Editors Note: Jeremy Sanders continues his article series on Enoch and walking with God. The views of this author are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of his employers.
Principle 2: Walking with God means Preaching God
“But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 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 spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 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 1:10-16).
- An Ungodly World
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
The verse in Genesis gives us a picture of the earth six-hundred years after Enoch left the earth, which seems like a long time to us, but to the antediluvian inhabitants of the world, this was less than one lifetime. Hence, we can safely assume that the time of Enoch was not a time of great spirituality and revival. It was not as bad as the time directly before the flood, but it was certainly close. Indeed, we know it was bad because Enoch preached against the wickedness he saw on the earth. Jude tells us of the types of wickedness confronting Enoch. Eerily, they sound extremely similar to the wickedness we see today. These evil characteristics are clearly laid out, and define what keeps men from walking with God.
It is important to understand the scope of wickedness facing Enoch. Understanding the stratagems of the enemy is important to know how to successfully parry his fiery darts. Because the sinful nature of humanity does not change, the flaws in Enoch’s day were similar to that of Jude’s era, allowing the New Testament writer to use Enoch’s preaching as an example for his own day. We can do the same as we observe these characteristics in our own time.
Lest we believe these characteristics only affect people outside what we define today as the “church” we must remember why Jude is writing the letter. He is writing to warn the church of false teachers seeking to undermine God’s people from inside the church! In a society where so many false teachers claim the phrase “Christian”, it is important to keep this fact in mind as we look at the characteristics of false teachers. False teachers will always possess some or all of these characteristics. As we discuss those mentioned in Jude, it is easy to observe these traits in the false teachers of the modern era. As such, we must take a quick diversion from our current study of the three principles of walking with God to determine the characteristics of the ungodly world.
They Speak Evil of the Truth
“But these speak evil of those things which they know not” (Jude 1:10)
False Christians speak evil of the Gospel. They do so because they do not actually know or understand the Gospel. As Paul tells us in Romans 1:18, these men “hold the truth in unrighteousness;” meaning they deliberately suppress the truth to peddle a false gospel. Christians must always beware of those who do not value Scripture, speak ill of God’s Word, or seek to supplant it with other teachings, be it “science” or the words of man as do atheists and cults.
They have natural understanding, not supernatural understanding
“but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” (Jude 1:10)
The gospel can only be understood to whom God reveals His truth. We see this repeatedly throughout Scripture. In Matthew 13:10-11, we Jesus make this point clearly. “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” The natural man cannot understand the things of God. Indeed, in John 6:44, Jesus says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” while John 6:65 tells us “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” Multiple other verses also support this fact, such as Isaiah 44:18-20, Jeremiah 31:3, Matthew 11:25-27, Matthew 16:17, John 12:37-40, just to name a few. So instead, the false teachers corrupt themselves through their natural knowledge of God. Yes, nature does point to a God and leaves man no excuse, (Romans 1:20), but you cannot know Christ through nature, or through natural ability. One can look to the heavens and see that the universe was designed by a Creator, but he cannot tell from the heavens who that Creator is, or what that Creator demands from His creation. In practical terms, a South American man in 30 A.D. could look at the stars and discern there is a God, but He would not know who that God is, where to look, or a means to travel to Israel to look. His natural understanding points him in the right direction, but in the end, natural revelation cannot provide salvation. Hence man’s continual attempt to create religion. It is an attempt to fill the God sized hole that all men possess. All religions other than true Christianity are false religions, and all are truly the same in that they all replace the divine mercy of God with the ineffective works of man. All are doomed to failure and lead to corruption.
They have gone the way of Cain
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 1:11)
The way of Cain is a further picture of the natural man. We all remember the story in Genesis chapter four. Cain sacrificed the fruit of his labor, while Abel sacrificed a lamb, following the example of God who killed animals to cover the sins of Adam and Eve. Hence, the first recorded attempt by man to appease God through his own works ends in total disaster. Not only does God reject Cain’s sacrifice, but Cain allows his own anger to overflow. The murder of Abel is the result. Enoch was old enough during his childhood to have perhaps known Adam, and thus would have been familiar with the first murder in history. While it is Jude who writes that these false teachers have “gone in the way of Cain” Enoch could have very well used a similar expression. False teaching and the confusion of the gospel always leads to catastrophe, loss, and eventual death.
