Today is a day of commemoration for the United States because it marks the day that Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor and thrust our nation into World War II. The enemy came upon us suddenly and attacked without warning.
The same was true of the Saints in the days of the Apostles. I studied in recent weeks the words of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude, and I noted that each of them warned of false prophets and false teachers. I studied the words of John and Jude this week, so I will share what I learned about spiritual enemies.
John wrote his Third Epistle to a faithful man named Gaius. He first expressed his joy at hearing of the faithful members of the Church. He then warned Gaius about a man named Diotrephes. It seems that Diotrephes held a prominent post in the town – a Church leader or his home was used for the meetings or something. Whatever post he held, John noted that he loved to have “preeminence” among the Saints, but he spoke “malicious words” about and rejected the authority John and the other Church leaders. He openly opposed the Church leaders.
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805-44) wrote, “It is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:39). This is so true of mankind. A little authority can bring out the worst in most of us.
President James E. Faust (1929-2007) of the First Presidency gave this caution: “There is a certain arrogance in thinking that any of us may be more spiritually intelligent, more learned, or more righteous than the councils called to preside over us. Those councils are more in tune with the Lord than any individual person they preside over” (Finding Light in a Dark World , 121).
Criticism of Church leaders is a sure sign that a person is headed towards apostasy. Wise individuals recognize the sign, repent, and become supportive. Other people continue into apostasy, a situation that the Apostles were trying to prevent.
There is no evidence that Jude was an Apostle, but he was respected enough to have his epistle included in the New Testament when it was compiled. His epistle is a “general” epistle, meaning that it went to many Saints. He warned that “certain men crept in unawares” (Jude 1:4) to damage the Church and destroy testimonies. Jude asked his readers to remember the historical people who had fallen away.
Jude named the people that came out of Egypt with Moses but who were destroyed by God because of unfaithfulness. He named the people in Sodom, Gomorrha, and other cities where immorality was rampant and were burned with fire from heaven. He mentioned the “angels which kept not their first estate,” those spirits who rebelled against Heavenly Father in the pre-mortal life. They followed Lucifer and were cast out of heaven with him. Their penalty was the denial of a physical body for all eternity.
There are enemies in our midst today, and it is often difficult to recognize the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” This lack of recognition and exposure allows the “wolves” to enter the Church and cause destruction of testimonies. The same is true of “wolves” in our nation, those who seek to “fundamentally transform” our nation from our constitutional way of life. We must beware of “wolves” in all the areas of our lives. They sneak around and pounce when our guard is down; therefore, we must constantly be on guard in order to stay safe.