Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan
is Deuteronomy 5-6; Psalm 58; Luke 12
Today's scripture focus
is Jude 1:4
4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Crept in unnoticed. How scary is that? Ungodly persons who deny Jesus (maybe without even realizing it themselves) creep in and slowly steer us off into the ditch. They may have the best of intentions. They may not mean to drive people off into the ditch, or away from the truth and salvation, but that doesn't change the fact that this is what they are doing. And our repeated theme - how can we tell who these ungodly people are? Know the truth. That is the only way to recognize lies! From David Legge's sermon, The Creepers:
...there is a cancer - and always will be, until we get to glory - be a cancer, just there, ready to awake and destroy. Where does it come from? Well, the verse tells us, '...certain men crept in unawares...', infiltrators, someone has called them the active members of the Senate of Satan. Men and women who hide under the cloak of Christianity, but deep down in their souls are godless! They are good on the outside, they're maybe even - in a worldly term - godly and god-like on the outside, but within the inside they are as black as tar - dead! The frightening thing that hits me, is that outwardly many of these people - in a religious sense - get everything right. They follow the practices, they walk the walk outwardly speaking, and talk the talk - but they had sneaked into the church, and were servants of Satan himself. Like the alligator, you see it - and they're going down the river, on the TV, in the boat - and all of a sudden you see this part of the green at the side of the river that's a bit darker, and then it starts to move - and very slowly, it just creeps in underneath. That's the sense that Jude is using here of these people, 'crept in unawares', they sneaked into the church of Jesus Christ - another translation says, 'they wormed their way in'!
Look at verse 4, they are marked out by God, '...before of old ordained to this condemnation...' - that could be translated: 'long ago, beforehand they were marked out', or another translation says, 'their doom has been predicted long ago'. We shouldn't be surprised by all this stuff that's happening in the church today - why? Because not only Jude, but men before Jude - the Lord Jesus Christ Himself warned His own disciples, even in the Old Testament there are prophecies that indicate that these men are ordained for condemnation. That doesn't mean God didn't give these men a chance, or He had them marked for this one purpose, but it means this: that long ago they were prophesied to do such things - and of course, as always, God's word comes true. God had marked them out.
There are two features that show us these rascals. The first thing about them is: they lived lives of licence. '[They turned]', it says [in] verse 4, 'the grace of our God into lasciviousness' - there was an absence, in their personal walk and life, of moral restraints in their behaviour - they abused the liberty that they had in Christ. God had wiped the slate clean of their past, their present, and their future - and they thought that the slate wiped clean of their future was like a blank cheque, that they could fill in with sin for whatever they wanted. 'God's forgiven me! I can do what I like! I can live as I like! I can say what I like or go where like!' - but, of course, as Paul says 'Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?'. That's not what the grace of God is all about, the grace of God is not just forgiveness, the grace of God is a change of a person, where their heart is changed, their life is changed, their desires are changed - everything about them is changed, so much so that Paul says they become 'new creatures, a new creation in Christ Jesus'. And therefore the implication is that no man can have forgiveness if he lives a life of licence. These men had no shame, they were carnal, they flaunted their sin in a spirit of arrogance - and today we see people who take the name of Christ, churches and church leaders, who are sinning openly, and encouraging sin in the world around us. And what, perhaps, began with them as a lack of reverence for the word of God - they just didn't obey it - is now becoming an interpretation of Scripture that they take, that turns the word of God on its head and legitimises and legalises their sin. Oh, there are men who can get anything out of the word of God - using the word of God to justify their sinful lifestyle. And they were apostates that Jude is talking about - a man who thinks he's saved, but is not saved! The life of God is not in his soul, the grace of God has never reached his spirit or his conscience, and therefore Jude concludes that there is no place for such a man or a woman in the church of Jesus Christ.
Living lives of licence - and then the second thing that you see about their character is that they lived denying their Lord. 'Turning the grace of our God', verse 4, 'into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ' - their so-called Master and Messiah, they were denying Him by their actions! It could be said of many in the church of Jesus Christ today, as the Lord Jesus said, that the last state of the man is worse than the first. There are those who name the name of Christ today, and don't know if there really is a God, there are those who name the name of Christ, and don't really know if the Son of God was the Son of God, if there is life after death, if miracles really happen, if infidels really can be saved! There is one quite famous theologian who said, 'A corpse cannot come to life and climb out of the grave'. My friend, as one man put it, they have gone through the Bible and taken out its records; they have gone through the Nativity and taken out the virgin birth; they have gone through Christ's temptation and taken away His purity; they have gone through the miracles and taken out the miraculous; they have gone through Calvary and taken out the blood, they have gone through the tomb and taken away the bodily, literal resurrection; they have gone through heaven and taken out its riches; and they have gone through hell and taken out its fire!...and there is nothing left.
One of the greatest downfalls that has brought this within the church is that Christians forget to remember. You remember, when Peter was talking about these same things in his little epistle, he continually told those believers there, 'Finally...' - I beg your pardon, in Philippians 3 and verse 1, Paul - '...Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you', not something new, not some concocted new thing that God had revealed to them - it's better to say something true than something new! 'It's not grievous for me to write this unto you, but for you it is safe'. My friends, never get weary of hearing sound doctrine, never say 'Och, we've heard all that before', or, 'We know all that', or, 'We're sick hearing that' - because the moment you stop hearing it, and the moment you ignore error, as we said last week, that error and falsehood will become established! The Scripture teaches that there is no new thing under the sun, and these apostates weren't new, and their behaviour and their character weren't new at all - they haven't changed, in essence, from that day, in Jude's day, 'til today.
Sorry, I cut out a bunch, but that's pretty long. It was so interesting to me how he explained each phrase of the verse that I couldn't just pick out a paragraph or two.
Anyway, I hope you all have a great day. Happy Thursday!
Tomorrow's scripture focus
: Jude 1:5
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage
passage: Deuteronomy 7-8; Psalm 59; Luke 13