Christians are in a Serious Spiritual Battle
Intro: Well morning SSAC. My name is Pastor Matt and for the next two weeks we are doing a sermon series looking at the book of Jude called “CONTEND FOR THE FAITH.” We are doing this sermon series now – because there are many links between Jude and 2 Peter. But this sermon is going to be slightly long because there are some big issues….
PRAYER: Well its often said that Jude is the least preached book in the New Testament. There are A NUMBER OF REASONS for this – but the big one – is that in verses 14 & 15 Jude quotes a Jewish book called 1 Enoch – that is not in the Bible. Consequently, A) some pastors have then suggested that maybe Jude should not be in the Bible; OR B) they say things like; Jude 1:14-15 is actually a Jewish midrash of Deuteronomy 33:2 AND not really a quote from Enoch 1:9.
Now we need to remember that the book of Revelation says that anyone who adds or subtracts from the Bible – God will add additional plagues in the final judgment. So we do need to be CAREFUL. But I think modern Christians have big problems with Jude because Jude and 1 Enoch both make the spiritual world a little bit too tangible for our modern sensibilities… So let’s look at what Jude says in verses 14-15 – before I go further. This is Jude 1:14-15 (Slide 2). Now to avoid problems some say this is from Deuteronomy 33:2 (Slide 3). Notice, the similarities are pretty minor and the idea that Jude is doing a Jewish midrash on Deuteronomy 33 is actually IMPOSSIBLE. Jude says Enoch (the seventh from Adam) prophesied these words and Jude is writing that as a Holy Spirit inspired writer of the New Testament. So if we accept Jude is part of the New Testament we have to accept Jude is speaking truthfully when he says Enoch the seventh from Adam prophesied these words; not Moses…
So let’s look at what “1 Enoch 1:9” – actually says; (Slide 3). Now immediately you notice – it is almost word for word Jude. So Jude does appear to be quoting a non-biblical book called 1 Enoch.
Now that does not mean the entire book of 1 Enoch is actually Scripture. But Jude is telling us that the words in 1 Enoch 1:9 were prophesied by the historical Enoch (7th generation after Adam) and these particular words are true. Now there is no clear evidence that the Jews ever regarded 1 Enoch as Scripture. But 1 Enoch is a very, very old Jewish book that was HIGHLY REGARDED by Jews and early Christians alike. The oldest copy of 1 Enoch dates to 300BC and was discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran. There is also evidence that the Jewish Essenes of Qumran believed 1 Enoch recorded ACTUAL EVENTS pertaining to the flood. So let me give you a very quick overview of 1 Enoch.
In Genesis 6 – we are told that in the days of Noah “SONS OF GOD” saw that the daughters of men were beautiful. These “SONS OF GOD” then had sexual relations with women – producing offspring called – Nephilim. Now most modern scholars, who tend to downplay the spiritual realm of angels and demons – usually say the sons of God were just human beings. But in the book of Job – “sons of God” refer to angels and Satan (Job.1:6; 2:1). And 1 Enoch specifically says the “sons of God” in the days of Noah – were fallen angels. 1 Enoch says that 200 fallen angels, (led by the angel SEMJAZA), took human wives, who then gave birth to human-angel hybrids. The Bible calls these hybrid creatures Nephilim. 1 Enoch also says these fallen angels taught mankind SECRETS 1) of war, 2) witchcraft, 3) alchemy; 4) the wearing of make-up and 5) the making of drugs and medicine. The book explains that it was because of this demonic influence – that mankind became so evil in the days of Noah. So 1 Enoch then says – God sent the ANGEL URIEL to tell Noah to build the ark and God sent the ANGEL MICHAEL to bind Semjaza and the evil angels in Hades (until the final judgment). Now in the early church many Christians quote 1 Enoch as referring to real events. (Just like 1 & 2 Maccabees speak of real, historical Jewish events, so many regarded 1 Enoch). As we will soon see – Jude also seems to believe that 1 Enoch has some credibility even if it not Scripture…
Point 1: Christians MUST Contend* for God’s Truth
Show: Jude 1-4 (SLIDE 4-6)
Explain: Well Jude was most likely – a half brother of Jesus Christ. When Jude says he is “a brother of James”, it seems we’re all meant to automatically know who James is… But the only two James this significant in the early church were James the apostle who is killed by Herod AND James the half brother of Jesus who became leader of the Jerusalem church. So given James the apostle is already dead, it seems Jude is talking about James – the bishop of Jerusalem. And if James is Jesus’ brother (which we know) – then Jesus must also be Jude’s brother. BUT MOST SCHOLARS believe Jude is being humble because neither he or James recognized Jesus was the Messiah until after his death and resurrection.
