The subject of Jude’s epistle was changed due to a more pressing need to exhort Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). This exhortation was needed because false teachers had crept secretly into the church. As Peter said in 2 Peter 2:1, “there shall be false teachers among you,” now Jude says they are here. There is a general sentiment today that each person has their own truth – (“What is true for you is not necessarily true for me and vice versa”); however, the Bible clearly shows that there is objective truth which we can know (John 8:32). God does not say sincerity is the only criterion for salvation, rather He wants us to sincerely come to a knowledge of the truth in order to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). False teachers are so dangerous because they purport to bring saving truth to their audience, but in reality they lead their listeners down a path of lies (Mt. 7:15; 2 Thess. 2:10-12). The false teachers of whom Jude wrote, “turned the grace of God into lascivious,” evidently making God’s grace into a license to throw off all restraint and pursue sexual sins (Jude 4). God’s grace is a wonderful gift essential to our salvation, but it does not sanction sin; on the contrary, it teaches us to deny worldly lusts (Titus 2:11-12).
To combat this false teaching, Jude reminds his readers how unrepentant disobedience brings about divine justice. Three examples serve to establish this truth: 1. The Israelites who died in the wilderness (v.5); 2. The angels which fell (v.6).; 3. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (v7). The Israelites who died wandering in the wilderness show us that once we have responded in faithful obedience to God and have been delivered from sin, it is possible to lose our faith and be finally lost. Jude 5 says the Israelites were destroyed in the wilderness because they “believed not.” Thus, we must cultivate our faith and be on guard lest there be in any one of us, “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). The angels whom God has “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” are a testament to God’s judgment on pride and rebellion (Jude 6). These angels “kept not their first estate” (Jude 6), in other words, they were not satisfied with the place God had for them. To exalt oneself in such a way is to sin (2 Pet. 2:4). Even the pure-spirit beings who serve God are not exempt from divine punishment, a never-ending torment that wicked human beings will share in (Mt. 25:41). This is a lesson that should make us take heed to God’s commands and be thankful that, unlike with the angels, the Lord took upon himself our nature to die in our place so that we could be saved from eternal death (Heb. 2:16). Finally, Sodom and Gomorrah “are set forth for an example,” to us of divine punishment; as we speak, the inhabitants of these cities are “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Their sin is detailed in this verse. It is not abuse that is given as the reason for their punishment, but rather “going after strange flesh” (Jude 7). While the men of Sodom were certainly brazen and violent, their homosexuality was against God’s created order for a man and a woman to be together (cf. Rom. 1:26-27).
False teachers today will twist passages to say that once you have true faith you cannot fall away, that God will not send anybody to hell or at least not eternally, and that homosexuality itself is not sinful, but these verses in Jude make the truth plain. Will we contend for it?