Arlen L. Chitwood
Woe to Them
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. (Jude 11-13)
The admonition to earnestly strive with respect to the faith in Jude 3 is followed by the introduction of apostates — those who have stood away from the faith — in verse four. Three Old Testament examples concerning apostasy are then given; and the Holy Spirit moved Jude to record a triad in verse eight, drawing from these three examples.
The apostates who had been introduced in verse four reappear in verse eight, and verses nine and ten continue with the thought of apostate acts committed by these individuals. Verse eleven then presents another triad concerning these same individuals, continuing with the thought concerning the various forms that apostasy may take.
Jude’s manner of teaching is with constant reference to the Old Testament. In verses five through seven he calls attention to three periods in Old Testament history. These form the object lessons; and, the central teaching in verses eight through ten is then taken from these three periods. Verse eleven presents three Old Testament individuals, along with events surrounding these individuals; and verses twelve and thirteen describe the folly of those who follow in the paths of these three individuals: “Woe to them! . . . .”
The Old Testament is filled with word pictures, types, and illustrations. There is nothing redundant or superfluous; nor is anything lacking. It is God’s Revelation to man, perfect in every detail.
Every historic event occurred under God’s Sovereign control of all things. Then, “holy men of God” were guarded from error as they, “moved [‘borne along’] by the Holy Spirit,” recorded these events (2 Peter 1:21). And this record has been preserved in order that the Holy Spirit might have these things to draw upon as He teaches Christians the deep things of God.
The true nature of the Old Testament is spiritual. “God is spirit”; this Revelation emanates from Him; it is the “breath of God”; and the Holy Spirit takes the breath of God and imparts spiritual truth to man through his saved human spirit.
Thus, the Old Testament is a book written for the spiritually minded to guide them in their spiritual lives to spiritual maturity. And the lessons in Jude, drawn from the Old Testament Scriptures, have been recorded for this purpose (cf. Luke 24:25-32).
The Way of Cain
The way of Cain is the “way of the man of flesh.” It is following the old nature. It is doing things after the manner, wisdom, and strength of man. It is doing things outside the realm of faith, walking by sight.
The great section in the New Testament on walking by faith is Hebrews chapter eleven. This is a chapter that draws its material entirely from the experiences of individuals in the Old Testament. One central truth pertaining to a walk by faith in relation to the salvation of the soul is presented, and this chapter forms, in this fashion, the capstone to the book of Hebrews (cf. Hebrews 10:35-39). The key verse in chapter eleven, reflecting on the central message throughout this book, is verse six:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Abel offered to God “a more excellent sacrifice” than Cain. Abel offered his sacrifice “by faith.” Cain did not (Hebrews 11:4). Consequently, Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, but Cain’s was rejected.
Abel brought “of the firstborn of his flock,” and Cain brought “of the fruit of the ground.” Abel brought that which God required, but Cain brought something other than that which God required.
This was evidently an offering of the first-fruits (Genesis 4:4). And in an offering of the first-fruits, Abel, “a keeper of sheep,” would be expected to bring of the first-fruits of his flock; and Cain, “a tiller of the ground,” would be expected to bring of the first-fruits of the field (Genesis 4:2). They both brought the right type offering. In this respect, the acceptance of one offering and the rejection of the other evidently had to do with one person (Abel) bringing the amount which God required and the other person (Cain) not doing so (ref. the author’s book, Had You Believed Moses, Chapter 10).
God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering and rejection of Cain’s offering followed the principle set forth in Hebrews 11:6. God could only have previously revealed to both individuals exactly what He required, else neither could have acted “by faith.” “Faith” is simply believing that which God has to say about a matter. Abel, believing that which God had to say (exercising faith), acted accordingly by bringing the offering that God required. But Cain, rejecting that which God had to say (not exercising faith), acted accordingly by not bringing that which God required.
