Late into the first century, Jesus’ half-brother Jude wrote a letter. It was going to be a pleasant letter to Christian brothers and sisters about salvation, but somewhere along the way Jude had to change course and appeal to his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
False teachers had crept into the church unnoticed and were endangering the souls of Jude’s brothers and sisters. Jude doesn’t exactly reveal the identity of these men. He does say they “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (v. 4).
What’s more interesting than the identity of the men Jude targets is the way he describes them. In these descriptions you see why it was important for Jude to write this letter. For example, he says they are “relying on dreams” while they “reject authority” and “blaspheme the glorious ones” (v. 8). In other words, if anyone dared call them into question, they would claim they had visions from God. No one could prove they hadn’t had these visions, making this an effective strategy for propagating error. Meanwhile, these men were ignoring the authority of God and his Word.
There are many other descriptions, such as the two images of “waterless clouds” (v. 12) and “fruitless trees in autumn” (v. 12). Both of these phrases illustrate how Jude’s false teachers made promises they couldn’t keep. People followed them expecting that their lives would get better as a result. They were following a delusion.
Jude pointed out that “the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever” for these men (v. 13). The path blazed by these ungodly people led to a very dark, awful place.
Jude said a lot of other things about the false teachers who threatened the church during his day, but these examples suffice to show why it is important to confront false teaching. Nobody wants to be negative, but sometimes the tough work of reproving the purveyors of falsehood has to be done (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2). Religious teachers who contradict Bible teaching are leading their followers to a very dark place. If we love the souls of mankind, we cannot ignore them.
Loving others does not always mean telling them what they want to hear. Sometimes it involves the kind of confrontation we see in Jude’s letter. Proverbs 27:5-6 reads, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”