Jude: A Serious Warning From Jesus’ Half Brother

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“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude v4 NASB)

The Book of Jude in the Bible was written by the Lord Jesus’ half-brother Jude (Judas in the Greek), who is named among the Lord’s brethren in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. He is also the full brother of James, the head of the early Church in Jerusalem. Jude warns that certain people in the early church were perverting the grace of God. His message is needed today because the grace of God has been and continues to be perverted.

In verse 3, Jude says he set out to write about our common salvation, when the Holy Spirit burdened him to exhort true believers to earnestly contend for The Faith, once delivered to the saints. The term “faith” does not refer to individual faith, but to The Faith, Christianity itself, in its historic doctrines and life-giving salvation. There is only one Faith and another will not be given. Understanding this, highlights the serious danger these people presented.

In Part One, we will look at the two things the false teachers were deceitfully propagating.

In verse 4 he writes:

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed….ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

  1. They turned the grace of God into licentiousness (NASB).

We first need to look at what the “grace of God” is to understand what the false teachers corrupted.

God called us in the sphere of grace. That is when He effectually summoned us to a participation in the salvation procured by His Son on the Cross. It was on a basis, not of works, but of a salvation unmerited by us and freely bestowed with no strings tied to it, offered as a free gift to be accepted by the outstretched hand of faith. God’s ultimate purpose in offering this grace is to conform a group of people to the derived image of His Dear Son, Jesus. God said this through Paul in Romans:

“And we know with absolute knowledge that those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to HIS PURPOSE. Because, those whom He foreordained He also marked out beforehand as those who were to be CONFORMED TO THE DERIVED IMAGE OF HIS SON, with the result that He is firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8: 28-30 Wuest ET Emphasis mine)

Wuest explains this beautifully:

“…in the process of sanctification, the saint is transformed in his inner heart life to resemble the Lord Jesus, which inner change results in a change of outward expression that reflects the beauty of the Lord Jesus. The word “image” is eikon, a derived likeness. The image of the Lord Jesus in the saint is not accidental but derived, as the likeness of a child is derived from its parents. Through the new birth we become children of Jesus Christ (Hebrew 2:13) and thus inherit his image. This image, indistinct in the new convert, becomes progressively clearer and distinct as that believer grows in the Christian life.”

By exercising our faith to receive this “grace of God” we become partakers of the promises of God (II Peter 1: 3-4); whereby, we can walk in agape love for our Father,  Christ Jesus and our neighbor (kingdom duties) which will mature us in agape love (I John 4) making the image of Jesus more distinct in us. Paul’s instructions to the Philippians talks about our “duties”:

“Only [since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your pioneer advance in the Christian life], see to it that you recognize YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CITIZENS [OF HEAVEN] and put yourselves to the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERFORMING THE DUTIES DEVOLVING UPON YOU IN THAT POSITION, doing this in a manner which weighs as much as the good news concerning the Christ… ” (Phil.1: 27 Wuest Emphasis Mine)

Therefore, I believe, the term “grace of God”, as used by Jude, is another way of saying The Faith or Christian system of belief (which is what Jude wants us to earnestly contend for) and all that it entails, including the change in our character/behavior, that results in this image of Jesus being developed.

In the place of His holy grace, these false teachers, through their deception, convinced some of the Lord’s bond servants that they could be their own lord and do what they wished including being immoral. Wuest says that the best English word to translate aselgeia (licentiousness) is wantonness” which is “being without check or limitation” and “the meaning of the word partakes of the spirit of anarchy….which refuses to acknowledge the authority of God’s Word, and itself sits in judgement upon it.” This brings us to the second point.

2. They denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In the original language of the NT, “deny” was “used of those who deny God and Christ, who by cherishing and disseminating pernicious opinions and immorality, are judged to have apostatized from The Father God and Christ (Thayer).” When someone is apostatized they have chosen to refuse to continue to follow or obey God’s commands. As redeemed people in God’s kingdom, we have to obey the authority of the Kingdom. The false teachers did just the opposite by leading those that they seduced in the visible church to do things directly opposite to what God The Father and the Lord Jesus commanded by His apostles. To them there was no need to seperate from the things of the world and sin, but instead they encouraged a “if it feels good, do it” attitude. Some scholars believe this may have been the forerunner of the Gnostics that believed that the spiritual was good and matter evil; therefore, what you did with the human body was not important; hence, immorality was rampant.

