Tuesday, 21 July 2020
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude -4
Jude just wrote that the purpose of the letter is for his reader “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” With that main thought now in mind, he explains why this was necessary. As you read, consider that these words have come within the first generation after the Lord completed His work. Jude, being a brother of the Lord, is warning against such things at this early date.
Further, the idea conveyed here is closely aligned with the word of Peter in his second epistle –
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1
And so, he begins with, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed.”
The verb pareisduó, translated as “crept in unnoticed,” is found only here in the Bible. It signifies to enter alongside, meaning secretly or under pretense. One could think of someone joining a party by coming in the side door. Nobody saw him come in, but he is there as if an invited guest. These are the ones who, as Peter says, “secretly bring in destructive heresies.”
Both men are admonishing believers to be on guard, and to watch for those who stealthily come into the church and who start twisting things, perverting that which has been set and established by the word of God. What they teach, however, is so seemingly innocuous that it is almost imperceptible at first. Of this sort, Jude says, “who long ago were marked out for this condemnation.”
The word translated as “long ago” gives the sense of the event having been set beforehand – be it from eternity past, or just an extended period of time. It is an indefinite time, but without further clarification the “when” of the matter is unknown. All that can be discerned is that these people were “marked out” long ago for condemnation.
The word, prographó, translated as “marked out,” signifies “written before.” It can signify one of two things: 1) literally written out before in time, or 2) it is an open and public thing, as if on display. The first option is probably what is on Jude’s mind. He has said that it was “long ago.” Therefore, it is probably referring to warnings that had already been noted by others that these sorts of people would creep in. But it was also known that, by their actions, they would be set for condemnation.
The sort of condemnation will be explained in the coming verses as Jude gives several examples of such people from past history, and then he will tell of the judgment that came upon them for their vile conduct. This is what is expected for those who creep into the church with similar conduct.
Of these sort, Jude calls them, “ungodly men.” The word signifies those who are impious, wicked, and ungodly. A sad note concerning this is that Paul, using the same Greek word, says in Romans 5:6 that, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
The difference here is that these people not only are ungodly, but they purposefully continue in their ungodliness, even when they know what the truth of God in Christ is. They actively come into the church with the intent to destroy it from within. As Jude says of them, “who turn the grace of our God into lewdness.”
Paul noted that Christ died for the ungodly. The ramification of his words is obvious – Christ had to die because of our deeds which are contrary to what God expects. If this is so, then our deeds were an offense to God. Therefore, when we realize this, we are to come to Christ and then turn from those wicked deeds. As Paul says in Romans 6:1-4 –
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
However, Jude’s words show that these people intentionally will continue on in their ungodliness, even after knowing that it is the very thing that necessitated the cross of Jesus Christ. Because of this, he says they “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In these words, some manuscripts leave out the word “God.” In 2 Peter 1 (above), there is only the denial of the Lord. If the word “God” is accurately omitted, then the Greek would be more in accord with Peter’s words. Either way, the argument is not changed to a great extent when it is clearly understood that Jesus is God. When one denies Jesus, they also deny God (for example, see 1 John 2:22, 23).
With this understood, Jude’s words signify that Christ died for sins. To continue on in sinning is to then deny Jesus Christ – meaning all that His life and work signify. It is a rejection of Him, and it thus is a rejection of God who sent Him. There can be no hope for a person who knows they are an offense to God, and yet they willfully and purposefully deny that their actions are wrong.
The gospel says that Christ died for our sins. If we deny that our actions are sinful, then we have not received the gospel. Thus, such people have been long ago marked out for condemnation. This is the idea behind Jude’s words. He is not referring to those who struggle with sin, knowing it is sin and receiving Christ’s pardon for it. He is speaking of those who ignore the pardon and secretly bring in the heresies that indicate living in a continued state of sin is acceptable.
Life application: A person who creeps into a church as described by Jude is comparable to a thief breaking in. Heretics come in stealthily and set themselves up as if they belong where they are. But their actions are entirely opposed to the truth of Scripture.
They are no different than Judas who betrayed Jesus. In John 13, it says that when Judas went out to betray Jesus “… some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, ‘Buy those things we need for the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor.” In other words, even those who lived and associated with him didn’t know the true type of person he was.
This is the trouble with not knowing the Bible properly. If you aren’t soundly grounded in Scripture, then a heretic can have complete control over your future theology. This has happened throughout the Christian age and examples from the recent past are enough to fill a swimming pool – Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White, Charles Tazz Russell, David Koresh, James Jones, Gene Robinson, and on and on.
The list of those who are ungodly and who turn the “grace of our God into lewdness” is appallingly long. In the end, they “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” They don’t usually do this with their lips, but rather with their actions.
Be careful who you listen to. Check what you are taught, and be wise in your understanding of God’s word.
Heavenly Father, please grant us the wisdom to pursue your word now so that when a false teacher comes along, we will be able to identify him as the stealthy thief he really is. Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. But in the end, he is filled with lies and wickedness. Keep us from such people so that we will always be secure in You. Amen.