Jude - Sixth in a series
The reason Jude gives for writing his letter is to encourage his readers to contend for the true faith, however, nearly the entire text of Jude describes the "certain men crept in unawares." (Jude 1:4)
Verse 4 reads in full: For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are no pointers given in Jude on how to contend for the true faith, as we have come to expect from Christian seminars on evangelism or apologetics. Instead, Jude will advise simple steps to maintain ones personal faith and ones standing in the church: build up your faith by praying in the Spirit, keep yourself in God's love, and maintain a serious focus on the eternal life to come in the one who is all mercy. That is all.
It is possible to contend for the faith once delivered by setting a good example in loving God and man, enabled by prayer assisted by the third person of the Trinity, while cherishing eternal life. Yet, in your simplicity and peaceful hope, know you will be challenged. Perhaps you will be undermined by certain people in your own church!
Since the earliest days, unbelievers have filtered in among the ranks of God's soldiers. Christ warned about the ones who did not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbed in by some other way. (John 10:1) The Lord alone is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6), and those who enter by a side door to preach a different gospel (Gal 1:8) are thieves. A broad range of such people come to mind, but for our study, we will consider the "ungodly" ones that Jude warned about (vs 4, above).
Three initial points are made about these:
- They were before of old ordained to this condemnation.
- They turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.
- They deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
By God's superintendence of Scripture, Jude's very first point predicts the ultimate destination of those who design to ruin God's faithful ones. They are under a sentence of condemnation.
These men have warred on God in two ways, as Enoch described, (Jude 1:15) 1. by their deeds, and 2. by their words or "hard speeches" (rough, offensive).
There is assurance in knowing that rebels are under severe judgment. If they were not, if there is no difference between right and wrong, then there is no meaning in life, but there is.
Question: Are these men reprobate in the theological sense of the word? That is, have they crossed the line beyond which there is no turning back? Is there such a line? Though this question leads on a rabbit trail relative to our focus for this post, it is important to answer.
Is Jude saying that these men were predestined to condemnation? Or, have they simply incurred God's condemnation by their deeds and words? The concept of foreordination to condemnation is a difficult one. If God elects some, does he also choose to pass over others? The Westminster Confession says Yes, based on Scripture (John 6:64, 10:26, 8:47; 1 John 2:19; Mat 11:25; Rom 9:17-22; 2 Tim 2:19, 20; Jude 1:4; 1 Pet 2:8). Recall though, that Pharaoh hardened his own heart when God did not harden it for him (Ex 8:32, et al).
All people have choices, and we can cry out for help to stop behaving rebelliously, or we can choose reprobation, a state from which few ever emerge. We do not know the lines God draws and why. We do know he shows lenience for some and takes into consideration many circumstances. We do know it's impossible to stop rebelling without the help of God, so the best thing to do if you find yourself in a contrary lifestyle is to cry out for God's help. He hears the cries of the lost and has great mercy on weak sinners.
Thus, when Jude points out the need to snatch some from the fire (Jude 1:23), he could be referring to the rebels, not just those affected by their influence.
In two ways, these rebels qualified for judgment: 1. they convoluted the concept of grace by lascivious permissions, and 2. denied the lordship of Christ.
True freedom and abundant life in Christ grant power to overcome sexual lust, gluttony, addictions and consequent falling into worse sin. When we are saved, we are released from bondage to sin and thus from the law because we are enabled to obey God's laws by his Holy Spirit. To say this new inner reserve gives us license to practice the sin we were delivered from is to confuse the cure with the illness or to seize upon deliverance as a sign of privilege rather than mercy. But God is not a God of confusion; sin is bondage and deliverance is amazing grace that right-minded people cherish rather than test or despise.
Anyone who equivocates and engenders such confusion is denying that Jesus has the right to require his followers to be like him, righteous. They co-mingle his mercy with the deadly toxin of self gratification. They deny Jesus Christ is Lord, the only God.