Therefore, in conclusion, God saved us for a purpose and it is our responsibility to be conformed to the image of Jesus in our inner being. The false teachers taught no restraints, no Father or Lord, no commandments, you could do what you wanted including immorality; thereby, changing the grace of God into wantonness or licentiousness. As we shall see, our Lord did not tolerate this. If this is not clear to you now, it will be abundantly clear as our study progresses.

Did they come into the early church and preach this openly? No, they did not because the leadership would have put them out immediately. As we look at the false teacher’s character in the next post, we will see how they manipulated Jesus’ bond servants.

Please join us as we continue our study. Thank you and let us thank Him for all the blessings He has blessed us with! Comments and questions welcome.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY.”” (I Peter 1: 15-16 NASB)

Carl

King David And Blamelessness

“Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

Also keep back your servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

THEN I shall be blameless;

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

King David. Psalm 19:12-13 (Emphasis mine)

Here King David speaks about hidden faults, presumptuous sins and their relationship to being blameless.

In our last post we mentioned KNOWN and UNKNOWN sins (hidden faults) in our lives. We are responsible to purify ourselves from our known sins. We are responsible for the light we have. The Holy Spirit will reveal the hidden faults or sins in our lives as we grow in our Christian experience and, then, we can repent.

The apostle John referred to these two types of sins when he wrote:

“If we continue to confess our sins, faithful is He and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9 Wuest)

John is referring to known sins when he writes “to confess our sins” and to unknown sins when he says “every unrighteousness”. The precious blood of Jesus cleanses our hidden faults or sins also when we confess our known sins. Praise His Name.

In our scripture King David is asking the Lord to “keep back your servant from presumptuous sins”. The Hebrew word zed means presumptuous,insolent and is translated in OT scripture arrogant, proud, arrogant men, presumptuous. The root word means to boil up, seethe, act proudly or presumptuously or rebelliously.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines presumptuous as follows:

1. (Of a person or their behavior) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate.

2. Overstepping due bounds; taking liberties

3. Comes from a Latin word that means “to take for granted”.

4. Synonyms: brazen, overconfident, arrogant, bold, forward, familiar, insolent, cocky.

Therefore, a presumptuous sin is one committed with our eyes wide open. We know it is a sin against God but, due to the rebellion in our proud heart, we do it anyway.

Why do we do this? The answer lies within each one of us but we will discuss some reasons.

1. In James 1, James gives us the mechanics of falling into sin: first we are carried away from our steadfastness in Christ and then are enticed by our own passionate cravings for the temptation, thirdly our passionate cravings (lusts) are conceived by our saying YES to the enticement, fourthly we act on our lust and sin is given birth, then death is manifested in our life. Death to walking in fellowship with Christ until we repent and death to spiritual growth in our life until we repent.

2. Or maybe the sin now “rules over us”. We are it’s slave until our cries for deliverance and repentance to the Lord are heard and He frees us.

3.We take His forgiveness of sin for granted. Remember that presumptuous comes from a Latin word that means “to take for granted”.

When John wrote I John 1:9:

“If we continue to confess our sins, faithful is He and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness.”

he followed it with this:

“My little children, these things I am writing to you in order that you may not commit an act of sin.” (I John 2:1 Wuest)

It is my understanding that John was saying, ” I did not write I John 1:9 to give you a license to sin with assurance of forgiveness, but my purpose was so that you would not commit an act of sin.” The goal is not to sin! In Romans chapters 6 Paul is explaining why true believers can not continue in sin. The whole chapter is built around addressing two questions (verses 1 and 15) he received from people who heard of God’s amazing grace (forgiveness of sin). One was, “shall we habitually sustain an attitude of dependence upon, yieldedness to, and cordiality with the sinful nature in order that grace may abound?” And the other was : “Shall we sin occasionally, because we are not under law but under grace?” To both questions, Paul answers “God forbid” or “May it never be!” Then Paul goes on to explain why it is impossible for a born again believer to maintain the same relationship with his sinful nature that he had prior to salvation. The goal is to be holy and blameless before Him, not to justify our wrong behavior by saying “that is how I have always been” or God doesn’t care.

