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Apostasy in the Last Days (19) Apostates Flatter for Personal Advantage

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” Jude 15.

Jude continues to record the marks of apostates so that they may be recognized when they appear in the church.  The text may be translated, with paraphrase in parentheses, as follows:

“These are murmurers (grumbling against God, v. 15), complainers (finding fault with their lot, v. 11c), leading (their lives) according to their lusts, and their mouth speaks extravagantly arrogant things, admiring persons for profit.”

With these words Jude enlarges on the character of these evil seducers.  They are not only very wicked (v. 15) but very weak in character.  The terms “godly” and “ungodly” do not appear in their vocabulary as the modern world scoffs at and scorns these very expressions.  Men of the world think in terms of their own private kingdom governed by their own will, their own appetites, their own fantasies, which are their only law and legislature.

Murmurers are infected with a near-leprous sin.  Murmuring is the pus of discontent, the scum and slime of impatience.  It flows from an ulcerated mind.  These mental mutterings are the initial smolderings of this evil which flare and reek to high heaven (Jn. 6:61, 64) long before they explode in noisy outbursts of annoyance and dislike.  To murmur is to groan and grumble in complaint under the breath and that, first of all, against God.  Since the Fall, man has been mentally muttering and arguing against God.  Don’t we, even as true Christians, mutter against God a great deal of the time?  When we do, we slip from our faith in the sovereignty of God.  (Murmuring is the beginning of apostasy.)  We become so filled with pride that we cannot endure to hear of God’s absolute sovereignty.  We want to be free to act according to our nature, but can’t stomach it to have God free to act according to His.  But the truth is that there is no reason, except for that expressed in Matthew 11:26, as to why God chooses some and rejects the rest.  However, that (God’s eternal good pleasure) should be good enough for us.  God is not bound to give account of any of His matters.  (Job 33:13).  Besides, “Who are thou, O man, that repliest against God?” (Rom. 9:20).

But man in his pride does not want to hear anything of restraints placed by the Creator upon man the creature.  There is much about God that he can accept, even “love,” but not His right to and exercise of legislative power.  The idea of heaven is acceptable, but not the way to get there.  Over the latter, a lot of murmuring smokes and simmers.  (Ps. 106:24, 25).  It is pride, conceit and self-love which cause murmuring.  We begin to seethe and rage within when the spotlight of praise leaves us half in the dark.  The proud man’s discontent shows because he puts too high a price on himself.  God’s blessings are estimated at a very low rate by him who evaluates himself too highly.

Since murmuring is chiefly a sin of grumbling against God, it is in effect an attempt to dethrone God, to rob Him of all His attributes, to eclipse His sovereignty and clip the wings of His providence.  We make ourselves a party over against God.  This is to step out of the sphere of reality, making God an ethereal, misty abstraction, and man a hot air bag hanging in empty space.  Man a party over against God—it just does not jell with reality!  But in this stance of pride, prayer is displaced in favor of dictating and prescribing to God as though He does not understand what is best for us.

Complainers commit a deistic sin, as though there is no providence; complaint is anti-providence.  It is an unconscious expulsion of God from His own universe.  Complaining implies that we view God as having gone off to abandon His world to leave it in poverty and us in want.  It is a finding fault with one’s lot. (v. 6; Phil. 4:11).  People today complain because all do not equally “share the wealth,” because all are not maintained at the same rate.  They complain of what they regard as the unfair imposition of the universal strait-jacket of the class struggle.  They complain of the Brahmins at the top, the worker/farmer middle class, the serfs at the bottom of the scale, and the Pariahs, the Untouchables below “bottom.”  They complain of what they conceive to be the wrong social structure; capitalists, bourgeoisie and proletariat.  Since levelling is so evidently not God’s providential dispensation, the complaint (against God) is that the “social planners” must equalize humanity.  But isn’t it useless and stupid to complain that some must rule while others serve; that some must be men of high degree and others men of low degree; that one be gifted with wealth, another with skill, a third with strength and wisdom?  If God Himself had no ontological unity and diversity, but were only one in person as well as one in being, He would be solitary, without company or fellowship.  We, too, would famish for human fellowship if all men were of one stamp.  Suppose your present lot is in a low station in life.  There remain until Providence promotes you.  Already you enjoy some improvement.  You live, not on your former paternal allowance but on your current salary, small as it is.  But look forward with hope.  Jacob left home with little more than a walking staff.  On his return he had become “two droves” (Gen. 32:10).  Joseph knew why Benjamin had a larger portion at his table; his brothers did not.  So the Lord knows why He gives to one and not to another.  Shall we not leave that to Him without complaining?

