Pastor Scott Andrews | February 13, 2022
It is important that we maintain a distinction between those who had infiltrated the church in Jude’s day and the church. Those who have infiltrated the church in our day and the church – that is, true followers of Jesus Christ. I have said it over and over – Jude wrote to those who are called, loved and kept. He wrote to those whom God is able to keep from falling. And he wrote to warn a church – to warn this church – that false believers will always come into the church, wanting to spread their wicked and pernicious ideologies.
Wanting to spread their beliefs so they can engage in their rebellious, sinful behaviors. More, to encourage others to join in. Misery loves company – better, sinners love affirmation. In The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman points out, our current sinful, sexual milieu has progressed. Not enough to just be allowed, it must be accepted, then affirmed, and now celebrated. And the church today is facing a phenomenon never seen before – the internet and social media, where you can always find someone who agrees with you. Google heretic, and you’ll find thousands. Google sex, you’ll find billions.
Why am I saying this? Because I have been calling believers – true followers of Jesus – to not be swept into the ungodly culture of our day that is invading the church. Churches and entire denominations are changing, dismissing or denying the Word of God. Trying to update its archaic ideas, trying to make it more loving and accepting; less offensive and judgmental. Maybe. But perhaps also because they are still dead in their sins for which they want license to pursue. And in so doing, they cease to be a faithful church – they cease to proclaim the need of the gospel and the call to righteousness. Indeed, they celebrate unrighteousness. If we redefine righteousness outside the Bible – looking to our own understandings – to what our heart tells us – we will get it wrong every time.
Again, why am I saying this? To remind and challenge us of four very important reasons, or to identify four groups of people. First, to encourage believers not to be persuaded or dissuaded by our ungodly culture or even unbelievers in the church. The church of true believers has always been the minority and opposed by unbelievers. We will see that clearly in the Book of Revelation. We will be held in contempt for our commitment to the Word of God. But now, it is even a bit more challenging, because the enemy is in the camp. This should not come as a surprise to us, nor woo us to capitulate. You say, but everyone says…. Don’t ever think you’ll be in the majority. The majority killed Jesus.
Second, to call believers among us who have been adversely persuaded, who have given into the cry of the culture, to call them to repent. And so, last week, we had a time of prayer, calling us to repent and recommit to righteousness, and also, to pray for those we know living lives of sin. Listen, this is incredibly important – we had lots walk the aisles – I was deeply encouraged, because conviction and repentance are evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I am not discouraged when believers among us confess, repent and commit to pursue righteousness. I am actually encouraged. If you have been convicted and sought repentance, it is evidence that you are fighting sin. Why would you do that if you were still dead?
Third, I know that in a church this size – really, any size – there will be unbelievers in our midst. For that, I am thankful – mostly. I want nonbelievers whom God may be calling to hear the word of God, to be exposed the claims of Christ and His gospel – to know they are loved, and invite them to repent, turn from sin, and turn in faith to Jesus Christ. If you are not yet a follower of Jesus, I want to invite you to believe – here’s my question for you, aren’t you tired of the misery and mess of your life? And so, what is it that keeps you from believing? There is no reason not to believe.
Fourth – you may have noticed I said, I am thankful for unbelievers in our midst…mostly. But if you are an unbeliever – a professing false believer – a wolf in sheep’s clothing, wanting to spread your malicious and wicked thinking and behaviors among us – be warned – we will contend for the faith. Yes, we will always have tares among the wheat. But we will protect the church family. J.C. Ryle, an Anglican bishop of the 19th Century, once wrote,
“If you show me a man deliberately living an unholy and licentious life, and yet boasting that his sins are forgiven, I answer, ‘He is under a ruinous delusion, and is not forgiven at all.’ I would not believe he is forgiven if an angel from heaven affirmed it, and I charge you not to believe it too. Pardon of sin and love of sin are like oil and water…they will never go together. All who are washed in the blood of Christ, are also sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.”
