Tonight we are returning to our study of Jude and really kind of pulling together some things that we’ve been saying over the last couple of weeks on the subject of unmasking terrorists in the church. I’ve been pointing out that our nation is, of course, on high alert with regard to terrorism and what makes terrorists dangerous is, one, they are hidden among us, and we don’t know who they are. And secondly, they don’t mind blowing themselves up in the process of accomplishing their goal to destroy others. That makes them very, very dangerous. And the same thing is true in emergency rooms of the church. And sad to say, while the nation takes seriously the threat of physical terrorism, the church doesn’t take very seriously the threat of spiritual terrorism. The church is filled with spiritual terrorists.
I read about them every time I open a newspaper. Those who name the name of Christ, who wear clerical garb, who claim teach the Scriptures and represent the Scriptures and speak about God and represent Jesus and so forth and so forth, whether they’re in the newspaper, whether they’re in an institution, television, radio – wherever they are, they are all over the place, professing to belong to Christ and to represent Him and to have the insight on the truth, and they are really spiritual terrorist. They are embedded in the church.
And they are equally dangerous because, one, the church doesn’t take care to really discover who they are. And secondly, they don’t mind blowing themselves up with the very damning error that they espouse that’s so destructive to others.
Now, Jude addresses this issue. And you will notice, in verse 3, the heart of this little epistle is in the phrase where Jude says – middle of verse 3 – “I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith.” This is a truth war, and we are engaged in this battle for the protection, the preservation, and the proclamation of the truth. And the war rages because of what it says in verse 4, “Certain persons have crept in unnoticed.” And these are persons who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation. These are ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and” - in actuality, while not in confession – “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” They are Christ deniers, although they would not admit that in most cases, and they are licentious in the name of grace. They want to celebrate the love and the grace of God as somehow a cover for their own wretchedness and iniquity.
And down in verse 12, you remember, I’ve been reminding you that these are people who are hidden reefs or hidden rocks in your love feasts. They are embedded in the very life of the church, and that’s what makes them dangerous. We don’t know who they are, and as I said, they don’t mind their own self-destruction in the propagation of their lies.
Jude is calling us to engage in the war on spiritual terrorism, to engage in a war that’s far more important than any war on political terrorists or military terrorists or any other kind. We are to be vigilant; we are to be alert; we are to be discerning; we are to be observant; we are to be loyal in exposing the terrorists and defending the truth and defending the true church.
Now, similar warnings – in fact, very similar warnings are given in 1 Timothy chapter 4, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, and there will be hypocritical liars or false teachers seared in their own conscience” – that is they have no conscience about what they do, as with a branding iron. Beware of them in these days.
Now, 2 Peter chapter 2 also says, verse 1, “False prophets also arose among the people” – in the past – “just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will” – and here’s the operative term – “secretly introduce destructive heresies” - they set off their spiritual bombs of destruction in a secret fashion – “including denying the Master who bought them, and bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” That’s what I said; they don’t mind blowing themselves up at the same time that they’re creating destruction in the souls of others.
Verse 2 says, “Many will follow their sensuality” – they are driven by the sensual; they are driven by the fleshly; they’re driven by the sinful – “and because of them the way of truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Now, we can stop there in 2 Peter, but if you were to read further in 2 Peter chapter 2, you would find that it is a very close parallel to our text in Jude. In fact, Jude says virtually the same things that Peter says. Peter says, “They’re coming.” And Jude, writing a little later, says, “They’re here.” They’re here. So, whenever you study the epistle of Jude, you have to study 2 Peter along with it. And we’ve been making those comparisons and will do so again tonight.
Now, Jude, then, writes this epistle to serve as a warning and to give for us a portrait of these apostate terrorists. These are people who have been exposed to the faith, exposed to the truth, who have defected from the truth, who have denied the truth, who have rejected the truth, but who have kept the name Christian, kept some identification with the person of Jesus and with God, and therefore, remaining within the framework of Christendom, become subtle, hidden deceivers. And unless the church has acute powers of discernment, unless the church is willing to pay the price of exposure, unless the church can get over its sappy sentimentalism about not wanting to say anything that offends anybody, it’s going to allow itself to be devastated by these embedded, satanic Al Qaida.
