When Leaders Become Immoral


An Introduction to Courses

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Taster Course

A short introduction

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Starter Course

Getting into the guts of what’s going on

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Main Course

The meat! And what to do about it!

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Dessert Course

Material for Church leaders and Tertiary level students

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The Key
The Key to unlocking the dynamic

The key to unlocking the dynamic of Jude is to understand that this short letter is written quite specifically to warn Christians about false teachers who encourage immorality (v4). The bulk of the letter (v8-16) is a penetrating critique of these teachers and an explanation of both what motivates them, and the judgement that they are bringing on themselves. The letter closes with pastoral instructions about how to respond.


This letter not only warns against immorality, but addresses the insubordination to Christ that lies behind the ‘immoral license’ and is effectively spiritual insubordination.


The disciple’s task when wrestling to understand this letter is complicated by Jude’s use of the apocryphal genre, perhaps because the false teachers were using this genre to justify their teaching and behaviour.


To understand Jude, the student should begin with Jude’s express charge as stated in v4.

Listen Here

Click on the link above for an audio version of Jude.


Listen to the podcasts of Nick reading and commentating on Jude in the ‘Starter Course’.




Read the whole letter through every day for a fortnight, each time writing down the features that impress you most.


Meditate on one section of Jude each day.


Watch a film that shows the destructive effects of immorality – of which there are thousands produced each year.


Study the Bible for Life material and answer the questions in the ‘meal courses’.





Suggested verses for meditation …


V4   ‘They are godless men, who change the grace of God into a licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord’.


V20   ‘But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit’.


V24   ‘To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy’.


Excellent verses to learn:


V24-25   ‘To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore, Amen.’


The Eastern Mediterranean

taster course



5 mins

    • Video - The book explained in 4 minutes
    • Video
    • /
    • Summary
    • /
    • Dangerous Issues in the Early Church
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    • Jude in a Picture


    This short letter of only 25 verses is written to the whole church to specifically warn Christians about false teachers who allow, and even encourage, sexual immorality (v4). The bulk of the letter (v8-16) is a penetrating critique of these teachers. Beginning with the clear statement of God’s judgement on the insubordination underlying this immorality, Jude then exposes the motivation that drives them (v8-10), the fruitlessness of their ministries (v11-13), and the fundamental ungodliness of their lives (v14-16). The letter closes with pastoral instructions about how faithful disciples should respond, and how we can be kept by Jesus from falling into these sins.


    Although immorality is the presenting issue, Jude is telling the church that the sinister demons of insubordination and idolatry are actively working in close conjunction with this heresy. Immorality, which is sexual activity either before or outside of marriage, is very simply in itself disobedience and therefore insubordination to Christ; Jude therefore states in v4 that these teachers ‘deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord’. But this breaking out against obedience is expressed not just in the realm of sex, but also of the spirit. Throughout scripture, immorality and idolatry are closely intertwined – indeed the terms are sometimes used interchangeably – and are seen in the two leading imperatives in 1 Corinthians: ‘Flee from sexual immorality’ (6:18); ‘Flee from idolatry’ (10:14).  In an unexpected use of apocryphal literature, probably motivated by the false teachers’ own use of these sources, Jude exposes the false teachers’ insubordination to the angelic powers. Such a challenge to the divinely ordained spiritual powers is in essence a form of idolatry.


    Although Jude’s warning is severe, second only to Jesus’ warning against the religious leaders in Matthew 23, it is also profoundly hopeful. First, the disciple of Jesus must be alert, remembering that the apostles clearly taught that this would happen. The disciple should understand that he or she must take responsibility for their own spiritual development, ‘building themselves up’ and ‘praying in the Holy Spirit’ (v20) as we wait for the Lord’s final intervention. We should be merciful to any who succumb to these temptations, whilst fearing and hating immorality and insubordination. In this way, we shall grow up in our holy faith in Christ, as he keeps us from falling into these sins, until the day we stand before him ‘without fault and with great joy’ (v24).

