In our study of the book of Jude, we look at our relationship in Jesus Christ and resisting false teaching through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.
We are introduced to the author here and the way he introduces himself has a great lesson in it. You see, he was the brother of Jesus and so he would have grown up in the same house with him yet that is not how Jude introduces himself. Instead, he introduces himself as a "servant of Jesus Christ". To be more precise, he is a bondslave which has a deeper meaning. A bondslave is one whose sole purpose is to carry out the will of his master. He is bound until death; where other servants could be bought/sold a bondslave could not. A bondslave has only the will of the master in mind and does not even belong to himself or have any rights. That is hard for us to imagine today where it seems that all we hear about is some new kind of right. This letter is addressed to those that are called, loved, and kept. Called is not talking about the way it is when we call our children as they may or may not obey at any given time. Instead this refers to an invitation that has been accepted and brought to life through the Spirit of God. When we are called, we are set apart in God's heart; we are His children and He is our Father. The word "kept" is talking about the act of preserving something as you would preserve food so that it will not spoil. This preserving of food is usually done in two ways, either through the use of vinegar or through the use of sugar. Sugar is sweet and that is the message of God and His love for us. His love for us, demonstrated in Jesus dying on the cross, has preserved us from death and decay. (A message that we all like to hear.) Vinegar is sour and many times our father must correct us (through the Holy Spirit) to get us back into line with His will. This being kept refers to being preserved for Christ and in Christ. Jesus is the One that keeps us from death (in Him and not spoiling) and He is also the purpose that we are preserved (to serve Him). We are called to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The saved part is easy and sweet while the part of allowing Him to be the Lord of our lives (master of the bondslave) is not as easy as it goes against our will (flesh) and that's the sour part.
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
Jude explained who we are in the previous verse and now he tells us of the abundant blessing that is in that relationship. First, is mercy and the fact that God, who is fair in handing out justice, does not have to punish us for our sins as the punishment was taken by Jesus Christ. Though we may stumble and disobey God each and every day, those sins are already paid for as well. His name is El Elyon (Most High God) the One with supreme authority because He created all things and since He says our sins are paid for, it is settled. The second, is peace and the fact that, since our sin (disobedience) was punished, we are no longer His enemies but we are now His children. His name is El Tsaddik (just and right) and we are now in agreement with Him and so we are also right. The third, is love and, since we are His children and He is the ultimate Father, He watches over us and cares for each of us in a way that no earthly parent has the power to do. His name is El Hanne'eman (faithful) and He will support and nourish us and never forsake or forget us. His name is also El Shaddai; the One who has the ability to supply what we need.
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Now, Jude gets to the purpose of his letter as he addresses it to "Dear friends". He is actually talking to the beloved which refers to how we are connected to each other through our connection to God in love. He goes on to explain that he wanted to bring an encouraging word about salvation but instead was instructed by the Spirit to send another message. The message that he is going to share is about contending for the faith. This word contend actually is more intense than it may seem as it describes agony faced in the struggle. He then reminds them (and us) that the good news of Jesus Christ has been entrusted to us to proclaim clearly and accurately so that people will not be deceived.
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Now, we are introduced to the problem and it seems that it is so very widespread today. The problem is that some have "secretly slipped in among you". There are many that are counted among God's people but are in fact condemned as Jude says here. God knew about these people even before they existed and we were warned by the prophets of the past as well as the apostles. These people have claimed the grace of God through Jesus Christ and his forgiveness but they do not even try to stop sinning. They arrogantly continue in their sin and even go so far as to approve of sin because of grace. As Jude says, they have turned it into a "license for immorality".
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.
Now, Jude reminds us that our faith is an individual thing and not because we belong to a group. He refers to the people's rebellion (Numbers 14) where they were told to go in and take control of the promised land but did not want to because of fear. Because of their fear and disobedience, they had to wander in the desert until all that rebelled had died. Then, their children were led into the land by Joshua and Caleb the only two that had believed that God would give them the victory.
And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their home - these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgement on the great Day.
Now, Jude gives us the example of the fallen angels (see Revelation 12:7-9) and how they were cast out of heaven. The angels are another example of the fact that God will not allow sin (disobedience) in His presence. They rejected God's authority as the Creator and were cast out.
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
We are now reminded of the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) and how God rained down fire on them because of their sin. They were openly in rebellion against God and so were punished.
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.
Jude has given us examples from the history of God's people and he now says the same things are happening. He refers back to the people he described in verse 4 who are changing God's grace into a license for immorality. That description is very true of our world today.
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'
Jude is talking about a writing in the time of the early church that told the story of an argument between Michael and Satan about Moses' body after he died. The point that Jude is making here is that, even in that case, Michael called on the Lord to deal with Satan. It is a very good example for us today as we remember that in dealing with demons or other such things, it is only by the authority of Jesus Christ and not of ourselves. A good example of what can happen when you try to do so yourself can be found in Acts 19:14-16.
Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals - these are the very things that destroy them.
The pretenders that Jude has been talking about only understand physical things but they think that they know everything. They, like animals, don't understand spiritual things and even deny the work of the Holy Spirit. They blaspheme (speak abusively) concerning the Holy Spirit and that is the one sin that God has said will not be forgiven. (see Jesus' words in Mark 3:29)
Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error, they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.
