“Contending for the Faith” Study 4

Hidden Reefs

False teachers and prophets have always been around but in these last days have multiplied in the local assemblies. As we have seen they come in the character of Cain who murdered his brother out of jealousy and in the character of Balaam who prophesied for money and in the character of Korah who despised God-given lawful authority. All of these men characterised these false teachers that Jude mentions in (verse 4). These were immoral and sensual men, who could disguise themselves as believers, ingratiate themselves into the fellowship but spiritually seduce, and in some cases sexually seduce, the unstable and the inexperienced believers in the Lord Jesus. They may have professed to know the Lord Jesus but through their sensual behaviour denied the Lord Jesus Christ by what they said and did. They were not always seen for what they were. They were much like stealth fighters that can fly under the radar without being detected. Jude was warning believers about these men but also through the Holy Spirit warning the Body of the Messiah in these last days because false teachers, apostles and prophets would multiply and spread like gangrene in the assemblies. These false teachers in the character of Cain, Balaam and Korah were also types of hidden reefs. And so Jude continued to write…

(Vs.12-23) “These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. 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.” These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, and flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”


(Vs.12-13) “These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.”

One of the dangers on the high seas for any ship is the hidden reefs that cannot be detected. Today with sonar equipment of course even hidden reefs can be detected but in the time of sailing ships they did not have radar and could hit a hidden reef that lay undetected below the surface of the water. These “hidden reefs” mentioned by Jude was a reference to those false teachers and prophets who were as part of the local assembly but with sinister agendas that were hidden and not visible to the fellowship members.

In Biblical typology a ship can represent the Church on the sea of life heading for its desired haven which is heaven. On its long and arduous journey there are many potential dangers it can face such as storms at sea or mutiny within the ranks of the sailors on board but the real danger would have been the hidden reefs undetected which could cause the ship to be destroyed or flounder and become incapacitated at the mercy of the pounding waves. These “hidden reefs” were in fellowship and partaking in the Lord’s Supper which was a meal just like they had in the Passover Feast in the Old Testament times. It was a continuation of the Passover Feast celebrating the believer’s deliverance out of the Egypt of this world and remembering the Lord Jesus who by His atoning blood had redeemed them from the world, the flesh and the devil. They called them “love feasts.” Now we are told some more things about these “hidden reefs”

They had no conscience; “they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves;” They had no fear of God or of his retribution coming upon them. They were self-deceived and thought only about what they could get from the believers after they had by stealth infiltrated the local assembly. They were in the ministry for what they could get out of it. Today there are many who cannot hold down a proper job so they go into the ministry because they want to be someone of importance and significance and have authority over others and earn a good salary.

It may be they even attend Bible College but in reality are seeking the approval of men but have a hidden agenda. Many today sacrifice conscience on the altar of ego. Self-aggrandisement and Self- promotion, like King Saul and Absalom, as they build monuments to themselves. They get followers but ultimately make them twice the children of hell as they are themselves. This is why they are “hidden reefs.” They are indeed “shepherds who feed only themselves” Their ambitions, priorities, goals, plans and agendas are all that matter to them. They are ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing that will tear apart and destroy the flock. They show total disregard for the local fellowships over which they seek to preside if they are not checked. Many of them are in the mega-churches today. Many are on television and on the internet and house hold names among Christians. Through their false and deceptive teaching they are spiritually tearing the sheep apart!

They are; “clouds without water” always promising blessing and abundance and prophesying things that never come to pass. Like dark clouds that look like it’s going to rain but there is no water in them. Today we have a so called “third wave” movement promising blessing, prosperity and Kingdom Dominion and it is all hype and money and power promoted by those who call themselves apostles. False apostles and prophets will always prophesy about future events and the visions of their own deluded minds that will never happen. How do we know whether a man is a prophet from the LORD? Scripture tells us. “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

These men offer no spiritual relief to those who are really troubled spiritually. True prophets were always 100% accurate. It is one thing to teach about Biblical prophecy and there are fine Biblical men who vary on certain aspects of it. On the other hand there are those who say “the LORD told me” or “the Spirit of God is telling me about you” and this is done in personal prophecies uttered over individuals. If the LORD is speaking through them directly as they claim then what they are prophesying must be 100% accurate or they are prophesying falsely. In the Old Testament those who prophesied falsely were stoned to death. God called it rebellion! We do not stone them today but the sin is no less serious!

