All week long in this series of posts on Jude 1-16, we’ve been reading this ancient letter in which Jude reveals to the Christians that they have ungodly impostors in their church. Are you an impostor? No? Are you sure? Is it possible that there might be some small way you are living an inconsistent life? Do you need to check your heart? Keep reading as Jude will talk about the many ways we can be impostors, some of which we might say aren’t that bad, or that everyone does that.
If you haven’t read the first four parts of this series, you can go back and start here to get caught up on what Jude has said so far about the impostors. He then goes on in verses 14-15 to claim that Enoch prophesied about the ungodly impostors. This is the second quotation in Jude’s letter from a non-biblical source. The first was in verses 9-10, from The Assumption of Moses. Like Moses, Enoch was a biblical character. He is the son of Jared, as we read in Gen. 5:18, and he is a famous character in Genesis for two reasons. One, Enoch is the father of Methuselah, who lived 969 years, the oldest in the list of ancient people. Also, we learn something fascinating about Enoch in Genesis 5:24, and this one is much more important. There the writer of Genesis says that Enoch walked with God, and then he was no more, because God took him away!
What Jude quotes is a non-biblical book called The Book of Enoch. Though it is a non-biblical book, it was held in great respect by early Christians. Obviously Jude was familiar with it, enough to quote it to support his point. His quote from Enoch is a passage about God judging the ungodly. What we have seen, then, throughout verses 4-15, is Jude laying out a devastating case against the ungodly impostors. There should be no cause for question here. They are out of control, and the church needs to address this issue.
But still Jude is not done. After so many illustrations and quotations and analogies, he has a few more very specific issues that the godless impostors are guilty of. Look at the list in verse 16. They are grumblers, faultfinders, following their own evil desires, boasting about themselves, and they flatter others, for their own advantage.
Sound familiar? In nearly every letter we’ve read this summer, we’ve heard about people in the churches who were impostors like this. Because it is repeated so frequently in the letters, we ought to pay attention to it!
So let’s do that. How can contemporary Christians learn from this? Let us check our hearts. So that we are not impostors.
In the last month, I’ve started my devotional time praying David’s prayer in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
When you learn where you have been offensive and sinful, seek forgiveness with those you have wronged. Come to your church family with a humble heart to serve. Be willing to make hard changes in your life, changes that move you in God’s direction. Seek truth. We just studied that last week. Walk in truth. Walk in love. As you interact with each other here and with your family and with your community. Are you grumbling, complaining, being selfish, or gossiping? Ask someone if they see these things in you and be willing to sit with a friend and Jesus and make the hard changes.
Impostors don’t have to stay impostors.
Thus far in Jude verses 1-16 we have heard a fairly harsh message from Jude. He wanted his church to take to heart what he was saying, and we should take it seriously as well. God wants our whole hearts. And out of the outflow of our hearts comes words, attitudes and actions. He wants our whole hearts because he loves us deeply. He desires an abundant life for us. He wants our good. Remember how the letter started: we are called, loved and kept. There is such good for us when we follow his ways. It might not necessarily be easy or comfortable for us, but it will result in so much good, because we will be following the way of Jesus.