So after a fairly normal introduction – Jude tells us (in verse 3) to contend for the faith. This word CONTEND means to fight or wrestle for the faith. Now when the Bible speaks of “THE” faith, it means the essential elements of our Christian faith. Our Christian faith is based on revealed and historic truths – like 1) God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 2) God’s Son became the man Jesus Christ. 3) Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and after three days he rose from the dead. 4) People are now forgiven and saved by God’s grace – when they accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. 5) In the end – Jesus will return to judge the world. Those found believing in Jesus will inherit eternal life, but those who have rejected Jesus will be thrown into the hell. This is just some of the content of the Christian faith.
Now when you start changing any of these fundamental beliefs – you begin to lose true Christianity. THIS IS “THE FAITH” of Christians. And Jude is telling us to contend for true Christianity… Now of course, there are some things in the Christian faith where we can agree to disagree. You know – Pre Mill, Post Mill, A-Mill Tribulation – we need to show some grace. Calvinists versus Arminian – both can be real Christians. We need to know that there are some things where we can disagree.
There are some things that the Bible is simply not clear enough for us to be dogmatic. So as mature, humble Christians we need to know what we MUST CONTEND for and what we can let slide for the sake of Christian unity. This is very, very important.
But in the early church AND largely because of Platonic and Gnostic influences (that I spoke about in 1 & 2 Peter) many fundamental Christian truths were coming under attack. For instance, PLATONISTS (influenced by Greek philosopher Plato) said God can’t have anything to do with the physical world, so Jesus can’t really be God. PLATONISTS also said – the spiritual world and physical world can’t really come together – so they started to deny the resurrection body etc etc. Sadly, these platonic ideas still infect much Christian teaching today. But as the early church faced these attacks – they came up with things like the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed – to say these are the non-negotiables. If you try to change any of these key truths – we are going to fight. And that is what Jude is telling us to do. We must contend for that which is non-negotiable. But why? Why is there a fight at all?
Apply: Well Jude tells the early church they need to do this – because false teachers have slipped into their midst. These people are UNGODLY in the sense they are not serious about worshiping God. They are also turning GOD’S GRACE INTO A LICENSE for immorality. The Platonists used to say A) it doesn’t matter what you do in the flesh because the only thing that matters B) is your spirit. Just be pure in spirit – whatever that means… So all sorts of immorality started creeping into the church. Modern pastors do a similar thing when they A) so emphasise God’s mercy and forgiveness, that B) they ignore God’s holiness. A kind of don’t worry about sin – because everyone sins. THE PROBLEM with this CHEAP GRACE kind of Christianity is that the way people live, ends up denying Jesus. They might still call Jesus their Saviour and Lord, but their lives tell another story.
