Characteristics of Apostates
22 July 2018 AM – Jude 1:5-11 – Jude18 – Scott Childs
Introduction: If I described a four-footed creature about 80 cm tall that eats grass with a coat of wool and says “baa, baa”. What would it be? A sheep! The description of its characteristics identifies it. Jesus said in Matthew 7:15 that false prophets are wolves in sheep’s clothing, so we must examine closely a teacher’s characteristics.
Transition: Jude 1:5-11 describes characteristics of the apostates of Jude’s day that we may identify them and those like them today.
The first apostate characteristic that Jude notes is that …
1. They Ignored Past Judgments (v.5-7)
a. They ignored the judgment of unbelieving Israel (v.5)
1) God wondrously delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt. Using the ten plagues, God destroyed Egypt, caused Egyptians to give valuables to Israel, delivered them from slavery, opened the Red Sea for them to cross on dry land, and then fed them with manna.
2) After all that, the adults 20 years and older refused to believe that God would help them conquer Canaan and God destroyed them in the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb survived.
3) The apostates ignored that historical judgment.
b. They ignored the judgment of fallen angels (v.6)
1) God created Lucifer as a very beautiful and powerful angel. Sometime after creation, he set out to replace God and God cast him out of heaven. (Isaiah 14:12-14) “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
2) Many of the angels followed Lucifer in his rebellion and became his demons. However, God chained up some of them until the Day of Judgment. (2 Peter 2:4) “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” Evidently, this was common knowledge and the apostates ignored that judgment.
c. They ignored the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (v.7)
1) The words “in like manner” point out that the apostates followed the same sinful example of fornication that led to Sodom’s destruction.
2) Because of the wickedness of those ancient cities, God sent fire from heaven and destroyed them. (Genesis 19:24-25) “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”
3) The apostates knew of this judgment, yet they ignored it.
O This is a good reminder for us that we must know and heed Bible history to keep us from repeating the sins of the past. (Romans 15:4) “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” We must not ignore God’s former judgments.
The second apostate characteristic that Jude notes is that …
2. They Lacked the Fear of the Archangel (v.8-10)
a. The apostates were arrogant (v.8)
1) These dreamers defile their flesh by polluting themselves morally. They had filthy thoughts and dreams.
2) They despised dominion. In other words, they rejected lordship or the leadership of others. They did not want anyone telling them what to do.
3) They spoke evil of dignities. Albert Barnes tells us that the word dignities “means properly honor, glory, splendor; then that which is fitted to inspire respect.” They spoke against spiritual leaders who deserved their respect. The dignities may even have been supernatural beings as implied by the next verse (v.9).
b. Michael the archangel wisely feared the devil (v.9)
1) God buried the body of Moses in an unknown location. (Deuteronomy 34:5-6) “So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.”
2) Michael, the archangel, the chief of all the angels, had an unrevealed dispute with Satan over Moses’ body. Michael, fearing Satan’s power, said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
c. These men ignorantly speak evil (v.10)
1) The apostates, being bolder than Michael, spoke evil of things they knew nothing about. They spoke foolishly.
2) Even in the things they did understand naturally (the gratification of the flesh), acting as irrational animals, they corrupted or defiled themselves. They did whatever they pleased.
O Though Michael wisely let the Lord rebuke the devil, these apostates lacked that kind of fear and spoke evil of all who disagreed with them.
The third apostate characteristic that Jude notes is that …
3. They Mimicked Historic Rebels (v.11)
a. They mimicked the rebel Cain
1) In Genesis 4, we read the account of how Cain offered a vegetarian sacrifice in rebellion to God command for an animal sacrifice. (Genesis 4:3) “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.” (Genesis 4:7) “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. …”
2) Cain reasoned that the fruit of his hard work should be sufficient to please God. However, salvation from sin’s penalty has always been by faith. Abel obeyed God by faith and offered a lamb. Cain, lacking faith, reasoned that his vegetables should be good enough to please God.
O Today, the way of Cain is the rejection of God’s offer of forgiveness through Christ. Ryrie God will reject the good works of those without faith in Jesus Christ’s payment. The way of Cain is the way to hell.
b. They mimicked the rebel Balaam
1) Balak the king of Moab offered riches and honour to Balaam if he would curse the nation of Israel.
2) Balaam had some fear for the LORD but he was lured by the bribe. After hesitation, he went to Moab.
3) On the way, his donkey seeing God’s angel in the road rebelled and Balaam hit him three times. God opened the mouth of the donkey and it talked to Balaam. (Numbers 22:34) “And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.”
4) He went on, but did not curse Israel. However, he told Balak how to cause God to curse Israel by leading the people into immorality (Nu 31:16).
O Like Balaam, the apostates were covetous and deceitful.
c. They mimicked the rebel Korah
1) The word “gainsaying” means rebellion.
2) Korah, a Levite, rejected God’s appointed leaders. He led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. (Numbers 16:3) “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?”
O Like Korah, the apostates rejected God-appointed leadership.
Conclusion: Jude’s description of the character of the first Century apostates explains why he so strongly opposed them. Many false teachers today are much like the apostates of Jude’s day. They ignore past judgments on sins like their own. They boldly speak evil against people and things they do not understand. They follow a false religion like Cain, practice greed and deceit like Balaam, and rebel against biblical authority like Korah. (Proverbs 12:15) “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” May we learn from history and do right! Also, make sure you are truly saved!
Song: Victory in Jesus – 496