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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Recognizing the Wolf in the Wool Suit
Text:Jude 3-19 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Pastor Ted Gray
07/24/16 – a.m.
Recognizing the Wolf in the Wool Suit”
Jude: 3-19
When we looked at verse 3-7, we saw that Jude was very eager to write an encouraging letter about the salvation that he shared with his readers. Perhaps he wanted to write about the blessings that we saw in verse 1 and 2, how we are called by the Holy Spirit, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.  He may have also wanted to write more fully about how mercy, peace and love are ours in abundance as God multiplies those blessings to us.
But we saw that instead he was compelled to urge his readers to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. The Holy Spirit laid upon his heart and inspired him to write about the danger of false teaching in the church. He was inspired to give a warning, not only to the readers of the first century, but readers like ourselves in the twenty-first century, and all the others who have read God’s inspired word over the centuries.
Jude understood that in every era of time the warning against false teaching needs to be taken to heart by those in the church. The warning needs to be taken to heart because false teaching is brought into the church subtly at first, and then it grows until it becomes the antitheses of Scripture. By that time, churches that are deluded by the false teachers are no longer part of the body of Christ, but are in the words of Revelation 3:9, a synagogue of Satan. 
Many other Scriptures warn us of false teaching. In Matthew 24:11 Jesus warns: “Many false prophets will appear and deceive many.” In Acts 20:28-30 the apostle Paul gave this charge to the Ephesian elders: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, speaking about false teachers declares, Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
And Paul’s charge to Timothy is also well known. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 he wrote: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. All these verses together, along with many other warnings in Scripture, impress upon us the importance of guarding ourselves from false teaching.
But since the wolf comes in sheep’s clothing, since the tares – weeds – and wheat are in the same field and initially look the same, how can we know a false teacher when one slips in unaware? How can we recognize the wolf who wears a wool suit in order to blend in with the flock to lead them astray?
Known by Their Fruits
False teachers are recognized, first, by their conduct and their rejection of the authority God’s Word. Verse 8 describes three characteristics of false teachers: they pollute their own bodies (defile the flesh – ESV), reject authority and slander (or blaspheme) celestial beings.
The pollution of their bodies refers to sexual immorality. When we looked at the examples from history that Jude used to warn about false teaching, we noted that in verse 7 he wrote about Sodom and Gomorrah. He described  how they gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. In other words, they polluted their bodies and they defiled their flesh. In a similar way, verse 4 describes how false teachers justify ungodly conduct: They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
As an example, in the Chicago Tribune last Sunday there was an article describing how the United Methodist’s western district has elected their first lesbian Bishop, one of the highest ranking leaders in the United Methodist denomination. As the article pointed out, they did so even though the official stance of the United Methodist Church is that homosexuality is incompatible with the teaching of God’s word.
Consequently, in order to elect a lesbian Bishop they needed to do the second thing that verse 8 tells us false teachers do, reject authority. The Chicago Tribune pointed out that they rejected the authority of their church doctrine, but we understand that more importantly they rejected the authority of God’s word.
Conduct and the word of God go hand in hand. Churches will either teach that our conduct must conform to the teaching of the word of God – which is the faith once for all entrusted to the saints – or, they will teach that our conduct can be the same as those in the world. And when a church approves worldly conduct it perverts, in the words of verse 4, the grace of our God into a license for immorality. And by doing so, it rejects the authority of God’s word.
Paul expressed the importance of our conduct and our doctrine clearly to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 4:16 he wrote, Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. – And conversely, if you don’t guard your life and your doctrine closely you will be led astray, along with all who follow after you.
Verse 8 speaks of a third characteristic of false teachers, they slander celestial beings. In that phrase Jude gives us a snapshot of the spiritual warfare that rages all around us, although we do not see it. Verse 9 says, But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
This is the only reference to any type of dispute over the body of Moses. After the Lord allowed Moses to look at the promised land from a distance, Deuteronomy 34:6 describes how the Lord buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day. From this passage in Jude we understand that even in such a unique circumstance the devil and his fallen angels, described in verse 6, do indeed battle with the elect angels in an invisible warfare.
In the early church some people hesitated to include Jude in the Canon of Scripture because the reference in verse 9 is perhaps from a book known as the Assumption, or Testimony of Moses. Jude also includes references to the Book of Enoch which is not included in the Canon of Scripture.
Jude refers to those writings, not because they are inspired, but because they were well known to his readers in the first century. People were debating the specifics of what happened to the body of Moses when the Lord buried him. That type of speculation always leads people astray. Instead of speculation we are to adhere to the revealed will of God.
Yet false teachers, whether in the first century or the twenty-first, will speculate about many things that we simply don't need to know about. Verse 10 describes how false teachers speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals – these are the very things that destroy them.
And I’m sure that if you have watched the “religious” channels you have come across TV preachers who rebuke the devil and claim power over celestial beings. But even Michael, the archangel, would not do that. Instead, he said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Certain Judgment
This passage also teaches that judgment on false teachers is certain. What did Jesus say about those who lead others astray? In Matthew 18:6 Jesus says, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
James points out that not many should be teachers. James 3:1, Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. Those warnings should be taken to heart by everyone, and especially those who teach and preach, those who have places of influence over the thought lives and conduct of people in the church.
Verse 11-13 describe why these false teachers will face great judgment. They are described with a number of unique metaphors: clouds without rain, autumn trees without fruit and uprooted – twice dead, wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame, wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. There is no doubt that there is a great judgment for false teachers.
Verse 11 describes how they have taken the way of Cain. We know from Genesis 4 that Cain was the first murderer. But Cain’s sin problem was more extensive than murder. The murder of his brother, Abel, was a symptom of the root problem within Cain. His root problem was unbelief. It was because of his unbelief that his sacrifice was not accepted when his brother Abel’s was.
Cain was in a real sense the first secular humanist. The Jewish Targum comments on Genesis 4:7, which describes the murder of Abel, by saying that Cain thought, “There is no judgment, no judge, no world to come; no reward will be given to the righteous, and no destruction for the wicked.”
Does that sound familiar? It should, because it sounds like secular humanism. The main tenet of secular humanism is that man is the measure of all things. Cain did not consider God to be the measure of all things; Cain considered himself to be the center. That spirit of secular humanism is still active within every false teacher. False teaching will always elevate humanity and denigrate the Lord God Almighty revealed in Scripture.
Verse 11 also describes false teachers as rushing for profit as Balaam did. We know from Numbers 22-25 that the prophet Balaam was hired by King Balak of Moab to curse Israel. He tried to, but instead he would always bring a blessing. He could only speak the words that God put into his mouth, and God would not allow him to bring the curse he wanted to bring upon Israel.
Balaam really wanted the monetary reward for bringing a curse on Israel, so he deceived them into believing that their conduct – no matter how sinful it was  – would not incur the wrath of God. He encouraged the Moabite women to seduce the Israelite men and because of their great immorality God’s wrath was unleashed upon them. Why? It all goes back to the greed of Balaam. For the sake of money he was willing to teach what he knew was false to the people of Israel, even though he knew that his teaching would bring God’s judgment upon them.
2 Peter 2:14-15 describes false teachers this way:  They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing..
It is no different today. There are many false teachers who are in the ministry for monetary gain. As our missionary to Costa Rica told us when he was here last month, one of the greatest challenges they have in South America is to deal with the false teaching of the prosperity gospel. The prosperity preachers fleece the flock financially, promising that in turn, the people will become rich with material blessings. When the material blessings don’t come, when health fails, when life is not as smooth as the prosperity preachers teach it will be once you believe in Jesus, the people become disillusioned.
Whenever a false teacher, whether with the prosperity gospel, or any other false teaching has disillusioned someone, it is very hard to reach that person with the wonderful truths of the gospel. That is another reason why false teaching is so destructive. It not only leads people astray, but it also ends up embittering people against the truths of the gospel.
The third example in verse 11 is that of Korah, the man who led a rebellion against God and his servant, Moses, when Israel was in the desert. The account of Korah in Numbers 16 stands as a stark reminder not to rebel against God. Along with Dathan and Abiram, Korah and his followers – 250 of them – were swallowed up by the earth and buried alive. The fact that Dathan and Abiram, along with hundreds of others followed Korah, shows the power of false teachers to persuade and mislead other people, bringing many others down with them to judgment.
The Necessity of Jude’s Warning
Jude initially did not want to write this letter of warning. He would have much rather written about the multiplication of mercy, peace and love to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Most ministers can relate to Jude’s sentiment, I’m sure. I really enjoyed preaching on the first two verses, about being called, loved and kept by our triune God. I enjoyed preaching about how God graciously multiplies to us His mercy, peace and love.
I also look forward to verse 20 to 23 about building ourselves up in the most holy faith and being merciful to those who doubt.  I look forward to preaching that great doxology in verse 24 and 25. I would much rather preach about those things than to give warnings about false teachers.
But when Scripture repeatedly warns of false teaching, then those who teach from the Bible must proclaim what it says, even though you already know about the dangers of false teaching. Did you notice in verse 5 how Jude writes, Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt but later destroyed those who did not believe – and then he goes on to give the three illustrations that we looked at two weeks ago, as well as giving this expanded warning against false teachers.
Both Peter (2 Peter 1:12) and Paul (Philippians 3:1) describe how it is necessary to repeat what their readers already know. Jesus, likewise, was a master of repetition. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit has given us four Gospels, in part to repeat to us four times over truths that we already know.
One of the things that makes false teaching so attractive to people is that it brings to them something new, whereas in reality, the faithful proclamation of God’s word is a repetition of the wonderful promises and serious warnings that God’s people already know.
The promises and warnings are given to us to remind us of both the tender mercies of our gracious God, and also to remind us of the seriousness of his warnings to all who reject him and the authority of his word. They are needed because in the busy pace of life, filled with temptations and trials, we can so easily lose our focus on our Lord and fail to live according to his Word.
As the Heidelberg Catechism points out, in Lord’s Day 52, “Our sworn enemies – the devil, the world and our own flesh – never stop attacking us.”  Since our sworn enemies never stop attacking us, we need both the constant warnings and the promises that God graciously repeats to us in his word. Realizing the seriousness of those warnings, Jude was inspired to write, – not what he was eager to write about – the salvation we share – but about what he knew his readers needed to hear, the danger of false teaching.
In verse 17 to 19 he tells how the apostles foretold how in the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. Those scoffers aren’t just out there in the world. They are in the visible church. And that is why Jude urges us to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
May you and I, our local church as well is our federation of churches, take to heart the warnings of Scripture against false teaching. And may we all watch our life and doctrine closely, so that we live in a manner pleasing to our gracious God and Savior. Amen.

                                                     - bulletin outline -

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly
slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God
into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. -  Jude: 4
                                  “Recognizing the Wolf in the Wool Suit”
                                                         Jude: 3-19
I. False teachers are recognized by their conduct and their rejection of the authority God’s Word (8)
II. Judgment on false teachers is certain (8-16)
III. Application: Every church must contend for the faith entrusted to the saints (3-4, 17-19)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

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