After exhorting you and me to defend the faith (verse 3), Jude urges us to respect the enemy. How so? We must know his cunning ways, avoid deception, and serve Christ. To assist us, Jude continues his description of ungodly persons who have crept into our midst undetected. They are tares sown in God’s field, imposters, who deceive and are being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).
Verse 8 refers back to those whom Jude mentions in verse 4 and his examples in verses 5-7. Verse 8 reads, “Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.” Again, “these men” refers back to verse 4. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Those who perished in the wilderness after the Exodus, the fallen angels, and the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jude 5-7) exemplify “these men.”
Further described, “these men” are dreamers. They think they receive revelations from God by way of dreams and visions. They believe the Lord speaks to them directly. He directs them to buy such and such a house or such and such a car. They insist on immediate and present special revelation. At the same time, they defile the flesh by all sorts of improper behavior. Thus they reject the lordship of Christ over all of life. They make this excuse: God loves the sinner but hates his sin. The problem is that God casts sinners into eternal torment in hell, not just their sin. The cunning deception of the devil overcomes these men.
“Angelic majesties” is an interpretation of the underlying Greek text. The word may refer to reviling angels. It may also refer to earthly dignitaries ordained by God (Romans 13:1). Or it may refer to the God-ordained church authorities, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). In the latter case, “these men” revile their pastors and teachers, cater to lusts, and refuse to submit to the teachings of the Word of God.
In a presentation on a college campus, a student reviled and challenged the late Dr. John Gerstner. “I am regularly sleeping with my girlfriend. You cannot tell me I am not a Christian.” In his well-known gravelly voice, Dr. Gerstner responded with a quotation from Galatians 5:21, “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Contrary to those mentioned in verse 4, exemplified in verses 5-7, and further described in verse 8, you must preserve the vessel of your body and respect God-ordained authority.
Along this same line, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 reminds us, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Verse 11 goes on to teach, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” That is, although you may have earlier lived contrary to the Word of God, now that you have been born again, you are no longer the same person you once were. You were cleansed from your sin and set right with God. Now, you must live your life according to the will of your Savior.
To emphasize the seriousness of rebellion against authority, Jude cites the case of Michael. “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!” (Jude 9). Jude’s illustration may come from an apocryphal source. This fact should not give you pause. Jude writes under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should take his words to be as authoritative as any other portion of God’s inerrant Word. Jude takes us back to Deuteronomy 34:4 and God’s burial of Moses. It may be that God delegates the actual task of burial to Michael, the archangel, and general of God’s angelic hosts (Revelation 12:7). The body of Moses should not be an object of veneration and idolatrous worship. But Satan would have it so. He disputes with Michael. The lesson that Jude draws from this confrontation is the respect and humility of Michael. Although of high rank and power, Michael does not dare to assume the place of God and level a curse against Satan. He defers to the Almighty, “The Lord rebuke you.” Michael understood, and we should understand, that it is blasphemy to take God’s prerogatives and condemn the devil to hell ourselves.
You and I must take care. We must respect the enemy; we must know his cunning ways; we must avoid deception; we must properly serve Christ. Again, Jude 10 gives the contrast, “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.” Deep down, all men and women know the truth. “That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Romans 1:19). But sadly, “they suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). When cycles of self-destruction emerge, Galatians 5:15 warns, “If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
To serve Christ as Lord is the only proper response. Yes, you and I must respect the enemy, know his cunning ways, avoid deception, and serve Christ.