Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What type of influencer are you? Jude 11

“Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.”

I am not the biggest fan of John Maxwell. Many of you probably do not even know who he is. John Maxwell is a “leadership guru”. Some of his principles I believe are unbiblical in their foundation, others are sounds solid, and some are merely based upon common sense and understanding. But the man does know leadership. For these reasons I quote Mr. Maxwell with caution. In his book on Becoming a Person of Influence, Maxwell comments that, “if your life in any way connects with other people, you are an influencer. Everything you do at home, at church, in your job, or on the ball field has an impact on the lives of other people.”[1] I have heard the statistic before that even the most introverted people are estimated to influence over 10,000 people in their lifetime. We all are influencing others by the way we live our lives, by what we say, what we do, how we act, even by the things that we do not do, we are influencing others. This much is true. We will discover today, three people who influenced others away from God instead of towards Him. These three Jude is comparing to the false teachers of his day. We, along with Jude, are going to ask ourselves, “in what way are we being influenced,” and “what type of influencer am I”?

Jude begins by pronouncing a woe, on these false teachers, these men to whom he is going to liken some of the most infamous sinners in the history of mankind. First, Jude is going to compare them to Cain. At first it might appear that Cain is only guilty of murdering his brother. Jewish tradition, however, takes us further. In what would have been familiar with Jude, rabbinical teaching often taught that Cain was the archetypal sinner and was known for having lead others astray after he was cast out of God’s presence. What is also interesting is many believe that Cain’s fundamental problem was a lack of a true understanding of God. Perhaps he had bought into the heresy that “God will not judge”. In fact one Jewish writing puts these words on the lips of Cain, “There is no judgment, no judge, no world to come; no reward will be given to the righteous, and no destruction for the wicked.”[2] So perhaps it is incorrect doctrine that is what motivated Cain and is what is motivating these false teachers.

Next, Jude turns our attention to Balaam. Balaam is known in the Old Testament (and Jewish tradition) as one of the greediest of all the infamous sinners. You can read about Balaam in Numbers 22-24, 31:16. It might appear that he was obedient but actually Balaam (as our text helps us see) out of greed enticed the Israelites to sin. So, perhaps these false teachers are not only motivated by their heresy but also by their greed.

Lastly, Jude is going to point us to the rebellion that was led by Korah. Korah, along with Dathan and Abiram, led 250 men in rebellion against Moses and Aaron (Number 16). This is perhaps the most “straight-to-the-heart” condemnation against these false teachers. Korah was not only rejecting the authority of Moses and Aaron, he was rejecting the authority of that which they represented; the Law. But it goes even deeper than that—the Law is not merely a book of words, it is the very word and commandment of God. To reject the Law is to reject the Lord who gave it. And this is the fundamental mistake they are making.

All three of these false teachers hold one thing in common because of their sin they were also leading other people into sin. Sadly, we do the same. This would not be an adequately Christian devotion if it did not point us to Jesus Christ. How then does this passage of Scripture point us to Jesus? I see two primary ways it can point us to Christ. First of all, if we are to be real with ourselves we will acknowledge the fact that we are just like Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Our influence is more often than not used to lead people into sin. Whether it is from a misunderstanding of God, greed, selfishness, or a complete rebellion of God’s authority, we all do it. What hope then do we have of not meeting the same fate as these men? Our only hope is in Jesus Christ. He redeems us and rescues us from our sinful influence. Furthermore, Christ even uses our weakness to point others to Himself. Secondly, it is through the power of Christ that we can point others to the fountain of living water and hope—Jesus Himself. Perhaps the most effective witness we will have is by confessing our sinfulness and pointing others to not only their need for a Savior but for ours also.

Ask yourself today:

· In what way am I leading others into rebellion towards God?
· How might I display the grace of God more effectively in my life?
· What areas of my life do I need to confess sin?
· How might I use my influence to point to Jesus instead of away from Him?

[1] Maxwell, John. Dornan, Jim. Becoming a Person of Influence. p3
[2] Quoted from Hendriksen, William commentary on 1, 2 Peter and Jude. Author’s translation taken from http://www.biblecentre.net/

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