Last week, we began looking at Jude 8, which established that false teachers rely on dreams, visions and spiritual experiences rather than on God’s Word as revealed in Scripture. I want to show you this verse once again, as usual quoting it in its context to help us determine its 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)
If we connect verse 8 with the verses leading up to it, we readily see that Jude compares false teachers to some pretty unsavory characters. He does so in order to make the point that, like their predecessors, the false teachers reject God’s revealed will for the purpose of pursuing their own lusts for sex, power and ego. Their supposed dreams give them permission to rebel against the Lord in favor of these lusts.
First of all, their dreams lead them to defile the flesh. 2 Peter 2:10 indicates that they indulge in various forms of passions, which may well be the case with some of the false teachers I frequently address on this blog. The reference to Sodom and Gomorrah in verse 7, however, strongly suggests sexual lust…both heterosexual and homosexual.
Even without sexual immorality as a component, however, false teachers appeal to our lusts. Think of their promises that Jesus wants to increase our wealth, heal our bodies, be our Boyfriend and/or speak to us directly rather than “merely” through the Bible. When they make Christianity about how the Lord can fulfill us, they defile our flesh instead of exhorting us to mortify sin for His glory.
Secondly, these false teachers reject authority. Commentaries have varying opinions on whether the word “authority” refers to human government or to angelic and demonic entities. One commentary suggested that it referred to God’s authority, as well as the authority of the apostles.
This latter possibility, although it only occurred in one commentary, intrigued me because it fits Jude’s context so well. I struggle with my inclination to embrace that interpretation as opposed to the fact that it is a minority opinion. It does seem to me that false teachers uniformly reject the authority of God’s Word, therefore making sense of this characterization. But I will leave you to investigate this possibility for yourselves.
Finally, false teachers speak against “the glorious ones.” Again, commentaries debate whether or not the glorious ones are earthly rulers or angelic and demonic beings. Looking at verse 9, I tend to believe that it means the angels and demons. Since we will look at verse 9 next week, and since I am writing this on the other side of a migraine, perhaps we had better defer discussion on this point until next week.