Contending for the faith
Study of Jude
“Contending for the faith in a contentious world” Part 2
I) The Occasion for the Warning v4
A) There was a Breech in Security
B) There was a Blatant Disregard of Sovereignty
II) The Enemies of the Warning v5-16 (Parallel in )
They Reject Divine Authority (Jude 8–11)
All authority comes from the throne of God, whether it is authority in the home, the church, or the state. Those who exercise authority must first be under authority, accountable to God. But the false teachers reject divine authority and set themselves up as their own authority.
The cause of their rebellion is found in the word dreamers (Jude 8). These people live in a dreamworld of unreality and delusion. They believe Satan’s lie, “Ye shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:5). Having turned away from God’s truth, they feed their minds on false doctrine that inflates their egos and encourages their rebellion. Jude 10 informs us that the apostates are ignorant people who do not know what they are talking about! Jude echoed Peter’s description of these men as “brute beasts” (2 Peter 2:12, 22). Animals live by natural instinct, and so do the apostates. When men rebel against God, they sink to the level of beasts.
The course of their rebellion was clearly described by Jude. As a result of their rebellion and pride, they “defile the flesh,” living to satisfy their animal lusts. When a person despises God’s authority, he feels free to disobey God’s Laws and live as he pleases. What he forgets is that those laws have penalties attached to them so that he cannot disobey and escape the consequences.
They also use their tongues to express their rebellion against God. “With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?” (Ps. 12:4) The phrase speak evil in Jude 8 and 10 simply means “to blaspheme.” Blasphemy involves much more than taking God’s name in vain, though that is at the heart of it. A person blasphemes God when he takes His Word lightly and even jests about it, or when he deliberately defies God to judge him. “They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. And they say, ‘How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?’ ” (Ps. 73:9, 11)
The consequence of their rebellion is seen in their own ruin: “they corrupt [destroy] themselves” (Jude 10). They defile themselves (Jude 8) and they destroy themselves, yet they have the idea they are promoting themselves! “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecc. 8:11). The way of rebellion is but the way to ruin.
Arrogant speech is a dangerous thing, and so is despising the authority that God has established. Even the Archangel Michael (Dan. 10:13) did not dare to rebuke Satan, but respected the authority given to him by God. The name Michael means “Who is like God?” Ironically, Satan had said in his rebellion, “I will be like the Most High!” (Isa. 14:14) and his offer to men is, “Ye shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:5).
We have no information about the conflict between Satan and Michael over the body of Moses. When Moses died, the Lord buried him and no one knew where the sepulcher was located (Deut. 34:5–6). No doubt the Jewish people would have made a shrine out of the sepulcher and fallen into idolatry, so God kept the information to Himself. The text tells us that “not any man” knew the place, so perhaps Satan did know the place and tried to claim Moses’ body for himself. Inasmuch as Satan does have a certain amount of authority in the realm of death he may have felt he had a right to interfere (Heb. 2:14–15).
The point is that Michael did not rebuke Satan, but left that to the Lord. It is a dangerous thing for God’s people to confront Satan directly and to argue with him, because he is much stronger than we are. If an archangel is careful about the way he deals with the devil, how much more cautious ought we to be! While it is true that we share in the victory of Christ, it is also true that we must not be presumptuous. Satan is a dangerous enemy, and when we resist him, we must be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8–9).
“The Lord rebuke thee!” has a parallel in Zechariah 3:1–5. The prophet had a vision of the high priest standing before God’s throne in defiled garments, symbolizing the sinful condition of the nation Israel after the Babylonian Captivity. Satan had every right to accuse the people (see Rev. 12:9–11), except for one thing: they were the chosen ones of God, His covenant people, and He would not go back on His Word. God forgave His people, gave them clean garments, and warned them to walk in His ways. This is an Old Testament illustration of 1 John 1:5–2:2.
The condemnation of the false teachers is given in Jude 11: “Woe unto them!” Jude cited three examples from the Old Testament to illustrate the enormity of their sins, three men who rebelled against God’s authority and who suffered for it.
Cain rebelled against God’s way of salvation (Gen. 4; 1 John 3:11–12). By clothing Adam and Eve with the skins of slain animals (Gen. 3:21), God made it clear that the only way of forgiveness is through the shedding of blood. This is the way of faith, not the way of good works (Eph. 2:8–10). But Cain rejected this divinely authorized way and came to the altar with the fruits of his own labor. God rejected Cain’s offering because God rejected Cain: his heart was not right before God. It was by faith that Abel’s sacrifice was offered, and that was why God accepted it (Heb. 11:4).
The “way of Cain” is the way of religion without faith, righteousness based on character and good works. The “way of Cain” is the way of pride, a man establishing his own righteousness and rejecting the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Christ (Rom. 10:1–4; Phil. 3:3–12). Cain became a fugitive and tried to overcome his wretchedness by building a city and developing a civilization (Gen. 4:9ff). He ended up with everything a man could desire everything except God, that is.
We have already studied “the way of Balaam” (see 2 Peter 2:15–16). The “way of Balaam” is merchandising one’s gifts and ministry just for the purpose of making money. It is using the spiritual to gain the material (see 1 Thes. 2:5–6; 1 Tim. 6:3–21). The false teachers were greedy for material gain and, like Balaam, would do anything for money. The “error of Balaam” is thinking that they can get away with this kind of rebellion. Balaam was a true prophet of God, but he prostituted his gifts and sought to destroy God’s people. God turned Balaam’s curses into blessings (Deut. 23:4–5).
While we are on the subject of Balaam, we might note the “doctrine of Balaam” (Rev. 2:14) which is, “You can violate your separated position and get away with it!” He told King Balak that the fastest way to destroy Israel would be to corrupt the nation by having the people defile themselves with the heathen nations around them. “You are God’s chosen people,” was the argument. “Certainly a little friendship with your neighbors will not hurt you!” It was “turning the grace of … God into lasciviousness” (Jude 4), and God judged both Israel and Balaam.
The story of Core (Korah) is found in Numbers 16, and it too centers on rebellion against authority. Korah and his followers resented the leadership of Moses and dared God to do anything about their rebellion. In speaking against (“gainsaying”) Moses, they were speaking against the Lord who had given Moses his authority. This is a warning to us today, for it is so easy to speak against spiritual or governmental leaders in a careless way (see Titus 3:1–2). God judged Korah and his followers and established clearly the authority of His servant, Moses.
Cain rebelled against God’s authority in salvation, for he refused to bring a blood sacrifice as God had commanded. Balaam rebelled against God’s authority in separation, for he prostituted his gifts for money and led Israel to mix with the other nations. Korah rebelled against God’s authority in service, denying that Moses was God’s appointed servant and attempting to usurp his authority.
It is interesting to note the verbs that Jude used in this verse. The apostates “traveled on the road” of Cain, “gave themselves over to” the error of Balaam, and “perished” in the rebellion of Korah. The tragedy of rejecting authority!