One of the most contemptible of complaints is that made by those who endeavor to change the confessions of the Reformed fathers and the denominational standards which clearly define the teaching of Scripture.  They complain about those who uncompromisingly remain faithful to the theology of the Reformers. (Compare God’s Covenant Faithfulness, G. Hoeksema, Editor)  If they cannot openly advocate revolutionary freedom from what they deem the impediment of church creeds, they agitate for deletion, dilution, and truncation of the articles of the historic orthodox Christian faith.

“…walking after their own lusts.  Libertines in the church are proud of their ecclesiastical connections, yet are not concerned with maintaining a strictly Christian testimony, for like the wicked world abroad, they are proud blasphemers, great carousers, gamblers, self-lovers, money-lovers, pleasure-lovers (II Tim. 3), and lovers of many women (I Kings 11:a).  Like the rest of the world, they live “in the lust of uncleanness” (II Pet. 2:10).  This sinful lust is illicit desire, which, like a leech, is always sucking on something to comfort and fill itself.  It should be understood that the most vigorous direction of the soul is in desire.  Fallen man lovingly and avidly consults the dictates of his desires more than any other faculty of his being.  All his actions and pursuits begin in his desires.  These desires being corrupt do corrupt and sway the other faculties, so that it may be said that all sin is expressed in lust. (I John 2:16, 17).  To walk after their own lusts they must deviate from the precepts of God’s law.  They do so to fulfill their inordinate desires and inclinations to pleasure and personal profit. (Eph. 2:3).  They live in the tyranny of their lusts, “slaving for various lusts and pleasures,” (Titus 3:3, Gk.).  Lust becomes their slave-master which has them goose-stepping in a course and causeway of lusts (Eph. 2:2, 3).  In it they deliberately “make provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14).  They have a handy supply of porn in the form of video cassettes, magazines, photoprints, etc.  They do not flee lust but fondle it.  They do not “put off the old man with his deceitful lusts.” (Eph. 4:22).

“And their mouth speaketh great swelling words.” Out of their ungodly character come ungodly deeds and hard speeches consisting of great swelling words in extravagantly arrogant things.  They boast of their superior knowledge: they have the word of knowledge (I Cor. 12:8, Gk., gnosis).  From this pretense they were called Gnostics.  Tertullian said of them, “They all swell with pride and make ostentation of deeper knowledge; their very women, how conceited they are!”  (Compare Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science; Myrtle Fillmore of Unity; the Fox sisters of Spiritism; Helen Blavatsky and Annie Besant, Theosophy; Ellen G. White, Seventh-Day Adventism; Alma White, Pillar of Fire).  Their mouth speaks extravagantly arrogant things (v. 16, Gk.).  For a sample of apostate arrogance read the pamphlet compiled by Keith Brooks, published by Moody Press, The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error, the section on “Current Religious Movements from the East.”

In great swelling words the modern false ecumenical movement exhorts the Church to keep pace with the progress of mankind, taking the lead toward the realization of the universal brotherhood of man, seeking Christian unity among the followers of the different world religions, showing unbelievers in the world the way out of their ignorance, withal moving to a mutually acceptable one-world religion in a one-world church.

“Having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”  They are extravagantly arrogant in their own self-admiration, yet very cleverly they go on “admiring (other) persons for profit.”  Into their own exclusive self-admiration society they will admit those who will bring them profit.  (Think of Absalom, II Sam. 15:2-5).  So our politicians flatter people, kiss the lowest and basest, entertain the vilest and most offensive for their own profit at the public expense.

Admiration of persons to gain advantage is the sin of anthropolatry, worship of a human being, man or woman (cp. Rev. 13:4; Jer. 44:17, 25).  Blow-hards get blue in the face over matters not very combustible.  Princes of mediocrity praise those of their own persuasion above men of known worth and high integrity.  This extends to adulation of the pope.  But see Job 32:21, 23.  These apostates scheme their way into places of ecclesiastical leadership, wheedle their way into an attractive pulpit, aiming for a position offering a fabulous salary.  So the present apostasy inevitably leads to the future one-world kingdom of Antichrist.