Coral Reefs, Rainless Clouds, Dead Trees, High Waves, and Wondering Stars: What Fake Christians Do

Do not judge me” has become the ill-conceived moto twenty-first century America. The enlighten soul believes all truth claims can be transcended by culture, necessity, and time. Those who judge others violate the very maxim of contemporary life. While such aversions to judgement protect weary souls from having to listen to Aunt Janice’s underhanded criticisms, the philosophy provides little guidance for those attempting to navigate the twists and turns of life.

The human experience exists because of judgment. One eats vanilla cupcakes instead of chocolate because he judged vanilla cupcake to be more enjoyable. Another chooses her political candidate because the politician affirms policies she deems best. And ultimately the decision to praise or to imprison the young men who pleads with ladies to avoid the abortion clinic resides upon one’s judgment. Humans judge everything and everyone all the time.

Men and women do not struggle with judging their world. They struggle with discerning how to judge their world.

The Christian has no such struggle because the Scriptures claim to be the ultimate authority. Christians separate from non-Christians over the fault line of values. Christians base their judgement upon the Word of God and unbelievers base their values on ideas that camp outside the bounds of Scriptural truth.

To protect the church from unbelievers intent upon its destruction, Christian must stand ready to judge the actions of those within their tribe. Not all who claim Christ have entered the local church by the narrow gate and climbed the hill of Calvary. According to the book of Jude, fake Christians reveal their lack of faith through their teaching, motives, and actions (Jude 11-16).

What do false teachers do? When should we label someone an impostor and call them to repentance? Jude tells his readers that they should contend with those who destroy community, offer false promises, lack spiritual fruit, love evil, and run towards. Judgment.

Coral Reefs

Those who have never known salvation destroy the community of the church. The early church prioritized community. Acts 2:42 reports “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Today’s church should still be marked by community meals. The people of God should love living with each other in meaningful community built around kitchen tables and restaurant booths. Jude labeled these glorious meals of friendship “love feasts.”

But sadly, not all who come to the table come with pure intentions. False Christians come for complaints and boasting.

As men and women sail into the shallow harbors of community hoping to find rest from the waves of life, they crash into hidden corral of complaints. Like the spies in numbers 14, the false teachers transform the love feast into a complaint filled roast. They use the meal as a chance to glory in the short comings their family, their church, and their friends. After the fake Christians finish complaining, they turn to boasting. They share their latest spiritual nugget about money management although it has nothing to do with their fellow church member’s infertility issues. They turn the love feast into a battle for prestige, influence, and friends, praising and assaulting others in their attempt to gain more influence in their church.

And sadly, the fake Christians lack self-awareness. The text says, “They feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves.” They do not know the evilness of their actions. They believe their selfishness, greed, and pride belong in the church because they have done nothing more than “share the truth,” “passed along information,” or “said it like it is.” Yet no one else benefits from their efforts at ‘truth-telling’ except them. The sheep are starved and wander into error, despair, and harm. The false Christians gain weight while the rest of the church burns calories seeking to mend the damage they the have wrought.  False teachers destroy without fear.

Rainless Clouds

They also have no power. Fake Christians promise that their complaints, their greed, their boasting, and their selfishness will lead others to the rains of peace, unity, and spiritual growth. But nothing comes. They encourage others to follow them but they do not know where they are going and they never arrive at success. I remember hearing a pastor who bragged about how he had created a peaceful church through ignoring God’s commands to purify the church. On the surface, the church appeared to be peaceful. The business meetings came and went without a waft of contention. But under the surface, the church was rocked by contention. Unaddressed sin broke down marriages, destroyed families, and forced more than one couple out of the church. The pastor promised that biblical negligence would lead to rains of biblical peace. But the rains never came. The clouds were swept along, leaving the once hopeful Christians hopeless, broken, and discouraged. Instead of finding a harvest of souls, the congregation slowly shrank.

Dead Trees

The false Christians’ advice lacks rain because their lives lack fruit. The false Christians may possess a powerful conversion story but they have nothing else. They cannot talk about how they were freed from racism, greed, or fear over the last year. They are the same racist, greedy, and fearful person today that they were at the moment of their conversion. Christians bear fruit keeping with repentance. They do not have to boast of their conversion or secular accomplishments because they can praise God for having liberated them from yesterday’s pride,  praylessness, and  grumbling. Those who lack fruit prove they lack faith.

Jude notes that fake Christians are twice dead and need to be uprooted. Instead of saving, the gospel hardens the false Christian’s heart, preparing them for destruction. Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23;15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

High Waves

While false Christians lack good works, they excel at evil. Jude describes them as wild waves casting up the foam of their own shame. Instead of hiding their sin, they flaunt it. Husbands attend church with their girlfriends. They boast about mistreating minorities on Facebook. They call up others and regularly flaunt their ability to rip their friends a new one. And, they boast about showing favoritism, inviting Sally and not Johnny to sit next to them at the next church social. They cast their evil before church like a hurricane sending waves crashing onto the shore.

Wondering Stars

Fake Christians destroy love feasts, give empty advice, lack fruit and flaunt evil because they wonder about the heavens apart from God. They are reserved for judgement because they have rejected the gospel and the authority of Jesus. Unhinged from the Scriptures, they float about freely and aimless committing evil deeds.