It is this for this fourth reason, primarily, that Jude wrote his letter. Be warned that your sin will not be tolerated, and be warned, it will end in certain destruction. That was the point of last week’s text. Jude had given the purpose for writing in verse 3 – appealing to us to earnestly contend for the faith once handed down to the saints. We noted that to contend for the faith is to recognize that the gospel calls us away from sin and calls us to follow Christ. Our lives have been changed altogether, and together we pursue righteousness. It’s not that our pursuit makes us righteous – we have been made holy by grace through faith in the work of Christ on His cross. But now, having been cleansed and having received the Holy Spirit, we pursue Christlikeness, and encourage each other to do the same. I suggested it is not loving to allow those among us who profess to know Christ to live in sin. No – the Scripture is clear. Because we love Jesus and one another, we seek to help each other on our trip to heaven.
Now, why did Jude feel the necessity to appeal to us to contend for the faith? Verse 4 said, For certain persons had crept in unnoticed, that is, secretly crept into the church and were spreading their illicit beliefs and behaviors. Their condemnation is sure as they are ungodly people who turn the grace of God that is supposed to change us into a license to sin – into licentiousness – sexual immorality. And by doing so, they deny our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. They deny the Lordship of Christ and His right to rule our lives.
He said these people were long ago marked for this condemnation. He then went on to give three OT examples: From Numbers 13 and 14, disobedient Israelites who died in the wilderness because of their unbelief; from Genesis 6, fallen angels who left their domain and cohabitated with women, who have since been kept in eternal bonds awaiting eternal judgment; and from Genesis 18 and 19, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who in the same way indulged in gross sexual immorality, going after strange flesh, and were destroyed for their wickedness, facing eternal fire.
Which brings us to or text today. Look at it with me, verses 8-10 where Jude applies these examples of rebellion and sure destruction to these men who had crept into the church.
Yet in the same way these men, like these three OT examples – these false believers who had crept into the church – also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority and revile angelic majesties. There’s much similarity we are supposed to notice – we’ll see that. Now the words by dreaming actually apply to the three actions of these men. In his love of triads, Jude says by dreaming, they defile the flesh, reject authority and revile angelic majesties.
But let’s start with this dreaming. I suspect in our Bible reading, we might just pass over those words – at least I did. But what did Jude mean, by dreaming? Was it daydreaming? A product of their imaginations? Did they just make this stuff up? Don’t miss it – by dreaming, they arrived at defiling the flesh, rejecting authority, and reviling majesties.
So what is this dreaming? Most agree these guys were claiming to have additional revelation – in addition to the faith handed down to us – by revelatory dreams. That is, dreams they claim God gave them. Read through the Scripture – God did talk to people through dreams – even in the NT – Gabriel to Joseph and Mary, for example. Joel said in the last days – in which we are living – people will dream dreams. Perhaps you’ve wondered whether a dream you’ve had has come from God. I honestly don’t know. Maybe. But any revelation must be in line with Scripture.
Listen carefully – any supposed revelation – a dream or prophetic word – read I Corinthians 14 – is to be tested. And anything that contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture is to be soundly rejected. Let me take it one step further. As I have suggested, the so-called church of Jesus Christ is allowing for sinful, sexual, depraved activity in the church – like now, suddenly God’s okay with it. And they are calling for it to be accepted and even celebrated. I am suggesting – Jude is saying that to depart from the clear teaching of Scripture because your feelings or desires trump Scripture is to rebel against God. You cannot violate the Word of God with impunity. You cannot say, did God really say? You cannot accept what you want to accept, and reject what you want to reject. You are not the authority over the Bible – the Bible is the authority over you.
By dreaming – making up their own truth opposed to God’s truth – they first, defile the flesh. This is referring to sexual immorality. Notice, Jude began verse 8 with the words, yet in the same way. The same way as angels who crossed boundaries, left their place and had relations with women. In the same way the inhabitants of Sodom indulged in gross immorality. This is further evidence they were involved in sexual sins. It wasn’t necessarily the same kinds of sexual sin – few have physical relationships with fallen angels. But I am suggesting any immorality that crosses the boundaries of which God intended – and doing so willfully, wickedly, is to be like these men.
