How To Interact With False Believers

May 14, 2023

David Sorn

How should we interact with our friends and family that have walked away from God?

How To Interact With False Believers

May 14, 2023

David Sorn

How should we interact with our friends and family that have walked away from God?



Happy Mother’s Day. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here.

Before we get into our passage for this morning, I wanted to say a few things about all of things happening here this summer

Firstly, I am so pumped for Renovation U to begin again, and I think it’s so important that you get in a class this summer and grow in your knowledge of God.

Seriously, these classes are phenomenal.

Also, I want to personally & publicly thank the 3 Blaine churches that are letting us use their churches for our Renovation U classes.

It is SOOO important, as the days grow darker, that churches work together, and I love that this is happening.

A big thanks to Bridgewood Community Church just down the street.

Pastor Brendon and Bridgewood have Such a heart for the greater body of Christ.

A huge thank you to my friend Pastor Randy Gamer and Living Faith Church another mile down Lexington here.

They were so ready and willing to offer their space to us!

And a big thank you to Tim and Darren at Oak Park Community Church in Blaine.

Oak Park were our neighbors back at our old church offices, and they have such a huge heart for discipling the next generation in their amazing awana programs and vbs and more.

We love them.

Can we just thank these Blaine churches? (clap)

Secondly, if you didn’t know yet, our construction on our building expansion is starting in just 2 and a half weeks!

(Groundbreaking Ceremony Slide)

Last week we had the loan vote, and I’m happy to tell you that that passed unanimously!

So, we are going to have a big church-wide, Groundbreaking Ceremony on Tuesday night, May 30th (so put that down) at 6:30, because (as of right now), construction is slated to start that following morning on the 31st.

We’d love to see you all out that night as we celebrate what God is doing

And then, that following Sunday (June 4th), we won’t be able to have our services in here because they are starting (first thing) with tearing apart and expanding this Worship Center

(Northpoint Elementary Slide)

So we will be moving for 3.5 to 4 months to Northpoint Elementary (just down the road), where we will be having really fun outdoor services for the summer!

Please bring a lawn chair with you.

Kids will be inside in the beautiful spaces they have in the school.

We met there, as a church, for over a decade, and it’s the best kids’ space I’ve ever seen for a church in a school. It’s excellent.

And we will be able to go back to 3 services because of the parking they have there

So we’ll be back to 9:00, 10:15, & 11:30.


Okay, that’s a lot!

But all good stuff.

Let’s get into our message now.

As a church, we’ve been studying the letter of Jude in the Bible.

Which is a letter about the danger of false teachers and false believers in the church.

And so far we’ve gotten lots of warnings about what happens when someone has a false belief, but we haven’t heard yet about how we should handle the people around us who’ve succumbed to false belief.

And I’m referring to the type of false belief that we’ve been talking about all series:

These are people who, as Jude says in verse 4, have twisted God’s grace into a permission for their sin…especially sexual sin.

These are people that are rejecting God’s authority (v. 8), and they no longer really believe in the Bible

And so they, therefore just follow whatever their natural instincts tell them

And so what do you do if your own child grew up in church, but has now walked away?

Or you have an old best friend, or sibling even, who used to quote Bible verses in Youth Group with you, but now they tell you that the Bible is a silly old book.

How should you interact with that person?

We’re going to find that out today.

Everybody grab a Bible

Jude 22-23

Page 837

As we read through Jude’s instructions on this, Jude is going to give us 3 categories of people…

…each one progressively more sold out to their false beliefs.

And it’s important that we, as Christians use wisdom to discern where people are on this continuum.

Because each category of false believer, necessitates a different response.

So let’s take a look at the 3 groups of people

(Jude 22-23) – NIV

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.


Okay, let’s start with the first group…a group we can call “The Doubters.”

How to Interact with False Believers

#1: To the Doubters: Be merciful

That’s what verse 22 starts with: Be merciful to those who doubt.

So this first group, is a group of people, most likely still attending church.

They might be in your house group even.

They might not even technically be false believers yet, but they are on their way.

And right now, they are doubting.

Doubting something about God, or the Bible, or what Christianity is really all about…

So what do you do if you’re in your small group, and someone says, “I’m just not sure that I agree with what the Bible says about sex and marriage. That just seems too old fashioned and oppressive for me. I just don’t know that I believe the Bible is the only authority on this.”

What do you do when your friend says that?

Well, Jude would say, what you shouldn’t do is slam your Bible down and say, “How dare you believe such a thing! I’m calling an intervention right now!”

Now, we should contend for the truth of the faith, yes, but be merciful in doing so.

Friends, listen, we live in a culture that spits lies at us (particularly around the issue of sex and freedom) 24/7.

And the frequency in which people are hearing those lies are going to cause people to doubt.

There is so much bad teaching out there.

In books, podcasts, YouTube videos.

And so we must show mercy, and gentleness, to those who are beginning to doubt.

You know, I became a Christian as a young adult, and I tell you, I am so grateful for the solid people who discipled me and led me in those early years.

Because I think I just as easily could have been led astray into false teaching.

And would that have been my fault?


But maybe I just wouldn’t have known any better.

And so show mercy to those who are doubting.

And remember that we all doubt.

I doubt sometimes.

I’m not a robot.

I’m a human being who needs to remind Himself daily that God is real, and amazing.

Because listen, the world, our flesh, and the devil are all actively fighting to get you and I to doubt God every day

And so if you hear the beginnings of doubt from a friend or a family member, don’t freak out.

And here’s another reason why you shouldn’t freak out:

Listen to the words of Henry Drummond:

“We are born questioners. Look at the wonderment of a little child in its eyes before it can speak. The child's great word when it begins to speak is "why." Every child is full of every kind of question, about every kind of thing that moves, and shines, and changes, in the little world in which it lives. Respect doubt for its origin. It is an inevitable thing. It is not a thing to be crushed. It is a part of man as God made him. ... Doubt is the prelude of knowledge. – Henry Drummond

And so therefore, realize that if you treat somebody’s doubt with anger and shame, you will push them away.

It’s okay that they’re trying to wrap their head around who God is and what He asks of us.

God is not always easy to understand.

If He was, He wouldn’t be God.

(Title Slide)

And so, we have to show mercy and patience with people when they question.

And with grace, we want to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), and say, “My friend, that’s a great question you had about why would God not just let us sleep around? I can see how you might see that as limiting your freedom as a human being.”

See, what I’m doing.

I’m listening. I’m not freaking out. I’m showing mercy because I know that God gave them a human brain that gains knowledge BY questioning.

But I’m not just going to speak in love, I’m going to speak the TRUTH in love.

And I’ll say: “You know, God gives us guardrails and limits because, like a Good Father, He wants us to not get hurt because He loves us…and that’s why he puts limits on marriage and sex.”

I’m speaking truthfully, but with mercy.

Because if we just speak with hurried anger, they’re just going to think that our anger is just masking our own doubts, and that will push them further away.


But there is a second group of false believers (a little further on the continuum), and so Jude gives us different advice here.

This is the beginning of verse 23.

Take a look.

He says, “Save others by snatching them from the fire”

How to Interact with False Believers

#1: To the Doubters: Be merciful

#2: To those by the Fire: Snatch them!

So this is a group of people that have moved beyond their initial doubts.

They’ve now walked away from the church or their basic Christian beliefs.

If you remember the slippery slope of false belief from a few weeks ago…

(put up 4 points of the Slippery Slope)

The Slippery Slope of False Belief

#1: The slippery slope starts with false belief

#2: False belief leads to a rejection of God’s authority

#3: Rejection of God’s authority emboldens sensuality

#4: Sensuality and sin leads to judgment

This group of people by the fire in verse 23 is probably akin to #2 on the slippery slope.

They’ve now rejected the authority of God and His Word.

They maybe haven’t fully played out the ramifications of that yet…they haven’t fully jumped into the fire…

But they’ve most likely are distancing themselves from the standard beliefs of Christianity.

So how are we to deal with this second group?

How to Interact with False Believers

#1: To the Doubters: Be merciful

#2: To those by the Fire: Snatch them!

Because it’s different than the first group.

These aren’t just questions or doubts anymore.

This group is walking away from God, and they’re about to jump in the fire.

And so now there is an urgency, a directness, in how God wants us to speak to this group!

If a person is beginning to deny Christ and His rule, they are walking towards the fire of God’s judgment.

And we must act accordingly.

And yet I fear that too many of us are distracted with other pursuits.

We’re like the infamous Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who was once vacationing in Utah where he was trying to enlarge his butterfly collection.

One evening, he returned from his day's excursion, saying that during a hot butterfly pursuit near Bear Gulch, he had heard someone groaning loudly down by the stream.

His friend asked him if he stopped

“No,” he said. “I had to get that butterfly”

The next day the corpse of an aged prospector was discovered in what has now been renamed Dead Man's Gulch."

We can sit here and we can shake our head in judgment at that author, but how many are dying around us…walking towards the fire…all while we chase the butterflies of sports, careers, or redecorating our living rooms.

Jude says, if your people are walking toward the fire, and you know it, snatch them!

I read a story recently about a bridge in China that sits high above the river, and unfortunately, it’s become a place where over 1,000 people have now jumped to their death.

And there is a man there who has taken it upon himself to come out every weekend to try and stop people from jumping.

And as of the time the Chicago Tribune wrote about him, he had already saved 42 lives!

Snatching them away from death.

He says that he can spot potential jumpers by seeing the gravity of their situation just in their faces

And as Christians, we need to identify the gravity of the situation of a false believer.

If your sibling, if your teenager is beginning to deny their faith and is getting ready to jump headlong into the arms of the world…

Please! Say something!

On behalf of all of the parents who’ve seen what comes next on the slippery slope, say something!

Snatch them!

Sit them down, plead with them.

Remind them of Jesus’ love for them.

Remind them of what He’s done for them.

Speak of the gravity of eternity.

Pray like you’ve never prayed before.

Enlist others to help you.

But don’t do nothing.

(Title Slide)

Jude gives us some outlined advice here, but it’s not 10 pages of detailed instructions, right…it’s just 29 words.

So it’s SO important that we seek the Holy Spirit regarding what to say and when to say it. This is SO important.

Earlier this year, I heard a story from author Jack Deere that’s maybe helpful here.

He was on an airplane and felt led to share the Gospel with the woman sitting next to him who had walked away from church and was not a follower of Christ.

He tried to use evidence and logic to reach her, but it failed miserably.

So he prayed for power and wisdom.

And He felt like God told him to say, “You know what your problem is? It’s the same as mine. You’re a sinner and you need a Savior.”

And the woman burst into tears and said, “I know, I know, it’s true, but what can I do?”

And He led her to Christ.

So, the next time he had an opportunity to try and snatch someone from the fire, he tried the exact same words..

He said, “You know what your problem is, you’re a sinner and you need a Savior!”

But then the person said back to him, “I’m not a sinner you self-righteous know it all!!”

We need to rely on the Holy Spirit to help us discern where a person is on this continuum, and then pray the Holy Spirit gives us the right words to say.


Okay, there is a 3rd group of false believers (even further down on the continuum), so let’s look at Jude’s advice to us regarding how to interact with them.

This is the end of verse 23:

He says, “To others, show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

How to Interact with False Believers

#1: To the Doubters: Be merciful

#2: To those by the Fire: Snatch them

#3: To the Corrupted: Show mercy mixed with fear

This last group, are the false believers that are all in on their false belief.

They’re believing lies about God, they’ve rejected His authority, and they’re not only fully open about their sin, but they’re often even telling others to follow them in their false belief & sin.

Now, it would be really easy here to just cast these people off.

Especially if they’re not related to you.

