I don’t know about you, but I’m learning a lot as we work through the epistle of Jude. Unlike you, I get to spend two days each week studying the book with commentaries, cross-references and dictionaries, which allows me to appreciate both the depth and scope of Jude’s message. Ladies, I pray that this study will encourage you to do further study for yourselves, since this book is so rich.
We’re going to focus on exclusively Jude 8 today. As a matter of fact , we won’t even get through all of that verse. Although we probably ought to go further, this verse brings up an issue that still plagues the 21st Century Church so pervasively that we really need to spend time examining it. But first, let’s read verse 8 within its surrounding context to ensure that we properly understand Jude’s meaning.
5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
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 5-10 (ESV)
Verse 8 begins by referring back to the stubborn rejection of God’s authority that ultimately results in heterosexual immorality and homosexuality. As you’ll recall from verse 4, the false teachers Jude warns against in this epistle perverted God’s grace into license for sensuality, thereby imitating the lurid rebellions of Israel, fallen angels and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. False teachers persist in rebellion, even knowing that they place themselves under judgment.
They do so, not from ignorance of Scripture, but because they augment the Word of God with their own ideas. The word “dreams” can cover a range of meanings from personal fantasies to spiritual visions. In any case, the dreams deviate from dependence on Scripture as the authority.
The apostle Paul also tells us that false teachers typically rely on spiritual experiences.
18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ~~Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV)
Again, notice the departure from Christ through spiritual experiences and because of sensuality. Here, sensuality is broadened from the realm of sexual immorality to include fleshly gratification of any sort. Paul’s point remains on the exaltation of human ideas over and above Christ and His authority.
Like the First Century church, today’s church suffers from false teachers (some of whom I mention periodically in these blog posts) who base their teachings on extrabiblical experiences that they wrongfully attribute to the Lord. Not all of them (as far as I know) engage in sexual misconduct, but they uniformly appeal to our selfish senses. The false Jesus that they present exists for our pleasure rather than creating us for His glory.
But I also personally know a false teacher whose name is well-known in ex-gay ministry circles. This man rose to prominence as he preached that the Lord could liberate people from homosexuality. All the while, he hid his own same sex attractions.
I’ve followed this man’s writings over the past five years, watching with grief and horror as he recounts dreams and experiences that lead him to embrace his homosexuality. Sadly, he has influenced many other men and women to abandon the fight to renounce homosexuality, falsely teaching the the Lord approves of same sex attractions. He completely denies Christ’s authority by elevating his dreams and sensual desires above the clear teachings of Scripture.
As we continue discussing Jude 8 next week, we’ve see more clearly how the dreams of false teachers lead them to corrupt themselves and their hearers. For now, however, I want you to think about the danger of relying on anything beyond God’s Word. As we’ll discover later in Jude’s epistle, the penalty for following our dreams can be deadly.