Charles Vaughn - Visiting Worker to Maroota - 2012

Hymn 367 – Hold Fast thy Confidence

Hebrews 2:1, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Jude 3, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” 2 Timothy 3:1, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”

We have three parts of scripture here that have a very common thought and the word earnest is used. Paul wrote to Timothy about perilous times coming in the last days, and I feel we can safely say that we are there. We are living in perilous times, the last days. The letter to the Hebrews and the letter that Jude wrote were written in perilous times, when the Truth of God was under attack. The commandments that Jesus brought and taught and lived were under attack and that is why this admonition was given the way it was, to earnestly take heed to the faith that had begun in their hearts. It is good admonition to give today, since we are living in perilous days, to be earnest with what has been delivered to us and to the words we will hear that pertain to the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy word. Earnestly take heed to the Gospel story. When we are earnest about something, we are focused and intent, not distracted.

It was Jude’s intention to write to them about the common salvation. He wasn’t calling it common but it was the thought that it was common amongst them and they shared it. I don’t know what he really had in mind to write about, but it was his original intention to write about this salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. Maybe the Spirit of God changed his direction, because he said, “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Verse 4, “For there are certain men crept in unawares . . ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul wrote to Timothy about people who were lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers and a whole lot more. 1 Timothy 3:6, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses.” Creeping in is not boldly dashing in, is it? It is just letting oneself in little by little and that is why these things came to be unseen in the fellowship. Men had crept in with wrong doctrine and exerted a wrong influence. There are pervasive influences in the world and as God’s people we need to be careful that they don’t creep in amongst us.

Jude wrote about three different scenarios. Verse 5, “I will therefore put you in remembrance . . how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” Verse 6, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Verse 7, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

I am sure Jude had something in mind in writing these three vastly different scenarios. They are very different backgrounds. Verse 5 speaks of God’s chosen people coming out of Egypt into the Promised Land. Verse 7 is about the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who were not professing. Verse 6 is about another kingdom altogether, the angelic kingdom. So, what did Jude have in mind when he put all these things together? On the surface, they were all disobedient to the will and way of God. That is very clear. But when I thought about it a little more, there was something they all had in common and that is that they were all dwelling in a place that gave them a false sense of security.

Verse 5, Jude reminded them that God’s people came out of the land of Egypt. It is a good thing to be reminded in these meetings about things we already know. It assures our hearts that these things are eternal and still true, and we want to hold fast to them. Galatians 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Paul talked about this more than once and warned them not to be deceived: “Don’t let your faith fail you, don’t fall for it.”

Verse 5, God delivered His people from Egypt with a mighty hand. They had every reason to be totally confident in their place. They would remember the plagues that God dealt on the land of Egypt that left Egypt desolate. There wasn’t much left. They still had their army but God took care of that, too, and every last one of the army of Pharaoh was destroyed in the waters of the Red Sea. Israel would look back and see all those dead bodies washing up on the shore and know that they wouldn’t plague them any more. They had the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day, the very presence of God. So they had every reason to be confident where they were. But somehow, not too far along the journey, unbelief crept in and they began to doubt God’s power to deliver them and God was very upset with His people, after all He had done for them. He was angry and He swore in His wrath that they would not enter into His rest.

Verse 6, Jude talked about the angels who kept not their first estate. The angels were for the express purpose of ministering unto God. I believe they are still at work and that will be their job for all eternity, to be ministering spirits. They were made by God to minister to God and to His children but, even in that secure place where they were, a few exalted themselves. Satan felt he should have the place of God and others believed him and followed him, and they were cast out of heaven. So, even in that seemingly secure place that God had ordained for them, they lost out. The Lord put them out of it all.

Verse 7, we read of Sodom and Gomorrah. We don’t know a lot about these cities, but we have the record in Genesis of Lot separating himself from Abraham and pitching his tent towards Sodom. Genesis 13:11, “Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan . . and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” It seems as if it was about 21 years from the time Lot left Abraham until Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Lot was a righteous man but he chose to be there and that is why there was vexation in his soul. All around him was wickedness. The men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked but the Lord didn’t do anything about it for a while. It could be very easy for people in that situation, when lightning from heaven didn’t come down and strike people, to think it must be alright and that there would be no consequences. So in a sense they had this false sense of security, doing wicked deeds year after year. But the Lord did understand what was taking place.

So, Jude mentioned these three different things as a warning to those he was writing to. I feel it is good for me because, after all, isn’t the Scripture most effective when we apply it to ourselves? I knew about going to meetings early in life and the time came when I yielded my life to the Lord and began to know God’s voice to my heart. Beyond that, the God of heaven spoke my name again and called me further into this ministry. I could rightly say, of all places on the earth, this is the most secure place I could ever be in, the safest place, because I understand it to be the will of God for my life. I feel I stand securely in the place God has called me but is it possible that I could become so easy in my position that I fail to notice influences creeping into my life?

That is what concerned Jude and you can read what they were like. Verse 8, “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” Verse 16, “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words.” This was in the church. How could it be that people in the church were unaware of all these influences? How could it be that these influences were amongst God’s very own people and they were seemingly unaware of it, to the point where they did nothing about it? Is it possible that there could be influences in our very heart that have crept in unawares?

When a lion is hunting its prey, this is how he gets it. The lion creeps and when the prey lifts up its head to survey the surrounding environment, the lion lays low; when the prey begins to feed again the lion creeps a little closer and closer and finally he springs. How did he get so close? By creeping closer and closer. Peter talks about a roaring lion. A lion isn’t roaring when it is hunting. There are two different reasons that a lion roars. One is to claim his own territory. But sometimes another lion comes into a territory that isn’t his and he roars to extend a challenge to the dominant male lion of that territory. He wants to see if he is strong enough to overthrow the dominant male of that territory and he lets his presence be known. Then the dominant male comes out and meets that challenge. Sometimes the sight of the dominant male is enough to scare away the other lion, but sometimes there is a fight. That is what Peter was talking about.

