Jude 1:4   For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.  They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

The eternal Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is as simple as it is wonderful and glorious.  It is summed up in just three words: ‘God saves sinners’, i.e. –

GOD (and God alone by his sovereign grace alone) does everything that is necessary to bring us back into a right relationship with him, and we contribute nothing – ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling’;

SAVES (doesn’t just offer us the way of salvation, but works in us sovereignly by his Holy Spirit to bring us to faith in Christ);

SINNERS (the first thing we need to do to take hold of his saving grace is to realise that we are sinners who need a Saviour – which is the main reason the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders failed to recognise Jesus (whose name means ‘Saviour’).

Yes, it is so simple, and yet we can miss it, and remain under God’s eternal condemnation, for two basic reasons.

Firstly, our pride can keep us from accepting the free gift of salvation, because we want to think that we can earn our way to heaven by living a ‘good’ life and doing ‘good’ deeds.

Secondly, we can be so obsessed with avoiding the error of depending on ‘works righteousness’ that we “change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality”.  It is this second error that Jude is exposing here.  It is the sort of thing that Paul is addressing in Roman 6 – “Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”  Acknowledging Jesus as ‘Saviour-and-Lord’ is a package deal – we CAN’T have one without the other.  And if he is Lord of our lives, our lives must be such as to make it obvious that he is our Lord.  Taking hold of God’s saving grace with both hands automatically makes us a target for Satan’s vicious attacks, as C.S.Lewis makes clear in “Screwtape Letters”!  The ‘Accuser’ (Satan) detests losing control over us if we change our allegiance to Jesus as Lord, and if he can’t destroy our faith by getting us to strive for ‘works righteousness’, his next best strategy is to “change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality”.

As the apostle John wrote: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him” (1 John 5:18), and the author of Hebrews puts it this way: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” (Hebrews 10:26).  

By being alert, and meditating constantly on God’s Word, let us avoid both errors.
– Bruce Christian