Now, Jude gives us an unmistakable portrait of these apostate false teachers in verses 5 through 16. And we’re working our way through this, which is really the heart of the letter, verses 5 through 16. And I’ve been telling you the last couple of weeks – actually, three weeks we’ve been looking at these verses – in verses 5 to 11 is a series of three threes. A series of three threes describing the apostates who misrepresent the Lord and the Church.
And I don’t want to go through all of this, but first of all, we saw tree cases of past apostates who were judged. Verses 5 through 7 remind us how God judged an apostate Israel, “after saving them out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed them who did not believe.” Having been exposed to the power of God, and the work of God, and the goodness of God, and the deliverance of God, they rejected God and, therefore, were destroyed in the wilderness.
The second case of apostate judgment from history past is in verse 6, “The angels who didn’t keep their own domain, abandoned their proper abode, have been placed into eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of that great day.” Holy angels - who apostatized and turned from serving God, believing in God, to rebel against God in a rebellion led by Lucifer, were thrown out of heaven, took their rebellion down to earth - even went further, as described in Genesis 6, in a kind of twisted, perverse way, inhabited men who married women, and you had demon-dominated families which shows the horror of that particular world – the world which God drowned in the flood.
The third past illustration of apostate judgment is Sodom and Gomorrah. You have then Jews in verse 5, angels in verse 6, and Gentiles in verse 7, “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, the cities of the plain all obliterated in a holocaust of fire and brimstone because they indulged in gross immorality” – namely homosexuality – “went after strange flesh” – and they, too, set themselves on a course to “undergo the punishment of eternal fire.” Three cases of apostate judgment.
Then in verses 8 to 10, you had three characteristics of apostate nature. When you look at an apostate, what do you see? Three things mark them: immorality, insubordination, and irreverence. They are immoral, verse 8, “They defile the flesh.” They are insubordinate, “They reject authority.” And they are irreverent, “They revile angelic majesties” – or glories. And there’s an illustration in the case of Michael and his battle with Satan over the body of Moses.
So, they are irreverent in the way they speak about angels. They are insubordinate in the fact that they reject divine authority. And they are immoral in that they defile the flesh.
Now, we come to verse 11. This is the third three in this little series: three cases of apostates in history who were judged; three characteristics of apostate nature; now we have three connections to apostate examples three connections to apostate examples.
And here, in order to help us to be able to recognize apostates, we are given the opportunity to compare them with some apostates of the past. And to show that in reality they have followed the path of these past apostates. Verse 11, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Three historic apostate judgments: Israel, angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah; three characteristics of apostate nature: immorality, insubordination, and irreverence; and now three connections to apostate examples: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Three who model what these current, contemporary apostates do. These current ones have gone the way of Cain. They have rushed into the error of Balaam. They have perished in the rebellion of Korah. They have followed the path that Cain followed; they have followed the path that Balaam followed; and they have followed the path that Korah followed. You will notice here there is a progression. They have gone the way of Cain, they have rushed into the error of Balaam, and they have perished in the rebellion of Korah.
First there is a path they take. Then there is an escalation of their speed, and ultimately their disastrous. And they start out in the way. They go into the error, and they perish in the rebellion. It starts out with Cain. He is a model of one who disobeyed God. It goes to Balaam. He is a model of one who tries to influence others to disobey God. It ends up with Korah who led a full rebellion. Apostates are the spiritual children of Cain and Balaam and Korah.
And these, by the way, are all very familiar to students of the Bible, students of the Old Testament – certainly would be familiar to Jewish readers. Let’s just think about Cain for a moment. Go back to Genesis chapter 4, and without the intent of getting too bogged down in rehearsing what is familiar to us, remembering that Jude simply refers to these briefly because he knows that they are familiar to us. I remind you, in Genesis chapter 4, that “Adam had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. And she said, ‘I have gotten a man child with the help of the Lord.’” This is the first person born into the world. Adam, of course, was created by God, and Eve was taken from his side, and also, in a supernatural way, made by God. Here’s the first child born. “And again, she gave birth to his brother” – verse 2 – “Abel. Able was a keeper of flocks; Cain was a tiller of the ground. It came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.” He brought fruit and vegetables, plants. “And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.” He brought an animal sacrifice.
“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. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” And the Lord is saying to him, “You’ve been caught in sin. If you did what was right, you wouldn’t be sulking around with a long face.”