They are “carried along by winds” of the latest doctrinal fads. Ephesians speaks about these “winds of teaching by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14) Winds can make a lot of noise and create havoc but there is no substance in them. They can blow one minute and then disappear the next. False doctrine is like this. The dangerous element is that all false teaching has a lot of truth in it as well. There is always cheese in the rat trap! Many seek to live on the dreams, revelations and prophecies and so called visions these men promote. Now a dream or a vision may have its place but it cannot compare with the Word of God by which everything must be tested.

The LORD spoke through Jeremiah about this when  He said; “The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the LORD. “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” (Jeremiah 23:28-29) Dreams are likened to straw compared to the Word of God which is likened unto nutritious grain. One may have a dream or a vision but it will never go against God’s revealed word and will also be confirmed by whether it comes true or not. However, the safe bet is the Word of God. As the psalmist said; “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:11pt5)

They are “autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;” The Lord Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit. If the source of its nourishment is bad then the fruit will be tainted and unfit to eat. If a tree bears the bad fruit then essentially it is bad at its roots. Now a tree may start out bearing good fruit but over time corruption sets in at the root level and the tree starts to bear bad fruit and ultimately it dies and bears no fruit at all. For example if it is the season for figs and the fig tree does not bear any fruit then it is no longer any good but will eventually wither and die over time. In the end it will only be good for firewood. Its end will be for burning. These false teachers bore no spiritual fruit such as love, joy, peace. Patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control but were accursed and unfit for any good work whose end was to be fuel for the unquenchable fire.

Notice also they are described as being “doubly dead” or “twice dead.” In other words they were planted and alive but are now dead. The reference applies to those who were once dead in sin but made alive to God by the Spirit but who are now spiritually dead once again for the second time. They can no longer be brought back to repentance. As the writer to the Hebrews said; “For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

Once a man or a women starts down the slippery path of false doctrine and refuse correction they inevitably fall into pride and not only end up believing their own publicity, but end up in deception, becoming snared in the devil’s trap from which there is no escape. This is why teachers will be judged with the greater strictness. These false teachers are the true Pharisees today! The fact that they have been uprooted means that they are dead and incapable of producing fruit.

They are like; “wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam;” They are boisterous, noisy, disruptive, divisive and completely out of control. They may initially appear to be spiritual and convey the impression with their persuasive words. They may look like sheep and bleat like sheep but on the inside are ravenous wolves’ intent of tearing the sheep apart as they seek their own aggrandisement and self-promotion at the expense of the sheep. If you agree with them all is sweet but dare to disagree with them or oppose their unbiblical methods and doctrines and they turn on you like the rabid dogs they are. There is no shortage of these in pulpits today!

Waves may look awesome but the bigger they are the more potential there is for destruction on a massive scale. Many end up becoming Tsunamis in the Church! They have no shame and do not even know how to blush. Jeremiah also wrote about them; “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.  “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, And they did not know how to blush; Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time of their punishment they shall be brought down,” Says the LORD. “I will surely snatch them away,” declares the LORD; “There will be no grapes on the vine And no figs on the fig tree, And the leaf will wither; And what I have given them will pass away.” (Jeremiah 8:11-13)  When the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586BC the false prophets were nowhere to be found!

They are; “wandering stars” that are here today and gone tomorrow. One translation says “shooting stars.” They have wandered off the track and take others with them. They come on the scene in a blaze of glory and pageantry and gusto and then disappear just as quickly like a shooting star or meteor. One recent movement was the laughing revival or “the Toronto blessing” as it was called and the basis for the Alpha Course. It came and it went but still brought no revival! And there have been others as well such as Pensacola and Lakeland in Florida but they have all come to nothing and just fizzled out!

 They, “for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” How black is the darkness reserved for them. Black darkness is beyond the full understanding. Most people have experienced a time of pitch darkness where you cannot see your hand in front of your eyes because it is so dark. However, imagine that blackness as a thick darkness one can feel on their flesh and engulfing them as a grave shroud or blanket, a suffocating blackness where it is hard to breathe, a debilitating darkness that goes nowhere and where one wanders around forever without reprieve. Those of us who teach must make sure we walk moment by moment in faith and in the Holy Spirit otherwise we may end up being cast away after preaching to others!

