What Christians Are Not To Be

A believer’s ministry should be characterized by humility, obedience, and faithfulness rather than serving for personal gain.

“These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” (Jude 16) 

Virtually every reader of Shakespeare has benefited from Cliff Notes in some form. When trying to understand Shakespeare’s old English wording, character and plot development, literary devices, and themes, summary guides can be an invaluable resource. Without these aids, our knowledge of English literature may remain incomplete and lacking personal benefit. 

Jude, in the sixteenth verse of his letter, essentially provides us with a Cliff Notes version of everything he has taught to this point.  He distills his discourse on the error of false teachers into succinct and powerful phrases. 

He begins by describing them as “grumblers” and “malcontents.” “Malcontent” is not a word we often use, but it describes those characterized by dissatisfaction and rebellion—recalling Jude’s previous metaphor that they are “wild waves of the sea” (v. 13). They are restless people who bring chaos into the body of Christ through incorrect teaching. Jude likely also has in mind their antinomian teachings, through which they rebel against the authority of God and the goodness of his law. These teachers contrast the humility, obedience, and faithfulness that should characterize believers to bring glory to God and honor to his name. Those who bear the name of Christ are not to grumble and rebel against him. 

Secondly, Jude describes these teachers as “following their own sinful desires[.]” The reader’s mind should immediately be drawn back to verse seven and Jude’s reference to the sin and judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Throughout Scripture, these cities and their destruction serve as a quintessential example of those who reject God’s good design and pursue their own desires. The false teachers in Jude’s day “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire” and taught others to do the same, just as those who perished in Sodom and Gomorrah. Their rebellious hearts manifested into rebellious actions, and Jude warns his readers not to follow in their footsteps. 

Jude continues his summary by saying that “they are loud-mouthed boasters.” Claiming revelatory visions (v. 8), they flaunt their teachings and authority as if they are from God. They use their “dreams” to promote themselves in the eyes of others, entirely contrary to a true shepherd of God’s sheep, like Jude, who is characterized by humility. James notes that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (4:6). Jude’s readers, both original and contemporary, would be well-served to take his and James’ words to heart. To be proud is to oppose and be opposed by God. Truly, that is a weighty sentence for the condemned. 

Finally, Jude writes that these teachers “[show] favoritism to gain advantage.” Like Balaam, they used ungodly means to achieve their own ungodly ends. This likely included preferential treatment toward the rich (see James 2:1-4) as well as adapting their teaching to please those in positions of influence. Jude calls his readers to “contend for the faith” (v. 3), contrary to these teachers who are unwilling to contend for anything that presents a hindrance to their personal profit, preferring instead to preach what appeases the itching ears of those with deep pockets and corner offices (2 Timothy 4:3-4). True shepherds “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). 

May we be so vigilant to hold to the truth of the gospel that such teachers will never find a home in our churches and ministries. As teachers, pastors, missionaries, and church members, may we seek listeners who “long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it [they] may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Jude shepherds his congregation in a way that makes false teaching distasteful to their spiritual palates, and we should do the same. Those in our lives should never develop a taste for a false gospel.  As one spits out poison because the taste brings physical death, so we should strive to spit out the dangerous teaching of false gospels that bring spiritual death and teach others to do the same. 


Heavenly Father, 

Thank you for faithful shepherds who warn us of spiritual danger. May we be deaf to every false teaching and hear only the life-giving gospel of your Son. Teach us to be obedient, humble, and content followers that we may bring glory to you and bear well the name of Christ to the nations around us. 

In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Prayer Requests: 

  • Pray that unbelievers would be given ears to hear and hearts to savor the gospel, so that all God’s sheep may be brought into the fold. 
  • Pray that false teachers would find no home in Christ’s body and would be vomited out by those who only have a taste for the truth. 
  • Prayerfully consider supporting the Global Gospel Fund so that new missionaries can be sent out to combat false teaching around the globe.