For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (5) Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (6) And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— (7) just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
TRUTH IN FOCUS
Our Lord Christ is not surprised when false teachers attempt to sway His people away from the truth of the Gospel. Much to the contrary and long ago, God designated the false teachers precisely for the condemnation awaiting them. And, as the Scripture declares, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18:25). False teachers rail against the Gospel. But even their wicked deeds are ordained of the Lord to fulfill His plan and purpose. They shall “burned up in the brightness of His coming.”
False teachers are part of the constant struggle in which the Lord’s church finds herself on a continual basis. Christ promised that false prophets would rise up, Paul, Peter, Jude and others all warned us that false professors and false teachers would make their way into the inner life of the church.
Jude reminds the reader that false professors are part of the sovereign plan of God. He certainly is using them to strengthen the church, equipping her to better articulate the true and saving Gospel.
The end of the false teacher is already known. No matter their false message, their popularity, their influence among the weak and deceived, the false teachers will experience the wrath of God on the day day of His wrath. Of this, Jude is certain.
V. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
A. “certain people” have “crept in unnoticed” – Jude is dealing with a worsening problem within the churches. False teachers had positioned themselves in positions of authority within the church. Many of them had done so without showing their true intentions, allowing them to earn trust among the various congregations.
Peter deals with a similar issue in his second epistle:
2 Peter 2:2 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
False teachers always feed the flesh, puff up the pride of man, and turn eyes away from Christ and His finished work.
B. “who long ago were designated for this condemnation” – False teachers do not take the Lord by surprise! Consider Judas, the great betrayer of Christ. While in prayer, Christ told the Father that He had kept His disciples, save Judas, from destruction. Consider the words of Christ:
John 17:12 – While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
The false teachers serve the purposes of Almighty God! Even in the midst of their folly, God uses their intended wicked for His glory:
Proverbs 16:4 – The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
What is the purpose of God for the false teachers? Scripture sheds light on this issue as well. God is sovereign over the affairs of men, whether those men be righteous in Christ or part of the reprobate wicked:
Jeremiah 18:6 – “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
God is the Divine Potter, able to do with the clay (all creation including humankind) as He chooses. This motif is continued by the Apostle Paul in Romans nine:
Romans 9:21-24 – Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (22) What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, (23) in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory (24) even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
The condemnation of the false teachers is, as Jude wrote, designated by the Sovereign God from long ago.
C. “Pervert the Grace of God” – False teachers always emphasize the flesh. The word utilized in the Scripture lesson is “sensuality.” The King James Version uses the term ”lasciviousness.” Either term describes an individual who is completely turned over to fleshly desire and wantonness.
The grace of God is perverted, the Gospel message butchered, any and every time someone attempts to add human effort to the equation!
Consider Paul’s warning in Galatians chapter one:
Galatians 1:6-9 – I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is
preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
While there is no shortage of specific heresies to which we could speak, ancient and modern, this one constant is always visible: False Teachers foolishly attempt to add fleshly works to the grace and mercy of God in Christ. The resultant abomination is always a non-saving doctrine from hell that magnifies the will, plan, power, and purpose of fallen man at the expense of the glorious work of Christ on Calvary’s tree.
‘Sensuality’ refers to the desires of the flesh. And my! Flesh loves to glory, loves to have its share of the spotlight, and just thrives for selfish gain and glory, while detesting any notion of submission to God’s Word.
Psalm 10:3 – For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
The heart of man is ripe ground for the deception of false teaching concerning the Gospel. While pop psychology tells us all to “follow our hearts,” the Scripture warns us concerning our fallen nature!
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Those who turn people away from the true and saving Gospel of God’s Free and Sovereign Grace are lumped into the “Gospel perverts” category! The Gospel is ours to proclaim, but not to alter!
V. 5-7 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (6) And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— (7) just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
A. “Jesus…saved a people out of the Land of Egypt” – Jude reminds the people that Jesus is Savior, acting in this capacity in types and shadows even in the physical salvation of the Children of Israel during the great Exodus.
Who was saved? Were not both wicked and faithful brought forth out of the land of Egypt together?
B. “afterward destroyed those who did not believe” – Of all Christ brought out of the land of Egypt, only two (that’s right, two!) of the original band and number made it through to the land of promise. Consider John Gill’s commentary on this passage:
“their carcasses fell in the wilderness by one judgment or another upon them; so that of all that came out of Egypt, but two entered into the land of Canaan: this shows the evil nature of unbelief; and that God will not suffer sin to go unobserved in any; no outward privileges and profession will screen any from divine vengeance; God sometimes makes severe examples of mere nominal professors; nor must false teachers, deniers of Christ, and perverters of his Gospel, expect to go free: moreover, it may be observed, that God may do great things for persons, and yet after all destroy them; great riches and honors may be conferred on some, great natural gifts on others; some may seem as if they had the grace of God, and were brought out of spiritual Egypt, and enjoy great mercies and favors, and have many deliverances wrought for them, and yet at last perish.”
Jude’s point is simple: Just because false teachers/false brethren are found in the fellowship of a church, does not mean God will turn a blind eye and deaf ear toward their rebellion. False teachers will be judged by Christ in the same way He laid waste to the unfaithful number among the children of Israel. The picture painted by the Exodus vibrantly portrays the end of those who love not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
C. “Angels…left their proper dwelling…” – Jude here speaks of the rebellion of the angels, no doubt led by the devil. God cast them out of His presence, holding them until the day of judgment:
2 Peter 2:4-10a For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (5) if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (6) if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; (7) and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (8) (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); (9) then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, (10a) and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
D. “Sodom and Gomorrah” – For good measure, Jude writes concerning the sure judgment of God against sin by reminding the reader of the fate of those famous dens of iniquity, Sodom and Gomorrah.
Notice how he likens the false teachers’ doctrinal error with the unmentionable sins of Sodom and Gomorrah! Undoubtedly, false doctrine raises the same stench as any the world’s worst offenses against God.
This is further reason why faithful congregations need to boldly stand up for doctrinal fidelity. Doctrinal cohesion and purity are not merely peripheral issues to take or leave, neither are they elective battles to be fought only when convenient. Christians must stand firm against all forms of doctrinal compromise and error, earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints!
E. “Eternal fire” – The judgment of God poured out against Sodom and Gomorrah is was final. The fire that consumed those cities was the capstone, the final end of their existence for all time. The fire was an extinction-level event so awful, that even Lot’s own daughters mistook the destruction of these cities as proof positive the end of the world was upon them!
In much the same fashion, the false teachers will experience the judicial wrath of God. His sure and fiery wrath will descend upon all those who shake the fist at His majesty.
Jude reminds the church that false believers have always co-mingled with the true believers, illustrating his point with references to the Great Exodus out of Egypt. Even though they all appeared to the naked eye to be part of the true household of faith, only the smallest remnant made it to the promised land. Christ Himself judged false professor among their number while faithfully keeping His own all the way to the land of promise.
Christ will keep His church as well. Even though there are tares among the wheat, goats among the sheep, reprobates among the justified, Christ will preserve His own because He is the Good Shepherd who will lose none of those the Father has given Him.
The end of the false teacher is certain, designated and ordained of God in accordance with His divine will and purpose.
Jason K. Boothe is pastor of Horizons Baptist Church of Piketon, Ohio. For more information concerning the ministries of Horizons Baptist Church, please visit www.horizonsbaptist.org.