“To be sure, in the same way, these people are dreaming, and to be sure, they defile the flesh. Also, they reject authority and they blaspheme. As for Michael, the Archangel, when disputing with the Devil, arguing about the body of Moses, he did not dare to judge—to bring denigration—but he said, “The Lord rebuke you.” For in these things which, as other things they have not known, they blaspheme. Likewise, the things that are known naturally to them (like unreasoning beasts) will bring their destruction.”
Here Jude is beginning to bring out the heavy spiritual artillery to describe these people who have entered into the church and are leading people astray. He does so by pointing out a that they are blaspheming, they are following in the footsteps of the false prophets, and then Jude uses some telling imagery to describe their character. In this passage, Jude addresses their blaspheming and he shows that they are doing so in three ways.
They are dreamers: They create theology with their imaginations. They sacrifice the truth for what is innovative and creative. Sound familiar? How many churches have wandered into error because they ordered their theology according to their thoughts and experience rather than ordering their thoughts and experience through their theology? How often do we hear something that “sounds good,” and we incorporate it into our theology or worship even though it doesn’t really fit with scripture? Yet, the end result of this kind of behavior is sin. It will lead to defiling the flesh, the rejection of authority, and in turn blaspheming God.
Dreams are highly subjective. Jude is contrasting their dreamy theology with his truth that has been once and for all time delivered by the apostles. The interesting thing is that their dreaming is causing them to defile the flesh. Never forget that your theology shapes who you are and how you behave in all of life. When we begin to be seduced by the evil of false theology, other parts of your life will follow suit.
And these things are blasphemy. They are elevating their own words and ideas above the words and ideas of God. They reject the authority of God in favor of their own authority. This is the sin of Adam and Eve. They took God’s law, rejected it, and justified their actions—at least to themselves, for one can never justify sin before God.
They speak in arrogance: Jude uses the illustration of Michael and the body of Moses to demonstrate how these people speak. Satan is sometimes called the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Prior to the resurrection of Christ, Satan would make claim on the souls of believers, in his defeat by Christ, he no longer has room to argue and simply seeks to destroy believers. Thus, when Moses died, the Devil sought to argue for the body of Moses. Moses was a sinner and accordingly deserved damnation. Yet, Moses had faith in the promise of the Messiah and upon that faith, he was redeemed. It would have been right for Michael the Archangel to have rebuked Satan directly, yet, Michael understood that was not his place to denigrate Satan. He said, “the Lord rebuke you.” Even our Lord, Jesus Christ, who had every right and power to rebuke Satan during his forty days of trial in the wilderness, rebuked Satan with scripture.
In their arrogance, the false teachers were uttering words of arrogance not humility. How often have we heard others, or have we ourselves, sought to rebuke the Devil on our own strength? Brethren, this is not the example that has been set for us, let us use God’s words to rebuke the accuser who seeks to destroy. These false teachers were making bold claims, but were claiming authority within themselves, not God’s authority. When we place our own authority above God’s authority, that is blasphemy. And remember, these false teachers were not teaching a “new religion,” they were claiming to be Christian, using God’s name to further their own agendas. That is a violation of the third commandment; that is blasphemy.
It is important to note that this passage about the archangel Michael and the body of Moses is taken from a Jewish Apocryphal work called The Assumption of Moses. One thing that we must make entirely clear is that just because Jude quotes from the work does not lend canonicity or inerrancy to the work. It simply means that this section, that Jude quoted from, accurately describes what did happen. Non-Canonical works can be useful for us to understand history and culture, but it is important to always remember that they are human documents and are not the inspired word of God. It is valuable to read them, but when they contradict scripture, they cannot be held as accurate.
They speak in ignorance: These men speak on spiritual matters but have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ to inform their speech; they are speaking without understanding. We must always be reminded that spiritual truth requires the work of the Holy Spirit to gain understanding. When the pagan reads scripture, he may glean some good practical advice, but he won’t understand the things of God. That is why we pray, as believers, before we study scripture, for we know that our minds are fallen and we cannot discern these things apart from His Holy work.
Jude uses the example of how animals act on instinct to describe the thinking of these unbelievers. Animals have emotions, but they do not reason through issues. When a situation arises, an animal acts based upon its natural instincts. When a person is born, his fallen instincts are to sin. It is not until the Holy Spirit does a regenerating work on the person that, in God’s strength, he or she can resist said sins. Apart from being born again, a person acts like an animal when it comes to spiritual matters, following their natural instincts to sin.
One of the problems that has manifested itself in our culture is the turning of the Christian ministry into a career and not a calling. People go into the ministry because they like the idea of helping others and not because they are born again and have been called to serve as a pastor. Also, there is such a demand for people to fill pulpits, churches are sometimes hiring pastors who themselves are not born again. Even in evangelical circles, there are many who enter seminary unsaved, but knowing all of the right terminology to sound acceptable. They look at scripture like a group of human documents, full of flaws and in need of correction. This is just as much blasphemy as the previous two examples. They speak of what they do not know and only end up speaking lies and contempt against the truth. And that which they do know well—that is sin—will condemn them.