Cain was the first of a long list of individuals, following the fall, who governed their lives in “. . . a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25). Cain failed to take into account that man’s ways and thoughts are in contradistinction to God’s ways and thoughts:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9)
Man’s perspective is finite, emanating from a fallen human nature. God’s perspective is infinite, emanating from a place where that which is imperfect cannot exist. The Creator’s ways and thoughts can become the creature’s ways and thoughts only in the realm of “faith,” i.e., in the realm where the creature “believes God,” followed by his acting in the realm of “faith.” Redeemed man MUST follow the man of spirit in a walk “by faith.” There is no other way to please God.
Christians have a Book, a Book containing the ways and thoughts of God. This Book, the written Revelation of God, has been given for a definite and specific purpose; and that purpose is twofold:
1) 1) Unredeemed man being brought into a right relationship with God.
2) 2) Redeemed man following the man of spirit in a walk by faith within this right relationship.
In order to walk “by faith,” man MUST know the Revelation of God; for he cannot believe God and act accordingly apart from knowing that which God has to say about the matter. Thus, redeemed man, through the man of spirit, ascertains the ways and thoughts of God through this Revelation; and his pilgrim walk, “by faith,” is then governed accordingly.
Going “the way of Cain,” the way of the man of flesh, is set forth in the epistle of Jude as a form of “apostasy,” a standing away from the faith. Christians knowing God’s ways and thoughts can apostatize by and through removing themselves from God’s ways and thoughts revealed in His Word and going in a contrary direction, governed by their own ways and thoughts. Man’s goals, aims, ambitions, aspirations, plans, methods, and schemes then come into view and find their place among the acts of the apostates and those who do their bidding.
“The way of Cain” is not necessarily something offensive in the eyes of man. In fact, in the eyes of religious man today it is quite the contrary, and the way of Cain is often exalted and held in high esteem. Actions of this nature though are not called “the way of Cain.” Rather, they are disguised, clothed in proper religious attire, and passed off in Christian circles as the way and work of the Lord.
This is a relatively easy task to accomplish because very few Christians are grounded in the Word of God in a manner sufficient to ascertain the thoughts and ways of the Lord; and understanding only the thoughts and ways of man, it is a very simple thing for them to, unknowingly, be led in “the way of Cain.”
(For man to act “by faith,” two major things must exist:
1) The person must know that which God has said, for “faith” is simply believing God.
2) The person must then wait on the Lord if his actions are to be solely in the realm of faith.
There is no getting around either of the preceding. There is no such thing as “blind faith.” A person must know that which God has said in order to act “by faith.” There is no alternative.
The latter is where Christians have the most difficulty. They find it difficult to simply wait, to wait on the Lord [cf. Isaiah 40:31]. They, too often, want to get out and do something [cf. Genesis 16:1-5; 17:15-21].
A person can either exercise faith, waiting upon the Lord to do a work through him, or not exercise faith, running out ahead of the Lord and doing a work in the energy of the flesh himself.
A person doesn’t prepare himself [a study of the Word, allowing an exercise of “faith”] and then go out and do a work for the Lord. Rather, a person prepares himself [again, a study of the Word, allowing an exercise of “faith”] and then goes out and lets the Lord do a work through him [i.e., acts by faith].
Both require knowledge of the Word, allowing the person to act “by faith.” But only the latter, which involves waiting on the Lord to do the work through that individual, actually has to do with that person acting by faith.
The alternative [the only alternative] is to not wait, to run out ahead of the Lord. And even though the person knows the Word and is in a position to act by faith, even though he brings forth works through his own efforts [which may appear to surely be the Lord’s work in man’s eyes], “faith” is simply not involved. And without faith it is impossible to please God [Hebrews 11:6].
The whole of the matter is that simple, and there is no middle ground. It is either one or the other [Luke 11:23; Romans 14:23].)