Maybe it’s just a coworker who used to come to church, but now they really anti-God.

It would be easy to say, “You know what, they’re dumb. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m done with them.”

But keep the heart of Christ.

No matter how messed up their thinking is, as Christians we aren’t free to despise them or write them off.

Again, even here, Jude calls us to show mercy.

But Jude warns: Be careful here.

Because actually he says, “Show mercy…mixed with fear.”

In other words, as you walk towards the fire to grab someone, don’t get so close that you get burned.

That’s what Jude means when he says, “Hating even the clothing that’s stained by corrupted flesh”

In other words, fear even the thing that’s associated with their sin.”

Be careful.

And this too, takes a lot of wisdom, a lot of counsel from other Christians in your house group, and direction from the Holy Spirit.

I remember when I was in college, there were a lot of college students who grew up in the church that had become false believers.

They had walked away from God and had fully embraced the party scene.

And my roommate, Paul Ristvedt, was a strong Christian, and he wanted to reach many of them for Christ.

And a couple of times, he went out on Friday nights, to their parties, to share Christ with them…to woo them back.

And I really wanted to go with him, but I knew, that as a young Christian, if I went, it was more likely that I would be joining the partiers, than reaching the partiers for Christ.

And so I stayed back, and played catchphrase or whatever Christian kids used to do in college.

Because I knew if I got that close to the fire, I’d absolutely get burned.

But, let me give you an example with a different conclusion:

The other day, I was telling my kids how I want to read the Koran, (the supposed Muslim holy book) because there are so many Muslims moving to our area, and I will be in Mozambique with our team this summer preaching to large groups of Muslims.

And my kids said, “Dad, can you do that? Isn’t that bad?”

And I think a lot of us have questions like this when you get into these sort of nuanced, tricky things about false beliefs.

Like, if your friend reads a book that leads them away from Christ, should you then read that same book to help pick it apart and lead them back?

I don’t know.

It depends.

It depends on your spiritual maturity and your faith.

You’ve got to pray about it & seek Christian counsel about it

So regarding the Koran, I told my kids, “Personally, I’m at a place in my faith, and in my theological knowledge of God, that I’m not worried that reading the Koran (a book I don’t at all believe to be true) is going to rock my faith.

But I want to read it because every missionary to the Muslim world is absolutely studying the Koran before they go over…

And I want to read it, because just like the missionary, I want to understand how now my neighbors think (and how the people of Mozambique think), so I can better reach for them for Christ.

And yet, watch the nuance here (this is mercy mixed with fear), I wouldn’t at all recommend that a new believer read the Koran.

Because they have no foundation yet for Spiritual Truth.

And so for them, that would be getting too close to the fire.

(Title Slide)

And so we need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit!

Do you read that book, do you go to that party? How close to the fire do you get?

We need the wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

But we also need POWER from the Holy Spirit.

It’s like that story where Jack Deere told the woman, “You’re a sinner and you need a Savior,” and she starts crying!

What is that? That’s nothing but the Power of God!

That’s like Peter at Pentecost in Acts 2 saying, “You all killed Jesus, but God raised him from the dead, and you can be saved!”

And 3,000 people repent, believe, and get baptized!

What is that?

That’s the power of the Holy Spirit!

And so for our wayward family & friends, we need, not just the wisdom of God, but the power of God.

And so as we come to our final song, we want to pray for God’s power in some of your lives.

Some of you have adult children, siblings, close friends, who’ve walked away from God.

And we want to pray them back to Jesus.

We don’t know His plan, but we pray the impossible here because we worship a God who makes the impossible possible!.

So at this time, I want to call forward our Elders and their wives, as well as several members of our prayer team that we have invited to come up, to pray for you in person this morning.

And if you have someone in your life who has walked away from God, and you want someone to pray about them…and over you, for wisdom, and power, to snatch them form the fire, and bring them back…

We want to do that for you this morning.

So at any time during this last song, come down to the front, and we will pray over you.

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.

MAY 14, 2023