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“Turning the Grace of Our God into Lasciviousness”
Against whom does Jude lay this charge? Who is it that turns the grace of God into lasciviousness? Read Jude’s short Epistle again, and you will see that he says nothing to imply that these were men of flagrant immorality, using the grace of God as an excuse and covering for acts of licentiousness.
Those who turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness are those work-mongers and religious legalists who assert that the preaching of absolute free grace, the believer’s absolute freedom from the law and freedom from all possible condemnation, will open the flood gates to sin and lead people to live in decadence. The ungodliness by which Jude tells us they are condemned is their imaginary righteousness, their self-righteousness by which they deny “the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” — All who claim a righteousness of their own deny their need of Christ, who is “the Lord our Righteousness.”
But legalists and will-worship Arminians are not the only ones who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. Sanctimonious, self-righteous hypocrites, who vainly imagine that they are holier and wiser than God, do the same, refusing to preach plainly revealed gospel truth for fear that the truth of God might encourage sin! I’m not beating the air. Just recently, a preacher sought to justify denying the two natures of God’s saints (Adam and Christ, sin and holiness, that which is of the devil and that which is born of God), saying, “I don’t want to preach anything that might encourage the Lord’s children to sin.” What horrid pride! What base ungodliness!
Many assail the plain statements of Holy Scripture and matters that are at the very heart of the gospel in the same way. Though substitutionary redemption is the very heart of the gospel, and the Scriptures plainly declare that Christ was made sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21), I hear men say, “Preaching that will cause people to think evil of the Son of God.” Though God the Holy Ghost tells us plainly that all who are born of God are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), that that new man in us is “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24), and that that in us which is born of God “cannot sin” (1 John 3:9), I am told, “If you preach that it will give people an excuse for sin.” Like papists, these modern Korahs attempt to hide the Word of God from their followers so that they will be their followers, not the followers (disciples) of Christ.
Beware of such men and such doctrine. It creeps into churches under the guise of godliness and true holiness; but the Spirit of God here asserts that it is ungodliness. That which turns you away from Christ and teaches you to look to (to trust in) yourself is ungodliness. If God has, by his grace, put us into union with his dear Son, Jesus Christ is all our Wisdom, all our Righteousness, all our Sanctification, and all our Redemption; and we glory in him alone (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Philippians 3:3).