The only protection that Christians have against the onslaught of the enemy today is knowledge of the Word of God, providing the necessary instructions concerning the manner of one’s pilgrim walk. Christians MUST receive the Word of God into their saved human spirits and allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead them into “all truth” concerning the ways and thoughts of God. There is NO substitute! Only in this manner can there be an effective walk by faith, one which pleases God and ultimately results in the salvation of their souls.
The Error of Balaam
Jude 11 records “the error of Balaam,” 2 Peter 2:15 records “the way of Balaam,” and Revelation 2:14 records “the doctrine of Balaam.” All three of these are used in passages referring to Christians entering into a state of affairs within Christianity that not only defiles their high calling but also dishonors the Lord who purchased their salvation with His own blood.
The error and way of Balaam appear in companion portions of Scripture and would seem to refer basically to the same thing. The error of Balaam is associated with “profit [KJV: ‘reward’]” in Jude, and the way of Balaam is associated with the “wages of unrighteousness” in 2 Peter. Thus, the error and way of Balaam have to do with “monetary gain”; and, according to the Old Testament account, this monetary gain is acquired through one’s willingness to compromise the principles of God and proclaim things contrary to the revealed Word of God.
The error and way of Balaam can be found in Numbers chapters twenty-two through twenty-four. Balak, king of the Moabites, hired Balaam to come into his land and pronounce a curse upon the children of Israel. Balak had seen what Israel did to the Amorites; and knowing that this nation would soon be passing through his country, he was afraid. He feared the Israelites because of the power that the nation exercised by and through their God.
Balak knew that the only way in which the Israelites could be defeated was by severing the relationship that existed between Israel and their God. Thus, Balak hired Balaam to come into Moab and pronounce a curse upon the Israelites, incurring God’s anger upon them in an effort to sever this existing relationship and to ultimately bring about their defeat at the hands of the enemy. However, once in Moab, on three separate occasions, only blessings proceeded from the lips of Balaam. Balak was angered by the turn of events and sent Balaam out of Moab into his own country.
The doctrine of Balaam is different than his error and his way. His doctrine had to do with that part of his teaching that was contrary to the Word of God. However, an inseparable relationship exists between his doctrine, his error, and his way. That part of his teaching that was contrary to the Word of God (his doctrine) resulted from his willingness to prophesy either good or bad for monetary gain (his error and way).
And, remaining within this same framework, it would be little different among servants of the Lord today. One’s willingness to compromise the principles of God (the error and way of Balaam) — for whatever reason — would precede and be inseparably linked to teaching that which was contrary to the Word of God (the doctrine of Balaam).
1) Doctrine of Balaam — Past
Scripture surrounding the doctrine of Balaam and its tragic results is given in Numbers 25:1-3:
Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.
They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.
So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.
The Israelites, after coming into Moab, began to commit fornication with the “women of Moab,” to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and to bow down and worship the gods of the Moabites. In order to put a stop to these sins and stay the hand of God’s judgment upon the entire nation, Moses was instructed to slay every Israelite who had “joined to Baal of Peor.” And twenty-four thousand Israelites perished under God’s judgment because of these sins.
What caused the Israelites to depart from the one true and living God who had delivered them from Egypt? What caused them to begin serving false gods and following the idolatrous ways of the Moabites?
The answer is given in Numbers 31:16:
Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
Balaam could not curse Israel. Only beautiful prophecies filled with blessings flowed from his lips when he was called into Moab by Balak. But Balaam did succeed in leading the Israelites astray through his counsel. The Israelites, through the counsel of Balaam, were led to commit fornication, eat things sacrificed to idols, and bow down before other gods. And, because of these sins, the judgment of God fell upon His people.
The counsel of Balaam — i.e., “the doctrine of Balaam” — had to do with the sins committed by the Israelites in view of their covenant relationship with God. Briefly stated, this doctrine had to do with the fact that the Israelites were the covenant people of God, this covenant could not be broken, and consequently the Israelites could sin with immunity.
