’re the one that people don’t want to be around, you have to stop and ask yourself some really hard questions. Is it me? Am I hard to approach? Am I hard to get along with? Am I hard to like? Sometimes we default to, “Well, I’m very outspoken and people just need to deal with it.” “People don’t like me because I’m confident,” or “people don’t like me because I’m a Christian.” Solomon is not talking about a cover up or some other conspiracy, he’s talking about behavior with one another. Not every transgression needs to be punished with death or shunning. That’s what Solomon is saying here.   If something occurred because of forgetfulness, forget it. If something happened because it was an oversight, overlook it. Sometimes people that say others just need to get over something are the very ones holding onto something. That’s what he’s saying. Some things should be let go. There is a place for accountability, but there’s a place for grace and mercy too. One of the worst things you can do in a situation is talk about it with other people. Solomon says it this way, “But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” As hard as this may be to believe, I have people ask me why other people did something to them. Often, I don’t even know the people to whom they are referring and I cannot imagine why a person would do something. I guess it comes with the territory, but I’m no mind reader. I don’t know why your co-worker has been a jerk to you. I don’t know why your neighbor’s dog seems like he’s out to get you. I don’t know why that stranger cut you off in traffic. I don’t know why your kid is being bullied. I don’t know why that telemarketer keeps calling. I can only chalk it up to the fact that we live in a fallen world and people sometimes don’t act right. It really is that simple. If your neighbor is a jerk, love them anyway. If your co-worker is mean, love them anyway. No good will come of repeating how jerky they are. If someone has an issue with you, don’t you want them to come and talk to you about it? In a society that seems to be offended by any perceived injustice, we need not be so easily offended. In Pro. 10:12 Solomon said, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.” One of the marks of a growing believer is that forgiveness comes easily because it’s supernaturally placed. That’s a great indicator that God is working in you.

These next verses are short, sweet, and stand alone. “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” I really like this verse. Although at first glance this might appear to be an endorsement to smack someone around, it’s not. It’s hyperbole – exaggeration used for effect. Rebuke means to sharply criticize. In the spirit of 2 Tim. 2:15, we need to rightly divide the Word of God, so let me qualify this verse. Solomon has said this type of statement before. Someone who has understanding is someone that is continually undergoing the process of gaining wisdom. This type of person sees where you’re coming from and understands the goal. What’s the goal? Being conformed to the image of Christ. God puts all kinds of people in our lives to help us get there. It’s easy to automatically discount the guidance of another because your flesh rears its ugly head and says, “Who do they think they are!” You can hit the fool over the head with a wisdom stick and he still won’t get it because he lacks the fundamental requirement for godly wisdom and that’s God. Without a relationship with Christ, you can’t get to God. Without God, the wisdom someone might possess on a worldly basis is a poor imitation of godly wisdom. That’s why Solomon says a fool will not understand wisdom even if you try to beat it into him.

Solomon talks next about a rebel with a cause. “A rebellious man seeks only evil, so a cruel messenger will be sent against him.” You want to be a rebel? Rebellious means difficult to control or unmanageable. This rebel may be rebellious toward God, other people, or the government. It’s a general rebellious state and goes along with wickedness and ungodliness present in a fool. I think most people recognize rebellion and what it means, but what about “the cruel messenger” that’s going to be sent out against him? We typically think of cruel as a bad thing and Elvis told us, “Don’t be cruel.” All sin is rebellion against God and if we understand that principle then it seems likely we’re talking about a heavenly messenger. Ps. 78:49 says, “He sent upon them His burning anger, fury and indignation and trouble, a band of destroying angels.” We’re also familiar with the angel of death that came upon the firstborn of Egypt. What we can say for sure is that all rebellion against God will be dealt with in a completely just way.

The best way to obtain peace is to get along with everyone. That may not be the easiest thing, but as much as it’s up to you, be at peace with everyone. Love keeps no record of wrong doing so if you are wronged or feel you’ve been wronged, it’s better to let love cover it than it is to go around blabbing about how you’ve been wronged by humanity. It’s a lot easier to deal with wise people than with fools. Somebody that has understanding will get what you’re saying, but no matter how much talking you do, a fool just won’t get it. Rebellious people seek evil, but rest assured, judgment is coming.


