The Expository Files

 

Bad Men

Jude 3


 

“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 licentiousness and deny the only
Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

                                                                    Jude 3

The apostle Peter (in 2 Pet. chapters 2 & 3) and Jude (in the brief letter that bears his name) wrote with a great sense of urgency about very bad men. These sections of the New Testament were written to sound an alarm for that generation of Christians, but not limited to ancient times.

There may be some temptation to limit that teaching to the first century time frame, thinking that these bad men were a problem then, but not today. Note, however, the statement of the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 2:1: “…there will be false teachers.” John echoes this: “many false prophets have gone out into the world,” (1 Jno. 4:1). There is no reason to relax. This is all relevant to our time, and we ought to have a sense of urgency combined with careful discretion based on God’s Word.

“…certain men have
crept in unnoticed…”


This world would be a very different place if everybody was pure and honest and unselfish and if there were no individuals who desire to creep in among good people and cause trouble. Of course, the news industry might struggle to find stories. We would not need so many people, and all the money tied up in criminal justice. Emergency rooms wouldn’t be so busy. But neighborhoods would be safer; churches would be better; marriages would be happier If everybody in the world was pure, honest, and unselfish. Wouldn’t it be great if nobody had any desire to sneak around and cause trouble?

That’s Not Our Reality! And the current presence of evil in the world is not new. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and they brought upon themselves and others a variety of consequences.

Choice to sin continued after them, though not because of them. In world conditions before the flood, in the building of the tower of Babel, and throughout the ages until now, people choose against God’s will to engage in their self-will.

People rebel against God, aggressively pursue their own interests, and though it is not widely acknowledged, God decided long ago that these people stand condemned and worthy of punishment. People continue to sin and to turn the grace of God into licentiousness, and deny both the Father and the Son. The problem is sin – not obeying God. As long as that problem is here, bad men will be here (and many will follow them, 2 Pet. 2:2).

So in the time when Jude wrote this epistle there were “certain men” who had “crept in unnoticed.”

Even in a religious or church setting – Not everybody who seeks our confidence is trustworthy and godly.

We shouldn’t be extreme and be paranoid and suspicious and closed toward everybody. But there is an awareness we need to have as individuals in a world where there is sin. Some of the people who seek us and appeal to us are not seeking us for good purpose. And, as a church, there is a sense of caution and safety we need to have instead of impulsively and automatically embracing anybody who seeks our confidence. Certain men can get into our lives, families and churches (and women for that matter) and do considerable damage before detection! Peter and Jude want us to use God’s Word to do the early detection work. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves,” (Matt. 7:15).

Paul addressed the church at Rome.

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Rom. 16:17-18).

What we are talking about now is disturbing, and there may be some emotion in us that could cause us to ignore this, deny this, or turn away from this reality. But the Bible doesn’t report these things to us in vain, or simply as a matter of history.

There are ungodly men who creep into our lives and our churches – and their agenda is, to turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny God and deny Christ. There are men and women in modern religion who are false teachers ~ they have no commitment to tell you what the Bible says.

There are people who seek an entrance into our lives, who want a platform to “speak perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (See also Prov. 2:12). This is why Paul said to the Ephesian elders, “Watch . . . take heed to the flock.” And the reality then and today is as described in Romans 16 – men who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which we have learned.

This is not pleasant. It is distasteful, but it is immature and naïve to ignore the reality of sin that is present in the world in so many different forms.

Jude wrote with a sense of urgency when he said, “certain men have crept in unnoticed…” God – long before these men crept in – had determined and decreed, that individuals like this be punished. These men “long ago” were “marked out for this condemnation.” That simply means God, by His sovereign decree, has made it clear, those who rebel against His will, in the absence of repentance, face “condemnation.” The ungodly will not be rewarded with the godly, in the ultimate divine judgment. What do these men do?

“Turn the grace of God into
licentiousness…”


Before going any further, this sounds shocking to godly people: turning the grace of God into licentiousness? To take something like the grace of God and based on that, lead people away from God is the very bottom level of rebellion against God and moral destruction to men.

These ungodly men crept in among Christians. Jude is putting his brethren on alert to this and calling them to action.