However, such was not the case. It was true that the covenant established between God and Israel could not be broken; it was also true that Israel’s position as firstborn could not be changed; but it was not true that Israel could sin with immunity. God’s wrath was manifested because of the sins of His people, and the thousands of Israelites who succumbed to the counsel of Balaam were overthrown in the wilderness, short of the goal of their calling.
2) Doctrine of Balaam — Present
The doctrine of Balaam is one of the most widely taught doctrines in the Church today. Christians know — as their counterparts in the church in Pergamos (Revelation 2:14) — that they have been saved by grace through faith, and nothing can alter their positional standing “in Christ.” In view of this unalterable positional standing, they reason that they can conduct their lives in any manner that they choose and it will make no difference.
However, as in the case of the Israelites, so in the case of Christians. Christians, as the Israelites under Moses, have been saved for a purpose. Every Christian is enrolled in a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and every Christian is engaged in a conflict (Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 2:4, 5). The goal set before Christians is to win the race, be victorious in the conflict. And God has made provision for Christians in order that at the end of the race they might say with Paul:
I have fought the good fight [‘I have strained every muscle in (to maintain) the good contest’], I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)
The enemy, Satan, on the other hand, is doing all within his power to bring about defeat in the lives of Christians. Satan’s main objective in the present warfare is to prevent Christians from qualifying for crowns and thus positions of rulership with Christ in His coming kingdom. God is presently bringing into existence a new order of sons to replace the order now ruling in the heavens; and the incumbent rulers — Satan and his angels — are doing all within their power to retain their present governmental control over the earth.
The main facet of the doctrine of Balaam that is being widely promulgated in churches today is the teaching that future blessings and rewards are guaranteed for every Christian solely on the basis of Christ’s finished work on Calvary and the Christians’ positional standing “in Christ.” Thus, all Christians — regardless of their conduct during the present time — will receive crowns and positions of power and authority with Christ in the kingdom.
However, the teaching throughout the Word of God is to the contrary. The Israelites did not sin with immunity, and neither can Christians. Sin in the camp of Israel resulted in the Israelites being overthrown in the wilderness, short of the goal of their calling. And it will be no different for Christians.
. . . and I took the crown that was on his head . . . . (2 Samuel 1:10)
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
The Rebellion of Korah
Korah was a Levite, the cousin of Aaron and Moses (Exodus 6:18-21). His sin was speaking against the authority God had vested in Aaron and Moses. Korah sought, particularly, to intrude into the priestly office held by Aaron, saying that all the Levites were “holy,” and any of the Levites had as much right as Aaron to perform these priestly functions (Numbers 16:1ff).
The word “rebellion [KJV: gainsaying’]” in Jude 11 is antilogia in the Greek text, which means “against the word,” or “speaking against.” Korah moved against, he spoke against, the Word of God. Aaron was the high priest whom God had appointed, and the power to exercise this priestly office was vested in him alone. Korah dared to question God’s choice of Aaron and the power that He had vested in Aaron, which is looked upon in the three preceding verses (vv. 8-10) as a rebellion against divinely established authority. A rebellion of this nature is a rebellion against the One in whom all power and authority reside, against God Himself (ref. Chapter 7 in this book).
Questioning divinely established authority is a serious matter to say the least. In Numbers 16:25-35, God’s displeasure with Korah and those who followed him is shown by their removal from the camp of Israel by:
1) 1) Being taken down into Sheol alive.
2) 2) Being consumed by fire proceeding out from the Lord.
Christians following the path trod by Korah and those who followed him are looked upon in the epistle of Jude as “apostates.” Korah stood away from the position that he was to occupy in the camp of Israel, and Christians following his example likewise stand away from the position that they are to occupy as new creations “in Christ.” They move out of the arena of faith — stand away from “the faith” — and become involved in things that are foreign to their very existence. And, as set forth in Numbers chapter sixteen, God will not countenance such acts.
