The Consequences of a Faulty Foundation

Relying on God’s Word is critical to our defense against false teachers.

“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.” (Jude 8) 

The Protestant Reformation granted innumerable benefits to the 21st century church. Chief among them was the reaffirmation of the centrality and authority of Scripture in the life of the believer. Not only did the Reformation make Scripture more accessible through encouraging translation into the common tongue, but its affirmation of Sola Scriptura—Scripture alone as the highest authority—reinstated Scripture to its rightful position of supremacy, a position which the Roman Catholic Church had usurped. 

Any time that we step off the firm foundation of God’s Word, issues arise without exception. Scripture alone, as the inspired Word of God, is infallible—that is, incapable of error. As Martin Luther famously said, 

I believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves—I consider myself convicted by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. 

The errors that Jude addresses at the beginning of his letter are a result of false teachers “relying on their dreams.”  

Church history is rife with claims of extrabiblical revelation. One of the more influential contemporary examples is Mormonism, which was founded on Joseph Smith’s claims to have received and recorded a series of revelations that superseded Scripture. 

Joseph Smith, the false teachers in Jude’s day, and countless others departed from Scripture as the “only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 2) and thus led their followers astray. It would serve every believer well to follow the example of the Bereans in “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11) any time we hear teaching on the nature and work of God. 
That is certainly not to say that the Spirit does not give individual insights from his Word that we should be diligent to share with others for the mutual upbuilding of the body of Christ, but Scripture must always categorically stand above any such insights in authority. God’s Word teaches us “what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 3) and “has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). It is on that ever-flowing fountain of life that we must stake our souls. 

To further warn against false teachers, Jude lists three errors that flow directly from their reliance on their dreams. Even more concerning than the supposed authority of these extrabiblical revelations is the subsequent actions to which those claims give birth. 

First, they defile the flesh. This is the most direct of the three and has already been addressed by Jude. This refers to sexual immorality, and, given the reference to Sodom and Gomorrah, may also include homosexuality. These teachers deny the biblical command to self-controlled and pure sexuality (Galatians 5:22, Romans 12:1) and encourage promiscuity under the guise of being covered by the grace of God. 

Second, they reject authority. While some see this as a reference to human or angelic authority, a stronger exegesis lends itself to mean a rejection of God’s authority. We see this in a departure from both the authority of Scripture as God’s revelation by “relying on their dreams” and the authority of Christ as Lord over their lives by encouraging actions antithetical to his command. The rebellious nature that brought about the fall of Satan and his angels (verse 8) is repeated by false teachers today. They rebel against their Creator, for which they are liable to his judgment. 

Rejection of authority was present at the very beginning, in Jude’s day, and today. We live in an age, particularly in the global West, dominated by individualism and self-reliance, much of which is to our benefit. It has, however, exceeded its proper boundaries. Not only do we seek to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but we tend to view the very existence of authority as oppressive. In contrast, Scripture paints a markedly different picture of authority. When rightly exercised, authority leads, protects, nurtures, and strengthens. Just as antinomianism perverts a true understanding of grace, not grace itself, so too authoritarianism distorts a correct application of authority, not authority itself. A right view of authority is critical to our faith and witness. 

Lastly, these false teachers blaspheme the glorious ones. Other translations render this phrase “rail against dignities” or “speak evil of dignities.” Most likely, Jude is referring to the mocking attitude of the false teachers and their followers toward the existence and influence of demonic beings. Though Jude has previously issued warnings against the potential danger of these fallen angels and their impending judgment, Jude’s audience remains relatively unaffected. They flippantly dismiss these warnings—to their detriment. We need not fear the devil (Matthew 10:28, 1 John 4:4), but we do need to be watchful of his schemes (1 Peter 5:8). We must never think ourselves immune to the same judgments he and his demons incur if we follow their pattern of rebellion. 

Jude is reminding his readers, and us, of the surety of God’s Word as our only foundation and authority and of the dangerous results of abandoning it.  

The words of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” are a fitting conclusion:  

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, 
Is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word! 
What more can be said than to you God hath said, 
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? 


Heavenly Father, 
Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. May it be our measure of goodness, truth, and beauty. May we reject all that your Word rejects and believe all that your Word teaches. You are our God, and we are your servants. May our submission to your authority be a powerful witness to the rebellious world. 
In the name of your Son, amen.

Prayer Requests: 

  • Pray for a confidence in the Word of God that will protect you from falling prey to the contradictory claims of false teachers. 
  • Pray for your doctrine and practice to be shaped by a biblical view of authority. 
  • Pray for church planting missionaries as they teach their congregations to guard against false beliefs and doctrinal errors that may catch new believers unaware.