We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation,
ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the
only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Churchill once said, borrowing from an old African proverb, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” While there is much truth to that proverb, the opposite is also true. “When the enemy is within, the enemies outside can hurt you.” And they can hurt you bad. Often permanently.
This was the situation Jude was warning the church about in his letter, and the same situation we find ourselves today. The enemy has breached our walls and is now inside the camp. What are we to do?
Who Are These Certain Men?
Jude, after calling believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), begins to tell us why it’s so imperative to defend our faith. He says, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 1:4).
There are several words that need further scrutiny.
The first of these is certain. The Greek word is tis and means “a certain one, some person whom one cannot or does not wish to name.”2 In other words, “It’s one of those guys. You know who they are. I don’t even need to call them by name.”
These certain men have crept (pareisdúō) into the church unnoticed, or by stealth. The word means to “enter in craftily, under cover of darkness, like a thief.”3 They, like a terrorist sleeper cell, blend in with the others waiting for a time to attack from the inside, from the unprotected underbelly of the church. They are most sinister.
But who are these guys?
Jude describes them as those “who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4). But we’ll look more into this at a later time.
They are, in effect, pastors void of holiness.
Businessmen, masquerading as pastors, who see the church as their next current startup.
They’re entrepreneurs, building their own product, brand, and empire within the church.
Jesus called them “false prophets”— ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15).
And we don’t seem to care they’re among us, spreading like kudzu.
Bread and Games
We’ve allowed them to take root in the hallowed halls of the church. We’ve let our guard down, chosen not to make waves, and go along with what feels good for a moment. We’ve sat idly by and watched our church become a business where we offer a Sunday product of cotton candy to satisfy the sweet cravings of the carnal and uncommitted. We’ve continually judged our success by how many tickets we sell to our Sunday matinee or how large is the crowd. And we have no problem changing our preaching to make people feel good in their sin and apathy. For us, bigger always means better. But that’s not necessarily true in the kingdom of God.
It’s just like it was in Rome. “Bread and games to satisfy the masses.”
How did they get in unnoticed? Where were the watchmen on the wall?4
Pastors, over the years, sought after success defined by the likes of Rick Warren or Bill Hybels, and now Andy Stanley. They became more concerned with their personal brand than with the gospel of Christ.
And the church bought into this “Bigger Means Better” mantra. “If it works on Wall Street,” we reasoned, “it should work in the church.” We hired, not Spirit-filled pastors and Bible teachers to reveal to us the deeper things of God, but Madison Avenue marketing gurus and visionaries, all promising to take our church to the next level.
But the pastor’s job is not to be a visionary. That’s Jesus’ job. The pastor is to simply implement the vision of the Lord, our Master, as a faithful slave, or doúlos to Him.5 Even if Andy Stanley says going to a small church is “stinking selfish.”6
Now, it seems, we need multiple campuses all watching our hip, relevant, popular pastor live-streamed on video. And we call that community or family? Far from it.
The Need for Watchmen
Remember, the men who’ve entered the church unnoticed, under the cloak of darkness, are defined by Jude as evil men, ungodly men, who long ago were marked out for commendation (Jude 1:4). These are lost, unregenerate men, traitors to the faith, hidden sleeper cells, that have found a home in the church— much like the birds of the air found a home in the branches of the mustard tree (Matt. 13:32).
What are we to do?
Now it gets personal.
We need watchmen on the walls of the church. We need those who will strive to keep the body of Christ as a “glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle” and contend earnestly to keep her “holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).
In practical terms, here are a few examples of what you can do.
If your pastor shows R-rated movie clips to illustrate a biblical principal or uses coarse language to seem relevant to the world, you must confront that carnality. But you must do so with respect for his position as pastor, even if the man is disqualified (Rom. 13:1). If nothing changes, remove yourself and your family from that gathering and let the Lord direct you to another church.
If the gospel and true biblical preaching is replaced with a sweet tasting, feel good message, have a frank discussion with your pastor and, if nothing changes, remove you and your family from that church. Don’t worry about where you will go. The Lord will direct you to a place where you can grow in your faith and understanding of the Scriptures.
And if you church approves of homosexuality, or any sin that is now culturally acceptable, it’s time to find a new church. Now. Immediately. Post haste.
Remember this important warning:
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Or, to put it another way, “Bad company corrupts good character” (NIV).
Don’t let yourself be corrupted by certain men (and you know who they are) who have crept into your church unnoticed, or under the cloak of darkness. Even if these men may be pastors or elders. Point them out. Contend earnestly for the faith. Do all you can with respect and honor. And if nothing changes:
1. The title comes from a quote from the syndicated Pogo comic strip that was created by Walt Kelly (1913-
1973). The strip ran from October 4, 1948, until July 20, 1975.
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1385-1386). Chattanooga,
3. Ibid., 1117.
4. See Ezekiel 33.
5. Zodhiates, p. 483.
7. Spanish for “Goodbye, friends.”