4. We have received a teaching that perverts the grace of God. The teaching may say something like “It’s all under grace so it does not matter what I do, but only what I believe”. We are preparing a teaching on the book of Jude and will discuss this then. You will not want to miss it.

We could spend days discussing why we as believers commit presumptuous sins but each one of us has to examine ourselves and commit, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to overcome these sins. The Lord will come up along side us to help.

I hope you see the need to take sin seriously in your life and to purpose to be found holy and blameless before Him NOW and at His Coming. As Paul told Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself”. Thank you for your time and may God richly bless you and yours.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)

Carl

“Found Holy and Blameless” Part 5

(Parts one thru four can be found at the bottom of this post.)

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” (Ephesians 1:4)

In the past four installments on this subject, we have looked at what “before Him”means, how the Holy Spirit desires all of us, and what the word “holy” means in this context.  This post will look at the word “blameless”.

It is important to remember that we are NOT discussing salvation by works. Justification from sins is not in view here, but rather, the progressive sanctification process which develops Christ’s character in us AFTER being born again.

In Ephesians 1:4 the word “blameless” is the Greek word amoroso which means “without blemish” (Vines) or also “free from faultiness, as a sacrificial animal without spot or blemish (Lev 22:21) or as the Lamb of God (I Peter 1:19) (Wuest). In the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint), it is used in reference to “of blamelessness in character and conduct” (Vines).

This word appears in the following scriptures:

  • Eph. 5:27 – Paul was speaking of the type of people that will be Jesus’ bride when he wrote: “He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.”  Here the term “having no spot or wrinkle” refers to “the bride without moral blemish” (Wuest). These people are not practicing sin, which includes immorality; therefore, they are blameless or without blemish. The Bride is holy” because the people have separated themselves from what God considers evil.  These two descriptive terms explain why the bride is “in all her glory”.
      • Colossians 1: 22 – “…yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshy body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach —” Through salvation Jesus has reconciled us to God so that He can present you and me as holy, separate from evil, and free from the defilement of the world, without moral blemish and beyond reproach, i.e. “not only without blemish but from the charge of it” (Wuest). We are to be conformed to the image of His Beloved Son.
        • Jude 24 – in closing his letter concerning false teachers, he writes: “Now to Him who is able to keep us from stumbling and to make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…”.  If we will cooperate with the indwelling Holy Spirit in the sancifying process, God the Father is able to make us stand in the presence of His glory “without blemish, free from fault “with great joy”. This cooperation should be our spiritual response to the exalted position God has placed us in, in-Christ.
          • I Thessalonians 3: 12-13 – “…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father….” The word “unblamable” is another Greek adjective also translated “faultless”.  Notice that living your life in love “for one another, and for all men,” is what causes your heart to be established in holiness. All the commandments of God are fulfilled by loving the Lord Thy God with your total being and your neighbor as your self (Mark 12:28 – 34). This is the key to understanding what God wishes to do in the saint through the sanctification process.  More on this later.

          In conclusion, we are to be found holy and blameless before His Holy Spirit NOW on Earth and at His future coming for His bride, the Church. Properly instructed born again believers are serious about getting the KNOWN sin out of their lives so we are pleasing the Lord. There are sins we are NOT AWARE OF in our lives, but the Holy Spirit will convict us of them as we grow in our Christian experience and then we should forsake them, purifying ourselves. See I John 3:3.

          II Peter 2:13 speaks of false teachers in the church who are “stains and blemishes”.  Here the word for “blemish” is monos and signifies a shame, a moral disgrace, used metaphorically of the licentious” (Vines), those lacking moral restraint especially disregarding sexual restraints (Webster). The false teachers’ character was blemished because of practicing sin which included an immoral lifestyle. We see the same false teachers in the book of Jude. They are among us today. How many Christ confessing people do you know today, who are living an immoral lifestyle?

          The Church has been fed a lie that the grace of God allows us to practice sin. Next post we will see what King David had to say about sin and how it relates to being found blameless.

          Let us pray: Father God, we ask that you cause your love to increase in us for all Christians and for all mankind, so that we may conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus, pleasing You in all respects. In His Name. Amen.

          “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him PURIFIES himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:3 emphasis mine)

          Carl

          When Shall We Pray?

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          Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.”

          — Corrie Ten Boom (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983, Dutch watchmaker and Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II).