They ran greedily after the error of Balaam
“and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward” (Jude 1:11)
Here Jude gives us the example of Balaam. Balaam was a prophet of God, whom God’s enemies bribed to pronounce a curse upon God’s people. In exchange for earthly reward, he betrayed God (Numbers 22-24). We see another example of such actions in verse sixteen, where Enoch condemns the world for “walking after their own lusts.” In Balaam’s case, he knew and had at least pretended to serve God. Yet, he allowed his own desires to overcome his devotion to God. Balaam is always described as wicked and is not a saved individual. His example should serve as a stark warning to those trying to straddle the fence in their Christianity, paying lip service to God, but desiring the things of this world. They are like the plants chocked by the thorns in the parable of the sower in Matthew chapter thirteen. They spring up and seem to be good, but then are choked out by the cares of the world.
They murmur and complain
“and perished in the gainsaying of Co-re.” (Jude 1:11)
Another factor facing Enoch was the presence of complainers and murmurer. In verse sixteen, Enoch specifically casts judgment on such individuals. These we continue to see in our day. They mock God and murmur against His sovereignty. As Christians, we often fall into this trap ourselves. The children of Israel were also not immune from such sin. Numbers 16:1-32 describes the sin of Korah (translated Co-re in the NT). They murmured against Moses and against God. False teachers will often attack those who speak God’s truth. We see this today from those who claim those standing on God’s principles are “too harsh” or “unloving” because they speak the truth.
They Feed themselves, not others
“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear:” (Jude 1:12)
Unlike true shepherds who are to feed the flock, these false teachers are only interested in feeding themselves. They take advantage of other’s charity and do not feed others, spiritually or temporally. They are the televangelists, the word of faith, charismatic healing, “prophetic” crowd in modern society. Such men will flatter and cajole to accomplish their ends, which always mean they are enriched while the gullible suffer. Enoch is recorded by Jude to warn against such behavior in verse sixteen. “their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” Such men were no doubt popular in his day just as in our own, for the nature of humanity does not change throughout history.
They lack spiritual Fruit, and are clouds without water
“clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots”
We remember from Matthew chapter seven that we can know someone by their fruits, as good fruit is a sure sign of a redeemed soul, just as no fruit or evil fruit is a sign of an unredeemed soul. Our good fruit (works) are not prerequisites for salvation as we can only be saved by the redemptive work of Christ. However, good fruit ALWAYS accompanies salvation, it is part of our sanctification. Those that are not submitted to Christ ALWAYS lack such fruit. Jude describes false teachers as either lacking spiritual fruit or possesses bad fruit. They are not just dead; they are twice dead. The main tree is dead, withered at the roots because it is not growing in the productive soil of Christ, and the next generation is also dead because the fruit is rotten. In this sense, the tree does not only cause harm during the course of its life, it effectively kills the next generation as well! What a perfect example of the harm of false teaching, which can cause generations of men to reject God. Unlike good fruit, which produces life for future generations, false teachers spread death for generations.
Notice the false teachers are likened to clouds without water. For a farmer seeking rain to water his crops, or a thirsty traveler walking across the desert, nothing is worse than clouds that promise relief, only to disappoint. False teachers promise much, and many expectantly wait for the fruit, but in the end, their victims are left bitterly disillusioned.
They are Unstable
“Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars.” (Jude 1:13)
One aspect of false teaching and secular ideas is that it is unstable. Because such ideas are not firmly rooted in the Scripture, they blow wherever the wind of secular philosophy leads them, or the tide of emotions causes them to drift. Unlike the blessed man rooted in God’s Word (Psalm 1), they lack anything to give them a firm foundation. Notice the terms used to describe such men. “Raging” and “foaming”, apt descriptions indeed for many who reject God.
Like a wandering star, they fly throughout the universe, ever in motion. Such people always have some new “truth” that promises to satisfy, yet is discarded for the latest idea. In the words of Paul, they are, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2nd Timothy 3:7). From such, we are told to turn away. Thankfully, for the discerning Christian, it is easy to spot those who possess such traits because they reveal their inner character the more they are around true Christians. “Foaming out their shame” means their shameful acts will foam and bubble to the surface the longer they toss and rage. It is especially evident in the middle of a storm when the waves toss harder, and the wind blows stronger. When life gets tough, true character is often revealed, especially in those who possess authority.
