Another Monday evening is upon us and I am getting ready to teach Jude. We have arrived at lesson 4, a crucial lesson in this study of the book of Jude. So far, we have seen Jude describe the way of life of the ungodly who have crept in to the church and are stirring up all kinds of problems. In direct contrast to the ungodly, Jude also describes the way of life of the godly, those who had answered God’s call and been transformed by God. In the last lesson, we learned more about what genuine faith looks like and what genuine salvation does to us. Here are some links to those previous lessons.
- Contend earnestly for the faith
- Contend earnestly for the faith part 2
- Evidence of genuine salvation
In this lesson, we are going to focus more on the ungodly, specifically, how to recognize them. Jude goes through a long list of what the ungodly in the church are like. This lesson is not going to cover all of them. Instead, it is going to cover the number 1 characteristic of the ungodly in the church. Do you know what it is? You will be the end of this lesson.
How do you feel about the authority figures in your life? We all have them. If you are a child, your parents are your main authority figures. If you work, you have a boss who is your authority figure. If you attend a church, you have spiritual authority figures in your life. What is your view of the authority figures in your life? How do you respond to them when they ask you to do something, or tell you to do something?
I. Lack of submission to authority
According to Jude, the number 1 characteristic of the ungodly in the church is lack of submission to authority, or, outward submission with inward rebellion. Some people rebel openly while others give lip service and rebel inwardly. Both are wrong in the eyes of God. In order to explain this, Jude uses some well known examples from the Old Testament.
All of these 3 people have one trait in common, they are unwilling to submit to authority in one form or another. Cain was told by God, his authority figure, to bring a sacrifice. The idea of animal sacrifice had already been established by God in Genesis 3. This knowledge had been passed on to both Cain and Abel from their parents. Abel submitted to God’s request and did exactly what God asked him to do. Cain also brought a sacrifice, yet he rebelled openly. Instead of bringing an animal sacrifice, he brings the sacrifice that he wants to bring. Doing what your authority figure asks you to do but doing the way that you want to do it, just to be spiteful, instead of the way that he asks you to do it is a sign of insubordination. It is a sign of an ungodly person. Now, this is not just a one time mistake. This is a way of life. Look at Cain’s response when questioned by God. He gets upset. He never apologizes or asks for forgiveness.
Balaam was supposedly a man of God. He knew what God allowed and what He would not allow. Instead of submitting to his authority figure, he was enticed by money to curse the Israelites. When asked about it. He said what he was supposed to say but in his heart, he was ready to do what he wanted to do. He tried to curse Israel, even though God told him not to do it. He continued to try and manipulate the situation to deceive God. He knew what he was doing. He knew that it was wrong. He wanted to show superficial obedience. He gave lip service to God yet he did what he wanted to do. Balaam “serves” God but he does it the way that he wants to instead of the way that God has told him. This is another way to reject authority. Balaam finds away around the restriction that God placed on him. He encourages the enemies of Israel to entice them with sexual immorality and it works. The wrath of God is brought upon Israel. It is funny how rebellion, anger, murder, and sexual immorality all accompany lack of submission to authority.
Korah is the next example. He is of the Levites. He already has a bit of authority even though he is not of the lineage of Aaron and he cannot be a priest, he is still honored. That is not enough for him. He is rebellious and he convinces 250 other people to join him in confronting the leader, Moses, publicly. This confrontation is not done to resolve anything. It is to put the leader on the spot. This is a classic power grab. Korah wants to lead at the expense of the commands of God. He rejects authority and he encourages others in rebellion to authority, both earthly and heavenly. Does this sound like people in your local church? I would guess, “yes” because they are in every church. This is our sin nature on display. They are dangerous because they convince others to join them and they end up causing division. They speak ill of the leader and mock the very God whom they claim to follow. Remember, they call Jesus Lord and talk about the grace of God, yet, with their actions, they deny Him.
What are the consequences of being an ungodly person who will not submit to authority?
These consequences are chosen by God and announced beforehand. God laid out the path of the ungodly in the Scriptures, and He also revealed the consequences of that path. There is no surprise here. The first thing that we notice about the consequences is that, they are eternal. It is full separation from God. It is a literal place where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is a place of torment. It is called the second death in the lake of fire. Remember, it is eternal. This is an eternal place of pain and suffering. It is a consequence of the choices made during life. You cannot blame others, or even God for these consequences. This is revealed in the Word in both the Old and New Testaments. Eternal punishment is not something that man invented to scare others into submission. This is God’s Word for all time.
There are also temporal consequences. You will be in constant conflict with others because you cannot submit. Lack of submission is a sign of pride. When a bunch of prideful people congregate, there will be conflict. This conflict will be with those in authority and also within the group. Life will be a constant drudge of conflict due to misunderstandings and lack of ability to resolve the problems? Do you know people like this in the church? Are you part of a group of people like this in the church? If so, realize that you are part of the problem, not everyone around you. This is a consequence of being ungodly and not being able to submit to your authority figures.
Do we have any positive examples in Jude about submission to authority? YES!!!
III. Positive example
We see one positive Old Testament example in the angel Michael. He confronted Satan over the body of Moses and he argued with Satan. The one thing that he did not do was to pass judgment on Satan. Why not? Michael did not pass judgment because judgement had already been passed by God. Michael had an assignment from the Lord and he carried it out faithfully. Michael submitted to his authority figure and he did it fully. He did not assume authority that he did not have. He did not undercut the Lord’s authority. He submitted to God’s Word and allowed God’s judgment to stand. He did not question. He obeyed. Again, how do you respond to the authority figures in your life? Are you more like Michael or more like Cain, Balaam, and Korah? Do you submit inwardly and outwardly? What is your attitude like when you carry out the orders of your authority figure? Do you seek little ways to undermine authority, or, do you obey fully? How do you respond to others who undermine authority? Do you confront them in love with the Word of God? What about when they try to influence you?
May the Lord help us submit to Him and all of the authority figures He places in our lives!