In this sermon, Pastor Joe Babij looks at Jude 8-11 and the first two of five characteristics of false teachers: sinful pride (vv. 8-10) and profound resemblance to Old Testament apostates (v. 11). Christians must be careful not follow such teachers, listen to them, or be like them.
We’re going to have some holiday messages coming next week. I do want to remind you about our candlelight Christmas eve service. We will sing some Christmas songs, have the Word of God. It’s a great time to invite people that you may know who maybe are not church people in the sense, but they are willing to come to a Christmas eve service and maybe the first time they hear the word of God. You never know what the Lord’s going to do with that when the word of God is unleashed upon their soul and conscience. So that’s going to be Christmas eve. That’s Friday the 24th at 7pm right here at our church. So hopefully you can invite somebody to that service.
Let’s pray as we look at Jude this morning. Let’s pray. Father, we thank You again for bringing us here this morning. Be with those, Lord, this morning who are still under the weather and are still healing, and some from Covid. I pray, Lord, that You would just nurture them back to good health, to their strengths that they had before, and back to the regular routine of life. I just pray You would just minister to them today. I pray, Lord, even they be able to sit up and be able to at least be on Zoom and watch the service today. And I pray You bless them with the word of God along with us here today. And I thank You Lord again. I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
So we’re looking at Jude. I want to focus in this morning on just two passages to finish up verse 10 and verse 11, because this is a small book with a big message. It really is. Jude, remember, had originally intended to write a treatise on salvation, but he heard that grim news of some supposed Christians who were denying Christ and using the grace of God to justify immoral behavior. So he felt he had to right and rebuked and warned the church and that’s what he does. In verse number 3, it says,
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
Again, it means that we are to fight. We’re to struggle. Jude is intensely concerned about the threat of heretical teachers in the church and the response a Christian should have concerning that threat. And sometimes he’s trying to awaken us a bit. We all must admit that the spirit of apostasy is blowing through America. It’s blowing through the church at this present time. So these are definitely difficult times that we are in. So then Christians are to wake up and they are called to discern and to battle against false teachers and those who reject the truth. And so Jude is calling all of us who are in the faith to war against these intruders. And they are there. They are here, who have come and want to usurp the gospel, change the message into something that is not the gospel and not the word of God. And yet, many times these teachers get large followings of people that follow them because they are just appealing to the base nature of the human being. Therefore they’re giving people what they want, and so they can get people to follow them.
So if we are to contend for the faith, then we must grow in discernment. And in these latter days, we must be able to successfully identify false apostate teachers whenever and wherever they may show up. There are five characteristics in this section from verse 8 to verse 16 about false teachers that the Word of God wants us to know. The first one I’m still in, and that’s the pride of apostate teachers. The second is going to be their profound resemblance to Old Testament apostates. And then we’re going to be looking further later on in the portraits that they exemplify and the punishments they earn and then of course the problems that they trigger in the church.
But today I’m still back in the first one, the pride of apostate teachers. And looking at that, this Lord’s day we will finish the first and will examine the second. The first thing that we saw from last time is that their sinful pride is really depicted in their rebellion. Verse number eight,
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.
This phrase by dreaming, this is a habitual practice of these false apostate teachers. They promote diluted teaching through false dreams that they actually claim are from the Lord, which are not of course from the Lord. And they fantasize and dream up things. In fact, Jude tells us these are filthy dreamers. They have filthy dreams in which they cause the church to actually live in immoral behavior. We’re to struggle against what these teachers are teaching with the truth. And they don’t struggle at all, these teachers, to keep their thoughts clean or pure what-so-ever.
Now, just with that in mind, turn to Deuteronomy chapter 13. Because right back there in the Old Testament, we have the same thing going on right in the beginning when they were going to go into the promised land. They’re entering into the promised land. They’re looking forward to doing that. And again, the people are warned about people just like this. So they’ve always been here. They’re here today. They were here in the past. Notice what he says in Deuteronomy 13:1. It says,
If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
And then he says this in verse four,
You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
And then verse five, it says,
But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.
