“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.”
have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit,
The apostates of Jude’s day “run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit.” They were in religion for money.
We find the case history of Balaam in the book of Numbers. There are two stories of Balaam in the Old Testament (Nu 22-24). There is (1) the story of Balak’s hiring of Balaam to curse Israel and (2) the story of Balaam leading Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality (Nu 25:1-3; 31:16).
The word “error” means wandering. Balak of Moab hired the prophet Balaam to put a curse on Israel for following God to the Promised Land (Nu 22-25). He hired him to throw Israel off the path. His sin was to take money for false ends. This was his problem. Balaam wandered off the purpose of his gift and ministry for financial gain. Instead of proclaiming truth, he injected his own plan into God’s program. Balaam, because of financial covetousness, deceived others into getting what he wanted. This is the sin of using religion for personal gain. Balak paid Balaam five times to curse Israel.
Everything Balaam brought to God, he created with his own religious imagination.
But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Re 2:14
They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness… 2 Pe 2:15
“For profit” means for financial gain. Balaam enriched himself through ministry.
They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. 2 Pe 2:15-16
Joshua 13:22 gives the final end of Balaam:
The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer (sorcerer), among those who were killed by them. Jos 13:22
It is possible to make merchandise of our gifts and ministry.
Many false teachers today are in religion for money. Their income controls their teaching and ministry.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with making money. It is simply a medium of exchange. The Bible does not say that “money is the root of all evil” but that the “love of money is the root of all evil.” The danger is in linking money to religion or even salvation. We cannot buy our way into heaven. Nor should we use religion to gain monetary ends.