Volume 2 February 15, 2003 Issue 1

The Word — Not Someone's Word — Part 2

Although this issue of Diligence begins the second year (volume 2) of publication, we're continuing with part two of our study in the book of Jude.

Remember that Jude told his readers that he had intended to write to them about one subject but changed his mind and decided to write to them about the false teachers that had "...crept in unnoticed..." among them. In verse 3 he told his readers that they" ...should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." In verse 4, Jude stated that these false teachers were ungodly persons who were turning the grace of God into licentiousness and were denying Jesus Christ. When we consider that Christ died on the cross for our sins, teaching that grace allows us to do whatever our sensual nature desires, is a blatant denial that we have been bought with His blood. Grace does not cancel out truth. We have grace because we obey the truth and keep His commands. Romans 6:1-2 asks the question:

"...Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid...."

It would follow then that "...turn(ing) the grace of God into licentiousness..." does in fact deny that Jesus Christ is "...our only Master and Lord...."

Now, let's continue with our study. Beginning in verse 5 and continuing through the next three verses, Jude reminds his readers of three examples that illustrate exactly how God dealt with ungodly people in times past. He writes in verse 5:

"Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe". (NIV)

Notice that Jude begins by saying "...you already know all this...." The King James Version says: "...though ye once knew this...." So Jude is saying; "In case you've forgotten, I want to remind you...." Then the first example he mentions are the Israelites. The readers of Jude knew this story very well. They knew that twelve spies had been sent into the promised land and that ten of them spread a false report among the Israelites that there were walled cites and giants in the land. (Numbers 13:32). Only Joshua and Caleb reported that they could take possession of it. (Numbers 14:9). But because the people listened to the false reports of the ten spies, not a single one who had grumbled against God was allowed to enter the promised land (Numbers 14:21-23 and 30). Let's read Numbers 14:37 and 38:

"these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord. Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived." (NIV)

Listening to the false reports of the ten spies, cost those Israelites not only the promised land but 40 years of death, disease, war, etc..

The second illustration (verse 6) of which Jude reminds his readers is that of the angels who were cast out of heaven. This same comparison between the fallen angels and false teachers is also used by Peter in II Peter 2:1-4 and 6. It reads:

"1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;...6and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;" (NIV)

The third example Jude uses (verse 7) is also mentioned in II Peter 2:6. It is the account of how God dealt with those who ignored His commandments in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Most of us are very familiar with this story and know how the immoral actions of the inhabitants brought complete destruction on those cities. Now that Jude has reminded his readers of these three examples of how God dealt with pride, lust, unbelief, and rebellion against His authority, he concludes verse 7 by saying:

"...They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." (NIV)

The Today's English Version reads this way:

"...they suffer the punishment of eternal fire as a plain warning to all."

So the reader of Jude has now been reminded that God destroyed the Israelites who listened to the false reports. The angels were cast out from heaven because of their lust and pride and He wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah because of their gross sexual immorality. Then in verse 8 Jude says:

"Yet in the same way these men..." (NAS)

"...These men..."? What men? Remember Jude is still talking about the false teachers who had crept in and were distorting the grace of God. Jude is saying "these men" (the false teachers) have the same problem that the Israelites, the angels and Sodom and Gomorrah had. They are controlled by their sensual nature rather than by God's commands. If God dealt with those people in the way that He did, will He not do the same with false teachers guilty of the same sins? Jude then further describes these false teachers concluding verse 8 with these words:

"...these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings." (NIV)

There is probably no place in the Bible where God is more clear concerning His judgement on false teachers than right here in the book of Jude. Jude says they're guilty of the same things as those examples he listed. That's why we must be diligent in study so that we will recognize false teaching lest we accept it and become a false teacher ourselves.

Then in verse 11 Jude again uses some Old Testament examples to emphasize to his readers just how dangerous these false teachers really are:

"Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion." (NIV)

Jude's reference to these false teachers taking "...the way of Cain..." simply means that their life, like that of Cain's, is a pursuit of selfishness and greed (Gen. 4:3-8). "...Rushed for profit into Balaam's error..." compares their willingness to be bribed to that of Balaam's (Num. 31:16). And finally, Jude's reference to "...Korah's rebellion" is a reference to the fact that Korah rose up against God's leadership and authority (Numbers 16:2-3).

Verses 12 and 13 employ several metaphors to further describe these false teachers.

"12These men are blemishes ("hidden reefs" in the NAS) at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm — shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted — twice dead. 13They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever." (NIV)

Jude says in verse 12 that these people have absolutely no qualms about carrying on their corrupt teachings and practices in the most blatant manner they can. They are so selfish that they are like "...shepherds who feed only themselves..." instead of feeding their flock. While we don't have room here to discuss this metaphor in more detail, there is an extremely interesting parallel in chapter 34 of Ezekiel. That chapter includes great detail as to what God Himself thinks about that kind of shepherd. Reading it will surely give greater insight as to how very powerful Jude's use is of this particular metaphor.

So Jude has made it clear in this short but very potent letter that false teachers are a serious danger to the assemblies of the saints. He says that they creep in unnoticed. And that when they have crept in, believers should stand up for, and defend the truth when these teachers threaten the faith that was handed down to the saints. So other than contending for the faith, what should believers do to help guard themselves from these false teachers?

Beginning in verse 20, Jude gives some advice on how his readers should stay strong in the midst of these false teachers. He lists five suggestions that believers should do in order to avoid falling victim to false doctrines. Those five things are:

First (v. 20) "...build yourself up in your most holy faith..." How? By getting into the Word of God on a daily basis. Psalm 119 is filled with references to the importance of the Word of God. Read verses 9, 11, 15, 18, 23, 47, 89 and 105 just to name a few.

Second (v. 20) "...praying in the Holy Spirit." Christians receive the indwelling Spirit at the time of their immersion in the water of baptism. Romans 8:26 tells us that "...the Spirit Himself intercedes for us..." from that time on.

Third (v. 21) "keep yourselves in the love of God..." Diligently guard our relationship with God, keep His commandments and never quit growing in our love of Him.

Fourth (v. 21) "...waiting anxiously for...eternal life." Knowing that He may come at any moment is purifying. Keep our life always holy before God.

Fifth (v. 22 and 23) Reach out to teach others. Jude lists three categories of those whom believers may encounter when reaching out.

  1. "...some who are doubting..." There are those who may be "skirting" false doctrines and false beliefs, perhaps "toying" with such things.

  2. "save others, snatching them out of the fire..." There are those who deliberately live in sin and are therefore doomed to everlasting hell fire. Jude says to deliver the Gospel to them before it's everlastingly too late.

  3. "...on some have mercy with fear..." This is a dangerous group. There are those whom believers should reach out to with fear. They may be so vile, so wicked or so persuasive in defending their sensual attitudes about God and/or their lifestyle that the believer will hate "even their garments" because they are so polluted by the flesh. Those must be approached with fear.

Let us never take the book of Jude lightly because it is so very short. There is a wealth of information in it that will greatly help us in our daily walk. Read it often!

"Diligence" is a privately funded publication of:
Dennis and Sherri Owens — Cincinnati, Ohio