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Expect Opposition

Jude 17-19
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (NIVUK)

Spiritual opposition is nothing new.  Ever since sin entered the world (Genesis 3:1-10), people have been tempted to rebel against God and lead other people astray (Jeremiah 23:30-32).  The Lord Jesus prepared His disciples to teach the church to expect hostility.  If they hated Him, they would also hate those who follow Him (John 15:18-25).  The Apostles warned that seductive false teachers would come (2 Timothy 3:1-9).  

Often, the first weapon of false teachers is to cause believers to doubt the truth, as Satan did in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5).  Mocking and scoffing are intended to belittle the believers causing them to doubt God’s power to keep them, and so they become uncertain of the basis of their faith and hide through fear.  But also, doctrinal error has a moral component; when people do not want to obey God’s Word, they will try to reshape it to make their behaviour appear to be acceptable to the Lord.  1 John 3:7-10 calls such people ‘children of the devil’.  That seems very harsh: but if the children of God love to serve His purposes, what do you call people who advance Satan’s agenda?

Religious leaders, who are more concerned to be popular with the world than faithful to God’s Word, will divide the church (Acts 20:28-31).  They will carry with them the people who want to be valued by the world - spiritually empty people who have lost sight of gospel priorities.  Those people and their leaders are spiritually impotent; they cannot raise the next generation of believers.  Although they bask in their own glory for a short while, they are not motivated or empowered by the Holy Spirit; and they cannot resist the tide of evil (2 Peter 2:18-22).

Today, all over the world, many leaders and congregations are tempted to follow the same disastrous track.  Instead of believing the truth of God’s Word, being filled with the Spirit and strong in the Lord, they seek the approval of the world but have nothing to offer and only judgement to face.  Yet, at the same time, faithful men and women continue to serve the Lord despite the mockery of their family and friends, persecution at work and in the community.  While tormented by the world, they are comforted by the Spirit; separated from religious and secular approval they persist in living a gospel life and speaking gospel words.  Our response should be to consider our own hearts first, and repent of giving way to fear and choosing the unbiblical and ungodly easy paths offered by some teachers.   We should then also pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world whose lives are astonishingly disturbed by people who hate Jesus.  May God give to them and us the desire and strength to persist in doing and speaking the truth.

Holy God. Thank You that the Lord Jesus and the Apostles gave clear warnings that faith in Christ would be difficult. Please forgive me when I abandon my confidence in You and succumb to the pressures of the world around me. Please help me to wake up to the urgent need of being a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. May I be ready to deal with mockery and other forms of persecution, being filled with Your Spirit and trusting in Your love. Help me to live in a way which pleases You and speak to advertise the wonderful saving grace of Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams