In Hot Pursuit
Jude 11

A. Why does a person enter military service?
1. Some want to travel and see the world.
2. Others are thrill seekers who find adventure (and danger) exhilarating
3. Then there are the patriots: farmers, teachers, factory workers and business men who are not career soldiers, yet these honorable citizens can be counted on in a time of crisis
a. These are men and women who serve their country out of loyalty rather than personal gain
b. They enlist, not because they love a good fight, but because they believe in defending what is right
c. They are peacemakers, not pleasure seekers or profiteers

B. In like manner, God’s patriots are people with high spiritual aims.
1. They are ordinary Christians who are reluctant to fight yet prepared to stand and be counted for truth when duty demands it
2. To the contrary, false teachers are motivated by things such as notoriety, paychecks, selfish agendas or the intoxicating smell of battle
3. The prophet Balaam was just such a man
4. Jude says that these false teachers “ran riotously” or “abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error” (v. 11b)

1. In Numbers 23:10, Balaam said, “Let me die the death of the righteous.” – Unfortunately, the prophet did not heed his own plea

2. Everyone realizes that death is certain….. Hebrews 9:27
a. They only thing that really matters is whether one is counted righteous at that time
b. Earthly standing will be of no consequence when appearing before the throne of God

3. “Righteousness” refers to right standing before God
a. The Gospel is God’s plan for righteousness… Romans 1:16-17
b. Righteousness is greatly stressed throughout Scripture

1. Balaam’s desire to meet death in a right relationship with God was admirable, yet his life did not measure up to his prayer
a. He wanted to please God and the world at the same time
b. When the two conflicted he chose the world

2. Jude saw the error of Balaam repeating itself in the church
a. Some of the religious leaders were giving the appearance of being righteous – but were actually preoccupied with earthly concerns
b. Greed caused them to put the flesh before God

3. Covetousness is a subtle sin that if difficult to perceive at the start
a. In time, those who blind themselves to their materialism will not only defend their actions but will also run unrestrained after more
b. When a man succumbs to greed he had just sold his own soul

4. Love of money is a great problem… 1 Timothy 6:10
a. Rather than craving the things of this world we should… 1 Timothy 6:11
b. Realizing… 1 Timothy 6:17

5. To really appreciate Jude’s warning, it is important to recall the events surrounding Balaam’s life (Num. 22-24) – because the temptation to repeat his errors are ever present

1. When Balaam was first introduced in Scripture, it seemed that he had a desire to live a righteous life
a. Somewhere along the way it changed
b. Gradually he shifted his focus from God to serving self
c. Brethren, we need to be careful that our focus does not shift off God

2. Balak was troubled with the presence of Israel in the plains of Moab, for he had heard of their victories over Sihon and Og
a. At his wit’s end, Balak sends messengers to Balaam asking for his help in the matter
b. Apparently Balaam had quite a reputation for predicting outcomes in battle
c. Whomever he cursed were cursed, and whomever he blessed were blessed
d. Balaam asked God if he should go with these men – God said no
e. By passing up the opportunity to become wealthy, Balaam gave every indication of being an obedient servant
f. Regrettably things are not always what they seem

1. These men returned to Balak and told him the bad news, yet Balak was convinced that he should try again.
a. Balaam left the impression that he would gladly have accepted the offer if the Lord had given his approval
b. How different things might have been is he would have just said, “I refuse to go with you”
c. The Lord is NOT pleased with disgruntled servants who keep His will – 1 John 5:3

2. Balak now sends a more distinguished group dignitaries to negotiate the deal – they carried with them promises of great riches if Balaam would curse the children of Israel

3. Like Balak, Satan does not give up easily – he believes everyone has a price
a. Jesus raised a thought provoking question… Matthew 16:26
b. No temporary pleasure or momentary possession can ever make up for the loss of personal integrity or eternal security

4. Balaam response to Balak second try was impressive… Numbers 22:18
“And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of Jehovah my God, to do less or more”
a. But, Balaam consulted with God again – knowing already God’s previous answer
b. Balaam had not accepted God will – and wants to see if He had changed His mind

5. Sadly, the worse punishment God can inflict on man is man’s free will…
a. God allowed Balaam to go with the men to Balak
b. BUT, he was only to speak what God spoke – God said he could go, but He never said he should go
c. There is a profound difference between permission and approval

