God's Condemnation of Apostasy and False Teachers
by Cooper P. Abrams, III
1 Sanctified, the State of Believers in Jesus Christ
Preserved, the State of Believers in Jesus Christ
The State of Believers in Jesus Christ As Called if God
The Source of Strength in the Christian Life (Jude 2)
The Pretenders. The Apostate False Teachers
God will Judge False Teachers (Jude 5-7)
Jude Denounces the Apostates (Jude 8-10)
Describing the False Teachers (Jude 11)
The Condemnation of False Teachers (Jude 12)
God's Faithful Prophets (Jude 14-16)
Encouragement for Believers (Jude 17-23)
The Christian's Consolation and Sure Hope
God's Condemnation of Apostasy and False Teachers
by Cooper P. Abrams, III
The Salutation (Jude 1)
The writer identifies himself as Jude (also spelled Judas) the servant of the Jesus Christ and the brother of James. The New Testament mentions four men by the name Judas. In Acts 9:11 Ananias is told to go to Judas' home and seek Saul of Tarsus. Acts 15:22 mentions another Judas who bore the surname "Barsabas," but nothing beyond this statement is known of him.
In the Gospels two Apostles are named Judas, Judas Iscariot (Matt. 26:14-16) and Judas was known as Lebbeus and Thaddeus. (Matt. 10:3). Luke identifies this Apostle as "Judas the brother of James" who wrote this small Epistle (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13).
Jude states his brother was James. Several men named James are mentioned in the New Testament. One was the Apostle John's brother, the other the son of Alphaeus (Luke 6:14-15). However, Jude in identifying himself as the "brother of James," stated his relationship with his well-known brother James, the half brother of the Lord Jesus. Judas was a very common name and in identifying himself as the brother of James, he let those who read the Epistle know specifically he was the Lord's half brother.
Like Jesus' half brother James in his Epistle, Jude does not express his relationship to the Lord. Both brothers humbly state they were the servants of the Jesus Christ. The word both brothers use is "doulos" meaning a slave. It refers to an involuntary slave or bond slave who sold himself into slavery or servitude to a master. Clearly, they gave themselves into the Lord's service voluntarily when they believed and received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Sanctified, the State of Believers in Jesus Christ
Jude states that he is addressing the letter to those "sanctified by God the Father." "Sanctify" means to make holy or to purify and being set apart for God's use and unique service. Many things in the Bible are called sanctified. The Sabbath Day was sanctified by God, which meant it was set apart for special service (Gen. 2:3). The Tabernacle and its furniture was set apart as the place of God's presence and for worship (Exod. 29:43, Lev. 8:10). Jesus was sanctified by the Father (John 10:36); food is sanctified when offered in prayer (1 Tim. 4:5). The believer is instructed to sanctify God in his heart (1 Pet. 3:15). Sanctification does not mean to purify or to make sinless, but to set apart something for God and for His service.
Sanctification is being set apart from sin unto God. Each of the three aspects of sanctification is distinctly different, and each refers to time. A believer has past, present, and future sanctification. Every Christian can say, "I have been sanctified; I am being sanctified; I will yet be sanctified."
PAST SANCTIFICATION means the believer, when he was saved, was positionally set apart in Christ (Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 1:2; 1:30; 6:9-11; Heb. 10:10, 14). At the new birth, every believer is eternally sanctified in Christ and is brought from the power of the devil into the family of God (John 1:14; Gal. 4:4-6), from the devil's kingdom into Christ's kingdom (Col. 1:12, 13); from the old creation into the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). This sanctification is an eternal reality, based one's new spiritual position the Christian has in Jesus Christ. The Corinthian believers were far from sinless, yet they were called saints and were said to have been sanctified (1 Cor. 1:2, 30). In this sense, the Christian can say, "I AM sanctified in Christ" referring to when he believed.
PRESENT SANCTIFICATION is the process by which the Holy Spirit gradually changes the believer's life to give victory over sin. This is practical sanctification, that refers to Christian growth and maturity in putting away sin in one's life and putting on godliness (Rom. 6:19, 22; 1 Thess. 4:3, 4; 1 Pet. 1:14-16). This present process of sanctification never ends in this life (1 John 1:8-10). The Christian must resist while he is in this world at death or at the return of Christ. In this sense, the Christian can say, "I AM BEING sanctified by God's power."
FUTURE SANCTIFICATION is the perfection the believer will enjoy at the resurrection (1 Thess. 5:23). When a believer dies and is resurrected he will receive a new body without the old nature to sin. Therefore, Christians after death and the resurrection will no longer have to resist sin having received God's perfection. Sanctification will be completed. He will be set apart forever to God from sin.1
Preserved, the State of Believers in Jesus Christ
Jude states that believers are also preserved in Jesus Christ. The word used is "tereo" that is an intriguing word. It denotes a continuing (aorist) action of watching and guarding and keeping one's eye on something. Vines says, "The aorist tense regards the continuous "preservation" of the believer as a single, complete act, without reference to the time occupied in its accomplishment."2 The Lord's eyes are constantly on His children. This stresses the absolute security of the believer in Jesus Christ. The Lord assures us that we are forever His and have received eternal life and He is ever watchful over us. Twenty-six times the New Testament God states that the believer has eternal life. An additional ten times this word "aionios" is translated "everlasting life," that means something that perpetual or without end.
The book of Jude was written in the period between 70-80 AD near the end of the First Century. At least three decades had passed since the Lord Jesus returned to heaven. The Book of Acts records the beginning of the dispensation of the institution of the local church and Jude deals with the ending of the Church Age. The whole of the book deals with apostasy and turning away from the faith. Thus, the subject of the Book of Jude is extremely serious and should be studied carefully.
In Luke 18:1-8, the Lord Jesus told a parable of a woman who persistently appealed to the ruling judge to avenge her of an adversary. This unjust judge being wearied by the widow's pleading finally agreed to avenge her. Jesus then said"And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7 8) This refers to the state of truth at the end of the coming seven-year Tribulation that ends with the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although countless people are saved during these seven years, the forces of the Antichrist and the False prophet will martyr most believers. Jesus' reference reveals only a remnant of true believers will remain alive at His Second Coming. There will be much religion on earth, led by the False prophet. However, because of the growing apostasy, religion will be lacking of truth.
Paul warned Timothy that there was coming a time when people would not endure sound doctrine. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:1 5 "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." Thus, Paul speaks of the trend toward apostasy, which means that once sound churches will turn from God to false doctrine. The mark of apostasy is that people turn from the true worship of God to a worship of carnality. In other words, churches drift away from preaching God's word to being "pleasers of men." God says apostates will"heap," meaning to magnify, to themselves smooth talking false teachers. These teachers use flowering language that pleases people, but compromises God's word. Without question, we in 2010 are seeing the results of the trend that began many years ago. The Charismatic/Pentecostal and emerging church movements have rejected sound doctrine. They have changed the worship of Almighty God into a show where people coming to be entertained. Their services are patterned after rock concerts that perform "contemporary" Christian music. Mainline Protestant denominations that in the past held some semblance of truth have abandoned God's word and teach the heresy of a works plus grace salvation. Many of these denominations are ordaining women preachers in clear violation of God's word. The extent of their apostasy is seen in their voting on whether they will allow homosexuals and lesbians to officiate as pastors and priests. With growing furor, this trend has already destroyed many churches and without question in a short time will make these groups lacking of any biblical truth.