Community Disorganizers

You can check out the podcast for this message here.

Last week Solomon laid out some principles that will help us sail smoothly through life. Righteous people are delivered from death where the wicked take their place. A very important principle Solomon introduced is the value and wisdom of godly counsel. Smooth sailing does not mean there won’t be issues or trouble in this life, but the righteousness of the godly provide the tools necessary to glorify God and remain steadfast in His will. This morning, Solomon provides us some principles that apply as we engage in activities typically associated with the community.

Grab your Bible and read Pro. 11:15-21.

The first principle we’ll look at today  has been said before and the question remains, who would do this? Back in 6:1 Solomon used the conditional clause, “If you have become surety for your neighbor.” That verse was generally directed at debt and it was conditional. The principle comes full circle when Solomon says, “He who is a guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it.” The answer does not have to do with sin, but with wisdom. There is no prohibition against cosigning a loan for someone. Insert the word someone for stranger and you get the application for us. Since we’re talking about wisdom and not sin, you need to evaluate the circumstances. Solomon is saying when you act as surety for someone, as a guarantor for someone, you “will surely suffer for it.” Not everyone that has served in that capacity has suffered for it. He’s speaking in general terms. And what kind of suffering are we talking about? The word used here for suffering means to be affected by something. Even if that person you act as a guarantor for pays back the loan, you still had that responsibility hanging over your head. You take on the responsibility for the loan because you know the person, you know his circumstances, you know their habits, and their values. You believe it’s safe. When you get involved in the financial affairs of others, it’s generally painful. That’s what Solomon is saying. “But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.” If you don’t cosign this loan, I won’t be able to buy that car, house, boat, etc. There is no scriptural mandate to take on the responsibility of someone else’s debt. When you have a general aversion to this, Solomon says you are secure. There’s nothing in the back of your mind, you don’t think about it, nothing hanging over your head. You free up brain cells because it’s one less thing to think about.

Our second principle tells us, “A gracious woman attains honor.” I love that word gracious. I think of the ladies of Downton Abby with their proper manners, their decorum, their sophistication, their elegance. Of course, it’s easy to do all that when you have someone else that gets you dressed and feeds you and takes care of all the chores. Gracious here means courteous, kind, and pleasant. You do not have to be wealthy to be gracious. He’s talking about the beautiful character of a gracious woman. Families and communities honor such women. I think of women like Barbara and Laura Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Princess Diana. Of course those are all famous women. I also think of my wife whom I absolutely adore. It’s not just because she’s gorgeous, she is a true woman of God. In the context of Proverbs, I think graciousness and godliness go hand in hand. We’re not talking about perfection, but a passionate pursuit of Christ.

What’s very curious is the contrast Solomon uses next. “A gracious woman attains honor, and ruthless men attain riches.” It’s good to be ruthless in business, right? We have shows like the Shark Tank and the Apprentice that demonstrate the ruthlessness needed to get ahead in business. Being ruthless is how you get rich in business. It means showing no compassion. Cut throat, eliminate the competition, work harder and smarter than the other guy. We even have corporate espionage. This is the only place in Proverbs where Solomon makes a comparison of this type between a man and a woman. He compares a kindhearted or gracious woman and a ruthless man. That ruthless man wants to get ahead and he’ll get ahead by any means necessary. They seek respect and honor by what they do, but the gracious woman gains honor by being nice. It seems that grace is better than strength and honor is better than wealth. If you let that verse stand alone, it can easily be misunderstood. When you take v. 16 with v. 17, the whole picture becomes clearer. “The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.” Look at the pattern of the people in these two verses: kind woman; ruthless man; merciful man; cruel man. It seems mercy has a medicinal quality to it – someone that practices mercy makes himself good. When you are cruel, you end up hurting yourself so don’t be cruel.

