“Do you come to your joy and peace by humility and self-denial and mortification, and by becoming little children and servants of all?” –Richard Baxter
Last week we discussed some of the historical examples that Jude used in his opening salvo against the false teachers that had infiltrated the church. Rebellion is one of the themes that ties all of these examples together. Israel rebelled and longed for new leadership. (Numbers 14) Fallen angels abandoned their “position of authority” and rebelled against God. (Gen. 6:1-4) The men of Sodom and Gomorrah, in their rebellion, cast aside the natural order and “pursued unnatural desire.” (Gen. 19) All such behavior brought certain judgment from the Lord and Jude assures his readers that these same false teachers will be condemned as well. As a matter of fact, meditate on this: according to Peter, “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Pet. 2:3) God is awake and aware and ready to punish the false teachers who would lead his sheep astray!
We close this short devotional with some instructive words from Rhyne R. Putman from his book, When Doctrine Divides the People of God. Putman notes:
- False teaching grows out of ungodly ambition, ignorance, and conceit.
Paul cautioned Timothy about false teachers who “wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (1 Tim. 1:6–7). These teachers had ambition but lacked a proper understanding of the things they taught. Elsewhere in the same letter, Paul warned, “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words” (1 Tim. 6:3–4). The ambition for power can be an impetus for false teaching as well. John challenged a false teacher who “put himself first” and denied the apostolic authority of John’s teaching, speaking “wicked nonsense” against him (3 John 9–10).
- False teaching sometimes stems from a desire for material gain.
This tendency is very apparent in the modern world, where faith-healing televangelists and prosperity preachers prey upon the underprivileged to finance their extravagant lifestyles, but the same kind of greed motivated false prophecy and teaching in the early church (2 Pet. 2:3). As Paul defended his apostleship from this charge, “We are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17). The same type of charge appears in the Pastoral Epistles: “From these come . . . constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain. . . . For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:4b–5, 10 CSB).”
Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday! D. V.
Love in Christ,