We are talking about guardrails in our short series from the book of Jude. Jude is the brother of Jesus who wanted to write to Christians about the common salvation that we share. But he needed to write to them to contend for the faith because people had crept in among them who were distorting the faith as a license to follow their own desires. But Jude does not want to see them fall into this trap. He writes in verse 21 so that they will keep themselves in the love of God. He does not want them going outside the lines and driving off the spiritual cliff to their destruction. He puts guardrails up to keep them in the love of God. So his first instruction is to struggle for the faith. There is a body of truth revealed in the scriptures that is to be believed, defended, and never distorted. The words in the Bible mean something and they are not open to everyone believing what they want to believe. We must submit to what these words say, whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not, and whether we understand it or not. This is what means to confess that Jesus is our Lord and Master. We simply follow and obey him. Now Jude is going to prove that if we do not stay in the lines of the faith delivered once for all, then we will experience condemnation. Look at Jude and we will begin in verse 5.
Three Examples (5-7)
Jude begins in verse 5 by reminding them about some things that they already know. But he needs to remind them to make an important point about our need to stay in the faith revealed in God’s word. Jude uses three examples. The first example is in verse 5. Jesus saved a people out of the land of Egypt but later destroyed those who did not believe.
Now we have to talk about Jude saying Jesus here before we can get into the meaning. Some translations read “Jesus” and some translations read “Lord.” There are many ancient manuscripts that attest to both readings and scholars are divided on which one it is. There appears to be better witnesses for the “Jesus” reading which would make sense. It is far more likely that scribes would have read “Jesus” and think they needed to correct that to “Lord” rather than read “Lord” and think they need to correct it to “Jesus.” On the surface this sounds wrong. Moses saved a people out of the land of Egypt, not Jesus. But we have studied through Exodus and we see Moses’ life symbolically representing Jesus and the work he would do for the world. Not only this, but 1 Corinthians 10 says that Christ was with Israel in the wilderness as the spiritual rock. In fact, Jude sounds like he is saying that same thing that the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:4-5. Paul says that the people drank from the spiritual rock which was Christ but most were them were overthrown in the wilderness.
So it is no problem to say that Jesus led these people in wilderness because it makes a powerful point for Jude’s first example. They had the Lord and they were saved. But then they did not believe and were destroyed. Those who were delivered from Egypt were eventually judged because they did endure in the faith. They did not stay in the lines that God gave them and went plunging to their own destruction.
The second example is found in verse 6. Angels who did not stay in their positions of authority have been kept in eternal chains until the judgment on the great day. Angels did not stay within the lines. Angels did not stay in their own lane but veered off to their own destruction.
The third example is Sodom, Gomorrah, and the rest of the cities in the plain which is recorded in verse 7. They indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire. They are also standing as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. They did not stay in the lines of the faith. They did not stay in their lane but went off to their spiritual destruction. Notice that Jude zeroes in on particular sins that afflict every culture and every group of people. Jude notes that they indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desires. Jude is showing that we cannot come along and say that these sins are acceptable. Jude is telling us that we cannot think that we are remaining in the love of God and enjoying the grace and mercy of Jesus while at the same time choosing to engage in sexual practices. Jude is condemning homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and all other forms of sexual immorality. Do not start in the faith and then believe that these practices will not lead to your spiritual destruction.
They Live Ungodly Lives (8-13)
Now Jude shows the problem even further. Look at verse 8. “In like manner these people also….” These people are doing the same as those who were saved from Egypt but did not believe and were destroyed. These people are doing the same as the angels who did not keep their proper place and were judged. These people are doing the same as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving the clearly defined lines of sexuality and plunging themselves into sexual sins. These people are following the same path to destruction as the three examples given in verses 5-7. They follow their dreams and their imaginations, believing that they are right. They claim that their thinking is their authority. But they are defiling their flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones (8). Even the archangel Michael will not do what these people who are among them do (9).
But listen to their character as revealed in verse 10. They blaspheme all that they do not understand. They scoff and disparage anything they do not understand. That is exactly our culture right now. If we do not understand it, then it must not be true. If it does not make sense to me, then it must not be truth. Truth is now anything that we personally understand and agree with. But Jude says Christians are treating the Lord and the faith in the same way. If they do not understand it, then they slander it. Do you know how many things that are true in the world that I do not understand? I do not understand calculus. Just because I do not understand does not mean it is not true or not valid. Do you know how many things are revealed in the faith, told to us in God’s word, that we either do not understand or does not make sense to us? It does not take long to look at the scriptures and see things that are mind-blowing to humans. The apostle Paul says that the love of Christ surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). Our mission is not to believe and obey only after we fully understand. Friends, what sense did it make to Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, the child of God’s promises, on an altar? There is no logic and no reasoning behind it. It does not make any sense. Did Abraham reject God’s command? Did Abraham slander what God told him to do? No, he stayed in the lines and did what he was told even though he did not understand why he was doing what he was doing or understand what God was doing.
