Oh no, they are playing by different rules!
Have you found yourself saying, “We’ve already been over this.” Have you ever had to relay the ground rules, things you thought were established? Have you ever been eager to settle down into a project only to find others think the project is different? Leaders may need to delineate the expected behaviors and beliefs. That is where Jude was finding himself.
“3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 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 3-4–ESV)
Delineation of “Us and Them” is sometimes crucial
Here we see into further into the mind of Jude than was seen in the first two verses. When he finally sat down to write he found that the faith features that excited him were not what the church was ready for or in need of hearing. The church of his time was at risk for there was not a solidarity among all of its members. Certain people had crept in unnoticed introducing spiritual perversions. He was eager to expound on salvation and go more deeply into the excellent things that the believer has in Jesus the Christ, but could not. He needed to redefine and demarcate their common salvation. He needed to point out that there was an “us” and a “them” in the faith. He needed to delineate that.
The Grace Changers1
There were people in the church, leaders actually, who were twisting the truth. Those were the false teachers that Peter warned about2. Those teachers were not saying grace was bogus, but were saying bogus things about grace. They were not denying grace or its needs, but twisting the grace to their own desires. They were using grace to enable sin. They were teaching that God’s grace was so abundant that one need not worry about being righteous. Where sin was grace did abound more and more. That is true, but not they went to far by saying, “Because God is gracious I can do all these things I know he does not like.” That was the perversion. That was the disgusting twist upon the good thing given.
One verse in the Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The lie of the grace changer would make a false verse saying, “I can do all things because of the grace that covers me.” The truth is that Christ strengthens to say no to sin. The falsehood presumes upon Christ to cover sin. The former is a style of repentance. The later is a style of rebellion. One wants away from sin and is broken over it. To that there is a great and all sufficient grace. The other wants deeper into sin and is only broken over being caught for it. That is a perversion.
The sensual drives of humanity are easily exploited. The base fear that misbehaviors will bring consequences is an important fear for it gives us pause. There is a perverse enabling of wickedness when teachers come along saying, “…that thing you want to do but sort of worry about is ok because God is so gracious…” The consequences do not change. The guilt remains. How terrible it is for a person to facilitate the wickedness of others. Condemnation will be their lot.
Grace is for the long list of lacks cutting short its effects. Grace is not to lengthen the list of lacks. Grace is there for us. Grace is not there for itself.
The Christ Changers
Here Jude reminds of the other primary twist that the para-godly (to coin a term) inject into the souls of the unwitting. The character of Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, is taken in a different direction. These men who are in the church of Jesus Christ were denying him as Savior. They were saying he is not the one to whom allegiance is owed. He is not to be the master of our souls. Recall who Jude is from the first two verses 3. He is the brother of Jesus the Messiah. He had at least watched as his family tried the savior denying route. Remember they thought he was insane, but that changed. Jesus’ mother was at the foot of the cross and the author this book was his brother. Jesus was the Christ or he was bogus went the teachings of Paul. Jude says Jesus was the real deal. He was the Messiah. He was the anointed one of God, the master.
Don’t play king of the hill with your own life. That is where Jesus is to be. The difference with God’s version is that he leaves the hill without fighting you.
The standard wickedness is not so mysterious…what does it say?
- Do your own thing
- Sensuality is legit
- Jesus may be a good guy but he is not the boss of you
- Authority thwarted
- Rebellion enhanced