Tuesday, June 26, 2012

These that defile the flesh Jude part III

The judgement of Sodom and Gommorah is given as a third example of the consequence of the sin of apostasy. Jude's epistle points out that the perverse sin of Sodom and Gommorah is in like manner to the sin of the apostates: fornication and defilement of the flesh. The men that Jude wrote of who crept in unbeknownst to the assembly were turning the grace of God into lasciviousness by committing spiritual fornication.

If marriage is God's beautiful picture of Christ's love for His bride, the Church, then any perversion of marriage must be a manifestation of self-love. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and He is the savior of the body. This verse in Ephesians presents God's view of what marriage is to look like. From Genesis 4 onward the institution has been twisted to fallen man's liking. Where Christ has one betrothed wife who He is the head of, Lamech had two wives subject to him. The patriarch Abraham under the suggestion of his wife Sarai, took their handmaid Hagar, as a concubine, and putting a strain on his relationship to Sarai. If polygamy, adultery, etc. is a departure of God's ideal plan for displaying His Son's relationship to the Church, then homosexuality goes one step further.

The eighth verse gives a summary of how these false teachers behave according to each OT example. It is important to note that it seems to go in reverse order, starting with the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, and finishing with the mixed multide who believed not that were destroyed by the Lord. The people at Sodom and Gomorrah defiled the flesh, through immoral activity. The angels who left their habitation despised the dominion, the Lordship of Christ. They despised the fact that Christ is Lord. The mixed multitude who did not believe the honest report of Caleb and Joshua, who caused all the congregation to murmur against Moses- spoke evil of dignitaries. The false teachers that Jude is warning about do each of these things and much more according to the Jude's epistle.

These three examples of departure from belief and the consequence thereof, get progressively more graphic and intense. In the fifth verse, it is simply stated that the Lord destroyed those who believed not the witness of the spies' report that the land of Canaan was able to be conquered. Not much is said of their attitude or their punishment, other than they who believed not were destroyed. In the sixth verse, however more details are given. It is said that the angels who did not hold fast to their beginning but left their heavenly home, are now kept in everlasting chains under darkness awaiting final judgement. The seventh verse says more than just Sodom and Gomorrah not believing; they gave themselves over to fornication and went after strange flesh. Their punishment is more than just everlasting chains unto the day of judgement; they suffer the vengence of eternal fire.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The angels who kept not their first estate... Jude part II

 And angels who had not kept their own original state, but had abandoned their own dwelling, he keeps in eternal chains under gloomy darkness, to the judgment of the great day; 
Jude 6

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. The next example of apostasy Jude gives in his epistle is in reference to the fallen angels. These angels had their beginnings in Christ, for He spoke them into existence. They owed their allegiance to Him but were not content to remain in His presence. They departed from their own habitation, the presence of Christ. The verb for 'kept' in this verse is the same as the verb for 'reserved' as well. This makes an interesting play on words; we could well paraphrase this verse as "The angels which did not hold fast their origin, but departed from their dwelling place, he has held them fast in eternal chains for the judgement day." There is a parallell between this verse and 2 Peter 2:4 which says : "For if God spared not the angels who had sinned, but having cast them down to the deepest pit of gloom has delivered them to chains of darkness to be kept for judgment;" And what can we say of false teachers who rebel in the same manner as these angels? The previous verse provides the answer to their judgement: "And through covetousness, with well-turned words, will they make merchandise of you: for whom judgement is not idle, and their destruction slumbers not." (2 Peter 2:3) 

It may be helpful to consider the first angel to committ apostasy, the chief angel, Lucifer. In the 14th chapter of Isaiah we read of his downfall, which seceded his prideful attempt to overthrow the throne. Isaiah 14:12-15 states: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." We can see the apparent discontent of Lucifer and his first habitation. We can also see the consequence of his departure; Lucifer was brought down to hell, the sides or very back, of the pit, or dungeon. Although Lucifer, who we know today as Satan, the Devil, is currently roaming the earth seeking whom he may devour, Satan will not be bound in a dungeon, or the bottomless pit more specifically, until after the 7-year Tribulation. It is, however, comforting to read this passage in Isaiah from God's viewpoint in that He being eternal and outside of time sees Satan's judgement as already accomplished. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Notes on Jude's epistle pt.1


Jude's Epistle has many Old Testament examples of apostasy to remind his audience of the consequences of turning the grace of God into lascivousness. The first example he gives is in verse 5 which is probably a reference to Israel's unbelief at Kadesh (Num. 13-14). There, spies from each of the twelve tribes of Israel gave an evil report, that the land was hostile to its inhabitants, and that giants dwelt in the land. The example of apostasy is found in their desire to appoint a captain and return to Egypt. The consequence of their unbelief was that the Lord destroyed them.

Israel's other instance of unbelief and rebellion also serves as an example of widespread departure from the faith when they were at Horeb in Exodus 32. However, that moment in Israel's history was likely not what Jude was referring to here as There, we read of how the camp of Israel grew restless waiting for Moses, so they went to Aaron and fashioned a golden calf from the bracelets and jewelry they took as a spoil on their departure from Egypt. When Moses came down from the mountain, and saw the debauchery that took place, he asked  who would come to the LORD's side. All the tribe of Levi came and were commanded to kill their brethren. In that day three thousand souls who were saved out of the land of Egypt perished for their unbelief. The psalmist declares of this incident that "They changed their Glory into the likeness of an ox that eats grass." This idol was who they gratified their flesh after in the name of worship. The idol, being made of the gold they took out of Egypt is a stunning picture of turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying our Lord Jesus Christ.

The desire to create an idol started nearly immediately from the time they left Egypt, for it was an attempt to re-create some of    the things they had in Egypt which they missed. You will remember the murmurings of the Israelites, desiring food and water, and ironically, to be buried in Egypt rather than journey through the wilderness to get to the Promised Land! Many believers today miss the world that they have been brought out of so much that they take their christian liberty, a blessing or spoil of victory, and use it to pervert the grace of Jesus Christ. I am reminded of christian leaders who make a case for the believer's liberty to engage in fleshly    practices such as smoking or using unedifying language.

It has been commonly understood by many godly commentators that apostasy is an irremmediable sin. The basis for this teaching is found in passages such as Heb. 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:17,21; Jude 12,13 and 19; and Rev. 3:14-16. While some look to it as proof that apostasy is irremmediable, other teachers look to it as proof that a believer can backslide so far they can never come back to full fellowship. Both views are extreme and a warning ought to be given to tread softly where one is unsure of how to interpret a passage. It can be difficult to know where to draw the line between an apostate and a backslidden believer. The backslider may lose fellowship with Christ for a period through sin, but an apostate never had fellowship, and never will. The backslider, like some of the saints at Corinth, usually experience some sort of chastisement or discipline, are delivered unto Satan for destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5). But for the apostate: the mist of darkness is reserved forever (2 Peter 2:17). The carnal believer being sealed by the Spirit, may grieve Him nevertheless (Ephesians 4:30). The apostate is devoid of the Spirit (Jude 1:19).

Before moving on, I want to clarify my position that apostasy is a sin that can not be committed by a true believer. A true believer can fall into sinful, carnal living as the Corinthian believers did, but if he denies the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, he never believed in the first place. If a believer does start living a sinful lifestyle, then there he or she will surely experience chastening in their life to bring them to repentance. The author of Hebrews reminds us in the twelfth chapter: "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Heb. 12:7-8). Chastisement is a proof of sonship, that we have been adopted into the family of God, along with the presence of the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:16). An apostate has never experienced God's chastisement, nor has he the Spirit of God bearing witness with our spirit.

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
2 Peter 2:10