Those who forget history, ARE doomed to repeat it. That’s what we began to see, in our last lesson, when we first opened the book of Jude, in its first thirteen verses (You can check out that lesson by clicking HERE). And we discovered that this epistle, was intended by its author, as a call to arms. A battle cry for the people of God, throughout all times, to ready themselves for war against the ungodly men who pervert the gospel, and deceive all who might listen to their false teachings.
We saw this demonstrated in three ways. First, we saw Jude draw a line in the sand, separating us, “the beloved”, from those whom he refers to as “the ungodly”. Those, being false teachers, and men, so in love with their sin, that they preached of its merits, instead of its abolishment. Second, we saw Jude begin to distinguish us from them. He begins right in verse 1, by addressing us as ‘called’, ‘sanctified’ and ‘preserved’; three words that assure us that he’s writing this epistle to true Christians. Then, in verse 3, he gives us our charge, which he says is for us, “to contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3). And the third thing we see, is Jude open up the scriptures, and make the assertion, that these men are condemned to destruction, just as many of the Old Testament examples of God’s judgment were. Including Sodom and Gomorrah, the fallen angels, and Cain.
Now, as we examine this second half of the book of Jude, we’re going to see ‘How’. We’re going to see How the ungodly are going to perish on the day of judgment. We’re going to see How, in practice, we differ from those ungodly men, who oppose the gospel, and our great God and Savior. And we’re going to see How we as Christians are “to contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3).
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, “to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Well, that didn’t take long. Here we are, only two verses into this lesson, and already, I have to preface the exegesis with a note on Jude’s source material. But these things are important, so let’s get to it. As I spoke about in the first lesson, when we came to verse 9, regarding the dispute that Michael the archangel had with Satan over the body of Moses; we saw that Jude was most likely drawing this account from an apocryphal book known as “The Assumption of Moses.” And the fact that the source material was never considered scripture, coupled with the fact that this account isn’t found anywhere else in the bible, has led some to dispute whether the book of Jude is even a part of the cannon of scripture at all. And we run into the same issue here in verses 14 & 15.
This prophecy of Enoch too, is found nowhere else in the scriptures. And this prophecy, is also taken from an extra-biblical source. The work that Jude is referencing here is that of the book of Enoch. There’s a lot of speculative information about this book, so all I can say about it, is that it was a highly regarded collection of religious Jewish writings. And at the time this epistle was written, many of those reading this letter, would have been at least moderately familiar with the book. So it’s not completely out of left field that Jude would quote a passage from it. Often, when our pastor preaches, he’ll recite a poem, or a hymn, or a quote from a person of some distinction, within the context of the subject matter. Jude is doing the same thing here. The difference, is that Jude is acting under divine inspiration from the Holy Spirit. And by God’s will, this book, and this passage, was brought to Jude’s mind, and was included in this epistle. And so, we have to understand that the inclusion of this passage doesn’t validate the entire book of Enoch as authoritative. What it tells us, is that this passage, in this context, is the word of God. That’s it.