I don’t want to talk about this every week – but here it is – I should have finished verses 8-10 last Sunday. Sexual immorality can be defined as any illicit physical relationship outside of marriage as God defines it – between a man and a woman. So, I’ve said it many times – sexual immorality includes pornography, that is lust – all its kinds. I’m not going to be explicit – we have children in the room. Further, premarital, extramarital, or same-sex relationships are included. And let me just throw in another sinful plague, since it is ubiquitous. Sex trafficking. It is said there are more slaves today than ever before – even more than our Antebellum South. But an awful lot of that is found in the sex slave trade. It is revolting – incredulous that such activity is still prevalent in our world. Did you know, one of the hotspots for such activity is the annual event happening this evening – the NFL Super Bowl.
In the same way, these men by some kind of revelation, defile the flesh. Again, this is group 4 – those engaged in this activity and celebrating it – suggesting it is okay. To be clear, it is not those repenting – that is, confessing and turning from sin.
Secondly, they reject authority. Most agree this refers to God’s authority over their lives. He said so back in verse 4, denying our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Isn’t that interesting – these people were antinomian – suggesting they could live however they wanted. We are living in a world which wants to dismiss God’s Word – His self-revelation to us – and what He expects of His followers. Who is God to tell me how to live my life? And such thinking has infiltrated the church. People don’t want to submit to His authority – which is good and true and right. No – they want to be their own authority – as if their deceitful hearts can determine what is good and true and right.
Listen, I know some of you are struggling with sinful proclivities. And you can either reject your previously held beliefs to embrace your behavior, or you can seek God’s help to overcome the constant temptations of the flesh. As I said earlier, the challenge is, you can always find someone to agree with you – which is an age-old problem. I want to say to you, gently and lovingly, it is a road that leads through misery to destruction.
Third, they revile angelic majesties. This is interesting – lots of guesses about it. Some suggest these were the fallen angels of Genesis 6 we just talked about. That they were rejecting any kind of authority, to include the authority of fallen angelic beings. That does seem to fit the following verse. Others suggest that since the Bible says the Law was mediated by angels, and these guys were denying any law over them – they were antinomians – they were reviling those angels who mediated God’s law.
The point is, these guys saw themselves at the top of the pyramid. Remember, they denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. They see themselves as superior to God’s celestial beings, however that may be interpreted. They saw themselves as the masters of their own fate, captains of their own souls, authorities over their own lives. They decided what was right, and what was wrong. They decided which of God’s laws regarding morality they would keep, and those they would not. They were sovereign over their own lives. They rejected God’s authority and His authority structures.
Jude then moves to a story found in another Jewish apocryphal work called the Assumption of Moses or the Testament of Moses. What is interesting is that we don’t have this story recorded in Scripture. In Deuteronomy 34, God takes Moses up to Mt. Nebo where he could see the land of promise, but remember, he wasn’t allowed to enter. All we see is Moses then died, was buried – and no one knows where.
But in this apocryphal work, we read a little more to the story. While we don’t have the actual Assumption of Moses, it is referred to elsewhere, to include Jude 9, which allows for this reconstruction. The archangel Michael, who is mentioned in the Book of Daniel as the mighty prince or mighty angel for Israel, was left to bury the body. But Satan showed up to contend for the body of Moses – perhaps for two reasons. First, as the accuser, Satan accused Moses, and said since he had killed that Egyptian and hid his body in the sand, he was a murderer and didn’t deserve an honorable burial. Second, the story suggests if Satan could get the body, he might use it to lead the Israelites into idol worship – worshipping at the burial site.
But this accusation was simply slander against Moses. Oh, it happened – the mighty Moses was a sinner, just like everyone else. But Michael, not tolerating the slander, and knowing that God is a forgiving God, simply said, “The Lord rebuke you.” At this point, the devil took flight and Michael buried the body of Moses in an unknown spot. Again, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jude recorded this story. It doesn’t mean the Assumption of Moses is Scripture – a lost book of the Bible. It simply means this story, like the story of Genesis 6 found in I Enoch with the fallen angels, is true.
