Is sin more prevalent in the world today than it was in the past? When we look out at our society and the actions and lifestyles that are praised, we would think so. However, while sin may seem to be more out in the open today, the heart and driving force behind it has not changed.
As we continue to look at the book of Jude in June, Jude makes this clear. He exhorted us to contend for the faith because of the presence of false teachers. This was not a new problem then and it is not a new problem now.
Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. Jude 11
The examples Jude gives are all from the first 5 books of the Bible. The same sinful heart that drove Cain, Balaam, and Korah was the same sinful heart that drove the false teachers in the first century and is the same heart today. The outward manifestation of the sinful heart may look different, but the heart is still the same. Why did Jude mention Cain, Balaam, and Korah?
Jude tells us that false teachers walk in the way of Cain. They are walking in his example of works without faith, which led to jealousy, anger and murder (Genesis 4). Cain tried to sacrifice to the Lord under his own terms and fell short. He refused to repent and was judged.
False teachers have given themselves over to Balaam’s error, the false prophet who sought out riches above all else. Balaam originally blessed the people of Israel as he was directed by God. However, he then proceeded to entice the people of Israel into great sin at Peor (Numbers 31:16-19). His heart was set on material gain at the expense of others’ lives.
They perish in Korah’s rebellion. Unrepentant false teachers are rebellious, just as Korah and 250 others rebelled against the Lord and Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 16:1-35). In their pride they did not want to submit to the Lord or the man He had appointed to lead them. Rebellion against God always leads to destruction.
As we look out over the world today, we see those same things at work in our culture. We see people walking in the way of Cain, people trying to produce their own righteousness apart from God, people who grow angry and jealous as they continue to be self-focused. We see the heart of greed at work, just as it was at work in Balaam. We see people doing all they can to use others for their own selfish gain. And we see the heart of pride and rebellion— people refusing to submit to God and His created plan. There is nothing new under the sun. They may not have had a Pride month in the times of Abraham, but the same heart of rebellious sin was at work then as it is now.
Why does all of this matter? Jude 5-16 serve as a sobering reminder of the outworking of sin. These reminders can also serve as an encouragement to us. We are not battling against new enemies. The same spiritual darkness and sin that was at work since Adam and Eve is still at work now. And just as we have many examples of how sin has caused pain and destruction, we have more examples of how God continues to save people from sin. Praise God for His great love and mercy towards us.