Here’s a familiar principle. Vs. 19-20 says, “He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, and he who pursues evil will bring about his own death. The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their walk are His delight.” We see a pattern here as in the previous two verses. Solomon talks about wickedness, righteousness, righteousness, and wickedness. Those exact words may not be used, but they convey the same idea. Solomon is driving home the point of the results of wicked behavior. “The wicked earn deceptive wages.” Those wages are deceptive because they are fleeting. Those riches are left behind and all are made equal at death. The wealth of a person is not taken into consideration at judgment. Paul said it this way, “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) If you’re thinking that’s not the same thing, Solomon goes on to say, “But he who sows righteousness will attain to life.” That life will be long, healthy, and prosperous. The opposite is true, when you pursue evil, you will die. You can’t blame God when your evil ways, your evil behavior, and your evil manner of life leads to your death. Paul’s next thought was, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Righteousness and wickedness are incompatible. Goodness and evil are incompatible. Those qualities may have been part of your character, but God changes you through Christ. That’s where true freedom lies. The wicked earn deceptive wages, but the righteous are paid in wages that are eternal. That’s what verse 19 is saying. When you are consistent and persistent in righteousness, you attain life. Steadfast means dutifully firm and unwavering. If you are truly a child of the King, this quality is supernaturally infused into your DNA. That’s why I get so weary with people profess to be Christians and the only evidence to support that is occasional church attendance and some don’t even do that. Pursuers of evil bring about their own death. To close out this section, Solomon gives us another contrast and it has to do with judgment.

Verse 20 says, “The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord.” Perverse means an obstinate desire to behave unacceptably and in context, it’s from God’s perspective. Perverse is translated “froward” in other versions which means hypocrisy and double dealings. Justice is pretended, but wrongdoing is what’s in store. Notice that it’s the heart – the seat of the soul. What’s in the heart comes out. You can pretend with other people, you might even fool yourself, but you can’t hide it from God. “. . . .but the blameless in their walk are His delight.” I’m sure you know why this is. It’s a no brainer really. Walk refers to manner of life. It refers to who a person is . . . . really. I think people spend a lot of effort pretending to be something they are not. People pretend they have a relationship with God, but without a corresponding lifestyle of godliness. Its often veiled in false spirituality where the words lead, led, feel, moving, etc. are used to put people into an incontestable position to do what they want to do. I always find it amusing that this leading rarely is to a place of deeper commitment, devotion, or duty, but rather to places of limited accountability and lower expectations. God takes great pleasure in His children that are willing to follow Him in directions they were not expecting.

Just to be sure you know exactly where Solomon is coming from, “Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, but the descendents of the righteous will be delivered.” I think we all know that evil will be dealt with, but the second part is not so clear. Do not read that to say if you are a child of God, your children have a place reserved for them because of who you are. Don’t equate deliverance with eternity. Deliverance does not mean salvation.  The idea is that your behavior affects not just you, but your children and your grandchildren too. Sometimes God sees fit to deliver because of their godly ancestors. The Old Testament is filled with examples of this.

In these verses, Solomon speaks of the affect of our lifestyle on our community. That lifestyle, whether godly or wicked impacts people. As the behavior and thinking of the people move away from godliness, the morality of the society declines. I think we would agree that we can see this happening all around us. The answer is not for us to shrink away from godliness, but to boldly live our lives as an example of Christ’s transforming power in our lives.

The Current Past

PastYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we saw the grave danger of the creepers as Jude compared them to hidden reefs and doubly dead autumn trees. They were clouds without water, wild waves of the sea and wandering stars. If you follow their teaching, it is sure to lead to destruction and that is what is awaiting them. This morning, Jude introduces a new character as he continues to combat the creepers.

Jude 14-15 says, “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

We see Jude’s continuing theme in these verses. In this letter, it didn’t take Jude long to say what was going to happen to the men that snuck into the church, the people I have been calling creepers. He first mentioned judgment in v. 4 when he said, “They were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation.” Remember that does not mean they had no chance for redemption or were chosen to be separated from Christ. They were, “ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Lord and Master Jesus Christ.” That’s why they were marked out. There is no hope for being victorious over sin apart from Jesus Christ.

