Epistle of Jude: A Plead to Choose Life

…that there is a clear contrast between good (which leads to life) and evil (which leads to death). I know for me personally, sometimes my thoughts deceive me into thinking that sin is okay. The stronger the temptation, the stronger the lie.

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Most scholars believe that the author of this letter was the brother of James (who wrote the Book of James and was Jesus’ brother). Early church tradition dates Jude’s death around 62 AD (meaning the letter was probably written sometime before then), however there is also internal and external evidence to suggest that Jude probably wrote this toward the end of the century, somewhere between 70-80 AD.

Jude is most likely addressing Jewish believers since he makes obscure Old Testament references as well as allusions to books from the Apocrypha that would make more sense to the Jewish rather than the Gentile believers. False teachers were attacking these believers and hoping to lead them into a lifestyle of sin:

For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude 4

Jude makes the point to his readers that since the beginning of time those who lived a lifestyle of licentiousness (lust, excess, immorality, etc) always came under judgment. Therefore, no matter how enticing it was for them to listen to these false teachers (who might seem on the outside to have more fun), they needed to pay attention to the past. Since all sin is a vicious cycle (as it produces slavery), then what happened in history was proof that a lifestyle of sin today would eventually lead to an unhappy ending:

Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

Jude 5

Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Jude 7

Jude then makes an interesting contrast between those who fear the Lord and those opposed to Him:

But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!:

Jude 9

The angel of the Lord didn’t dare bring an accusation against the devil (recognizing accusation as sin), whereas Satan disregarded the Lord and attempted to abscond Moses’  body against God’s will. The angel feared the Lord; the devil did not.

As a side note, the above verse might be an allusion to the Assumption of Moses, a Jewish apocryphal pseudepigraphical work that’s not considered by most Christians to be Holy-Spirit inspired. There are, however, other possibilities to what this passage alludes to that you can read up on by clicking here.

Anyway, my point is that there is a clear contrast between good (which leads to life) and evil (which leads to death). I know for me personally, sometimes my thoughts deceive me into thinking that sin is okay. The stronger the temptation, the stronger the lie.

It’s not that God will condemn us if we do sin (there is nothing that Jesus isn’t willing to forgive), or that we should feel guilty, ashamed or discouraged in our daily struggles. But we must recognize that both a lifestyle of continual sin and short-term, circumstantial sin is not from God and is not a good idea in any circumstance. It’s what Jesus came to help us escape from, once and for all:

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.

My fellow Bible-lovers at Korean BBQ
My fellow Bible-lovers at Korean BBQ

1 Peter 3:18

The false teachers who were coming against the original reader were teaching otherwise, and it seemed like their ideas were infiltrating the Christians’ thoughts since Jude had to write this letter to them. They were to hate sin and remain separate from these teachers, for by doing so they would continue to have life:

And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.

Jude 22,23

…“In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.”  It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions.  But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Jude 18-21

As long as we today set our minds to hate sin and desire to overcome, the Holy Spirit will then renew our minds, which is the only possible way to lose our desire for sin and instead follow God:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

This is why followers of Jesus are called victors and conquerors, because Jesus gives us the ability to overcome all sin:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:35,37

…for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

1 John 5:4

And if there is ever any confusion over what will bring life or death in a particular moment or decision, simply asking God will bring clarity:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth…

John 16:13

Again, the point of this blog entry isn’t to push people to be “better” or “stop sinning,” but rather to point out that temptation and sin is never from God, and that all sin, in the end, will lead to death:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

James 1:13-16 apple

And finally, because I love happy endings, the good news is that sin will eventually be done away with forever so that we never have to endure the struggle again!

…so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28

2 Peter: Taking Hold of Grace

Peter’s second epistle was probably written somewhere toward the end of his life (since Peter believes he is dying), which early tradition holds was around 64 AD:

…since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

2 Peter 1:14

Peter warns the original reader of the coming false teachers that will attempt to slow them down in their walks with God.

Some of these false teachers taught the concept of libertinism, which was a popular belief in the apostolic age that early Christians fell victim to. Libertinism taught that since everything material and all things of the flesh were evil (while only the spiritual was good), then moral restraint against the desires of the flesh was unnecessary. Since the flesh was bad, why not just abuse it?

As a result of this belief, Christian adherents to this doctrine fell into immorality that would keep them from growing stronger in their relationship with God. It would be tempting for them to just follow the ways of the false teachers since it was more enticing than holiness. But this depraved lifestyle the original reader would be tempted to follow was just a form of slavery!:

…they speak bombastic nonsense, and with licentious desires of the flesh they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them.

2 Peter 2:18,19

Peter stood up for the truth against the false teachers by arguing that the power of God was given to the original reader to overcome all immorality they were suffering from. They didn’t have to keep desiring their sin, but live in complete freedom:

Yes
Yes

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 

2 Peter 1:3

Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:4

As followers of Jesus, Peter’s listeners were to take hold of the power given to them because it would be God’s power alone that would free them from their desire to sin. True life was freedom from the cycle of sin, and if the Christians took a hold of this grace, they would also take a hold of the life God wanted to bless them with:

For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.
2 Peter 1:5-7

Therefore, brothers and sisters,be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

2 Peter 1:10,11

God has given each one of us today the grace and power needed to change and be the people deep down we all want to be. We cannot do it without relying on and having faith in His grace. The Israelites under the Old Covenant were unable to be the holy nation God wanted them to be, and so we are also unable to walk out in His image unless we rely solely on His grace, which has now been given to us through Jesus!

This is why the age we live in is so exciting, because we have been gifted with the grace and knowledge of God like never before. This grace and spiritual knowledge of God will finally set us free from our own destructive ways and bring us the joy and life and freedom we have always wanted! This is the good news of the gospel!

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 1:2

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry…now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look!

1 Peter 1:10,12