Jude’s warning of scoffers

God’s Word has much to say for those who come to church with false teaching, hearts laden with sin, and worldly behaviour. Today, as in New Testament times, Jude reminds his readers of the warnings Jesus’ apostles issued, how that “in the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 1:18-19). These people did not have short-term lapses into bad behaviour. They had not stumbled into sin for a season. No, these were committed disbelievers who insisted on attending church.

Jude’s Warning Of ScoffersJude writes possibly the most concise and confrontational warning to protect believers from these troublemakers. He writes as one who feels both the pain and the offence caused by those deserting Christ yet stubbornly remaining in church attendance. Due to the seriousness of the damage inflicted by these agitators, Jude writes with a tone of exhortation for faithfulness, appealing for them “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude :3). God’s standards for Christian lifestyle has not changed.

These were religiously motivated people who had never repented, never died to self, never confessed Jesus as their Lord, and never been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Jude lists the behaviour of these who had somehow “crept in unnoticed” (Jude :4), which reads more like a medical diagnosis of a body ravaged by malignant cancerous tumours.

They “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desires” (:7), “relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones” (:8), “blaspheme all that they do not understand” and behave “like unreasoning animals” (:10). They spoke “harsh things” against the Lord (:15). “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favouritism to gain advantage” (:16). These people fulfilled the apostle’s earlier warnings, being “scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (:18-19).

Can you imagine being one of these people when this letter from Jude gets read to the congregation? Whoever this Church congregation was, it had been infested by the enemy. Jude calls the believers to spiritual warfare in protection of gospel truth and the purity of Christ’s bride (the Church). Warfare is always messy, always has casualties, and always leaves scars. However, spiritual warfare also paves the way for times of healing, restoration, and purity in Christ. Cleansing brings an increased sense of identity in Christ, growth in unity of God’s Word, and richness of fellowship that could never be experienced without the pain of battle.

When the Church becomes infested, we believers realise that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The necessity to “put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) becomes even more obvious.

Over the next couple of weeks, we shall explore the weapons Jude calls faithful believers to use in their defence. Jude never envisioned a passive or cowardice response, nor did he call God’s children to fight dirty. Instead, he calls for “the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left” (2 Corinthians 6:7), spiritual weapons which win spiritual battles with spiritual victories.

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