Sunday, November 11, 2012

The dangers of being unpassionate for God

Jude 3-4 3Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Jude's little volume lies near the end of God's Word, urging us as Christians to "contend earnestly for the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3) Yesterday we talked about how to guard your passion for God by mainly contending earnestly for God's Word. 
In today's blog we want to answer two simple questions: What are the dangers in being unpassionate for God? What is the cure for rekindling passion for God? 

Meet a man who was unpassionate for God
Jude 4 tells us why Jude is exhorting his readers to "contend for the faith" - "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness (sensual behavior with no standards) and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."  Jude gives historical biblical incidents and people who in times past illustrate the kinds of persons who were infiltrating the church to which he wrote:

1. The rebellious First Generation of Israelites out of Egypt. Jude 5
2. The rebellious angels who followed Lucifer and became the demons. Jude 6
3. Sodom and Gomorrah, the wicked city in the days of Abraham. Jude 7
4. Cain, the first murderer in history. Jude 11
5. Korah, the rebel who attempted a coup on Moses. Jude 11

Another man is mentioned in Jude 11 by the name of Balaam.  Balaam was a pagan prophet who lived in the days when Israel was near the end of their 40 year period of wandering in the wilderness.  Numbers 22-24 tells the complete account of Balaam's attempts to curse Israel, with each time having him bless the people.  Balaam is mentioned elsewhere in God's word as being the epitamy of immorality and heresy. (2 Peter 2:15 & Revelation 2:14) 
Jude refers to the "way of Balaam" and warns his readers not to go down such a way.  Why is Balaam the picture of a man who is unpassionate for God?

1. He compromised God's word.  Numbers 22:20,38
Balaam was told by God to not go with certain men nor speak a word unless they either asked him to come or unless God gave Him a word.  Balaam in both cases "almost obeyed", meaning that he either stopped short of obeying God (Numbers 22:20) or said words beyond what God told him to say (Numbers 22:38).  Either way Balaam's paganism had him relying more on his drives and the forces of wickedness rather than God. (Numbers 24:1)

2. He was careless and reckless. Numbers 22:34
Despite the unusual circumstances of a talking donkey and the angel of the Lord nearly slaying him, Balaam's "lip-service" repentance was more an act of "being sorry" for getting caught.  2 Peter 2:15-16 tells us - "forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet."

3. He rejected Christ for the wages of sin. Numbers 24:17
Balaam's final attempt to curse Israel was changed by God into a blessing.  What made this final oracle of Balaam unique was in the fact he uttered a prophecy concerning the coming of Messiah through the bloodline of the tribe of Judah. (Numbers 24:17)  Sadly the testimony of scripture bears out that "Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness. (2 Peter 2:15)  Unlike Moses, who "considered the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt", Balaam chose the riches of wickedness over the glimpse of Christ's glorious kingdom. (Hebrews 11:26 and 2 Peter 2:15)  In fact Numbers 24:25 sadly states - "Then Balaam arose and departed". 

In this brief survey of Balaam, the man who was unpassionate for God, we see a predictable pattern: compromise of God's Word leads to carelessness and recklessness.  Carelessness and recklessness, consistently pursued, will lead to spiritual death in an area, or could even be evidence of never having been born again in the first place.  In short, Christ is exchanged for a lesser glory, a destructive fancy and a whim of the flesh. 

Your cure for rekindling passion for God
You and I can avoid Balaam's error by taking into our hearts Jude's prescription for guarding your passion for God.  As we close today, I will just list in outline form what Jude prescribes in terms of guarding your passion for God:

1. Contend for God's words, rather than compromise. Jude 3-5
2. Care about repentance, rather than be careless.  Jude 17-20
3. Cherish Christ, rather than reject Him.  Jude 21-25

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