But when we blaspheme what we do not understand then we are turning ourselves into animals. Notice in verse 10 he says that we are like unreasoning, irrational animals. This is the problem of just acting by your senses. You are nothing more than acting like an animal. Animals act on instinct. Animals act on what they understand. Jude says that if we live our lives this making, believing and making decisions based on only what we understand, we will be destroyed (10). This is the point in verse 11 also. These people are just like Cain. What did Cain do in Genesis 3? Cain when outside of what God prescribed. These people are like Balaam. What did Balaam do? Balaam went outside of what God told him to say (Numbers 22-24). These people are like Korah. What did Korah do? Korah went outside of what God said, rebelling against Moses’ leadership (Numbers 16).
The problem is that these people are among the group. They are hidden and they are destructive. They are blemishes on your love feasts, which I believe to be referring to their Lord’s Supper worship. They join with you but are like hidden reefs that lead to sinking ships. They are shepherds who feed themselves. They are useless and fruitless, giving nothing valuable to the rest of the flock. They are foaming and stirring things up. They are all looks and all noise but they have no reality, depth, or value. They are among you but they are rebellious and selfish. They pretend to be godly but they are not.
Worthy of Judgment (14-16)
The message of judgment goes all the way back to the days of Enoch. Enoch prophesied that the Lord will come with his holy ones to execute judgment on all and convict the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds. This is the unavoidable truth. God will execute judgment on all people. The ungodly will be convicted. Notice the repetition of the word “ungodly” in verse 15.
Now Jude shows us who the ungodly are with more specific descriptions in verse 16. They are grumblers. They are fault finders. They are malcontents. They follow their own sinful desires. They are loud-mouth boasters. They flatter people for their own selfish advantages so they can get their own way.
So what does all of this have to do with the need to contend for the faith? First, Jude is teaching us that following dreams, desires, feelings, and instinct is to go outside God’s guardrails and will lead to judgment. Personal desires and feelings cannot be the basis by which we look to follow the Lord. Following our desires and our way of thinking does not draw us toward God but moves us further away from God. Will we believe what God says about sexual immorality and its eternal condemnation? Or will we use our own feelings to interfere with submitting to Jesus? You see how the faith is unchanging. Yet Jude gives multiple examples of people who followed their thinking and their feelings and were destroyed in judgment. The people of Israel were saved from Egypt but perished in the wilderness. Angels decided to follow their own desires and are in eternal chains until judgment day. Sodom and Gomorrah followed their desires and were destroyed. Cain went outside of what God said and was judged. Balaam went outside of God’s word and was judged. Korah went outside of what God said and was destroyed. The repetition is to convince us that following our logic, feelings, desires, wants, and wishes puts us in the category of ungodly and will bring eternal judgment.
Contending for the faith means that we set aside our desires and feelings and consider what God has told us to think and do. I think this is really hard for us in our culture today because we are constantly told that we only do what we agree with and what we think feels good and seems good to us. Just because we do not understand why God told us to do something does not mean we do not do it. In fact, think about this idea for a moment. Shouldn’t God ask us to do things that we do not fully understand or agree with to see if we truly trust him? But we too easily reject this. We read the book of Acts and notice that everyone is being baptized as part of their response to the gospel. Peter even tells the crowds to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. But what happens? We come along and say that it does not make sense, or we don’t understand it, or it can’t be something we have to do, and it can’t be part of our journey of faith to Jesus.
Or maybe we take something like marriage with God instituted in Genesis 2. Marriage is to be covenant between a man and a woman before God that is to last for as long as we live. But we don’t understand it. What if I am unhappy? What if the other person changes? What if I don’t like what the other person does? Why must sexual relations only be in a marriage between a man and a woman? Why can’t we just divorce? What do we have to get married at all? Why can’t we just live together?
I want us to see what we do. We just change what God said because we do not like it or do not understand it. When we do this we are just like the people Jude is talking about. We slander what we do not understand (10). We are grumblers and malcontents because we don’t like what God said (16). God did not give us the truth, the faith, the word of God and then ask for a vote. God did not ask us if we agree or not. God asked us to have faith. God asked us to trust him that what he told us is good for us and right for us. God asked us to trust him that what he said will help us.
God is asking you to trust him when he tells you to put to death the old self and put on the new self that is being renewed by Jesus. God is asking us to trust him when he asks us to repent for salvation, confess him for salvation, and be baptized for salvation. God is asking you to trust him when he says to put the interests of others ahead of yourself. God is asking you to trust him when he tells us to run away from sexual immorality. God is asking you to trust him when he says to have self-control, controlling your bodies, controlling your emotions, controlling your anger, and controlling your thoughts. Following our logic or our feelings takes us outside the lines and brings outside of the grace of God. This is the message that Jude is writing to these Christians. Do not rip off the guardrails in your life and end in spiritual disaster. So many other people have done this in the past and their life stories are written down in the scriptures. Friends, listen to what Jesus said.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32 ESV)
Freedom is not in distorting the faith but believing the faith and defending the faith. Freedom is letting the truth change your life, not resisting the truth that is the word of God. What are you resisting in your life that is found in God’s word? What commands are you rejecting? What directions are you fighting against? Please do not be like these people that Jude is talking about. Do not rely on your dreams and imaginations, defiling your body, rejecting God’s authority, and slandering what you do not understand (8-10). Stay in God’s lanes and in doing so stay on the road to eternal life. Lord willing, next week we will consider what it looks like to be kept in the faith.