17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. ~ Jude 17-19
In today's text, we continue to learn more about the apostate, the false teachers who once embraced the truth but somewhere along the way they changed their tune. It wasn't that they lost their salvation, they never entered into a personal relationship with the Lord. Their problem is the they embraced the truth but the truth didn't embrace them.
When the church was born at Pentecost, the new life of the church was obviously exhilarating. It was pure. It was powerful. It was productive. They were devoted to prayer and worship and the apostles’ teachings. And they gathered every day to engage in all of those things including being generous with one another and the needy. They had the heart of the Lord because He lived within them through the Holy Spirit. They persevered in the faith, despite the persecution from unbelievers. And, perseverance in the faith is a mark of the born again believer in Christ.
In those early days of their new-found life in Christ, the apostles were given the ability to look into the future because of the abiding Holy Spirit. And, the Holy Spirit enabled them to see something frightening, that there would be those who would defect from the truth. To those early believers, it must have seemed absolutely crazy that there was coming a time when people who proclaimed Christ would defect. But it happened, and this is why the Holy Spirit prompted Jude to write his little, yet powerful, book.
In v.17-18 of today's passage we read, "17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, 'In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.'"
Just twenty-five years after Jude wrote these words, it happened. Apostasy came fast, and the church was corrupted before it ever got out of the first century. And since that time, it has continued in every generation. It is not that they lost their salvation, no, they never had it. And, somewhere along the line the people chose not to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. One can not lose the gift of salvation for God has said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
In today's passage, we are reminded this would happen. Jude did write, "But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold." In 2 Corinthians 11:13 we read, "Such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their deeds."
In 1 Timothy 4 we learn, "In the last days, some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits, doctrines of demons, and hypocritical liars." On this same subject, the Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24, "As time goes forward, there will be many false prophets and false Christs."
Back in Jude 10 we read, "These people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them." Apostates mock what they can not comprehend. They treat the truth with mockery. But it’s truth they once professed and still profess, which makes them so dangerous.
In v.19 of today's passage we read, "These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit."
Apostates always are the ones who claim to have the Spirit of God and think anybody who doesn’t agree with them causes division. But, they are the ones who cause the division.
The verb "divide" in Jude 19 means "to make a distinction." Division is the effect of false teaching, the truth and lies are separate. The root of division is the idea that distinctions are made. Apostates believe they are superior to all others. They believe their interpretation of the Scriptures is above all most accurate. And, they despise anyone in the church who has authority.
Interestingly, the word "Pharisee" comes from the Hebrew word which means "to separate." They think they’re at an elevated level and they scoff at those who take the Word of God at face value and endeavor to follow it. Apostates are those "who follow mere natural instincts." That phrase is one word in the Greek, meaning, they are enslaved to and driven by their own fallen fleshly desires. Sadly, they think they know better than those who have a personal relationship with God.
At the end of v.19 we read, "they not have the Spirit." These of whom Jude writes are not born again. They have not entered into a personal relationship with God by believing in the Lord Jesus and inviting Him into their lives. They are spiritually dead. If anyone is spiritual, it is because God lives in the believer and He sometimes expresses Himself through the believer.
In Galatians 5 we read of the fruit of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We appear as Christlike because God expresses Himself in and through our yielded lives. He expresses Himself through the activity of the Holy Spirit who abides within the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal of the Christian life is to increasingly allow God to have control over our lives, and then, we will be known as the children of God in the eyes of others because of His expression through us.