So Jude tells the early church to contend for A) true Christianity and B)true Christian morality – because false teachers have slipped amongst them. I’d say the same is very true today. The world believes people are basically good and no one is broken – so all sorts of bad teaching and bad behaviour is slipping into the church. Its just natural. But Jude telling us that when Christianity is really being perverted we MUST contend for the faith because God’s glory and man’s salvation is at stake. So…
Point 2: Christians MUST Contend in what is a Great Spiritual Battle
Show: Jud.5-7 (Slide 8-9; READ)
Explain: Well Jude gives us THREE EXAMPLES of the dire consequences that occur when God’s truth is ignored. FIRST, many in Israel whom God saved out of Egypt ended up perishing in the desert. These Jews started out in the midst of God’s people, but they never ended up entering the promised land – because they did not really trust God. The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us – these Jews perished because they hardened their hearts and would not heed God’s Word. So they died in the wilderness…
Now let me jump to the third example in verse 7 – of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Slide 8) Many archaeologists believe the city of Sodom has now been found just north-east of the Dead Sea in Jordan. They’ve found an ancient city – that comes from the right date; in just the right location (according to the Bible) that shows evidence of great burning – around 2000 degrees Celsius. They know the city burnt at around 2000 degrees celsius because everything in the city has been glazed and turned into ceramic like pottery. Scientists are saying that the only sort of thing that could create that sort of heat is a meteor or asteroid strike (which is consistent with the Bibles description of the destruction of Sodom). You want to know more – google it. But Jude says Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of sexual immorality and perversion. But the actual Greek is far more specific and little more 1 Enoch in what it is saying (Slide 9 – literal translation)…
Now verse 7 kind of tells us – Jude is thinking about 1 Enoch when he writes about the angels in verse 6. So let me explain. FIRST, in the original Greek of verse 7 there are TWO SIMILARITIES being drawn. The word similar is used twice. The first similarity is A) that the angels rejection of Gods authority and B) Sodoms rejection of Gods authority, both resulted in Gods’ judgment. But a second similarity is also drawn – A) that the angels in verse 6 and the men in Sodom in verse 7 committed a similar sin. Verse 7 literally says – the men in Sodom lusted after different or other flesh. As we know God created men and women to have sex and procreate. Men were made to desire women and women to desire men. But in Sodom men started to have desire for each other – in a way that was contrary to God’s intention in creation. Consequently, Sodom is destroyed. But in this second similarity we are told Sodom lusted in the same way as (ENTER) “THESE”. Now the word “THESE” is actually in the masculine gender. But the only masculine antecedent in this passage is the angels in verse 6. So what Jude is saying is A) just as the angels lusted after different flesh (human women) so the men in Sodom lusted after different flesh (human men). This is what a literal translation of this verse is saying. THE ANGELS in verse 6 and THE MEN in verse 7 both engage in a similar sexual sin – lusting after things God never intended them to desire…
Now the only place we find any references to angels lusting after women sexually is Genesis 6 and 1 Enoch. And Jude is clearly and undeniably saying that at some point in history angels did have lust and desire that was against their God given nature. And if this is correct (and I can’t see how it is wrong) it immediately blows Plato idea that A)the spiritual and B) the physical world can’t blend – completely out of the water. The spiritual world and the physical world can blend even at the level of biology – producing what were called Nephilim in the Bible and giants in 1 Enoch.
Apply: So Jude is saying is that as Christians CONTEND FOR THE FAITH we are in a spiritual battle where both corrupt angels and corrupt men – are perverting things AGAINST NATURE. This is a big point in 1 Enoch.
Enoch says that the seasons of the year stick with Gods creation ordinances. Summer doesn’t try to be winter. He also says, the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars keep the movements Gods intended for them. They do not chart a new course. But men and angels can lust after things contrary to Gods intention and go against God’s plan – to great destruction. So 1) our desires can be against nature and 2)following those desires always leads to God’s judgment. So while Plato said our physical desires are irrelevant – Jude says “not so.” Desires, not ordained by God or permitted in Scripture will destroy us.
So Jude then goes on – in verse 8 and says (Slide 12-13). The false teachers in Jude’s day – are doing a similar things. They are also 1) lusting for things contrary to nature, 2) they are denying God’s authority and 3) they are beginning to make a mockery of the angelic realm. So Jude reminds us that even the archangel Michael was cautious when he contended with Satan for Moses body. In other words, Michael takes the supernatural element of our contending for the faith seriously. Even Archangel Michael showed a healthy respect for the demonic.
But in Jude’s day, Plato’s thinking was turning angels and demons into what were called DEMIURGES or SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES that were all supposedly benevolent to man (see Timaeus). Plato’s philosophy made people more interested in knowing and worshiping these demiurges than knowing and worshiping God the Creator. It was slanderous and blasphemous. Today, eastern philosophy and the new age movement is doing a similar thing. Everyone wants a spirit guide or an angelic encounter – not God Himself. So Jude is saying be careful. God alone is the Creator, we ultimately answer to Him and elements in the spiritual realm are far more evil than we are being led to believe.