    Summary >
    taster Questions - Questions to start you off

    Question 1 -

    A prophetic person comes into church – he has separated from his wife, he lives with his girlfriend, he is an assertive businessman, he is always prophesying over people. His prophetic words are accurate, but forceful. Do you receive his ministry?

    Question 2 -

    Christians are often accused of “always going on about sex”? Do we? Should we?

    Question 3 -

    Muslim men are allowed to marry and have sex with four women. Why can’t Christian women marry and have sex with four men?

    starter course


    the essentials


    10 mins

    • podcasts - 3 to 5 minute ‘Teach-Ins’ on key themes
    • Podcasts

    Jude: Read with audio commentary

    Jude: Immorality

    Jude: Victory

      the essentials - The literary features explained
    • Context
    • /
    • Literary Genre
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    • Structure
    • /
    • Themes



    Author: By introducing himself as the brother of James, the overseer of the church in Jerusalem, Jude is quietly stating that he is the son of Joseph and Mary. He is mentioned as ‘Judas’ (same word in Greek) in Matthew 13:55, so he was perhaps 15 years younger than Jesus. He therefore grew up and lived in the same household as Jesus in Nazareth for around 15 years and probably became a believer after Jesus’ resurrection appearance to James (Mark 3:2, 1 Corinthians 15:7, Acts 1:14).


    Destination: No specific church is mentioned, so although Jude is addressing a specific heresy of his time, his message has universal relevance for all Christians.


    Date: The very close similarity between the letter of Jude and 2 Peter 2 probably indicates they were written around the same time. The reference to the apostles in v17 probably means they had already died in the CE60s, which would date Jude around the CE70s, although any date between CE50 and CE90 could fit.



    The letter follows a conventional format: greeting, body, closing, but the letter’s dominant feature is the “judgment oracle” in the body of the letter (v5-16), where the tone is strong, and the objective is focused. The author uses many rich and vivid images as he draws strongly from Old Testament stories, but the idiosyncratic feature is his use of the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch. Jude and 2 Peter 2 are closely linked although it is not clear which was written first.

    V1 - 2Introduction
    V3 - 4The problem explained and commented on:
    >V5 - 10God’s verdict on this issue is clear.
    >V11 - 13The false teachers’ motives and future.
    >V14 - 16Their coming judgement.
    V17 - 25Pastoral response:
    >V17 - 18Don’t be surprised.
    >V19Be sober minded.
    >V20 - 21Take responsibility for yourself.
    >V22 - 23Help those who have fallen.
    >V24 - 25Keep your perspective on the eternal.

    Themes: (which are developed in the Audio Podcasts)


    1. Immorality
    2. Insubordination
    3. Issues of grace, freedom, serving and obeying Christ.
    Literary Genre >
    starter Questions - To help you think carefully about the key issues

    Question 1 -

    A visiting preacher teaches on sex in marriage and encourages the congregation to read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Do you agree that disciples should be encouraged to read an explicitly sexual book (Matthew 5:27-30)?

    Question 2 -

    Should churches arrange marriages for their members?

    Question 3 -

    When appointing a leader, which is more important: godly character or gifting?

    Question 4 -

    What are the features of being led by instinct, and what are the features and the evidence of being led by the Spirit (v10, 19)?

    main course

    Verse by Verse

    The Apprentice


    • Verse by Verse - For a thorough understanding of the Biblical text
    • Jude 1-4
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    • Jude 5-10
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    • Jude 11-16
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    • Jude 17-24

    V1 – 2   Introduction

    Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

    To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

    May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

    The greeting that opens this letter follows a standard pattern for letters of this period, but into it the author weaves the features of the Trinitarian distinctives. It is this that will demarcate the lifestyle of genuine believers from those of the false teachers.

    V1       The initial phrase has a similar structure and content to the first phrase of the letter of James. The reference to James as a brother implies that Jude is the brother ‘Judas’ mentioned in Matthew 13:55, one of the half-brothers of Jesus. Since Judas is listed last, he could possibly have been an ‘afterthought’ and therefore a good deal younger than Jesus, and therefore still alive in the sub-apostolic age (v17).

    The striking feature of this greeting is the three verbs: called, beloved and kept, because they address the motivation to turn from the temptation and sin of immorality that dominates this letter. ‘The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 5:5). So within this greeting, Jude lays the foundation of ‘undivided devotion to the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 7:35), which is the greatest motivation for turning from all sin, and in the context of this letter, for turning from immorality.

    V2       May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. These are leading features of the Kingdom life, and the work of the Spirit of God as he transforms believers into Christlikeness.



    V3 – 4   The problem

    Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    The gospel is being undermined by false teachers who are turning the grace of God into a license for immorality. Although Jude would have much preferred to write a letter celebrating the glorious gospel of salvation, this problem has become so widespread that he feels absolutely compelled to write a general letter addressing this heresy which is, in its essence, a rebellion against Christ the Lord.

    V3       ‘Beloved’ – although Jude will argue that this issue is a very serious threat to the church, he addresses it within the church, rather than by expelling people from the church. The fact that this ‘appellation’ only occurs in the letters of 1&2 Peter and 1,2&3 John indicates that these letters come from the same time period.

    ‘…although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share’ – the gospel of the Cross must always be at the very centre of what is written, preached, shared and lived. Beware when this is not the case.

    ‘[I] write appealing to you to contend for the faith’ – it is the responsibility of every church and generation to do this, this is something that has to be actively carried forward because if we don’t, the future church will lose it. In this context, Matthew 24:12 is the most chilling verse in Scripture.

    V4       Like the beast in Revelation who is always introduced as the one on his way to destruction, so these ‘ungodly people’ are introduced as ‘designated for this condemnation’.

    ‘…who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality’ is the defining phrase around which the whole argument of the letter is constructed, so it must be studied carefully. The Greek word translated here as sensuality is asélgeia which means: ‘licentiousness, insolence’. Licentiousness is defined in the dictionary as; 1) lacking legal or moral restraints; especially disregarding sexual restraints, 2) marked by disregard for strict rules of correctness. Both these meanings seem to lie at the heart of Jude’s charge: these secret interlopers are promoting a heretical teaching that, as a result of God’s grace, believers are free to follow sexual liberty because there are no sexual restraints. Jesus’ teaching on sex and marriage is described in Matthew 19:1-12 where he affirms God’s will as stated in Genesis 2:24. In both the teaching of Jesus and Paul, this verse is the starting point and highroad on the subjects of marriage and sex. In this context, Jesus taught his disciples to ruthlessly eliminate lust from their lives (Matthew 5:27-30), and preached a standard for divorce that was so high that even his close disciples shrank from it (Matthew 5:31-32, and 19:8-10). In this context, Jude states that this false teaching is therefore fundamentally a denial of Christ’s Lordship.

    The issue at the heart of the problem is that raised by Paul in Romans 6 (specifically in Romans 6:15-22): ‘Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?’ Which he answers with a firm ‘By no means!’, and then goes on to argue that though ‘we were once slaves of sin, (we) have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which (we) were committed and having been set free from sin have become slaves of righteousness … which leads to sanctification … and eternal life’. Whereas in contrast ‘the wages of sin is death’ (v23). Paul deals with the same issue in Galatians 5, arguing that ‘(we) were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature’ (v13), and he then lists the acts of the sinful nature in v19 under the three categories of sexual immorality, idolatry and hatred.


    Believers are saved because of their faith in Christ, not because they obey the Old Testament laws. ‘The grace of our God’ (v4) has therefore released us from the tyranny of desperately trying to please God by slavish obedience to the 614 commands of the Torah.

    Through their permitting and their encouragement of immorality, these false teachers are encouraging insubordination to Christ: ‘they deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord’ (v4). Jude will argue in the following verses that this insubordination is in essence a form of idolatry, and as such we should note that this is the essence of the Nicolaitan heresy (Revelation 2:6&16), a compromised view tolerant of the sins of immorality and idolatry, and a denial of the unique Lordship of Christ.


