John MacArthur Oct 16, 2019
Now it’s my responsibility this morning to sort of set things in place around the theme, “Does the Truth Matter?” And, of course, we know it does; but I want us to think about because it is absolutely the most critical question that could be asked and answered. When people sort of ask me to sum up my life and what drives me, what motivates me, and why at this age after all these years I’m not slowing down, I’m not retiring. Because this has been my fiftieth year and eightieth birthday, they keep having celebrations here at the church, and it’s a funeral, but I don’t die. And then I come back for another funeral a month later and I still don’t die, and I keep telling them, “I’m not going to die; I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing all these years”—so thankful for the opportunity to do that.
But to me, life is all about the truth. The truth is the most important thing that exists. It’s the most important reality in the universe. By the truth we are saved from hell. By the truth we are sanctified for the purposes of God. By the truth we are given strength, we are edified, we are comforted, we are encouraged. It all comes out of divine truth, living truth: the person of Christ who dwells within us, and written truth, the Word of God, and they are perfectly in harmony.
So, I live for the truth. Every day of my life is to proclaim the truth, to make the truth known, to make the truth clear, to fight for the truth, to propagate the truth; that’s my life in just summary fashion. So if you ask me, “Does truth matter?” obviously it does. It matters to me more than anything else.
And that question, though, is posed against the backdrop of what I suppose we could say is a post-truth world, a post-truth world. Even in a truth world—going back maybe a few decades—even when truth seemed to matter to people, no one really liked to be lied to, but most people found some lies necessary for their personal fulfillment; that’s just life. There are certain things that you want to lie about; that’s part of being a fallen human being. If you’re a son of Satan, if you’re a child of Satan—Satan’s a killer; Satan’s a liar—you’re going to be known for lying.
And everybody seems to be able to find a measure of comfort with certain lies. That was true in a truth world. In a post-truth world, the lies have now reached epic proportions to the point that you can’t believe anybody who says anything. Whether you’re talking to a kindergartener or a congressman, you can’t believe anything anyone says because truth doesn’t matter anymore. You can go to a university and you can sit in a class and you can have a PhD as a professor, and unless you’re talking about some kind of hard science, an obvious nature fact, natural law, you have no reason to believe that what you’re hearing is actually true because truth isn’t as important to this generation as certain other things, like shifting power.
So we live in a post-truth world. The question is not, “Do we need some lies to sort of cover our weak spots?” Do we need some lies to find some personal satisfaction, personal fulfillment? Are there some things we need to lie about just to kind of get along and advance ourselves? That’s not the question in a post-truth world. The question in a post-truth world is, “Why would we lie, because there’s really nothing to cover, because everything is okay?”
We don’t want to cover our wickedness anymore, we want to live it out. Most perversions now are acceptable. Lies have become more useful, more important, and in more demand than the truth, which then begs the question, “Does truth matter?” It mattered some to the pre-post-truth world, the world where people actually thought there was truth, but it still was convenient to lie. Now it’s really inconvenient to tell the truth. In fact, it’s offensive to tell the truth; and to call someone a liar is the ultimate offense. They need to be allowed to live in their select category of lies, deceit, and untruths.
Now there’s a basic insanity in all of this, of course. In rejecting the reality of truth you have sort of placed yourself in an irrational, rather insane situation because the entire universe operates on fixed truth, absolutely, inflexibly. Fixed truth rules the physical universe. The laws of nature, the laws of science, or better yet, the physical laws of God are inviolable. You can test them. Jump off a building; gravity will work. Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in it; it’ll work anyway.
And we have a world of people who depend on the truth written in the fabric of the created world. Engineers—the truth matters to them. It matters to pilots, and it matters to people sitting in the back of the airplane. It matters to astronauts, who have to go into space and come back based on fixed, inviolable laws. It matters to soldiers who have to plot out life-and-death circumstances in a real world. It matters to chemists. It matters to your pharmacist. It matters to your doctor. It matters to a surgeon. It matters to a judge. We all understand that, that that is basic intelligence, that is rational thinking. That is what has been built into every human mind, according to Romans 2. We have the law of God written in the heart, and part of that law is the rational understanding of cause and effect, based upon fixed laws.