The State of Believers in Jesus Christ as Called if God.
Jude lastly states that believers are called to salvation. The word Jude uses is "kletos" that refers to one who is invited or summoned. 1 Corinthians 1:9 says "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." Jesus in Revelation 3:20 states that He stands knocking at our hearts door seeking to save us from our sins. Revelation 3:20"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Luke 19:10 states,"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Paul declared in Romans 1:18-23 that God reveals Himself through natural revelation to all men effectually calling them to come and receive salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord. God's further call is through the preaching of the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus the Christ has come and that He suffered, died for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day, victorious over sin and death. In either case through natural or special revelation it is the work of the Holy Spirit that illuminates God's truth and brings conviction to a man's heart showing he is a sinner and in need of God's forgiveness. Thus because of His atoning work, a man by sincere faith in Jesus Christ can be forgiven of their sins and received eternal life.
The Source of Strength in the Christian Life.
"Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied."(Jude 2)
The believer receives salvation as a gift by the grace of God. (Eph. 2:-9) In God's word, there is no more profound truth than the fact of that He extends that love to men. Yet, not all men receive the benefit of His love because they separate themselves from God through their unbelief. He offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but He does not force it on us. Many a child has broken the hearts of their parents by rejecting their love in rebellion against them. Most men do this same thing to God. God offers His love freely and generously, however few accept His love and the resulting benefits His love brings.
God's love is limited by His being just in all things. The sin debt man owes the Lord Jesus Christ has paid. However, the payment is only applied to those who will accept it. If a person rejects God, he denies the only means there is to pay for his sins. When God says He is our Savior, who suffered and died for our sins, arose from the dead and defeated both sin and death for us, we should believe Him.
Jude in his salutation extends his well wishes to those who would read his epistle and by faith have experienced the wonderful mercy of God. All men are sinners and need God's forgiveness, but only those recognize they are guilty of sin seek forgiveness. The word "mercy" addresses the need for relief from the misery that sins causes. All sin has a destructive effect in our lives and Jude is wishing that believers would experience God's comfort in overcoming sin. This applies to the believer and those around us. The sins of others can affect us. Sin makes a victim of the one committing the sin and those to who come in contact with him.
Jude continues by stating his desire that their peace and love be multiplied. The peace of God is only available to those who believe and put their trust in Jesus Christ. (See John 14:27) Romans 5:1-2 states this truth, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." That peace is something the unsaved person cannot understand.
Paul said in Philippians 4:6 7, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." God gives the Christian a new nature that can experience this unexplainable peace that comes with salvation. The child of God knows that whatever his circumstance, he will always be in God's family, because he is bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. He has the assurance that God will keep him and see him safely to heaven. (See 2 Tim. 1:12, 1 Peter 1:3-4) This is especially significant because we know that we are all sinners and prone to fail. Yet, we have God sure promise never to abandon us. (See Heb. 13:5)
Though we have the peace of God in our hearts, it does not mean that we automatically experience the comfort that peace brings. Paul explains this in Romans 8:6, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." There is no peace for the carnally minded person whether they are Christians or not. In Galatians 5:22, the Lord says that one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace and verse 25 states if a believer is saved and living in the Spirit, we ought also to walk in the Spirit. Clearly, a believer can live apart from the Lord and that is why Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Therefore, every child of God has the potential fully to experience God's peace in its lives. It is also true that sin will cause us to lose the peace and joy of our salvation. By receiving the mercy of God, we can be cleansed of our sins and know God's perfect peace. (See 1 John 1:9) Peace then is multiplied when one who knows the Lord and lives his life obediently and solely for the Lord Jesus Christ.
The same process additionally multiplies love. Loving others is not automatic but stems from a person's conscious commitment to work for the welfare of others. Ephesians 5:2 encourages us to " . . . walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour." Both peace and love come from the quality of one's walk in Christ. Both grow in the fertile soil of a contrite heart, which directs the believer in obedience and commitment to God.
No one can serve God apart from serving others. The person, who has experienced God's love and is grateful, will then past the love, they received on to others. Biblical love (Agape love) is the sincere desire for the well-being of others that is placed into action. The love of God causes us to serve others in His name.
Jude's Purpose in Writing this Epistle.
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3)
No pastor or teacher likes to dwell on the negative, but prefers to encourage and inspire his hearers. It is much more agreeable to talk about the positive things in God's word, and a positive message is more likely to please the audience. However, much in the Bible is negative. Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. The largest percentage of His teaching was in warning against sin and disobedience to God. When Jesus began His ministry of teaching and performing miracles multitudes of people followed Him. His message was that he was the promised Messiah and was announcing the coming kingdom God had promised the Jews. While He was healing and feeding the people, He was well received and they wanted to make Him their king. (John 6:15) However, when He began to rebuke the Jewish leaders and people of their sin and hypocrisy they began to leave Him in mass. (John 6:66) The religious leaders even began to plot to kill Him. Our message today is one of hope, salvation, and warning the people of consequences of sin.
Jude states his heart's desire was to write on the more uplifting subject of their common salvation in Jesus Christ. However, because many were turning away from the faith there was a serious need to warn them of the growing apostasy and challenge them to contend earnestly for the faith.
He begins by addressing them as "beloved." The term refers to people loved by God and by the writer. This term is one of special endearment used of people with whom one has a close and special relationship. The word carries the meaning of someone deeply caring for another person. Using this title shows the writer cares and the importance of what the writer is about to say in the letter. The word "beloved" reveals the message comes from the heart and shows deep concern.
He reminds them of the need to "contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints." It is a sad fact, that as time passes, many professing Christians and churches abandon the truth they once held. They buy into the idea that the way things that were done in the past is of little or no value today. Truth and doctrine become "old fashion" and modern self-proclaimed intellectuals belittle their biblical heritage with their new ideas they claim are better. They promote the idea that everything in the past is outdated and has been made ineffective by time. For example, the hymns of the faith that are based on the word of God have for decades nourished and uplifted the saints of God. However, today in modern churches these songs are considered boring. So these new "leaders" lead their congregation to sing catchy entertaining two or three line choruses that do not present Scripture, but are instead simply religious clichés. Usually, the first movement toward apostasy is a lack of spiritual discernment, followed by a decline in the one's standard of music, which is accompanied by weak watered down preaching. The worship service changes from edification to entertainment. Thus, the pulpit becomes a stage for the preacher to entertain his audience and by this time, God has long since left the congregation. God will not be a party to apostasy and a watering down of His word.
Barnes makes an excellent statement about men who come into churches and lead them astray. "The apostle (Jude) now gives a reason for thus defending the truth, to wit, that there were artful and wicked men who had crept into the church, pretending to be spiritual teachers, but whose doctrines tended to erode the very foundations of truth."3
The fact these false teachers could to creep into a church shows the shepherd of the church and/or the people had let their guard down. They clearly were complacent watchmen asleep on the job.
The word "ordained" means it was "fore written." The Lord Jesus warns us of these "wolves in sheep's clothing" in Matthew 7:15 20:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Paul also warned of this coming turning from the faith. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1 ).
Churches are rarely destroyed from outside. One of the Devil's most cunning tricks is to put an uncalled and unskilled man in the ministry who often has little or no spiritual discernment. These "hirelings" (John 10) have no call of God but rather seek the ministry as a profession. They are usually persuasive talkers well versed in modern psychology. Their message is watered-down containing no spiritual substance. To keep the crowd they turn to music and entertainment.
It behooves every church of God that loves the Lord and His word to be on guard. Satan has such a man eager to move in and take over every sound biblical church. These outward charismatic preachers change the grace of God into lasciviousness, which means something indecent, wanton, and without restraint.4 Can anyone deny that we see this daily on the so-called "Christian TV Networks" where the TV evangelists hawk their false health and wealth gospel. These evil men gladly received by the public, which attested to by the millions of dollars they receive. They bring into disrepute the word of God and His wonderful grace and turn it into a swindle to make riches for themselves. Some of these are women who blatantly take the position of a preacher of the gospel in defiance of God's stated word that He never calls a woman to be a preacher.
They actually deny the Lord Jesus by leading God's people away from the truth. They clearly have no fear of God and trample on His word. Their hearts are seared as if with a hot iron to the accepting biblical truth. Their calloused hearts are not sensitive to spiritual things. They use the Bible, stealing from it well-known phrases and passages, which they manipulate into tools to aid their deception. While dishonoring God they in glowing terms proclaim how much they love the Lord.
In Paul's instructions to Titus, he admonished him to hold fast to God's truth. Titus 1:9 11 "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."
The last phrase of the above verse gives the main reason these people in the name of God actually deny Him. They do so for the sake of "filthy lucre" or money. Money or wealth in itself is not evil or sinful. It is their all consuming desire or lust for money that is sinful. Paul calls them "unruly" meaning they are insubordinate and have no respect for God or His word. These are "vain talkers" who deceive the naive by their persistent long arguments that contradict God's word. Paul singles out the Jewish rulers (of the circumcision) as especially guilty of the sinful conduct. The gainsayers know they can always find gullible and naive people who accept their false teachings. These charismatic speakers subvert entire congregations conning people out of their money. To see this perversion of God's word all you need do is turn on a modern religious TV channel. It seems in desperation Paul says, their mouths must be bridled or muzzle to stop them. The only effective way to silence them would be to expose their false doctrines and practices. However, usually their followers are devoted to them and rarely open to God's truth. The Christian must stand and present God's truth in spite of it not likely being accepted.
The Pretenders. The Apostate False Teachers.
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 4)
Jesus warned in Matthew 7:15 that there are false teachers, and enemies of God who will come into a congregation of God's people to destroy them make merchandise of them by corrupting God's truth. Jesus said they are wolves who come in sheep's clothing to disguise their identity and true intent.
The phrase "before of old ordained to the condemnation" means their appearance and sinful work was predicted. It actually began with Satan in the Garden of Eden. The Greek word "pareisduno" translated "crept in unaware" is a unique word only used this once in the New Testament. It describes the use of cunning words and clever deceptions. In extra biblical use in the First Century, the word referred to a criminal who secretly slipped back into the country after being expelled. It literally means to "go down into and alongside." So these "certain" men are cunning deceivers secretly sneak into a church and cleverly begin to undermine it for their selfish gain.
Some years ago, ABC Prime Time Live investigated Robert Tilton, a TV evangelist and healer. I have the program on tape in my library. I watched him go to the front row of the audience and pick up a walking crane that he held high in the air so the audience could see. He looked down and told a man sitting there that God had healed him and told him to get up and run to the back of the church. The man responded by running down the aisle to the back of the church. The audience went wild! Tilton began to shout and wave the cane in the air telling them had witnesses a miracle from God. When interviewed a few minutes later by Diane Sawyer, the man was asked about the apparent healing. The man said "Mam, I wasn't healed, that cane Mr. Tilton picked up belonged to the woman sitting beside me. She was the cripple!" Dianne Sawyer asked him, "Why did you run to the back of the church?" The man answered, "Well, he told me to, so I did it." This is a vivid illustration of the deceptive ways of such men that God says is the nature of these evil people.5
Jude uses the term "lasciviousness" to describe the acts of these men who pervert God's grace. The word "lascivious" means "to be wanton or lustful in nature". These false teachers engage in shameless conduct. Money is one motivation of these people, but another is their craving of recognition that is rooted in pride, seeking attention, and the praise of men. John mentioned such a person in 3 John 9 stating that Diotrephes, loved to have the preeminence among the brethren. He was so jealous of his position he refused to allow John to be a guest in the church.
Further, lasciviousness describes a lewd or sexually seductive person. These captivating teachers are undisciplined, unruly, ungodly people are hard to control. Today these traits are very apparent in the pulpits of many modern contemporary churches and the televangelists. These false teachers portray themselves as wonderful people who love the Lord, all the while denying the Lord Jesus by their false doctrines and practices. They appear as nice, intellectual, and caring people. Yet, as 2 Corinthians 11:14 15 says they are the agents of Satan. "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
Paul also repeatedly warned against people who creep into churches and destroy them. This does not mean these churches cease to exist, but instead they become devoid of God's truth. God cannot bless error and thus they are no longer His assemblies and He they do not have His presence or blessing. This was a serious matter for the Apostle and when he left Ephesus, he gave them stein instructions.
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:28-31).
Satan is not some hideous red creature with horns and a pointed tail, but he comes as an "angel (messenger) of light." (2 Cor. 11:14) He arrives proclaiming some new teaching that tickles the ears of his hearers and he leads unwary people astray. Note what Paul said about them to young Timothy.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:1 5).
They appear outwardly to be genuinely godly people. These are not on the surface evil people, but people who appear very spiritual with special insights in God's word. Their charisma disarms people and causes people to follow them.
As pastor, several times in my ministry I have had such people in the churches I pastored. In one church, the man who had been holding services before I got there was spiritually weak and unskilled in God's word. The people trusted him and he appointed two men who occasionally attended the services to be trustees who did not even confess to be Christians. He was not discerning and allowed a couple from a false church to become members. They became a thorn in the side of that church. They clearly did not embrace to the biblical doctrines on which the church was founded. Yet, they were wealthy and generously gave to the church. This endears them to the congregation. They were outwardly a nice couple, which made it impossible for me as the pastor to remove them from the membership. Having no support from the congregation, my hands were tied. I watched this couple who appeared to be "ministers of righteousness" who were all the while corrupting God's work. They knew that I recognized them for what they were and clandestinely they lead a campaign against me the whole time I was there. After several years, they were partly responsible for my leaving. The lesson is that a pastor's hands are tied when God's people are not discerning or will not stand for truth.
Jesus, in Matthew 16:6 warned believers to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Leaven in the Bible represents an evil influence that grows until it permeates the congregation. It perverts God's truth effectively limits God's ability to work. Leaven that is unchecked in a congregation prevents God's blessings and work. The Devil knows that God cannot bless false teaching, practices, and those who compromise His word, mixing truth with error. Therefore Satan's strategy is to send in unbelievers, as Jude says, who are "denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" by their actions. Understand that publicly these deceivers outwardly claim to love God but actually are apostates who do not believe God's word.
The ploy of apostasy comes from those who profess Jesus as their Savior but deny Him by the lives they live. If a person claims to be a Christian and does not believe and live by God's word, he is denying Him. Such people do not fear God and have no appreciation for His person and righteousness. It is uncanny, but they live with a false sense of immunity from God's judgment of sin, which marks them as unbelievers.
God's warning should not be ignored. Pastors and congregations should be diligent in discernment ever watchful for Satan's attempts to corrupt God's truth and destroy His work. They should support their pastor, who God has called to lead the flock, and protect them from the wolves that come in sheep's clothing. Peter warned saying "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (1 Peter 5:8-9) The threat is real and the evidence of Satan's past success in subversion is all the many false teachers, churches and cults that are prospering today.
God will Judge False Teachers - Jude 5-7
Jude uses several examples of God's actions in biblical history as a reminder that God is a just God who will judge sin and disobedience. When God delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt, He did so with many miracles. Israel was crying out in their bondage and asking God for deliverance from slavery under Pharaoh. (See Exodus 2:23-25) God then graciously brought them out of Egypt and promised to protect and care for them. Many believed God, but others, although physically delivered from Egypt really did not believe Him. Their murmuring and disobedience showed their hearts were still in Egypt. Kadesh-barnea God brought them to the threshold of their new wonderful land of milk and honey. He promised to fight for them and as He had when He delivered them from Egypt. God promised that He would deliver them also from the Canaanites. Yet, when the spies returned from shying out the land, only Joshua and Caleb showed themselves to be believers. They refused to move into Canaan not trusting God's promises to them. The result of Israel's unbelief meant God could not bless them. He cannot bless when people will not believe His word. Hebrews 11:6 says it is impossible to please God a part from faith. Thus, they brought on themselves God's condemnation to wander in the desert for forty years until every adult in Israel had died that had not believed God. However, it should be an encouragement to us that Joshua and Caleb were men of faith and remained faithful. Though God's promises were delayed for forty years, they were two men reaped the fulfillment of God's blessings and inherited the land.
God's past blessing does not assure that He will continue to bless in the future. God cannot be a part of false teaching and apostasy what rejects Him and His word. At Kadesh-barnea, God's man, Moses, told them of God's plan and of His promise to give them the land. Rather, than trust God, people listened to the ten faithless and unbelieving spies. Rather than believe God's word, delivered to them by Moses, who was without question God's prophet, they followed the ungodly spies who denied God. This is the warning of Jude. God's people must be discerning and believe God or suffer the consequences. With God's people, it is not a matter of not knowing God's will and truth as we have God's word that clearly instructs us. However, the problem is that faithless men in unbelief ignore God's promises and allow themselves to be deceived. Today there are many faithful men in pulpits preaching God's truth and warning their congregations of sin and disobedience. Yet, often there comes a "nice" more impressive leader with eloquent speech who cunningly leads people astray. The result will always be the same as it was with Israel. God destroyed not only the unrighteous spies, but also all the unbelievers in Israel who followed them. This is a solemn warning showing what He will do whenever people reject Him. Being just, God cannot overlook sin.
Many a church because of following false teachers has gone into apostasy and should have the name Ichabod written across it doors meaning that the glory of the Lord has departed. (See 1 Sam. 4:19-22) Rarely, if ever does a church that abandons God's truth repent and return to God. The little foxes spoil the vines, which means seemingly small and insignificant compromises in God's word are the leaven that destroys the lump.(Song of Solomon 2:15) God forbid that any true pastor or child of God become complacent and give an inch of ground to the wolves that are ever circling our congregations ready to devour.
Jude in verse six gives another example of God's unwavering justice. Satan rebelled against God and led a fourth of the angels in heaven to disobey God. (See Ezekiel 28:12-14, Isaiah 14:12-15) The Bible records these angels kept not their first estate and "left their own habitation." Their first estate was that they served the Lord where He had created and placed them. They experienced the blessing of being in God's presence and serving Him. When they sinned, God did not spare them and reserved them to "everlasting chains under darkness" to be eternally punished and condemned in the Lake of Fire. These angels had the special privilege of being with God, committed a terrible atrocity by willingly rebelling against God and following Satan. Note too that the statement "under darkness" is added to further describe their plight. The Lake of Fire is represented as permeated by fire, yet this fire produces no light. The place is in utter or complete darkness. There is no contact with others in the darkness of the Lake of Fire and this verse implies the inhabitants are in complete isolation.
It is vital that we understand that the angels chose to leave "their first estate." With the full knowledge of God, they willingly refused to believe Him and thus they condemned themselves by their rebellion. In the same way, Jude is warning people who know of God, even with head knowledge of His existence, which all men have, that if they reject God they too put themselves beyond God's mercy and into His wrath.
Peter also uses the same examples in presenting the truth of the judgment of God against those who reject God's truth.
"And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly" (2 Peter 2:3 6).
There is debate as to whether Christian that falls into apostasy could be saved and born again. Note what Peter wrote about the apostate:
Peter says these "escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." However, does this mean they were saved? The answer lies in the knowledge that many people outwardly are drawn to Jesus Christ and begin to attend church and act religiously who never are converted. Jesus spoke of such people in Matthew 7:22-23. They call Him, Lord, Lord and do great things in His name, but Jesus said He never knew them. Man give intellectual accent to the existence Jesus Christ, but it is not from their heart and they have not submitted themselves to Christ in faith. They are people who have "religion" but do not have the new birth. Peter calls them dogs that return to their vomit. He means, though they professed a belief in Jesus Christ, they remanded unconverted "dogs."
The person who puts their faith in Jesus Christ from their heart is eternally saved as Romans 10:10 states. However, it is true that a believer can turn from following the Lord. God says in Hebrews 12:6-13 that He chastises those who fall into gross sin and do not repent. The Lord chastens them to bring them to repentance and turn them from their sin. 1 John 5:16 states there is sin a Christian can commit which will leads to his physical death. In 1 Corinthians 11:28-31 Paul wrote of believers who God had killed because they were in sin, refusing to "discern" the body of Christ. In other words, they knowingly sinned without any regard that Christ had to suffer for their every sin. The true child of God cannot fall away from God's grace and be lost, but he can fall into sin. Hebrews 6:4-11 explains that it is impossible for one who is born again, receiving the Spirit of God to be lost. The impossibility of a Christian being lost is shown in that if it were possible for a saved man to be lost, Christ would have to be crucified again. What happens afterward in the life of one who professes he is a Christian shows what was their true relationship with God. God says in Hebrews 12:8 He only chastens His children. If the apostate continues in apostasy with no apparent chastening of God, it is clear they were never His children. They were always dogs who returned to their vomit and pigs that were outwardly washed, but inwardly still swine.
In verse seven, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha are presented as a further proof that God will judge and punish sin. The plight of the fallen angels who rebelled against God will be judged as was Sodom and Gomorrha. Jude says the Sodomites gave themselves to the gross sin of homosexuality. In other words, they willingly chose the lifestyle they knew was wrong, making the same mistake the fallen angels did. God destroyed both cities and its inhabitants in judgment for their blatant sin. The extent of God's judgment is stated in it was the "vengeance (punishment) of eternal fire." Some commentators mistakenly conclude fallen angels committed fornication with humans. This is impossible because angels are sexless beings. The sin of these fallen angels was of rebellion against what God had created them to be. Apostasy means to renounce one's professed faith or to abandon one's previous loyalty.
Jude Denounces the Apostates.
"Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves." (Jude 8-10)
A professor of mine told the account of a young woman he knew who attended a popular Bible college. She was the epitome of a Christian. She dressed right, talked right, lived right, and was in the limelight as the perfect example of a born again young Christian woman. Several years later, it was learned after she left the school she was found on Bourbon Street in New Orleans working as a stripper and prostitute. She is a perfect example of an apostate. She knew the truth and even lived for a time by God's principles, but she willingly, with full knowledge, turned her back on God and went the way of Satan. A worse situation is when the apostate remains in the church and has a corrupting influence the congregation.
Jesus in the parable of the sower described the seed that fell by the way side. He said in Mark 4:15 17: "And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended." Clearly, Jesus is saying that although they initially received God word with gladness they did not allow it to take root in their lives. Their knowledge of Jesus Christ did not affect their salvation. When something came in their lives that distracted them or had a greater appeal, the Lord no longer interested them and they left their pretence.
In verses 5-7 Jude warned about past apostasies in the Old Testament and of its consequences. God judged those who turned from His truth and He "in like manner" (verse 8) will continue to do so with all who reject Him today. Jude calls these false teachers "filthy dreamers." The word "filthy" correctly added by the King James Bible translators explains the state of these apostate teachers. It emphasizes the seriousness and degree of sin they commit. Paul describes them in Romans 1:21 23.
Ignorance is not the cause of those who go into apostasy. They fully know who God is, but in their self-righteous pride, they elevate themselves over God. Paul says they are without excuse because deliberately changed the glory of uncorruptible God into one of corruption made in the likeness of sinful man.
Jude calls the "dreamers" which means to see dreams or delusions. Most Christians will run into such people in the course of witnessing and teaching God's truth. It is the mark of a cult that their teachers are delusional and do not know or cannot see the truth. How frustrating it is to try to explain God's truth to these blind and unhearing people. Because of their pride in intellect and knowledge, they rejected God's truth. Thinking themselves to be wise they are make themselves to be fools and "blind guides."(See Matthew 23:16, 24)
The word used by Jude for dreamers is not the word used to refer to a normal dream. This word refers to a confused state of the soul, an abnormal imagination that holds the dreamer captive by ungodly sensuality. In other words, their teachings are rooted in their delusional and sinful minds warped by sin.
Jude explains that these unregenerate false teachers, masquerading as speaking for God, will eventually expose themselves as the sinners they are. In time, their immoral hearts will be revealed and they will be seen for whom they are. A popular televangelist some years ago was revealed as a regular visitor to the brothels of his city. Exposed, as an adulterer and gross sinner he went on TV and with tears streaming down his face asked the public to forgive him. His outward repentance was merely put on, because in a short time he was caught again. Today he still has a "ministry" and continues to preach and rob gullible and blind people of their money offering a false hope.6
Another nationally known televangelist was convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from his "ministry" and spent a number of years in jail. His late wife, who cried big tears that marred her heavily made up face, later remarried and denied even the simplest of biblical truth. She went so far as to endorse her son's claim that God had given him a new revelation that He now approved homosexuality.7 Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit. (Matthew 23:33). It has been well said "that you can fool some of the people most of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
One mark of these false teachers is that they hate authority. That is what the term "despise dominion" means. One of the before mentioned TV evangelists after his sinful acts were exposed was defrocked by his denomination. However, he defied their authority and condemnation and declared himself independent and non-denominational. Dominion refers to authority. John gave us an example of this in 3 John 9-10 in the person of Diotrephes who loved to have the preeminence in the church. Diotrephes took authority over the local congregation lording over it. He was the authority, not God. God specifically rebukes this behavior in 1 Peter 5:3 "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." God's plan that His ministers are first responsible to Him and are accountable to the local congregation as it follows God's word. The false teacher will only be passively submissive the authority of God's word and rejects the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of God's word. They presented themselves as more enlightened and superior than the "laity." Thus, the church becomes a stage for them to act upon and present themselves. Many pride themselves in being "non-denominational" which in reality means being "non doctrinal." Instead of supporting the uncompromising principles of God's word, they pride themselves in being ecumenical and not dogmatic about doctrine. They purport to all that they are people who love others, when actually their actions are wholly self centered and selfish. They truly are ravaging wolves in sheep's clothing. (Matt. 7:15)
Another trait of the false apostate teachers is speaking evil of dignities. In Jude 9 he explains the seriousness of this gross sin by saying that even Michael the Archangel when contending with Satan over Moses'body did not speak a word against him. Rather Michael responded by saying the "Lord rebuke thee." The degree of the depravity to which these false teachers descend is the point of this statement. These people having no respect for authority will slander and criticize pastors and God's children who are following truth. It is clear they do not believe in God because they have no fear of Him.
I have corresponded with hundreds of such people caught up in the cults and false doctrine through my Internet question and answer service.8 Rarely will these people compare their unbiblical beliefs with what the Bible plainly states. They claim to know and believe in Jesus Christ, but deny the authority of His word. John states the undeniable truth that Jesus Christ is the Word of God and you cannot separate Him from His word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) He is the sole authority for truth. Paul makes this clear when writing to Timothy. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The man who follows God's word will lack nothing and be "perfect" which means fully "complete."
Jude 10 states the true condition of false teachers. They can run roughshod over the deity of Jesus Christ, the supernatural Being of our God and Creator, deny His works and word without a twinge of conscience. Spiritually false teachers are morally corrupt, dead, and intellectually blind. They are arrogant, disrespectful and blaspheme God's truth with a false sense of impunity.
They boldly criticize God's truth, which they do not know anything about. It is very difficult to carry on a sensible conversation or dialogue with them. I once heard a statement that I think clearly expresses the problem. It says they do not even know enough to know they do not know anything." What a pitiful state is this. What compounds their plight is they will not consider God's truth.
God states their predicament in the following verses:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
"But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption" (2 Peter 2:12).
If we are realistic, we will understand that the false teachers who would read the book of Jude are little impressed by God's description of them. Because they are hypocrites, they are not open to any criticism or examining of their beliefs. Further, they will go to any length to mask their identity.
In referring to these unregenerate teachers both Jude and Peter refer to them as "brute beasts." The state of their minds is such that they think like an animal. Animals are not capable of reasoning, but are controlled by their animal nature. The highest goal of an animal is to satisfy its hunger and fulfill the desires of their bodies. This is a shocking description to apply to any man saying he acts like a dumb animal. Nevertheless, this description is not for the benefit of the false teachers, but for the instruction of God's people so they can be wary and discerning of those the Devil may send their way.
Describing the False Teachers.
"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." (Jude 11)
Jude associates the sin of these false teachers using three Old Testament characters. Each of these mentioned had a particular sin that marked their lives in opposing God and misleading God's people.
Cain was an arrogant man who knew of God and His truth, but willingly rejected Him. Instead of accepting God's word literally as God instructed Adam and Eve, Cain twisted what his parents had taught him to fit his own ideas. Cain had no respect for God. He rejected God's stated instruction about offering an animal sacrifice and as a farmer offered fruit from his field's to God. Cain was the first apostate. God's purpose in giving them the instruction about offering sacrifices was to foreshadow the coming promised Messiah. (See Genesis 3:15) Everything that the Lord has instructed man to do religiously He always explains. Cain and Abel knew that the animal sacrifices pre-pictured the coming sacrifice of the Savior for sin.
Yet, Cain would not accept giving a blood sacrifice because he had no faith or trust in God. (See Hebrews 11:4) Even though he knew this was God's will he saw no point in sacrificing an animal. When his sacrifice was rejected by God, Cain showed his rebellion by becoming "very wroth, and his countenance fell" (Genesis 4:5). Sin and evil will always accompany false doctrine. Cain in anger attacked his brother Abe and murdered him.
Liberal theologians of our day, like Cain, reject God's literal instructions and formulate religious practices that deny God. They deny the supernatural, the deity of Jesus Christ and God as our Creator and the Supreme Being of the Universe. For example, when the Bible literally states that Jesus gave up the spirit and allowed Himself to die, many liberals say He was not dead, but was only in an unconscious state. This means He was not really God, nor was His resurrection true. They assert Jesus was simply a good man whose example we should follow, but He was not the Savior of the world literally, but only a Savior in showing us how to save ourselves.
These apostate teachers pervert God's very words. In our day, literal theologians have concluded that God is not against homosexually. They say the account of God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah was not about homosexually, but that the Sodomites were destroyed because they were planning to assault the angels that visited Lot.9 (See Genesis 19:4-5) The liberals blatantly deny what the words state. The term "know" or "knew" is used in Genesis 4:17 of Cain having relations with his wife and producing a child. It is also used in the same way of Adam and Joseph referring to sexual relations. The Bible says the Sodomites wanted to "know" the men-angels, meaning they wanted to have a homosexual relations with them. This is but one of hundreds of examples of how the apostate "theologians" of our day pervert God word and deny Him.
The apostate's actions are also like Balaam's in Genesis 22-25. When Balak, the king of Moab, wanted to defeat Israel, he called on a false prophet to aid him. God then visited Balaam and told him not to curse Israel because He had blessed them. Balaam then went to Balak and said he could not curse Israel and left. Undeterred, Balak sends princes that are more persuasive to Balaam and asked again for his help. Balaam ignored God's instructions and said he would come if the king would give him "a house full of silver and gold." (See Genesis 22:18). As Balaam headed to see Balak and collect his house full of gold and silver an angel blocked his way. The ass that Balaam was riding saw the angel and refused to go forward. Three times Balaam beat the ass and finally God opened the mouth of the ass and it spoke to Balaam, rebuking him for his actions. God then opens Balsam's eyes so he could see the angel. Balaam then falls to the ground and confesses that he has sinned against God. He then went to Balak and again refused to aid him telling him that God had forbidden him to do so.
Balak the king still undeterred, once again seeks Balaam's help by sending him sheep and oxen to entice him. Again, God confronts Balaam when he offers sacrifices on seven altars. God tells Balaam He has blessed Israel and Balaam is not to curse them. Balaam then in Balak's presence offers a blessing on Israel. Numbers 31:16 explains that Balaam, in spite of what God said, then advised the women of Moab to commit idolatry and immorality with the men of Israel. Thus, they corrupted the men of Israel and brought on themselves God's judgment.
Thus, the sin of Balaam was of knowingly selling one's soul for money and financially gains. Modern professional preachers and theologians fully understanding their sins also sell themselves for money and prestige. These men are in the ministry for money and they will do everything to get as much as they can. They will lie and mislead people in God's name, but in truth are serving only themselves for "filthy lucre" or money. (1 Peter 5:2) Peter furthers says in 1 Peter 2:3, they make merchandise of people.
The TV and radio are full of Balaamites, ungodly men such as those of the modern tongues movement who preach a false gospel in God's name deceiving thousands and milking them of their money. The men of Israel were gullible and had a bent toward sin and when the opportunity came, they went into idolatry and immorality. Sadly, so many people follow the liberals and false teaches of our day like little puppy dogs, seemingly blind to lies of these false men and women. They are gullible, because they seek health and wealth from God instead of salvation and spiritual conversion.
Jude says these false teachers have "perished in the gainsaying of Co're (Korah). The word "gainsaying," means "against the word" (Greek - anitlogia ). Korah was Moses' cousin who resented that he was excluded from being a priest. He showed his pride by envying Moses as being Israel's leader. Koran then led a rebellion against Moses telling people that they did not need Moses or priests. Over two hundred and fifty in Israel followed him in his rebellion against God and Moses. They rejected God's order of having special appointed priest to minister before Him for the people. The reason for the priesthood was to pre-shadow the coming of the Messiah who would be the One who would be the Savior and Intermediary for the people. Korah told the people they did not need an intermediary and they could minister for themselves thus denying God's promise of the Redeemer God dealt with Korah directly and the ground opened and swallowed him, his family and even their houses and goods. God sent a fire and consumed those two hundred and fifty men who believed Korah and offered false incense on the altar to God.
Korah taught a works salvation, teaching men could save themselves by their own works, in doing so rejected, Christ's suffering, and sacrifice that was symbolized in the temple sacrifices. Those that follow Korah's example today deny the need of Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. They preach a works salvation. It is the idea so often heard which says, "We all are working our way to God, only in different ways and God honors them all."
The apostates of today are reflected in the statements of men like Billy Graham, the popular evangelists that so many people hold in such high regard. An example of his apostasy is found in 1978 in McCall's Magazine. Graham said "I used to think that pagans in far-off countries were lost -- were going to hell -- if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. ... I believe there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God -- through nature, for instance -- and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying yes to God." 10 How subtle does Billy Graham deny God's word that says, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Graham's an example of a typical apostate is reflected in his statement to Time Magazine in which he denied hell is a place of literal fire. Graham said, "The only thing I could say for sure is that hell means separation from God. We are separated from His light, from His fellowship. That is going to hell. When it comes to a literal fire, I don't preach it because I'm not sure about it. When the Scripture uses fire concerning hell, that is possibly an illustration of how terrible it's going to be -- not fire but something worse, a thirst for God that cannot be quenched." (11/15/93, Time Magazine)
Jude explains that an apostate false teacher rebels against God's instruction and makes up his own teachings contrary to what he knows God has said. He is a "hireling" who is in the ministry for the money he can make and he will lie and deceive in order to keep the money rolling in. He degrades God and God's truth. He teaches a works salvation perverting what he has been clearly taught.
"These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots" (Jude 12)
The feast that Jude refers to was called the "love feast" and is addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:20-22. The verse is saying the people who participated in the love feasts, were "spots" in their fellowship. A spot normally something that has contaminated what was pure. This word refers to a hidden rock or reef under the sea that could rip the bottom out of a ship. The false teacher is an ever-present danger lurking just out of sight waiting to destroy the unwary child of God.
The description continues saying they are clouds without water carried about by winds. A cloud without water can produce no rain on which plants must have. These waterless clouds look productive, but are empty. Within the last decade, we have seen examples of these teachers who with great fanfare and excitement promote new movements. One of the worst was the Promise Keepers Movement with its unbiblical teachings, which for a time made the founders a great amount of money. Other such empty promotions are the "Prayer of Jabez" that made its promoters millions of dollars. It too ignored the context of the 1 Corinthians 4:10 and the situation in which this prayer was prayed and it was used to promote the false health and wealth gospel. Although currently losing its appeal, Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" falsely mixes scripture with psychology and motivational principles that has misled millions of people. These movements are promoted as offering great spiritual benefit. However, in time they all fail because they are not based on biblical principles. They do not uplift men, but instead leave them spiritually empty.
Jude says they are like trees whose fruit as the season progresses withers, and having no fruit are "twice dead plucked up by the roots." Jesus said in Matthew 15:13 "But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." The analogy is that these apostate teachers are like barren and worthless trees. They are worthless and should be plucked up and destroyed. Jude says they are "twice dead." They began as all men are, lost in their sins, but they falsely professed to come to the light, and after a time went back in their former state. Apostates are spiritually dead inside and cannot produce good fruit. Their end is that they are hopelessly spiritually dead; looking like trees in the winter that are devoid of leaves and fruit. When summer comes, these trees remain dead showing they have no life in them.
It is easy to see the anger of Jude in his description of the apostate teachers who secretly invade churches. He recognizes their destructive and evil influence on a local congregation and its ministry and "righteous indignation" rises in him being God's true servant and messenger. Several times the Bible uses a raging sea to describe the unsaved. Like a raging sea, in turmoil, so is the one who does not know God. Jude paints a picture of despair, which typifies the life of a man apart from God wandering without true purpose and headed toward the darkness of the final judgment reserved for the sinner who rejects God.
God's Faithful Prophets
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." (Jude 14-16)
It is noteworthy that Jude mentions that Enoch, who was the seventh generation from Adam, and who prophesied of the coming of these apostate teachers. Genesis 5:24 says of Enoch, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." He was unique because he pleased God and the Lord took him directly to heaven and he did not see death.
Enoch was the only prophet before Noah that the Bible mentions. This is also the only place in the Bible that mentions the prophecy of Enoch. It shows Jude was man of whom God revealed truth that He had not previously given in His word. 2 Peter 1:21 says "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
Enoch prophesied of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus and of the apostates who would also come. Enoch said, "To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." (Jude 15 16)
Enoch foretold that Jesus would come with "ten thousands of his saints." The word "saints" is translated from the Greek word "hagios" which means a "holy one." The number expressed means tens of thousands or a great number of holy ones. What a comfort and joy it is to know that those who have believed and placed their faith in Jesus Christ will be among this great throng of God's children. God's bride will return to Earth after being raptured at the being of the Tribulation and stand before Christ in the BEMA judgment (1 Cor. 3:10-15). The born again Christians will return with the Lord's army at His Second Coming and will serve Him in His Millennial Kingdom, He promised to Israel.
Enoch said that when the Lord returns He comes to execute judgment. This is a stern warning to the apostate teachers and predicts their doom unless they repent. In this present time, the false teachers boldly proclaim their false teachings and practice their unbiblical deeds. They by their actions defy Almighty God, but God is longsuffering and they are allowed to continue. The phrase "convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed" should shake the apostates to their core. The word "convince" means to bring conviction. They denied God in their lives, but at the Second Coming, they will no more rebel and blaspheme God's word. No longer will these godless teachers deceive people. Their end has come. Christ will be glorified and His truth vindicated, which also begins swift judgment the unbelievers and apostates.
Jude reveals the character of these false and apostate people. They are murmurers or grippers forever complaining about something. Their lives are marked by pursuing the lusts of their flesh. They are great talkers always having a comment on everything that is brought up and they with "swelling words" meaning with pompous arrogance present themselves as experts on everything.
The phrase "having men's persons in admiration because of advantage" is a literal rendering of the Greek text. It means people will use flattery to get the advantage over people. Everyone likes to be complimented and have nice things said about them and it is a powerful tool for those seeking to dupe others and control them. These "positive" preachers play up to the audience and preach to please the crowd. They are the leaders of most Protestant denominations who have taken "hell" and the teachings of the blood of Christ from their hymnbooks and preaching. These are men who can smile like "Cheshire cats" all the while praising everyone and everything. Preaching on hell and warning men of the consequences of sin is taboo with them. They certainly would not say anything to offend the sinner or expose his sin. A social gospel is a false gospel that seeks to please men. (See Gal. 1:10) It uses false love and goodwill to water down God's truth and corrupts it with human psychology that neither saves nor comforts the sinner.
Encouragement for Believers.
If this Epistle had stopped at verse 16, surely the believer would be left discouraged and frustrated at learning of the power of the apostates in working against truth and the Gospel. It is disturbing to know that one's church can be so easily penetrated by those who follow Satan and disrupt the work of God. No one wants to learn there may be traitors in their group.
However, Jude offers encouragement and reminds the child of God of the words of the Apostles about the Lord Jesus. Jude is saying this is not something that is unexpected, because it was predicted. The Apostles plainly said there would be "mockers" in the end times that would live to satisfy their ungodly lusts. (See 2 Pet. 3:3) These false teachers would separate themselves from God's people and from truth and mislead many.
We have to look no further to find the apostate teachers who have formed hundreds of Christian cults, all claiming to be founded by God, but whose doctrines show them to be the servants of Satan. In the mid 1800 after the Great Awakening at the turn of the 19th Century, there arose a storm of these false teachers. They gathered congregations of gullible people who allowed themselves to be misled. During this period, there arose the apostate religions of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, the Campbellites and the Church of Christ and a host of other false teachers. Literally millions have followed their ungodly teachings that have damned the souls of innumerable men and women to hell who died believing their lies. However, at the same time, there was true revival in the hearts of millions who heard the truth from God's faithful pastors and churches who were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. History shows that whenever the Gospel is preached and men are being saved, the devil is also working to present a false gospel and mislead people.
Jude calls apostates "sensual" meaning they are controlled by their carnal natures. These ungodly men think themselves to be spiritually superior to ordinary men. Jude is saying these men present themselves as being great spiritual leaders, but they in truth are men driven by sensual lusts. Think of the scandals associated with the founders of the modern cults and of the modern televangelists who hawk their false gospel to line their pockets.
Further, there are the intellectual theologians and liberal church leaders who look down their long noses at the fundamentalists and those who believe the Bible literally with ridicule and disdain. With their perceived superior intellect, they belittle anyone not in their crowd. Many are awed by their false superiority and outward charisma, but as Jude said in verse 12, they are barren of life and twice dead.
The contrast between the false apostates and those who believe and serve God are without comparison. One is empty, ungodly and devoid any glimmer of anything spiritual or worthwhile. The other is a humble child of God, who has received the very spirit of God by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These apostates parade on their stages with great pomp and ceremony offering those who follow them a higher spirituality than those who are so simpleminded that they have a childlike faith accept God's word. The true and godly believer seeks to grow in the Lord and build their lives believing and obeying God word. They are humble prayer warriors, realizing their frailty and dependence on God, and are ever seeking God's help and guidance for their lives. These godly saints by their faithfulness and obedience keep themselves in the love of God, seeking His mercy and salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. They see themselves as Paul did, as a bond slave to Christ with a committed calling to serve God and those around them. These honor our Lord and Savior and are a testimony to His grace and mercy.
The Christian's Consolation and Sure Hope.
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 24 25)
In the face of such powerful forces that are working against the cause of Christ, one could become discouraged. It often seems like the devil is winning all the battles and our efforts to reach the lost are constantly being sabotaged. The false teachers have great resources that use to reach millions of people. Their deceptive message is cunning and it lures gullible men and women. We feel like John the Baptist, who described himself as a ". . . voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Matthew 3:3).
Jude is saying that in spite of false teachers and apostates, our salvation is secure in Christ Jesus. He is able to keep us from falling. It is God who keeps us saved and will not allow any of His children to be lost. God assures us of this saying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:3 5)
Ironically, most false teachers teach that believers can lose their salvation. However, they do so in clear denial of God's stated promise. The true believer is not in danger of losing his salvation. The false teachers hammer away at their audiences using the threat of a person losing their salvation as one of their cunning devices to keep people loyal to them and sending in the money.
Yet, the believer is told clearly that he will one day be presented faultless before the presence of the Lord. What a wonderful day it will be to see the unobstructed the glory of God. We will then experience the "exceeding joy" of finally being delivered from the sin of this world. Most people think that when they meet God it will be a fearful thing and that is true for the unsaved. To the contrary, it will be a joyous moment for the believer who has put his faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We will be home! We will see the One who redeemed us and made us His children. We should take great comfort in the truth of our promised homecoming.
We cannot now fully comprehend what a great salvation God has prepared for us. However, this we know it will be wonderful and beyond our most imaginative expectations. This truth should stir our hearts toward praising and honoring the Him our Savior. Yes, all glory and majesty, dominion, and power are His, and best of all it is now and forever. The believer has the abiding presence of the Lord always to aid him in his struggles with sin and in the opposition of Satan.
When serving in the Air Force I was stationed a Tan Son Nhut Air Base just outside Saigon, Vietnam in 1966-67. When the Vietcong would mortar our base, it was frightening in the first few minutes as mortars began to explode. Nevertheless, I knew that within a few moments those that guarded the base would return fire. I was fully confident that soon the attack would be over because we were defended by brave, well equipped, and trained men. In spite of the danger of the moment, my spirit was calm. I trusted our defenders. I knew they were good men.
Jude in the closing words of this small Epistle is offering us a calming truth. Our God is all-powerful and wonderful beyond our comprehension. He is able and we are in no danger! Our salvation is secure in the Person of Jesus Christ our omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God. He has promised to return and told of many details of His coming final victory. Our task is to be faithful and to defend the faith that has redeemed us and thereby bring glory and honor to our Redeemer. We are to take our comfort and strength from God's promises and with God's help, we will!
End Notes:1 David W. Cloud, Way of Life Encyclopedia, CD version, 2000.
Cooper Abrams is a missionary pastor and church planter working in Utah. He and his wife Carolyn are missionaries out of Calvary Baptist Church, 536 South Main Street, King, NC 27021 and have been involved in seeing four Independent Baptist churches established in Utah since 1986. He is currently the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Tremonton, Utah.
Pastor Abrams graduated from Piedmont Baptist College in 1981 with a ThB (Bachelor of Theology) and in 2000 with a MBS (Master of Biblical Studies) and in 2013 he received a PhD (Philosophy in Religion - Bible) from Bethany Divinity College and Seminary.
Cooper enjoys writing and has authored numerous articles and sermons on a wide variety of Christian subjects, in addition to several commentaries on books of the Bible. Most of his writings are posted on his popular web site Bible Truth (http://bible-truth.org) which is presently averaging over one hundred and fifty thousand visits per month from over two hundred and fifteen countries around the world. He further has an Internet question and answer ministry.
All Scripture references are from the King James Bible.
No part of this publication maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in anyway by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the permission of the author, Cooper P. Abrams, III (email@example.com) except as provided by USA copyright laws.
United States of America
January 2011 by Cooper P. Abrams, III All rights reserved.
An effort has been made to locate sources and obtain permission where necessary for quotations used in this book. In the event of any unintentional omission, a modification we be incorporated in future additions.