Three rebellious types

Jude - Seventh in a series

Three rebellious types are outlined in Jude 5-7, and verse 8 pegs each of the types. This is a history lesson to refresh the memories of those who "once knew this" (Jud 1:5), that is, Jews who would recall their Scriptures, so it seems likely that Jude wrote to fellow Jews who had claimed Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

It is important for any with prior Bible knowledge to remain mindful of truths he or she has known and to build on them daily; otherwise we will become as those who forget and shrink back (Deut 4:9, 23; 6:12; 8:11, 19). But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb 10:39)

The three rebellious types are:

  1. The Israelites of Exodus who "believed not"
  2. The angels who broke from their appointed realm
  3. The Sodomites of Sodom and its surroundings.

In reverse order, verse 8 describes each type: they

  1. defile the flesh
  2. despise dominion
  3. speak evil of dignities.

These descriptions are like "Wanted" posters for the rebels who have crept in to the church. If we can identify the outlaws in our midst, we can avoid being taken as their hostages. So, let's take a close look at each one.

Jude 5: I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
Israel's exodus from Egypt was accomplished by a series of miraculous judgments, ranging from swarms of frogs, lice, flies, locusts and grievous hail to massive darkness, and worse, that did not affect the Jews but only the Egyptians. Then, their journey across the dry river bed of the Red Sea whose waters engulfed the pursuing army; the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that led their way; heavenly food rained down for sustenance; water pouring out of a rock for their refreshing — what privilege!

Even so, while Moses was on Mt. Sinai communing with God for forty days, they turned to worship a golden calf made from jewelry they had been given by the Lord as their plunder of the Egyptians for repayment after serving as their slaves. For this rebellion, 3,000 were killed, and none of the generation that continually doubted were permitted to enter Canaan. (Num 14:22, 23; 1 Cor 10:1-5)

Jude is saying that these Jews are analogous to those who witnessed the miracles of Jesus and either saw Christ or knew those who encountered him after his resurrection. How many miracles does one need to experience to secure his faith? Those who have stood near to Wisdom and Light will be judged more severely. (Mat 12:42) This is pointed at the intruders and to any believers who might be drawn away by their provocations.

In Jude 6 we read: And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
This verse may refer to Genesis 6 where the extreme evil in the world that was wiped clean by Noah's flood is explained thus: And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose… (Gen 6:1-4) There are varying views on this passage. Some commentators state that the "sons" referred to were Seth's lineage, but others point out:

  1. Cain's progeny could not have had all the good-looking gals,
  2. the same term is used in Job to describe the angels including Satan (Job 1:6),
  3. the unions produced giants, and
  4. the wickedness on the earth became so massive so quickly that a nearly universal elimination of humankind was necessitated.

We cannot know how the angelic intrusion into earth's marriage beds was "fleshed out" so to speak, but Jude makes plain that God has power to put an end to all such rebellion. Likewise, for any Jew or Gentile who either grew up or came to understand the boundaries of God's laws and then broke away and began tempting others to depart from God's dominion and join in their rebellion, condemnation is assured.

Some commentators explain that Jude 6 refers to the angels who accompanied Satan in his rebellion. (Isaiah 14:12-14; Rev 12:4). On the other hand, the Revelation passage could have reference to Genesis 6. In the Bible, some mysteries are not fully explained.

The connection to Genesis 6 is supported by 2 Peter 2:4, 5, For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to hell, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth [person], a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly... This seems to associate the chaining of the rebellious angels to the time period prior to the great flood.

Jude 7 states: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
This reference makes plain that the infiltrators of the Christian fellowship were sexual offenders in some aspect. They are described as lascivious (Jude 1:4) and as filthy dreamers (Jude 1:8).

All sexual sin explodes in a flood of tears for the repentant, and a raging, eternal fire for the reprobate.

How to contend for the Faith

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:

  1. They were before of old ordained to this condemnation.
  2. They turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.
  3. 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.

Change that proves eternal verities

Jude - Fifth in a series

From Jude's perspective, everything had changed. He was born when Jews and Gentiles were separate by God's command, slaves were not fortunate people, and women and men differed in measured value, but now there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female (Gal 3:28). In Christ all are one and each one is a new creature (2 Cor 5:17), by confession that He is Lord.

Yes, it happened just as Scripture promised, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. (Ez 36:27, 28)

Walking in God's laws; keeping his commands and doing them— now, with the Holy Spirit, it shall be done!

The Lord was plain that the law was not set aside by his coming, yet at times it seemed that way. In dietary laws and sacrificial observances, there was a new understanding. Christ himself was the passover lamb and few restrictions were observed in what might be eaten, yet other laws were unchanged.

It would be impossible to navigate all these changes without the Holy Spirit who brought to Jude's mind the words of Jesus (John 16:13).

Funny, in certain matters there were no changes. For example, the people of the Lord were still vastly outnumbered. With Israel it was never survival of the fittest but of the weakest in terms of numbers, weapons and steeds. Now more than ever it would be survival by God's power to save and by his sovereign plan.

Major differences in how evildoers were to be dealt with had developed over the centuries. In Israel's past, idolatrous nations were decimated to enable the Hebrews' survival, and rebels against God's laws were dealt with severely. Now, enemy nations were in control of the ancient nation of Israel, and the evildoer in the midst of God's new nation must be tested, at times shunned, or, Jude will say, clearly discerned [edited 7-5], for indeed, knowledge is power. How different the circumstances and commands! Yet in the flood of change, the steadfast love of the Lord endured.

Jude begins his purpose statement with the term of endearment, "Beloved." Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)

Twice more in his letter he addresses the readers as "beloved." There is a musical cadence of three beats to the measure throughout, as Jude expresses what is in his heart. We will find:

  • Three defining characteristics of the ungodly men who have crept in among the believers; (Jud 1: 4)
  • Three examples of how God historically has dealt with rebels; (Jud 1: 5-7)
  • Three further descriptions of the "filthy dreamers"; (Jud 1:8)
  • Three points about their behavior and nature; (Jud 1:10)
  • Three examples from Scripture of like-minded men; (Jud 1:11)
  • Four analogies comparing these evil men to ugly or terrifying scenes from the earth and heavens, but these are within a list of nine aspects of their behavior; (Jud 1:12-16)
  • Followed by three final observations about these mockers; (Jud 1:17-19)
  • Then three words of advice on how believers need to build up their hearts in the faith, to withstand the influence of the false brothers; (Jud 1:20-21)
  • Three tactics for dealing with those who have fallen under the spell of the infiltrators, plus advice on how to regard such missions; [edited 7-5] (Jud 1:22-23)
  • Followed by words of assurance, adoration and praise, of course, nine in full. (Jud 1:24-25)

The reason for all these three's is to uphold the faith ONCE delivered, as stated in Jude 1:3. This instance of the word "once" connotes one time, once, once for all in the Greek. There would be no new revelations. (Heb 9:26, 28; Heb 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18)

It may be of interest to the reader to review E. E. Bullinger's insights in his Number in Scripture chapter onThree.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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