Jude Verses 1-7 – 2023 Nov 23

Last study, we considered who Jude was and why he wrote the letter, hopefully putting the letter into some kind of historical framework that aids your understanding of Scripture.  That is one of our end goals, the main one to be to study the Word of God to see “Christ formed in you,” fully and completely.  Beloved, we don’t do this because it’s cool, though for us it is.  We don’t do this to learn apologetics, though that is important.  We do this so that we may be conformed by the Holy Spirit of God into the image of Jesus Christ, and you may note this is the main activity (or should be) of your pastor.  If it is not your Pastor’s goal, then I suggest you find another place of fellowship with a real pastor and not some pretender to the exercise.  I am of the opinion that the pastor here has that as his goal, incidentally.

Jude here is not telling us that we need to be “nice” to everyone, although as a rule that isn’t bad practice.  What we need to be is ourselves, but yielded to Christ through the power of the Spirit of God.  I have to give a sad chuckle when I read the latest “argument” (i.e., FIGHT) between the supra-infra-whatsits and the HEBREW supra-infra-whatsits or Calvinists and non-Calvinists or whatever.  Beloved and holy brethren!  Self-control is a part of the fruit of the Spirit!  Be filled with the Spirit!  Control yourselves!  And God, please, help them!  Bring them to the knowledge of the truth, and let them out of whatever cage stage they happen to be in.  Jude is instead making a specific call to “earnestly contend for the faith.” 

That Greek phrase bears the meaning of “to struggle or contend for the faith as a combatant.”  The word itself is epagonizomai.  It is a compound Greek word, formed from the prefix epi, meaning “upon or about,” and agon, simply meaning “a contest” according to Vine.  The word “earnestly” is added to give the force the Greek does of the preposition.  According to Jude’s own recorded words, we are to “fight for the faith.”  We should do so, but in a Christian manner.  Paul told us that our battle isn’t with the flesh and blood people that present the falsehood we encounter, but rather the spiritual forces of wickedness and darkness behind them.  We need to know the spiritual armour and weaponry that God has equipped all of His people with and how to use them for His glory.  We are not “defending God,” that would be foolish, He can defend Himself better than any of us ever could.  Rather, we are defending the people who are lying in the arms of the wicked one that we read about in John, in hopes that they too may be wonderfully and miraculously saved, soli Deo gloria.

This is why Jude wrote his letter to the church, and by extension, all of us.  I broke the text down as follows:

KV3:  The need to listen to identify and listen to God’s servant

3:  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

1-2:  Jude to God’s “invited” and “kept” Saints

3-4:  The urgent need to fight for the faith

5-7:  God will destroy those who will not believe

Remember, Jude is dealing with this issue that has recently (for him) risen in the congregations of the churches.  He is calling God’s people to discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:10 in that main list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Charismaniacs love to abuse wrongly.  We don’t all have that gift, but the ones who do need to step up here and lead the sheep safely to safe pasture.  Let’s get into the text.

KV3:  The need to listen to identify and listen to God’s servant

3:  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

God’s servants are not always who you think they are.  If you have been following what has been going on in most denominations these days, and I follow several, they are all in varying stages of apostasy.  It shouldn’t surprise us, it’s what happens when unredeemed man gets his grubby hands on the things of God.  When you see the blasphemy that can arise from this, it should make you long for the days of Uzza, who put his hand on the Ark of the Covenant and was slain for his efforts.  How dare he think his own hands cleaner than the mud the Ark would have fallen into?  The MUD was obeying GOD!  Uzza was not.  That signals all believers through all time that God takes His testimony on earth, the Church SERIOUSLY, and those who attempt to mix it up or mock it will answer to a holy and angry, wrathful God.  That is the warning here of Jude, and he uses examples from history to punctuate the point.  Let’s dive in here.

1-2:  Jude to God’s “invited” and “kept” Saints

No letter, even today, does not somehow identify the individual who wrote it and its designated audience.  Jude is no different.  He identifies himself in a unique way, as well as his intended audience, so we will just jump right into the text and see where the current takes us so to speak.