So the word of God looks at what they are doing as evil. And noticed that there’s actually six things that somebody who loves God is evident in their life. They follow the Lord. They fear the Lord. They keep His commandments. They listen to His voice. They serve Him. And they cling to Him. Those are all biblical principles that are non-negotiable that are not only in the Old Testament, but they are in the New Testament too. It’s the same thing for us. And we have greater revelation to base those truths upon. So the word may indicate that the false teacher’s delusion and their blindness, that they take the real for the unreal and the unreal for the real. So they are dreamers who claimed authority from their dreams. They’re claiming that they got the dreams from God. And so this is what God told me, and I’m now going to tell you. So then the authoritative source of revelation is their own dreams, their own wicked imagination, not the word of God. That’s the point. It’s the word of God that is going to transform our mind and transform us into believers who know what the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God is. These kind of teachers will never point to that at all or get people there. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing we see is that their sinful pride is depicted in their arrogance. They’re just arrogant people because everything they do, it’s about themselves. They are ruled by self-interest. The attitude of these false apostate teachers was contrasted last week with Michael the archangel. We noticed in verse number 9, it said there,
But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
So he did not even bring a railing accusation against the devil over this dispute over the body of Moses, but reverted to God’s authority to rebuke a created angel, a fallen angel like the devil. So we learn from Michael that his response was he saw himself exactly the way he should – that he was not the judge, that he was not the creator, that he was not his own authority, that he was not a lawmaker, that he was a created angel and he was a servant of the living God, a minister on behalf of God’s creation. And so he respectfully accept his position. He knows his boundaries. He sees himself exactly how he was created and what he was created to do. And so hence, he knew his mission within God’s economy. He did not question that. He enjoyed that actually and was very effective in his role.
So there was no pride or arrogance found in his character, but it’s quite the opposite in false teachers. They’re claiming authority. They’re claiming messages from God which are not message from God. They’re doing it with a very arrogant attitude. And this leads to the third thing in this, that their sinful pride is depicted in their ignorance. Now notice verse number 10. We did not cover this one last week. Number 10, it says,
But these men revile the things that they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.
So this means the things that they do not understand, they revile. They speak against. And the things that they do know by instinct, they follow to their own destruction. So false teachers actually corrupt themselves with things they understand, because that understanding only comes from their based nature. We see that false followers of Christ do not think biblically. They actually think naturally, period. Most of their understanding about the word of God is off base. Most of them do use the word of God, but it’s all off base. And they possess an incorrect concept of God. They mock truly spiritual things and carelessly handle the word of God that they do use, twisting the word of God and turning it in any direction they want it to go. Many of them are very skilled at that and again, very persuasive. But because they’re void of the Holy Spirit, they only know things that naturally come to them. And they solely are people of the world. If you notice down to verse number 19 of of Jude, it says this,
These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
So these individuals know only what comes naturally to them. They know their own bodily appetites. They know what makes them happy. They know what pushes their own buttons. They know how to also satisfy their fleshly desires because their desires rise no higher than the instinct of animals, like dogs salivating for their favorite doggie treat, or bears instinctively going to the river when salmon are running, or pigs grunting and snorting over food. Like animals, naturally these individuals do not understand the things of the Spirit of God. Just like we read this morning in the passage,
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.
They cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised. That’s really the difference, that Christians get to the point where they understand the word of God and they actually put it into practice. Because their mind is not being transformed by the word of God, their reasoning and their actions are completely off-base. In other words, their minds are not being renewed and bent toward knowing the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God. So these false followers of Christ do not respond biblically. They respond instinctively. They think like animals, and they act like animals. In verse number 10, it says,
and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals,
This was a passage brought up in 2 Peter too. He calls them there lacking reasoning capacity. They don’t have a clue about true spirituality. So these false teachers may claim to be in the know concerning the Christian life, however when they speak, they speak out of their own ignorance. They have abandoned divine revelation for human reasoning, and they even forsake sense and logic. So all that is left, if you do that, is to think stupidly, to act just like mere animals, to just respond to your environment. That’s it. No further than that.
