That the church may know precisely who these reprobates are, Jude describes them as “ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  First, they are ungodly.  These are men who walk in rebellion against the law of God, and are bent on pursuing the pleasures of the flesh.  They are willing to be religious and to participate in church services and ordinances, but they are not willing to mortify the deeds of the flesh, take up the cross, and follow Christ.  They came into the world ungodly, and have spent years cultivating attitudes and practices of ungodliness, because they hate divine authority and divine restrictions.

Moreover, they fully intend to bring this hatred of God’s authority, and the restrictions of His law, into the churches.  In some writings, we see stern denunciations against those who pervert the Gospel by attempting to mix human merit with the blood and righteousness of Christ.  This is indeed a soul-damning error, as Paul plainly declared to the Galatians.  But there is also danger on the other side.  We know that there were those who accused the apostles, when they spoke of free grace, of giving men a license to do evil that good may abound.  The apostle Paul said that their damnation was just, and when confronted with the question in Romans 6:1, he exclaimed, “God forbid!  How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?”  Free grace, far from being a license to sin as much as we please, is on the contrary our strongest and purest motive to holiness of life.  The death of Christ slew sin, and destroyed its reign over us.  If we are still in bondage to sin, how can we say that we are in league with the sinless Christ?

But the church has long been plagued with those who use grace as an excuse to continue in sin.  This error is every bit as destructive as that of adding our works to that of Christ, and the denunciations of it are, if anything, even stronger.  This spirit of, “Christ paid for all my sins, so it really doesn’t matter what I do,” is most hateful before the throne of God.  The Son of God did not spill His precious blood so that we may indulge ourselves in the very thing which fastened Him to the cross.  He slew the dominion of the Devil, He killed sin, so that it might not only be forgiven, but also so that it may not reign in our mortal bodies that we should obey it in the lusts thereof.  If we are brought out of a kingdom of darkness and into a kingdom of light, we should live as those who are in the light, even as God is in the light.  But the antinomian reprobate thinks differently.  He boasts of his liberty, which to him is a liberty to cater to the flesh and its grossest lusts.  The Christian religion is to him a free ticket to heaven, regardless of how he lives after putting his trust in Jesus.  He thinks he may enjoy sin now, and then enjoy the holiness of heaven hereafter.  Why such an one should think that he will hate sin and love righteousness in heaven, when he loved sin and hated righteousness on earth, is a mystery that none can explain.  Regeneration does not happen in heaven; it either happens on earth, or one never sees the kingdom of God.  In short, to use the grace of God as a license to practice lasciviousness is most hateful to God, and the teacher of such damning heresy bears all the marks of a reprobate.

Jude says also that they denied the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Precisely what the apostles intends here is not clear, but the general drift is probably in line with their lascivious doctrine.  I am certain that they were not preaching atheism, for such evident reprobates could not have “crept in unawares.”  I rather suspect that what Jude intends is that their lascivious doctrine and practices constituted a practical denial of the authority of God the Father and the lordship of Jesus Christ.  They could profess themselves boldly as servants of God, but they rejected the law of God.  They could boast most eloquently of their union with Christ, but they refused to commit themselves to His service.  It is also possible that they were insinuating doubts about the deity of Christ, which was one of the earliest and most destructive heresies that penetrated the church.  But as the general drift of Jude’s thought seems to be concerning their antinomian doctrine and practices, it seems that their denial of God and Christ is a rejection of divine authority and of Christ’s lordship over His blood-bought church.

Advertisements