    V5 – 10   Jude’s reply   God’s will and his judgement are clear

    Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—  just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    Jude gives three Old Testament examples which clearly show that God will punish the disobedient, the insubordinate and the immoral:

    • Immoral Israelites who died in desert
    • Insubordinate angels
    • Immoral pagans: Sodom and Gomorrah.


    V5       Jude’s first example is exactly the one that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Despite being miraculously saved by God through his intervention at the Red Sea and seeing his power throughout their forty years in the desert, the old generation of Israelites repeatedly failed to believe God and obey him and after the mass apostasy, idolatry and immorality on the Plains of Moab (Numbers 25) they died in the desert. Jude’s focus on the aspect of faith in this debacle reflects Hebrews 3:19: ‘they were unable to enter because of unbelief’.

    V6       This is a very strange and unusual reference. Jude seems to be drawing from the apocryphal book 1 Enoch 6-19 which is itself a commentary on Genesis 5:18 in which angels lusted after beautiful women, descended on Mount Hermon and took them as wives. There seem to be two faults: first, the angels abandoned their God-given authority and responsibilities, and second, they committed immorality. The word ‘kept’ is important to Jude (v1 and v21) and is played on here: because they did not keep their rightful positions, they are now being kept for judgement.

    V7       The judgement of these two cities (towns) in the Plain for their departure from heterosexual sexual practice plays a prominent part in the Old Testament as an example of the final judgement.


    Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 

    The direct result of following their instincts and own ideas (dreams) is that the false teachers commit immorality and thereby pollute their own bodies. They speak against and slander those in authority. However, their lifestyle leads to destruction.

    V8       The false teachers following their dreams commit all the sinful mistakes made in these three examples (v5-7). Jude’s point parallels Paul in Philippians 3:19: ‘their end is destruction … their glory is in their shame’.

    V9       The point here is NOT that we should respect the devil and be polite to him, but that Michael could not reject the devil’s accusation on his own authority because he (Michael) was not the judge. In replying ‘The Lord rebuke you’, Michael is simply pointing out that God, the final judge, is the one who will pass judgement on the devil. In other words, Michael is saying ‘It’s the Lord who will judge you – it’s not my business to judge you’. Jude’s point is that no one is a moral law to themselves; we are all subject to the moral authority of the Lord and we shall all, the false teachers included, answer directly to him (Romans 14:12).

    V10     These people follow their basic (sexual) instincts, not the Spirit (v19), and in terms of Galatians 6:8, ‘(those) who sow to please the sinful nature will from that nature reap destruction.’ There is destruction in this present life, in our bodies through Sexually Transmitted Diseases, in our souls through the broken relationships and poverty that so often result from adultery and ensuing divorce, and in our spirits through the blindness to spiritual truth.  This is because if a person turns from Jesus’ teaching, they do not stay in a neutral condition; they take a step into darkness, like Judas did, and ‘if the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness’ (Matt 6:23). The argument in this paragraph (verses 8-10) is that the cavalier and chaotic behaviour of these people stems directly from their thinking which is rooted in their own instincts, not in the revealed will of God.


    V11 – 13   Jude’s reply   The false teachers and their motivation


    Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.  These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

    Since the false teachers are motivated by envy, violence, and the love of money and power, the result is that their ministries are completely barren, and their ultimate destination is complete spiritual blindness. Having described three examples of group sin, Jude now cites three examples of grotesque sin in men with spiritual authority in Israel – that is, they were false teachers:

    1. Cain: motivated by envy because his sacrifice was unacceptable to the Lord, this man killed his younger brother because his sacrifice had been accepted.
    2. Baalam: this pagan sorcerer led the Israelites to commit the sins of idolatry and immorality (Numbers 25). The tradition is that he was greedy for wealth.
    3. Korah: this leader is perhaps the most obvious parallel of these three men. He, a Levite, led a rebellion against Moses claiming that ‘the whole community is holy, every one of them’ (Numbers 16:3). Along with 250 other Levite leaders, he died a dramatic and sudden death for this insubordination.