1:  Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:

  • Remember last study that we spent some time identifying Jude as the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Himself, and that means the brother of James from the letter of James.  He was definitely in the “in” crowd if you look at things that way.  And yet, that is not how Judah, brother of Jacob (Yakobos) and half-brother of Yeshua Himself identifies himself, and that is noteworthy.  How does James identify himself?  With the Greek phrase, “Ioudas Iesou Christou doulos.”  Literally, he said, “Judah, [willing love] slave of Jesus Christ.”  I’m nobody but Christ’s slave.  That was his attitude.  How is ours?  You can answer that question to yourself, Beloved.  How does James identify to his audience?  Nearly the same way:  “Iakobos Theou kai kuriou Iesou Christou doulos.”  James added the words God and Lord to the mix.  What would cause these two men to identify as the slaves of their older half-brother for the sake of love for Him?  I suggest two things primarily, though there may have been other reasons:  they knew who He was, and they knew who they were in relation to Him.  To quote John the Baptist, “He must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
  • He also identified his intended audience.  Listen to who Jude addresses.  The word order in Greek is interesting to me, so I will give it to you here.  “To those who are in God the Father beloved and for Jesus Christ kept the called.”  I know we don’t use the Greek word order, but it’s a fascinating perspective because it says the same thing and places a very interesting emphasis on it.  2 Peter 2:9 is in view here:  “…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment…”  Now Jude only used the first part of that, and we should just stick to that, but is this not a nod at how Jude uses what is written by Peter?  Call that a handful on purpose, like Boaz instructed his servants to give to Ruth in the field where she was working, the symbolic bride for the symbolic bridegroom. 
  • It would seen from that that Jude’s target audience is for a very special group of people.  They are known as the chosen people of God, the “called,” or kletois, plural of kletos, the called, or better, the “invited.”  I like that.  God did the inviting or calling.  It is used here, according to Vine, in the sense of an “effectual call,” meaning this is related to both God’s Sovereign Election and that His Irresistible Grace, sometimes referred to as the “effectual call,” meaning He makes us an offer we cannot refuse!  That’s two of the doctrines of grace, and that’s just the first verse!  Moving on.

2:  May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.

  • Jude, as a godly elder in the church, has the standard wishes that all of the writers of Scripture have for God’s invited people.  Paul often said “Grace and peace to you.”  The writer of Hebrews called them “holy brethren.”  Peter wished grace and peace.  John wished that everyone complete joy.  These greetings were not just words to them.  My guess is that they knew people in many places to which their letters were written.  These greetings were intended to be personal and for all who heard or read the letter.  By extension that includes us in this case.
  • Jude wished three things for the God’s chosen people on this occasion.  The first of those is mercy, or what Vine defines as the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it.  In this usage, it is “…when God brings His salvation to its issue at the Coming of Christ, His people will obtain His mercy.” 
  • The second of these is peace, and that is the Greek eirene, and that is the sense of wellbeing that comes from a harmonious relationship, in this case between ourselves and God, and that is accomplished by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • The last of these is the Love of God, that agape that is divinely self-sacrificial and puts the needs of the object of that love before the subject.  It is truly divine to put someone’s needs ahead of your own for reasons of what is best for them according to Scripture.  Jude doesn’t just wish for these to be on everyone, he asks the Lord to multiply them to Jesus’ followers (the “you” here is plural).

In short, Jude is writing to what we could call “the Elect,” God’s foreknown, foreordained, called, justified, glorified (Rom. 8:29-30) people that God the Father Himself sovereignly chose before the foundation of the world to Glorify His name and to give to the God the Son.  He has clearly identified all of this in just a few words.

3-4:  The urgent need to fight for the faith

It is at this early point in the that Jude takes a sharp turn and moves to a very neglected topic in the church today.  Personally, I think this is because the visible church as a whole is moving toward that great apostasy the Scriptures talk about, because it seems to be a progressive phenomenon that gathers steam as it goes.  Jude describes it better than I can, so let’s jump right in.

3:  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

  • You know, I like how Jude writes.  It’s kind of like I speak.  In addressing the saints formally, he uses my favorite term:  Beloved.  It is a tender, respectful, and loving term applied specifically to the saints of God, the very Bride of Christ.  So are all we who are His.  Another handful on purpose.
  • Jude here tells us that the initial reason he began to write his letter was “about our common salvation.”  It is hard for me as a theologian of sorts to imagine any reason other than a doctrinal treatise here, but it isn’t the only kind of letter than can be written about our common salvation.  I think Jude was wanting to stress and share the common koinonia or “fellowship” that we have as believers.  I have experienced this kind of relation with every believer I have ever met, and it is the kind of sharing or communion (all these words have been used to translate the concept of koinonia from the Greek) that we should have with the Lord Himself and all of His people.  That’s the kind of letter that Jude started to write.  He never got to do it.
  • Look what happened here.  “While I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the need to [write you about something different].”  That’s the kind of sentence construction that you use as a preacher when the as you get up to give your sermon, the Lord changes what He wants you to say to the congregation!  That doesn’t happen very often, by the way.  But that’s what happened to Jude.  I can tell you from experience (It’s happened to me one-and-a-half times in 38 years, so I don’t have a strong record here) it is disorienting at the start and then gets easier to ride out.  In each instance, there was an urgency in what the Lord wanted communicated to His people.  That is what I see here.
  • What was that urgent message?  That we must URGENTLY fight for the faith, and not just any faith.  THE faith that was given ONCE FOR ALL to the saints, the holy people of God.  Why do I say fight instead of contend?  Again, I go back to the Greek for this verse, and the word epagonizomai.  To contend about a thing as a combatant.  What is a combatant?  One who fights with purpose.  The “earnestly” part is added in the Greek to give extra weight to that, it wasn’t a translation issue.  The part of the word after the prefix agnoizomai is where we get our English verb “to agonize.”  That is a form of fight all on its own.  Next verse.

4:  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand  marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

  • Jude here makes some assumptions that we should be aware of; the first is that his audience knew about that faith that was once delivered to the saints and understood it.  The second and closely related assumption to this is that the people he was writing to were in fact saved.  This double set of qualifying characteristics are the only ones that I think make sense to continue the way he does.
  • Jude here is warning the saints that “certain people” have snuck into the church unnoticed.  There is a problem right there, especially today, that visitors can come and go without notice, but that isn’t what Jude is referring to.  He’s talking about infiltration.  People that do not have Christ’s interests and priorities in mind when they come.  People that were designated to their position to do just that–infiltrate and take down the saints in any way they can, and I don’t understand any of their motivations or need to tear down what Christ has established.  I guess I don’t think that way, but they are out there, and they may not even understand what they are doing, being deceived themselves.  In some measure we all are deceived, I suspect.  Jude sees these as specific individuals when he says “certain people.”  WE certainly do when we use that language.  I don’t mean he knew all their names, but he recognized the class of people, and he is about to tell US what he means precisely.
  • These individuals are “ungodly persons.”  They spend a lot of time trying to look godly to fool even themselves, but they are purveyors of lies and teachings that are designed specifically to take people away from Christ.  Why would anyone do that?  Well, at some point, they believed a lie, and that makes them deceived.  We could name a few here.  Kenneth Copeland.  Bill Johnson.  Joyce Meyer.  Beth Moore.  Russell Moore.  I could go on listing them, and so could you.  Many of them get into a more Charismatic theology when they go because it is more man-centered and permissive than orthodox historical Christianity, though I’ve seen some Baptist people spew venom too.  Think Wichita, Kansas.  It’s pretty clear to anyone that has read the Bible that despite their claims to Christianity, Christ is nowhere near that place called Westboro Baptist Church.  They have been responsible for the closing of at least one church I am aware of.  We have a Baptist Church named for the local it was in here in Ottawa–Westboro.  When these morons in Wichita made international news as they picketed the funerals of servicemen who paid the ultimate price in defense of western values in a larger sense, their membership dwindled to zero.  They ended up selling the building to a Pentecostal congregation who needed a building, and hopefully they are the kind of Pentecostals that actually preach Christ (there are some, I know a few).  But score one for the bad guys.  By the way, CBOQ church I think.  That’s one of ours.
  • Jude though identifies them not by their philosophy or theology if I can call it that, but instead identifies their core doctrine and behaviour in this verse.  It seems they turn the grace of God into a license to sin, because after all, Jesus died to forgive us, didn’t He?  Well, yes He did, but that isn’t the only thing He did when He died for us.  He set us free FROM sin, not so we could just go sin in any way we like at any time that pleases us, and that was the distant early beginnings of what we now call the heresy of sinless perfectionism.  They deny our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in doing so, and in many other ways that frankly I have lost count of.

I know we have made this kind of emphasis before, Beloved, but it hasn’t changed and it is still of utmost importance, so I will say it again.  Theology matters.  If you have bad theology, you will have bad teaching, and that can metaphorically run you off into a spiritual ditch.  We have to fight for our faith!  We have to study to show ourselves approved!  We have to study the Scriptures daily so we can learn what is so!  If we are not doing that, we are not following Christ, and all kinds of theologically bad things can happen.  You can see an analysis that I did on one of these called “the Sparkle Creed.”  Fair warning, it is complete nonsensical garbage, but it clearly shows just how far off in the ditch people that will not follow Christ and study the Bible can get.  Yes, there is more to being a Christian than simply studying the Bible, but that should still be our central focus so that we know what it says and how we are supposed to behave!  Otherwise we are disobedient children.  Nobody wants that for us, Beloved.  Moving on.

5-7:  God will destroy those who will not believe

As we come to this last paragraph for the evening, I need to explain that the concepts of belief and obedience in Scripture are inextricably bound together.  If one says they believe and does not obey, well, they didn’t really believe, or they would have obeyed.  The Lord Jesus Himself points this out in Matt. 21:28-32.  “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They *said, “The first.” Jesus *said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.”  The one who actually obeyed and did what the Lord wanted is the one who really believed.  Jude in the next three verses reminds us that those who do not really believe, those who pay lip service to Him but do not do what He says, will be destroyed and there will be no mercy in that destruction.  He is going to illustrate with Biblical, historical examples, and it isn’t pretty, and it doesn’t matter what type of being it is.  Let’s get into the text and you will see what God means as Jude reveals what is on his mind.

5:  Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.

Jude fires his opening salvo.  The first thing he says though, is that this is by way of reminder to those who know the truth to begin with.  That is what he says here.  He begins with the story of how he victoriously led His chosen people out of Egypt.  You can read about that in the first 12 chapters of Exodus.  After that approximately 14-day trip through the desert the first time, he sent in 12 spies to tell people about what was in the land he was giving them.  We’ll pick up the story in Numbers 13:1-2–“Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.””

What happened next takes a few chapters of Numbers to develop, but in brief, all the spies saw that the land was good, and it produced all kinds of provision for anyone who lived there, but there was a problem.  The 10 spies who were not Joshua and Caleb explain in Numbers 13:31-33–“But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.””  God told them to go and take that land.  These guys wouldn’t do it because they saw that they were inadequate for the task.  Only Joshua and Caleb saw that God would make them adequate for the task.  They were the ones that wanted to obey.  All the rest, I must point out, were still from Israel.  They were still among the chosen people even.  The problem was that were not turning to God for their provision, and I need you to hold onto that thought, because we will come back to it.  What happened to Israel next was a divine judgement for their disobedience in not going to take the land.

First, Moses had to intercede for them because God was going to destroy them and start over with Moses (Num. 14:12).  Then finally, God said of these people that they “shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.”  After that, the Lord led them through what amounted to a 40-year detour through the “wilderness.”  The Hebrew word is midbar, and it really is best characterized by the English word “desert.”  It is a place that is not hospitable at all, and is in fact hostile to life.  Nothing grows, there are no animals but the ones you bring with you, you have to really work hard to get to water (usually it means digging), and there just isn’t enough.  And the Lord is very clear about what the desert was for–to kill off those who would not believe and obey about taking the land he had brought them to.  It was a punishment for not believing God.  The Lord said to them, “Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.” (Num 14:30)  There is more to this, but that’s the shortest version I could make it.  God destroyed those who would not do what He said to do when He said to do it.  You know, there was even a bunch of men that tried after this judgement was pronounced.  They went up to try to take the land, but the Lord was no longer with them.  Beloved, that should scare us all to tears to even consider disobeying the Lord.  Worse, they children, who these people used as an excuse to disobey God, are the ones who ended up taking the land.  That is what Jude is referencing here.

6:  And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,

  • The next example that Jude uses is of some debate, so I will tell you what I think the Scriptures say.  There are very studied servants of God that disagree with me, but the ones that DO agree with me include Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Steve Lawson, Pastors Mondo Gonzales and Gary Stearman, and I could also continue that list but won’t.  One of my instructors in what passes for Bible college didn’t agree and tried to tell people I was unfit to be a pastor.  I won’t tell you which one that was, but that is still in CBOQ’s official records about me.  I don’t care, but that’s there.  It is a controversial thing, and I happen to believe what the Bible says.
  • Jude is of course referring to Genesis 6.  There are two prevailing theories about how to read that particular story, and one of them is called “the Godly Line of Seth.”  It is the wrong one, so I’m not going to spend time on it, but the other one is what I believe the Bible says. It begins in Genesis 6:1-4.  “Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever,  because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”  I am told by Hebrew scholars that the NASB is an accurate translation of this text for these purposes, and since my Hebrew is not as good as my Greek, I will rely on that and Lexicography to interpret the passage as God revealed it to me from the text.  What Jude is saying is that angels [Gk., angelos] did not keep their own domain.  What that means is that they disobeyed God in a very particular way, and that is in Genesis 6:2–“that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.”  As a pastor who was first a biologist by university degree, I approach discussions like this from a knowledge of genetics and crossbreeding as well as the Scriptures.  When Jude says that the angels did not keep their own domain, he is saying they introduced their own genetic material into the human race by means of intimacy with human women.  (The opposing theory here says that it was the men of the line of disobedient Cain mixing with the daughters of righteous Seth, incidentally, and that cannot be, because as good a man as Seth was, he was still a human sinner.  We can talk about that some other time if you like.)  What resulted here was that it corrupted the entire human race except for one couple:  Noah and his wife.  Those two had three sons, and those three sons married other human women, who probably were still genetically connected with non-human DNA, though they knew nothing about that.  Those eight people were the ones God saved by means of a really big boat that Noah built.  All the rest were drowned in a flood of the whole earth.  The days of Noah seem to be coming upon us again by the way, but this isn’t the time for that consideration.
  • Jude tells us that these disobedient angels were imprisoned “in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day…”  Jude isn’t the only ones that talks about this bunch in Scripture, either.  Peter talks about these exact examples in 2 Peter 2:4-5–“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly…”  Peter uses the Greek word Tarteros for the English word hell.  Peter used the understanding of those in the unbelieving world around him to illustrate the point.  Disobedience of God and ignoring His standards and laws only ends one way–hell.  Forever.  Or do you think the “judgement of the great day” means something other than the final judgement?  I don’t.  And Jude isn’t finished here.  Next verse.

7:  just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an  example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

  • Jude brings up the ancient twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Out of personal interest, I’ve seen a few documentaries about the archeology of Sodom and Gomorrah.  It seems that they have likely found the location of one of the two cities (they think Gomorrah).  They have excavated it, and have determined that these cities, build with stone primarily, actually burned in a conflagration worse that ground-level Dresden in WWII.  The fire was hot enough to burn stone and sulfur pellets about the size of a tennis ball at the largest rained from the sky.  They found some of the pellets that were stuck in the mud at the time and they can still be ignited with a simple lighter.  They also found evidence of a meteor strike in the center of town that was probably about the size of a Volkswagon Bug.  Basically the cities were nuked and then dealt with fire-rain.  The only people that survived were Lot and his two daughters, and the angels basically rescued them at the very last second.  Why did this happen to these twin cities and the cities around them, collectively called the cities of the plain?  The band Rush wrote a song about it sort of called Distant Early Warning.  (It’s on Grace Under Pressure if you wanted to know.)  But why?  “In the same way, they demonstrated gross immorality and went after strange flesh.”  This is kind of the reverse of the angels taking human wives (and has important differences).  Let’s look at the story in Genesis 19.  It should be noted, in verse 2, it seems like the Angels were trying to start trouble in Sodom, and in verse 3 Lot prevents it by inviting them to his house and making a feast for them so they would come out of the square.  LOT knew this was a bad place to be at dusk.  Verse 4 and 5 tell us why–“Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.””  These men wanted to have forced sex with these angels.  Beloved, we have a different name for that.  We call that rape.  Incidentally, those angels were sent by God for the very purpose of destroying the cities of the plain, so it is no surprise that they were trying to provoke such a confrontation.  They went after “heteros” flesh according to Jude.  The word itself means different or strange, and is used largely as an adjective.  Flesh is simply a version of the word sarkos, meaning flesh, the noun the adjective is modifying. 
  • And because these people did the deed, they paid the price.  It was an actual archetype of individuals who will be punished with destruction and everlasting fire for disobeying the standards and laws of a holy and just creator God.  This is recorded for us in Romans 1:18-32, and we will read that.  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.  Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers,  haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

The point here is that God has actually PROMISED to destroy those who do not really obey Him.  This should absolutely terrify us all.  Which one of us has not violated the holy and righteous standard of God, even as believers and followers of Christ?  Not a one of us has managed to escape that because we are but sinful flesh.  “ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” said the Apostle Paul in Rom. 3:23.  And not a single one of us can fix ourselves so that we can stop all of the wrong thoughts, wrong words, and wrong deeds.  We are not adequate as sinful flesh to do so.  But that’s the good news!  Jesus died in our place as the atoning sacrifice for all those wrongs I just listed off!  Better, God was so please with the work that God the Son accomplished by dying in our place that He rose from the dead!

Now all that is required is that we turn away from our sins and toward God, ending our sinful life and habits.  The Biblical word for this is “repentance.”  We admit what we did was wrong, maybe even to ourselves, but certainly to God, and we stop doing those things that displease Him.  Then we believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to pay for our own sins and that his resurrection from the dead is the proof of that.  Repent and believe.  That’s all there is to it for the non-believer.  For the Christian, there is more to the benefit as well.

Do you recall that earlier we talked about how we are inadequate to do the work of God in and of ourselves?  That is true.  In and of myself, I am incapable of standing here and speaking from the Scriptures in the place of God, and in fact, given the One on whose behalf I am speaking, it can be a nerve-wracking thing to do.  I wouldn’t want to get it wrong.  I do not have the oratory skill, I do not have the knowledge I think I should have, I am completely inadequate on my own to do this work God has called me to.  Thank God He provides a solution to this!  Look to God to make you adequate because we are ALL inadequate in ourselves.  Hey, Paul did this!  2 Cor. 3:5 says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…”  All I can say in response is something a man once said in response to the Lord Jesus:  “Lord, I believe…help my unbelief!”  And I know He will, because He is the One who for whatever unfathomable reason called me as His own.

And that is what I saw in the text.

Next time, we will study verses 8 through 16.  I know that’s kind of ambitious, but I think we can do it.

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