So every person has two sides to their nature. First, they have the physical side to their nature. The side that has instincts, that has passions, that has impulses. He shared this with the animal creation. And these instincts are normal and they’re good only if they are kept in their proper place. They are necessary, actually, for life. The second part of man that is different than the animals that they do have a spiritual or a Godward side to them. If these two sides are out of whack, that person becomes imbalanced and of course, false teachers are only dominated by the physical. They are slaves to their animal instincts. And the basic drives of all animals is basically eating and drinking and mating and survival. That’s what they do all the time no matter what kind of animal they are, no matter how domesticated they are. They still have those things. You can train an animal by giving them treats, you know, stand, roll over, play dead. You can give them treats and train them to do that, but they’re only doing it to get the treat, because they’re animals and that’s what they do.
So these apostates, their passions and their drives for eating and drinking and sex are all out of balance, inflamed by the sinful desire to gratify the self-indulgent flesh. They are earthbound to the max. They speak blasphemy, and that is they speak slanderous lie about things they do not even understand. It was C. H. Spurgeon who said of these kinds, he called them hypocritical maniacs that claim revelation from God when He has not spoken, declaring words of prophecy that are full of error and corruption. When God speaks, Spurgeon said, it is always perfect, true, and infallible. He went on to give advice to those who speak from their own imagination. And he says – "If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it back to the devil, not the Spirit of God. Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any one of us is in the Word of God already. He adds nothing to the Bible. He never will." That’s a great observation that we should all follow.
But another thing in our passage in verse number 10 of Jude is that those who follow or have followed false teaching, they should know this, that they’re teaching does not have a sanctifying effect but actually a destructive effect upon the one listening to them. Notice in verse number 10, at the end of the verse it says,
by these things they are destroyed.
That means his own corruption will destroy him and those who follow him. God will use the very things that they pursue to destroy them. There’s no fear of God. There’s no following the Lord. There’s no fearing the Lord. There’s no keeping the Word. There’s no listening to Him. There is no serving Him. There is no clinging to Him. So just like some animals, false teachers and those who follow them were put on earth in order to be caught and die like common animals. They think only what they feel and experience. That is what they give worth to. And with this view, there is no guiding laws for them or principles. They are the captain of their own ship. And like sailboats without rudders, they drift, lose control, and inevitably will capsize.
So their understanding of Christian freedom is God loves you and wants you to be happy. Do what feels good and right for you for that to take place. So false teachers say that God accepts us even if we live like the devil and live after the world and the flesh. These teacher say that faith really exist without or even producing fruit, and that a person can believe in Jesus Christ without repenting, without changing their life, without separating from the world, without denying and controlling the flesh, without following Christ. False teachers say God’s love and grace are so inexhaustible that a person is free to sin just so they believe in Jesus. Well, if you have your Bibles turned to 1 John, notice in chapter 3 what it says there. John seems to refute that quite clearly. Look at what he says in 1 John 3:6,
No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
He’s talking about habitually practicing sin. In verse 7 he says,
Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
So a Christian does not habitually practice sin. They take care of their sin. They confess their sin. They put their sin to death. They put on righteousness because they truly repent of their sin and they go on forsaking that sin, going on walking forward in holiness. False teachers do not teach that. They do not live that. We have to remember that God really establishes our freedom within boundaries, that the Christian is the freest person in the world, but that doesn’t mean that we can do anything we want when we want it. Surprisingly, Christian freedom is most precise and clear when we understand that it comes because we are saved by someone else’s righteousness. Surprisingly, the Christian is free most precisely because he doesn’t have to obtain by his own efforts his own righteousness.
Just like the Word of God tells us, it’s not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through Christ. Faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. That’s where freedom really comes from. Our freedom is in the righteousness that comes from God, not ourselves. Now brethren, I must admit that that’s real freedom, when we’re free to live life because we have no more condemnation of sin upon us, no more judgment of God on our sin. That’s when you’re free. And then when you’re free, what are you free to do? You’re free to serve God because now this is the first time in your life you want to do it. You’re willing to do it. You’re excited to do it. You’re encouraged to do it. You’re filled up when you do it. See, that’s freedom. It takes all the pressure off of us. He has done it. He has redeemed us. He has made us righteous. He is sanctifying us.
