Sunday, November 16, 2014

in an ungodly way - Jude 14-16

"It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.' These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage." (Jude 14-16)
Jude quotes the Book of Enoch chapter 1 verse 9. It is important to understand that, like the New Testament during the formative centuries of Christianity, the Hebrew canon was not a fix, set in stone, collection of books and manuscripts. There was quite a bit of variation between religious Jews as to what exactly constituted their sacred writings. Here, Jude, a Jewish believer, held to the inspired nature of the Book of Enoch. Greater variation are also held concerning the intertestamental books, such as the Book of Wisdom and the Books of the Maccabees, as to whether or not they were part of the Jewish "cannon". When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek during the third century BC, these books were included as part of the translation. However, when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Latin in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, these books were excluded. At times we must take a more liberal, rather than contracted, view of what constitutes "scripture" lest we miss all of what God intended to communicate to us. For example, regardless if you consider the intertestamental books as "scripture," there is still a great deal of wisdom and encouragement that can be gained from reading and studying them.

As Jude continues to describe the false prophets and false teachers, there is one thing that appears common to every aspect of their lives: ungodly. They are ungodly and they do ungodly things in an ungodly way. Everything about then is ungodly. There is no acknowledgement of God in their mind, in their actions, and even in their emotions and passions. Being devoid of God, they are left unto themselves and to their animal appetites that rage on within them. Without God they become consumed with themselves; grumbling when they don't get their way, finding fault in others, boasting in their own pride, and using people instead of loving and caring for them. They are self-centered, self-serving, self-promoting people who care nothing for others and for God.

This should be a warning for all of us and a lesson as to the natural bent of all of sinful mankind. Apart from God we are destined to spiral downward. There is no great forward march towards evolutionary and philosophical perfection apart from the the grace and mercy of God. When we disconnect from God we turn inward and become slaves of our inward vices and desires. We partner with our flesh and wage war against our spirit until nothing of us remains except bruit beasts. It is only when we choose being "godly" over "ungodly" that we are transformed and learn to live lives of holiness, righteousness, and love. It is only Jesus that can break the bonds of our self-centered slavery to become people who love and care for others. It is only Jesus who can teach us and empower us to live life as He always intended it to be lived.

David Robison

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