Jude 5-16: Everything Is a Sermon

Jude

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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.Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord[c] at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”[d] 10 Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.

11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[e] 16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

In our look at Jude 1-4 we saw that Jude was concerned because the recipients of his letter no longer had a common salvation. They were being deceived and were allowing the grace of God to be perverted. Jude was imploring the recipients of this letter to contend for the faith and not let it slip away. So, we took a look what is meant by a common salvation so that there is a better foundation on which to build the rest of the book.

Jude now continues in verse 5, not with telling the people how to contend for the faith, but rather how to identify the false teachers.  He gives a list of characters of false teachers by comparing them to biblical characters, which the recipients (most likely of Jewish decent) would have understood. His goal is simple, lay out that which is false so that you and I know what is true. He does this by presenting ungodly examples so that the readers know to do the opposite.

Ungodly Examples

Starting in v.5, Jude begins to identify these examples of ungodliness. First, in v. 5-6, Jude describes the Israelites and fallen angels. These were two groups who knew God in a special way. They had walked with Him and saw His glory first hand. However, they decided, in rebellion, to walk away from Him and ignored His majesty and goodness.  They, ultimately, wanted to be there own masters.

Second, in v. 7, Jude describes Sodom and Gomorrah. This was a group of people that gave into their perversions and had no regard for any type of self-control. They did as they pleased without any real regard for God’s standard of goodness and purity.

Third, in v. 8-10, Jude describes people who claim to have “dreams” and special knowledge. These people are those who are obsessed with the spirit world, but not with the Supreme God. They claim to have special revelations, they think they can tap into the spirit world, and they see themselves as having authority and control over supernatural beings. However, Jude makes the point that even Michael the Archangel didn’t dare assume he was a match for Satan.

He then sums it up with three specific biblical characters who epitomize the ungodliness described above. Cain, was a man of great pride who did as he pleased without regard for any type of standard. Balaam, was a prophet would thought he had control and sold God out for his own profit and greed. Korah, rebelled against God’s chosen leader, Moses, in an attempt to make himself great.

It is at this point that Jude gives harsh words for these types of people. He calls them blemishes, clouds without rain, autumn trees uprooted. He says they will die twice meaning they will experience both physical and spiritual death. Ultimately, they will be judged severely for their deceptions and wickedness.

Sermons

The people listed above where not the ones actually doing the deceiving, rather each presented a mindset of the false teachers who were among them. These false teachers were using these perspectives to essentially preach sermons to the people. Each wanted people to buy into their philosophy, world-view, and belief system. What is interesting is that each of these sermons is still being preached today. They look a little different, however, the essence of the message hasn’t changed in 2000 years. There are two main sermons presented in this text, which are worth addressing. The sermons being preached then and still today are, do what we want and to trust in yourselves.

1. Do what we want

Jude references Israelites, fallen angels, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Cain as examples of complete disobedience and rebellion. Each knew what they should be and yet they consciously decided not to comply with God’s standard.

As a father, I know what this looks like on a smaller scale. Anyone who has kids knows that at some point your children decide to openly rebel against what you’ve established. My youngest daughter Avie is two years old and is a great example of this rebellion. One thing that she loves to do is get into my wife’s makeup case, get a tub of something, open it, and stick her finger in. Usually, she is caught and stopped before she can get it open. However, lately she has learned how to sneak into the bedroom, quietly get the makeup out, find a hiding place, and open the makeup before we know she’s gone. Trust me when I tell you that this two year old knows exactly what she’s doing. I hate to say it, but its open rebellion.

In our Western/American culture today there is a constant sermon being preached, which says you and I should pursue what you want and don’t let anyone get in your way. However, we don’t like calling it “open rebellion” because that just sounds bad. Instead, we makes it should really nice by saying, “You need to follow your heart, be yourself, and just do you”. However, this way of thinking has created several issues.

The first issue is it has brought us to the point where everyone has an opinion on truth. Topics, such as, what is right and wrong, good and evil are completely subjective conversations. In other words, good and bad, right and wrong are based on the individuals opinion and their standard of goodness. This logic usually says, “how can it be wrong if I’m just following my heart?”

However, the question then becomes, can you base what is right and wrong on an opinion? If you can, it begs the question, what is truth? You and I might have different opinions about what is right and wrong. Who then is correct? This creates quiet an issue when I believe I should do as I please and follow my heart.

In order for something to be true it can’t be based on my opinion. There must be an external mandate, which determines right and wrong. For example, if you say stealing is wrong because it doesn’t help anyone and ruins society, I might say I disagree. I could say stealing is right, because is helps me and makes area of society better. Who is right? Without a transcend mandate for what is right and wrong, your guess is as good as mine. However, we know that God is the one who has determined what is right and wrong. Therefore, we are subject to his mandates and rule. Yet, in our culture we do what we think is best by following our hearts and disregarding all else.

The second issue brings us back to what we looked at in Jude 1-4. We discussed the idea of justification. Since there is a desire in all of us to be justified and prove we are worthy of existence, we will do whatever is necessary to feel important, loved, accepted, and like our lives are worth something.  Thus, the cultures solution says, “be yourself, find yourself, and do what is best for you”. For example, people look to sex because it feels good or makes them feel loved. People look to relationships and friends to feel important. Others strive to success in school, business, or elsewhere. Others simply feel it necessary to express themselves in various ways so they can be a free spirit, uninhibited. However, they are attempting to justify themselves and become their own god and ruler of life. Each person chooses their path and assumes it is best for them. However, as stated before, our opinion can never produce truth, if truth is not externally mandated and therefore universally applicable.

