Presbyterian Reformed Church of Australia.
Brisbane South Congregation. 8th June 2003.
Sermon Note. Exposing false teachers. Jude 4
Pastor Trevor Marshall


(a) Listen to part of the duty required by the 9th Commandment, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour’, as set out in the Larger Westminster Catechism. ‘The duties of the 9th Commandment are, the preserving and promoting of the truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbour, as well as our own, appearing and standing for the truth, and only for the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever, a charitable esteem of our neighbours, loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name’ (Q 144) Part of the duty is upholding, defending and promoting your neighbor’s good name. Seeking to uphold the spirit of this duty, my grandmother’s generation was taught to apply the following principle, ‘If you have nothing good to say about somebody, say nothing.’ In general terms this principle has merit, but it is misapplied to preachers. Preachers were told, ‘Do not criticize anybody from the pulpit.’ In our day this attitude remains, not as an application of the 9th Commandment, but as an application of Matthew 7:1, ‘Judge not, that you may not be judged.’ Speaking against people who have their theology biblically wrong is generally not tolerated. If you point to errors of others, you are labeled as extremely arrogant. Arrogant because you have the audacity to label the opinion of other as false, and claim your opinion as true. The world places a great deal of pressure on Preachers not to criticize the doctrines, morals or practices of others.

(b) The Preacher who submits to this pressure is acting against the specific command of the Word of God. Listen to Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 4:6, ‘If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.’ What does Paul mean by the phrase these things? It refers to the matters Paul raised in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 where he speaks about exposing the doctrines of demons propagated by seducing spirits through lying hypocrites. The duty Paul calls on Timothy to exercise is described in the NKJV as instruct, in the KJV as to put in remembrance of, in the LITV as having laid down, and the NIV as if you point out these things. The Greek word may be difficult to translate accurately, but the meaning is clear. Noting that the Greek word is used here as a present participle, which means repeated or continuous action, is important. Preachers are commanded to give their people regular counsel and advice on the reality and dangers of false doctrine. Preachers of Christ must teach believers to be discerning by encouraging them to think biblically and separate truth from error. Measuring it against the infallible and inerrant Word of God exposes false teaching. Listen again to what Paul says, If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ. The man who fails in this duty cannot be deemed to be a good minister of Jesus Christ. Exposing false teachers is a biblical injunction. In a faithful church exposing false doctrine forms part of the ministry of the church.

(c) The call to expose false teachers is found throughout the Scriptures. Deuteronomy 13 makes it clear that the responsibility of exposing false teachers belongs to all God’s people. Jesus in Matthew 23:23-33 uses very strong language to warn the people of the falsehood of the Pharisees and Scribes. He called them hypocrites, whitewashed sepulchres, serpents and a brood of vipers. Warnings about false teachers appear throughout the Epistles of Paul, Peter, James, Jude and John. Today most church denominations are umbrella organizations, which tolerate almost every form of false teaching. Why were the Apostles so concerned and dedicated to combating false teaching in the various congregations? This is an extremely important matter, which needs our diligent attention. To answer this question, we will need to consider the source of false teaching. While Jude gives us a description of the condemnation, character, corruption and heresy of false teachers, he does not give us the source from which all false teachings come. Paul gives us the source in 1 Timothy 4:1.

1. Isolating the source from which false doctrine comes.
(a) Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1 says, ‘Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.’ Paul in a very forceful and clear way declares that deceiving spirits and demons are the sinister source behind all false doctrines. Listen to John MacArthur’s comment on this verse, ‘All false religion propagates doctrine energized by seducing spirits. False religion is the playground of demons.’ Paul in his second epistle to the church at Corinth warns them about false apostles, he says, ‘For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.’ 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Satan and his agents are actively promulgating and promoting false teaching to destroy the church from within.

(b) The popular concept of religion is not to draw a distinction between false and true religion, but see different religions as alternative paths or ways to God. The popular view is contrary to the Scriptures. Listen to Leviticus 17:7 condemning sacrifices to idols. ‘They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout generations.’ The same truth is declared in Psalm 106:36-37, ‘They have served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.’ Some believers in Corinth adopted the practice of partaking in the Lord’s Supper and then joining unbelievers in eating food offered to idols. Listen to Paul’s counsel, ‘Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons: you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons.’ 1 Corinthians 10:18-21. Idols may be dead and inanimate objects made out of wood, metal, clay or stone. The Bible makes it clear that those who worship idols worship demons. False religion is not simply an intellectual thing, due to the activity of demons it is a spiritually powerful and forceful. Listen to John MacArthur’s comments on deceiving spirit, “The phrase ‘seducing spirits’ refers to the source of false doctrines-supernatural demonic spirit beings who are fallen angels. ‘Seducing’ is a translation of the Greek term from which we go our word ‘planet’. It conveys the idea of wandering and is applied to those spirits who would lead you to wander from the truth by seducing or deceiving you. Whereas the Holy Spirit guides us into truth (John 16:13), these spirits lead people into error. They are the principalities and powers that the church must wrestle against. ( Ephesians 6:11-12 )

(c) Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1 uses the very unusual phrase, doctrines of demons. The work false teachers are involved in is not benign, as they are promoting the doctrines of demons. The success of false teaching does not depend on clever, erudite and persuasive people, but on the power of demons. Any teaching that contradicts the word of God is ultimately a teaching from demons. The power of the demons holds them in bondage to these false teachings. It is important to grasp that not all demonic teaching looks demonic. Some perversions of Christianity that are false religions are so subtly disguised that you need to look carefully before you see the foundation is not of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone. Many people trifle with satanic doctrines without realizing the source from which the doctrines come. We need to comprehend the fact that false teaching and religions have the spiritual power and force of Satan behind them. Paul reminds the Ephesians of their condition before they were saved, he says, ‘And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience among whom we also once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh; fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as others.’ A person is either set free by the truth that is in the person, work and power of Jesus, or they remain under the dominion of Satan. False religion and false doctrines are chains that bind unbelievers to the prince of darkness. Life on earth is life in a war zone. All mankind is caught up in the war between the Kingdoms of Light and Darkness. You are either a free soldier of the cross or a warrior-slave championing Satan’s cause. There is no neutral zone in the world. The source of all false religion and doctrine is the prince of darkness.