All rational people care about the laws of nature and science; they care greatly about them. They do everything they can to insulate themselves from the harm that violating those laws will bring. But when it comes to the moral and the spiritual part of reality, the world of sinners is eager to split that reality and believe in absolute truth in the physical world, but reject it in the moral/spiritual world. They are secure in that insanity for one primary reason and it is this: The consequences of violating spiritual and moral law are not as immediate as the consequences of violating natural law. You could be a perverted homosexual for thirty years and still be alive; you can’t jump off a ten-story building and be alive any longer than it takes you to hit the ground. Natural law’s consequences are so immediate, so visible, so experiential, so rational, so obvious, that people don’t argue against that; they do everything they can to insulate themselves against the harm that such a violation can bring. That’s why you have seatbelts in your car.
But when it comes to the spiritual realm, there is a kind of insanity that says, “I can do anything I want. I can live any way I want.” And because the consequences are not instantaneous and immediate, although they well could be, because the wages of sin is—what?—death, because God is a God of mercy and God allows sinners to survive and even enjoy common grace, they somehow come to believe that they can continually store up wrath against the day of God’s judgment—as Romans 2 says—and there will be no consequences. Everyone understands and everyone lives—let’s put it this way—under the all-encompassing, all-sovereign authority of natural law. It is sovereign, it is without mercy, and it will bring consequences, mostly immediate, to its violators.
But because people think they can get away with sin and evil behavior and immorality, and they can live with lies and deception, our society is drowning in that. This has become, frankly, for us a comfortable norm. In fact, it’s so normal to violate the moral and spiritual laws of God that our nation is making laws to protect those violations. Moral and spiritual law is violated, starting with children who are being told at the ages of four and five that they may not be a girl when they are a girl, they may not be a boy when they are a boy, and they need to have some transgender treatment, all the way to the unbelievable advocacy of abortion from an entire party in the United States. The real terrorists in America didn’t hit 9/11; the real terrorists in America are people who advocate abortion—they massacre the creation of God continually. The whole society, I think, has sort of arrived at the cynicism of Pilate, who say, “What is truth?” cynically, and then walked away before he had an answer.
The Russian grand chess master by the name of Kasparov made an interesting statement. He said this: “The point of modern propaganda is not only to misinform or push an agenda, it is to exhaust your critical thinking so as to annihilate truth.” This culture is making critical thinking an exhausting battle. They just continually hit us with a barrage of lies and deception with the notion that they can wear out our will to fight; and it works.
It works in the culture for the unregenerate, who are falling into that kind of insanity. It even works in the church as supposed church leaders and pastors cave in to the demands of certain sins in the culture. This post-truth ideology really, really flourishes—and this is an important thing to note—when it is empowered by a group identity. If you have one sort of loose cannon running around like Chicken Little, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling, the sky is falling,” you sort of laugh at Chicken Little. But if Chicken Little has a group identity, if he’s empowered by a whole lot of other people who are saying the same thing and there’s a collection of liars committed to this, they’re empowered.
So you have the LGBTQ community, you have the trans community, you have cults, you have false religions, you have aberrations of all kinds. And the individuals involved in those things are not alone; they are basically empowered because they have teammates. And at that point, they become ensnared in the immoral, deceptive lies, and the web captures them. They are being mutually affirmed by their other teammates, and then they are being even more mutually affirmed as the culture affirms them and the nation makes laws to make sin righteousness, and to make righteousness a violation of law.
You come along or I come along and confront that, and we find it’s impossible to convince them of the dire deception they are in and its terrifying consequences because we’re on the outside. And what do they say to us? “You haven’t lived my life. You haven’t walked in my step. Who are you to tell me what to do.” These groups, as they get stronger and stronger and larger and larger, insulate each other in their lies. And so what they do is they’re through looking for truth; they just manage information. They manage information to reinforce the lies they live in.