“And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about” – verse 8 – “when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”
Now, the simplicity of the story is this: Cain brought an unacceptable sacrifice. God did not accept his sacrifice, and God did accept the sacrifice of Abel. This presupposes that they had been told what to bring. He knew God required a blood sacrifice. But he wasn’t interested in the way of God; he was only interested in the way of Cain. He rejected the way of God. He did what he wanted in the name of worship. He had a self-styled worship. He invented his own worship. He rejected revelation and followed his own desire and his own intuition. He had his own ideas. He defied the Word of God.
He was disobedient in a word, and the character of his heart, which led him to disobedience, is manifest in his anger, in his sullenness, and in his immoral act by which he murdered his own brother. He is immoral. He is insubordinate, and he is irreverent. He is a model of an apostate mentality. Sin dominates him. Self-will dominates him. He will invent his own kind of worship and not submit to God’s. And irreverence characterizes him as well, for he takes the life of one made, of course, in the image of God and distains God in the process. His offering was, in itself, a kind of blasphemy and irreverence. He rejected revelation, and he operated on his own instinct. He did what he wanted, not what God instructed him to do.
Listen to Hebrews 11:4, which is a commentary on this. “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he” – Abel – “obtained the testimony that he was righteous.” He demonstrated his righteousness by being obedient. Cain was the prototype apostate. He is the original apostate. He is the pioneer who opens the path for all apostates. He is religious, but disobedient.
He comes, as it were, before the true God and offers a wrong offering. And then the anger rises within him, when it’s not accepted, against those who are committed to the truth, and he is so hateful of the one who has obeyed God, that he cannot satisfy his jealousy, and his envy, and his anger with anything short of killing his own brother.
The apostate purports to be religious. The apostate offers some offering. The apostate comes before God in a self-styled fashion. The truth of the matter is if he gets very close to the people of the truth, he becomes very angry, very hostile, and inevitably has an immoral heart to go along with his bad theology.
I always remember the well-known TV evangelist who said one night, on TBN – they were talking about me, and he said, “If I had my way, I’d take my Holy Ghost machine gun and blow his brains out.” Now, that’s a great attitude. That proves the point. That’s the way of Cain, isn’t it? Anybody who has the truth becomes your enemy, and you would be most satisfied if you could bring out his demise.
And, of course, the story ends when Cain is banished by God out of the garden. A mark is put upon his head so that he will not be killed but rather have to live his entire life tormented by being expelled from God’s presence and from blessing.
And Cain here is the prototype apostate. These people in the church, these spiritual terrorists in the church who teach lies – and they’re all over the place; I saw in the paper this week that a homosexual rabbi met with a homosexual Anglican bishop to talk about how God feels about homosexuality. Neither of them know God at all. They are in the way of Cain. They are immoral. They are ungodly. They have an appearance of religion, but they are spiritual terrorists. They are not only blowing themselves into eternity with their lies, but attempting to take other people with them. They are spiritual suicide bombers who are trying to collect to themselves a whole lot of homosexual people who need to be confronted about the wretchedness of their sin and the hell that awaits them, and they’re telling them what they’re doing is fine, and God approves of it, and they’re all going to blow up together and end up in hell. This is not some minor detail. This isn’t the time for tolerance; this is the time for intolerance. I’m not saying we ought to be unkind to them, but we ought to confront them about their true condition. These apostates go in that path.
I remember talking to Father Manning, when we were on The Larry King Show, program; I may have told you this. And he said, “Well, my Jesus, my Jesus...”
I said, “Wait, wait, wait. You don’t have a Jesus. There’s a Jesus, and it’s who He is. And He’s not yours to make any way you want. You can’t invent your own Jesus.” This is what Cain did. He invented his own worship. He invented his own way. This is idolatry.
So, they who do this have gone in the way of Cain. They have their own self-styled, self-invented religion, and they are inevitably angry and hostile against those who hold the truth. And they are also immoral, and if they had the opportunity, they would be seriously destructive, even to the taking of a life.
Secondly, he says, escalating this a little bit, they not only, according to verse 11, have gone the way of Cain, “For pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam.” Because the question always comes up, “Why do they do this?” And they do this. “Why do they stay in religion? Why don’t they get out? Why do they stay in? For what?” Money. They are – they’re like Cain in that they have their own self-styled religion. They’re like Balaam in that they do it for money. They are prophets for hire. And some of them are getting very wealthy; and some of them are just comfortable. Some of them are just taken care of by their liberal denomination or their false religious system.
