The Present False Teachers!
As did false teachers in the past, the present false teachers reject authority, speaking against things, which they do not understand.
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.
Their Evil Nature and Deeds
Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
Jude 8 (NKJV)
The cause of their rebellion is found in the word dreamers. These people live in a dream world 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. “They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own—who can stop 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 boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”“ (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! “When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.” (Ecc. 8:11). The way of rebellion is but the way to ruin.
Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Jude 9 (NKJV)
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 you!” 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.
But these men revile (scoff and sneer at) anything they do not happen to be acquainted with and do not understand; and whatever they do understand physically [that which they know by mere instinct], like irrational beasts—by these they corrupt themselves and are destroyed (perish).
Jude 1:10 (AMP)
False teachers claimed to possess secret knowledge that gave them authority. Their “knowledge” of God was esoteric – mystical and beyond human understanding. The nature of God is beyond our understanding, but God, in his grace, has chosen to reveal himself to us – in his Word and supremely in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we must seek to know all we can about what he has revealed, even though we cannot fully comprehend god with our finite human minds. Beware of those who claim to have all the answers and who belittle what they do not understand.
Their “Old” Doctrines
What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.
Jude 11 (NLT)
Further OT illustrations indicated these false teachers’ actions were not new.
Jude gives three examples of men who did whatever they wanted:
- Cain, who murdered his brother out of vengeful jealousy (Gen 4:1-16).
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. He ended up with everything a man could desire everything except God that is.
- Balaam, who prophesied out of greed, not out of obedience to God’s command (Num 22-24).
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.
- Korah, who rebelled against God’s divinely appointed leaders, wanting the power for himself (Num 16:1-35).
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.
These stories illustrate attitudes that are typical of false teachers – pride, selfishness, jealousy, greed, lust for power, and disregard of God’s will.
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Alert
NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible
The Moody Bible Commentary