Year 2 Day 325
Read - Jude 1v8-10
Message - Scott Woodburn
What does a false teacher look like? How can we recognise those who do not have the interests of Christ at heart? The book of Jude is incredibly helpful in this regard. As Jude continues his argument he outlines five characteristics of false teachers.
Firstly, Jude says the false teachers act “in like manner” to the three Old Testament examples in verses five to seven. So false teachers display the unbelief of the Israelites in the wilderness, the arrogance and pride of the fallen angels and the sexual immorality of those in Sodom and Gomorrah. The years may have rolled on but there is nothing new under the sun. The history of the church is littered with those who proved themselves to wolves among the sheep. Even in modern times we have seen famous pastors groom sexual partners from among their congregations. One man was happy to declare himself as “a big deal” and the same individual used underhanded methods to sell his books whilst ruling his fellowship with fear and threat. Jude wouldn’t be surprised. Falsehood is often accompanied by unbelief, arrogance and sensuality.
Secondly, Jude states that the false teachers rely on their dreams (v8). In other words they claimed that they had visions and messages given directly to them via the means of a dream. But dreams are not the Word. Dreams are fleeting and often strange. They are not the basis for truth. Beware anyone who tells you that they receive direct messages from God.
Thirdly, Jude tells us that false teachers “defile the flesh”. That is to say their false belief leads them to a place of so called “sexual freedom”. They think themselves to be so enlightened and so in tune with the Lord that sexual norms do not apply to them. But they are misguided. They practice things which are shameful and defile themselves before Almighty God.
Fourthly, false teachers “reject authority”, they have no regard for the local church and the authority that God Himself has placed within it. This is perhaps the biggest challenge for the modern church. We are all aware of our rights and privileges in 2022 regardless if we are returning an item to Tesco or raging against the spiritual authorities in our own church. Jude is clear, rejection of authority is a clear sign of a false teacher - they are individuals who simply will not be told!
Finally, these individuals are so arrogant that they are even prepared to blaspheme the angels. To underscore his point, Jude uses a story from a book called “The Assumption of Moses”. This isn’t a Bible book and Jude’s goal isn’t to introduce it into the canon of Holy Scripture. Instead we get the impression that the false teachers used this book and now Jude uses a story from it to turn the tables. The false teachers blasphemed the angels and yet Jude reminds them that not even the archangel Michael dared to blaspheme the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses. Jude’s point was that their arrogance was so great that they were prepared to do that which the angels wouldn’t do. Their arrogance was monumental!
Ultimately these false teachers claimed great knowledge but would finally be destroyed by their animalistic sexual appetites and desires (v10). Jude does not paint a pretty picture of the opponents of Christ’s church, yet we can be thankful for the picture he paints. It is a clear portrait of that which we must be on guard against in our day and age.
This devotion isn’t a call for you to check under the bed and behind the curtains for false teachers. We shouldn’t seek to have witch trials and live endlessly suspicious lives. Yet we must absolutely be alert. The church is always in danger and truth is always under attack. Read Jude’s words and remember them. Be wise and discerning and prayerful in these days and make sure you leave no open window for the enemy to climb through.
Q81 What is forbidden in the tenth commandment? The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.