Now, the familiar story of Balaam stretches across Numbers chapter 22, 23, 24, 25, and even into chapter 31 you have some references to Balaam. So, we won’t go back and work our way through that whole thing. But you remember the story of Balaam. He was a prophet for hire. He would simply make a prophecy for the highest bidder. You give him the money, you get the prophecy you want.
Israel was about to enter Canaan. Israel, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness – and some of you have been reading along in these matters in our Bible reading; you know, that Israel was about to enter Canaan. And as they were moving toward the land of Canaan and setting to go in, they were running into some conflict at some points. And one of the groups of people, one of the tribes, if you will, that they engaged was Moab. Moab. And Balak was the king of the Moabites. He was the chief of that particular tribe of people. And Balak tried to hire Balaam who was the prophet available for the highest bidder. And what he did was he tried to pay money to Balaam to curse Israel. Talk about superstition. Talk about not understanding the power of the true God. These people were so superstitious they actually believed in curses, like animistic people do, like third-world tribal people do, and maybe even like some more modern people who are caught up in some kind of devilish fears of mysticism do. But they actually believed in curses pronounced on people.
And so, he tries to get Balaam, for money, to curse Israel. Well, Balaam never can pull it off. He winds up having a very strange encounter with his own donkey, you remember, who speaks to him. But in the story of Balaam, as it unfolds, one thing is very, very apparent, and that is that he’s a prophet for hire, and he’s driven by covetousness. Though he has some sense of fear about the true God, if you had experienced the talking donkey, you might also. And he understands that he has to back off a little bit. He restrains himself from cursing Israel because he does have a fear of the true God, but having lost the money, he is in a sad situation. So, he has to come up with another way to get the money.
So, do you remember what he did? Since he couldn’t pronounce effectively a curse on Israel because he feared their God, he went to the women of Moab, and he persuaded the women of Moab and also Midian to seduce the Israelite men to commit sexual sin and to worship idols. And his plan was, “If I can’t bring a curse on them, I’ll get them to be seduced by these Moabite/Midian women, and when they commit sexual immorality and get involved in idols because they’re drawn in by these women, then their own God will have to curse them. He’ll have to punish them.” And that’s exactly what happened. That is exactly what he did. And here again is a man who is immoral, insubordinate, and irreverent. This is blasphemous against God. This is insubordinate to what he knew was right according to the will of God. And this is, of course, immoral.
And by the way, the plan worked out, but Balaam perished as false teachers always do. And that will be our subject next time, the destruction that awaits them. Listen to Revelation 2:14. Here’s a comparison, writing to the church at Pergamos. “The Lord says, ‘I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit acts of immorality.”
That – everybody knew that. The Jews all knew that. What he did was seduce the people of Israel into immorality and idolatry. Balaam then represents two things: the covetousness of the false teacher who loves money and the apostate who influences others to sin.
In a sense, he’s a step beyond Cain. Cain just sinned; Balaam collected the crowd to sin. And so, in a very real sense, this third point - three connections to apostate examples, you have the first example of a single man’s sin, the way of Cain; the second example of a man who was able to influence a whole group of people to sin. And this is described, as I read earlier in 2 Peter chapter 2, verses 1 to 3, leading many, many astray. Of course there are many modern Cains, modern false teachers, false Christians, apostates who have their own self-style religion, their own self-invented religion, their own spin on Christianity, their own wave interpreting the Bible, or literally denying the Bible and inventing their own insights.
And you have plenty of Balaams out there, seducing people to go after lies, to go after false gods, to go after false religions so they can make money. They do it for the filthy lucre’s sake. A very warning against that Peter gives to any true shepherd in 1 Peter chapter 5. These people who are influenced in such fashion are sadly gullible. They are the victims; they are the ones who get blown up in the holocaust by the spiritual terrorists.
Thirdly, he talks about the perishing of Korah or, literally, the perishing in the rebellion of Korah. “Rebellion” is an interesting word – antilogia – against the word. Against the word. That’s actually what that term means when you break it down.