And with that said, we can now look at the passage itself. The first thing that we see is that Jude is still taking us back into history. Look how he starts the verse, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam,” (Jude 1:14). He wants us to know that this prophecy comes from way back, even before the flood. Back when, we’re told that, “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). That’s where Jude is taking us; to a time when God’s wrath was being kindled against the whole world. But while everything up til now, in this epistle, has been a shadow of a judgment to come; now, Jude goes as far back as he can, so that he can reveal the final judgment itself. The prophecy begins, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,” (Jude 1:14). And while, obviously, we see Christ here. After all, this is a prophecy about the second coming, when Jesus will return in judgment, and to bring about the new heavens and the new earth. Notice the focus of the passage; why does the Lord come? “To execute judgment on all…” (Jude 1:15). Jude is still focused on the ungodly men. He tells us that, “Enoch… prophesied about THESE men” (Jude 1:14). And look at what the prophecy says; if you wonder why Jude would choose this passage beyond the entirety of the rest of the scriptures, or any other work that he might have drawn from, consider what this passage says; and pay close attention to the words ‘all’ and ‘ungodly’, each of which are used four times. “To execute judgment on ALL, to convict ALL who are ungodly among them of ALL their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of ALL the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:15). What we see here is a complete, and final, and certain judgment on the ungodly,… ALL of them. We’ve seen this before in scripture, in the gospel of Matthew, and 2 Thessalonians. But we see a more complete view of Christ’s judgment, one that Jude is pointing us towards, affirmed by the apostle John, in the book of Revelation:
Revelation 19:11-14, 19-21
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who receive the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
The beast’s armies here, “the rest who were killed with the sword” (Revelation 19:21), are these ungodly men that Enoch prophesied about; the same men that Jude has been writing about, and is still writing about. Jude is showing us two things about these men. One, is that they can not win. Jesus wins. For all their efforts, and all their scheming, they end up facing an everlasting torment, which they can never escape. The second thing that Jude is showing us, the same thing he’s been showing us since verse 4, is what these men look like. The reason that Jude is doing this, is because he wants us to be able to recognize these men when we see them. To recognize these men for what they are, so that we can separate ourselves from them, and to separate them from the rest of the church, for the sake of preserving the unity of the body. He wants us to know these men so well, that he goes into even more detail describing them in the next section, beginning in verse 16:
These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Jude has now spent well over half this epistle describing who these ungodly men are, which he concludes with this passage. He’s been showing us how these men differ from us, and why they’re not of us. And all of this, being an explanation of why he felt he couldn’t write about that which he desired to in the first place, which he explains in verse 3. “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). And from that compulsion, Jude goes on for the next sixteen verses to describe these ungodly men who, he says, “have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 1:4). Which seems like a rather odd statement considering just how much Jude has told us about them.
Let’s quickly look at all of the traits that Jude has shared with us about these men. He says they “turn the grace of God into lewdness” (v.4), “they deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.4). He says that they’re “dreamers” (v.8), that they “defile the flesh” (v.8), “reject authority” (v.8), “speak evil of dignitaries” (v.8), which we saw means “revile angelic majesties” (v.8 NASB). We’re told they “speak evil of whatever they do not know” (v.10), and that they ‘corrupt themselves in what they know naturally’ (v.10). “They have gone in the way of Cain” (v.11), they’re ‘greedy’ (v.11), ‘rebellious’ (v.11), they “feast with [us] without fear” (v.12), “[serve] only themselves” (v.12). He refers to them as “spots in [our] love feasts” (v.12), “clouds without water” (v.12), ‘twice dead trees, without fruit’ (v.12), ‘waves foaming up shame’ (v.13), and “wandering stars” (v.13). He says they ‘commit ungodly deeds in an ungodly way’ (v.15), ‘they speak harsh things against [God]’ (v.15). They’re ‘grumblers and complainers’ (v.16), they “walk according to their own [ungodly] lusts” (vv. 16 & 18), “they mouth great swelling words” (v.16) and they ‘flatter people to gain advantage’ (v.16). Jude calls them “mockers” (v.18), and says that they are “sensual persons, who cause divisions” (v.19), and that they ‘do not have the Spirit’ (v.19). And with all that said, Jude still tells us that they “have crept in unnoticed” (Jude 1:4). It seems to me, that if men like this are creeping into any church unnoticed, then they people of God just aren’t looking hard enough, if at all. Just listen to this quote from John Calvin:
“And at this day I wish there were more judgment in some good men, who, by seeking to be extremely kind to wicked men, bring great damage to the whole church.” – Calvin’s Commentaries Vol.XXII, pg.441
Now, I’m not saying that you have a problem with that, in your church. But we always need to be on our guard. Look back again briefly at verse 16, to a couple of things Jude says about these men. They’re “grumblers, complainers” (Jude 1:16), “they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage” (Jude 1:16). Then in verse 19, “These are sensual persons, who cause divisions” (Jude 1:19). These men are obviously talking to somebody. It shouldn’t be all that impossible to recognize them. So we need to be on the lookout. Cause if we let our guards down, who knows what kind of wolf we might let in the door. Just look around at the news we see in the church today, and you’ll get the point. Churches are starting to overlook sins, redefine marriage, teach doctrines that are purposely found outside of the scriptures. And not just liberal churches anymore, not just the charismatic movement. What used to be evangelical, bible believing churches, are going down the same road. And where do you think something like that starts, and how? It starts with each and every one of us, not the least of all, your pastor. So let’s be sure to keep our pastors, and our church, and The Church in our prayers.