    V12     Their ministries are actually about their own importance and ambition, not about those they should be serving. There is no fruit to their ministries (Matthew 7:20).

    V13     Each of these four vivid images are taken from the basic elements; air, earth, water, the heavens, and each one is a perversion of the divine order. Paul warns about those whose ‘glory is in their shame’ (Philippians 3:19) – and we should understand sexual impropriety and violence at this point, see Romans 6:21. In 1 Timothy 4:2, Paul warns of those whose consciences have been seared, the very opposite of those ‘who through constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14). Jude warns very strongly that the final spiritual state of such insubordination and ill-discipline will be extreme spiritual blindness.



    V14 – 16   Jude’s reply   The coming judgement


    It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favouritism to gain advantage.

    The Lord is coming to judge all such ungodliness: what they have done, said and how they have lived.

    V14     Enoch was the seventh one listed in Adam’s family tree; not necessarily the seventh generation.

    V15     This long quotation is from 1 Enoch 1:9, a book from the first century BCE which emphasises the difference between ungodliness and holiness and teaches that all will be addressed at the final judgement. The repeated emphasis on ‘ungodliness’ shows that Jude’s point is that these teachers are false and ungodly.

    V16     ‘Grumblers’ reminds the reader that the Israelites were punished for grumbling in the desert (1 Corinthians 10:10), and gaining ‘advantage’ has a financial tone to it which was the fault of Baalam, and Judas (in contrast to 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Corinthians 9:15,18).


    V17 – 18   Practical response 1   Don’t be surprised


    But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 

    The apostles were quite clear that this would happen, so when you come across it in church, be sober-minded, sensible and pragmatic. It is divisive because it divides the community of believers, whereas the Holy Spirit is always uniting believers and building the holy temple of the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22).

    V18     This is a quotation from 2 Peter 3:3. Paul does exactly this in 1 Timothy 4:1f, 2 Timothy 3:1f, and in 2 Timothy 4:3-4.


    V19   Practical response 2   Be sober minded and alert

    19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

    Be sober-minded about the reality of what is happening. When teaching about the end of the age, Jesus repeatedly warned his disciples about false teachers and prophets and instructed them to be ‘Be on your guard …be alert … keep watch’ (Mark 13:32-37). There are strong warnings in the New Testament against those who cause division (Titus 3:10). Very crucially, Jude states that, no doubt despite their strident claims, these men do not have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s leading always begins with repentance (Matthew 4:17), and the daily taking up of the cross (Mark 8:34). The Spirit always leads us into a greater love for and obedience to Christ: ‘If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will live because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God’ (Romans 8:12f).


    V20 – 21   Practical response 3   Individuals, take responsibility for your own discipleship

    But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

    These exhortations are the logical applications of the previous verse. The way to avoid following the ‘natural instincts’ (v19) of the sinful nature is do two things. Our part is to build ourselves up, that is, to take serious responsibility for what we do, as per Matthew 5:21-48 and 7:24. God’s part is the activity of the Holy Spirit, and the dynamic partnership of these two is expressed by Paul in Philippians 2:12-13.

    V20     For the third time, Jude speaks to his ‘beloved’ friends. This exhortation is serious, but it is addressed to those Jude genuinely and truly loves. The Church must take responsibility for itself and for its own spiritual growth (see Acts 13:46 which takes place in Pisidian Antioch – ‘since you show you are not worthy of the gospel’). Paul taught that all prayer should be a dynamic participation with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). The Holy Spirit will always lead us into what is holy. There is a theme in scripture that unites prayer with warfare. Nehemiah’s men held swords in one hand and trowels in the other. When Jesus taught the vast crowds about discipleship (Luke 9), he used two images, building a tower and waging a war. These ideas lie close to the point Jude is making here – every committed disciple knows the struggle with immorality. Immorality starts in the mind with lust, and Jesus told us to be utterly ruthless with lust (Matthew 5:27-30). This is where the battle with immorality is won or lost. Every person follows their first love. Obedience springs from loving God and what he wants for us, more than what we desire. Then, we begin to reject everything that is second best, because the ‘love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Spirit’ (Romans 5:8).