So we’re awakened to this new reality, that you are free for holiness, free for all that God wants you to be and do in this life until He takes you home. So Christians are saved and have freedom to serve Christ in holiness and godliness. And just as the apostle Peter wrote, since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness. That’s where the truth of God’s word takes us. It takes us right there, the holy conduct in godliness.
That is what false teachers really cannot do. False teachers are ungodly because they cannot do it. They have no transformed heart. They have no changed heart. They can’t do it. They could have a twisted head knowledge of the truth, but there’s no regeneration in their heart. There’s no supernatural work of grace having been formed in their souls. So that means that the lusting of their flesh will prove to be so strong to them. And because they have no changed heart, they’re prisoner within their own lusts and their own animal instincts. They can go no further than that.
So you have to use your scriptural knowledge when you think of this to say, listen we need to beware of those who redefine sin as a psychological disorder. We need to beware of those who excite people with feel good messages. We need to beware of those who do not promote the good and the glory of a holy and a godly life. We need to beware of those who present Christianity as a means of self-help rather than a cure for sin and evil in the heart. We need to beware of skilled persuasive orators that sound authoritative, but their authority does not come from the right source, that is the word of God. It comes from themselves. We ought to beware of celebrity type individuals with big named ministries. We need to beware of teachers who promote tolerance and endorse homosexual and lgbtq lifestyles as acceptable. We need to beware of those who promote entertainment-like worship services where there has to be a nightclub type of atmosphere and a concert atmosphere for worship to take place. Beware of prosperity teachers. Beware of those who say, God spoke to me in a dream. Beware of those who ignore biblical roles established by God for male leadership in the church of the living God. We need to beware of churches that refuse to discipline their sinning members and beware of individuals and churches that preach another gospel, which is a false gospel which turn the grace of God into sensuality. We need to beware of those things because they are all out there and they’re out there in a big way.
So the godlessness of false teachers can be described in really four categories up until this point. First, they reject authority. Secondly, they claim divine revelation through dreams. Thirdly, through dreams they are given permission to participate in immoral acts. And then fourthly, their dreams overrule biblical teaching and actually pollute their own bodies and pollute the lives in the bodies of those who hear them. That’s what Scripture says.
Now, that leads me to my second point this morning. That becomes very clear when the Bible reminds us that their profound resemblance is found in the Old Testament, and is found in three individuals. In verse number 11, it says,
Woe to them!
Now let me just stop there for a minute. That is a declaration of divine judgment. It’s a judgment oracle, and it means to damn or curse someone. It’s a very severe warning of doom. It was the exegetical commentary who said this about that phrase – this is a prophetic pronouncement of judgment on those who have forsaken God. The woe by extension echoes the misery that overtakes those who suffer God’s judgement. The woe introduce the ultimate doom that overtakes those who have resisted God’s purposes by embracing unrighteousness. So here is the woe directed at false apostate teachers, which they resemble those from the Old Testament.
Now the first personality that these false teachers resemble is found in verse number 11, and that is the personality of Cain. Look at what it says there,
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain,
Now the phrase have gone, it literally means going from one place to another. It means to travel. It can be used when someone decides to take a trip. They must decide when they take the trip what direction am I going to go. Where do I want to go? At some point, we must all make a choice on what direction we are going to go in our life. Which way are we going to go? Are we going to follow the world and its system and its teaching? Are we going to follow our own base instincts and go the way that makes us happy and satisfies all our needs? Or are we going to go the way of God? That’s really it.
Well, Cain here, the brother of Abel, had a certain way about him. The way of cain is really the way that is completely the opposite of his brother Abel. The way is a pattern or the road you choose as you move through life. And the Old Testament wisdom literature speaks often of choosing the way you ought to go. For example, Proverbs 2:20. We’ve been looking at Proverbs in our men’s groups. It says there,
So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of righteous.
See, that’s a way to go. You can identify that way. You can see how that way looks. It’s going to look a certain way in a person in their character, in the way they talk, in what they do in their life and where they go and who they hang out with. That way is going to be evident to people.
So the false teachers knew the right way to live. They forsook it for another way to live. 2 Peter told us already – forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. So this passage of Scripture really is narrowly revealing to us that there is a right way to live and there’s a wrong way to live. False teachers knew the right way to live, yet they forsook it for another way to live. They couldn’t stay neutral. They had to take another way. You can’t stay neutral. You have to go one way or the other. And so in this case, they took another way. They took the old way. They took the world’s way. They took the fleshly way. They took the wrong way. So the charges against these teachers is that they once knew better than to do what they’re doing right now. They have left the straight way and wandered off course.
So these apostate wanderings was really not due to disorientation or getting lost, but rather willful apostasy from God and rebellion against His lordship. So these good-for-nothings don’t live according to conscience guided by right or wrong, truth or morality, holiness or godliness. They march to the beat of their own drum. They take the broad road that leads to destruction.
Now just for reference, take your Bible and go back to Genesis, and let’s look at at least five passages that have to do with Cain and just see what it says there. I’ll bring some things out there. So when you read the account of Cain in Genesis, you get the sense that God must have given Cain and Abel some instruction after the fall concerning how to approach Him in worship. This was always important for God, how someone who has sinned approach a holy God in worship. The Old Testament is speaking about that all the time. How do you approach God? If you don’t approach God the right way, you know what happens to you? You die. You lose your life. But there’s a way to approach God. Now look at Genesis 4:1, it says,
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord." Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
So Abel worshipped God in accord with divine instruction, but Cain worshipped God to his own understanding, not according to God’s revelation. Left to himself, he could not control his own impulses to envy, hate, which led finally to the murder of his brother. However, where Cain went off the path is when he strayed from the word of God. That’s where he went off the path. So Cain was a willful unbeliever who rejected the worship of God and gave himself fully to sin.
Now if we go back to the New Testament, what does the apostle John say about Cain? This is what he says about him and 1 John 3:11-12,
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.
So he envied him and kill him. Because Cain chose his own path and decided a path away from following the Lord, God cursed him and banished him from His presence. Now when people conclude that religion is personal and they decide to worship God in their own way. You hear people all the time speak this way. Well, they made their choice. Then often they would conclude, if you have a conversation with them, by saying, I know God will understand me. They do not follow the word of God in their understanding. They follow their own agenda. So unless they hear, understand, and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, their wrong choice will lead them to the same destructive end as Cain with no rescue. And yet many people think that way. Oh, I can’t speak with you because religion is too personal. I’ve made my choice. I worship in my own way. You ever hear people say that? Well, this is where it leads. It leads to destruction. So the false teachers are just like Cain, not only in the way they go but in the destruction that comes upon them for their choice.
There’s a second person that these false teachers look like, and the second one is Balaam. In Jude 1:11 it says,
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam,
So for Cain, it was deciding to take the wrong way, not God’s way. For Balaam, it’s rushing ahead without thinking of the consequences as long as there’s money to be made, deciding to do anything for money. Does anybody ever do that today? Everything is about money. I’ve got to work another job, another hour, forsaking everything else in their life just to make enough money. Many times people put off marriage. They put off raising family so they can get to that ideal number where they now could live. That’s such a false way of thinking. And yet Balaam, he is right in that category. We know that the story of Balaam is found in the book of Numbers, and I did mention this quite clearly in 2 Peter.
Let me just give you some of the highlights on what happened. King Balak was the king of the Moabites. He was part of the anti-Israel coalition, and the Moabites were descendants of Lot. They appeared to be spared up until this particular point, but have come to represent heathenism and spiritual bankruptcy and idolatry because their gods kemosh and baal seemed to be helpless and impotent against king Balak’s enemies. So what does he do? Balaam was a prophet, and he was a prophet that was very skilled in the craft of sorcery. He was so skilled that he can curse or blessing someone that he can actually ask for substantial amounts of money for his services. Of course Balak, being king, had the money to pay. His gods couldn’t come against Israel so he called on Balaam to come against Israel and he wanted Balaam to actually curse Israel. He was going ahead to do that. God stopped him through three different sections of Scripture. The bottom line is that he was not able to do it. The Lord said to Balaam, I’m against you, Balaam. You are supposed to be representing Me, but your way of behaviour and conduct are opposite of My ways. Your path is reckless before Me. Balaam, what he did, he had a heart that was bent on silver and gold, but he gave the appearance of religiousness to cover his covetous practices.
Now again 2 Peter brought this out also where he said,
forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
So Balaam was rebuked for his sinful lifestyle and God choose to use a dumb animal, a donkey. That’s quite ironic. It shows that those who live in sin live like dumb animals. They have this animal instinct. And those who teach false doctrine are equated with dumb animals. Here, the donkey in Scripture was represented as wiser than a human being. A human being created in the image of God is viewed as blind and ignorant, and they have chosen to live an insane lifestyle, a lifestyle that satisfies the sinful flesh, while rejecting all sound counsel of the Lord. Now, because he pursued money and covetousness that led to sexual immorality, that led to idolatry, that led to judgments. And remember that Balaam could not curse Israel because God wouldn’t let him, but what he did do is that he taught Balak how to teach Israel what was wrong. And that’s what it says it in the word of God. He caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the matter of peor. And of course that Balaam, for money, was instigator of Israel’s shameful sexual sin with the Moabite Midianite women which led to idolatry because as they were seduced by these women, it led to their gods, the Moabite gods, for which Balaam in the end was slain and 24,000 Israelites perished along with him. So Balaam’s name became synonymous with these sins of immorality and covetousness and idolatry, which he caused God’s people to be led away from the straight path into all kinds of sinful behavior.
So here’s the point for this one, is that Balaam is an example of a false teacher who became worldly and led God’s people and still are leading God’s people into sin and destruction. And of all false teachers who deny the lordship of Jesus Christ become worldly seeking, possessions seeking, money seeking, popularity seeking, success, acceptance, security of the world and forsaking the right way, they go astray. They lead people into sin, and then ultimately they leads them to destruction. And most false teachers today, just as in Jude’s day, allowed greed and selfishness to rule them. Religion can be a very lucrative business. You can get money from people. You can get them to give large amounts, way beyond what they should give in some respects, until they lose their own things because they’re given to this ministry, hoping to get a blessing. So the basic message of these false teachers today is God will give you healing and wealth and material blessing in return for money. Just give us your money and we’ll pray for you and God will give you what you want. So they preach a message people want to hear, emphasizing God’s love and His ability to lift a person self-esteem and make them successful, promising a wonderful life on this earth.
But you know what, when you become a Christian, you may not have a wonderful life in the sense of definition. You will have a wonderful life because you have a relationship with God, but your life could go to persecution. Your life can come into difficulty because you become a Christian. You may lose your job because you’re a believer. Things may go south when you’re a believer. But that doesn’t change your relationship with God. That will never change, and that’s the hope that we have. That’s the hope that keeps us going.
And then there’s one last personality that the Scripture identifies in verse 11 of Jude chapter 1, and that’s Korah, Korah rebelling against God in God’s chosen order of leadership. He says to them,
Woe to them…and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Now, after God led the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness as the smoke cleared and the new routine of life in the wilderness became a reality, there arose an underground conspiracy. In other words, there was a disappointment and a dissatisfaction on the part of some against the rightful leadership of the people of Israel. In other words, who should lead the people now that they’re in the wilderness. Should Moses and Aaron do it? Or should we do it, because we’re connected to the levitical line. So there’s two interests that work in this particular narrative. You probably should take your Bibles and turn the numbers chapter 16, because I want to want you to see that, because you’re probably very unfamiliar with this text.
There’s two interests that are at work here. One is against the sacerdotal part of being in the wilderness, that is the priesthood, the levitical priesthood who was to be regarded as the heir and founder of the priesthood. And then secondly, somewhere against the political or the ruling branch in the wilderness, Moses and Aaron. They thought that Moses and Aaron did not belong in their positions. So Korah, a Kohathite descendant from the brother of the ancestor of Aaron, probably the elder son. The feeling was that the priesthood should be by right of birth, and that belongs to his family and by consequence to Korah. He should have been the high priest. So that’s what’s going on here in this. But I want you to notice in Numbers 16:3. It says this,
They assembled against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?
This is what Korah and his team was saying against Moses and Aaron. And then down to verse number eight. It says,
Then Moses said to Korah, "Hear now, you sons of Levi, is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also? Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him?"
So we see that the tribe that had the political power was the levitical tribe, and the ones who were secretly opposed where those from the tribe of Reuben, and their names were Dathan, Abiram, and On. As a plot against Moses and Aaron matured, what is interesting is that when Israel met together in the wilderness and the tabernacle was in the middle, that they would circle the tabernacle, like in a square, you have north, south east and west. And then on the south border, that’s where the Reubenites hung up and between Reuben and the tabernacle in the wilderness, there was the Kohathites. So if you’re in the south and you can see everything going on from your tent as far as what’s going on in the tabernacle and what’s going on in this particular trial, in a sense. So the camp of Israel was really sectioned off in twelve tribes and the alotted place of the tents of Reuben was on the south side of the central area of the tabernacle. And between them and the tabernacle was the encampment of the Kohathites, the division of the Levitical family to which Korah belongs.
Now on the day of the trial, they were to learn on that particular day if the appointment of leaders had been of God or of man. Korah and his company appeared at the tabernacle. The Reubenite leaders refused to attend. They were to perform their priestly function of offering incense and the Lord would make known who would be the objects of his choice. Now, even though the Reubenites did not attend because of their placement in the camp, they had a bird’s-eye view of the proceedings as they stood in the doors of their tents. Moses arose from off his knees and commanded the people to stand clear of the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Now, it’s interesting that On is not mentioned here. Obviously he got the memo that you need to get out of there, and so he’s not mentioned any. Because he’s not mentioned, he probably did not come under God’s judgment. But I want you to notice in verse number 23, it says,
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’" Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him, and he spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin." So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones.
And then in verse 28,
Moses said, "By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens up its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord."
Look at verse 31,
As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, "The earth may swallow us up!"
Nobody got away with this verse. Verse 35,
Fire came forth from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.
So both branches the sacerdotal and the political and ruling branch of that great controversy were extinguished by the judgment, immediate miraculous and final judgment of God, in one moment. Could you imagine being there when that took place? I think it would change the mind of the rest of Israel not to speak against God’s chosen leaders. Korah thought that he should be in the position that God gave to Moses and Aaron. So then by slander of the leadership that God had chosen and put in place to lead His people into the promised land, Korah rebelled against God and he perished, and with all those who follow him perished. The Lord knew everything that was going on in their tents and in their hearts. He knew what they were saying about the leadership and God held judgement.
Now saying all that, we conclude this, that these false teachers and those who follow them, Cain – they are wrong about the direction they should take in life. They go the way of the devil. Balaam, they have reckless thinking about the consequences when the love of money drives every decision you have. And Korah, are rebellious and hard against God and those God puts in leadership. And all of them were judge by God and perished.
So what is that for us? I think Jude is clear to say, don’t follow them. Don’t listen to them. Don’t be like them. And doing that, when we are grow in godliness and holiness, we’re actually fighting against the apostasy that’s evident in our country and in our society and in our government and in the church. We are actually fighting against that when we’re not like them because we have a changed heart. God’s making us into His image. And because of that, that’s where the power against these people lie. So it’s an important message. Remember, a little book, big message. And it really teaches us and rebukes us and makes us sober to what’s going on, that every little thing that comes into our ears, we need to be careful that everything that comes into our ears may actually be false teaching that are going to lead to things that we don’t want in our life.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You this morning. These Scriptures, Lord, are heavy. They’re instructive. They’re surely instructive, Lord. I just pray, Lord, that today we would take them seriously, that we would not be caught in any of these pursuits of life. Because they are exactly would false teachers do. And I pray, Lord, that You would make us people that stand against these false teachings, and that we would be standing with You and upon Your word and upon the truth. And I pray, Lord, in doing so that You would also make us more discerning to know what is Your way and what is every other way, what people are teaching that is wrong and why it’s wrong and where we find it in the word of God. So make us Christians who are thinking clearly about what we ought to know, and clearly about how we are to practice our faith. And I just ask you Lord that You would always grow us in this knowledge, and do it for the sake of the glory of Your great name and to strengthen the health of your church. And I pray this in Your name. Amen.