Christendom today is filled with those who follow “the rebellion of Korah.” They refuse to recognize that power and authority reside in God alone, and that He has vested His power in certain individuals (men and angels) whom He has chosen and placed in various positions. They, as Korah, move against, speak against, the Word — whether they realize it or not — when they move against or speak against those whom God has chosen and appointed, in whom He has vested His power.
1) Government of the Earth
The government of the earth is presently in a very complex state. Satan was originally given dominion over the earth, and a vast number of subordinate angels were placed in positions of power and authority under him. Following his rebellion, Satan and those angels who went along with him were rejected. They were no longer qualified to continue in their regal positions, but they were not immediately deposed. They were allowed to continue exercising dominion over the earth for a period of time.
(God does not leave a throne of this nature vacant. A principle of biblical government necessitates that an incumbent ruler [in this case, Satan, with his angels] continue on the throne until his replacement [in this case, Christ, with His co-heirs] is not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.)
During this time, God brought man into existence to assume the governmental power that Satan and his angels possessed. The first man, the first Adam, though was disqualified through sin; and Satan continued to rule. God then sent His Son, the second Man, the last Adam, to redeem that which the first man, the first Adam, had forfeited in the fall. Christ not only showed that He was fully qualified to take the governmental reigns of the earth but He also paid the price for man’s redemption (Matthew 4:1-11; John 19:30).
But the incumbent ruler, Satan (with his angels), was not immediately put down. Jesus did not immediately take the scepter; nor has He taken it to this day. Jesus is presently in a place removed from the kingdom. While in this place, He is calling out a select group to occupy the throne with Him when He returns to take the kingdom.
And individuals whom He is calling out are NOT to become caught up in and involved in the present system under Satan. The present and future status of both Christ and Christians in relation to the government of the earth is graphically set forth in biblical typology in the books of 1, 2 Samuel.
Saul had been anointed king over Israel, but Saul rebelled against the Lord and was rejected by the Lord. David was then anointed king over Israel. There were, following that time, two anointed kings in Israel; but Saul continued to occupy the throne.
As Saul continued to reign, David was forced into exile. The hills of Judaea became the headquarters of David. Certain Israelites gathered themselves to David. They are described as those who were in distress, in debt, and discontented (1 Samuel 22:2). Those who followed David in this manner constituted a hidden group, separate from the camp of Israel under Saul, and separate from the kingdom plans of Saul.
So long as Saul remained in power, neither David nor his faithful followers sought to control any facet of the affairs of the kingdom under Saul. David had already been anointed king over Israel, but the time had not arrived for him to assume power. David and his followers waited.
The day though finally arrived when Saul was put down, his crown taken and given to David, and then David ruled over Israel. And the faithful men who followed David during his time of exile then found themselves occupying various positions of power and authority in the kingdom under David.
In the antitype, Satan has been anointed king over the earth. He is the earth’s present ruler. Satan rebelled against the Lord, and was rejected by the Lord. Jesus was then anointed King over the earth. There are presently two anointed Kings, but Satan continues to occupy the throne.
As Satan continues to reign, Jesus has gone into a place of exile. Jesus is presently at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Certain Christians ally themselves with and follow Jesus during this time. They are typified by the Israelites in distress, in debt, and discontented, who gathered themselves to David. They constitute a hidden group, separate from the world system under Satan, and separate from the kingdom plans of Satan and those who rule with him.
So long as Satan remains in power, Jesus will not seek to control any facet of the affairs in the kingdom under Satan. In like manner, neither should Christians. Jesus has already been anointed King over the earth (cf. Matthew 2:2; 16:16), but the time has not arrived for Him to take the kingdom, to assume power.
Jesus is waiting until “the time,” and so should Christians (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 10:13).
The day though will eventually arrive when Satan will be put down, his crown taken and given to Jesus, and then Jesus will rule over the earth. And the faithful men who follow the Lord during His time of exile will then find themselves occupying various positions of power and authority in the kingdom under Jesus the Christ — positions previously held by angels ruling under Satan.