What do these mammon loving, faith prosperity preachers think about when the TV cameras are switched off and the stage lights are turned off and there are no adulating crowds around and adoring women to flatter and to boost their egos. When they lie on their beds at night what passes through their minds? Do they ever think about the encroaching black darkness that awaits them? Their names are household names today. Most of them are from the Word of Faith Prosperity Camp! Others are more subtle from the “seeker friendly” crowd with their soft and spiritually insipid doctrines of salvation. Today more than ever before we need the spirit of the Bereans who “examined the scriptures everyday” to see whether what they were being taught lined up with the Word of God (Acts 17:11). And so Jude continues…

(Vs.14-16) “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. These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”

The Book of Enoch was never accepted as scripture but held in high esteem among early Biblical scholars and it was around in the time of Jude. What he recorded from the writing of Enoch was perfectly in line with the Word of God. It was taken from the book of Enoch 1:9. Enoch of course lived around 700 years before the flood but had prophetic insight into the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in his first letter to the Thessalonians; “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marvelled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-11)  The prophet Zechariah also wrote; “Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!” (Zechariah 14:5b)

In Revelation chapter 19 we see the Lord Jesus coming back accompanied by the armies of heaven and they were all dressed in white linen and riding on white horses. These were raptured and resurrected saints in their glorified bodies and clothed with Jesus’ righteousness. When the Lord Jesus comes back He will be accompanied by the angels, the saints of all ages and with the faithful remnant of Israel. Together under the command of Jesus, they together with Him, will overthrow Antichrist and his forces arrayed against Jerusalem and subjugate the remaining kingdoms of this world. At this time the Millennial Kingdom will be established. Jude primarily has focused on the unsaved in the world in these verses, namely “the ungodly” but the false teachers and prophets will not escape this fiery judgement out of heaven. Jude now further describes the character of those men who have secretly ingratiated themselves into the fellowship by stealth and spiritual deception.

They are “grumblers” or like those rebels in the wilderness, who grumbled against God and Moses and who were severely judged because of their behaviour and rebellious attitude towards the grace and mercy of God. They are “fault finders” who are always critical of those who have God–given authority and who complain and whinge all the time. Underneath their spiritual veneer there is discontent, malicious jealousy and an appetite for self-gratification at the expense of the sheep. They “follow their own lusts” given over to sensual indulgence of every kind. They live by their passions. They “speak arrogantly” and boast about themselves and their apparent gifts and abilities. Then they go about “flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” because they are constantly pre-occupied with their own self-interest. They flatter others in leadership because they have an agenda to propagate in the local assembly. It can be rendered in the Greek text as “honouring faces for the sake of advantage.” What they say to your face is not what is on their minds or on their hidden agenda. They wear masks. They are imposters or “enchanters” deceiving and being deceived and are past masters at mesmerising the spiritually unstable in the fellowship. This is why we need the genuine gifts of the Spirit operating in the Body of Messiah today especially the gift of discernment of spirits. Now let’s continue…

(Vs.17-19) “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.”

God’s Word forewarns us that “perilous times” would come in the last days and that men will be …“lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

These people not only exist in the world of the unsaved but are also found within the professing Christian Church. They have a form of godliness and like the magicians of Egypt may have supernatural power that can, up to a point, duplicate and counterfeit genuine miracles, signs and wonders. They aim at spiritually unstable weak-willed women and take advantage of them. There are too many numerous situations where men in leadership have been preaching and working in ministry while having affairs in the Church. Most of the people who follow and adulate the mammon loving preachers on television these days are women if the truth be known. Of course not all women are weak-willed spiritually and the Bible gives clear testimony to many faithful and spiritually diligent women. These false teachers acquire learning but are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The apostle Paul wrote about those who propagate deceptive unscriptural doctrines; “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2) One of the things mentioned is that enforced celibacy is a doctrine of demons. These mockers are apostates who have made the choice to deliberately and permanently reject the Lord Jesus Christ and the authority of His Word after having professed to be believers. They have “their consciences seared as with a hot iron” and are totally insensitive to spiritual truth. Their moral life is scarred by sin and unresponsive to the touch of God. These mockers are in character with the ones in the time of Noah who laughed, derided and scoffed at Noah who as a preacher of righteousness was warning them for 120 years “to flee from the wrath to come!” Peter writes that these mockers coming in the Last days will actually mock Bible prophecy because they want to follow their own evil desires (2 Peter 3:3-7). They do not want to hear about the coming judgements of God upon a Christ hating, Christ rejecting world and upon a backslidden, apostate Church.

