Jude 5 / Idolatry (Sermon notes and Audio)

Posted on November 4, 2012

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This is the second in an series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Jude. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the evening of October 28, 2012. The message deals with the widespread and diverse sin of idolatry within the church. This post contains an audio recording of the sermon, plus my sermon notes. Please note that the notes are not a full transcript. To get the entire message, you’ll need to listen to the Audio.

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Jude 5

SERMON NOTES:

Jude 5 / Idolatry

The theme here, ultimately, is God’s judgment.

Jude reached back into Old Testament history and gave three examples of God’s victory over those who had resisted his authority and turned from the truth.

The first example is how God saved Israel out of Egypt, only to have them respond in unbelief, doubting, and rejecting the faith.

An entire generation perished. They could not enter in, because of their unbelief.

The main issue with Israel was idolatry, as well as constant complaining toward God.

Exodus 20:3-5

Things haven’t changed much, and idolatry has entered into the church today. In fact, many false teachers encourage it.

Jude is writing about apostates, and false teachers, but idolatry affects many of the rest of us also.

First, let’s define idolatry.

According to J.C. Ryle:

“Idolatry is a worship in which the honor due to God in Trinity, and to Him only, is given to some of His creatures, or to some invention of His creatures.”

Idolatry can take many forms. It can be blatant, or it can be very subtle, bordering on truthfulness.

A person does not have to formally deny God in order to be an idolater.

In fact, the false teacher would not do that.

The false teacher who promotes idolatry will often invoke the name of God.

2 Timothy 3:5

Sometimes idolatry comes in the form of a cult like following of the pastor.

The true minister of God will always discourage this type of behavior, and point people toward Christ.

Other ways in which idolatry has been introduced into the church are often the subtle forms. They often have some connection to Scripture.

One obvious example is that of Mary in the Catholic Church, but there are much more subtle examples which pervade many of our churches.

Religious icons can easily become an idol. In some cases they are even used to “enhance prayer.”

Many Christians unwittingly idolize the cross.

While the cross is a very meaningful symbol, it was simply a tool that Jesus used to bring about our salvation.

It is Jesus Christ, the author of our salvation, who should be the object and emphasis of our worship.

In many cases, the idol is not set up as a rival to God, but as an aide to worship.

Perhaps idols can be found in some of the things in which we take comfort. Sacred cows which cannot be changed.

  • It may be a certain order of worship.
  • It may be a certain style of music.
  • It may be certain programs.
  • Maybe there is a particular Bible translation, which is the only “truly inspired” translation.

The list goes on and on, but do you see how varied and diverse idolatry really is.

If any of these things are your primary concern, they have become an idol.

To quote J.C. Ryle one more time.

“Let us mark this well. It is high time to dismiss from our minds those loose ideas about idolatry, which are common in this day. We must not think, as many do, that there are only two sorts of idolatry–the spiritual idolatry of the man who loves his wife, or child, or money more than God; and the open, gross idolatry of the man who bows down to an image of wood, or metal, or stone, because he knows no better. We may rest assured that idolatry is a sin which occupies a far wider field than this. It is not merely a thing in pagan lands, that we may hear of and pity at missionary meetings; nor yet is it a thing confined to our own hearts, that we may confess before the mercy-seat upon our knees. It is a pestilence that walks in the Church of the Living Christ to a much greater extent than many suppose. It is an evil that, like the man of sin, “that sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God”

It is something that we need to pray against and guard agains continually.

The point Jude was making is that God judges apostates. Therefore, the false teachers who had crept into the church would also one day be judged. Their seeming success would not last; God would have the last word.

It is not something that we can afford to let take root in our hearts, in our homes, our in our places of worship.

1 corinthians 10:14

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