Now, it is exceedingly important for us to know what this means because, it is still happening today. Have you ever heard something like this:

Don’t worry so much about sin;
Don’t be so uptight about Bible
authority, or following the
Scriptures . . . Relax; you
are covered by the grace
of God!!

Have you heard that? What’s worse is, that kind of argumentation is often made by religious leaders, by popular evangelists. Obedience is minimized and Bible authority is rarely brought up.

If you want to follow the teachings of the Bible, you are labeled as a legalist. The tough exposure of sin is simply not done in some very popular religious programs and the claim is, the grace of God should give us such peace and safety – We don’t need to worry about sin, or religious error.

That kind of preaching and teaching finds an eager audience. If you talk to people about backing off from obedience, and relaxing and giving up any concern for what is scriptural, that kind of thing is celebrated.

But it is not what the Bible says about the grace of God, and we shouldn’t let men creep into our thinking with this licentious encouragement. Often, when people today talk about the Grace of God – they are not saying what the Bible says. That’s one reason why we need to be Bible readers! So when people talk about something in the Bible ~ we will be able to tell if they are right or not.

Want some clarity about this? Near the end of Romans chapter five, Paul praises God for His grace that makes it possible for us to be forgiven: Rom. 5:17-21.

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the One, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You see here that Paul speaks of the grace of God through Jesus Christ – making it possible for us to be saved from sin. And he says – God’s grace is more than sufficient to save us from sin – “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

Now that’s great. But there is a tendency of thought about this Paul wants to warn us about. That typical tendency about grace is to assume, since we have this abundance of grace, we don’t need to worry about sin. Some will go so far as to say, we can continue in sin and some may even argue we should, to advertise how gracious God is. Paul answers (Rom. 6:1-2):

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

The grace of God expressed in the death of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to be forgiven, but should never be used, as an excuse to sin.

When people talk about the grace of God, and in the same sentence – encourage sin or error, they are not saying what the Bible says about grace. When popular TV preachers and authors brush aside the exposure of sin and the calls to respect Bible authority – naming the grace of God – they are not telling the truth.

These men – Jude tells us about – were not only ungodly, they were promoting ungodliness, turning the grace of God into licentiousness. We ought to be on guard against that very thing, yet today. What else do these bad men do?

“deny the only Lord God and our Lord
Jesus Christ.”


I looked up that word “deny,” and the simple definition is – saying “no.” It may mean saying “no” to the existence of God and the reality of Jesus Christ. In this case, these men who crept in probably didn’t boldly deny the existence of God. But in their teaching, their lives and their influence, they were saying “no” to the authority of God, and the authority of Jesus Christ.

I want to say what we should say “no” to, and I want to do that, by taking us to another passage in closing: Tit. 2:11-15.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,

We learn something about the grace of God in this text. The grace of God forgives us of past sin when we obey the gospel. THEN, after that - the grace of God teaches us To Deny Ungodliness!! We are taught to deny, to say “no” to ungodliness, in whatever form it may appear.

Say YES to God.
Say YES to Christ.
Say YES to the writings given by the Holy Spirit.
Say NO to ungodliness and worldly lusts.

Paul said, “Speak these things, and rebuke with all authority…”

Here’s the danger. Mark it well:

“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 licentiousness and deny the only
Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Why was this written by Jude? And what do we need to take from this? It was written by Jude out of his concern that Christians would be deceived and damaged by ungodly men! It becomes, for us today, a reality check; an alarm for us to carry in our minds and in our dealings with people. Particularly in our exposure to the religious world. Not everybody who offers themselves to you have a genuine interest in your spiritual welfare.

It is naïve to just embrace everybody who claims or professes to help you, to counsel you, to teach you more perfectly. We need to have some defensiveness and protectiveness about our relationship with God, and not let just anybody influence us.

The Christian’s response will be to earnestly contend for the faith.

And, there is such an important lesson to be learned from this verse about the grace of God. We must be on the alert lest anyone deceive us or mislead us into sin in the name of the grace of God.

The way to keep that from happening is, be informed by God’s Word. Know what it says about the grace of God. And become engaged in receiving His grace through the activity of your faith in Christ. Then add to that faith and say “no” to sin.

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 18.3; March 2011

 

 

 

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