Jude also says that these men “are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” These men had separated themselves from God and were sensual and living on animal like instincts rather than living by the Spirit of God. These are the ones who cause division because they are acting as the world would act in their insatiable appetites for sin, recognition and adulation by others in the Church. They are devoid of the Spirit of holiness. In other words they do not have the Holy Spirit in them at all but are governed by another spirit. Previously they had been believers but had deliberately without any qualms stepped out of their secure position in Christ, abandoned their faith and embraced false and deceptive doctrines that appeal to their fleshly appetites and those of others who have “itching ears” to hear what they have to say. Now Jude also tells us how we are to react when contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. There are things we can do as believers to guard our minds and hearts against all evil teachers and false doctrines of spiritually dead and unprincipled men. How then do we resist this kind of evil these days permeating the local assemblies? How do we keep ourselves from spiritual deception?

(Vs.20) “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit”

There are two ways we can build ourselves up in our most holy faith. One is by reading the Word of God because, “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” (Romans 10:17) This is how we initially receive faith and maintain it in our lives. It is also the way to grow in our faith and to be kept from doctrinal error. The second way we can build up and strengthen the faith we have is by praying in the Holy Spirit. Praying in the Holy Spirit means praying and petitioning the LORD based on the promises of His Word the Bible. We present petitions and requests to Him. However, sometimes we will not be able to find adequate words especially in a time of severe temptation, despondency or depression because of a spiritual attack against us by Satan. At other times we will be acutely aware of a humanly impossible situation that there seems to be no answer to in the life of a brother or sister or even an unsaved person.

At these times words will also fail. How do we pray? What do we pray? Well the Holy Spirit Himself is a person who prays. He will furnish the words we need to speak in the supernatural language that goes beyond our understanding and comes out of our spirit and not from our mind. Even though we may not know what we are speaking God does and if our tongue is yielded completely to the control of the Holy Spirit then He will pray through us. In the person of the Holy Spirit God has given us a wonderful, loving and divine friend to enable us to pray and one who also prays with us and prays for us in times when words fail and prays in place of us. How then does the Holy Spirit enable us to pray according to the will of God when we do not know what that will is.

The Apostle Paul spoke about this when he wrote; “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27) The Holy Spirit then is a person who prays. He is not merely an impersonal force for good in the world but a loving, spiritually sensitive and divine person who Himself prays and is equal in deity to God the Father and God the Son. We are never alone in prayer but the Paraclete (one called alongside to strengthen) is in us and beside us always. He is a very faithful friend especially in times of affliction.

Now we are told in several things about what the Spirit does for us when we come to pray. The Spirit “helps” us in our weakness. The word “helps” in the Greek language of the New Testament has three shades of meaning. He prays “for us”, “with us” and “in place of us”. He prays for us when we do not know how to pray as we should. He prays with us in that He takes hold together with us of the problem or situation that we are wrestling with in prayer. He prays in place of us when words fail. Added to this we are also told that He actually groans in our spirit along with us that words cannot utter. The Greek language does not mean that words are impossible to utter but that they come out of us more as groans rather than as coherent words. This is where the language of the Holy Spirit rises up out of our inner spirit. At such times we are given freedom to express those groans and longings in words that are not subject to our intellect but are perfectly conformed to the will of God.

Now the Holy Spirit knows the deep things of God and reveals to us the things He discovers and God in turn knows His mind (His thoughts, feelings and purposes) on things and together there is a perfect unity and knowledge and if the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God then He most certainly knows all about you and me and how to present to God what we are incapable of expressing ourselves. What a wonderful loving and divine person we have in the Holy Spirit. Through reading the Word of God and praying in the Holy Spirit we not only increase our faith and build the capacity for faith but are enabled to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. This kind of prayer and reliance upon the Holy Spirit scares the daylights out of the devil big time!

