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Lessons from Jude: Danger of Apostasy and a Reminder to Be Faithful

Published Apr 26, 2019
Lessons from Jude: Danger of Apostasy and a Reminder to Be Faithful

Today let’s dive into the rest of the epistle of Jude, verses 12-25, and learn about the sin of apostasy, the actions of apostates, the consequences, and how to build our lives on Jesus Christ.

In the introduction to Jude, we learned about the author, his audience, and his purpose in writing this book.

Later, we explored the examples from the past the author references and learned how the past serves as a reminder to pause and reflect on our mistakes.

Today let’s dive into the rest of the epistle of Jude, verses 12-25, and learn about the sin of apostasy, the actions of apostates, the consequences, and how to build our lives on Jesus Christ.

Throughout this article, we’ll refer to a parallel reference from the epistles, Hebrews 10:26-31, which talks about the same subject.

Apostasy Defined

Jude 1:12-19 talks about the sin of apostasy and the characteristics and actions of an apostate. So, let's begin by exploring the definition of apostasy.

Apostasy, in general terms, is defined as the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.

In biblical terms, apostasy is defined as “sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth” (Hebrews 10:26).

Not every willful sin is apostasy, but the sin mentioned here is total and final apostasy.

Matthew Henry puts it this way in his Bible commentary:

“...when men with a full and fixed will and resolution despise and reject Christ, the only Savior, despise and resist the Spirit, the only Sanctifier, and despise and renounce the gospel, the only way of Salvation, and the words of eternal life, and all this after they have known, owned, and professed, the Christian religion, and continue to do so obstinately and maliciously.”

Therefore, apostasy is not to be taken lightly. It is a sin committed willingly and repeatedly, disowning the truth and the source of truth.

Jude Exposes the Actions of Apostates

Jude first mentions apostates in his opening lines: these men had “turn[ed] the grace of our God into lewdness and denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).

In the middle of talking about apostates, Jude breaks into a series of metaphors and shifts into poetry, explaining who these people are and what they’re up to (Jude 1:12-13).

  • They are "spots in your love feasts." They feast among others, but they serve themselves (12).
  • They are “clouds without water, carried about by the winds." They carry a false promise of refreshment but leave others disappointed (12).
  • They are “late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots.” There is no possibility of future life or growth in them (12).
  • They are “raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame.” They leave nothing of substance or value behind (13).
  • They are “wandering stars,” forever roaming in the darkness: they can’t be relied upon for navigation (13).

James Moffatt says that, “sky, land, and sea are ransacked for illustrations of the character of these men.” Jude warns believers that these people could be among them. They might even be people whom they look up to for leadership and counsel. That is why being aware of the actions of apostates is very important.

Further down, in verses 16 and 19, he lists more actions that call for scrutiny. They are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” They are mockers, “sensual persons who cause divisions" and don’t have the Spirit.

Hebrews 10:29, lists similar behavior and is difficult to even read. The apostates have:

  1. “Trampled the Son of God underfoot”
  2. “Counted the blood of the covenant by which [they] have been sanctified, a common thing.”
  3. “Insulted the Spirit of grace”

Jude Reveals the Consequences of Apostasy

In Jude 1:14, we find another reference from an apocryphal book, the Book of Enoch. In it, we find Enoch’s prophecy about apostates and what will happen to them at the end.

“Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 1:14- 15)

Hebrews 10:26-29 lists the following consequences of apostasy:

  1. “There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (26)
  2. “Certain fearful expectation of judgment” (27)
  3. "Fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (27)
  4. Worse punishment than those who rejected Moses’ law (28-29)

God is gracious, compassionate, and forgiving. But He is a just and holy God and His standards remain the same. His attitude toward sin is unchanging.

While His judgment on sin was immediate in the past, He extends a period of grace now. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

But He will keep His end of the bargain. The passage in Hebrews ends with a grim reality and warning: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

The importance of warning against false teachers and apostates at the end times was not lost on the apostles. Peter reminds us of it in 2 Peter 3:2-3. Paul calls for our attention in Acts 20:29, 1 Timothy 4:1-2, and 2 Timothy 3:1.

Be mindful. Know this. Remember.

Jude Reminds Us to Build Our Lives on Jesus Christ

In light of this revelation of the apostates, their actions, and the consequences, what is a believer’s responsibility? Jude explains in his closing lines:

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-21)

Let faith and prayer be the two pillars upon which you build your godly life. And without a doubt, let the love of God and the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be the foundation upon which those pillars stand tall and firm.

Jude invites us into a deeper relationship with the triune God. We are called to endure, persevere, and build ourselves up on the knowledge of the truth that was given to us.

We need to be filled with the grace of God, so we can extend the same to others.

“And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)

Conclusion

As Jude himself explains in the beginning of the epistle, he had a redirected purpose in writing this letter due to the gravity of the issue. Salvation is important and the primary step toward an eternal life.

However, sanctification in daily life is equally important. It doesn’t come easy. It begins by understanding the word of God and establishing a deeper discipline of practice according to the truth.

Knowledge of the word of God helps us distinguish the truth from the lies.

While Jude begins by pulling reminders from the past, he also points us to the future and end times. He encourages us with the hope of eternal life and reminds us to live a sanctified life, anticipating the coming of our Lord.

And as the closing lines of Jude would remind us, we can’t get through any of this without the help of our God and Savior.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)


Alice William is a wife and programmer with a passion for writing. She started the blog, Walking in the Word, by journaling her Bible Studies. Her desire is to encourage other women in their walk with God with words that He has used to strengthen her own walk with Him. Her recent eBook An Ode to the Word is a collection of 31 poems inspired by the word of God referenced in God’s word. Each poem is drawn from the verse that talks about the word of God, sparking your curiosity and inviting you to a deeper experience with God's word.
 
You can connect with Alice on Instagram and Pinterest.  

Photo Credit: GettyImages/Lobro78

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