Cain disobeyed God’s Word. Balaam opposed God’s Word. Korah leads an open rebellion. The story of Korah is told in Numbers 16. He was a Levite, Korah was. And that should have put him in a sense of responsibility – right? – because what was the Levite’s job? Take care of the temple; take care of the worship. See, he fits the picture, doesn’t he? Here’s another worshiper; here’s another immoral, insubordinate, irreverent worshiper.
Balaam, he was a prophet; he should have known better. Cain, he was the first human ever born, in the image of God in this world, who had been instructed by God, along with his brother, as to what to do. They all had religious responsibility; they all engaged themselves in religious activity. Korah, a Levite, also was a cousin of Moses. But Korah had been excluded from the priesthood - maybe they knew something about him - and it peeved him. He greatly resented this; it infuriated him.
So, he got a couple of his friends by the name of Dathan and Abiram, and he started a rebellion. And the target of his rebellion, of course, was Moses, because Moses was the Lord’s chosen leader, the Lord’s chosen representative. Apostate false teachers will set themselves against God’s Word. They will invent their own self-styled religion. They will attempt to seduce people into their false system like Balaam did, and they will inevitably attack the true leaders. They will mock those with sound doctrine.
And you know what Korah’s line was, this little mantra? In Numbers 16:3, Korah said this, “All the congregation is holy” – all the congregation is holy.
Now you say, “That sounds okay to me.”
Well, you have to understand why he said it. What he was saying is, “We don’t have to listen to Moses. Each one of us is equal to Moses.” He was disputing the idea that they even needed a leader, that they even needed a – somebody who was responsible, a theologian, somebody who spoke for God. He was disputing the idea that they needed a representative, chosen by God, from among them. He was disputing the idea that they needed a mediator. He was disputing the idea – listen to this – that they even needed a teacher who gave them God’s truth. He was saying, “Well, you know, we’re all holy before God.”
You know, I hear this so often, “Oh, you heresy hunter, you. You know, the Holy Spirit is leading us all; we’re all following the path to truth on our own. And you come along and you say, ‘This isn’t right; this isn’t right; this is right; and only this way is right, and only this way is right.’ We don’t need a representative. We don’t need one teacher. We don’t need a mediator. All the congregation is holy; we’re all entitled to our own insights and our own viewpoints. Don’t act like any spiritual authority over us. Everybody’s his own authority. Everybody’s opinion is equal to everybody else’s opinion.”
You see, the false teachers are bent on overthrowing any spiritual authority; on attacking any definitive dogmatic, truth-telling spiritual leaders. And so, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and the people who joined in this rebellion were intent on overthrowing Moses. And the rebellion ended in a very rapid fashion. You know how it ended, Numbers 16? The ground opened and they all disappeared, swallowed them into hell is what it did.
You say, “How big was the rebellion? How big was their effect? Was it just Korah, Dathan, and Abiram?”
Fifteen thousand people died in a subsequent plague. That’s how effective their rebellion was. They had a major rebellion going on. They had a denomination. They had an anti-God denomination. They had a cult. They had a new religion – an anti-Moses, anti-God’s law, anti-spiritual leadership, anti-divine authority. They had an immoral, insubordinate, irreverent cult. Fifteen thousand died in a plague.
Do you see how this thing escalates? Cain - one guy - got his own religion. Balaam gets many people seduced. And here we have a rebellion of 15,000. That’s what these apostates do. This is about influence. This is about influence. Just know it. If you do not submit to the authoritative Word of God; if you do not submit to the truth of God, and show reverence to God and honor to God, and stay away from immorality, and give evidence of a transformed life by the grace of God; if you do not submit to spiritual authority and those who have been called by God and are faithful to the teaching of the Word of God; if you fight against all of that, then you have followed the way of Cain, the way of Balaam, and the way of Korah.
Now, in Jewish history, these three names are famous. They are “the triumvirate.” They are the trinity of apostates. Cain, the prototype pioneer apostate; Balaam who extended apostasy from one person to many. And Korah who took apostasy to the largest level, engulfing the most people and bringing about a rebellion that attempted, literally, to overthrow all that God had established by way of authority among His people. They are all three immoral, they are all three insubordinate to the truth of God, and they are all three irreverent.
And that is why verse 11 begins with these words, “Woe to them!” Woe to who? Cain? No. He’s in the middle of woe and has been there a long time. Balaam? No. He’s there, too. Korah? No, he’s also there. “Woe to them!” Them? Back to verse 10, “These men” – back to verse 8, “These men” – back to verse 4, “Certain persons” – these apostates. A curse is pronounced on them by the Lord. A declaration of damnation.
In John 14:6, you know, it says, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’” Right? And I thought of that verse when I was reading verse 11 this week. They exchanged the way of Christ for the way of Cain. They exchanged the truth of Christ for the error of Balaam, and they exchanged the life of Christ for the destruction of Korah. They’re just against the grain of everything Christ came to do. He is the way; He is the truth; He is the life. Apostates choose the way of Cain over the way of Christ, the error of Balaam over the truth of Christ, and the destruction of Korah over the life of Christ. No wonder woe is pronounced upon them.
And that is repeated throughout the text we have already read. It says in verse 4, “They were long beforehand marked out for condemnation.” Verse 5 says the apostates in Israel were destroyed. The angels who sinned kept in eternal bonds under darkness, verse 6. Those in Sodom and Gomorrah, undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Verse 10 again, “- by these things they are destroyed.” Verse 13, “- the black darkness has been reserved for them forever.” Verses 14 and 15 talks about the horrific judgment that will come upon them. So, the portrait of an apostate is enhanced for us by these three connections to apostate examples in the past.
I want to close tonight by having you look at two more verses, verses 12 and 13, and give you a fourth point, if I may do that. Three cases of apostate judgment we saw in verses 5 to 7; three characteristics of apostate nature, verses 8 to 10; three connections to apostate examples or influences. And now, this section, for us anyway, kind of wraps up with five – not three this time – five comparisons to natural phenomena. Five comparisons to natural phenomena.
As he goes on to describe these apostates, moving from history, which he’s been engaging in from verse 5 on, he moves to the natural world to provide some analogies. And he describes them – notice verse 12 – “These men are those who are hidden reefs in our love feasts, when they fest with you without fear, caring for themselves. They are clouds without water, carried along by winds; they are autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted. They are wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam. They are wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.”
You have five comparisons to natural phenomena. They are called “hidden reefs” which speaks – or hidden rocks which speaks of their unseen danger. They are called “clouds without water” which speaks of their false promises. It looks like rain, but none ever falls. They are called “autumn trees without fruit” which speaks of the barren profession of their lives. They are called “wild waves of the sea” which means for all their sound and fury, and all their action, and all their effort, all they do is stir up dirt and mire and muck and filth to deposit on the shore. And they are called “wandering stars” because they have an aimless course coming from and going to nowhere.
Now, let me look a little more closely at those, just briefly in the next few minutes. Verse 12, “These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves.” Love feasts were dinners that were held in the early Church. First Corinthians chapter 11 describes them, and by the time the Corinthian church was running afoul of everything else, they were also corrupting the love feast, which was a time when the church all came together. It was like a potluck, and everybody brought food and shared the food so everybody, even the poor, would have enough; and it was a time of love and celebration. And it was different than the Lord’s Table, which is, of course, the bread and the cup remembering his death. This was a meal, the love feast.
And the love feast was being corrupted. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11, I think, starting in about verse 15 or 16, down through verse 22, how it had been corrupted. There was drunkenness there. There was a grabbing of food and devouring it fast so that the poor couldn’t get any. It had become so polluted that love feasts actually passed away, disappeared, in New Testament times, from the scene because it was so terribly abused. And one of the reasons it was abused was because corrupt people embedded themselves in the love feast as the most clandestine way they could get in and disrupt the church. They, of course, were Satan’s Al Qaida planted there. And these terrorists, their boldness is really amazing. They are embedded in the love feast. They’re at the very point where Christians are supposed to be celebrating their love, and they are reefs – spilades. Literally used of rocks in the sea close to the shore, under the water’s surface, dangerous to the ships. Hidden rocks. And they ripped the bottom of the church and caused destruction and drowning.
And again, these were meals for conversing and sharing and talking of the matters of the faith. And they got into these meals, and they espoused their lives, and they flaunted their immorality in subtle ways. And typically this was a potluck dinner on the Lord’s Day. They would have the Lord’s Table; they would hear the teaching of the Word of God; they would worship together. Then they would have this potluck dinner, and this is where these embedded apostates began to speak their lies and to cultivate their iniquity, their immorality, and their insubordination, and their irreverence. They undermine the truth; they undermine the faith.
And it happened in the Corinthian church - read it in 1 Corinthians 11 – to such a degree that the apostle Paul has to call, as it were, almost a judgment down on the heads of the Corinthians for the corruption, divisions, cliques, all kinds of things. It turned into a drunken orgy in Corinth. And the false teachers were there, embedded and working to bring about the worst possible results, provoking lies, provoking deceptions, provoking immorality – always as a cloak to justify their own evil lusts. So, they are like sunken rocks on which the ship is easily destroyed.
It says again, in verse 12, “Those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear” – they have no sense of conviction. They have no conscience. They are – as Peter says, “Their conscience is seared as with a hot iron.” They feel nothing. They’re unconscionable. They have no conscience. They are like terrorists that we read about today, who don’t mind blowing people to bits, and their conduct does terrible, moral damage to others. And it was due to this kind of abuse that these love feasts passed away.
And it says also, “- caring for themselves.” The love feast was designed for people to care for each other. It’s the word poimainō, to shepherd. The love feast was a shepherding dinner. You sat around, you talked, and you shepherded each other. Somebody needed comfort, you comforted them. Somebody needed instruction, you instructed them. This is the early church coming out of paganism, in Corinth in particular, or anywhere else they had them.
This was a time for mutual instruction, sharing, caring, application of the Word, calling to holiness, confronting sin, doing all the one anothers of the New Testament, using your spiritual gift. And here, embedded, are these false teachers corrupting everything they can corrupt and caring for themselves, shepherding nobody but themselves, making sure they get what they want, no concern for anybody else, living and desiring only to gratify their own sensual lusts. They have no fear of God’s judgment. They are embedded in their without any fear. And we have them today, believe me. They are just embedded in the church all over the place, sowing their deceptive lies, sowing their allowances for immorality, and causing havoc.
Secondly, he calls them clouds without water. Verse 12, “Clouds without water, carried along by winds.” Clouds bring the promise of rain to a thirsty land, and Israel is one of those lands very dependent upon rain. It gets very little of it, semiarid, basically like Southern California. But these clouds come along with the promise of rain and never drop any water. They have nothing to offer. They give no satisfaction.
Proverbs 25:14 says, “Whoever boasts himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.” These false teachers promise to bring you the blessing of God. They promise to lead you in the path of God. They promise to bring you spiritual blessing and spiritual refreshment. They promise, but they can’t deliver. They are driven around in the sky, clouds continually portending the promise of rain, but they have no water. Without water is the same word use in Matthew 12:43 to speak of the dry places in which evil spirits wander. Also we’ll see that’s referred to in Luke 11. They’re really motivated by the unseen evil spirits who control them. They’re blown around by demon winds, and they deliver nothing.
So many people follow after these false religions, false systems, false teachers, apostates. Think of all the people in the Catholic Church, all the people in the Mormon Church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Universal this and Universal that, and all the rest of the world religions, whether it’s Muslim religion or Buddhism or Hinduism or whatever it is, or follows these false teachers embedded in Christianity here, and there, and everywhere. And they’re all being promised blessing, and they’re all being promised goodness, and they’re all being promised peace and love and hope in the life to come. And they can’t deliver any of it.
And he says they’re also, thirdly, “like autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, and uprooted.” Now, you can’t be more fruitless than to have no fruit, be double dead and uprooted. You’re not likely to produce any fruit in that condition. Autumn trees without fruit.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about that. We are not in an agrarian culture anymore. Autumn is the time when the last of the crop comes in. and if a crop is going to come in, it’s going to come in in the autumn. That’s the last time before the winter comes and, of course, then nothing is going to come. The last time for harvest, and still no fruit. You wait and you wait and you wait, and through the summer, into the fall, finally into the autumn, and the fruit never comes. It is dry; it is leafless; it is barren. These apostates are absolutely void of spiritual life. They are good for nothing. They are doubly dead. That is they produce no fruit because there’s no life in them. They’re doubly dead. They are fruitless. That’s one level of death, and they are dead at the very root. They look dead; they are dead. They literally have come out of the ground. They have no connection to the soil and its nutrients, to the supply of water. They are absolutely without fruit.
Apostates can’t provide anything. They can’t give anything. In Matthew 15:13, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up,” Jesus said. They can’t produce new life. They can’t produce creatures. They can’t build up Christians. Do you know how many people sit in places that call themselves Christian churches where they are being led by hidden rocks that are doing nothing but destroying? Where they are being led by clouds without water who can provide no rain? Where they’re being led by barren, fruitless, twice dead, plucked up trees?
And then, fourthly, he calls them “wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam.” “Sea,” by the way, in the Bible, is used as a symbol very often of those who don’t know God. “The wicked are like the troubled sea” - Isaiah 57:20 – “when it cannot rest.” And Isaiah goes on to say this, “Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” The wicked are like the troubled sea. When the sea is in tremendous turmoil, when there is a tremendous storm in the sea, in the morning after the storm, the shore is littered – not with anything productive, not with anything beneficial, not with anything life-giving, but with just muck and mire, and debris.” And that’s all the false teachers do. They just make a lot of motion, and they stir up a lot of foam and a lot of action and a lot of hoopla, and in the morning, all you have is filth on the shore. The storm in the ocean causes the ocean to throw up its scum. It’s nothing but refuse, seaweed, the dead and the mangled, bits and pieces of flotsam and jetsam and whatever else was churned up.
And so it is with these apostates; they roll in, wave after wave, with all their action, and all the froth, and all the foam. And in the end, all they do is cast up scum. And what is the scum? It’s immorality, insubordination, and irreverence. False preaching, lies, deception, shameful deeds, seductions, all forms of religious prostitution and harlotry.
And then a final picture is in verse 13. They are like “wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” That’s an interesting phrase “wandering stars,” because stars don’t wander. Do you know that? They don’t wander, right? When we talk about a star, we’re talking about a body in heaven that’s in a fixed orbit, is that not so? And it shines every night. We don’t have stars going out. Stars don’t wander; they have precise orbits, and they shine all the time. But we do have a phenomenon we call shooting stars, right? They’re not stars. You knew that? They’re not stars. They’re not stars. They flash across the sky, in a brilliant moment, and then they disappear into eternal blackness, never to be seen again. They had a short life and they’re gone. You’ve seen them. That’s what he’s talking about. These false teachers, they appear for a little time – a little, bright movement across the sky of Christianity; flashy, erratic, streaking in their rebellious ways with no orbit, no rhyme or reason, no direction – across the sky. They get the oohs and the aahs of the people who watch, and they disappear into blackness forever. What vivid imagery. The blackness of darkness, by the way, is the eternal fire of verse 7. And they go there forever. The black darkness has been reserved for them forever. Forever.
Well, the imagery is very vivid. The analogies are graphic. Apostate false teachers are dangerous hypocrites who make promises of spiritual provision but give none. They are spiritually dead and barren. And with all their activity and all their effort, they only clutter the shore with useless debris. They are here for a flash, and they are gone without any benefit, without any rhyme or reason, without any purpose, disappearing forever into eternal blackness. They literally blow themselves up and all the people who follow them, and their end is eternal punishment. And Jude, having given us this portrait, will, beginning in verse 14, tell us about that eternal punishment. And we’ll look at next time.
Lord, as we have gathered tonight again to sit at the feet, as it were, of Jude - the half-brother of our Lord Himself - as he taught us. We have been so greatly blessed - not because this has been material that brings us joy, but because it equips us to be discerning and to help others be discerning.
Lord, we need to be contending for the faith. We need to be in the war for the truth. We need to be armed and ready with discernment, and perception, and understanding, and wisdom. We need to have our eyes fixed on the portrait that has been given to us here so we can recognize these apostates and that we can help Your church not to be devastated by them.
At the same time we think of all of this, we thank You for the true shepherds, the true teachers, the true preachers, the true believers who have influenced our lives through the years, and for all those who even today are faithful in fighting the battle, contending for the truth of the faith. We stand with them grateful and shall stand, as long as we have breath, holding up the truth. Nothing is more important than divine truth; that we understand for it is by it we are saved and sanctified and given the hope of glory. And we ask that You would use us greatly in this battle to rescue the deceived, to rescue those who are in the path of destruction because they’re under the influence of these spiritual terrorists. Give us boldness and courage, understanding what’s at stake, and may we be part of those who are in the gathering with our Lord who is building His true kingdom. And we ask these things in His name, Amen.
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