1 Peter 5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” Satan roars like the lion that comes into territory that is not his own. We are God’s, and Satan knows it. We are off limits but he is going to challenge the right that God has on us, and he roars and makes a challenge. What do we do? With the help of God, we can resist. James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We can resist because the One who is in us is stronger than the strong man. Resist, and the one who is challenging us will back off.

Going back to Jude 9, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, 'The Lord rebuke thee.'” We don’t read of Michael contending with the devil, but Jude knew about it. Michael didn’t feel righteous enough to bring a railing accusation on the devil, but he left it for the Lord to do that. It wasn’t Michael’s place.

Verse 8, “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh.” The Lord uses dreams to speak to people. Many times we read about people who had a revelation in a dream, to go forward. It wasn’t contrary to the moving of the Spirit of God as there was always a spirit of unity when it came from God. That is how we know the difference. These people were being moved by dreams and certainly they were not of God. Their actions proved what they were thinking about. We have heard a lot about our thoughts and maybe the greatest part of the battle is with our thoughts. This battle field is an unseen conflict; it is a raging battle and maybe the person sitting next to you or your best friend, or your husband or your wife doesn’t know about this battle that is in your mind. Two raging sides face off and one tries to get the victory over the other. We all struggle with that.

So often, our thoughts hinder us in the secret place, so we fight to put down every thought that exalts itself against God’s power. We are glad we don’t do this on our own, but we have the help of the Lord by the spirit of Christ that is in us. We can fight the fight and get victory in the place where this battle is so often unseen. Jesus did that. The devil came to Him in His thoughts. When we don’t get victory in our mind it becomes readily apparent, doesn’t it? Matthew 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” If we don’t take care of it at the door and if we keep meditating on wrong thoughts, they will get down into our hearts.

If we were to deal with it at the door, it would not be so hard. The Lord enables us to do that and gives us power, but it is a battle to make the heart right again. David had to fight the battle but he won the victory. So, we want to make sure that we don’t have this kind of creeping thing come in amongst us because, before we know it, it will take over our lives. Not only will it influence us, but it will also influence others.

I believe this happened to Judas. The problem with Judas was that he loved money more than he loved the Lord. He did things that the love of God would never have allowed. But this influence overpowered him and got to the strength in him, and really, he was powerless to do anything about it. It can happen to us too, if we don’t take care of it at the door.

Verse 11, “Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." These are all things to do with people in the past who were living according to the desires of their flesh. We certainly want to be careful of that too; this carnal nature of ours can have control if we let it. So often we are dictated to by what we see and hear. We are prone to make decisions and choices and we do really have to make some judgements based on what we see and hear. But these people who had gotten in amongst the church were acting out things based solely on natural input. We are glad that Jesus, our Saviour, was not moved to do that.

Isaiah 42:19, Isaiah prophesied before Jesus came: “Who is blind, but my servant? Or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.” Jesus didn’t make decisions based solely on what He saw and heard. John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” It would have been a totally different outcome if Jesus had judged by what He saw and heard, but mercy rejoiced in His judgement. We need the help of God because it is easy to fall into the trap of making a judgement on what we see. Don’t judge a book by its cover; it may turn out to be totally different to what it seems. Wait on God and have the direction of His Spirit, so the judgement we do make will be right judgement. Weigh the spirits. We want to wait on the Lord and ask Him to help us to understand the truth of the matter so we don’t react as a natural brute beast.

These people really had no stability. Verse 12, “Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds . . raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” Clouds with rain help us and trees are supposed to bear fruit for our good. Stars are supposed to be in their place so that sailors can use them for direction. But Jude said these men were nothing like that. They wouldn’t be a good influence to be associated with. Raging waves stir up the bottom of the sea and make the water murky, and these influences had come in amongst these people.

We heard about Jesus coming to His disciples in experiences when they were troubled, and His desire was that they would know peace. He calmed the storm and there was stillness. Matthew 14:26, the disciples were so afraid and they thought that Jesus was a spirit, but He said, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” God has always had the thought of peace towards His creation. He hasn’t brought us together to whip us, but He wants us to have peace. That is what the Gospel story is all about. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have that kind of influence amongst others we mix with, rather than an unsettling influence? So many things can unsettle our faith.

Verse 17, “But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Listen to the voices of those who brought peace to you in the beginning; don’t forget that. That is worth considering over and over again. Don’t be associated with things that are going to stir up your spirit. We can get really stirred up with politics, can’t we, but the Lord is in control and it will work as He sees fit. Verse 16, “And their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” That is certainly not the testimony of a child of God; it would be associated with murmurers and complainers. After Mary sacrificed the ointment for Jesus, this time it was the disciples who complained and murmured. Judas was the influence and it rubbed off onto the disciples. If we have joy in our hearts, we won’t do that. There is no room for murmuring and complaining if we have gratitude in our hearts.

Verse 19, “These be they that separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” It was a terrible influence. It brings about a separation, even as darkness and light cannot abide together. Either you have the Spirit or you don’t have the Spirit. Jesus wanted unity amongst His followers and prayed, “May they all be one.” It is only made possible because the Spirit of Christ is in us; it wouldn’t be possible otherwise. We can have such sweet fellowship together, and I have been enjoying it to the fullest while in your country.

Verse 21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” You can pull some from the fire, and God can help us to do it.