“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:1–2 ESV)
Jude writes to those who are called – “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30 ESV). Don’t miss the string here – or elsewhere in scripture – there are no human fingerprints on it! God called us to be His BELOVED (those are familial words) and He will KEEP US in Christ Jesus. He predestines, He calls, He justifies, He keeps & He glorifies. We are along for the ride as we ACTIVELY contend for the faith.
“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4 ESV)
Ungodly people had crept in and perverted the truth. These were designated for destruction – they did not catch God off guard and they did not cause God to have to figure out what He was going to do! They were unnoticed because they acted like Christians, but were not. They talked it, but did not walk it. They perverted grace and made it cheap grace, which is no grace at all. Cheap grace always produces license – sensuality. They ultimately denied Christ by their actions and unwillingness to submit to His commands and obey Him. We may be able to talk a good talk, quote bible verses, walk aisles & pray prayers, but ultimately if we are not willing to walk in joyful obedience to Christ and submit to Him then we prove ourselves to be on shifting sand. This is perhaps the greatest risk in our modern evangelical churches. We don’t know what we believe, we don’t teach it and people have a very weak view of God and His grace. God is nice, but He is not compelling. Unless one has been deeply moved by the sovereign majesty of God, he will not understand the grace that has been given to him – He will not be moved to worship or obey. This is why Jude starts with God calling, God loving & God keeping. Most in our midsts today would not deny Jesus explicitly, but deny Him by the way that they live. He is not important to them, He is not the hub that their lives revolve around, He is not adored or served, He is just One of many gods in our lives. This should scare us all!
“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5 ESV)
Jesus saved a people out Egypt. Wow, Jude is saying that Jesus is God! Powerful. Those who did not believe were destroyed in the desert – that should really scare us. These were people that experienced the miraculous deliverance God had provided them from Egypt, His commands at Sinai and His ongoing deliverance and guidance. And yet they did not believe and were destroyed for their unbelief. Our battle is for belief! Those who did not endure in belief did not see the Promised Land (1 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 3:16–19) – and neither will we unless we endure. Judgement awaits those who persist in unbelief!
“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” (Jude 1:8–10 ESV)
These false teachers had come to rely on the subjectivity of their dreams instead of the objectivity of the scriptures. Revelatory dreams still happen, but they should always be subjected to the authority of scripture. These people pollute the flesh and defy authority. They blaspheme the glorious One.
We do not know what Jude is referring to in verse 10, it has been lost in history. Won’t it be a glorious day when we can see more fully what we only see in part now!? Michael understood his place in God’s created order so he did not tread on God’s authority. Lord, help us to learn from your authority! Michael left the devil to God’s authority.
These false teachers operated on their instincts (like an animal) instead of on the authority of scripture. We must subdue our instincts, feelings and sinful thoughts – they must be engaged by the grace of God and wrestled into submission by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. All that these people knew was how to follow their instincts and feelings regardless of whether they adhered to God’s moral decrees or not. This is dangerous – this is how people end up in the weeds and destroy their lives and the lives of others.
“Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 1:11–13 ESV)
These false teachers were motivated by coveting and greed because they were dissatisfied with the position that they currently occupied. He uses examples of Cain (Genesis 4:5-8), Balaam (Numbers 22:5-7, 2 Peter 2:15) and Korah (Numbers 16:1-3, 31-35). How often do we get derailed by being dissatisfied with where we are in life? We need believe that our deepest satisfaction in life is found in an abiding relationship with Jesus alone. It is not found in the next accomplishment, relationship or position in life.
These false teachers are like hidden reefs because they are suffering no immediate consequences for their sinful behavior. This is sad! Like a ship sailing on the open water thinking that things are OK until they strike the reef just below the surface. These people live openly depraved lives and experience no consequences for their sinful behavior. They do what they want and are largely unchecked. Why is this? One can only speculate, but I wonder if this is because we don’t like conflict or because we feel like we are being ungracious by judging or confronting someone else? It is not ungracious or unloving to confront people in their sin – it is what is required to help people see the light of day, though it is incredibly difficult!