Pastor Scott Andrews | February 20, 2022
We are in week five of our three-week study in the book of Jude – with three more weeks to go. Eight weeks for 25 verses – I know, I am as shocked as you are. But be encouraged – one of our elders, Barrie Winn, was in England working as a chemist and while there, he attended Westminster Chapel. That’s a famous church which had been pastored by such evangelical giants as G. Campbell Morgan and Martin Lloyd-Jones. When Barrie arrived in 1979, they had a new pastor, R. T. Kendall, who had just arrived a couple years before. While Barrie was there, Kendall taught through the book of Jude – over a period of 13 months. Thirty-seven sermons – so calm down.
Yes, it has been a challenging book, one of the most challenging I’ve ever taught. Remember, Jude said he wanted to write about our common salvation. But pressing events prevented him from doing so. Certain people had crept into the church, unnoticed, sharing their ungodly teaching and ungodly behavior. They were seeking to undermine the holiness God expects of His people. That holiness does not save us, but it proves we are saved. So, Jude spent most of his letter addressing this concern. Remember – this was the purpose of the book – to appeal to us to earnestly contend for the Christian faith.
And so, let’s slow down just a moment. I have wanted to be clear – Jude is not writing to these certain people – he wrote to the church about these people who were among them, warning the church. I have sought to remind us over and over, he is not describing believers – the true of church of Jesus Christ. Nor – now listen carefully – nor is he describing or condemning unbelievers outside the church – as if we are to go on the offensive against them. You know, take out your swords of judgment and hack away. No. He is clearly concerned about the church, and false believers who had intentionally infiltrated the church, seeking to destroy it. To destroy our pursuit of holiness – to get us to join them in their sinful behaviors. So last week, I suggested there may be four groups of people in this room:
First are true believers who are faithfully following Christ who need to be reminded of false believers – wolves in sheep’s clothing – who may be among us. To encourage us to earnestly contend for the faith – remembering that the gospel changes lives, and so we seek to be holy. That’s how we contend for the faith – the faith saves us and makes us holy positionally, and we pursue it practically.
Second are true believers who are struggling to follow Jesus – who maybe have been adversely affected by the false teaching that surrounds us. What do we do when the culture around us gives into and approves every and all kinds of sexual sin? And challenges us to follow suit? And further, when that false ideology says, sin doesn’t matter, in fact, some of what we have called sin is not sin. Perhaps you’ve been persuaded by those unbiblical arguments. Jude reminds us to be holy.
Third, there may be unbelievers among us who are exploring the claims of Christ. I hope there are. Maybe you’ve found you don’t have the power to fight sin – to say no to sin. And you’re tired of the mess you’ve made of your lives – and you’re interested to see if Jesus and His church have the answers. He does – He can forgive your sin, save you, and send His Holy Spirit to live in you so you can pursue righteousness. Are you tired of trying and failing? Jesus has done something to forgive and conquer your sin. And I promise, we will do that together. That’s what the church is – a family of believers who seek to know God and grow in Christlikeness together.
But fourth – and this is the group about which Jude was writing: there may be false believers and false teachers who have infiltrated the church of Jesus Christ. They did in Jude’s day – and they have to the present day. These are not just your run-of-the-mill unbelievers who are outside the church living lives of sin; nor even inside the church looking for answers in Jesus. No, these are those actively engaged in sin, teaching lies about sin, and seeking to draw you into their sinful lifestyles.
Why would they do that? Lots of reasons: they’re dead in trespasses and sins. They are controlled by the dark prince of this world, held captive by him to do his work. They are demonically influenced to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. Further, as I said last week, sinners love to be affirmed in their sin.
