Apostasy as defined by Merriam-Webster is: an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith; abandonment of a previous loyalty.
“Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” (Jude 11 emphasis mine)
As early as the first century, apostasy was already creeping into the Church. Paul, James, Peter, John and Jude all address this cancerous growth that was trying to eat away at the true Gospel. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote a very short letter, but it really packs a punch. I am only going to use verse eleven, but all twenty-five verses should be read.
Apostasy actually began with Satan in the Garden of Eden when he successfully seduced Eve to believe his lie against God’s truth. From Adam and Eve to Jude’s day this baby (apostasy) grew into a monster. Satan has had many years to improve his technique and increase his lies. From Jude to today, this monster has grown even more and is seducing millions away from the true Gospel.
The carriers of apostasy are said by Jude to go the way of Cain, rush to profit as in Balaam’s error, and will be destroyed as in Korah’s rebellion.
WAY OF CAIN
In Genesis chapter four we find the historical account of Cain.
Genesis 3:21 tells us that God made a covering for Adam and Eve to hide their nakedness. This covering, from an animal(s) that God sacrificed, denoted His righteousness covering them so they could be presentable to be in His presence. This sacrificial system was passed down by Adam and Eve to their children.
Both Cain and Abel knew they were to present a blood sacrifice before God. Cain refused and then became jealous when God accepted his brother’s sacrifice and refused his. This sinful attitude resulted in Cain murdering his brother Abel.
Adam and Eve explained to their children that because of their sin, they must present a sacrifice before God. They explained that they, their children, their children’s children and all their progeny would be required to offer a sacrifice for their sins until God provides the final sacrifice for all mankind (Genesis 3:15, John 3:16). They all knew that:
- Man is a sinner and is not righteous
- The unrighteous cannot be in the presence of God
- Only the blood of the innocent can provide righteousness
- The innocent must die for the guilty
Despite knowing this, Cain depended on his own works, denied his sins and the blood redemption that is required to be cleansed. He rejected faith and accepted religion instead without the bloody sacrifice.
Those in apostasy today do the same.
- Don’t talk about blood. That’s gross.
- Don’t mention the cross. The children might hear it.
- Don’t need repentance. Just believe.
- Don’t talk about judgment. That’s too scary.
Is Cain’s rejection of God’s blood sacrifice any different than what is being proclaimed today about the cross? Many in the so-called church crowd today deny the cross, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, any need for repentance, and any thought of judgment. Let’s just get together, have a salad, a meal, sing some modern praise me songs and pat each other on the back, say they.
This is the way of Cain and it is apostate.
ERROR OF BALAAM
The elders of Moab and Midian were afraid Israel would consume their land after they witnessed what Israel had done to the Amorites. Beginning in Numbers 22 God gives us the historical account of Balaam being urged by Balak (king of the Moabites) to pronounce a curse upon Israel.
At first Balaam could only pronounce blessings, but finally he told Balak to introduce the daughters of Moab to Israel. The beautiful daughters of Moab would marry the sons of Israel and destroy Israel from within.
Jude calls this the “error” of Balaam. Balaam knows that God is righteous, and assumes God must curse Israel. He also assumes God must punish sin and sinners cannot be forgiven. He thinks he has come up with a way for God to do the “dirty work” without him being directly involved. Let God pronounce the curse, he thinks.
Over in 2 Peter 2:15, Peter labels it the “way” of Balaam. Peter is describing Balaam as a profiteer seeking to make money from God’s gift. If you could number the fleas on a dogs back, you could probably have an idea of the number of apostate scammers that have fleeced mankind. Your television (among other sources) provides a daily dosage of these Balaam type apostates.
Revelation 2:14 mentions the “doctrine” of Balaam in that he taught Balak how to corrupt Israel.
So here again Jude rightly defines apostates with the likeness of Balaam who depicts God as without mercy and only out to harm mankind.
REBELLION OF KORAH
In Numbers chapter 16 Korah (a Levite) along with 250 of Israel’s finest, rose up against Moses and Aaron. They were power hungry.
God had placed Moses and Aaron in charge of leading Israel. Korah and this large group of power seekers saw something they wanted … power. They forgot though that the power was not of Moses and Aaron, but from God. So they said in effect, “We’re taking over.” God said, “No you’re not.” For their rebellion they were swallowed up by the earth and dropped alive into hell.
They rebelled against God’s authority, and that was their fatal mistake.
Way of Cain: The apostate rejects faith. His religion, whatever it may be, overrides anything God says.
Error of Balaam: The apostate does not believe that a holy God would actually provide a way of forgiveness through His Son.
Rebellion of Korah: The apostate rebels against God’s authority.
So there you have it. The apostate:
- Rejects faith by grace and clings to works
- Rejects forgiveness through Jesus Christ
- Rejects God’s authority. In other words, it doesn’t matter what the Bible says.
This is a very condensed synopsis of what Jude was saying in this one powerful verse, but I’m sure you understand his warning against apostates. Nothing but lies drip from their tongues. The mother of these lies comes from the mouth of Lucifer as he whispered in Eve’s ear, “Hath God said?”
The Bible is clear that in the last days apostasy is one sign among many that the Lord’s return is near. Apostasy today is off the charts, and I can’t imagine how full-blown it will become during the Tribulation prior to Christ’s return.
How do I defend myself against apostasy? How do I know what is true and what is false? There is only one sure-fired way. Get in the Bible. Study God’s Word as we should be doing anyway (2 Timothy 2:15) and ask Him to teach you.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html