2) Subject To — Co-Regent With
One of the ancient rabbis in Jewish history stated, “The secret of Adam is the secret of the Messiah.”
To come into an understanding of the entire panorama of biblical truths, one MUST view them after the same fashion in which God gave these truths. And to do this, one MUST go back to the very foundation upon which these truths rest — the book of Genesis — and ascertain the same truths relative to Adam. Scripture MUST be interpreted in the light of Scripture, and Scripture MUST be interpreted after the manner in which it was written (types, shadows, word pictures, etc.).
All other methods of Scriptural interpretation can only lead to the multiplicity of pseudo thoughts and opinions originating from and held by man today.
The Church is to one day reign with the second Man, the last Adam, in the same position that Eve was to reign with the first man, the first Adam. But, during the time when the effects of the fall are present, prior to this reign, the Church is to occupy the same position relative to Christ that Eve occupied relative to Adam following the fall.
Eve, following the fall, was no longer in the position of co-regent with Adam but was placed in subjection to Adam (Genesis 3:16; cf. Genesis 1:26-28). In like manner, the Church today is not in the position of co-regent with Christ but, rather, is subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:24; cf. Ephesians 3:6). And the Church in this subjective position is completely out of place exercising governmental power and authority today, particularly since that power and authority is presently being exercised by Satan and his angels.
As Eve was to reign as co-regent with Adam, the Church is to one day reign as co-regent with Christ. Eve could not reign while subject to Adam; nor can the Church reign while subject to Christ.
The completion of the redemption of Christians must occur first (body and soul). Then, and only then, can they be placed in the position that Eve occupied in relation to the first Adam prior to the fall. Then, and only then, can they reign as “joint-heirs” with Christ in the kingdom (cf. Romans 8:16-23; 1 Peter 1:9-11; 4:12, 13).
The condition of Christians who follow “the way of Cain,” “the error of Balaam,” or “the rebellion of Korah” is depicted in different ways in Jude 12, 13. Their present condition is depicted by showing a fruitless, shameful condition in which they are carried about every which way in the world; and their future condition is depicted by the statement, “wandering stars,” to whom is reserved “the blackness of darkness forever.”
(The word “forever [Greek: aion]” in verse thirteen should be translated “for an age,” or “with respect to an age.” The age in view can only be the coming age, the Messianic Era.)
Apostate Christians described in Jude 12, 13 will occupy no positions with Christ in the kingdom. These are the same ones who previously, prior to the establishment of the kingdom, will have found themselves in “outer darkness” during the time of the wedding festivities (Matthew 22:1-14; cf. Matthew 8:11, 12; 25:14-30; Luke 13:28, 29); and the thought of darkness is used by Jude to describe the continued condition of these Christians in the kingdom itself.
Compare Jude 13 with 1 Peter 1:4. There is an inheritance “reserved” for Christians, and there is also the blackness of darkness “reserved” for Christians (the word “reserved” is the same in both passages in the Greek text). The former is reserved for faithful Christians, and the latter is reserved for unfaithful Christians.
The “inheritance,” according to 1 Peter 1:5, is reserved for those “who are kept by the power of God through faith [faith being brought to its goal through works (cf. vv. 6-9; James 2:14ff)] for salvation [salvation of the soul (cf. vv. 9-11; James 1:21)] ready to be revealed in the last time”; and “the blackness of darkness,” according to Jude 10, 11, is reserved for those who “corrupt themselves” through following “the way of Cain,” “the error of Balaam,” or “the rebellion of Korah.”
“Faith” is the key issue in both 1 Peter and Jude. The salvation of one’s soul, associated with the inheritance reserved in heaven, is contingent on “faith” being brought to its proper goal; and the apostates in Jude depart from this path by standing away from “the faith.”
Both an inheritance and the blackness of darkness are being kept in reserve. The faithful alone will come into a realization of the “inheritance.” And the apostates have only one thing to which they can look forward: that which is described by Jude as “the blackness of darkness.”