Beware the Creeper

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4)

tardis

I have been a long-time fan of the old BBC show “Doctor Who.” For those who are unfamiliar, the titular character is a “Time Lord” who travels through space and time in a blue police call box in order to right cosmic wrongs. When the actor portraying the Doctor leaves the show, the character “regenerates,” allowing the show to continue on indefinitely.  

Back in the 80’s, the show didn’t have much in the way of a budget for special effects, so the production was pretty campy, but the stories were well written and entertaining. Every Saturday night I would watch an episode with my dad just before bed, always left in suspense to see how the story would be resolved the next week.

A few years back the BBC began making new episodes of Doctor Who. The show started with great promise; exciting stories, good writing, and superb special effects – it was great fun. Over time, however, new show runners and writers, all who came with social and political agendas, made the show preachy and unwatchable. Now, the show has morphed so much it looks and feels nothing like the original.  

In my last study from Jude, we considered the call to contend for the faith because it was under attack. In verse 4, we see where this attack was coming from: “Certain people,” Jude says, “have crept in unnoticed… who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

We have no idea who these “certain men” were, but we’ve seen things like this elsewhere in the NT letters.  Paul writes in Galatians about the “circumcision party” who had come to the church preaching a different gospel, which wasn’t even a gospel at all.  In the letters to the churches in Revelation, the Lord speaks of false apostles, Jezebels who promote immorality, and those who follow the teaching of Balaam.  From the very beginning, the threat of false teaching corrupting the church was immanent, and the church must be diligent in defending the faith from corrupting influences.

The warning of “certain persons creeping in unnoticed” must be heeded.  These were people who came into the fellowship of the believers, pretending to share their faith, but with the ultimate purpose of twisting and perverting the faith.  Jude says that they “perverted the grace of our God into sensuality.” When Paul rebuked the “circumcision party” in Galatians, he was confronting a legalistic movement that promoted salvation by works which denied the sufficiency of the work of Christ for our redemption, a gift of grace that we receive by faith alone. What Jude is dealing with here is the extreme opposite. This was an antinomian (“against the law”) movement that taught that once you have the gracious forgiveness of God, everything was permissible. Grace became a license for indulgence, immorality, and sensuality. In perverting God’s grace into licentiousness, these creeper teachers were rejecting the Lordship of Jesus Christ who calls His disciples to a life of obedience to His commands.

Grace became a license for indulgence, immorality, and sensuality. In perverting God’s grace into licentiousness, these creeper teachers were rejecting the Lordship of Jesus Christ who calls His disciples to a life of obedience to His commands.

Unfortunately, this pernicious teaching still finds its way into the church today. Mainline denominations (like the PCUSA) allow for the ordination of practicing, unrepentant homosexuals and same-sex marriages, all under the auspices of “grace.” Their primary focus in dealing with these issues is the pursuit of civil rights and social justice rather than faithfulness to the Word of God and obedience to Jesus Christ. There has been such a creeping drift away from the Word of God that what’s left of the church is unrecognizable. Jude’s judgment is just a relevant today as it was back then, the creepers have snuck in and twisted the faith.

But as we take notice of how these corrupt teachings have crept into the larger church, I think it is important that we also be on guard against the creeping in our own hearts.  Have we allowed our own lives to creep away from the truth of God’s Word?  Are we guided and shaped more by philosophies and political movements than by the authority of God’s Word? What informs our worldview? Is our faith and practice ruled by God’s Word, or by what is expedient and quickly profitable? 

Do we indulge in what we know to be sinful, all the while justifying ourselves in our own eyes. “I know that I’m forgiven, and that God will continue to forgive, even this sin that I’m about to do.” Beloved, “no one born of God makes a practice of sinning… (1 John 3:9).  We do not continue to sin so that grace may abound. By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?… Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Rom 6:1-12).

As we contend for the faith, let us beware of the creepers; those who would sneak in to twist and corrupt the faith of the church, and those inward creeping passions of the flesh that would draw us away from our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

SDG

David’s Breaking Bad

“…but the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”
(2 Sam 11:27)

In my preparation for this Sunday’s sermon on David and Bathsheba (2 Sam 11), I am developing a thought on how in this infamous story David violated all of the Ten Commandments.  I probably won’t have the time in my sermon this week to give you the full details, so I thought I would lay it out for you here.