In case you missed it, this is the entire reason that Jude is writing this. He’s showing us what to look for. So that we might be equipped to deal with any false teaching, or any ungodly individual that walks through our doors. Remember verse 3, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3). So how do we do that? How do we contend earnestly for the faith? Luckily, Jude gives us some instruction. The first, he gives in verse 17, which we already read, “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:17). Just as we saw back in verse 5. The first thing that Jude turned to, the first thing that we all need to turn to, is the word of God; to the scriptures. The scriptures themselves, tell us this, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for ever good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Which stands to reason, that without the word of God, we can’t be corrected, we can’t be instructed, we may not be complete, and we won’t be equipped. Keep in mind, that’s why we’re reading this right now. To be equipped, and to be instructed by God, through Jude, on how to contend for our faith. Jude spends the next few verses to do just that, to give us instruction.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
So we see here that Jude starts off by telling us that we need to “[build] yourselves up on your most holy faith” (Jude 1:20). And we kind of run into the same problem that we had in our last lesson. How do we build ourselves up on a faith that we’re supposed to be contending for? And I believe that we need to look at this question the same way we did there. We shouldn’t look at ‘faith’ here as solely being our own personal faith. We’re not contending for ‘our’ faith, or ‘a’ faith, but “the faith” (Jude 1:3). And what foundation is the Christian faith built upon? The gospel. That is the “most holy faith” (Jude 1:20), given by God to unify us all. Paul writes this very thing to the Ephesians, when he says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). So the gospel is what we build ourselves up on. It’s foundational; all of our understanding gets built on the gospel, otherwise it could be knocked down by a breeze. By increasing our knowledge of it, we are more equipped to contend for it.
Yet, our knowledge of the gospel is not something that we attain on our own. That’s why Jude gives us the next instruction; to be “praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20). All of our strength, and ability, and wisdom, and understanding, all come from our Father, through Christ, and through His Spirit. Without communion with Him in prayer, our efforts are just broken cups; they can’t hold water. But with God; when we truly seek to do His will, there is no failure. As I said, Jude is calling us to raise up arms. We’re told the exact same thing by the apostle Paul, who tells us to, “Put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints–
Paul and Jude are giving us the same instructions. We’ve already seen Jude tell us that we always need to hold fast to the word of God, and Paul says the same thing in verse 17, which Paul calls “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Then Jude tells us to build ourselves up in the faith of the gospel. Verse 15 calls it “the preparation of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:15); but notice the terms ‘build up on’ and ‘preparation’, notice how they both have a foundational quality to them; they’re both ‘step one’. And they both tell us to be in prayer in the Spirit. If we seek to serve God, we also have to realize that His Spirit is within us. It’s not something we’re still waiting for; the Spirit is within me, and within you, and within the whole church of God. If we would just submit to the Spirit within us, we’d be so much closer to knowing something about the glory of God. Especially when it comes to reading God’s word, we need to be in prayer, seeking the will of God through His Spirit. I know it’s tempting to just move on, and read the next passage, or chapter, or book; but how many times have you just stopped and taken ten minutes, to just sit, and think about what you just read. Let God’s word really get into your thoughts and in your hearts. Meditate on these things,.. day and night as we’re told in Joshua 1:9. That’s when we’ll succeed in truly serving God.
Jude also tells us in verse 21 to, “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:21). Jude here is talking about the hope that we find in our faith. Note how it says “in the love of God” (Jude 1:21), not our love, not a general love. No. This is the love of God, and therefore it’s a perfect love. John says in his first epistle, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God poured out His wrath on Christ so that we would be sparred. In God’s perfect love, He showed us mercy, by killing His only Son. That’s what we hope in. Matthew Henry said, “Mercy is our only plea, not merit; or if merit, not our own, but another’s.” We “keep [ourselves] in the love of God” (Jude 1:21), by putting our trust in the blood of Christ, and by always seeking His mercy with repentant hearts. By that, we know that eternal life awaits us.
