Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Common Sens...uality (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1, the idea of sensuality was introduced, noting that Jude was writing to believers to contend for their faith because of the false teachings to abuse the grace of God (v. 4). Jude then provided a series of examples for his readers.

The first of these examples was the Israelites who were saved out of Egypt (Jude 5). Although this group of people were saved, the text says that some were destroyed because they did not truly believe. They were offered God's grace (salvation from the oppression of slavery in Egypt), but either complained of their freedom (desiring to return to Egypt) or continually desired more despite all they had been given.

The second example regards the angels (v. 6).  The angels all began with God, yet like the Israelites, some destroyed. Their destruction was the result of rebellion. Specifically, theirs was rebellion against God, but also their mixing with the human race as described in Genesis 6 (in some way that I can never understand).

The third example of this triad involved the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah (v. 7). Unlike the previous examples were some were destroyed. In this instance on a handful were saved. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of the sensuality (Genesis 19), their pride, and their lack of concern for the poor (Ezekiel 16). But even those were saved (Lot and his daughters) could not overcome the temptation of sensual pleasures that were so prevalent in the towns recently destroyed...as each of his daughters took a turn sexually with their drunken father to carry on the family name.

In verse 8, Jude ties these examples of the past with his present day opponents saying that the people of his day rely on dreams for their divine inspiration. But more than inspiration, these dreams are a means to justify their lifestyle. This lifestyle:
  • defile the flesh (their sexual pleasures)
  • reject authority (specifically the authority of God - like the end of v. 4)
  • blaspheme the glorious ones (both good and evil angels)

While it is true that these acts may represent various aspects of sensuality, the Christian must take our queue from v. 9 - meaning don't condemn, but rather to leave it to God. Michael, and archangel of God, would not rebuke an evil angel (the devil) directly, realizing it is for God to do. Jesus commanded that we make disciples by teaching others to observe all that He commanded, not by merely condemning others for wrong-doing. The reality is that none of us, apart from God, understands the full picture. We are to correct, to speak truth, and to show an example - but it is all to be done in love, and in the realization that the authority belongs to God.

Jude continues his letter with a similar stream of thought. Jude says that people blaspheme what they do not understand – living instinctively, like unreasoning animals (v. 10). This thought parallels Paul's thoughts in the last half of Romans 1. Jude then provides another set of examples which tie into this:

The first example is Cain. Cain's offering was not accepted by God. Yet God did not condemn Cain. In fact, God told Cain he would be accepted if he did well (Genesis 4.7). But Cain chose wickedness over goodness. Even when Cain heard from God Himself, Cain did not repent, instead he killed his brother.

The second example is that of Balaam. (Numbers 22-24). When reading this account, one might think Balaam is an honorable prophet - speaking good of God and His people. And, indeed, the blessing Balaam delivers is for Israel (not against, as those who hired him wanted). However, if Balaam was a good prophet, then why would the donkey have needed to stop? Balaam was a prophet, but mainly for profit! In the end, he met his doom, and the New Testament speaks ill of Balaam in multiple places.

The final example from this section is that of Korah (Numbers 16). Korah may not have heard directly from God, but he did hear from God's chosen leaders - Moses and Aaron. Korah, and his clan, were priests who defied the authority of God, rejecting God and like Balaam met their demise soon afterward.

The problem, as Jude relates, is that false teachers are not always easy to spot. Like Balaam and Korah, such teachers are in our midst, but are hidden like reefs under water that wreck ships coming in and out of port (hidden reers at your feast - v. 12. Such people eat shameless at the love feasts though love is nowhere to be found in their hearts. They feed only themselves (see Ezekiel 34 for a picture of how God views "shepherds").

Jude concludes this section by stating these individuals are like:
  • clouds without water.
  • trees without fruit.
  • waves of the sea that leave a foamy residue behind.
  • stars without light.

In Part 3, we will discover how Jude suggests to deal with such people.

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