          Berean Call

          Holy and Blameless: Part 4

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          (Note: For parts one through three, please scroll to bottom of this post or use search bar.)

          “…yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach —” (Col. 1:22 emphasis mine)

          In this scripture the Apostle Paul is telling us that the Lord Jesus has reconciled us SO THAT He may present us before Himself in a state of being holy and  blameless and beyond reproach.  Notice it is “before Himself” at this point but I Thess. 3:13 tells us: “…so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.”  Ultimately you will be presented to God the Father as one who is holy, blameless and beyond reproach.

          Let’s break this scripture down and discuss what these descriptive characteristics mean.

          “Holy” comes from a Greek word used to designate a building, person or something else that was dedicated to the service and worship of one of their pagan gods.  It is the same Greek word translated “saint” that Paul calls the born again believers.  The word speaks of separation. In our case it is separation from evil and separation to the service and worship of the Lord Jesus and God the Father.  Colossians 1: 13 says the Holy Spirit

          “… delivered us out of the tyrannical rule of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His Love, in whom we have our liberation, procured by the payment of ransom, the putting away of our sins; ” (Wuest)

          In Galatians 1:4 Paul said:

          “…the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself in behalf of our sins so that He might rescue us out from the present pernicious age…” (Wuest)

          These two scriptures witness to the fact that our faith in the Lord Jesus has brought about a separation from evil and separation to good in our new life.   So positionally we are holy or separated unto Christ.

          It is the believers responsibility, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make this positional truth experientially true in his new life in-Christ.  We need to make it a reality in our character. Paul put it this way after telling us  what Almighty God said about dwelling in us in II Corinthians 6: 16-18:

          “Having therefore these promises, beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves from all contamination which may defile the flesh [the human body] and the [human] spirit,  progressively accomplishing holiness in the fear of the Lord.” (II Cor. 7:1 Wuest)

          Notice that Paul is saying “let us cleanse ourselves“. This is the responsibility of the believer with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are to be “perfecting holiness” in the reverential awe of the Lord. Perfecting that separation from evil in our lives.

          In Romans 12: 1-2 Paul says the same thing in more detail.  Notice Paul’s urgency in what he writes:

          “I therefore beg of you, please, brethren, through the instrumentality of the aforementioned mercies of God, by a once-for-all presentation to place your bodies at the disposal of God, a sacrifice, a living one, a holy one, well-pleasing, your rational, sacred service, [rational, in that this service is performed by the exercise of the mind]. And stop assuming an outward expression that does not come from within you and is not representative of what you are in your inner being but is patterned after this age; but change your outward expression to one that comes from within and is representative of your inner being, by the renewing of your mind, resulting in your putting to the test what is the will of God, the good and well-pleasing and complete will, and having found that it meets specifications, place your approval upon it.” (Wuest)

          The inner being is the positional you, the real you, who you are by the new birth and the “change your outward expression” is an exhortation to make the positional a reality in your experience.  He is saying don’t cover up the new person you are in Christ with the evil characteristics of this pernicious age or world.

          Therefore, in conclusion, we are exhorted to be experientially holy, separated from evil.  Sin is evil. Remember “evil” is what God says is “evil”, not what we may think “evil” is.  That is why we need to read our Bibles to learn what He says is evil.  It is that simple.

          Also Peter says “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him, in peace, spotless, and blameless.” (II Peter 3: 14). “Spotless” refers to being undefiled by sin or being holy, being free from censure, irreproachable. Notice Peter says we need to “be diligent” about this. This speaks of intense effort.  This characteristic of holiness will not just happen in our lives, we must supply serious effort in our working with the Holy Spirit in sanctification.  And He will bring it to pass!!

          Due to travel, we will look at the words “blameless” and “reproach” next weekend. Thank you for your time.  I pray the eyes of your heart were illuminated. Now:

          “…carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure.”  (Phil 2: 12-13 Wuest)

          May you be carrying your salvation to its ultimate conclusion!  God bless you.

          Carl

           

           

          Holy & Blameless – Part 2

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          (Note: For Part One of this series, please go to the bottom of this post. Thank you.)

          As we discussed in Part One, our brothers Paul, Peter, Jude and other New Testament writers are exhorting us to be diligent to be found holy and blameless “before Him”.