Their End is Darkness
“to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:13)
Sadly, the end of all who oppose God is eternal darkness, forever separated from God. God is a merciful God, but He is also a just God. He cannot tolerate sin, and all those who have rejected the only substitute for their deserved penalty will suffer eternally. Such is the just and necessary nature of God’s wrath, and why Enoch preached a call of judgment and repentance. Due to the vast wickedness of the world, merely glossed over in the proceeding eight points, to do other than to preach the truth would be a hateful act. As Christians, we must not fear standing for the truth, for by doing so we just might “have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire;” (Jude 1:23)
Enoch Preached Judgment
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all” (Jude 1:14-15)
We have spent a good deal of time describing the wickedness of the world during Enoch’s day, and merely scratched the surface concerning the evil deeds done during that time. How does Enoch respond to these evils? He could have ignored them, pretended they did not exist. He could have partaken in the wickedness. Or, he could do what most modern churches have done when confronted with sin, first ignore, then tacitly permit, then openly affirm. Yet, Enoch chose to take the hard route, to stand firm on God’s principles. He preached judgment.
The thought of judgment is often hard for some to stomach. After all, does not Jesus say not to judge in Matthew chapter seven? Such statements take Christ’s teaching out of context, for he was not saying to never judge, merely that one should not judge hypocritically. If you make a judgment about someone or recognize an action is unbiblical, you must be prepared to face similar or greater judgment if you commit the same offense. Enoch preached a message of judgment, and because he walked with God, he was not hypocritical for doing so.
Enoch preached judgment against the sins besetting his world. As we will see, he was well aware of God’s coming judgment. He may not have been aware of the form of judgment, a worldwide flood destroying all humanity save eight lives, but he was well aware that judgment was coming.
Yet, Enoch also is predicting the final judgment of Christ, when he returns triumphantly from heaven to execute His judgment on the earth. How profound that five thousand years ago, God had already laid His Sovereign plan in place. Indeed, God knew that man would sin and need a Savior before the world was ever formed. The Lord had already decreed the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. 1st Peter 1:19-20 tells us of this supreme act of love, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you”. God foreordained the sacrifice of His beloved Son before he created the World. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:14-16). And even when knowing the heavy price, Jesus still chose to create mankind. And he chose to save believers at that same time. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:3-4). What an utterly selfless, loving Savior, who not only chose to create mankind, but also a means to save us and create us for a holy life!
The final judgment of Christ as described in the book of Revelation, was predated by Enoch’s prophecy by over 2,400 years. Enoch is pronouncing judgment to provide spiritual warning to the people of his era. He is not doing so out of anger, or hatred, but out of love and concern. Might every Christian be so motivated when echoing Enoch’s cry?
Enoch Preached Repentance
“to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15)
Enoch did not just pronounce judgment, he also preached repentance. The world is full of those eager to point out the problems in society. There are many who cast words of doom and gloom. Yet, if that is the concentration, what good are they really? Yes, problems must be identified to be addressed, but if the solution is not provided, or only glossed over, what actually has been accomplished. If Enoch had merely warned of coming judgment but then ended his message, then what would have he accomplished? Thankfully, Enoch also preached repentance.
Repentance: the act of turning from one’s sin and agreeing with God. It is part of reconciliation, one of the four keys to walking with God. And it all starts with recognizing that we are unrighteous in God’s eyes, and are not walking in a godly manner. Enoch hammers home the point that the world is ungodly, totally separated from God. When a single sentence repeats the same word four times, it is usually a good idea to take note of the word. Four times Enoch calls man ungodly. Why does he do so? Is he merely speaking with condescension, filled with pride because he alone walks with God? No, of course not! He does so “to convince.” Man must be persuaded of his sin, and recognize his wickedness in the face of the Almighty. Only then can he truly repent of his sin. Enoch pronounces judgment in order that he might preach repentance. You cannot have the latter without the former.
Many modern “churches” do not preach sin and soften their message because they are afraid to offend. Many modern “preachers” are afraid to preach judgment for fear of losing the crowd. Yet, as we will see in Enoch’s life, we are not to concentrate on the crowd, but on the truth. Without judgment, there is no need for repentance. Without the gift of repentance, there is no need to preach judgment, for if you do not seek to convince, you are merely pronouncing judgment to flatter your own standing before God.
This article will continue next week
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