To illustrate God’s determination to destroy these false Christians, Jude references a prophecy from Enoch which reveals that every ungodly action and word will be punished. Justice will arrive. The vengeance that the hurting and abused have longed for will come to pass. The angels from heaven will come with Jesus to annihilate the false Christians.

If God plans to cast the fake Christians into hell, the church must follow suit. In Matthew 18:18 Jesus tells us that the church should reflect the kingdom of heaven: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Thankfully these warning have come to us to highlight salvation. Christians practice church discipline not to remove men and women who dislike their choices in carpet or sports teams but to gain back brothers and sisters who are walking to destruction. The church best helps the false Christian when she exposes his sin so that he  can see his errors, repent, and join the church as a true brother and sister.

The gospel breaks away from the world at this point. The world believes people live outside the kingdom of change. The drunk will always be a drunk. The greedy will always be greedy. The angry will also be violent. To quote from the Frozen Song “Fixer Upper,”  “We’re not saying you can change her, ’cause people don’t really change.” Yet the gospel presents a different message. People do change. Jesus died on the cross to liberate us from the power of sin and death. We do not have to walk sad fruitless lives. We can go from light to darkness. Jesus came and lived the life of perfection that we were supposed to live and then he died upon the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. And then he rose again showing that all who trust in him will gain access to God and righteousness. If you want to change embrace the saving power of God. Repent and believe.

Caring For Sick Christians: Jude’s Spiritual Triage

doctor blog

The church should stand at the ready to confront sin and error. Jude warned Christians that doctrinal viruses would sweep into local churches, destroying the healthy bodies who host them. To handle spiritual pandemics well, the local church should readily quarantine the fake Christians, flushing out false doctrine. If the wicked refuse to repent, the church should then force them out of the body, following the steps laid out in Matthew 18. But even the best prevention methods can fail. False teachers can infect health believers while the church awaits the surgical processes of church discipline. When the viruses of error begin to infect true believers, the local church must stand at the ready to care for those spiritually ill. Jude writes,

And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (22-23)

Jude calls his readers to rescue three types of Christians, the doubting, the almost destroyed, and the filthy.

When men and women stumble into church exhausted by sin and the unstable messages of culture, they need mercy instead of rebuke. The woman whose homosexual desire that causes her to doubt the convictions of her faith should be meet with softly spoken spiritual truth. The man who questions the humanity of Christ should be welcomed into his pastor’s office. And the teenager who comes to church wrestling with the truthfulness of the Bible should be invited to voice his questions so that he can find biblical answers. The soul who doubts should not be criticized for doubting but shown mercy. Christ continual forgives us when we wonder from the foundations of our faith. Can we refuse to extend to others what God has given to us?

Secondly, we need to be ready to snatch some from the fire. Some brothers and sisters move from questioning the commands of God to leaving the commands of God. When a friend calls to say they will leave their spouse in the morning to pursue their one true love, we should run to their home and plead with them to forsake their sin. When a nephew tells us they have decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery, we should ardently call them back the joy of Christ. And when our college friend tells us they are going to join the Mormon church, we should contend with them, calling them to return to sound doctrine. If we do not warn them, these men and women will ingest sin into their souls and will experience the firers of hell. When we see or hear of brothers or sisters about to step in front of the bus of destruction, we should snatch them from the fires doom.

Lastly, we need to have mercy with fear. Some go behind doubting and preparing for sin. They become infected by sin refusing to follow the quarantine guidelines of truth. We will come across men and women who have welcomed sin into their soul and deemed it to be a sign of grace. To such Christians, we are to show mercy with fear. We are to remind our immoral friends that sexual immorality in all of its forms ends in judgment. When a friend slaps the coexist bumper sticker onto his car and proclaims that all ways road lead to heaven, we are to rebuke him. And when a women proclaims that gossip can cohabit with the gospel, we must clearly denounce her as a fraud. Jude says such people wear stained garments. The expression means, these Christians have stained underwear. To welcome those who have wet the spiritual bed into our churches is to welcome all kinds of worldly filth into the kingdom of God. Instead of embracing their sin, Jude calls us to hate it. We are to unequivocally call those infected by sin to repentance. If they will not repent, we must remove them according to the procedures laid out by Matthew 18. If love filth, our churches will become the filth. We must show mercy with fear.

Spiritual virus will come. Are we ready to care for the sick, rescuing the doubting, snatching others from hell, and confronting those stained by the world? Are you ready?

Fake Doctors, Talking Donkeys, and What Motivates Sinners

donkey

Twenty-five year old, Malachi A. Love-Robinson developed a thriving medical practice in South Florida. After graduating from Arizona State in 2015, he founded the “New Birth Life Medical Care & Urgent Care.” He drove a Jaguar.  All was great, except for one rather noticeable thing. Dr. Love-Robinson was not a doctor. He was an unlicensed eighteen-year-old conman. Lacking a medical license and credible academic credentials,  Malachi  had forged his diploma from Arizona State and had laid claim to the title, “Doctor” when he secured unverified PhD. Instead of dispensing medication, his mom said Love-Robinson needed to be taking his own pills. As the Sheriff’s office that arrested him noted, “Just because you saw a season of Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t mean you could practice medicine.”