By praying in the Spirit we keep ourselves in the flowing stream of God’s love and are empowered to wait patiently with expectancy in faith for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life and the one who will rescue us from the coming wrath because “we are not destined to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Vs.21) “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”

Praying in the Holy Spirit will also enable us to keep ourselves in the love of God because He has shed that supernatural and divine love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). The blessed Holy Spirit enables us to walk in the commandments of God. As the Apostle John wrote; “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) If we really love God we will want to walk in His commandments and more so if we love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Himself said; “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him…“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” (John 14:21, 23)

If we walk moment by moment in the power of the Holy Spirit and pray continuously in the Spirit we will be empowered to keep God’s commands and walk in the love of God. If we really love Him then we will do what He says. In this way we prove that we love God when we keep his commandments. All of us need mercy to live every day in the Spirit’s power as this is impossible apart from resting by faith in Him. When we keep our minds focused on the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ we are reminded of our own need of His mercy and loving kindness every moment of every day.

Also it reminds us that we will need His mercy on the Day of Judgement. This is that perfect love which casts out all fear! As we walk in love the law of God is fulfilled in us by the power of the Holy Spirit who is himself the Spirit of Love. For as it is also written; “The commandments “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and any other commandments, are summed up in this one decree: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment (fulfilling) of the Law.” (Romans 13:9-10) To walk in love is to walk in holiness. This is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible. All holy living has its source in the love of God.

We can try to suppress the fleshly desires that war against the soul but it is in vain as the more we try to supress these desires the more they enslave us. This is why religious works and the attempts to crucify the flesh in our own strength will ultimately fail. The world, the flesh and the devil are too strong for us. We can over only overcome them if we pray constantly in the Holy Spirit and seek to love God. If we really love someone will we want to violate that love relationship? If we really love someone would we willing go out and betray them?

Our relationship with the Trinity is not one of legalism but of love, a love that wants to do the right thing and leans moment by moment, by faith, on the blessed Holy Spirit to do His work of wholly separating us to God. If we do this then the blessed Holy Spirit will keep us mindful of the fact that our Lord Jesus is coming back to lavish his mercy upon us and bring us into the fullness of the eternal life that is already dwelling in us through the same Holy Spirit. In these dark days, and they will be getting darker, it is a wonderful assurance we have from the LORD.

The “waiting anxiously” is not speaking about a fearful disposition but one of expectancy and anticipation. Praise the LORD for the blessed ministry of the Holy Spirit who keeps us walking in God’s love as we allow Him to control us moment by moment by faith. As it is written; “Therefore we are always confident, although we know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) Of course not all of our brothers and sisters are walking moment by moment in the Spirit and in the rest that comes from faith. They need our mercy and love and our support and so Jude continues…

(Vs.22-23) “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”

Now “Mercy” or “lovingkindness” is the language of covenant. God is a covenant keeping God who shows His loving kindness to sinners who repent and turn to Him for mercy and pardon. There is a story told about Alexander the Great. Apparently he was known to be just in his judgements as a ruler but also was known to declare mercy. At one time during his reign a soldier was brought before him who had deserted the ranks but had been caught. He now stood before Alexander waiting to be sentenced. The penalty for desertion was death and he knew this. When Alexander asked him what he had to say the soldier replied that he knew he was a deserter and that he was guilty and that he deserved death for his betrayal and made no excuses. He then said to Alexander; “I know that you can have me executed and I have no excuse but I also know that you can be merciful.” Alexander was so impressed with his response that he forgave him and said “send him back into the ranks!” The soldier was most grateful. He acknowledged that Alexander was right in his judgement but also reminded the king that he was also known to be merciful and brought this before the king.

The Bible says that God would rather have mercy on sinners who repent rather than judge them. The Lord Jesus said; “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13) The Bible also says that God does not delight in the death of the wicked even though it is inevitable if they do not repent. “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? “ (Ezekiel 18:23) These false teachers were beyond salvation having been saved at some point but had wilfully and deliberately stepped out of their secure position in Christ. Not only had they embraced spiritual deception but had abandoned themselves to the dictates of the world, the flesh and the devil. Now some in the fellowship had been swayed by these smooth talking, charismatic personalities with their counterfeit signs, miracles and wonders and who were past masters in appealing to the lusts and appetites of the flesh. Some of these believers were in danger of wandering from the faith once delivered to the saints. Jude lists who they are…