And so, our sexually immoral culture has a definitive agenda. Frankly, it’s been brilliant. What do I mean? First, they captured Hollywood, and the entertainment world. Virtually every TV show and movie depicts, normalizes, and celebrates some form of sexual immorality. It’s why, frankly, Christians should be very careful what we watch. You say, aww, a little illicit sex doesn’t matter. Really – how has that worked for you? Anyway, they then captured education, where sex outside of God’s prescribed order is taught and okayed. Then, they captured government – where now, even that which 20 years ago was illegal, is now legal. Most recently, they have gone after the sports world, where women and girls are now having to compete against biological males.
The last bastion to fall, in this intended agenda, is the church. And they have targeted and are successfully infiltrating the church. It is frankly of these that I am speaking. Now, how do I know this? Well, first they are ordaining people to serve as pastors they never would have considered a few years ago. Entire denominations are splitting over sexual issues. They are performing wedding ceremonies they never would have done a few years ago. And also concerning, is surveys of evangelical believers are displaying an alarming trend of affirming sexual immorality.
With all that said, let me be perfectly clear. Neither Jude nor I are condemning sinners. Yes, we invite – further, urge sinners to repent and turn in faith to Jesus Christ. To Jesus, who died for sinners so they could be forgiven, by God’s rich grace and mercy through Jesus, His Son, our Lord. But, we do not take the message of Jude to sinners out there – that’s not who it’s for – condemning them to a Christless hell. Yes, sinners who reject Christ will not get salvation, and suffer the consequences. But in obedience to our Christ, and believing the gospel, and in our love for people, we plead with them, and tell them, God loves sinners – and He has done something about their sin. Believe in Jesus and be saved.
But, this book, do not miss it, is written about group four – those who are seeking to destroy the church from within. Listen, the church has always had those who oppose us out there. Of course – they’re sinners who need Jesus. But the concern is those who infiltrate the church.
So, has Jude – have I been passionate about protecting the church? Guarding the flock from those who would seek to destroy them? Yes. Unabashedly. But do not leave here thinking Jude or me, unloving. Do not leave here thinking you are to take Jude to the masses. Do not leave here seeking to be a flamethrower for Christ against our culture. Rather, leave here, thankful you have known the love of God through Christ His Son, you are saved with sins forgiven, and gently and graciously plead with others to believe. God loves sinners – He loved us, didn’t He?
Which brings us to our text today. Yes, Jude is condemning those who would intentionally do damage to the church. True, they may be self-deceived. But they think the church is deceived, and they are seeking to correct and thereby deceive the church. And so, verses 5 to 16 are very challenging, even tough. I know – there’s not a lot of love and grace here. But I will not seek to fix Jude. He is on the warpath – against those corrupting the church.
We’ve covered verses 5-10. In verses 5-7, Jude used three OT examples to highlight the rebellion and destruction of those opposing God. These were unbelieving Israelites, fallen angels, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. In verses 8-10, he applied those examples to these false believers – they defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. We finished with verse 10 last week – these men revile things they don’t understand, and the things they do understand by instinct and pervert – acting like unreasoning animals – and by these things they will be destroyed.
But Jude isn’t done. He goes on to pronounce a woe against them, using three more OT examples, then describes them with descriptively terrible analogies, then uses a prophecy of Enoch to suggest they will be judged. Read the text for today – verses 11-16.
Yes – that’s too many verses for one sermon, and I didn’t want to do this again next week. But as I studied and wrote, it became clear – too many verses. But hey, it’s only eight sermons, and R.T. Kendall had 37. I really want us to get to verse 17 – but you, beloved. But we don’t skip verses, no matter how hard they are. And so, the outline of our text goes like this:
- Three More Old Testament Examples and Their Application (11-13)
- The Prophecy of Enoch and Its Application (14-16)
That looks like fun, doesn’t it? Look at verse 11. Woe to them! Woe is a pronouncement of judgment – usually followed by what they did to deserve the judgment, or what judgment is coming their way. Woe to you, you did this, or woe to you, you’re going to get this. It was used by OT prophets, and by Jesus Himself when He condemned the Pharisees in Matthew 23. Which is interesting – Jesus reserved His strongest denunciations for religious leaders in the Jewish community whose teaching was leading people away from God’s grace.
Well, woe to them for they are just like three OT men who also departed from God and were summarily judged. Notice, the other OT examples were groups of people – these are individuals. First, “For they have gone the way of Cain.” Cain you know as the son of Adam and Eve, and brother of Abel. Cain was a farmer, Abel was a keeper of the flocks. When it came time for sacrifice (we rightly presume, as prescribed by God), Cain brought an offering from his labors, and Abel from his flocks. God looked with favor on Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. In fact, we read God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice of blood, but rejected Cain’s offering. So, we all know the story, Cain killed his brother Abel.
What’s the lesson to be learned? That these certain men were murderers? Not exactly. Cain became the prototype of the notorious sinner who laid down the pattern for sin. He is the example of choosing wickedness over goodness. In fact, I John 3:12 says that Cain’s actions were evil, and his brother’s righteous. He is an example of those who reject God’s ways – how God said to approach Him. He is further the example of those who reject God’s way of salvation and invent their own. You can’t do that.
But don’t miss the point here. You cannot invent your own way of salvation. I read this recently: people are offended when we say there is one way of salvation. Rather, people should be amazed that God provided any way at all. You can’t dismiss or change God’s word. To do so is to invite certain judgment. These men – and others like them – who think they can live however they want, devoid of God’s righteous way, is to go the way of Cain.
The second man, “for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam.” Balaam’s story is found in Numbers 22-24. At first glance, it’s an intriguing, confusing story. We won’t take the time to read it, but let me recount the salient points. Balak, king of the Moabites, was about to go to battle against the Israelites during their forty years of wandering in the desert. By the way, Moab is to the east of the Land of Promise. But, King Balak was rightly scared to death to go against them – he had heard what the God of Israel had done in Egypt and to Sihon, king of the Amorites. So, he summoned Balaam, a prophet in the area, to come and pronounce a curse on Israel. That’s where we get the story of Balaam and the donkey, who tried to keep Balaam from going, lest the angel of the Lord kill him. That’s a little signal that something is amiss.
Anyway, Balak promised to reward Balaam handsomely for the curse. But, Balaam told Balak, I can only say what God tells me. Instead of pronouncing a curse, he blessed Israel. This story goes round and round for awhile – and three times, he doesn’t curse Israel – he only prophecies in their favor. King Balak was dismayed, and so Balaam went his own way. And the story kind of ends there.
At this point, it seems Balaam is a good guy – a good prophet on the right team. How is it that Jude, and others, speak so poorly of Balaam? How is it Jude says, for pay they rushed into the error of Balaam. The fact is, several times Balaam said to Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the Lord my God.”
Well, the answer to Jude’s comment is found in Numbers 25. Balaam wasn’t a pure as the driven snow as one might think. In Numbers 25, we find the Israelite men began to indulge in sexual immorality with the Moabite women – does that sound familiar? Having illicit sex beyond God’s boundaries. And these Moabite women in turn invited the Israelite men to bow down and sacrifice to their gods. They turned them away from God to idolatry through sexual immorality. Consequently, God sent a plague through the people that killed 24,000 Israelites. Not, following the way of Cain in idolatry, and following the way of the fallen angels and Sodom, in sexual depravity.
Now look at Numbers 31. In this chapter, we find Moses and the people destroying the Midianites – another people close by who opposed Israel. Verses 7 and 8 say this:
7 So they made war against Midian, just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they killed every male.
8 They killed the kings of Midian along with the rest of their slain: Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.
What is that about? Why did they kill Balaam – I thought he was a good guy. Not exactly. Verses 14-16 says this – after the battle:
14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war.
15 And Moses said to them, “Have you spared all the women?
16 “Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord.
