We have been considering the circumstances concerning the believers Jude is writing to. Today we will continue to look at the reasons or purpose of this compelling exhortation to “contend for the faith.”
In verse 4, Jude brings to the forefront a dangerous development. In their midst – at their church services – at their fellowship gatherings – are adversaries to the faith. Paul warned the Galatians to watch out for “false brothers.” Paul warned the Romans to be on the alert for those who cause dissentions and hindrances contrary to the teaching (the faith) – who use smooth and flattering speech to deceive the unsuspecting. These are also serious matters for our time as we face an age of anti-authoritarianism - lawlessness - and worldliness – and the casting aside of absolute truth.
It is interesting how field mice when it gets cold find their way into our house. They have this uncanny ability to squeeze through the tiniest crack, freak out my wife, and get our cat and dog all wound up. Jude refers to these certain men who have crept in – squeezed in – sneaked in - unnoticed. For one thing the forces of evil can be very subtle in going about their deceptive work. There is no doubt they take their cue from Satan, the great deceiver himself who is the model ‘angel of light.’ These people Jude refers too looked and sounded Christian. They apparently blended in well at first – they knew facts about the Christian faith – but alas the tree is always known by its fruit.
We are not told who they are. They don’t have a official name like the Nicolaitans or those akin to the woman called Jezebel we read about in Revelation. Jude simply describes them as ‘godless men.’ Perhaps they were some of the deceptive itinerant teachers who were going from place to place and found their way into the churches by making a ‘good outward show’ of Christianity.
O how deceptive they were! The Scripture exhorts us to train or discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. These people trained themselves for the purpose of ungodliness. Even today a cult like the Jehovah Witnesses use their mid-week “service” to train their workers and even expose members who have broken the rules. The underlying goal of these "godless ones" Jude exposed was to win the people over to their way of thinking and acting - mar the witness of Christ - destroy the faith.
Jude gives us several facts that distinguish them as evil doers. First, they are those marked out or written about for condemnation. Jude makes a definite contrast between his beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord and those who are the objects of God’s condemnation or judgment.
Note Jude says “long ago” they were marked or written about. Perhaps this is a reference to prophecies about the coming of false teachers such as spoken by the apostles (vs. 17-18). However, I don’t see how these prophecies can be classified as “long ago” especially if Jude was written some 35 to 45 years after our Lord’s ascension. Some suggest it refers to the prophecy of Enoch which Jude referred to in vs. 14. That writing is surely “long ago” but we have to be careful about formulating views from writings outside the Bible. The Bible is inspired not extra-biblical writings.
Therefore I go with those who think this is metaphorically referring to God’s heavenly book. It is the heavenly kept register of the ungodly (Dan 7:10, Luke 10:20, Rev. 20:10). There are such books found in the ancient world which contain lists of prominent people and/or criminals.
The main point is that these people are the objects of God’s displeasure and face His wrath. The Lord knows those who are His and let everyone who knows the Lord depart from evil. The Lord’s eyes are in every place watching the good and the evil. God keeps a written record which on the last day will be opened and reviewed in the court of heaven.
Second, Jude is not afraid to call them what they truly are, “ungodly persons.” They are not devoted to God and it follows that they do not obey Him. They enter the Christian community unnoticed – overlooked – not carefully scrutinized as to their beliefs. Remember that the path of truth which has been laid down in the Word of God always leads us in the right direction. What you believe has a definite affect on how you act.
Thirdly, what do they do? They turn the grace of God into licentiousness. In other words these usurpers carry a “license or permission or a self-authorization to sin”. The context of the epistle shows us that their primary sin is that of immorality. They pursue sexual desires both aggressively and selfishly. The parallel passage in found in 2 Peter 2:7. Peter labels this license for immorality as “sensual conduct” and is attributed to the homosexual activity of the Sodomites.
The ‘godless men’ fit the bill so to speak as Paul says in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.” These godless people turn the blessings of grace into a curse of ugliness. They pervert the beautiful gift of God - sex. They wrest it out of the context of marriage beween a man and a woman. They deface the noble virtue of love, turning into a base perversion. They believe that God’s grace allows then to exercise unrestrained sexual freedom.
This mind set sadly is alive and well today being the product of the ‘free love’ mentality born in the 1960s. The proponents of such ‘freedom’ cast away personal responsibility. I make no apology to say over time this has encouraged the current homosexual assault on the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman.
This mind set is reflected in a popular TV sitcom where a student is heading off to an out of state college. As he gets ready to board the plane, his mother gives him a last hug and instead of whispering: “Honey, I love you. I wish you success in your studies and a wonderful learning experience. Stay in touch.” Rather his “liberated” mom whispers in his ear – “practice safe sex”!
The godless ones turn – they twist – the meaning of grace. One servant of God writes, “The word grace signifies God’s forgiving love whereby the sinner receives freedom to serve God and express his gratitude.” In other words, the sinner whose heart (from which springs all our thoughts and actions) is changed by grace. Being a new creation of the Spirit of God they serve a new Master, have a new purpose for living (to please God), and a new focus of concern (the priority of heavenly things). The heart changed by grace becomes a grateful heart to the Lord for His love and mercy too us. Thus those born from above seek to please the Lord in all aspects of their life.
The opposite was true of these godless people. Their so called freedom was nothing but servitude to sin and self. They contended that it was their liberty – their “Christian liberty” to satisfy their sinful desires. Rather than serve a Holy God who was to them a God of unnecessary restrictions, they served the unrestricted desire of the flesh and the unobstructed lust of the eyes. That is not Christian and not to honor God but to disgrace His grace and His Name.
The heart unchanged by grace is an ungrateful and disobedient heart at enmity with the Lord and under His condemnation.