Poet Thomas Gray—you remember, I’m sure—he wrote this: “Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise. Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise.” That’s the culture we live in. Ignorance is bliss. If you show up as the one who is wise, you become the fool.
Satisfied with lies and satisfied with deception, this generation is content in their ignorance and cannot possibly imagine judgment is looming over their heads. Ignorance of moral truth is deadly on a temporal level because built into immorality are its own consequences. As Paul said, when you commit sexual sin, you sin against your own body. But ignorance of spiritual truth is even more deadly, because it is deadly not on a temporal level, but on a spiritual level and on an eternal level.
Now the Word of God, biblical truth, is to this generation odious, if not obscene. If you have a culture of lying people, people trapped in deception and those who want to accommodate that deception, basically they are lovers of lies. Divine truth comes to them, and it appears to be narrow—and maybe that’s the best that could be said about it. It appears to them arrogant, intolerant, unloving, judgmental, exclusive, and offering nothing but some kind of bondage.
Plato once attributed to have said this: “No one is more hated than one who speaks the truth.” So in a post-truth world, no one is more hated than those who speak the truth. Jesus said He came to testify to the truth. That’s still our mandate, right? Doesn’t matter what the culture is demanding from us.
I remember when I was doing The Ben Shapiro Show. Did anybody see that, when I did that interview with Ben? He said, “Does it bother you that people are offended by what you say?” And my response was, “No, I live to offend people. That’s the reason I’m there: is to offend people who are living in lies and deception, headed to hell, and don’t know the truth.
The gospel will always be an offense. First Corinthians 1, “It is foolishness to the Gentiles, and it is a stumbling block to the Jews.” The gospel always offends the contented sinner living in deception.
Let’s get a biblical look at this. Turn in your Bible to John 8—you knew I was going to go there sometime, John 8, and I want to deal with a few passages here. John 8. Let’s go to verse 34. You can just feel the flow of this text. He’s speaking, according to verse 31, to the Jews, the leaders of Israel.
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.’” Notice, “Truly, truly.” Here’s the truth, right? Here’s the truth: The real slave is the one who commits sin. He’s the slave of sin.
“Slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” So he’s basically saying to them sin is bondage; forgiveness of sin is freedom.
He says, “I know you’re Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My Word has no place in you.” Again, no one is more hated in a society than someone who speaks the truth, right? So they killed Jesus because He spoke the truth.
“My Word has no place in you. I speak the things which I’ve seen with My Father. What I’m saying comes from My Father in heaven; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” And here we see the distinction between unbelievers and believers.
“They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you’re Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God. This Abraham did not do. You’re not Abraham’s children.’”
He says, rather—this is really potent—verse 42, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He has sent Me. Why do you not understand what I’m saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.”
Why? “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, doesn’t stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” Contrast that with God who is truth: “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his won nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.”
That is as clear as it can get. If you are in the family of Satan, who is a liar, you believe lies. That’s what defines the domain of darkness. Satan was a liar from the beginning, he lied to Eve in the garden, and everything he does is intended to detract from, upset, or deny the truth. So we have to understand that here is the, sort of, pathology of humanity. There are those who know God through Christ who believe the truth, everybody else is susceptible to lies.
Now what is the only hope for someone trapped in lies? What is the only hope? Truth. So do we really understand that? I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of people in, quote-unquote, “evangelicalism” who don’t understand that, because they want to remove the offensive part of truth and find some sentimental approach to Jesus that offends no one in the kingdom of darkness.
I think we have to expect to be hated. We’ve lived for a number of centuries really in America under the, sort of, rubric of a kind of traditional Judeo-Christian morality that has preserved rampant persecution; but it’s escalating pretty fast, pretty fast. And we’re on the outside, and we’re now talking to all these identity groups, these groups of collective sinners who are reinforcing their sin, and we’re speaking to them from the outside the truth of God; and they hate it, they hate it. So I think Christians are going to be increasingly marginalized, increasingly marginalized, if they speak the truth. If they cower and don’t speak the truth, they may escape some earthly curse, but they will not escape divine judgment.