Point 3: Christians MUST Contend for the Faith until God’s Judgement
Show: Jud.11-13 (READ)
Explain: Jude now reminds us that God’s people have always contended with people with evil, unnatural desires. Cain had a desire for blood because he was jealous of Abel’s favour. But this ungodly desire (indulged) led to Gods’ judgment. Balaam had a desire for money and tried to curse Israel – even though he knew it was wrong. Shortly after this he is put to death by the sword when Israel conquered the Midianites (Num.31;8). Finally, Korah a Jewish priest desired the power and leadership God gave to Moses. But when Korah challenged Moses leadership – the earth swallowed him alive (Num.16). Desires that are contrary to God’s will – come in many different forms.
But sinful ungodly desires indulged destroyed the angels; destroyed the people of Sodom; destroyed Cain, destroyed Balaam and even Korah. Sinful desires indulged (under the ideology of Plato & Gnosticism) were also destroying the early church. So in a word that is very PERTINENT for our day, Jude makes it clear that people who encourage us to follow our fleshly, immoral desires are nothing but 1) clouds without rain, 2) trees without fruit, 3) waves going nowhere and 4) wandering stars that you can’t use to navigate life. THE IMPLICATION is that such people and such angels are good for nothing – but judgment in utter darkness.
So Jude finishes this section with the quote from 1 Enoch 1:9 – reminding us that God’s judgement for such people is coming. God alone is the Creator and going against His will DOES NOT produce fruit, it ONLY and ALWAYS reaps judgment. So be careful of man’s deception and angelic deception that leads you to indulge your desires. If Enoch is true – the angels in Noah’s day gave the people knowledge to chase after their fleshly desires – through the arts of war, witchcraft, alchemy; beauty and even health and medicine. But the knowledge and ability to pursue these desires – all still came to naught and simply brought God’s judgment
Apply: Now let me add a few theological words as we finish. First, I would be very wary of turning 1 Enoch into Scripture or treating every word in it as Scripture. But Jude (which is Scripture) does speak of some events in 1 Enoch like they are a record of at least some real events – including God returning with the angels to judge the world and probably fallen angels lusting for women in the days of Noah. But I’d be cautious to go beyond what other parts of the Bible already tell us.
Either way – Jude reminds us that on the last day God is coming in judgment with thousands upon thousands of angels. That’s millions of angels. This means that if Revelation 12 is literal and Satan led astray a third of the angels – there are many evil angels still at work in this world. 1 Enoch (if accurate) only reports 200 angels being bound in Hades. So as we know from the gospels and stories of Legion – many thousands of angels are still roaming the earth trying to pervert God’s ways and pervert people. And right now – the new age movement and eastern religion is encouraging people to invite spirit guides to come into their life and guide them. Recently, a Christian baptized in our church – told me, that a demonic teaching called “Starseeds” has crept into the housing commission towers across the road. This Starseeds teaching says that our bodies are just shells and that we need our star or spirit to come in and kind of impregnate us to become our true selves.
This Christian (who now lives elsewhere) told me she was aware of people in the towers doing this with catastrophic results – leading to suicidal ideation, catatonic states and psychotic episodes that look a lot like demonic possession. This is not the days of the Bible. This is apparently happening in the towers and a Christian lady pleaded with me – to tell people to stay away from the Starseed teaching. So please, stay away from all this new age, demonic nonsense. At best, you will simply end up unsatisfied and at worse you may end up possessed. The Bible tells us this stuff is very real and very destructive…
Thankfully, Jesus is far stronger than anything in the angelic realm and if you renounce demonic activity (that you may have been involved in) and truly seek Jesus’ forgiveness and help I believe deliverance is possible. Although like other sin – I think it is often hard and it often leaves enduring scars. Yet, more and more, in the absence of Christian faith – people are being encouraged to go against nature, go against God’s Word, indulge every fleshly desire and dance with the demonic. We know where this is coming from and we know what often happens next. So let us be careful to stand faithfully and let us contend for the Christian faith, share the gospel and speak warnings to those who will listen because peoples salvation is in jeopardy and God may soon come with His holy angels.