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

Under the Doctor’s Care

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword”
(Hebrews 4:12)

Today, our three oldest kids had their Tonsils removed.  After a continuous bout of Strep and Tonsillitis, our physician recommended it was time to take the tonsils.  It was a relatively easy experience for the kids, no tears, twenty minutes in the O.R., then popsicles and rest in front of the couch.  Looking at my three year old, you’d never know he had surgery this morning – someone needs to tell him he’s supposed to not feel good.

The whole ordeal got me thinking about how our bodies work.  I had my Appendix removed when I was in 4th grade, my Tonsils out in 5th – all of my unnecessary organs are now gone.  I am sure that at one time these organs served an important function, and some doctors will argue that they still do.  I have read a little research that suggests that the Tonsils may have had more benefit to the body before the more modern viruses and infections we face today emerged.  The appendix, some suggest, helps regulate bacteria in the colon, maintaining good colon health.

The problem with both the tonsils and the appendix is that these organs which were supposed to help fight infections and keep us healthy, can often times become infected themselves and make us even sicker.  It was the first day of 4th grade when I developed appendicitis.  I told my mom I didn’t want to go to school, she thought I was faking (and 99% of the time she was right).  But after throwing up on my brother convinced her I was sick, I stayed home from school, and finally went to the hospital that evening.  My appendix had become so inflamed and infected with harmful bacteria it had to be removed.  The tonsils themselves have tiny pockets called “crypts” which can often harbor bacteria that can develop into infections and cause sore throats (and very bad breath). 

I am sure that the tonsils and appendix have a greater purpose in God’s ultimate design for our bodies.  But as with everything else, even these insignificant organs, designed to keep us healthy, have been corrupted by sin and thwarted from their good purpose.  Meant to fight infection, often they end up harboring infection and causing the sickness to spread.

Do you see this happen in other areas of your life?  God has created a world of pleasures that are meant to bring us joy and lift our eyes to him.  But in our fallen state, our eyes become fixed on the gifts rather than the Giver, and what was meant to bring us joy only end up causing us pain.  We turn the freedom that God has given us in Christ into a license to sin.  We abuse the dominion that God has given us and pollute our environment.  We see the enormous wealth we have and dream of getting more, while others suffer in need.  The gifts we’ve been given so often become a cancer in our relationship with God and with one another.

As my children had to undergo surgery this morning to remove the source of their continued infection, each of us must come under the corrective touch of our heavenly Father, the Great Physician.  Hebrews 4:12 says, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Because our sinful nature goes to the very core of our existence, we require the painful cut of the Physician’s “scalpel” to remove the corruption and infection in our lives.  It is a painful process, being weaned from sin, because it has been a part of us for so long.  But blessing that comes from the cleansing and restoring power of God’s Word in our lives is well worth the cost.

Well, time to take of the pastor’s hat and put the nurse’s hat back on…