Firstly, there were those who “needed mercy because they had doubts.” They were most probably young believers who were not strong in faith and were as yet learning to escape from the world. They were saved but not established in the rest of faith. They were not like the “seasoned veterans” who had been involved in many spiritual conflicts and were not unaware of Satan’s devices. These doubting believers needed to experience God’s mercy at a deeper level in their daily walk with the LORD. Through acts of love, teaching, prayer, generosity of spirit and perseverance towards them, by spiritually mature brethren, in time they might become pillars in the Body of Messiah. Some are stronger in faith than others and need to be propped up by their older brethren in the faith. However, God wants the weak brother or sister to become strong and to learn that it is through much tribulation (testing and trials) that they are empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit to persevere until they enter the Kingdom of God, either when they fall asleep in Jesus or are raptured at the resurrection of the saints. Many new believers today, because they are not grounded in the Word of God, are easily swayed emotionally by those with a false anointing.

Secondly, Jude mentions those “who needed to be snatched out of the fire.” These would be those who were not yet saved in the fellowship and also those, who through unconfessed or besetting sin, were dangerously close to becoming cast away. It was not a case that God had walked away from them but that they had walked away from God. Once they walked with Him but through life’s bitter experiences or through heavy and persistent temptation or through yielding to the lusts of the flesh had become spiritually weak and vulnerable to Satan’s power. They were to be snatched out of the fire. Now in such cases counselling has its advantages in that it can quieten down the surging emotional and mental anguish often experienced by a backslider or even by an unsaved person under conviction of sin. However, there must come a point where they must leave of their sin and walk away from it. There comes a time when counselling only becomes like cutting of the branches of a tree (dealing with problems of one sort or another) but not dealing with the root of the problem which inevitably is sin and rebellion in some way.

For every believer we have choices we need to make every day. This is why we must walk moment by moment in the power of the Holy Spirit by the faith that produces obedience, or as the scripture calls it; “the obedience of faith.” (Romans 1:5; 16:26) If we have genuine trust in God then we will obey Him. We are not saved by works but if we are really saved then we will have works along the line of the faith we profess. Once again it must be said that with man this is impossible but with God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26).

Thirdly; Jude mentions that there are those who need to be shown “mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” because those who show mercy towards them must also be walking with God lest they too should be overcome in the same sin. The Apostle Paul spoke about this when he wrote; “Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the Law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2) When we are seeking to counsel others we must make sure we do not sit in judgement on them or look down on them as being a spiritually weak or even inferior brother or sister because they are not as spiritually minded as we think we might be. If the Holy Spirit is really at work in us then we will always be painfully aware of our sins and shortcomings and be aware of this when encouraging or even rebuking at times.

There is a season for encouragement and a season for rebuking and both have their place in the Body of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. When God called Jeremiah the prophet He said to him; “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:9-10). The ministry of a true Shepherd of the flock has three aspects.

Firstly; it is to preach the Word of God that the Holy Spirit has imparted to them. Secondly; to root out sin, to pull down Satan’s spiritual strongholds in the lives of others, to destroy the unbiblical doctrines and commandments of men and everything that goes against sound doctrine and to throw down all and everything that would exult itself against the true knowledge of God. Thirdly; to build up the flock in their most Holy faith and doctrine and to plant the seed of God’s Word that they might grow in true righteousness and holiness before God. Of course all must be done in the love of God and with the best interests of the flock at heart and not from any other motive. All of us who trust and love the Lord Jesus must learn to say no to sin! The unsaved cannot do this but we can because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, “the Spirit of Life that is in Christ Jesus that sets us free from the law of sin and death!”

As Paul wrote to Titus; “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-12) Sometimes when a TV programme comes up that we know will lead us into temptation and sin it will mean getting off of the couch and changing the channel or turning the TV off, “hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” We need to learn how to say “No!” Praise God that we are not alone or “orphans” when facing temptation, sin, the world, the flesh and the devil but have the blessed Holy Spirit to enable us to resist and overcome all of the wiles and tricks and subtleties of Satan!

As the Lord Jesus’ return gets closer false apostles, prophets and teachers will increase and multiply like flies in the Body of Messiah as Satan knows that his time is short. It is vitally important that we resist his wiles and always seek to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. We must always keep in mind that all of the fiery darts of the devil are aimed at the shield of faith! The only way to resist him is to be fully clothed with the armour of God and keep the sword of the Spirit swinging freely. As we resist him and keep resisting him he will flee! Above all else we must always keep in mind that it is our Lord Jesus Christ who not only saves us but will keep us as well as we walk in the Spirit moment by moment by faith.

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