The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word ‘gnosis’, which means knowledge. The word is used by historians to describe a school of thought. Gnosticism arose from a group of evil workers who claimed to have higher light, special spiritual knowledge, or “secret wisdom”. This movement began in the days of the apostles, and continued into the 5th century. Before John died the seeds of Gnosticism had been sown; perhaps even before Paul's death (1 Tim. 6:20). John’s epistles are written to defend against the inroads of Gnosticism (2 John 1:7,9). Peter warns of their false teaching, and Jude warns of its moral effect on the Christian testimony. Gnosticism is responsible for not just one heresy, but seven or eight. What is it? In this mystical system, the spiritual world was good, and material world was evil. They rejected the incarnation, because it connects the human with the divine. The Gnostics would try to separate “Jesus” from “Christ”, by making Christ an emanation (a shining out from a source) from God that never truly became flesh, or else was united to a mere man named Jesus at his baptism, but returned to God before Jesus’ death on the cross. In doing so, this evil system annulled the incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection. The doctrine of the New Testament anticipates this irreverent and wicked system of doctrine by stating the simple truth of Christ's Person and work. Church fathers who defended against Gnosticism were Ignatius of Antioch ('Seven Epistles'), and Irenaeus of Lyons ('Against Heresies').Read more…
- Turning the grace of God into a license to satisfy the flesh. Teaching that as Christians we can do whatever we want. They use the grace of God against the holiness of God. This is still done today. We must ask ourselves about every doctrine we are presented with; what is its tendency?
- Refusing to recognize the authority of the Lord. Jude owns the absolute Authority and Lordship of Christ over the believer; but these ones denied it, as they despised every form of authority.
Warning Against Apostate Infiltrators (vv.5-23)
Case #1: The Unbelieving Israelites, who Fell in the Wilderness (v.5)
Case #2: The Disobedient Angels who Left their First Estate (v.6)
Case #3: The Immoral Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (v.7)
Filthiness of the Flesh (v.8a)
Contempt for Authority, Contrast Michael (vv.8b-10)
- The Way of Cain (self-will) wanted to approach God “my way”. A bloodless gospel – a natural man’s religion of Works.
- The Error of Balaam (self-interest) willing to sell his gift or office for money. A professional religion. Teaching error for reward.
- The Gainsaying of Cora (self-importance) throwing off God’s order for man’s Order. Party-making. Opposition to the individual priesthood of believer.
- Collective building ourselves up – establishing ourselves in the body of Christian truth, through the word of God. We need the gifts to be built up (Eph. 4). The answer is not to be loose. This is the only place where “the truth” is called “most holy” – and it is in a dark day.
- Praying in the Holy Spirit – prayer that is in perfect accord with the mind of God, through the help of the Spirit that dwells within us (read Rom. 8:26-27).
- Keeping ourselves in the enjoyment of God’s love – the maintenance of communion. E.g. Walking on the sunny side of the street. It isn’t keeping up our own affections for Christ; that is a form of legalism. Rather, we should keep ourselves in the love of God for us!
- Looking for the Rapture – the rapture is a mercy because of the apostasy. Perhaps it includes Mercy along the way. “Eternal life” here is Looked at as a future possession, when We will be in our native environment (deep sea diver illustration).
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference, 23 but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. vv.22-23 the original manuscripts are very confusing here. Three possible categories of persons, not two. see William Kelly’s notes.
- Having compassion for others. It Takes discernment. On Those who are just ignorant, have compassion. For Those who knowingly are carried away, have fear. Some are so entrenched in the evil that they are almost engulfed in flames. We are God’s firemen as well as fishermen.
- Being guarded about personal holiness. we can be defiled even when rescuing others, see Num. 19:10.