By the way, the statement, “The Lord rebuke you” is actually a quote from Zechariah 3 where Joshua, the high priest, was standing before God representing the people of Israel. His clothes were torn, indicating his unworthiness to stand before a holy God. Satan showed up to accuse him, but the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan,” and Satan fled. Joshua was then given clean clothes. Here’s a glorious truth – we too, are unworthy to stand before God in our own dirty clothes – our own dirty righteousness. And Satan, the accuser, would be only too glad to accuse us before God. But the Lord will rebuke him – we are clothed not in our own tattered righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. In our fighting and failing against sin, Jesus has done something about our guilt. Luther once said that if the Accuser accused him, he would say to Satan:
“Yes, Yes! It’s my sin! I’ve done it! I deserve what’s coming to me! I admit that I deserve death and hell, but what of it? For I know of one who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God. Where He is, there I shall be also.”
Some of you need to hear that today. Groups 1, 2, and 3 – not group 4 that thinks sin doesn’t matter – groups 1, 2, and 3, who are guilty, and know it. God, by His Son, is able to make you stand in His presence blameless, with joy. Forgiven.
But what it the point Jude is making here? It seems these false believers rejected any authority – even angelic authority – showing contempt for God’s creative order. But even Michael the archangel had the sense to leave the judgment and rebuke of Satan to God. Michael – some suggest he and Gabriel are at the top of the angelic order – did not try to revile Satan – but left it to God.
Verse 10 seems to substantiate this thought – these men reviled or blasphemed things which they did not understand. They were in over their heads. Further, the things they did know by instinct stood against them with their animal-like behavior, which would serve to condemn them.
These men blasphemed things which they did not understand, and the things they knew by nature, stand against them with their animal-like behavior. That is an interesting statement – Peter said the same thing. John Piper, in his magnum opus, a 700-page book simply entitled Providence, suggests that when we seek to be our own gods, masters of our own fate, free to make our decisions based on our own sinful, fallen intellect, those will know what it means to be, not free, but enslaved to beast-like passions. He tells the story of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4. Look at it briefly with me:
29 “Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon.
30 “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’
31 “While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you,
32 and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’
33 “Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.
Again, Nebuchadnezzar had earlier been warned in a dream that Daniel interpreted. Daniel had warned him – you better submit to the authority of God. Stop reveling in your own glory. Twelve months later, he did not, and the interpretation of the dream came true. While the king was arrogantly proclaiming his sovereign power, he became a beast. So Piper writes,
“God’s purpose in this humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar is not only that we ‘know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men,’ but also that we be shocked into wakeful reality—that not to know and rejoice in God’s rule is to become like beasts…. The point of the humiliation is to help us not follow the same course. God is warning us not to become beast-like in failing to use our distinctively human powers to know God…. This story is not just about providence and pride but also about providence and dehumanization.”
How many times do people say something like, my body, my choice. I’m just being true to myself. It’s who I am. No – it is not. Only if you want to become less than what God made you. It is not who you are, it is how you are. And to give into your fleshly desire is live like an animal, rather than one created in the image of God. Piper points out that Daniel is not the only biblical author to say this. David says that when we turn away for the instruction and counsel of God, we become “like a horse or a mule, without understanding” (Ps 32:8-9). Isaiah said that when we don’t embrace God’s truth, we are more foolish than the ox (Isaiah 1:3). Jeremiah said that when we reject the ordinances of God, we have less sense than an animal (Jeremiah 8:7). On and on it goes. Peter said in 2 Peter 2:12, “But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed.”
Jude says the same thing. Rejecting God is not the ultimate expression of freedom and self-expression – it is to be dehumanized. To be less than all God has for you. It is not that for which you were created. Jude finishes, by these things they are destroyed. Ominous words.
I finish with this quote from A.W. Tozer, “Sin is a poisonous weed that throws the whole nature out of order. The inner life disintegrates; the flesh lusts after forbidden pleasures; the moral judgment is distorted so that often good appears evil and evil good; time is chosen over eternity, earth over heaven, and death over life.”