We are the outsiders. We are so far outside that we actually hold to what is called a correspondence view of truth. What is the correspondence view of truth? The truth comports to reality. That’s the correspondence view of truth. You’re looking at me. I’m me; this is a suit, this is a tie, this is a microphone. That’s a correspondence view of reality.
There are new views, non-correspondence views of reality. One of them is called fabulism—fabulism?—or mystical reality, where people have gone so far into lies and deception that they do begin to actually deny what is obvious. I mean, that explains the entire transgender movement. That is insanity. Here we are, the outsiders, speaking to people have a completely distinct view of truth in the moral and spiritual realm, and who are fast approaching even a kind of mystical reality, a kind of fabulism that lets them redefine physical reality as something other than that. That’s not new, that’s Will James, other philosophers.
We say, “Truth conforms to reality. Truth is reality, and we’re just telling you reality.” Reality in the physical world, you’re more prone to believe. There’s reality in the spiritual realm. How do we know that? Because it’s revealed on the pages of Scripture from the Author and the Creator.
Now what happens to a culture when they abandon truth? Let’s look at Romans 1. This passage, you have to find yourself going back to quite frequently if you’re trying to understand culture, the world in which we live.
So let’s look at verse 18, Romans 1: “For the wrath of God,”—you notice that—“the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men”—and here specifically—“who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Underline that, that’s critical. The only reason people suppress the truth is because it speaks to their unrighteousness. It’s not rational to suppress spiritual truth. It’s not rational to suppress moral truth. But truth, moral truth, truth, spiritual truth, attacks their sin, exposes their categorical deception. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness. They’re not motivated by reason, they’re motivated by love for sin.
So what happens to who suppress the truth in unrighteousness? Well, first of all, in verse 19 he says, “That this is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
Rationality is built into human existence. Every human being is, to some degree, a rational being: that’s why he knows he needs to eat, that’s why he knows he needs to protect himself, that’s why he knows that when he’s ill he needs to find a doctor, when he’s wounded he needs to have something to repair the wound. He understands the cause and effect realities of the world, he understands. And if he understands cause and effect, that’s reason. Reason works on cause and effect: do this, this is the effect; do this, this is the effect. Reason is simply a chain of cause and effect reality.
And if that’s how everything around you works and you keep following the cause back, you’re going to end up with a question, “Who’s the ultimate cause?” So rationality leads you back to an ultimate cause. It is not rational to say nobody times nothing equals everything. That is irrational. That is a form of insanity to say the entire universe came out of nothing by accident—folly of the rankest kind.
Von Neumann, the German engineer, imagined a perfect machine. Perfect machine would be self-propelling, self-repairing, and self-reproducting. That is to say, it would have within itself the capacity to energize its function: it could fix itself and it could reproduce itself again and again and again and again. And, of course, he said that would be a perfect machine; but such a machine is impossible to make. Turns out what he was describing was every living cell in the universe. The complexity of human life so staggering that only a fool would say nobody times nothing equals everything.
Genesis begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That sounds like such a basic, benign statement. It was around 1901 when studying classifications, scientists came up with the idea that everything that exists in the universe can be fit into five categories: time, force, action, space, and matter. This was hailed as a scientific breakthrough. Everything could fit into those categories: time, force, action, space, and matter. Guess what? Genesis 1:1. Time, “In the beginning,” “God,” force, “created,” action, “the heavens,” space, “and the earth,” matter.
Only folly says that all of this is some great accident. So reason takes you back to God. Personality takes you back to a God who is a personality. Relationships take you back to God who is relational. All of these are the reflection of God. So man, in suppressing the truth, winds up not only suppressing the revelation that God has written, but suppressing the very revelation that’s written in His own reason.
