8 In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.
(Jude 8-10 NIV)
In our last passage, we saw Jude cite three Old Testament examples of God’s judgment on direct, willful disobedience to Him.
As we continue to move through the epistle (letter) of Jude, we see Jude switch focus from these Old Testament examples of disobedience and God’s judgment upon them to characteristics of the false teachers in his day.
Jude begins in verse 8 by saying “in the very same way”, making the connection between the same characteristics of the Old Testament examples he used in verses 5 – 7 and the false teachers of his day. Jude wastes no time in exposing them for what they are – ungodly people. These false teachers are not misinformed followers of Jesus that need some gentle correction – they are full-blown heretics that deny Christ and seek to lead others away from the Lord.
Jude, in telling his readers about these false teachers, is amazed that these ungodly people know all the Old Testament stories that he cited, including the deadly consequences of their sin. And yet, these false teachers continue on in their deception and lawlessness.
So what powers these false teachers? What motivates them to do what they are doing? Jude tells us that they are running on the strength of their dreams. They are not under God’s authority, nor are they empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. They are running on sheer willpower and the desire to be famous and develop a following.
And what is their teaching? Jude has already stated in verse 4 that these false teachers deny Jesus as Lord, and pervert grace into a license for immorality. They use their “dreams” as “visions from God” and involve themselves and others in every kind of immorality and sexual sin.
Not only are these false teachers morally bankrupt (polluting their own bodies), they are also rebellious against all human authority and show no respect for spiritual beings such as angels (and likewise the sender of angels and divine authority, God Himself).
In verse 9, Jude contrasts the brazen attitudes of these false teachers against the archangel Michael. Jude cites the archangel Michael’s unwillingness to cross the line and rebuke the devil. Rather, Michael acted under God’s authority and power and said, “The Lord rebuke you” to Satan. If Michael, one of the chief angels, was not willing to cross the line, instead deferring to God’s ultimate authority and power, who are these mere mortal men to think that they are empowered to do so against God, His angels, and other humans?
In verse 10, Jude begins with the word “Yet”, switching focus and contrasting from Michael the archangel back to the false teachers. These false teachers are not operating using reasoning abilities that God gave all humans. Instead, they are operating on instinct, like wild beasts. And Jude says that operating by instinct will ultimately destroy them.
John MacArthur sums up this passage well:
“Apostate teachers, in their brash, bold, egotistical infatuation with imagined power and authority, rail on that which they don’t even understand. Apostates are intellectually arrogant and spiritually ignorant in that they don’t know because they have been blinded by Satan (2Cor 4:4–note) and spiritual matters are beyond their unregenerate capacity to understand.”
(from the MacArthur Study Bible on this passage in Jude)
May we be governed by God’s Word, led by His Holy Spirit, and living a life that glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ and not ourselves.