Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
“Sanctified by God the Father… preserved in Jesus Christ…” – The firey words of Jude find their basis in this verity of God’s ever-present salvation for His own. They are pure words, sanctioned by God Himself for the use of those sanctified by HIM; they are the unerring and skillful arrows of the Captain’s quiver against the enemies of He who by HIS own mighty hand preserves His saints. They are a calling unto the called, that their obedience to the gospel would develop and flower into an obedience in it by the contention for it. And this contention begins at the house of God, which is the true battleground for the faith.
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. 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.
Overt depravity is the inevitable outcome of an impotent religious grace. “…turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” – There is not a more apt description of the hypocrisy within the self-made heart; a heart which regards the grace of Christ according to the flesh and so denies His great power by instead walking in its own. When men so mistake the grace of God for laciviousness, they choose to walk not in grace; but by their own means they seek to perfect themselves according to their own standards, calling it holiness. And rather than giving grace unto others so that true holiness might be seen, they lay burdens upon men too great to bear; according to which none can attain the righteousness of God which is by faith. It is through this circumventing of God’s grace that they deny Him, even the Lord Jesus Christ, leaving both themselves and others to wallow in the flesh. Saul of Tarsus was such a man: “According to the flesh, blameless” – but we regard Christ not according to the flesh any longer. Those things which Paul later counted loss, these men would still count aquisitions.
[The Greek for “turning” here is μετατίθημι (Str. 3346) – meaning to change, remove, translate, or turn something.]
The thing which Jude contends for the defence of is the the gospel – “THE faith once delivered to the saints.”
We make ourselves an enemy of this faith when we give not freely that which we freely received; and until we repent unto God, renewing faith toward Christ, we have put ourselves under the curse of the law for having counted common the blood of the covenant through such a blatant lack of its use. For to live in such a sore disregard of the faith, through which alone we have access to the grace wherein we stand, is to walk in unbelief. It is a posture of heart which keeps not our first estate of being seated in the heavenlies in Christ, but leaves behind that rightful habitation in order to commit fornication with the man-made religion of earth and all of this present world’s corruption. This is why man’s every religious institution becomes a house of filth; for in not being the spiritual kingdom within the hearts of the redeemed (which consists not in talk but in power), they are necessarily built upon the sinking sands of the flesh and of earthly wisdom. It is the mark of the whoring daughters of Babylon: who seek to ascend of their own volition and so persecute those whose strength is God Himself; mocking the ones who trust not in man, but in God.
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.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation (apostacy – to leave one’s post), he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 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 (of said apostacy), suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
For the gospel of Christ is that by which He touches our eyes unto seeing all things from our heavenly abode by faith. By this alone are we cleansed, and even is our flesh saved; and through the same faith we submit to the dominion of the kingdom of God within ourselves, always accepting the word of the Lord from the mouth of His true dignities. Therefore, those who mock the grace of God and so deny this faith, supposing that they have found godliness without surrendering to the working of God’s grace: these sear their own consciences through the constant denial of their ever-present sin, which has been neither purged nor covered; and they cannot see in their high-minded rebuke of sinners that their own guilt yet remains. They speak little and lowly of grace, for they know it not except according to the feeling of the flesh; and within the walls of their whitewashed tombs they rot away in the very corruption which they suppose to be their deliverance.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Those who walk not both under and by the grace of God walk accursed. Such a curse was the lot of Ham’s lineage, who, rather than gracefully submitting his father’s indiscretion to the Lord, impiously aired the matter to his brothers instead…
And Noah, a man of the ground, began and planted a vineyard. And he drank from the wine, and was drunk. And he uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father. And he told his two brothers outside.
Genesis 9:21-22 (LITV)
Such are the actions of the arrogant, who dwell in a world of offence and brute reaction where the scandal of their own sins is buried beneath a ruinous facade of self-defined virtue. Ham’s gross impropriety regarding the sin of his father was the very revelation of his own great wickedness. For if he had done as his brothers did, then Noah would have awoken covered, and offered a sacrifice of thanks unto God for the prudence and integrity of his younger son. But as it was, Ham bears the blame for the curse of his own progeny; whereas the other sons of Noah showed wisdom in the grace of God, even that love after the manner of Christ which covers a multitude of sins, unto a blessing.
And Shem and Japheth took a garment and put it on both their shoulders. And they went backward and covered the nakedness of their father, their faces backward. And they did not see the nakedness of their father.