Verse 21: “Even though they knew God,”—historically speaking, it’s impossible not to come to an ultimate cause; you have to go against what is obvious and true—“they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became empty in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man, birds, four-footed animals, and crawling creatures.” Do you know why? You know why they turned from the true God historically through all of human history to bugs and animals? Because they don’t have any moral requirements. So you’re trying to get rid of God because you want to get rid of the Lawgiver, because you don’t like the notion that His law speaks against your unrighteousness.
All of these efforts to legalize sin are simply collective groups of people trapped in lies and deception, trying to make their sin normal; and in so doing, suppressing the truth of God that is both in them, built into their reasoning faculties, further revealed, of course, in Scripture to our culture so that they can live in sin freely. “They say they’re wise.” You can get a Ph.D. in this kind of folly, but you’re still a fool. “So they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.” They make their own gods so that they can make their own gods into their own image, and those gods don’t require something of them that violates their principles.
And by the way, this, perhaps, needs to be explained a little bit further. The wrath of God: there’s all kinds of ways to look at that. There is God’s eternal wrath; that’s hell—right?—forever. There’s God’s eschatological wrath; that’s the wrath of God unleashed on the world at the return of Jesus Christ and all the preliminary judgments described in Revelation chapters 6 through 19. There is—I guess what you’d call sowing and reaping wrath; whatever you sow, you reap. There’s consequential wrath; you behave in a certain way and there’s built into that kind of behavior consequences. There is cataclysmic wrath. We had a fire on Friday, some people died. There’s tidal waves sometimes, and people die. There’s hurricanes, and people die. There are cataclysmic expressions of divine wrath as well.
This is not that. This is not eternal wrath, eschatological wrath, sowing and reaping wrath. This is not, sort of, cataclysmic wrath. This is the wrath of abandonment. How do I know that? Look at verse 24. Here’s the explanation of the wrath: “Therefore God gave them over.” Look at verse 26: “Therefore God gave them over.” Look at verse 28: “And just as they didn’t see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over.” That is this kind of wrath.
This is what happens all the time. This is like Acts 14:17, “God has allowed all the nations to go their own way.” This is the cycle that goes on in all of human history. People know God; they want to violate the laws of God, they want to live in sin, so they suppress the knowledge of God so that they can live in unrighteousness. They deny God, they create their own gods that they can accommodate to their lifestyle; they live under that thinking they’re wise, when they’re fools; and judgment is looming.
Not only is it looming in the future, not only does a certain eternal wrath hang on the horizon, but there is an ever-present reality that they could experience this kind of wrath of abandonment. This is talking collectively, these are all plurals. There’s a time when God says, “I’m done with you. I’m done with you as a society.” I’ve heard people say about our country that if we keep going this way, God’s going to begin to judge us. Well, I’ve got news for you: we’re in the middle of that judgment right now, and I’ll show you why I know that.
Verse 26: For this reason”—the reason of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, exchanging the truth of God for a lie, worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator. Ultimately, man worships himself. “For this reason”—because of rejecting the truth of God—“God gave them over to degrading passions.” No, let’s go back to verse 24. “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
So, how do you know when God gives up a nation? “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity.” You’ll have a sexual revolution. God lets go; and there’ll be an explosion of immorality, and bodies will be dishonored. That started for us 30 years ago, at least: sexual revolution, free love, free sex. You remember the hippie movement, playboy mentality; and now it’s reached a point where fornication is just as normal as having lunch. You have an entire culture given over to immorality. The music, the movies, the television, the lifestyle, all reflected by the media. So the first thing that tells you you’re under judgment is that you have had a sexual revolution.
The second thing is in verse 26: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions,” not just passions, but degrading—something deeper, something worse. And here it is: “Their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural.” Lesbianism. And why does it mention that rather than homosexuality? Because this shows the severity of the judgment, because the women really are the last ones to cave into this kind of behavior because they have a mothering instinct and because they need the protection of men and the security that they provide.