Furthermore, while this is to be expected when one has not come in contact with the only One who can truly justify, it is even worse when one who has experienced God’s grace abuses it. In v. 4, Jude speaks to those “who pervert the grace of our God”. The ultimate rebellion is knowing one is wrong and yet says, “oh well. God will forgive me”. This plays itself out in a million different ways, and usually ends with someone indignantly declaring, “only God can judge me”. It’s a particularly pathetic way to exercise the grace of God, and yet it is a sermon that is preached daily.

2. Rely on yourself

The second sermon topic preached is to rely on yourself. Jude refers to people with dreams. They think they have special knowledge and can come up with their own ideas. They believe there is something within them that needs to rise up and come to life. Jude then refers to people like Balaam and Korah who just want to have control. They believe they can make things happen for themselves and that their desires are what need to be pursued, regardless of any standard. They want control so they can climb to the top, however, eventually we all realize we were never really in control and now we’re stuck.

I think about when I was a kid. There was a tree in the backyard that I was determined to climb, without any help. One day I struggled and climbed to the top, however, once I got there I realized I couldn’t get down. I was horrified as I tried to hug the tree and climb down it. It got so bad that as I was trying to go down, my shorts came off and I was now stranded on the tree with no pants. All my goodies were hanging out for all to see. It wasn’t so bad, until the neighborhood kids showed up! Then my mom had to come and help me down. When you struggle to get the top, it doesn’t take long for you to realize how alone you are up there.

Our culture today is obsessed with telling you that you are enough. There is a light within you that you must shine and don’t let anyone put it out. In the words of our pop music queens of today, “You’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky.” “Baby you’re a firework”. Now, these ideas sound great, and can be true in the right context. However, its true only if yourself worth is found in something other than an opinion or your ability to muster up your own happiness.

Oprah in 2011 wrapped up her long running daytime talk show. In the closing minutes she essentially preached a sermon to millions of people. Her final thoughts to her millions of loyal fans was, “There is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and all of our suffering, and that is unworthiness. Not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for. Even people who believe they deserve to be happy and have nice things often don’t feel worthy once they have them.” She went on to tell the audience: “Your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough.”

However, the question must be asked, are you are capable of saving yourself? When you think you’re enough, you have no need for God. Furthermore, the idea of Jesus on the cross is just stupid. Why? Because if you’re able to awaken that which is dead within you, then I don’t need a savior to awaken it for me.

Furthermore, it must be asked again, by what standard are you measuring your ability to be good and beautiful? If you base it on your opinion, then you’ll never really reach anything that can be considered truth. However, if you base goodness on the source of goodness, God himself, then you realize how far you fall short. You realize that if He is the standard and the one who institutes righteousness, you will never meet the necessary level of perfection and beauty.

The sad reality is that you’ll spend your whole life attempting to meet a standard that is impossible to reach. You’ll look to sex, relationships, and material stuff to muster up a self-justification. Even our good deeds, if used to make ourselves feel better, are nothing more than our attempt to justify ourselves. We’re just hoping, in the end, our good outweighs the bad.

The good news is that you do not need to fulfill the perfect standard yourself, nor do you need to justify yourself. God sees our depravity and knows our inability to save ourselves. So Christ comes and lives the life we couldn’t live and dies the death we should have died. As we have faith in Him, he makes us clean, gives us His perfection so that now we are justified before the Standard of righteousness.

From this point, as with any Father, God then provides instruction and guidance which are given so that life can be lived to its fullest. Just like a teenager that sometimes doesn’t understand the rules give by their father, so are we with God sometimes. However, we trust that He knows more and wants what is best for us. Therefore, we submit even though we don’t fully understand.
Submission

The alternative to a submission to Christ is horrible. To believe that which is preached is a terrible and demoralizing way to live. It requires living in a world where there is no true right and wrong. It requires me to figure out life on my own and muster up the strength to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. Yet, this is the lie that so many choose instead of submitting to the One who desires to rescue us from our own depravity. Submission to our Creator and Savior brings freedom from such a heavy burden.

However, as we know, this is the main issue for anyone, submission. Jude makes this clear in v. 16 stating there are those who are unsatisfied with this concept. He says, “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires”.  They don’t want to be told what to do and they insist on doing it their way. They declare, “It’s my body, my love life, my money, my mind and ears so don’t tell me what to do”. Since this is the culture in which we live, those who do not hold to such a beliefs are often label as bigots, closed-minded, oppressive, old fashioned, or religious nuts. Why? Because as a culture we are obsessed with doing it our way.

This is why Jude writes this letter. There is a need to contend for the faith. We must remember what we have been saved from and what we were saved to. Also, we must contend because people must know there is a better way to live. The justification is Christ provides so much more than a self-justification. Christ was willing to empty Himself and provide it for us. Now we have a responsibility to ensure that all know the hope found in Him.

Conclusion

What sermons are we listening to? Are we relying on the justification of Christ or do we think we should do what we want and rely on ourselves? Do we desire to make the hope found in Christ known?

http://yourlisten.com/jadour/jude-5-16-everything-is-a-sermon (If on mobile, click the download button)

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About Justin Adour

I am a follower of Christ, a husband, a father, a chaplain, and teacher. As I delve into the richness and depths of the Gospel, each of these roles provides a new perspective into the grace of God. As I attempt to faithfully live out and think through the implications of Gospel, I ask you to journey with me. The depths of this grace will never fully be known, but the pursuit is life giving.
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