Now we come to a man named Enoch. Little is known about Enoch. Jude says, “In the seventh generation from Adam.” Gen. 5 confirms what Jude said about the 7th generation. We don’t have a biographical sketch of Enoch like we do for his great-grandson Noah. Gen 5:24 says, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Nothing written in Scripture is attributed to Enoch. What is curious about this is not that Enoch had a prophecy; it’s that Jude refers to it. So where did Enoch’s prophecy come from? Jude is most likely quoting the prophecy as recorded in the book of 1 Enoch. Before you start thumbing through your Bible, it’s not in there. Why would Jude quote from a non-authoritative source? The same reason Paul quoted Epimenides in Tit. 1:12 that said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” Paul also attributed another phrase to a man named Aratus in Acts 17:28. The extra biblical works that the writers of Scripture refer to does not make those writings on the same plane as Scripture. The reason Jude quoted Enoch is because what he said was consistent with the truth.

What’s the prophecy? Jude quoting Enoch says, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones.”  This looks like Jude is talking about something that has already occurred. Think about Christ’s appearance in the flesh from Lu. 2. Jesus was born in the company of His mother Mary and earthly father Joseph. They were quite alone. What Jude is talking about has yet to occur. He’s talking about the second coming when Christ will return with His angels and it will be quite spectacular. Jesus is coming again, “to execute judgment upon all.” Just who is the all Jude refers to? It refers to those who opposed Him, to those that acted in ways contrary to His teachings and principles; it refers to unbelievers. In this context, he’s talking about people that have not made a decision to follow Christ.

Jude says Jesus will execute judgment for two things. First, Jesus is coming, “to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way.” Here’s the disclaimer. If you are ungodly, do ungodly deeds, or have done ungodly deeds in an ungodly manner, watch out. Any and all ungodly deeds are documented and will be judged. The reason ungodly deeds are done is because people who do them are ungodly. You see the connection with v. 4 again because the people were ungodly. Why? Because they denied, “Our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.” How can we be sure? Because they turned the grace of God into a license to sin. You cannot do that and be godly. You cannot act in a manner that is inconsistent with Scripture as a habit of life and be a Christian. Sure you can claim it to be so, but that doesn’t make it true. The mark of a Christian is a desire to be like Christ, a desire to pursue Him and the things that bring Him glory.

Jesus will also execute judgment for, all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” Judgment not only for things done in an ungodly manner, but also for things said. If you can say harsh things about God, it stems from an ungodly heart, an unrepentant heart, an unregenerated heart, a heart of stone. It matters what we do and it matters what we say. Christians can and should be godly because the Holy Spirit lives within us. We should be a beacon of hope that point the ungodly to the One that can establish the connection with God. We should point people the hope that is found in Christ. It must be intentional, it must be consistent, it must be authentic. If Jesus truly turned your world upside down, then share the excitement with the next person you come in contact with and don’t stop there.

Let’s do what we can, when we can, where we can.

A Sinful Trifecta

CreepYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week Jude gave us more proof that God is a God of His word. We saw the sin of Israel when they were released from bondage in Egypt, the sin of the angels, and those of Sodom and Gomorrah as Jude completed his trifecta of examples. The three examples of judgment serve as a reminder for us. We saw from v. 4 that the creepers turned the grace of God into license. This morning Jude talks about three specific sins of the creepers that will be judged by God.

Jude 8 says, “Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.”

So what’s the connection? Jude is not haphazard in his writing. He connects this verse with the previous by the phrase, “In the same way.” That phrase connects the Israelites in the wilderness, the angels that left their domain, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember Jude is arguing that God will judge sin and the creepers are no different than the people in history. Jude is not saying the sin of the creepers is the same as the three examples: he is using an analogy. Jude goes on to say, “These men, also by dreaming.” Before we look at the three sins, we need to understand this phrase. Dreams play an important part in God’s plan. We saw the importance of dreams from Jacob and his 12 sons that included Joseph’s ability to accurately interpret dreams. Joel 2:28 says, “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Acts 2:17 quotes the passage from Joel. In Matt 1:20, we see an angel of the Lord coming to Joseph the carpenter in a dream regarding the pregnancy of Mary.

