“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.”
Woe to them!
Jude pronounced a stinging indictment on apostasy because his readers followed the apostasy of Cain, Balaam, and Korah. God will deal with false doctrine regarding all three types of these heresies.
For they have gone in the way of Cain,
The way of Cain is religion without faith in sacrificial blood. Cain brought a vegetable offering rather than a blood offering: “And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord” (Ge 4:3). Cain made the deadly mistake of inventing his own religion. His religion was a religion of his own effort. Cain believed in God but not in God’s way of salvation. He worshiped God after the dictates of his own conscience rather than the dictates of explicit statements of Scripture. He presented the best of the land, the best tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes, but they were not acceptable to God.
Abel, however, brought a sacrificial lamb (Ge 4:4). This is the heart of the whole matter. Abel brought a “more excellent sacrifice” than Cain. God did not respect Cain’s offering (Ge 4:4,5).
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. Heb 11:4
Out of frustration with God’s rejection of his works salvation, Cain murdered his brother Abel (Ge 4:1-15). Cain was religious but developed a false view of salvation (Ge 3:21). Cain rejected God’s system of salvation by the sacrificial blood of the lamb. He thought he could work his way to God. He rejected the need to come to God by faith. That is why God calls Cain “of the wicked one.” He was a non-believer and belonged to the devil. Out of reaction to Abel’s sacrifice, Cain said, “You want a sacrifice? All right, I’ll give you a sacrifice!” and then he cut his brother’s throat and made a sacrifice out of him.
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 1 Jn 3:11-12
Religion without faith in God’s way of salvation is apostasy.
The way of Cain is the way of the self, of pride, and of human works. Religion that tries to establish its own righteousness rather than accept the free gift of righteousness from God by the death of Christ is apostasy. Whether or not we like God’s way of salvation is irrelevant. The Bible teaches that man is totally depraved and completely incapable of saving himself. Insistence on human works leads to the rejection of God’s grace.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Ro 10:1-4