2. Infiltration the selected strategy of false teachers.
(a) How do false teachers come into the church? We find an explanation in Jude 4, ‘For certain men have crept in unnoticed’. The Elders have the task of admitting new members into the congregation. If someone told the Elders, ‘I am a false teacher and want to introduce false doctrine into your congregation.’ not only would they not be accepted into membership, but would be stopped from having any fellowship with the congregation. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 alerts the church to the chameleon characteristic of Satan and his ministers. He says, ‘For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.’ They slip into the congregation misleading and deceiving Elders and members of the congregation as to their true spiritual state. False teaches always come in disguise. Jesus in Matthew 7:15 gave this warning to those who believed in him, ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves’

(b) We also need to be aware that there are many false teachers who have been completely deceived by the Devil, who are not aware of their own error and therefore are very sincere in their belief that they are saying and doing the right thing. Paul tells Timothy, ‘Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.’ (2 Timothy 3:13) They will deny being false teachers and rigorously defend themselves as being true to God. We give heed to the warnings of Scripture and expect false teachers to seek membership among us. In Acts 20:29-30, when Paul says farewell to the Elders from Ephesus he gives them this warning, ‘Therefore take heed to yourselves and the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.’ We must not be surprise if false teachers seek membership in the PRC.

(c) Infiltrating the ranks of the enemy is one of the primary strategies of Satan. False teachers secretly slip into the life of the church. They use stealth and underhanded tactics to weasel their way into the church. Once in the church they seek to win the hearts and minds of the congregation. It is so much easier to deceive those who love you. Exposing false teachers is extremely painful as they work hard at having people in the church love them greatly. Disciplinary action against false teachers usually results in a spilt in the church. This result is applauded in hell as the next strategy of divide and conquer can be implemented.

(d) What does Jude mean when he says of false teachers that they were long ago marked out for condemnation? Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 says, ‘Not everyone who says to me; Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day. ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Jesus declared that false teachers will suffer eternal condemnation. False teachers can be sure that God has not turned a blind eye to their activities. Listen to 2 Peter 2:3 on the matter of God’s judgment, ‘By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.’ The Lord will deal with false teachers and their wicked deeds.

3. Identifying false teachers by their lives and doctrine.
(a) Jude reveals that false teacher will always betray their identity by the sinful conduct of their lives or corrupt doctrine. Their lifestyle and doctrine arise out of their spiritual state, which Jude describes as ungodly. Jude uses the same word in verses 4, 15, & 18 to describe a very wide range of sinful activity. The concept of ungodliness needs to be drawn out the different words used to describe this condition in the Old and New Testaments. There are 4 Hebrew words translated as ungodly, belial means worthless or without value, chasid means to be unkind or impious, avil means perverse, and rasha means wicked or wrong. The Greek word asebeseo means irreverence or lack of respect. False teachers promote religion that has no eternal value, does not seek fellowship with God, has a fascination with perverse things and shows no reverence for God in speech or in conduct. False teachers promote a religion that does not condemn sin or wicked deeds. The word ‘ungodly’ describes a principle of life, or a process of decline into sin, rather than specific actions.

(b) False teachers will always expose themselves by somehow legitimizing sinful activity. Satan is pleased with his ministers if they convince believers that their sinfulness does not really matter. Where false teachers are successful there will be no preaching calling members to confess their sins before God, exercise true repentance and bring forth the fruit that comes from repentance. Church discipline is never pursued and sinners are not rebuked. Silence is maintained concerning the wrath of God, and every idea that Jesus died to appease the wrath of God or to be a propitiation for sin is removed from the teaching on the work of Christ. The dominant doctrine preached is the love of God. Your doctrine of God will greatly influence the way you live. Listen to John MacArthur‘s comments on Liberal Theology, ‘Liberals denied the deity of Christ, the historicity of the Bible, and the uniqueness of the Christian faith. Instead they proclaimed the brotherhood of all humanity under the fatherhood of God-and consequently insisted that God’s only attitude towards humanity is pure love. In fact, the overarching interpretative principle for liberals became the theme of love. If a passage didn’t reflect their definition of divine love, it was disallowed as Scripture.’ The liberal theologian like the false teachers of Jude’s day is forced to call evil good and good evil in order to be consistent. Liberal Theology does not offer and present a different form of Christianity, but a different religion that promotes a God not revealed in the Scriptures. Liberalism has become the dominant theology in almost all-mainstream churches. Liberal churches do not worship the same God or glorify Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. Liberals know nothing of being converted or saving faith in Jesus Christ. To them Jesus is not a Saviour, but simply a good example on which to base your life.

There are two extremely important lessons to be learned from Jude 4,

(i) Test everything you hear from the pulpit against the Word of God. I urge you not to accept what I teach you without confirming it from the Scriptures yourself. You need to keep on verifying all the teaching you receive. If you love the congregation and me show that love by making sure that the Scriptures are never compromised in our teaching, policy or practice.

(ii) Insist that the doctrine of Christian conversion be frequently preached. You may wonder why the doctrine of conversion is so important? It is important because it holds Christ up as the Saviour and emphasizes the need for sinners to be changed. God loves you just the way you are, but too must to leave you the way you are.