          The Greek words translated “exhort” and “exhortation” in the English language denote “to call on, entreat”, “to admonish, to urge, someone to pursue some course of conduct”, to advise, warn” and “to impel morally, to urge forward, encourage”.  I share this to make it clear that the motive in writing on this subject is not to bring condemnation but to encourage us to go forward in being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29).  We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices.

          I also wanted to share what Kenneth Wuest, former Greek professor at Moody Bible Institute (1950s), said about the meaning of the phrase “before Him”.  He says the word “before” in the Greek means “to see down in” and:

          “The word speaks of a penetrating gaze that sees right down into a thing. It refers here to the penetrating gaze of the Holy Spirit as He sees right down into our innermost being, through all of the superficialities, hypocrisies, and shams of human existence. This refers to a PRESENT searching gaze of God into the inner character of the saint, not to a FUTURE judgement at the Judgement Seat of Christ.  And it is not a searching gaze conducted in a critical attitude which looks for faults, but a satisfied, delighted contemplation of the reflection of the holiness and spotlessness of the Lord Jesus in the character of the saint, for Alford says; “implying an especial nearness and dearness to Him—-and bearing a foretaste of the time when the elect shall shall be before the throne of God (Rev. 7:15).”” (Emphasis mine)

          Notice that he says that “before Him” in this text refers to NOW and not the FUTURE Judgement Seat of Christ. In Jude 24, I Thess 5:23, I Thess 3: 13, Phil 1:10, and Eph 5: 27 it is referring to the future event.  In the first post of this series, I said the context of this exhortation was the Judgement Seat of Christ, but I evidently missed this explanation. I apologize for any confusion this may have created.

          In Galatians, Paul speaks about the Isralites being typed as little children unable to attend to themselves; therefore, they needed a guardian to guide and protect them. This was the Old Testament Law.  Now, we as adopted children of God, do not need a guardian because the Holy Spirit indwells us.  And He is far more powerful than the Law.  In Wuest’s explanation we see Him gazing into our innermost person, contemplating the reflection of the Lord Jesus!

          May He be seeing a beautiful reflection of Jesus in your inner most being today.

          He Has Blessed You In Christ,

          Carl

          Found Holy & Blameless – Part One

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          “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world; that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  (Ephesians 1: 4 Emphasis mine)

          Scripture exhorts us to be holy and blameless.  It has nothing to do with our justification in Christ, our salvation, but is descriptive of the character that is produced as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the sanctification process that begins once we are born again.  He produces the character of Jesus in us.  We stop loving sin and the world, satan’s kingdom,  and start loving the Lord Jesus. We stop practicing sin and start practicing righteousness.  We are gradually conformed to His image.

          Our scripture locates where this character is desired: “we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  Nearly all the scriptures associated with this phrase, or phrases similar to it, mention this context: “before Him“, when we “stand in the presence of His glory“, or “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” or “until the day of Christ” or “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory”.  This all refers to us standing in His Presence after He raptures the church and the Judgement Seat of Christ occurs.  The next BIG EVENT on the biblical calendar.

          When He comes to rapture His people out of the earth, we will see Him in all His Glory and each believer will stand before Him to receive our reward or loss of rewards depending on what we have done for Him.  It is here in His Personal Glorious Presence that the New Testament writers exhort us to be found “holy and blameless”.

          The Apostle John saw Him in His Glory in Revelation 1: 12-16 and “fell at His feet as a dead man.”  Following is a description of how Lord Jesus looked:

          “…one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle. And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters….and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.”  (Rev.1: 13 -16)

          It is in His Presence that we are exhorted to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless”, (II Peter 3:14). Take a moment to reflect on this awesome meeting that you will experience as a born again child of God.  To see your Savior face to face.  The word of God says we will either be filled with exceedingly great joy and be able to speak or we will turn away in shame.  Which do you want?

          Father God, help us by your Holy Spirit to be found separated from evil and faultless in the Presence of Your Beloved Son.  Help us to be found  in love with Him and behaving in this age in a manner worthy of Him. In His Name we pray. Amen.

          In our next post we will explore further the meaning of this exhortation to be “holy and blameless before Him“. I hope you will join us.  Thank you for your valuable time.

          Do all things without grumbling and disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,..”  (Philippians 2: 14-15 emphasis mine)

          Pay Close Attention To Yourself..” and “…Prove yourselves…”

          God Bless You and Yours,

          Carl