Not all who claim to practice medicine should be considered doctors. Not all who claim Christ should be considered Christians. Jude takes up this cause in verse 4 of his book. He reminds us that “certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for the condemnation.” The church has been infiltrated by satanic commando’s intent on destroying God’s people. Not all who claim Christ got into the church through the narrow gate. Not all have climbed the hill of Calvary, repenting of their sins and trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who came, died, and rose again. Some in our midst like doctor Love-Robinson are frauds, practicing a faith they know nothing about. Like the good doctor, these false Christian will also be judged. Jude declares “Woe” to them. Judgement.

To discover who loves Jesus and who does not, Jude encourages us to examine the motives of people’s hearts. When you open up the heart of the unbelieving Christian, we will find three faint images etched into unbeliever’s soul: the images of Cain, Balaam, and Korah. These ancient characters appear in the modern heart because they illustrate the motives of the unredeemed soul: selfishness, greed, and pride. Though cultures have changed, human motives have remained constant with each passing generation. Those who claim Christ without having experience the power of Calvary continue to be motivated by selfishness, greed, and pride.

Cain rose to prominence through the vilest of means, murdering his brother, Abel. Genesis 4:8 reports, “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.” Abel obeyed God and offered the Lord of the universe the “first of his flock.” Cain brought his second best. God rejected Cain’s offering and blessed Abel. Instead of repenting of his selfishness, Cain doubled down upon his sin, destroying his flesh and blood. Cain wanted God and man to submit to his desires.

Fake Christians continue to be motivated by their own desires, viewing God’s commands to be suggestions that can be discarded upon the alter of cultural relevance. They refuse to worship God with all that they have, fencing off their finances, their sexuality, and their personal life from the commands of Scripture. Instead of being convicted by the faithful witness of Christians who love others well and who worship God according to Bible, the false converts become angry. They mock Christians who serve their enemies, who prioritize Sunday morning worship, and who care for the orphans. They label true faith as extremism, irrational, and unnecessary. They despise love and righteousness because they are driven by selfishness of Cain. First John 3:11-12 concludes:

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Those who lack sit in the pew without saving faith express hatred for God and for their fellow man because they are selfish.

After mention Cain, Jude references the mark of Balaam, greed. Balaam first appears in Numbers 22. The evil Moabite king Balak commissions Balaam to curse the nation of Israel. Balaam refuses knowing “They are blessed (Num. 22:12). Balak possessed a forceful personality that would not be easily denied. He sent more messengers and more money to Balaam. The wicked prophet relents from obeying God and goes to curse God’s people. Before he can arrive, an angel forces Balaam and his donkey off the road. As Balaam beats his donkey, the donkey speaks and then the angel appears and delivers God’s message

Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me (Num 22:32b).

Second Peter 2:15 states that Balaam’s “loved gain from wrongdoing.” He perverted the gospel to advance his bank account and his platform.

Instead of giving to the church and the body, false saints misuse God’s resources. They abuse the church budget to go on vacations and to accumulate luxury items. They possess the nice boats, vacation homes, and expensive handbags while the widows and orphans suffer want and their church facilities suffer from a lack of repair. They use the church to grow their platform, having time for every speaking engagement but no time for the hospital room. They feed themselves by devouring the best of God’s flock.

Lastly the false Christian’s heart bears the image of Korah’s pride. Korah rose to prominence by challenging the authority of Moses and Aaron. Numbers 16:3 reports Korah said,

You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord? 

He tells Moses that he is not so great for both men put their pants on one leg at a time. They both belong to God’s people. Consequently, they both should be able to lead.

Korah misses one thing. God had appointed Moses and Aaron. The modern’s pastor’s ability to lead God’s people still comes from God above. God equips men to fulfill the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. If a man fails to live up to God’s standard, clinging to selfishness of Cain, the greed of Balaam, and the pride of Korah, his congregation should remove him from leadership. No pastor resides above the reach of God’s people and above the correction, rebuke, and authority of the Bible.

However, Korah cares about power not the abuse of power. Instead of removing ungodly pastors, Korah seeks to remove God’s leaders and replace them with sinful men. The false saint demands that elders submit to him or her even though his or her character remains spotted by sin and he or she lacks the ability to teach. Those with the heart of Korah claim that their voice should conquer the wisdom of God’s appointed leaders. Every idea they have should be implemented, every cause they have should be taken up, and every suggestion they have about the service should be done.

Moses responds to Korah’s rebellion by challenging him to a divine face off. After a night of worship, Moses Aaron and his followers and Korah and his followers assemble in their respective camps and face each other in front of the tabernacle.  God then descends upon the camp and makes his judgement. Numbers 16:32-35 records,

“And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!”

Woe to those false saints who bear the signs of Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Go will defend his people.

We know Dr Love-Robinson because he rebelled against the laws of this nation and sound medical practice. We know of who Cain, Balaam, and Korah are for they rebelled against God. What will you be known for?