What happens to sinners who don’t learn from the sinful patterns of others? They repeat the same patterns themselves. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” someone has said.
In the Old Testament there are many ‘characters’ whose conduct is exposed and examined as a warning for future generations.
In Jude v.11, Jude issues an alert, a notification of dangerous peril, a warning of the destructive patterns which he sees evident in the lives of the false teachers of his day.
“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.”
Cain, Balaam, Korah – hardly three exemplary characters …..yet they are included in the pages of Scripture with full details lest we follow in their footsteps.
Cain – a cold-hearted killer, this firstborn son of Adam and Eve, invites the crouching sin into his life, and in his anger murders his own brother. Would we allow hatred to build up to such a degree, that in our ‘fits of rage’ we lash out in physical violence? I’m amazed at how easily children, teens and adults turn to violence to ‘resolve’ the tension they’re experiencing.
Balaam – a money-driven prophet, who aims at ‘cursing’ God’s people until God interjects a roadblock into his plans. What’s your price? What are you motivated to do “for the love of money?”
Korah – a leader of God’s people, a man delivered like the rest of the Israelites from the bondage of slavery. This man, who grumbled and became desperately restless, mobilizes others to join up in an open rebellion against God’s appointed leaders.
As Jude pens his letters, he sees history repeating itself. False teachers come in all shapes, sizes and colours, but their heartbeat echoes through countless centuries. They ply their ‘false wares’ drawing a multitude of gullible ‘followers’ into a path of destruction.
Of all the spiritual gifts desired and needed in our age, the gift of discernment certainly tops the list, in my opinion. “Test everything,” Paul admonishes. “Do not believe every spirit,” John urges. “Sanctify them through Your truth,” Jesus prays for His followers. With Spirit-led, Word-based testing, a sceptical ‘unbelief’ in the latest ‘wave’ of doctrine and with the holiness producing impact of God’s truth, we may well be protected from imitating the ways of Cain, Balaam, Korah. Ignoring the warnings issued throughout Scripture, will engender the comments of grieved, genuine friends and spiritual leaders as they cry out, “Alas, alas, alas!”