And Noah awoke from his wine. And he came to know what his younger son had done to him. And he said, “Cursed be Canaan. He shall be a slave of slaves to his brothers.”
And he said, “Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem; and may Canaan be his slave. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall live in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be their slave.”
Genesis 9:23-27 (LITV)
The inability or refusal of men to grow into and walk in the grace of God in the midst of the brethren is telling that they do not behold their own iniquity as being so vile that it requires recompense on the very account of God. If they have not entered into the Lord’s fold by way of HIS cross, then they are theives and robbers. These are they who make offerings unto God, but not according to His mercies; they desire reward in the things of God, but seek it not according with the heavenly kingdom; they have great zeal, but not according to the knowledge of Christ. They speak much of holiness, but produce only the dead works of the fleshly heart; they speak much of righteousness, but display only the hypocrisy of man’s religion. They claim to have life, but give birth only to the corruption of their own shame; they seek to lead the way, but drive men only into confusion…
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
The ungodly thing being illustrated here is foremost a man-made religious spirit. Cain offered the works of his own hands and the fruit of the accursed ground as though it were holy unto the Lord. Balaam took the riches of the world for the riches of God at the price of perverting the word of God. Core (Korah, the son of Izhar) was dissatisfied with the way and the leading of God; so he slandered the Lord’s command through Moses and lead a rebellion in which thousands out of Israel perished (Numbers ch 16).
He who speaks from heaven will judge between men. He is transcendent of man’s every imagined paradigm; and He is the leveler of man’s every device by which they seek to undermine His preeminence. No one is excused before Him; for no creature is unrevealed before His sight, and He has not excluded Himself from being sought out by each one.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,
“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints (holy ones), to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
The ungodly are those whom God Himself does not make Godly. They rather seem to make themselves Godly; but this is not the true gate and way unto life. These are they who mind earthly things, seeking the deliverance of their own hands, following after worldly wisdom, living by the power of their own imaginations in the name of Christ Jesus: seducing His people to share in their hypocrisy unto boundless corruption. The appetite of religion is the great overreaching appetite of all sinful flesh: it is anything but the means of God as the means of godliness, and thereby it becomes anything but God Himself as the true object of worship. What men dream, say, and build unto the flattering of their own hearts and minds becomes the very word of the Lord to them; and what the Lord truly says becomes an obstacle to their plans.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
“These be they who separate themselves: sensual, having not the Spirit.” – It is not the Word of God which divides these men soul from spirit, but only themselves. They discern themselves, but not according to the word of Christ. Thus the lusts after which they walk are the result of their ungodly self-suffuciency. The neglect and replacement of God’s inner working by the Spirit for fleshy means and worldly device renders men unable to work out their salvation; for God is not even working that salvation in them according to His good pleasure. What the sword of the Spirit ought to be doing within them, they have not allowed. They may think themselves to be wielders of that mighty weapon; but truly no man wields the word of the Lord, the word of the Lord wields men. It is the contrite in heart who tremble at His word that are made instruments of its work; but those who do not fall upon the word of Christ will be fell upon by Him.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
“…hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” – This speaks of the spotless garments of righteousness given to us by our Lord at His cross, according to which we have our identity in His kingdom. Those who follow after the ungodly ones here described will inevitably render their garments filthy, tattered and trampled under foot unto great loss in the coming kingdom. The mixture of the heavenly with the earthly, the mixture of the gospel with dead works, the lowering of God’s grace into an unworthy or insufficient means of righteousness: these are all unto the spotting and rejection of keeping the purity of that identity – even unto disrobement.
Try to deliver the ones who are so lead astray; but turn away from those who so lead them astray. For these deceivers defile the consciences of men in every way; for by glorying in the arm of the flesh while calling it the Spirit of God, they are left prey to its every weakness. By this they betray that they themselves both reason and walk according to the flesh, both denying and knowing not what evils still dwell in the secret places of their own hearts. And regarding the very things in which they stand condemned, they even exhort other men in hypocrisy. It is the shame of their own hidden deeds about which they speak, it is the darkness of their own hearts which they project. The light in them is darkness; and how great is that darkness! For they behold not Christ, but themselves; and they fear not God, but men.
For many walk as the enemies of the cross of Christ, of whom I often told you, and now even weeping I say it: whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and who glory in their shame, those who mind earthly things. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body of humiliation, for it to be conformed to HIS body of glory, according to the working of HIS power, even to put all things under HIMself.
Philippians 3:18-21 (LITV)