Empty Suits

8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. Jude 8-11

In verses 8-15, we’re given the composite sketch of the classic false teacher. It should be incredibly easy to spot them, but they work for the consummate deceiver who has endowed them with a hefty bag of tricks. One less than obvious telltale trait is their subtlety. Therein lies the problem. That’s why so many credit cards are pulled from wallets when the website address scrolls at the bottom of the screen.

While Jude describes the blatant ways and means of these men (and women), the best are hard to detect behind their Armani suits, mellifluous words, and pearly whites, their charming Southern draws, cute stories, and perfect hair, or their flowing dreadlocks, bulging biceps, and “fresh crispies” (blazing white shoes). I’d say the world is now crawling with these sorts, and it’ll get worse from here.

Jude tells us who they are, the ways in which they operate, and their most certain fate at the hands of an angry God. We’ve already discussed their penchant for dreaming in verse 8, which manifests itself in corruption, rebellion, and defamation. There is much to be learned in their reviling (verses 9 and 10) also. While the well taught and obedient know better than to step into the Lord’s shoes, these people know just enough to be dangerous, and since they are driven by corrupt instincts, they dig their own graves.

Jude gives us three men in the Hall of the Defamed (verse 11), Cain, Balaam, and Korah as examples. Cain was the first murderer, who never gained mastery over his sin. Balaam was a money grubbing diviner, who was lectured by a donkey and led the Israelites into gross immortality, and Korah, along with some 250 co-conspirators, was dramatically buried alive for his rebellion against God. It never ends well for these people, but sadly, innocent and unsuspecting people get hurt.

From a literary standpoint, for me to restate Jude’s masterful description of these false teachers (verses 12 and 13) would fail miserably and fall well short, so let what he says here stand on its own. You’ll catch his drift.

12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 12-13

It’s hard for me to fathom how false teachers might operate freely amongst us as “hidden reefs,” but they do. This reminds me of Jesus’ parable of The Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13:23-30, where the tares are allowed to grow alongside the wheat until the Lord removes and burns them. You hate to be suspicious, but it’s incumbent upon us to be vigilant to spot the empty suits.

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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