We are studying verse by verse through this little book of Jude. This book is a warning to the church against apostates. Jude's aim is to protect the church against those who would destroy it. He introduces the apostates in verse 4:
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, Yeshua the Christ. Jude 1:4 ESV
These "certain people" are the apostates, the defectors from the faith. They're not outside the church, they have crept in unnoticed. And Jude goes on to tell us about them. They are identified in verse 8, "These men." Verse 10, "These men." Verse 11, "They," and then again, "they." And then verse 12, "These men." And then verse 14, "These." Then verse 16, "These." And then all of a sudden, verse 17, "But you..." He will mention these apostates again, but generally from verse 17 on he is encouraging believers. But before we get encouraged, we need to get through this last verse describing these apostates. As we look at the characteristics of these apostates we may want to examine ourselves to make sure that none of these characteristics are found in us:
These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. Jude 1:16 NASB
"These are grumblers"—"these" is again referring to the apostates. Jude calls these men grumblers or murmurers. This is the Greek word goggustes, which is found only here in New Testament and means: "to grumble, to express an indignant complaint." One who makes an audible expression of an unwarranted dissatisfaction. This word is onomatopoeic and is derived from the sound made when murmuring or muttering in a low and indistinct voice with the idea of complaint.
"Finding fault"—this is the Greek word is mempsimoiros, meaning: "quarrelsome, a discontented quarrelsome person." It's a word used by Greeks to describe a kind of person who is perpetually discontent and unsatisfied, one who blames their allotted fate or life on others, and in this case on the Lord.
The word mempsimoiros was used by Lucian to describe a standard Greek character: "You're satisfied by nothing that befalls you; you complain at everything. You don't want what you have got; you long for what you haven't got. In winter you wish it were summer, and in summer that it were winter. You are like the sick folk, hard to please, and one who complains about his lot in life" (Green's quotation from Lucian, Cynic, XVII).
They are described as "fate-blaming grumblers" (BDAG), those who discontentedly complain against God, those who are dissatisfied with their fate.
"Following after their own lusts"—"following" is from the Greek word poreuomai, which means: "to traverse, that is, travel, to journey to walk." They walk after their own lusts. We find that same phrase in 2 Peter 3:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 2 Peter 3:3 NASB
That is the identical word "poreuomai," and this is the identical phrase that we have in Jude. The murmurers and the complainers are walking after their own lusts.
Wuest says these men are "ordering their course of conduct in accordance with their own passionate cravings." Their course of conduct is governed, not by the Word of God, but by "their lusts," their own sinful desires and cravings. There moto would be, "If it feels good, do it."
We see quite the opposite of this in Luke 1:6, which is speaking of Zachariah and Elisabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, and says:
They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. Luke 1:6 NASB
The word walking here is word "poreuomai." They did not walk after their own lusts, but they walked in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. We could also look at Acts 9:31, which says:
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. Acts 9:31 NASB
"Going" is the same word, poreuomai, we see in Jude 16. They were walking, not after their own lust, but after the fear of the Lord. You can tell a lot about a person by their walk. As believers we are called to walk in holiness.
These apostates want to move the bounds of morality, they want to let the homosexual into the pulpit, they want to canonize, and make holy, and sanctify a homosexual relationship and call it a marriage. They want to call fornication love. And it's not just sexual lust, but lust for money, lust for pride, lust for status or business, lust for anything, all of it starts from within.
"They speak arrogantly"—the word, "arrogantly," is a compound noun in the Greek hyperonkos. From huper, a prefixed preposition meaning: "over, beyond, more than." And ogkos meaning: "bulk, weight, boastful, swelling." Therefore, hyperonkos means: "overweight, overswollen, boastful, arrogant, puffed up, over sized." They speak swollen speech about themselves, they puff themselves up. This also has the idea that the apostate communicates ideas that appeal to human pride:
For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 2 Peter 2:18 NASB
Once again, there is the same phrase, the same wording that we have in Jude.
"Flattering people"—the word "flattering" is thaumazo, which is most often translated as: "amazed or marveled." We find this word "admiration," for example, in Matthew 8:
He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" Matthew 8:26-27 NASB
The word, "amazed," here is also thaumazo. Can you picture this? You're in the boat and all of a sudden the storm stops and everything is calm. They saw this tremendous miracle. They saw the power of God right before their very eyes, and they marveled. They are looking at the Lord Yeshua and wonder about Him: "How did He do it? "How could anyone have such power?"
That is the positive use of the word, yet in Jude, we find that there are these ungodly men who have men's persons in admiration; that is, they marvel at men. This refers to desiring to please men rather than God. In other words, these apostates cater to individuals. That is their motivation in life.
One man said, "Flattery has turned more heads than garlic." Isn't that true? It is intoxicating. Benjamin Disraeli, who was a British Conservative politician and writer, who twice served as Prime Minister, said, "Talk to a man about himself, and he will listen to you for hours."
Flattery is telling a person exactly what he wants to hear, they are individuals who adapt their teaching to what others wish to hear. Joel Osten is a flatterer who doesn't mention sin, but simply tells his crowd what they want to hear.
Jude says they do this "for the sake of gaining an advantage"—that word, "advantage," is the word, "profit," as in: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36) They are having men's persons in admiration; that is, they are marveling at men because of advantage, because of some type of profiting. The idea is to show partiality to others in order to glean material benefits from them.
Now at this point in his letter, Jude has described these men in multiple levels of detail. The church is aware of their presence, their nature, their methods, their motivations, and their fate.
If these are characteristics of apostates, should Christians be demonstrating these characteristics? If this is what apostates are like and they are going to be judged, should we be like them? No, we should not. But let's focus on the issue of complaining for a few minutes. Does the Church today have any murmurers and complainers?
This word in our text goggustes, it's used in the Septuagint to describe the murmurings of the Israelites, they gripe against Yahweh, they murmur against the true and living God. In the context of using the rebellious Israelites as an example of what a Christian should not do, Paul wrote:
Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10 NASB
The word grumble here is gogguzo. And to the Philippians Paul wrote:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; Philippians 2:14 NASB
The word grumbling here is goggusmos. So we see that Paul is telling the believers that they are not to grumble and complain like the apostates do.
For the rest of our time this morning I want to focus on the subject of complaining. I have entitled this message, "The Grumblers!" and that has a double reference. Jude 16 is dealing with the apostates in his day, but this certainly applies to the American Church today. Now, the rest of this message probably won't apply to most of you here today, I'm sure that none of you have a problem with complaining, but you probably know some one who needs to hear this.
Complaining seems to have become the great American past time. We live in a very complaining society. People grip about everything. It's interesting that the most indulged society is the most discontent society. The more people have, the more they seem to be discontent with what they have, and the more complaining they seem to do.
A Sociologist speaking on young people's discontent, complaining attitude said this, "The discontentment of today's young people is a product of small families." He said that when you have families of 2 or less children (the average American Family has 1.7 children) in a materialistic society, you breed selfish, self-indulgent children. For example: When you only have one or two children, the child gets up in the morning and the mother asks the child, "What would you like for lunch?" Then she fixes them whatever they want, and as they leave for school, she asks them what they would like for supper. "Okay, I'll fix this for you and that for you." Mom asks, "What time will you be home, when shall I plan dinner?"
If you are raised in a family of four or five or more children, you get up in the morning and you're handed a bag lunch. In a large family someone says, "I don't like this" and the kid next to him says, "Good" and takes it.
The difference is where you have a small family, the system bends to the child. Where you have a larger family, the child bends to the system. "So what you have," he said, "is young people growing up in a society where the system bends to them, and you have child centered parenting. Children grow up controlling the family." What we have in this kind of environment is breeding moody, discontent people who can't be satisfied and are always discontent, a group of complainers.
We have a whole society with a critical mentality, constantly attacking everything, and this critical, complaining attitude has found its way into the Church. The Church is full of complainers.
Few sins are as ugly to God as the sin of complaining. The Church at large does much to feed this thing by continuing to propagate their self-esteem, self-fulfillment garbage that feeds discontentment. There seems to be very little thankfulness or gratitude today among God's people, and very little contentment. How many believers do you know that demonstrate a spirit of contentment? Do you demonstrate a spirit of contentment? Complaining is part of our culture, but it sure isn't anything new. Who was the first complainer? Adam — "the woman that you gave me." Cain complained about God's work in his life (Gen. 4:13-14); Moses complained about God's work in Egypt (Ex. 5:22-23); Aaron and Miriam complained against Moses ( Numb. 12); Elijah complained about Jezebel's threat (1 Kings 19); Jeremiah murmurs against God (Jeremiah 20); Jonah complained about, of all things, God's grace and mercy:
But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Jonah 4:1-2 NASB
It is still a popular past time to complain against God. Remember—all complaining is against God and His providential will for your life. To murmur, to grumble, to complain against God is a sin, and we must see it as such. Romans 9:20 says:
On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Romans 9:20 NASB
To "answer back to God" is to question God.
As I said earlier, this word, goggustes, that Jude uses is used in the Septuagint to describe the murmurings of the children of Israel in their desert journey. Do we, twenty first century Christians living in America, know the dangers of complaining? We obviously don't think too much of it, we all seem to do it. Let's look at the Tanakh and see just what God thinks about murmuring. As we look at these references in the Tanakh, let's remember Malachi 3:16:
"For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. Malachi 3:6 NASB
We now live under the New Covenant, which is radically different than the Old, but God's moral principles have not changed.
The children of Israel had been in bondage to Egypt for over 400 years when Moses led them out of Egypt through the miraculous power of God. They had just seen the hand of God in the plagues against Egypt, but they still didn't trust God:
Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." Exodus 14:12 NASB
The children of Israel had just left the bondage of Egypt carrying with them Egypt's wealth through the mighty working of Yahweh. But as soon as they have problems, they start complaining. Shouldn't it have been clear to them that God was leading them? Despite their griping, complaining attitude, God delivers them through the Red Sea and destroys their enemies. This is grace, they sure didn't deserve to be rescued. Then in Exodus 15 they are singing and praising Yahweh for His mighty deliverance:
When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" Exodus 15:23-24 NASB
Here is the same attitude, they're complaining again, "Where is our water?" They had just seen God destroy the whole Egyptian army, and three days later they're complaining again. God provides for their needs and gives them water.
The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The sons of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the LORD'S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Exodus 16:2-3 NASB
They were slaves in Egypt, and they make it sound like a picnic. They had forgotten how bad their slavery was. Whatever God does, it's not enough; part the Red Sea, provide water, but it's just never enough. God responds to them in:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. Exodus 16:4 NASB
God graciously provides them with manna every day. The manna is a picture of Christ incarnate. Yeshua said, "I am the bread of life." He is the true bread that came down from heaven. This is a physical picture of God's provision. In the midst of their sin, God provides manna for them. Let's go on.
...camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?" But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" Exodus 17:1-3 NASB
They never stopped complaining, and notice that Moses says that they were tempting Yahweh with their complaining. It was Yahweh who was leading them with His presence, and in the pillar of fire, He was ordering their circumstances and their complaining was against Him. This would be funny except for the fact that we see ourselves in them. Aren't we just like them? We see God's work in caring for us, but we soon forget.
In verses 5-6, Yahweh provides water for them. Moses smites the rock, which is a picture of Christ crucified:
He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us, or not?" Exodus 17:5-7 NASB
In the end of verse 7, they ask, "Is Yahweh among us or not?" How could they question His presence with them? After all they had seen: the plagues on Egypt, the Red Sea parting, water in the desert comes out of a rock, manna comes from the sky; and they still questioned God's presence.
Now, from here we need to go to the book of Numbers. But before we do, I want to bring to your attention a very significant change that takes place between what we have just seen and what happens in the book of Numbers. Up to this point, they seemed to get away with all their murmuring, but in Numbers, every time they murmur God judges them — why? What happened between what we have seen in Exodus and what we will see in Numbers? Mount Sinai and the giving of the Law. In what we have seen in Exodus, they had not yet entered into a covenant with God. But from Sinai on we see a different story. After God had given them His Law He disciplined them for the sin of complaining:
Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD and the fire died out. Numbers 11:1-2 NASB
Yahweh's judgement falls upon them for their complaining, and yet they keep on complaining:
The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, "Who will give us meat to eat? "We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna." Numbers 11:4-6 NASB
Because of their complaining, God's judgment falls again!
'You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever leave Egypt?"'" Numbers 11:19-20 NASB
While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague. Numbers 11:33 NASB
You would think that they would learn. Next, the spies return from searching out the promise land have an evil report:
Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Numbers 14:1-2 NASB
It seems like every time they had a trial, they were wishing they were dead. So, God grants them their wish:
"How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. "Say to them, 'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Numbers 14:27-29 NASB
The whole generation from 20 years old and up will die in the wilderness. Why? Complaining! A couple of million people die because of their complaining. In Numbers 16, we see the rebellion of Korah, he doesn't like Moses' leadership:
and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. Numbers 16:32-33 NASB
Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense. Numbers 16:35 NASB
Israel's response to this judgment is fascinating; rather than fear, they murmur:
But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, "You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD'S people." Numbers 16:41 NASB
They are blaming Moses for their judgment. If they thought that Moses did that, they sure shouldn't have murmured against him. Yahweh responds again to their murmuring and sends a plague among them, and Moses said to Aaron, "Intercede for Israel":
He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Numbers 16:48-49 NASB
14,700 people died; think about that! Complaining is a serious sin. They weren't being judged for adultery or Idolatry or murder, all they did was complain.
