To the Glory of God (Jude:8-10).

This is a talk by Joe Sturman given at our Nueva Vida Congregation. We will also publish a version at https://nuevavidaconcristo.wordpress.com/ in Spanish shortly:

How do you know if you can trust a church or a church leader? What does the word glory mean? Glory is to describe someone or something as amazing, as worthy of praise and respect and honour.The letter of Jude is all about people who claim to be Christians but actually are not Christians. They say all the right words, but their hearts are far from the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Bible, there are many examples of people who use God as a way of getting power for themselves. It is easy to say the right words and wear the right clothes to look like you are a Christian but really, you are doing it just to get power for yourself. I want to tell you today that the church is not a political party and it will do you great harm if you treat it as such as we are going to find out today.

Our passage is very interesting; it is talking about people who are pretending to be Christians and who have managed to infiltrate the church but in reality, they are not Christians. They pretend to be religious but they twist Jesus’ words to try and explain that they can keep sinning. This is what Jude says about them:

In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.[c] But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels,[d] did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) 10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.

These are strong words! Let’s break this down and think about it verse by verse.

In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.

 Firstly, the passage says that there were people in the church who said they were more important and had more authority than other people because of their dreams. I believe that God can speak through dreams, I believe God has spoken to me through dreams. But simply having a dream or vision does not make you a better Christian or give you more authority than a Christian who hasn’t had a dream or a vision.

What makes us acceptable to God? Is it if we have amazing dreams or see great visions? Is it if we can speak in tongues or prophesy about many things? Is it if we claim to have spiritual power? Does that make us more important in God’s eyes? No! There is only one way that we are made part of God’s family and that is through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. If you are truly sorry of your sins and you believe Jesus Christ has the power to forgive you through his sacrifice on the cross and you ask the Holy Spirit to come and live in your life, the Holy Spirit will enter your life and you are part of God’s family, end of discussion!

In some churches, you will find that there is a hierarchy based on spiritual experiences: people who have dreams and visions and can speak in tongues are considered to be better or more important Christians. The danger is that people begin to believe that because of their spiritual experiences, they are so important they can do what they like because they are so special, God will accept them. No! You are saved only by what Jesus has done, not by the spiritual experiences you have. It is always, only, Jesus.

So I want to warn youif you go to a church and someone says, ‘the Lord has told me in a vision that you should give me all your money’ be careful! God is not a God of confusion and He would never give you a dream that contradicts something that is written in the Bible.

When God does give us dreams and visions, it’s not so we can get what we want, it is always to bring more glory to God. Have you noticed that in the Bible, the dreams and visions that people had were often scary and inconvenient. Think about the dream Joseph, the husband of Mary, had. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and basically said, ‘Joseph, you need to believe that this woman Mary is a virgin and you need to take her as your wife, even though everyone will think badly of you’. That was incredibly inconvenient for Joseph! Everyone would be thinking that Joseph and Mary had been having fun before marriage, it would have brought shame on Joseph. This is in sharp contrast to dreams that people have today where they claim, ‘the Lord told me in a dream that I need to buy this new car’. Dreams and visions happen to bring glory to Jesus, not so you can just get what you want in life. It is always, only, Jesus.

In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings.[c] But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels,[d] did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) 10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.

This next part is slightly strange, it is talking about people who assume that they have spiritual power in and of themselves. Some people think they can take on the forces of darkness by themselves. But even Michael, one of the strongest angels, did not try to act on his own. When he was fighting against Satan, he said, ‘the Lord rebuke you!’. Why did he say this? Because all glory and all power belongs to the Lord.

 

Who here has ever heard someone say something like, ‘I declare blessings and I declare health in my life!’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkJ7uxCVz4k

The name of Jesus is not a magic word which makes all your problems go away. Jesus is not a tool for you to use to get whatever you like. What I find really interesting about this video is that these people post these videos when there is a hurricane about to affect them personally in Florida, but why weren’t they praying when the hurricane was destroying Cuba? And what about all the Christians suffering in China or North Korea every day? Do they post videos praying for them too?? These people are using Jesus to help them out personally, but that doesn’t mean they love the church or love God.

So why do people ‘declare’ things in this manner? Because it makes them look powerful; if people think you have special authority to control the spiritual world, people will be nice to you, they will bring you gifts, they will respect you. And there are many people who pretend to be Christians and pretend to have spiritual authority because they like the respect and social power that it brings them.

 

I want to say it is very dangerous to pretend to have spiritual authority when you don’t have spiritual authority. Who here knows the story of the sons of Sceva? We’re going to read it together.

 

God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. 12 When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.

13 A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this.15 But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.

17 The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. 

Why did God give Paul the ability to perform miracles but not the Sons of Sceva? The important thing is it’s not if you know the name of Jesus, it’s about whether you know Jesus. You see, the point is, we don’t have independent authority, Jesus has the authority and we belong to Jesus.

God may give us the power to do amazing miracles if it will bring glory to Jesus but he will definitely not give us the power to do amazing miracles if we are going to simply boast about it and bring glory to ourselves. The Sons of Sceva were sons of a Jewish priest and were trying to perform miracles to make themselves look important and impressive. But the Sons of Sceva had no relationship with Jesus, they didn’t know Jesus. Since they did not know Jesus, they were not under the protection of Jesus and so the evil spirit battered them.

So what is the difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus? Knowing about Jesus involves knowing facts and dates. Even evil spirits know lots of facts about Jesus! The difference is that evil spirits cannot talk to Jesus whenever they want, they cannot pray to Him, they cannot hear Him speak to them each day through His word, the Bible. Knowing Jesus is a process. In the same way that it takes time to get to know a person, it takes time to get to know Jesus. But it all starts when we come to God and we say, ‘God, I know I am weak. I know I don’t have the power to change myself and I know I have made many errors. I believe you can forgive me because Jesus took the punishment I deserve on the cross. Please clean me, make me part of your family and may the Holy Spirit enter me’. This is the beginning of knowing Jesus. And when we know Him, we are safe from the forces of evil. The name of Jesus is not a magic word you can use; you need to know Jesus for yourself.

When we begin to know Jesus, we begin to love Him more and more and we want Jesus to receive all the glory and not ourselves. That’s why Paul had the ability to perform many miracles but the sons of Sceva didn’t. Paul was performing miracles so that people would give glory to God and come to follow Jesus. The sons of Sceva were trying to perform miracles to bring glory for themselves.

Have you ever thought it is strange that Paul could do all these miracles but that in his life, Paul got ill and Timothy got ill as well and God didn’t always heal them? In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul explains how even though God performed so many amazing miracles through him, he also had suffering to keep him from thinking he had authority for himself:

‘So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.’ (2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 9)

The purpose of miracles is not to simply take away your problems and give you a happy healthy life. This is what the false teachers in Florida believe. The purpose of miracles is to bring glory to God. God is at the centre of the universe, you are not! I believe miracles happen, but I do not believe miracles happen when they are convenient for you. Miracles happen when God will get the glory, when people will want to believe in Jesus. The most important thing in a person’s life is not that they have lots of money, it’s not that they have a comfortable life, it’s not that they have a perfect job, it’s not that they have perfect health. The most important thing in a person’s life is that they know the Lord Jesus personally and give Him glory and everything that God does is to achieve that purpose.

So when we hear people saying, I declare power over spiritual forces, be careful; God has the authority of spiritual forces and we obey God; God doesn’t obey us. That would be stupid. Can you imagine me saying to my dad, ‘Dad, I declare that you shall take me on holiday today because of the authority I have as your son!’ No! That would be silly! Rather than declaring things, remember that even the angels recognise it is God who has the power and He will decide what happens. Our heart’s desire should be to bring glory to God, not to ourselves. So let’s move on to the last part of our passage.

But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.

There are 3 people mentioned here from the Old Testament and we are warned to not be like them. Does anyone know who Cain was or what he did?  Cain was the son of Adam and he did not give God his best, unlike his brother Abel. Abel brought to God the firstfruits of his harvest whereas Cain just brought a sacrifice to God but kept the best for himself. Cain was religious but he didn’t love God in his heart like Abel did and so he became jealous of Abel and killed him. Does anyone know who Balaam was and what he did? Balaam was a prophet who was paid by the king of the Moabites to place a curse on Israel. Balaam tried to use the gift of prophecy that God had given him for his own benefit to gain money. The story is quite funny because Balaam goes to curse Israel but when He goes to prophesy, God will not let Balaam curse them and he ends up blessing them instead! Does anyone know who Korah was and what he did? Korah was an Israelite at the time when the Israelites had left Egypt and were in the desert. He thought that he could lead the Israelites better than Moses and so he formed a rebellion to overthrow Moses and lead the Israelites himself. But God had chosen Moses as the leader of the Israelites and the ground opened and swallowed Korah and his family.

So why does Jude mention these 3 people here? It is a warning to watch out for people who look religious but have no interest in glorifying God, they are only interested in glorifying themselves. They will be jealous of other Christians who seem to be doing better than them, they will try and use the gifts God has given them for their own benefit, they will try and cause divisions and rebellions in churches. Beware of these people and beware of being like this yourself. The focus in church should not be on a leader or on you, Jesus should always be at the centre. It is always, only, Jesus.

Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is the one who can tell the storm to be still and it stops immediately. Before Jesus, the demons have to beg Him not to destroy them. Before Jesus, the demons have to obey Him. When Michael and the devil were arguing over the body of Moses, Jesus is the one who has the power to forgive sins. The devil claimed Moses belonged to him because Moses had sinned. But when Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment for all the sins of the world, past, present and future so that all who believes in Him has escaped the power of Satan. Jesus is the one who reigns forever and ever and I want everything I do to be for His glory. I don’t want to stand here and people to say, ‘wow, what an amazing guy’. Forget me! I don’t want people to come here and say, ‘isn’t it great that Nueva Vida has been here for 3 years’. I want people to come here and say, ‘isn’t God good! Isn’t Jesus great!’ Please, know Jesus. He is the one who has the all the power and deserves all the glory. Don’t be deceived by impressive speakers who call themselves Christians who look for glory for themselves. It is always, only Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what is the difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus? Knowing about Jesus involves knowing facts and dates. Even evil spirits know lots of facts about Jesus! The difference is that evil spirits cannot talk to Jesus whenever they want, they cannot pray to Him, they cannot hear Him speak to them each day through His word, the Bible. Knowing Jesus is a process. In the same way that it takes time to get to know a person, it takes time to get to know Jesus. But it all starts when we come to God and we say, ‘God, I know I am weak. I know I don’t have the power to change myself and I know I have made many errors. I believe you can forgive me because Jesus took the punishment I deserve on the cross. Please clean me, make me part of your family and may the Holy Spirit enter me’. This is the beginning of knowing Jesus. And when we know Him, we are safe from the forces of evil. The name of Jesus is not a magic word you can use; you need to know Jesus for yourself.

 

When we begin to know Jesus, we begin to love Him more and more and we want Jesus to receive all the glory and not ourselves. That’s why Paul had the ability to perform many miracles but the sons of Sceva didn’t. Paul was performing miracles so that people would give glory to God and come to follow Jesus. The sons of Sceva were trying to perform miracles to bring glory for themselves.

 

Have you ever thought it is strange that Paul could do all these miracles but that in his life, Paul got ill and Timothy got ill as well and God didn’t always heal them? In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul explains how even though God performed so many amazing miracles through him, he also had suffering to keep him from thinking he had authority for himself:

 

‘So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.’ (2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 9)

 

The purpose of miracles is not to simply take away your problems and give you a happy healthy life. This is what the false teachers in Florida believe. The purpose of miracles is to bring glory to God. God is at the centre of the universe, you are not! I believe miracles happen, but I do not believe miracles happen when they are convenient for you. Miracles happen when God will get the glory, when people will want to believe in Jesus. The most important thing in a person’s life is not that they have lots of money, it’s not that they have a comfortable life, it’s not that they have a perfect job, it’s not that they have perfect health. The most important thing in a person’s life is that they know the Lord Jesus personally and give Him glory and everything that God does is to achieve that purpose.

 

So when we hear people saying, I declare power over spiritual forces, be careful; God has the authority of spiritual forces and we obey God; God doesn’t obey us. That would be stupid. Can you imagine me saying to my dad, ‘Dad, I declare that you shall take me on holiday today because of the authority I have as your son!’ No! That would be silly! Rather than declaring things, remember that even the angels recognise it is God who has the power and He will decide what happens. Our heart’s desire should be to bring glory to God, not to ourselves. So let’s move on to the last part of our passage.

 

 

But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.

 

There are 3 people mentioned here from the Old Testament and we are warned to not be like them. Does anyone know who Cain was or what he did?  Cain was the son of Adam and he did not give God his best, unlike his brother Abel. Abel brought to God the firstfruits of his harvest whereas Cain just brought a sacrifice to God but kept the best for himself. Cain was religious but he didn’t love God in his heart like Abel did and so he became jealous of Abel and killed him. Does anyone know who Balaam was and what he did? Balaam was a prophet who was paid by the king of the Moabites to place a curse on Israel. Balaam tried to use the gift of prophecy that God had given him for his own benefit to gain money. The story is quite funny because Balaam goes to curse Israel but when He goes to prophesy, God will not let Balaam curse them and he ends up blessing them instead! Does anyone know who Korah was and what he did? Korah was an Israelite at the time when the Israelites had left Egypt and were in the desert. He thought that he could lead the Israelites better than Moses and so he formed a rebellion to overthrow Moses and lead the Israelites himself. But God had chosen Moses as the leader of the Israelites and the ground opened and swallowed Korah and his family.

 

So why does Jude mention these 3 people here? It is a warning to watch out for people who look religious but have no interest in glorifying God, they are only interested in glorifying themselves. They will be jealous of other Christians who seem to be doing better than them, they will try and use the gifts God has given them for their own benefit, they will try and cause divisions and rebellions in churches. Beware of these people and beware of being like this yourself. The focus in church should not be on a leader or on you, Jesus should always be at the centre. It is always, only, Jesus.

Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is the one who can tell the storm to be still and it stops immediately. Before Jesus, the demons have to beg Him not to destroy them. Before Jesus, the demons have to obey Him. When Michael and the devil were arguing over the body of Moses, Jesus is the one who has the power to forgive sins. The devil claimed Moses belonged to him because Moses had sinned. But when Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment for all the sins of the world, past, present and future so that all who believes in Him has escaped the power of Satan. Jesus is the one who reigns forever and ever and I want everything I do to be for His glory. I don’t want to stand here and people to say, ‘wow, what an amazing guy’. Forget me! I don’t want people to come here and say, ‘isn’t it great that Nueva Vida has been here for 3 years’. I want people to come here and say, ‘isn’t God good! Isn’t Jesus great!’ Please, know Jesus. He is the one who has the all the power and deserves all the glory. Don’t be deceived by impressive speakers who call themselves Christians who look for glory for themselves. It is always, only Jesus.

 

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