So you know when a culture is gone and God’s judgment has been unleashed, because lesbianism will flourish. Not just them though, verse 27: “In the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman, burned in their desire toward one another.” That’s an interesting phrase. I remember reading Helpern, the coroner of New York City, did 30,000 autopsies, and in his book he wrote a comment. He said, “When I see a body that has been murdered I can tell you in five seconds whether a homosexual did the killing, because of the outrageous overkill.” “Whatever those passions are,”—he wrote as a secular Jew—“whatever those passions are, they’re out of control.”
When the society is given over to degrading passions, women with women, men with men, verse 27, “burning in their desire toward one another,”—like to Sodomites—remember?—wanted to rape the angels in Genesis 19—“men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their person the due penalty of their error.” What’s that? AIDS, other venereal disease. So how do you know when a nation is under divine judgment? There’ll be a sexual revolution, followed by a homosexual revolution. This is indication God has abandoned a culture.
That’s not the end. Verse 28: “Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God,”—see, every one of these is because they rejected the truth of God—“this one, God gave them over to a depraved mind.” What is a depraved mind? It’s a mind that doesn’t function, it’s insanity. And there we are again.
I used to wonder, “What is that insanity going to be?” It’s when you’re a man and you think you’re a woman; that’s insanity. Or when you’re a woman and you think you’re a man; that is insanity. But this insanity has now been codified in our culture as legitimate. Everybody from the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, has found a category for this insanity, and they’re accommodating this insanity with bizarre procedures, drugs, surgeries. We’ve lost our minds. That is an evidence of the judgment of God.
“Given over to a mind that doesn’t function”—is what it says—“to do these things which are not proper,” those things. This is the Jerry Springer Show. And then that, of course, sets loose, verse 29, “all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful. Even though they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
Reminds me of when Bill Clinton was impeached for his sexual misconduct, and his popularity numbers went up. This society will approve of that. They will approve of your sin, they will approve of your perversion. They will not tolerate the truth. Does the truth matter? What do you think? It’s the only hope.
The Old Testament refers to the Almighty as the God of truth at least three times: once in Isaiah, in the Psalms, and Deuteronomy. Jesus said in John 14, “I am the truth.” John 17:17, He said, “Your word is truth. Your word is truth.” Peter said in 1 Peter 1:23, “The word of God is that which lives and abides forever.” The Word of God is the truth, it is the truth that they desperately need.
Go to 2 Corinthians for a moment, a couple of other passages. I think we have time to just look at a few, 2 Corinthians. This is a passage, as Romans 1 is—I could say a lot more about that, but you can get some downloads on that if you want more.
Anyway, 2 Corinthians 10, verse 3: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.” Now let me just kind of tell you what’s going on here. “We walk in the flesh,” meaning Paul is saying we’re human. He’s not speaking of the flesh in the same sense that he does in Romans 7 when it’s the principle of sin operating in the believer, he’s saying we’re human.
We are human, but we don’t war according to the flesh. We can’t go into spiritual battle with human weapons. That is so very, very important. We can’t use human weapons. Verse 4: “The weapons of our warfare are not human.” If we’re going to fight this spiritual war, we’ve got to use weapons that are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
Now look, the imagery here is really, really important. The picture is of believers who have this formidable task of bringing down fortresses. Okay? These are not paper houses, these are fortresses made out of stone. A fortress in the ancient world, some of them that were around during Paul’s life are still there.
So what is spiritual war? It’s not chasing demons, it’s bringing down fortresses. And we don’t have any human weapons to do that. You can’t come up with a strategy for that. You can’t come up with a marketing technique for that. You can’t use Rock ‘n’ Roll to do that. You can’t be a pragmatist and bring down these massive fortresses. Can’t use human weapons.
What are these fortresses? Verse 5. Verse 4 says, “We need divinely powerful weapons for the destruction of fortresses.” What are they? “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” There you have the definition.
