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The character traits of falsehood - Part 2

Jude 12-13
These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm – shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted – twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved for ever. (NIVUK)

Jude had grown up in the same household as Jesus, his elder half-brother.  He knew the difference between truth and lies.  Now he saw that the false teachers who were distorting the gospel (Acts 20:30) were not only spreading lies: because they did not believe the truth, they could not live truthfully … their hearts were full of evil which corrupted their behaviour.  They lacked any conscience that they were offending God in failing to teach the truth, at the same time as personally gaining from others in the church - who shared with them whatever they needed (1 Timothy 4:1-2).  The false teachers promised much but delivered nothing of value.  They were spiritually useless - like clouds which failed to produce rain and trees that could not bear fruit.  Pretending to give spiritual life, they themselves were spiritually dead.

In claiming to be shepherds of God’s church, those false teachers were like the wicked shepherds of Ezekiel 34:2-4 : “… woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed those who are ill or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.”

False teachers are also double-minded and unstable, as Jude’s brother James wrote, “...the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:6-8).  Instead of being guiding lights, they were stars which had lost their way and were leading others away from Jesus (Ezekiel 13:10-12).

Such spiritual fraud was and is very dangerous to believers in Jesus.  Jude was concerned that the churches should be much more discerning about the people who brought a ‘different gospel’.  The Apostle Paul was equally stern in his assessment of such people (Galatians 1:6-9).  Christian love should never tolerate falsehood but be jealous for the truth. Therefore, church leaders and all true believers who love the truth should not allow false teachers to have influence.  Rather, those who know the truth should proclaim it boldly and expose error, letting the Word of God loose – like a lion, to defend itself.  The honest preaching of God’s Word will shame some rogues and highlight the folly of the others.  When you are in discussion with friends and colleagues, do not just give your opinion; let God speak as you read the Bible together with them.

Holy God. There is nobody holy like You. But I am distressed to see people pretending to speak for You when they do not agree with Your Word, refusing to repent and seek Your forgiveness for their untruthful teaching. Please help me to stay close to You. Give me a renewed passion to know and live the truth, and to pass it on to others. Please help church leaders to be bold in proclaiming Your Word rather than their own ideas or the accumulated thoughts of others. And help me, in discussion with my friends and colleagues, to allow the open Bible to speak. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams