Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 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.
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. 5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude begins by identifying himself as the bondservant of Jesus Christ, similar to how Apostle Paul introduced himself in his writings. A bondservant chooses to be owned by another out of their own volition to serve their master. While Jude was an apostle of Jesus Christ, he did not use his apostleship as a form of identification in his letter. Instead, he identified himself as a servant.
Similarly, we all are also servants of Christ who died for us. Regardless of the earthly positions we hold, the cross is our foundation and our starting point. Apart from the cross, we do not have a place in the Kingdom of God. We all get to serve our Lord with joy and gladness for who He is and what He has done in our lives. This can eliminate much confusion, strife, selfish ambition, and division in the body of Christ.
In verse 3, Jude exhorts the people of God to contend earnestly for the faith. Our faith will continue to have opposition from within and without. Every believer needs to be diligent to grow and become strong in the faith. We cannot just rely on the fact that we accepted Jesus years ago. We need to cultivate our faith and grow in our relationship with the Lord. The scriptures tell us that deception will come and the enemy will sow tare among the wheat (See Matthew 13:24-30). If our faith is not established on the knowledge of the Bible, we can easily get derailed by various preachers/leaders who are preaching an unBiblical gospel.
In verse 4, Jude warns the body of Christ that there are people who have crept in the church that preach a different message than the message preached by the apostles. These individuals took advantage of God’s grace by permitting themselves and others to live in lewdness and sin. They also questioned the Lordship of Christ.
Denying the work of Jesus and “cheap grace” go hand-in-hand. When we recognize our sinfulness and our desperate need for forgiveness, we find that there was nothing cheap or easy about what Jesus had to suffer for the sake of sinful humanity. If people are prone to look at God’s precious grace as “cheap grace,” then they have neglected how sinful and hopeless they were apart from the saving grace of Jesus.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it beautifully as follows: (from compellingtruth.org)
The phrase “cheap grace” is often associated with German theologian and minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship. In his book, published in 1937, he said that cheap grace was “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
We cannot feed the flesh by illicit sexual activities, perversion, and addictions and insist that God is pleased, or claim that Jesus loves us so much that He will look the other way on our sins. Jesus came to give us the overcoming power to deny our old nature and say no to sin. He didn’t come to keep us the same but to change us inside out. The first step is repentance from sin. If we have trouble letting go of certain sins, then we should seek Godly advise to help us in the process. But we should not lower the bar or change the interpretation of scriptures to meet our needs or ease our conscience.
I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.