6. Taking a second look at sin cannot make it less sinful
a. All it does is make the beholder more tolerant of sin
b. If a person’s heart is not pure, it is possible to rationalize and condone almost every course of action

7. Taking a second look at sin is about to change Balaam’s life horribly

1. Balaam, riding a donkey to see Balak, for no apparent reason veered off into a field, Balaam wrestles the beast back into the road with the reins – striking him…
a. A short time later, he came to a place where the road was hemmed in by two walls that protected the vineyard, and the donkey smashed Balaam’s foot against the wall – and Balaam angrily struck his mount
b. Further down the road the donkey sat down and refused to take another step

2. Enraged Balaam started beating the donkey
a. The donkey then cries out, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” (Num. 22:28).
b. Without realizing the absurdity of a talking donkey, Balaam replied that he had been making a fool of him – and added if I had a sword I would kill you on the spot

3. The Lord then opens the eyes of Balaam and he sees an angel with a sword in hand standing in the narrow spot in the road

1. The angel took up questioning where the donkey had left off
a. The angels asks why are you beating the donkey who only trying to save your life
b. Balaam would have surely been slain had it not been for the donkey
c. God was angry with Balaam and sent the angel to confront him with a sword

2. To his credit, Balaam confessed his sin.
a. To his shame, he did not truly repent
b. Balaam said if continuing on this trip is displeasing Him he will go home at once. IF???
c. Was it really necessary to ask? – God told him not to take the trip in the first place
d. Things would have been much different if would have just stayed home

3. Paul must have been thinking of someone like Balaam when he wrote… 2 Corinthians 7:10
a. Sorrow that does not lead to personal change is worthless
b. We have many Balaam’s today who recklessly travel down the road of disobedience
c. 2 Peter 2:15… it was the love of money that led Balaam in the wrong direction

4. It should be no surprise to us that many church problems come from leaders who have the mentality of Balaam… 2 Timothy 4:3

1. The angel allowed Balaam to continue his inadvisable course with one stipulation: that he speak only what God would tell him

2. Balaam finally reaches his destination, and Balak took Balaam to a place where the children of Israel could be seen stretched across the plain
a. Balaam attempted to appease God’s wrath through sacrifice
b. Many are like that today – they live as the want during the week, and try to appease God on Sunday
c. Just as the Lord rejected Balaam’s sacrifices, God will reject those who think they can exchange a religious act for a holy life

3. Balaam made four attempts to curse the chosen people of God – and failed each time
a. Instead of a curse – a blessing proceeded from his lips
b. With every try, the blessings became even stronger

4. The account of Balaam’s reversal became an often used illustration in the Bible
a. The account was used as evidence of God’s ability to turn the table on those who would harm His people
b. The apostle Paul provided similar assurance… Romans 8:28

1. Balak, in rage, refused to pay Balaam whose effort to curse Israel had failed
a. In last ditch effort Balaam tried to bring a curse on Israel by causing them to sin
b. How did he do this? He used Moabite women to led them astray
c. Israel soon found themselves immersed in adultery and idolatry

2. It is important to remember that religious error and immorality are natural consequences of establishing strong ties with those outside the family of God

3. It is sad to see the depths to which Balaam sunk.
a. His selfishness became so severe that he lost all concern for anyone but himself
b. A terrible plague broke out on Israel, claiming 24,000 lives
c. The outbreak was halted by Phinehas, the high priest, as he atoned for the people

4. Although Balaam thought he succeeded, he was badly mistaken
a. His selfishness had merely sealed his own doom
b. Balaam was later found among the corpses of the slain idolaters

A. It is not enough to know God’s will – a person must cherish it
1. The righteous are people who not only sorrow over sin but turn from it also
2. They pursue eternal blessings rather that momentary pleasures
3. Righteous people sacrifice their hearts to God and nothing less

B. God’s patriots have a heart of a fighter, but their motivation is different from ruthless mercenaries such as Balaam
1. God’s patriots have actions guided by love and principle rather than lust and greed
2. They have a higher cause and are guided by a nobler ethic
3. Jude’s warning against running greedily after the error of Balaam is still needed in the church today
4. Every man and every woman is after something in life. What will you choose to pursue?

About from the Preachers PC

Gospel Preacher for the Park Heights church of Christ in Hamilton, TX. I stand for and defend the truth of God's word. All other degrees and diplomas mean very little in comparison.
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