Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, (NKJV)
In verses 3-11, Jude warns about the presence and behavior of false teachers in the early church. He continues with a good old-fashioned, carpet-bombing of them:
Jude 12-19 (emphasis mine) These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. (NKJV)
I’ve highlighted some interesting parts, let’s take a look:
- spots: blemishes, marks, imperfections, stains, dirt. Remember that nothing imperfect can be in God’s presence (we are made perfect in Christ).
- without fear, serving only themselves – these false teacher go about in arrogance, thinking only of themselves, having no healthy respect or fear of God. Fearlessness is often the bragging rights and trademark of the foolish, vain, prideful and ignorant.
- clouds without water – promising to quench spiritual thirst, they leave the flock thirsty and dry; at best, they give unhealthy, unsatisfying “sugar water”
- carried about by the winds – unstable in all their ways, the false teachers constantly shift and change in order to stay popular and in power
- late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots – rather than healthy, real spiritual food, false teachers end up offering only false promises of sustenance because like trees in the fall, they are dying and past harvest, needing only to be pulled up, discarded and burned
- raging waves of the sea – false teachers cause confusion and chaos, creating fear and confusion like angry, raging seas
- foaming up their own shame – like the waves that crash and whip up the foam, just as assuredly, false teachers whip up their own shame
- wandering stars – two pictures come to mind here. First, a normal star is a fixed point of light that can be counted on as stable, and never-changing. False teachers are wandering, unfixed and cannot be counted on. Second, “wandering stars” could be an image of a meteor or falling star that flares up in brilliance momentarily, then fades out. This is certainly true of false teachers.
- for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever – false teachers have a special place reserved just for them. Sometimes I wonder why statements like these aren’t sufficient to SCARE any teacher into making sure he’s not a false teacher. Nonetheless, countless humans will spend eternity in “the blackness of darkness forever” even though they have been clearly and publicly warned.
So much for tolerance, political correctness and playing nice. Jude drops an atomic blast of scathing descriptions on false teachers. He could have hardly been more condemning or blunt. Jude would not be very popular in our current culture of polite dialog, non-confrontation, and “find common ground” at all costs.
Had Jude been writing in the 21st Century, he would have been quickly shouted down and sent to “sensitivity” training where he would be taught to find areas we could all agree on, and a common points on which to dialog together. In western Christianity today, it is almost universally condemned when one Christian openly, publicly calls out false teaching. And believe me, there’s plenty to call out. It doesn’t get any prettier as we read on:
- Behold, the Lord comes… to execute judgment – Enoch prophesied about these types of men and proclaimed long ago that God would execute judgment on them
- grumblers, complainers – this is the same description used for the Israelites who murmured against God in the wilderness; complainers are those who find fault in everyone and fault in God’s ways
- walking according to their own lusts – this phrase is often used of the unsaved, which of course false teachers are; it speaks of the fact that the unregenerate man cannot truly be righteous but are simply slaves to their own sin natures
- and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage – arrogant, smooth talkers; telling people what they want to hear in order to gain favor and popularity. Their words are exactly the opposite of Godly preaching: they are lifeless, shallow and pompous.
- mockers in the last time – they mock God in the sense that they do not fear nor believe judgment will come on them; this indicates that these false teachers will be a fixture until the “last time” is over, meaning when Jesus returns to put an end to it all.
- sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit – false teachers are actually completely fleshly in their thinking and motives while pretending to be very spiritual and Godly. They thrive on divisions because it gives them power and control creating opportunities to pit people against each other while playing both sides.
Whew… Jude seriously rips false teachers. No political correctness, no playing nice, no common ground or compromise. He just comes out with both guns blazing, pounding away with the heavy artillery. Given the vast amount of false teaching today (which of course has to come from false TEACHERS), how do you think a “Jude” would be looked at today? Would he be taken seriously, or dismissed as “unloving” and “judgmental”?
In the final part of this series, we will look at Judes instructions to Believers concerning the situation.
Lord God, Help us to have Your mind about false teaching. Help us not to be fleshly or strike out in pride, but neither to shrink back when describing false teachers in the very same way You have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Should we describe false teachers the same way Jude does? Can we even recognize false teachers today? Has the modern Church reached a point where only the most extreme and recognizable false teachers can be so labeled? Does Jude imply that false teachers are obvious, or shrewdly disguised?
Application: Jude would bust a vein today. False teachers run about in the church, and in “christianity” enjoying free reign while everyone screams “don’t be jugmental”, “don’t be unloving”, “put doctrine aside and just unite around Jesus”. Any preacher today (and there have been some) that would dare right such scathing words and descriptions about the myriads of false “christian” teachers today would be utterly excoriated (and some have been). Lord Jesus, come quickly.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?