In verses 5 - 7, Jude described three groups of people that are doomed for their lack of faith in Jesus Christ. In this verse, he gives individual examples of Old Testament men that fit into each group. The first is Cain and he believed in God and was religious but he wanted to go to God in his own way. Instead of the animal sacrifice that God desired, he wanted to give his crop. There are many folks today that want to get to heaven but don't want to go God's way (through Jesus Christ) and there is no other way. The second individual is Balaam and he was out to make a buck off of the gift that God had given him. He was paid to cause the people of Israel to stumble (see Numbers 25) and denied that God could forgive sinners. There are many today that are out preaching for profit instead of preaching to bring people to Christ. It may not be money that motivates them; it could be fame, applause, or a position but God knows their hearts and motivations. The third individual is Korah and he assumed authority that God did not grant him (see Numbers 16). He led the rebellion against Moses and God struck him and his followers down. There are many out there today that are simply assuming authority because they have a "college degree in ministry". Many have not been called by God to do what they are doing and it is simply a job for them. Once again, God knows the hearts and motivations of men.
These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm - shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted - twice dead.
Now, Jude gives three examples of the actions of these so-called leaders. These men would go to the dinners held by the believers and eat their fill without regard for others. They are more concerned about themselves than they are others (the flock). That is the opposite of what Jesus did and an immediate warning sign that something is wrong. The second example is that these men are unproductive. They may look good as leaders and know how to use fancy talk but they do not share the actual Word of God. They usually talk about current events but do not give God's Word. The final example is that of "autumn trees" and that describes fruit trees at the time of harvest that don't have any fruit on them. What good is a fruit tree that does not have any fruit? These men are usually hiding sin and yet trying to lead others. They are referred to as "twice dead" in that they are dying both physically and spiritually yet trying to lead others.
They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
Jude continues with the description of these men and both examples from nature speak of lawless ranting and raving about things. Just as wandering stars do not follow a set course, these men do not follow the course set by the Word of God. We see that they are deceiving themselves and their eternal place is hell. Blackest darkness refers to hell because it is a place without God and God is light. Therefore, since God is not there, there will be no light and it will be darker than you can even begin to imagine.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.'
Jude tells us of a prophesy of Enoch. We know very little from the Bible about Enoch except that he was faithful and walked with God. He was taken by God but did not die as we read all of this in Genesis chapter five. Here, Jude tells us that, even Enoch back in Genesis, saw the second coming of Christ and the judgment of all men. He even reminds us that not only our physical actions are judged but also our words. This is very important for the false teachers that Jude has been talking to us about.
These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
In this verse, Jude gives us his final three signs of these men and their false teachings. First is that they don't have the joy of the Lord in them. As Jude describes, they find fault with everything and are not content with anything. Second, they do not seek God's will in anything as they simply walk in the flesh instead of being led by the Spirit. The final sign is that they smooth talk others and tell people what they want to hear so that they can profit from it.
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, 'In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.' These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
Jude reminds the readers here that these false teachers are not a big surprise as the apostles have previously warned us of their coming. They divide people because they do not have/follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and therefore are blown along by their own desires.
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Now that Jude has made us aware of the false teachers and told us how to spot them, he tells us what to do to stand in the faith. He tells us to "build yourselves up" and he is talking about reading and studying the Word of God that is contained in the Bible. That also means ALL of the Bible and not just a few topics that are regularly touched on at "churches" these days. The second thing is to "pray in the Holy Spirit" and what he is talking about is not the typical prayers of going to God with a wish list of what we want from Him. Jude is talking about praying and listening to the Spirit to help us to know the will of God as well as some serious worship in prayer and thanking God for all that He has done. In the armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-18) this prayer is one of the offensive weapons (sword of the Spirit) we are given to fight the enemy with. We should take note here that Jude mentions studying the Word first and that is significant in that bible study helps us learn how to use that sword. You can do a lot of damage to yourself and to others by swinging around a sword without the knowledge of how to do so.
Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life.
At first glance, this verse may be confusing as we say to ourselves that we cannot get out of God's love. Although it is true that you cannot do anything that will keep God from loving you (because God is love), you can get to where you cannot feel God's presence and therefore His love. You will not feel God's presence/love when you are not walking the talk. Simply put: If you want to be ready for the battle, do not only read the word and pray (as we saw in verse 20) but also put the word into action in your own life. The first thing the enemy will try to do is to get some separation between you and God and that is usually achieved when we are not following God's word.
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude gives us instructions here for dealing with three different groups of people. The first are those that are Christians but are not strong in their faith. We are to be merciful to them and that means helping to build them up and not beating them down because of their doubts. The second group are the unsaved that God is calling to himself. We are to "snatch" them from the very fires of hell by sharing the Word of God with them. The last group are those that are unsaved and content with their situation. We are to love them but to hate their actions that do not bring glory to God. We are to tell them of the coming judgment and to love them but not let their sins influence us.
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Jude closes this letter with a prayer and in this prayer is a reminder. He reminds us that Jesus is the way that we will stay strong in the faith. He is the one that can keep us from falling and it is in His power that we stand.