Dreams are a part of Scripture, but like all good things, Satan provides a counterfeit to truth. If you can, I encourage you to read Deut. 13:1-5 and Jer. 23:25-32. Both passages provide some insight into biblical dreams. Just because someone may say I had a dream doesn’t mean that dream is from the Lord. Just like anyone who says, the Lord is leading me to_______ doesn’t make it true. We need to line it up with Scripture. “By dreaming,” Jude says. In other words, they make up things in their imagination. Their way of thinking; their doctrine is purely imaginary. So these men by dreaming do three things. Let’s find out what Jude says specifically.

Jude lists three sins of the creepers. First they, “defile the flesh.” Defile means to desecrate or profane. In the Old Testament, defile typically indicates sexual type sin. This certainly fits with what Jude said about the angels that left their own domain. It fits with what he said happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. The phrase is also found in early Christian writings describing sexual sin. The creepers pollute their own flesh. In 1 Cor. 3:16 Paul said, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Our bodies are supposed to be holy.

Second they, “reject authority.” We need to keep it in context here and not go all crazy saying things that are not accurate. This phrase can only mean one thing – numerous applications, but it can’t mean more than it means. It would be easy to say this means human authority – the government, church leadership, parents, teachers, etc. The word translated authority never has that meaning in Scripture so it would be wrong to say that’s what it means. If that were to be accurate, authority would be plural, but here it’s singular. Most likely is that Jude means the authority of Jesus Christ especially given that v. 4 tells us the creepers, “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” The creepers reject or dismiss the authority of Christ. Of course, this isn’t new and we still see it today. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “I know what the Bible says, but,” they are dismissing the authority of Christ.

Finally they, “revile angelic majesties.” Of the three, this phrase is the most difficult to understand. We know revile comes from the same word where get blaspheme. Angelic refers to angels and majesties mean glories. So are these angels good angels or bad angels? Messengers of God or are they demons? I can emphatically say . . . I’m not sure. I have poured over the text and cross references and I am just not sure. So what do we do with this phrase? Let’s see what we do know for sure. These creepers are like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, they are like the angels that left their appointed place of authority, and they are like the grumblers that left Egypt. They are disobedient, rebellious, and doctrinally flawed. They are sinners that have not accepted the gift of God through His one and only Son Jesus Christ. They were marked out for judgment because they reject the authority of Jesus Christ.        If that weren’t bad enough, they are in the church and no one noticed.

Perhaps this will clear up when we look at v. 9 next week. The message for us is clear. We need to know the Scriptures so that we can recognize when people teach things that are not consistent with the Bible. If they do it out of ignorance, we can help correct it. But if they intentionally teach things that are not consistent, we need to deal with that in a different way. Always in love, but not compromising on the truth.

The Creepers are Among Us

Fake SheepYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we got ready to rumble when Jude shifted from Plan A to Plan B. He wanted to write about the common salvation we share with one another, but was compelled to write urging us to fight for the faith that was entrusted to us. This morning we learn why Jude shifted the purpose of his letter as we find out what is going on and why he is so insistent with his letter.

Jude 4 says, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Don’t worry, Jude offers an explanation. The first thing he says is, “for.” Let’s not underestimate the importance of this little word. Jude is setting up the reason that we need to, “contend earnestly for the faith.” Fight or contend for the faith, “For certain persons crept in unnoticed.” Jude does not name them specifically, but they didn’t go in the front door so to speak. These people Jude is talking about crept in. The word literally means sneak in. They hid their true identity and true agenda. They were not misguided, misinformed, confused or ignorant. These people were worse than bad teachers, worse than casual Christians, worse than mean people. These people were crafty and devious pretending to be something they were not. This is not the first time something like this happened. Paul fought against Judaizers in Galatians 2 that taught you had to keep the Law in addition to having saving faith. In 2 Pet. 2:1 Peter said, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”

That’s all bad enough, but here’s the worst part. They snuck in and nobody noticed. Where did they sneak in? They snuck into the church and passed themselves off as something they were not . . . and nobody recognized it! They were wolves dressed up as sheep. In Matt. 7:15 Jesus said, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” The people did not heed Jesus’ warning and were duped by these unscrupulous wolves. If you’re thinking, come on, that only happened back then, we don’t need to worry about that today. Remember Jude is writing to the church at large, the universal church, Christians all over the world so it definitely applies to today. When you evaluate what some churches and some preachers are teaching, it should sicken us to the core. On the extreme side, we have Westboro Baptist and the hatred they spread. On the more subtle side, we have Ray Boltz saying, “This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be – I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.” More recently we have the TV show Snake Salvation. As we move through this letter, we’ll identify the specific problem Jude addresses and how that affects the church today.

What do the creepers look like? Jude describes them. He says they, “Were long ago marked out for this condemnation.” The creepers didn’t catch God by surprise. He knew they were coming and the condemnation results from God’s perfect judgment. Pro. 16:4 says, “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Be cautious with this; Jude is not saying that God sent these people with the goal of creating deception or heresy. James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” God, in eternities past, determined that sin would always be judged. Condemnation means sentence to a punishment. The actions of these creepers determined that they would be judged.

Jude gives three reasons why the judgment of the creepers is right. Jude declares they are, “Ungodly persons.” This doesn’t mean they didn’t have a chance to turn their lives to God. At this point, we don’t know where the people came from, but we do know they are in the church. They’re ungodly because of what they do. The next phrase is one you’ve heard me quote on frequent occasions and we learned Peter used it as well. These creepers, “turn the grace of God into licentiousness.” They had a fundamental misunderstanding of grace. Grace is unmerited favor so you can’t earn it – it is freely given to us by God. They use God’s grace as a license to sin. License here most likely refers to sexual sin as we’ll see when we get to vs. 6-7. This mishandling of Scripture is very prevalent in the church today. When you proclaim God’s grace as being on a higher plane than holy living, you’ve missed the mark. Tit. 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age.” This is totally consistent with what Peter said in 2 Pet. 1:5-7. It’s consistent with Paul’s writings. It’s consistent with the N.T. What is not consistent is the teaching that since I’m saved by grace I can live any way I want and do whatever I want and I’m covered by grace. Instead of calling sin sin: we call our sin errors in judgment, bad decisions, or mistakes and we fall into the same category that Jude is talking about. Is your attitude, “Oh well, everyone sins and I’m no different.” That’s a dangerous and ungodly attitude. I encourage you to read 1 Jo. 1:8-2:5. John talks about sin as individual points in time as well as a lifestyle of sin. We should not take an, “I know God will forgive me” attitude.

Jude’s final descriptive phrase of the creepers is that they, “Deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” This makes sense since they use grace as license. The parallel verse is found in 2 Pet. 2:1 where Peter says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” So Jude tells us three reasons why the judgment of the creepers is right. There is no conversion, no transformation, no holiness, no godliness, and no evidence of Jesus Christ in their lives. Even though we see the same thing today, we ignore that because someone says, “I am a Christian.” As we go through this letter, please remember that these creepers are in the church and are intentionally leading others away from the path of holiness God expects of us.

This kind of behavior is not new. Paul warned Titus of this very thing in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” We can talk all we want, but the proof is in our lives. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jo. 14:15)

Guard and Grow

GrowYou can listen to the podcast for this message here.

Last week Peter reminded us of a couple of things that Paul wrote. We are to be, “found at peace in Him, blameless and spotless,” and we are to, “Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” We are diligently pursuing (present tense) a life of holiness because the power of God resides within us giving us not just a desire to be blameless and spotless, but the power to be blameless and spotless. It’s easy to say, but not as easy to do. We’re to be careful of those that twist or distort the Scriptures to make God something He is not. This morning, Peter closes his letter with a very important conclusion that includes one of Peter’s favorite tools . . . a contrast.