Now we go to Numbers 21—this is forty years later; a new generation with the same attitude:
Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food." Numbers 21:4-5 NASB
Most of them would not have even remembered Egypt, but they had heard their parents complain so they followed the example of their parents. In verse 6, we see God's response:
The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. Numbers 21:6 NASB
The history of Israel is summed up in:
Then they despised the pleasant land; They did not believe in His word, But grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD. Psalms 106:24-25 NASB
We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 to learn from Israel's history. If you read the whole chapter, you will see it is an overview of all we have just read. But let's look at:
Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:10-11 NASB
All we have just looked at of Israel's history is an example that we too are to learn from. This is how God feels about murmuring and complaining. God controls our circumstances, so all complaints about our circumstances are directed against God. I hope you are beginning to see how serious a sin complaining is.
Complaining is a symptom of a deep seated spiritual problem— a failure to trust God, and a failure to be submissive to His providential provision in your life. God hates murmuring and complaining.
Complaining is a serious sin —we tend to take it very lightly, evidenced by the fact that we do it so often. But God hates complaining. Let me give you three reasons why God hates complaining:
1. Complaining denies or attacks God's Sovereignty.
Moses said, "This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD." Exodus 16:8 NASB
They had just been delivered from Egypt, which was a demonstration of God's Sovereignty. Pharaoh asked, "Who is the God of Israel that I should obey Him?" The ten plagues were his answer. The sovereign God of the universe shows His power. The Israelites leave Egypt wealthy and go through the Red Sea on dry land, and God kills their enemies. Their success in entering the promise land depended on the Sovereignty of God, so when they murmur against Moses and Aaron, they are calling to question God's ability to carry out His will. Was God using Moses? Yes of course!
Every complaint against our circumstances, every grumble about the weather, about the way people treat us, about the daily trials of life, is directed against the One who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). Paul, in Acts 16, is in a Philippian jail—we don't see Paul complaining, but rejoicing. He trusted God's Sovereignty. Complaining is the opposite of rejoicing.
1. Complaining denies or attacks God's Sovereignty.
2. Complaining disrupts Christian unity.
As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land, Numbers 14:36 NASB
The spies started the complaining, and the whole congregation picked it up. This sin is so contagious that it spreads like wildfire. You get one disgruntled complainer and it won't be long before it spreads to many. Whenever a person murmurs, he is finding fault, and when you find fault, you must blame someone (never yourself). When this happens, some will agree with the complainer and some won't and now you have a faction which leads to disunity. When people grumble, pay attention to the pronouns they use, "Why did 'they' do that?" "Who are 'they'?" It's someone other than me. So, it's us and them, and that is disunity.
1. Complaining denies or attacks God's Sovereignty.
2. Complaining disrupts Christian unity.
3. Complaining discredits our Christian testimony.
We talk about God and how much we love Him and how good He is, but we often live like atheists—murmuring and complaining all the time. We fall apart in the midst of trials, and the world says, "Where's their God?" Paul and Silas must have been a tremendous testimony in that Philippian jail. What if they would have been murmuring and complaining and griping about their situation? What if Silas would have said, "Paul, you big shot, you had to show off and cast the demon out of that girl. Now look at the trouble we're in. Why couldn't you just have left that demon possessed girl alone?" And then Paul fired back, "Listen Silas, why didn't you tell them we're Roman citizens, and they wouldn't have beaten us? But, no, you had to keep you're mouth shut." If that had been going on between Paul and Silas do you think the jailor would have asked, "What must I do to be saved?" I doubt it! He probably would have said, "What must I do to stay away from this Christianity thing?" Believers, our testimony is important, very important. God uses our lives to influence others.
In closing, I want to read something to you. When we look at the lives of Paul or Silas, we say, "These were men of God— empowered with miraculous gifts of the Spirit, but can ordinary people live like that?" Can we really live lives of gratitude with out complaining, even in the midst of bad circumstances?
Some 200 years ago, Madame Guyon, who was one of the key advocates of Quietism, was imprisoned from 1695 to 1703 by the Roman Catholic Church, which considered Quietism heretical. She spent nine years in a dungeon, lying far below the surface of the ground, lit only by a candle at meal-times, but wrote a poem I want to read to you. Before I read you her words, think with me for a moment, what would you have to say to God if you had been in a dark dungeon for nine years? What would your attitude be towards God? Here is what she wrote:
"A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air;
Yet in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well please a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.
Nought have I else to do
I sing the whole day long;
And He whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing
But still He bends to hear me sing.
My cage confines me round;
Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart's at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
Ah! It is good to soar
These bolts and bars above.
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose Providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind."
|Continue the Series|