The tendency to use grace as an excuse for sin is nothing new—it was an issue for the early Church as much as the church today. Jude, a leader in the early church, wrote to address this concern. Let’s look at his book for wisdom and understanding of this issue.
Grace Wins | How does the Grace of God turn into lewdness?
Jude begins by writing, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). In this passage, Jude is asking the beloved (those who believe) to contend earnestly for their original faith. What is your original faith? It was the point when you realized that you were a sinner in need of a savior. It was when you bowed your knee before Christ and made Him Lord of your life. Go back to the original faith and say, “Jesus is my Lord.”
Jude continues, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4). Jude warns us that the day is coming when people will use grace as an excuse for lewdness. What is “lewdness”? It is lust, perversion, uncleanness, and uncontrolled sin. Jude warns us there will come a time when people will say:
* Because grace has come, I am free to sin in any way I want to.
* I will make it to heaven, even if I live like the devil.
* I can do anything I want.
* No more laws, no more legalism, I am free to enjoy all kinds of sin and still be saved.
* I can confess Jesus and continue to do the same sinful things.
* I like the promises of divine blessing, I like the music at church, and I like the fellowship on
Sunday, but I don’t want to change the way I live my life the other six days of the week.
What’s wrong with these statements? Grace changes your heart. If the grace of God changes your heart, then the grace of God will change and affect your actions and lifestyle too. One proverb says that out of the heart flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). When grace is in your heart, it will issue out into your life too.
Jude calls those who treat the grace of God as license for sin “ungodly men,” and charges them with denying “the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” According to Jude, abusing grace is the same as denying the Lordship of Jesus.
Jude’s 3 illustrations of the consequences of sin
Jude goes on to illustrate the consequences of using grace as a license for sin, giving us three examples from the Old Testament.
1. The children of Israel in the desert were saved from Egypt through grace, but because of their sin, they brought destruction upon their lives.“But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5).
2. The angels in heaven rebelled against God and earned eternal damnation. “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). James offers us some good commentary on Jude’s passage: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble!” (James 2:19). Even the demons believe, but they do not submit to God’s lordship. The belief produces no change in the demons. You can’t say, “I’m a believer,” keep on sinning, and expect to make it to heaven. For demons, right believing does not lead to right living.
3. Sodom and Gomorrah engaged in wickedness and were wiped from the face of the earth. “As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).
Jude warns the New Covenant believer through three Old Covenant illustrations of the danger and consequences of abusing the grace of God. Believers in Jesus may be under a New Covenant, but that is no excuse for sin.
The teaching that grace gives us freedom to sin is a slippery slope. Saying you don’t have to live for God because of His grace is only one step away from the heretical idea of universal salvation that says everyone on earth will go to heaven because of His grace, regardless of whether they ever made Jesus Lord. If it is true that a person can continue in sin and still be under God’s grace, I still lose nothing by living righteously.However, if it is true that God’s grace compels you to live a holy life, and you choose to continue in sin, then you will suffer eternal consequences.