2 Peter 3:17-18 says, You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

We get to Peter’s conclusion in this first verse. We’ve been on this journey through Peter for a while and it’s interesting that he can package everything up so neatly. He reminds his readers of what they know. They know the second coming of Jesus Christ is still to occur and that should motivate them to live lives that exemplify the power of God. They know that mockers and false teachers are in their midst. These people are intentionally trying to deceive believers and push them off of, “The way of truth” Peter mentioned in 2 Pet. 2:2. Since Peter’s readers know these things, he tells them to, “Be on your guard.” This is a very serious warning. It’s a verb in the imperative mood meaning it is a command. 2 Thes. 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” These are not contradictory verses. This is along the same lines when Jesus said, Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15) If we heed the warnings Peter has given us throughout this letter, we’ll be okay. If you ignore the warnings, trouble will likely come. When you get in your car, you buckle up. It doesn’t guarantee no one will crash into you, but the damage probably won’t be as bad. Peter’s warning is far more serious. If we are not on guard, are not vigilant, are not watchful we’ll be, “Carried away by the error of unprincipled men.” When you think of the phrase carried away, think about being swept down a river. The longer you’re in it, the farther away you get. So how do we be on guard? When we’re in the car, we look ahead. We wear our seat belts, we use our mirrors; we don’t text. In our walk with Christ, we maintain our alert status by keeping up with what the holy prophets and apostles wrote. We keep alert by diligently pursuing our faith. Peter tells us to heed this warning so we won’t, “fall from our own steadfastness.” Remember Peter is combating the notion of the false teachers and mockers who are intentionally deceiving believers by saying that Jesus is not coming back and since He’s not, it doesn’t matter how you live. Peter has consistently argued that how we live does matter. It matters to Christ, it matters to the church, it matters to our community; it matters to our families. It should be difficult to knock us off of our beliefs. When we allow ourselves to be deceived by those unprincipled men, it’s not a testament of how deceptive they are, but of how ungrounded we are.

Now Peter turns from guarding to growing in his last verse. He begins it with a contrast to v. 17. When we heed the warnings, we aren’t going to be carried away by unprincipled men and we aren’t going to fall from our steadfastness. Instead of falling, we’re going to, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We don’t just ward off the onslaught of false teaching and false doctrine out there. In the midst of all that we’re supposed to grow, specifically grow in grace. When we look at the complete letter, Peter opened it by saying that grace was instrumental in our saving faith through the righteousness of God. He prayed that grace would be multiplied in our lives. He said that God’s grace granted us everything we need to live a life of godliness. Grace is the foundation of our lives in Christ, it is given as a gift of God through unmerited favor yet we are commanded to grow in grace. Grace is not static; it is a dynamic force that should be growing from the moment of salvation until the day we die. Peter’s expectation is not just growing in grace, but we grow in knowledge of Jesus. Growing in knowledge is essential for living the Christian life. (2 Pet. 1:5-7) Authenticity as a Christian means we are progressing in the godly virtues Peter says we have and should be increasing. Those virtues indicate our relationship with Christ is fruitful according to 2 Pet. 1:8. Growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ is not an elective of an authentic relationship with Jesus. It’s not an offering on the spiritual buffet that you can pass by because you don’t like it, you don’t think it applies to you, or you have wrongly concluded you’re too busy. It is essential for eternal life and that’s why Peter puts it as a concluding exhortation of the letter.

Peter assumes that we will follow the principles, guidance, and direction provided in the Bible and the end result is, “To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” Whatever good things happen in our life is because of God. When eternity is impacted because of our life, God gets the glory. When we boldly share the Gospel in love, God gets the glory. When we unashamedly live our life as an example of the power of God in our lives, God gets the glory. When people are drawn to God because of us, God gets the glory. When we choose to allow God to use us in His unfolding plan, He gets the glory.

Paul said we are to, “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:10) May our goal be to walk with Christ today and bear fruit that glorifies Him.

What If?

What IfCheck out the podcast for this message here.

Last week we saw the empty promises of the false teachers. They promised freedom, but were themselves enslaved by greed. Their lives were a contradiction of their message. This morning, Peter enters what if land and provides a more beneficial scenario.

2 Pet. 2:20-22 says, For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

Look where true freedom is found. Peter says true freedom is found in knowledge of Jesus Christ. “For if, after they had escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome.” The first thing we have to determine is who Peter is referring to. It’s either the false teachers or the recent converts. There are a couple of clues and if we read too fast, we might miss them. The first is the word “for.” This refers back to v. 18 and the people that were caught in the trap set by the false teachers. The second clue is the phrase, “have escaped” in v. 20. Who recently escaped from the ones that live in error? It’s the recent converts of the church. Given these clues and the fact the entire chapter is devoted to the false teachers, it’s reasonable to conclude Peter is talking about the false teachers in v. 20.

