(If you would like to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You may also read the Introduction and Part I to this blog series.)
Read with me Jude 8-13:
Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unrea-s oning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever (Jude 8-13, ESV).
If you grew up watching an old Looney Toons™ cartoon of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, you may recall how these cartoons always began. They would show the Roadrunner at top speed, then do a freeze frame with the subtitle of the name of his character along with some humorous pseudo-Latin phrase like “Runnicus Fastus.” Then the cartoon would show Wile E. Coyote chasing after him — employing the same freeze frame with the subtitle of his name, etc.
Unlike those cartoons, false teachers are not accompanied by that manner of subtitle and description. On the contrary, false teachers operate by stealth. Jesus described them in Matthew 7:15 in this manner: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15, ESV). This type of covert operation by these false teachers is a type of spiritual terrorism. John MacArthur notes, “Political terrorists can inflict material damage and physical death, but apostates disguised as genuine teachers can subvert God’s truth and entice people to believe damning lies.”
Rather than relying on what God revealed through his authoritative Word, these false teachers begin to, as Jude says, “rely on their dreams” (Jude 8). Throughout biblical history, we see how God used men such as Joseph in Egypt, Daniel, and Joseph (Mary’s husband) to convey his Word and plan. Yet, when in our day we hear of people dreaming dreams outside of the authority and pursuing visions and dreams that are the product of their fleshly imaginations rather than by the heavenly revelation of God. The result is a defilement of the flesh, a rejection on the external authority of God for the internal authority of their imaginations, and an utter blaspheming of the angelic servants of God. Second Peter 2:10 describes these apostates further as “those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” (2 Peter 2:10b, ESV). Here, Jude shows us the character of these apostates.
Church history (and world history) is littered with various types of cults who have deviated from the Christian faith and pursue other realms due to their perverted passions. Joseph Smith believed he received a vision of the angel Moroni who led him to a set of golden plates which served as the basis of the Book of Mormon. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Scientism, believed God revealed her writings. Charles Taze Russell and Judge Rutherford of the Jehovah’s Witnesses followed their own musings. Same with Mohammed and the followers of Islam, those in the New Age movement, even those in Roman Catholicism who insist on adding to the Scriptures with their Sacred Traditions. Each of these cults and religions all come down to one issue: a hatred for the authority of God as revealed in the Scriptures alone.
We stand on a very slippery slope when we begin to question the authority of God and the message of his servants. Even the archangel Michael would not pronounce anything toward Satan, even though his downfall is sealed. He simply appealed to the authority of the Lord by saying, “The Lord rebuke you.” What is Jude talking about?
A Jewish story found in a book called The Assumption of Moses claims that God sent Michael the archangel to bury Moses, but the devil came along and said that Moses’ body belonged to him, since that body existed in the physical realm. Michael responded quite opposite to how these apostate false teachers respond. He came in the authority of God and appealed to the authority of God when he said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Plus, in reading Deut. 33:1-4, we see the role the angels played when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai:
This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death. He said,
“The Lord came from Sinai
and dawned from Seir upon us;
he shone forth from Mount Paran;
he came from the ten thousands of holy ones,
with flaming fire at his right hand.
Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you,
when Moses commanded us a law,
as a possession for the assembly of Jacob (Deuteronomy 33:1-4, ESV).
The false teachers claim to have an understanding of the spiritual realm, but in reality they live exclusively in the physical realm. The dreams they dream are from their own imagination. The words they speak originate from their own fleshly reasoning equating them with the animals who simply respond to their own instincts and appetites.
Again, Jude gives a history lesson. In verse 11, he says that they “walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s rebellion and perished in Korah’s rebellion.” Genesis 4 shows how Cain was jealous of the relationship his brother Abel had with God and, in turn, how God accepted his sacrifice. Others, in reference to Balaam’s rebellion, seek to surround themselves with speakers who will tell them exactly what they desire to hear. In 2 Peter 2:15, we see they are “Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing” (2 Peter 2:15, ESV).
What do these apostates look like? Jude gives five descriptions: fearless, waterless, fruitless, tempestuous, and aimless.
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