Three Steps in Apostasy

Jude 1:11

11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. (NKJ)



  1. They came from various walks of life, these three examples.
    1. Cain was a farmer
    2. Balaam was clergy
    3. Korah was a prince of Israel
  2. Notice the remarkable progress as we come to each person.
    1. Cain - enters the false way
    2. Balaam - runs greedily in the false way
    3. Korah - perishes in the false way
    4. Apostasy begins with a way, it leads to a wandering, in becomes a rebellion.
  1. The Way of Cain
    1. Like
      1. Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; (NKJ)
      2. Prov. 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (NKJ)
    2. The unaccepted sacrifice Gen. 4:1-7
      1. Abel brought his by faith. Heb. 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (NKJ)
      2. Cain set aside God's plan, His instructions, His standard
        1. In the same way some have set aside the shed blood of Jesus Christ for another way to God.
        2. They offer a different gospel, a bloodless gospel. Heb. 9:22
        3. A gospel not based on faith in God's revealed will found in His Word.
        4. Regardless of what else these people are or are not they have taken Cain's place in the rejection of God's way of salvation.
        5. It is a broad, easy path, but it leads to destruction.
        6. Matt 7:13-15 - 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. (NKJ)
        7. Is it any wonder that Jesus connects false teachers with the broad way that leads to destruction.
    3. Cain was once enlightened
      1. These are not those who never knew.
      2. Like Cain, they have known the way of God 7 they have gone a different way.
      3. The free choice of the present determines the unchangeable destiny of the future.
      4. We must all be careful not to follow in the way of Cain.
      5. To turn aside from what we know God would have for us.
      6. To follow others who would lead us away from God and His plan for our lives.
  2. Balaam Numbers 22
    1. This is a natural progression.
      1. When you turn away from God and His word, that is never the last step, but only the beginning of a sure disaster.
      2. Remember earlier, we said that a man's sin problem originates in his rejection of God.
      3. Therefore this seems only a natural progression in the apostate's down hill slide.
      4. 2 Tim 3:4-5 lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. (NKJ)
      5. First there is a simple going in the way of Cain but now a "running riotously."
        1. Is even more graphic in Greek
        2. They have "poured forth," like a reservoir bursting its banks and running on a rampage.
        3. When the restraint of Christ is thrown aside, there is little to check the evil inclinations of the corrupt human will.
    2. Balaam was a prophet for hire.
      1. He was determined to do God's bidding, until he say the gold he was offered.
      2. Many have cast off all restraint when gold come into the picture.
      3. He first obeyed God and refused to Go.
      4. Later when the price went higher, he went back to God to see if god had changed His mind.
      5. And although he tried three times to get permission from God to curse Israel, he blessed them each time he tried to curse the.
      6. Deut 23:4-5 because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. "Nevertheless the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you. (NKJ)
    3. The error of Balaam
      1. Since he didn't curse Israel, Balak wouldn't pay.
      2. Balaam's story would have been much different had he simply gone home, even without the gold.
      3. Instead, Balaam, since he understands that the God of Israel is a righteous and holy God, teaches Balak how to bring God's curse on His own people, Israel.
      4. He used to women of Moab & Midian to seduce the children of Israel to worship and sacrifice to their gods.
      5. He knew this would bring judgment from the Lord and it did.
      6. Num 25:2-3 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel. (NKJ)
      7. But later Balaam would pay with his life.
    4. It is the error of all apostates to sacrifice eternal riches for temporal gain.
      1. It is running after the pleasures of sin for a season. Heb. 11:25
      2. It is that compelling desire to gain some part of this worldeven if they forfeit their own souls. Mark 8:36
      3. Many have, like Demas, forsaken god's people, "having loved this present world." 2 Tim. 4:10
  3. Apostates perish in the gainsaying or rebellion of Korah
    1. It is as good as done
      1. Notice how each of these are in the past tense.
      2. We might expect to see this last one in the future tense, since the people Jude is referring to are still alive.
      3. Jude is here telling us that the doom of the apostate is jus as sure as the glorification of the saved.
      4. Rom 8:28-30 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (NKJ)
    2. Korah
      1. He was a Levite, cousin to Moses. Ex. 6:18-21
      2. With the help of Dathan & Abiram, he rebels against the authority of Moses.
      3. But as they raise their rebellion, the ground opens under them and the earth swallows them, and closes back again.
      4. They "went down alive into the pit, . . . and they perished from among the congregation." Num. 16:31-33
    3. The rebellion of Korah
      1. What terrible sin could so stir God that such sudden & terrible judgment befalls them.
      2. He had rejected God's appointed mediator, who would stand between God and the nation.
      3. In this, Moses was a type of Jesus Christ and in rejecting Moses he was rejecting, in type, Jesus Christ.
      4. Korah had dared to think "all the congregation are holy" Num. 16:3
      5. Could we today compare Korah to all those who think they can come to God without Jesus?
      6. Today, we are told:
        1. No sacrifice is needed
        2. No mediator is needed
        3. No blood atonement is needed
        4. Everyone is a child of God without Jesus
        5. All are holy.

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at