Today we pick up from where we left off last week on our expository journey through the Epistle of Jude. Verse 8 of Jude's Epistle gives four characteristics of apostates that infiltrate the church. Last week we looked at the first of these, which is that they are dreamers or the kind of people who appeal to some extra-biblical revelation to elevate themselves in the congregation. They may have a special "anointing" or been given a special "vision" by God. Today we will look at the second characteristic in verse 8 which is that these false teachers "defile the flesh". This is a part of my verse by verse exposition through the Epistle of Jude for our church plant in Denmark - Kristuskirken.
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 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. (Jude 1-8)
Jude 8 says that apostates "defile the flesh". They are marked by underlying carnality and sensuality. John Macarthur describes this when he says:
Flesh means here the body, physical body. It's not talking about the essence of depravity in Romans 7, you can't defile that , it's already defiled. This is talking about sarx,the actual body. And the word defiled is from a verb miaino, it means to stain, to dye something, like you dye clothing, material. It means to pollute, it means to corrupt. And when you link staining, polluting, corrupting with the word sarx,or flesh, it speaks of sexual sin and immorality. Apostate false teachers are inevitably immoral. It may not be publicly visible, because they cover it up. But the corruption is unrestrained, it has to be because they have abandoned the truth.
Along with sexual immorality, a far more visible characteristic of defiling the flesh is the apostate's materialism and love of worldly wealth. Jude goes on to describe this in verse 11:
Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. (Jude 11)
The prophet Ezekiel was instructed by God to speak out about this behavior:
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. (Ezekiel 34:2-3)
Paul also proclaimed a damning indictment upon those who preach material prosperity:
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, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:3-16)
This is a startling passage and explicit enough to make many of us wonder how so many extortioner preachers get away with their brazen appeals for money and promises of prosperity. The King James Version actually includes the phrase "from such [people] withdraw thyself". Luther's 95 Theses which were the fuse for the reformation were initially provoked by the disgraceful Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences. Luther also did some very good "stand up" on the subject:
But if you thought indulgences died out in the reformation then think again . . .
There is a lot of outrage at the moment over TD Jakes' invitation to the Elephant Room conference because he denies the historic biblical doctrine of the Trinity. But as you can see from the video, the problems with "the Bishop" TD Jakes go way beyond that!
Closing on a positive note, if you are wondering what to look for in a faithful pastor of the flock then listen to Paul's instructions on what characterizes a true shepherd:
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:7-9)
Next week we'll take a look at the third characteristic of an apostate as found in Jude verse 8 - they reject authority!
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