Jude heightened the awareness of a doctrine of sensuality in verse 18,19. According to him, they dreamed “filthy dreams”.
17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Its important to note that the reason their doctrines are sensual, is because they themselves are sensual, walking (this is their pattern of living) in lust. When blasting the pharisees in Luke 6, Jesus told them that the abundance of the hearts flowed out of their mouths. We know the pharisees were full of wickedness and hypocrisy. Likewise, false teachers are full of what comes from their mouths. Some conceal it until they get into places of wider influence, but make no mistake it is in them. That’s why its necessary to listen with spiritual ears and check with berean eyes and be ready to rebuke words and ideology “preached” in church that do not find a home in the Word of God.
Apparently, the people Jude wrote to weren’t doing that.
Let me also explain sensuality in the context Jude used it. Sensuality is the devotedness to the gratification of the bodily appetites; free indulgence in carnal or sensual pleasures; luxuriousness; voluptuousness; lewdness. Sensuality isn’t exclusively about sex, but is a major manifestion of lust. Look very hard and see if you can find anything about that which is Godly. If you can’t, you know why.
The epistle of Jude is striking in its context perhaps because it so straightforward and blunt about false teachers. The urgent letter isn’t what he intended to write. Jude intended to write more fully about salvation to an unknown group of readers, but when he became aware of the false teachers who had slithered in among the flock, he wrote a forceful letter commanding the church to fight back with passion.
It is striking too because although these men were clearly leaders in some capacity in the church (albeit through deception) Jude never addresses them as “brothers in error” or “anointed men of God” or fellow believers. He portrays them as sinister personalities with an agenda diametrically opposed to the spiritual health of the church and the will of God. Its a clear lesson to us not to ignore the false teachers of our day and to call them what they really are.
The errant theology of these false teachers was characterized by three main issues:
1. The focus of their teaching wasn’t Jesus, but sexuality and sensuality.
Jude compares these false teachers to the men of Sodom and Gomorrah who went after “strange flesh”. There can be no mistaking that homosexuality is always branded as unnatural in the Bible. When you look at the wider context of the condemnation, you will see that its not cultural, its spiritual.
The false teachers love dropping Jesus’ name when they talk. They master using it without ever obeying or submitting to his lordship. This is quite possible to do while intentionally leading people astray. It is a smoke and mirrors trick used by false teachers to ensare the spiritually young and those who dont have a grip on the scriptures. Did you notice he said they spoke “great swelling words”? That’s a slap at their deep sounding oratory skills. The name dropping and fancy talk is also a rallying beacon for the rebellious, seditious and God-haters embedded within the church. In other words, there are people in church who are just waiting for a false teacher to rise up and spout false doctrine which mirrors the wickedness in their own hearts. They will then declare how “anointed” this “man of God” is. If the “anointed man of God” is confronted about his false teaching, the cheerleader will quickly quote the “touch not mine anointed…” type scriptures to deflect the heat off the false teacher. We have seen this happen over and over on this blog. This is a good point to segue into the second characteristic.
2. Supporters engage in endless pursuits of worldly knowledge.
They attempt to explain scripture in an effort to (a) justify the words of the false teacher and (b) inject doubt and confusion into any attempt to uncover God’s truth. They are always learning and promoting (the ways of the world and culture) but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 3:7). The best way to handle these types is to severely restrict their voices and influence in the church. The more they are allowed to have their say, the more confusing things will get and the truth will never be uncovered. That’s why we have to ban some “Christians” on our blog. They aren’t concerned with truth, that’s why they avoid talking directly about the Word of God. Endless hypothetical questions only foster confusion.
3. The final charateristic is idolatry.
They place a love of self and of people above devotion and obedience to Christ. This is a noble thing to do in the world’s eyes, but it works different in the Kingdom of God. In doing so they become men pleasers rather than God lovers. This is the major problem with “social justice ministry” platform advocated by so-called liberal Christians. The main thrust of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not good works, nor is it people power. The preaching of the cross is so that man will see his sinfulness, repent and be reconciled to God. Without a right relationship with God, good works are pointless. Atheists and muslims can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisons and fight AIDS. Does that mean they are right with God?
Please be aware of these devices and guard yourself from them. Gird up the loins of your mind and be sober. These false teachers are numerous and lusting for power and attention. But they can only get a foothold if you are not paying attention to what they are saying and doing. Like Jude, we should get angry enough to stop our business as usual attitude and speak out and call them out before they have lead people into hell.