Here’s a summary of the story: In 2 Samuel 11, we read that in the springtime, when the kings would lead their armies out to war, David sent out the troops, but stayed at home, reclining on his couch in the cool of the day.  While there, he saw Bathsheba bathing on her roof (a rather suspicious place to put a bath tub), and David sent for her, slept with her, and Bathsheba was pregnant.  Immediately, David sent for Bathsheba’s husband to come home from battle, and tried to get him to spend some “quality time” with his wife.  When Uriah refused because of his loyalty to his fellow soldiers, David sent Uriah back to the front with orders that would get him killed in battle. It is a sordid tale, and extremely shocking coming from someone who, up to this point, has always been described as having a heart for God.

So how did David break all 10 Commandments in this one story?  Let’s look at them in reverse order:

Thou Shall Not Covet – This one is easy to see.  David saw Bathsheba bathing, and he wanted what he saw.  He was not satisfied with all that he already had, with all that God had given.  He saw, he desired, and his desire sprang into action.

Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness – Again, this one is clear.  In order to cover up his first sin with Bathsheba, he brings Uriah home under false pretenses.  David tries to get Uriah to break his own code of honor and sleep with his wife while his fellow men are at war.  When that didn’t work, he made Uriah carry the orders that would lead to his own death.  David didn’t even think twice about using deception and lies to cover his sin.

Thou Shall Not Steal – Hello!  He took his neighbor’s wife!

Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery – That is what took place here.  Today, we have a lot of euphemisms to help soften the blow: an “affair,” a “dalliance,” “living together,” a “fling.”  Let’s be clear. Scripture is quite clear that the gift of sexual expression is reserved for man and woman in marriage (Heb 13:4; 1 Cor 7:1-40), and anything outside of the bond of marriage is called sin, either adultery or fornication.  David committed adultery. There is no two ways around it.

Thou Shall Not Kill – Not only did Uriah die in David’s cover up, so did all the other soldiers who stormed the walls in battle. The blood of Uriah and all the soldiers lost that day was on David’s hands.

Honor thy Father and Mother – Now you may be thinking, this is a stretch, but keep in mind, the fifth commandment deals with our relationships with those in authority over us and those who serve under us.  The Westminster Larger Catechism is fantastic in its teaching here:

“It is required of superiors, according to the power they receive from God… to bless their inferiors… protecting and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body; and, by grace, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God.”

David pretty much botched that one too.

Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep it HolyNow the mother and father thing was a stretch, but this is way out there, we are not told it was a Sabbath day. Patience, I don’t think it’s that big of a leap. Remember, keeping the Sabbath means to set the Sabbath day aside as a day of rest, but that also requires that the rest of the week be spent in fruitful labor.  Where was David in this story? On the roof, resting on his couch.  Where was he supposed to be? Leading the nation of Israel in battle. This whole mess started because David neglected his responsibilities.

Thou Shall Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain – To take God’s name in vain is to make it the name of God meaningless and empty. David was known as God’s anointed, and if this was how God’s anointed was going to act, what does that say of God?

Thou Shall Not Make Any Graven Image – Granted, David did not make a little golden idol to put on his mantle to worship. He didn’t need to. David twisted and contorted the revelation of a holy and just God, a powerful and present God, to be something much more manageable. David’s god that day was a god would couldn’t see, a god who wouldn’t act. Only by forgetting who God really is, only by creating a god of our own choosing, can we go forward boldly into such sin.

Thou Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me – That afternoon, on his roof, that beautiful woman became more to David than the very glory of God Himself. He gave up everything to have her. Is that not worship? Is not adultery, at its heart, an expression of idolatry?

James 2:10 teaches “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” David sinned fantastically, and in one sin, he broke all of God’s commandments.  And he was called a man after God’s own heart.

If we are honest, we must acknowledge that every sin, even our own, is a fantastic and radical rebellion from God’s will. There are, of course, varying degrees of the severity of our sins, but each sin is an affront to the majesty and holiness of God, and the wages of sin is death.

The good news, and there is good news, is that Jesus came to save sinners. This depravity our hearts is not a shock to our Savior, this is why he came. He came to redeem us from captivity to sin, to destroy the power of sin and death in us, to bring the grace and forgiveness of God through His atoning sacrifice.  All those who trust and believe in Christ find forgiveness, and are given His Holy Spirit that we might grow in grace as we walk with the Lord. Remembering the severity of our sins should not drive us to despair. No.  It should drive us to the cross where we find our sins have been forgiven and we are at peace with God.

SDG