Summary: In today's lesson, Jude describes the characteristics of false teachers.
The Letter of Jude deals with the subject of false teaching, which is the greatest danger to the Church of Jesus Christ today.
8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 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.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. (Jude 8-10)
In his commentary on Jude, John MacArthur mentions that terrorism has always existed in various forms. From political assassinations to high-profile kidnappings to guerrilla warfare, history is full of men who have tried to enact change through violence.
But on the watershed date of September 11, 2001, terrorism reached a new level, when Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four jetliners and used them as missiles. The resulting destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City and damage to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (along with the crash of the fourth plane in rural Pennsylvania), killed almost three thousand people and dealt a severe blow to the American economy, raising the threat of international terrorism to an unprecedented height. In response, strict security precautions were put in place, especially for airline travel, vital industries, and high-profile public events.
Prior to September 11, the United States seemed blissfully immune to a foreign terrorist attack. But after the incredible collapse of the twin towers, Americans gained firsthand knowledge of terrorism’s deadly tactics.
In contrast to conventional warfare, terrorism presents a serious threat for two primary reasons.
First, terrorists operate clandestinely. They are relatively few in number, remain hidden, and usually do not wear uniforms. Their plans stay secret until after they strike, making their attacks very difficult to counteract.
Second, terrorists are usually willing to die for their cause (even by suicide as they carry out their objectives). They are eager to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their mission. Thus the prospect of even the severest human punishment, such as the death penalty, does not deter them.
If they are to be thwarted, they must be unmasked and apprehended before they act. Otherwise it will be too late.
The same features that make political terrorists so dangerous in the world make false teachers even more dangerous in the church. Because they often come disguised as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) or as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), false teachers are difficult to identify. And, because of their own self-deception, they willingly (albeit unwittingly) embrace their own eternal ruin for the sake of their poisonous lies. In destroying souls, they themselves commit spiritual suicide.
It is important for freedom-loving nations to fight ideological terrorists. But, it is infinitely more important for Christians to fight spiritual terrorists. Political terrorists can inflict material damage and physical death, but false teachers disguised as genuine teachers can subvert God’s truth and entice people to believe damning lies.
Jude realized the immense danger that false teachers pose to divine truth. Therefore, he exhorted his readers to “contend for the faith” (v. 3), to keep battling for the pure doctrine of “our common salvation” against those who would undermine the gospel. But because the false teachers had “crept in unnoticed” (v. 4), the challenge came in recognizing and exposing them before they inflicted harm.
So, with that in mind, Jude continued to describe false teachers. They were so ungodly and spiritually dangerous that Jude used vivid language to describe them. In today’s lesson, Jude described the characteristics of false teachers.
I. False Teachers Are Immoral (8a-b)
First, false teachers are immoral.
Jude said in verse 8a-b, “Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh. . . .”
Jude’s letter is a call to Christians to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (v. 3). He warned the Church that false teachers were invading the church (v. 4). He also described God’s attitude towards false teachers (vv. 5-7). He showed how God judged unbelieving individuals, rebellious angels, and sinful communities.
Now, continuing on with his theme, Jude said, “Yet, in like manner. . . .” Just as surely as God judged unbelieving individuals, rebellious angels, and sinful communities, he will also judge false teachers, whom Jude refers to as “these people also.”
Jude said that false teachers rely on their dreams. The New Testament normally uses the noun onar to refer to dreams (Matthew 1:20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22; 27:19), but Jude uses the verbal form of enupniazo (which is used in only one other place in the New Testament, in Acts 2:17).