1 John 5:18-21
Before Bible Study this week, I was involved in a conversation concerning the Chinese State churches, and how the government, and not the Bible, directs the doctrine of the church.
This is the reason why so many underground churches have sprung up in believers' homes, even at the risk of these believers being imprisoned.
Which group of people are really abiding in the Lord?
Obviously the ones who are truly seeking the Lord without the government limitations.
Now, in this country we are not being persecuted in this way. We have the freedom to believe as we choose.
But do we willingly allow false doctrine and unbecoming behavior into our midst; that is, into all aspects of our lives: at home, at church, and at work?
So, today, we're going to look at a couple of Bible passages that may help us answer this question.
Let's begin in the book of Jude.
1. Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
Jude and James are also the sons of Mary, the mother of Jesus, yet Jude doesn't mention that he's also the brother of Jesus.
Jude is content with being Jesus' bond-servant.
Abiding in Him was enough.
He had humbled himself before the Lord; something that we all should do, for our pride keeps us from fully abiding in the Lord.
And from this humble state he says,
2. May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
But Jude also has a responsibility, just as we all do.
We're not only to bless each other, but we're to help protect and guide each other, too.
And this is the main thrust of Jude's letter.
Listen to what he says.
3. Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
4. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed,
Note specifically that he says these people have crept in unnoticed.
those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Note the warning of the danger around them.
If someone were to burst through the door of the church, or into our home, or place of work, waving a gun around and threatening us, we would most definitely recognize the danger.
But what Jude is saying, is that certain persons have crept in unnoticed, and that their intent could be even more dangerous than a crazed man with a gun.
For what such people bring in with them is the destruction of hell itself, and we need to be on our guard.
When we first meet them, they may seem to talk the talk, and walk the walk; but if we observe carefully we will see the falseness, for they are not abiding in the Lord, but only in their own pride.
Test these people's lives with faith, love and compassion, and if something is lacking, be cautious.
Thus Jude continues to remind not only the people of his day, but us, too:
5. Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.
Remember that the Egyptians who pursued Israel through the Red Sea all drowned (Exodus 14:23-30).
They wouldn't listen to the Lord even after He had shown them at least twelve miracles.
6. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
These are Satan and his followers, who thought they could be equal to God.
7. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
And remember, of all these people, only Lot and his two daughters survived, and yet, much evil resulted in their survival, for the evilness of the people became entrenched in the daughters.
8. Yet in the same manner these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.
9. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."
Here is a very important message for us all.
In our own strength, we cannot stand up against the power of the devil.
But, in the strength of the Lord, we can.
We can rebuke the devil and his demons, and all their schemes, in the name of the Lord, but we must learn to recognize them, before they destroy us.
10. But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.
11. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain,
who killed his brother,
and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam,
who instructed the king of Moab how to lead Israel astray, even though he knew the Lord wanted to bless them,
and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
For Korah and his followers thought they could also be priests, as was Aaron.
12. These men are those 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;
This is talking about people who make a mockery of the Lord's Supper, by pretending that they really believe, when they don't.
Remember, we're not to hear only what such people say and do in the church, but we're also to note whether or not they bear any fruit in their lives.
As Jude says, such people are
13. wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
And we should not join ourselves to such people, for they can harm us greatly.
14. And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,
15. 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."
And for his faithfulness in the midst of evil, Enoch was raptured into heaven.
O Lord, help us all to be that faithful.
And in the process, we need to look out for the signs of these evil people in our midst, no matter where we encounter them.
16. These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.
When we see these signs, we are to rebuke them; and if these signs also follow us, we probably are not abiding with the Lord.
And we can indeed recognize these signs if we abide in the Lord, for the Holy Spirit also abides in us, and guides us in all things, that is, if we are willing to listen.
This brings us to the last thing John wrote in his first epistle (5:18-21):
18. We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.
And if we're honest with ourselves, we realize that at times we all still sin.
This is true, because we are not fully abiding, or living with the Lord; for we're still trying to do things our own way.
We need to constantly refocus ourselves spiritually, just as we do physically with a camera or binoculars, and with our eyes.
The more we do this, the more we recognize the truth.
19. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
20. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21. Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
Such idols can be anything we set up before God, even ourselves; for when we are prideful, we are really worshipping ourselves.
We all need to meditate more upon who we are, and who God really is in our lives, and then let Him correct the deficiencies.
Abide in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For only good will come of such a relationship.
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