Later Jewish literature tells us, after Balaam was unable to pronounce a curse on Israel for pay, he decided to help the Moabites another way. It was his idea to lead the men of Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality. He knew the only way to defeat Israel was by their God – to incite His anger against them. And for this, it is said, Balaam was indeed paid handsomely.
Balaam then is an example of selling out God’s people for money. Of exploiting the people of God to enrich yourself. The error of Balaam was encouraging sexual immorality – for pay. From this, we understand these false believers were not only sexually immoral, they were also greedy. They were in it for the money. (I Tim 6:5) It was a common problem in the early church – traveling bands of false teachers would leech off the churches, enriching themselves while spreading their heresy. We’re not exactly sure how the sexual immorality and greed went together, but somehow they did. And we find today, do we not, sexual immorality and greed often go together. I am reminded of I Corinthians 6:
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
How often do we find false teachers – prosperity gospel people – falling into sexual sin? Why? Because they are false believers and engaged in all kinds of depravity.
The third OT person held up as an example is Korah. His story is also found in Numbers – chapter 16. Remember, Jude is not concerned with chronology – he saved the inhabitants of Sodom for last because of the fire that consumed them, and the eternal fire that awaits them. He saved Korah for last because of the fire that consumed him and those with him, and the earth that swallowed them up.
Korah was of the Kohathites, of the tribe of Levi – the same tribe and clan as Aaron and Moses. But, he was not of the line of Aaron, so he was not a priest. He led a rebellion of 250 men against Moses and Aaron, complaining against their leadership. In fact, you read these insightful verses – Moses is speaking to them, and says in verses 9-10:
9 is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them;
10 and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also?
Do you see? They stood against God’s appointed leadership – they wanted the priesthood for themselves – to lead the people spiritually. But it is of serious consequence to stand against God’s appointed godly leadership. Now, there is a place for the people to rise up against ungodly leadership. But not Moses and Aaron. So, at God’s instruction, the people of Israel separated from Korah and the 250 men standing at the tent of meeting, and their families. The earth split and swallowed up the families, who were obviously complicit in the rebellion, and fire came from the Tabernacle and consumed the 250 men.
Understand, Jude is saying that’s what these men were doing. Usurping the biblical authority of church leadership – wanting to lead the people astray into error. Notice also, Jude says, of these false believers, they have perished in the rebellion of Korah. So certain was the destruction to come on these men, it’s written in the past tense – they will perish as in the rebellion of Korah.
Listen – I had fully intended to get through verse 16 today, but surprise – I got through 1 verse. We’ll take up verses 12-16 next week. Jude has use three groups of people to warn us – to warn of their rebellion and destruction – the unbelieving Israelites, fallen angels, and the inhabitants of Sodom. He used three men to warn us – to remind us of their rebellion and certain destruction – Cain, Balaam, and Korah.
Cain represents those who think they can come to God their way, apart from the way God prescribed. That they can choose wickedness over holiness. Balaam represents those who think they can engage in sexual immorality and idolatry, and it doesn’t matter. It does. And he was only in it for the money. Beware of those who talk about money and wealth more than Jesus. And Korah represents those who think they can stand against God’s godly leadership who stand on the Word of God. Their destruction is sure. That’s group four.
But let’s close by taking you back to that very difficult passage in I Corinthians 6. Yes, the unrighteous will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Neither the sexually immoral nor the idolators nor covetous nor the greedy will enter. But the next verse is this:
11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Notice a couple of things – first, this is who you were, but you are no longer. Why? Because you have been justified, that is, declared righteous, and you are being sanctified, that is, being made more holy. This verse applies to groups 1 and 2 and can apply to group 3. For faithful followers of Jesus, remember the grace of God that made that way. For followers struggling to be righteous, remember God saved from you sin to sanctify you. To make you more holy. So pursue righteousness.
And for those who are not yet believers – not yet washed in the blood of Jesus – you can be. By simple faith in the work of Jesus on His cross – His death, burial and resurrection for sinners, because, sinners, you can be saved today. I invite you to believe.