Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, (NKJV)
Today we are going to look at verses 3-11. Keep in mind the overall point of Jude’s letter: false teachers in the Church.
Jude 3-4 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
It would seem that Jude’s original intent was simply to write a letter of encouragement concerning salvation in general but the urgency and potential threat of false teachers directed Him, via inspiration from Holy Spirit, to instead pen this warning. Jude found it NECESSARY to sound the battle cry for truth, to urge Christians to contend for the faith.
We hear much today about how doctrine divides, and we should just put our differences aside and center around our “love for Jesus”. Sounds good on a fleshly level, but God expects us to FIGHT for His truth. Not with swords, pride, arrogance or self-serving motives – but fight we must. The word “contend” means to strive for, to struggle over, to earnestly reach for… this is a far cry from today’s cry to toss doctrine aside as unimportant and divisive.
If you think about it, the present call to minimize doctrinal truth in the name of emotional unity is a perfect Satanic ploy. It appeals to the flesh: emotional, lazy, easy and comfortable. Everyone just gets along and finds God their own way, their own truth, their own path. Yep, sounds good. Nope, doesn’t work. God calls us to fight the good fight for Truth. We are to wage a “truth war” against any and all who would change, dilute or pervert God’s Truth.
This “truth” for which we fight is the completed revelation of God, His Word, that has been “once for all delivered”. There is a movement in the Church over the past decade or so that declares new truth and new revelation are not only being given, but are fairly routine. This is dangerous and has both dire and sometimes comical consequences as evidenced by the foolishness that occurs today under the cloak of Christianity.
We would do well to know God’s existing Word
instead of searching out or proclaiming something new.
Verse four is just plain scary. First of all, these false teachers have crept in unnoticed. This was the early, first century church when you would have thought that the church was small enough, new enough and on guard enough that false teachers would be easily exposed, IF they even existed at all. Satan went to work early, and fast. The Church is much more at risk from “insiders” than they ever have been or will be from outside attacks. If a foul-mouthed, blaspheming atheist attempts to come into our midst and corrupt the weak, we can easily recognize and respond.
However, when a smooth-talking, semi-truth-teaching, tolerance-promoting false teacher sneaks in, drowning the weak-minded and Biblically illiterate in the honey of doubt and flesh, they are often quite successful. Jude proclaims in verse four that these men were marked out “long ago” for destruction. Does that mean God created and chose SPECIFIC HUMANS for destruction? No, it means that this behavior, and false teaching will always be punished with condemnation, and God, who is timeless and eternal, has always known who they were and where these false teachers would arise. It also refers to the fact that from Genesis on, false teaching and deception was always aggressively condemned and punished.
It’s interesting to note that these false teachers had used God’s grace as an excuse for lewdness, or gross immorality. Some things never change. How often do we hear about “men of God” who fall to sexual sin? The rates of child sex abuse by those working in church ministry is a tragic scar on the current Church, no matter what flavor you look at (Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, etc). Pornography is the secret sin of not only Christians by and large, but those in ministry as well. Then you get to the “personalities” in the highly public Christian arena who simply live a fleshly and lewd lifestyle, abusing God’s grace, deceiving many. It started in the early days of the church, and sadly, will continue until Jesus returns.
Jude 5-7 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (NKJV)
Jude takes time now to remind us of well know acts of apostasy that had occurred in the past with God’s people: unbelieving Israelites who doubted God and shamed themselves with idol worship; angels who violated God’s boundaries between human and angelic interaction; Sodom and Gomorrah who gave themselves over fully to sexual perversion and were destroyed by fire.
Think about the comparison. God is comparing false teachers with doubting idolaters, angels who were cast into everlasting chains of judgment, and sexual deviants who were utterly destroyed by an act of God. Not a very comforting group to be a part of. You would think it would scare the false teaching out of people, but the wickedness of humans knows no bounds.
Jude says these are set forth “as an example” in essence saying “hey, false teachers, you’re going to get the same thing!”.
Jude 8-11 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. (NKJV)
Jude goes on describing false teachers and it only gets worse. They are “dreamers”, confused, deceived and lost in an unreal world of their own imagination; immoral, rebellious and disrespectful. Jude points out that even the archangel Michael knew to show certain respect and constraint by not taking a personal stance against Satan. He rebuked Satan under the Lord’s authority but false teachers have no such constraint or proper understanding.
I find it curiously revealing that we have segments of very public Christianity today running around telling tall tales and boasting of “stomping on the devil” and routinely ordering Satan around as if Lucifer was nothing more than a court jester or mangy dog to be kicked about at will. Brethren, while we DO have victory over Satan and his demon legions, it’s a little like handling nitroglycerin… very powerful, very dangerous. We are to stand behind our Lord Jesus and God the Father and deal carefully with our enemies. This current fad of comical disrespect and arrogant belittling of the very powerful angelic enemies of God is fraught with danger. Jude clearly warns us of the folly involved. It would seem, by implication, that anyone who engages in such behavior would be identified as a false teacher by Jude’s estimation.
False teachers, in their arrogance and flesh, rail against things they don’t understand in an attempt to puff up their own stature. They are like “brute beasts” who simply follow their impulse without regard to truth or consequence, corrupting themselves (ie. condemning/destroying themselves).
These false teachers have “gone the way of Cain” which of course can be categorized as “self will”. Cain ignored God’s commands, and simply did what HE wanted, in effect, setting himself up as God. The “way of Cain” is REBELLION, one of the most condemned and evil acts man engages in (Numbers 14:9). The “error of Balaam” (Numbers 22-25) involved material profit, applied here as false teaching that results in personal profit. The “rebellion of Korah” (Numbers 16) involved rejection of authority.
Sound familiar? Do you recognize the existence TODAY of false teachers, some very well known, who live unsightly lives, tell tall tales of how the kick the Devil around, rejecting any authority or rebuke, profiting greatly from their teaching, rebelling against the clear Word of God that contradicts them? Can you see it in Christianity today? Could you spot it in your own church if it existed? Would you be able to contend against it?
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Jude’s warnings and call to contend (battle) for Truth is as applicable today as it was then, maybe more. Everything Jude warns about and describes is rampant in Christianity today. We are to wage the war for Truth, and most Christians need to go back through BOOT CAMP and relearn the skills of Christian spiritual combat: know your enemy, how to use your Weapons, spiritual discipline, develop discernment and recommit yourself to the Chain of Command.
Tomorrow we will look at what God has in store for false teachers.
Lord God, Help us to know how important the battle for Truth is. Help us to be able to earnestly contend for the Faith You have delivered once and for all to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Can you defend your faith? Do you know your own faith well enough to be able to recognize false teaching? What subject, topic or profession do you know well enough to spot an “imposter” or fake? Is that more important than knowing God’s Word well enough to spot a fake?
Application: The battle for Truth is raging and will only grow more intense as Satan realizes his time is nearly up. Can you defend Truth and discern error in Christianity? The deception is only going to become more wide spread and accepted, even to the point that authentic Christians will be fooled if they are not diligently arming themselves with God’s Truth.
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?