Confronting False Teachings
Have you ever experienced the frustration of someone cutting in front of you while waiting in line? Recently, I found myself in such a situation. A man boldly walked past the line, disregarding everyone’s patience. As he pointed a finger at the entrance guard, he claimed to have a simple question. However, I couldn’t help but notice his lack of consideration for others.
Feeling compelled to address the situation, I calmly informed him that I also had a question but was patiently waiting my turn. Yet, it seemed that he was not concerned about fairness or common courtesy. As I proceeded to the counter, he hurriedly blurted out his question to the guard, leaving me upset and disappointed.
What aggravated me even more was the sight of his t-shirt with the words, “Only Jesus Saves.” How ironic, I thought, that someone wearing a shirt proclaiming faith in Jesus would act in such an inconsiderate manner. In that moment, I couldn’t help but believe that this man truly needed Jesus in his life, especially if he thought it was acceptable to jump ahead in line.
This encounter reminded me of the single chapter in the Book of Jude, which discusses individuals who do more than just cut in line. These individuals intentionally infiltrate the church, causing disruption with their false and dangerous teachings. They may appear and speak like devout believers, but their intentions are to undermine and destroy the very essence of a church.
The true believers must have been upset and angry upon discovering the presence of these deceitful infiltrators. They were faced with the challenge of addressing the situation, but Jude, the author of this book, had specific instructions for them. He wanted them to recognize that there is only one authority that truly matters: the authority of Jesus.
When faced with trouble or opposition, our natural inclination is to solve the problem ourselves. However, there are times when we may overstep our own authority as followers of Christ and find that our efforts yield no lasting resolution. Jude offers a valuable insight by recounting the story of the archangel Michael contending with the devil over the body of Moses.
“Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:8-9 (NASB95).
Even though Michael was a powerful and righteous archangel, he did not rely on his own authority when confronting the devil. Instead, he humbly declared, “The Lord rebuke you!” Michael understood that only God possessed the righteous judgment and ultimate power to intervene in such matters.
This story teaches us that when we face opposition, whether in the physical or spiritual realm, we must remember that it is God who holds the power to bring about true transformation. We must choose our words and actions carefully, even when we believe we are in the right.
In today’s context, many believers often engage in spiritual practices such as “binding Satan” or rebuking various vices in the name of Jesus. While these actions may provide instant gratification, they may not necessarily bring about the desired change. Jude does not provide believers with instructions to bind or rebuke but rather encourages them to confront and expose false teachings and teachers. However, he emphasizes the importance of doing so in a manner that directs attention to the ultimate authority: Jesus.
Reflecting on my own encounter, I realize that I failed to follow Jude’s guidance. My frustration and self-righteousness clouded my judgment, leading me to mock the man’s shirt and question his worthiness of wearing Jesus’s name. I rebuked him, but nothing changed.
This experience has taught me a valuable lesson. When we rely solely on our own authority and words, we may experience temporary satisfaction in correcting others, but the root issue remains unresolved. Jude reminds us that as we confront false teachings and teachers, we must do so with the authority and character of Jesus.
In doing so, we can bring about lasting change, not necessarily in the false teacher themselves, but in those around us who are observing our lives and seeking to see Jesus in our actions.
It is crucial to remember that our words and actions carry weight, especially when confronting falsehoods. Instead of being motivated by self-righteousness or the desire for instant gratification, let us embody the character of Christ and approach these situations with humility, grace, and the authority that comes from Jesus alone.
So, the next time we encounter opposition or false teachings, let us seek to address them with the wisdom and discernment that Jude imparts. Let us rely on the authority of Jesus, speaking the truth in love, and ultimately pointing others to the one who holds all power and authority.
In doing so, we can navigate through the challenges of confronting falsehoods while embodying the transformative love and character of Christ, impacting not only the immediate situation but also those who witness our faithful response.