What is a fortress? It is any anti-God speculation, any anti-God—and the word “speculation” is logismos. It means ideas. Could mean philosophy, psychology, religion—any complex of ideas. So what we are doing is we are, in this spiritual war in which we engage, we are going after the complete destruction of fortresses.
The word “fortresses” is the same word for “fortress,” same word for “prison,” same word for “tomb.” So people in their identity groups and their categorical, ideological sin groups, are fortified, right? They’re fortified, they’re resistant. They’re fortified. Their fortress becomes their prison and their prison becomes their tomb.
So what is our responsibility? We can’t attack with some kind of silly human strategies. We have to destroy ideologies. What are these ideologies? What are these? They are any elevated think raised up against the knowledge of God, any idea, any religion, any philosophy, any theory, any viewpoint that attacks divine truth. Really, as believers, we’re making war against the lies in which people are imprisoned. What’s our goal? Verse 5: To take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
So let me ask you a question: “How do you destroy a fortification of lies?” Only one weapon. What is it? Truth. It’s all you have. And the more clearly, powerfully, relentlessly, reasonably you articulate that truth, the more powerfully it affects the fortification.
One thing you don’t want to do is go around the lies in which they live. You have to attack the ideology that is their tomb if you don’t deliver them. Of course, you’re going to offend them, but no more than you would offend somebody in a burning house if you grab them and yank them out the front door before it collapsed on them, because that what Jude says exactly: “Snatch them out of the burning.” This is the spiritual war we’re engaged in. It’s a war to assault lies. So let me make it real simple. The premium is on how well you know—what?—the truth, how well you know the truth and how bold you are to proclaim that truth.
There is an essential connection in sinful society between sin and lies; and as long as people can sustain their lies, they can sustain some self-justification for their sins. There are eternally damning consequences to those who die in the fortress of their own lies. And God is warning cultures. God is warning our nation. What else can He say? Go to Romans 1.
What else can He say? “Do you see My judgment? You have had a sexual revolution. That means I’ve taken My hands off of you. In some way, I’m no longer restraining you, I’m letting you go the way your sins are taking you, without any restraint. You’ve had a sexual revolution, which is so embedded that people think it’s normal. Then you had a homosexual revolution: lesbianism and male homosexuality. And then you’ve had a revolution insanity so that people now think things are true that are absolutely, obviously, patently, clearly not true. Look at what’s happening to your society. Keep going down this road, and that wrath of abandonment ultimately becomes eternal wrath.” It’s almost as if we’re standing at the gates of hell warning people, “You can’t keep going that way.”
And God has warned our entire culture. The election coming up next year is a referendum really on divine wrath, a referendum on divine wrath. All the things that mark wrath—insanity, immorality, and homosexuality—are points on the democratic platform to make sure they’re protected. Wow. So they’re trying to protect this nation from being delivered from divine wrath. How bizarre is that?
Well, some people have said that I stir up trouble. I didn’t write this, I just deliver it. I’m the mailman. But I will fight and I’ll show you why. Just one last passage in Jude. And I have a lot more I could say, but that’s what your pastor always says when he’s just run out of material.
So in Jude—and I’ve been asked this: “Why do you fight? Why don’t you just relax? Why don’t you just calm down?” One day, Patricia, my wife, said, “Why don’t you just write a book that everybody likes?” So I said, “Okay, I’ll write a book on the love of God,” and I did, and nobody liked it because I said the love of God is selective.
In Jude, “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,”—that’s interesting, isn’t it, because he was half brother of Jesus, but he didn’t throw that around—“to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peach and love be multiplied to you.
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation,”—I get that. You know, I wish that were the case that I could just come here this morning and stand up and talk to you about our common salvation. I’m thankful for the opportunity to do that, to relish the glories of God’s grace in our redemption. But Jude said, “I really was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation.” It’s as if Jude had one agenda and the Holy Spirit had another one, and the Holy Spirit won.
“I felt however the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 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 and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” You have to fight; that’s a mandate, “Earnestly contend for the faith.”