Why does it matter? Let’s break down the verse. It contains two phrases and if we take out the parenthetical phrase we’re left with, “For if they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” It is Jesus Christ and the knowledge of Him that sets us free. Take a look at John 8:31-36. If you have a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ and claim a relationship with Him, then there are expectations that result. Look at 1 Jo. 2:3-6. Peter’s argument is that if they had the knowledge of Jesus Christ and fell back to their old ways, they’re worse off.

There is a difficulty in the church today. This is a bit conditional clause and I want to clear up any misconceptions you may be having. People will use this verse as a proof text that one can lose his salvation. If they’re once again entangled in the, “defilements of the world” then how can they be saved? Verse 20 is talking about a true, conversion experience. It’s set off by the knowledge that Peter loves to talk about. Remember back in 2 Pet.1:2 in Peter’s opening remarks he said, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” This is a clear indicator that he’s writing to people that have experienced that authentic transformation that only Jesus can make happen. Grace and peace are multiplied through the knowledge of God and Jesus. God’s, “Divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Pet. 1:3) So Peter is clear that he’s talking to true believers because he talks about having escaped from the world in the past tense. What about the false teachers? These false teachers had escaped the pull of the world only to return to the world. The gospel they once confessed they now deny. The One they called Savior, they now reject.

So here’s the difficult part. V. 21 says, “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” It sounds like Peter is saying it would be better for them to have never heard the truth of the Gospel to begin with. It sounds like he’s saying forget about evangelism and missions because there must be some special caveat for people that have never heard the name of Jesus. It sounds like he’s saying you can walk away if you want to. We could apply it to many situations today too. You see people that are church goers, but are not converts. You see people that are church members that are not miraculously transformed. Peter is saying that they knew the truth and still turned away from God. Way back in the first verse of this letter, Peter said righteousness in our lives is an indication of God’s transforming power. If there is no transformation, there is no conversion. If there is no conversion, there is death. Pro. 12:28 says, “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.” I encourage you to challenge people that profess a relationship with Christ, but have no evidence in their lives. If they’re really saved, they’ll welcome the opportunity. If they’re truly saved, they won’t be offended, but grateful you talked to them. There are too many people that teach and preach a Gospel that that does not change people. There are too many people in the church today that have a profession of faith and no resultant transformation.

Peter illustrates what he’s talking about in a very graphic manner. There are two illustrations in v. 22 to help us understand. The first is, “A dog returns to its own vomit.” The second illustration is, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” These phrases should be taken together because they mean roughly the same thing. Dogs and pigs are unclean animals. People are sometimes called dogs as a derogatory term in Scripture. These animals go to what they know. Remember Peter called the false teachers unreasoning animals in 2:12. Regardless of how you dress them up, dogs and pigs are just dogs and pigs that act upon their instinct. Pro. 26:11, “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Is Peter saying that these false teachers were saved and then renounced Jesus? The quick answer is absolutely not. The Bible does not teach walk the aisle, say a prayer, or become a church member to be saved. At the same time there are people that anchor their salvation to an event like that. Making a decision to be a disciple of Christ will necessarily mean things in your life. Peter laid them out in the first chapter of this letter. In 1 Pet. 1:5 he said believers, “Are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” You can clean up a pig on the outside, but inside he’s still a pig. These false teachers can be clean on the outside, but on the inside, they’re the same as always. They’re just like the Pharisees when Jesus when said, “You are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead man’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matt. 23:27) Only Jesus can truly transform the inside of a person – the soul of a person. So what of Peter’s statement that they’d be better off not knowing the truth? Because these false teachers were still in the church, Peter addressed them with Christian type language. They had the appearance of faith, but Peter did not consider them to be Christians not because they lost their salvation, but because they never had a faith to begin with. It doesn’t make much sense to say they’d be better off not knowing if they were truly saved.

1 Jo. 2:19 is very clear that people who have a genuine faith will never walk away from Jesus. The only possibility for walking away means there was no salvation. These false teachers seemed to change, but they are just like the pigs that were washed on the outside only to return to the mud. They were always unclean.