    V21     Jesus taught, ‘if you obey my commands you will remain in my love’ (John 15:10, see John 14:21). We ‘eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope’ (Galatians 5:5), which will be completed with the gift of eternal life through Jesus’ mercy at the end of the age. Waiting is not easy. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God’ (Acts 14:23). We live with many weeds growing around us (Matthew 13:30). Already, we taste the powers of the age to come, and the first-fruits of the Kingdom, but we also ‘wait patiently’ (Romans 8:25) for its consummation.


    V22-23   Practical response 4   Leaders, pastor those who fall under this heresy


    And have mercy on those who doubt;  save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

    V22     These simple imperatives instruct Church leaders, ‘those of you who are spiritual’ (Galatians 6:1), how to pastor those who have fallen to this moral and insubordinate heresy.

    First there are those disciples who have unwittingly fallen under the influence of these rogue leaders, and who have over time began to doubt the faith, perhaps because they have begun to realise that the effect of these leaders is damaging. They do not realise the leaders are rogues, and therefore they begin to doubt the gospel. Jude teaches us to ‘be merciful to those who doubt’. That is, pastors should correct and help them with great understanding, love, compassion and gentleness. There are two points here. The first is that doubt probably has the first meaning of “doubting orthodox moral Christian teaching”, that is, those who have come under the influence of the false teachers, and as a result are doubting the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19 where he affirms that God’s will and purpose for all humankind is either heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong marriage, or, celibacy. Disciples of Jesus, in the Kingdom, are called to live in this way (Matt 19:12b). Some people have come under the influence of false teaching, to the point where they doubt this, and will either be approving of those who are now following immorality, or are themselves now practicing immorality. But the second level of meaning behind Jude’s use of the word doubt is that those who live in immorality, or approve of it, are also moving towards a position of doubting orthodox doctrine. Their faith is becoming liberal, and may expire altogether, because what we do directly affects what we think.

    V23     ‘Save others by snatching them from the fire’. Tell others the truth: these leaders are false leaders. Jesus was abrupt and clear about his opponents: ‘Leave them, they are blind guides’ (Matthew 15:14). This is where great pastoral skill is needed. The sensitivity required in v22 is matched by the seriousness of the pastoral action needed here. ‘To others show mercy, mixed with fear (see Galatians 6:2) hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh’. The image is the linen on which immorality has been committed. There is absolutely NO room for compromise with evil. Paul says to ‘flee sexual immorality’(1 Corinthians 6:18). Wesley said ‘Give me 30 men who fear nothing but evil and we could turn the world to Christ’. Disciples should fear evil. Disciples should love God. These two principles are at the heart of true motivation for holiness. There is a close parallel with 1 Thessalonians 5:14 at this point: ‘warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone’.


    V24 – 25   Practical response 5   Keep your perspective – Christ can keep you from sin


    Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

    Jude’s letter is serious, but it is never faithless or despairing. It is absolutely possible for every disciple to avoid the evil of immorality and to be victorious over the closely associated underlying temptations of idolatry and insubordination to Christ. Jude’s point is not that we shall be blameless and perfect while we wait for the consummation of the age of the Kingdom, but that while we wait Christ is well able to keep us from falling into the insubordinate sins of sexual immorality and idolatry. Indeed, tens of millions of Christians can confidently and truly testify that this has been the case for them.

    Jude 5-10 >
      The Apprentice - Helping apprentices of Jesus think through the applications
    • Overall Message
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    • Leading Imperatives
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    • Implied Imperatives
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    • Holy Habits

    The overall message of the letter of Jude:


    The letter of Jude is written to warn apprentices of Jesus about false teachers who allow, and even encourage, sexual immorality (v4). The bulk of the letter (v8-16) is a penetrating critique of these teachers. Beginning with the clear statement of God’s judgement on the insubordination underlying this immorality, Jude then exposes the motivation that drives them (v8-10), the fruitlessness of their ministries (v11-13), and the fundamental ungodliness of their lives (v14-16). The letter closes with pastoral instructions about how faithful apprentices should respond, and how we can be kept by Jesus from falling into these sins.