Luke 18:8 asks this amazing question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Are there going to be any believers left, because of the impact of false teachers? “You must contend”—fight, agōnizomai—“earnestly for the faith,”—not faith as a subjective reality, but the faith, the Christian faith—“embodied in the revelation written down and handed to the saints once for all.” The Canon of the Scripture: Fight for the faith, the true faith, divine truth revealed in the once for all given Scripture. Why? “Because certain persons have crept in.” They’re not all on the outside. Have you noticed? They’re not all on the outside.
I noticed this morning that the segment of the Methodist Church decided to have an amiable split with those who wanted to retain LGBTQ people in leadership. How could you have an amiable split with that? They’re not only in the church; in many cases, they’ve taken over.
And there’s something very interesting here: “They are beforehand marked out for condemnation.” Look, these false teachers, God knows who they are; they already are doomed to hell. They are ungodly persons. And here’s what they do in the church inevitably: “They turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” They deny God’s rule in life, and they deny the lordship of Jesus Christ.
I was shocked the other day to read a tweet from a young pastor that I know. This is what he said: “I seek to free as many as possible from the soul-enslaving, freedom-killing, conscience-afflicting, assurance destroying, law-gospel confusing errors of lordship salvation.” It’s exactly what Jude is talking about.
And why does he pick on antinomians? Why does he pick on them. Because inevitably, those are the people who operate in the church. They come in and create a kind of Christianity that does not denounce people’s sins. You render no service to them by coming up with something like that. What that proves to me is that he has defined Christianity by the law.
Antinomians are no different than legalists because they define Christianity by the law. The legalist says, “I’m a Christian because I keep the law.” An antinomian says, “I’m a Christian because I don’t keep the law.” But in either case, you’re defining your Christianity by the law rather than saying, “I’m a Christian because I love the Lord Jesus Christ.” I define my Christianity as loving Christ.
When Jesus said to Peter, “I need to restore you,” He didn’t say, “Will you keep My law? Will you keep My law? Will you keep My law?” He didn’t say, “Will you be free? Will you be free? Will you be free?” He said, “Do you,”—what?—“do you love Me?”
And I don’t have a sign in my house, I haven’t had one there while we raised our family, “Don’t hit the kids. Don’t smack your wife.” I don’t need that sign. The only thing I need to do is love; and love is the fulfilling of the law.
But inevitably, the false teachers who come into the church attack obedience, purity, holiness. That’s why the Young, Restless, Reformed movement that we’ve all kind of seen has no robust doctrine of sanctification. Anybody propagating error, I don’t care who it is, anybody propagating error, whether it’s a stated antinomian or a practical antinomian like some of the discredited pastors that we all know about and read about, I don’t care what side of the issue they’re on when it comes to the law, they have no real doctrine of holiness. And without holiness, no man—what?—sees the Lord.
So Psalm 25:5, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation.” Verse 10, “All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimony.” Psalm 40, verse 11, “Your truth will continually preserve me.” Psalm 51:6, “You desire truth in the innermost being.” Psalm 86:11, “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth.” Psalm 117:2, “The truth of the Lord is everlasting.” Psalm 145:18, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him and to all who call upon Him in truth.” And then back to John 8, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall”—what?—“set you free.” That’s the only way we can free people from the bondage they’re in.
Father, we thank You for our time this morning in Your Word; so much left unsaid. But, Lord, we thank You for giving us the opportunity to say those things that we trust are reflective of Your will and Your Word. I ask, Lord, that You will fill our hearts with love for the truth written and incarnate, and that this beginning will set our minds on a course in the direction of being more faithful to live and love the truth and preach the truth, no matter what the consequences, knowing that unless we bring the truth to bear on the fortresses in which people have placed themselves, ideological protected zones where their sins are safe, unless we smash those with the truth, those fortresses become their prisons and their tombs. Help us to liberate many and bring them and their thoughts, each one, captive to the obedience of Christ, we pray in His name. Amen.