From there, Jude gives us some instructions on how we are to help others deal with these ungodly men, and to contend for the faith. He says, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 1:22-23). It doesn’t seem as though Jude is talking about believers here, but instead, he’s talking about those who are being swayed by the false teachings, and divisions being sown by the ungodly. Others, who may even be engaging in the sins that these men promote. So Jude tells us to “have compassion” (Jude 1:22) on some, and to “pull [others] out of the fire” (Jude 1:23). So what might Jude mean by this? If these are truly unbelievers, how else would we try to bring them out of the darkness? We only have one option, that being the gospel. We preach the gospel to these people. But we don’t do it the same way for both. Jude tells us to “[make] a distinction” (Jude 1:22). So what’s the distinction?
Ray Comfort, the evangelist who created the Way of the Master program, relates this question to a verse of scripture found in the book of James. James 4:6 says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Mr. Comfort expresses it this way, “With the law, God breaks the hard heart, and with the gospel, He heals the broken heart.” I think we can look at this passage the same way. We show compassion to those who’ve already humbled themselves. If someone is willing to receive the word, and be taught of the saving grace that can only be found in Christ, then that’s what we tell them. But if someone, is living in sin, and won’t receive the gospel, understanding their need for mercy; then we tell them about God’s judgment, and the wrath to come. Someone who has no repentance, isn’t going to respond to the gospel. They suppress the truth, so that they can go on enjoying their sin. But those with humility, who already know that God is holy, and that they are separated from Him by their sin, they need only that Jesus died on the cross to pay that penalty for them. And the language that Jude uses in verse 23, points us to Christ’s saving work, from a different perspective.
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
We can see so much of Jude in this passage. We see first, the opposition of Satan to the Lord. We see the same rebuke that Michael gave to Satan “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9, Zechariah 3:2). We see that same action of being ‘plucked’ or ‘pulled’ from the fire. And we see the filthy garments, and that through Christ, our iniquity is removed, and we now stand before Him as holy, and justified. All of this imagery, Jude uses to give us, as a demonstration of what God is doing through us, and for us. Jude completes this epistle with that very idea in the last two verses:
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
We see Jude begin this doxology with an affirmation of what we just saw in Zechariah. We are presented before the Lord Jesus Christ as holy, and blameless, and righteous, and spotless, and faultless. And we stand in His presence, and in His glory; for no other reason than because of what He’s done for us. ‘He has kept us from stumbling’ (Jude 1:24). He has removed our filthy garments. Add to that, He’s the one who presents us. The reality of that, in light of how we see ourselves now, in this fallen world, is beyond our complete comprehension, and yet, that’s what we hope in. We hope in “God, our Savior, who alone is wise” (Jude 1:25).
We have to hope in that. Because I don’t know about you, but I feel very small when I read those last words. When I read that God alone is wise, and to Him be glory and majesty, dominion and power. I used to define those words differently before I was saved. And now, I know that I may never be able to define them while I live here on this earth. Sure, I still see splendor, and power, and authority, and honor. But when I filter those words through the work of Christ on the cross, I know that I’m only seeing the slightest piece of what awaits us all in the age to come. And to know that that age is ageless. The New American Standard Bible, working from a different Greek text, translates the last sentence in verse 15 as “Before all time, now and forever” (Jude 1:25 NASB). God has no beginning, no end. And when we are presented to Him, we will be able to experience His glory, and worship Him forever. There’s still a part of me that can’t grasp the concept of ‘forever’, so how could I possibly grasp the concept of infinite wisdom, infinite glory, infinite majesty, infinite power. Well, I hope in Christ, and therefore, I don’t have to understand. I know very little about the future that awaits me, or the rest of us. But I do know the One whom I get to spend it with. The One who is unchangeable, holy, perfect and just. The One who will keep every promise He’s ever made to us, and ‘we will dwell in His house forever’ (Psalm 23:6)!