    The general applications are:


    1. Don’t be surprised, the apostles said this would happen. Be wise and realise this sort of thing will happen in churches, and when it does it must be resisted.
      1. So, be wise! There will be false teachers in the Christian Church. Jesus was clear that there are people out there whose aim is to deceive you. So be careful. Protect yourself through knowing what Jesus taught (Matthew 19:1-12)!
      2. Understand that they are following natural instincts, not the Holy Spirit.
      3. BUT: This issue is dealt with IN the Church, NOT by expelling people out of the Church.



    1. Take responsibility for your own standing before God, by building up and establishing yourselves in holiness and faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit.

    Story: I remember a comment at an AA meeting that met at one of the churches where I was vicar: one addict said to another “I am responsible for my own recovery”.



    1. Pastor those who have fallen into these sins, who have been taken in by this heresy.
      1. ‘Be merciful to those who doubt’ (v22)
      2. Snatch others from the fire (v23)
      3. Show mercy mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh (v23).


    1. Focus on Jesus who can keep you from falling and present you faultless before his throne.


    1. Contend for the gospel (v3) Defend the gospel and contend for the gospel of grace.


    1. The issue of immorality is often the litmus test of discipleship today. The church should especially help its young adults in this area:


    • We should pray that God will join men and women together in “Holy Matrimony”. Many find it very difficult in today’s world to find a person to marry.
    • We should help young men and women to make strong and healthy marriages.


    This is a complicated area for many young adults, and the church MUST never put burdens on people that are hard to carry. If we preach high standards (which we do), then we should also work hard to help everyone learn how to aspire to keep them.


    The leading imperatives:


    V17   But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 


    V20   But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

    The implied imperatives:


    Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (v3).

    Obey Christ as Lord in all areas of morality (v4).

    Remind (others of the foundational Christian truths) (v5).

    Don’t build your ministry on your own dreams (ideas) (v8).

    Don’t reject the authority instituted by God (v8).

    Don’t follow your instincts (v10).

    Don’t grumble (v16).

    Don’t follow your sinful desires (v16).

    Don’t boast (v16).

    Don’t show favouritism, in order to try to gain advantage (v16).

    Don’t divide the Christian Church (v19).

    Follow Christ who is able to keep you faultless (v24).


    Holy Habits:  (Holy Habits are patterns of living and lifestyle practices which we choose to do in our lives.  These can be in order to either withdraw from the dominion of the world, such as silence, secrecy, submission, fasting, watching, simple living, or, practices that plunge us into the life of the Kingdom, such as prayer, worship, celebration, study, serving the poor and deprived, etc. They can be as simple as kneeling by your bed and thanking God at the end of the day, or as substantial as attending an annual Christian festival.)




    • V20 is probably the leading imperative in the letter: ‘Build yourself up, pray in the Spirit’. These two exhortations perfectly complement each other (our part and God’s part) and express the heart of discipleship where we ‘make every effort’ (2 Peter 1:5) to cooperate and work with the influence of the Holy Spirit.
    • As disciples, we should build patterns of living into our lives that build us up, and help us learn how to pray in the Spirit and prevail before the throne of God.
    Leading Imperatives >
    main Questions - Important questions directly from the text

    Question 1 -

    Should disciples of Jesus watch films certified 18 which are clearly about sex? If so, in what circumstances?

    Question 2 -

    Do you know of any Christian teachers who actively allow and promote sexual immorality?

    Question 3 -

    I once heard this comment at an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting: One addict said to another “I am responsible for my own recovery”. Are we?

    Question 4 -

    Within the heterosexual marriage covenant, are there sexual practices which are immoral?

    Question 5 -

    Where we are tempted to buckle and compromise in our discipleship?

    Question 6 -

    (You will need to research this on the internet) Supposing you had been a member of the Nine O’Clock Service in Sheffield – what do you think were the warning signs that were ignored?