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The character traits of falsehood - Part 1

Jude 11
Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. (NIVUK)

The problem about false teachers is that they do not wear a sign saying, ‘I am a false teacher’!  They look normal, usually sound friendly, strong and sympathetic; and they give the impression of godliness (2 Timothy 3:1-5).  Jude used three spiritually perverse people from the Old Testament as examples of how error can take a hold. Cain, Balaam and Korah were all strong characters who thought they were right but were all self-motivated, dressing up their selfishness in a religious way.  They knew about the Lord and claimed to serve Him: but they did not love Him.

Cain murdered his brother Abel.  Abel had given God an acceptable gift, whereas Cain’s offering was not accepted (Genesis 4:1-16).  Although God gave Cain the opportunity to change his mind, he refused and hatred led to murder.  Balaam was a pagan prophet who greedily used his religious authority for personal gain (2 Peter 2:15-16), encouraging the people to worship idols and indulge in sexual immorality (Revelation 2:14).  Balaam’s story in Numbers (chapters 22-24) shows that although God restrained his folly, his heart was not changed.

Korah was a junior priest who despised the authority of Moses and Aaron. He thought he had an equal right to leadership, and that God would honour him.  His campaigning seemed attractive to community leaders and 250 of them supported Korah against Moses (Numbers 16:1-3).   But he was wrong – the ground opened up and swallowed up Korah, all his supporters and their families (Numbers 16:28-35).

There are plenty of strong religious leaders who do not want to obey the Word of God.  Their hatred of godly people is fuelled by self-love and what they can gain.  Yet undiscerning people submit to their vibrant leadership, although they dignify fleshly lusts, encouraging their followers to indulge themselves as they make money and a name for themselves.  They push the limits of God’s patience; but their end is inevitable.  Do not be naïve, do not be foolish; recognise these people for who they are and keep clear of them (Titus 3:10-11).  Yes, they need rebuke and correction, and that may limit the damage they can cause; but unless they repent and ask the Lord to change their hearts, they remain a danger to the church and to all who seek Christ with an open heart.  Wherever we see these character traits we should be alert to the dangers involved.

God of all truth. It must grieve Your heart that false teachers who infiltrate Your church pretend to have Your authority, and lead others astray. Forgive me for being wrongly tolerant of what is wrong and slow to affirm what is right. Please help me to learn to discern what pleases and displeases You, encouraging my friends and colleagues in the truth, and away from error. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams