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 second of these, which is that they "defile the flesh", they are lovers of worldly pleasure whether that may be money, power, sexual immorality, or a combination of all three. Today we will look at the third characteristic in verse 8 which is that these false teachers "reject authority". 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)
Apostates reject authority, particularly biblical authority, but also the counsel of those who labor in the Word. A prominent theme, and form of self-defense, among false teachers is their command "thou shalt not criticize", or as I call it, the eleventh commandment. Many bad teachers survive solely on the basis of this mantra. It is commonplace among the Word Faith and prosperity crowds.
Without a doubt we should be careful about our motivation and attitude when asking critical questions. But Scripture actually mandates the testing of all teaching commanding us to test all teaching (I John 4:1), expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11), mark false teachers (Romans 16:17), and condemn any other gospel than the one found in Scripture (Galatians 1:8-9). John Macarthur had this to say about teaching that opposes any critique:
In a time like this of tolerance, listen, false teaching will always cry intolerance. It will always say you are being divisive, you are being unloving, you are being ungracious, because it can only survive when it doesn't get scrutinized. So it cries against any intolerance. It cries against any examination, any scrutiny—just let's embrace each other; let's love each other; let's put all that behind us. False doctrine cries the loudest about unity. Listen carefully when you hear the cry for unity, because it may be the cover of false doctrine encroaching. If ever we should follow 1 Thessalonians 5, and examine everything carefully, it's when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance (online source).
One of the real problems with trying to have productive discussion with people immersed in this kind of "theology" is that they mask their unrepentance in a four fold strategy - change the subject, ignore it, deny it, or question the motivation behind a question. But even if I am the biggest jerk in the world when I critique (and I am sure there are times when my attitude is not right), the question still remains as to whether my critique is true or not. Or, more importantly, whether my critique aligns with Scripture.
One of the main reasons apostates reject authority is because they love their own authority.
I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (3 John 9-10)
John Macarthur elaborates further on this rejection of authority:
Obviously if you're going to live an immoral life and love your lust and love your sin, you're going to have to reject authority, that is divine authority. This is very interesting. They reject authority, verse 8, reject is atheteo, to do away with something that is established, that is to say they reject the established authority. The word authority, this is very interesting, kurioteta, in the Greek, related to the word kurios . . . they reject lordship. They reject lordship. They reject any rule over them. It is even a word used of angels in Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, angels are called authorities, rulers. But this isn't about angels. They reject singular authority. They reject lordship. And we know exactly what lordship they're talking about because we went back to verse 4, right? "They deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ." They will not come under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are their own self-styled authorities. This is arrogance, this is arrogant reaction to God's rule and authority and the lordship of Christ over His church.
Instead of rejecting authority and lording it over others, leaders in the body of Christ (all Christians in fact) are called to:
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)
Go On To Part 17
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