Jude 1:4 (KJV)
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The above passage is probably “the” passage the works and the law believers use to criticize the grace believers for turning grace into a license to sin. Every time we share grace, this verse would be used against the message.
I had wanted to deal with this for a long time. However, let me deal with the issue that smashingidols raises first. He says we can “think that since you’re the elect, and that now that you’ve been ‘sealed’, that doing all the above things can’t affect your salvation! Jude 1:4”
I have read many translations on Jude but the closest to the spirit of the original text seems to be from the Message (a paraphrasing by the brilliant Eugene Peterson.)
Here it is. Notice the words I highlight.
The Message (MSG)
1-2 I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
FIGHT WITH ALL YOU HAVE IN YOU
3-4 Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.
Notice something interesting? Jude says believers are called and KEPT SAFE by JESUS CHRIST! Not your works nor by observing the Law! It is a GIFT!
So the “people” he mentioned are not believers but false teachers who crept into church and teach “another gospel”. These are not believers. They never had salvation in the first place.
Now let’s deal with the issue and the accusation that grace teachers are “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.” We must understand that the New Testament is written in Greek. I chose the Message’s version because it actually shows you what this phrase actually means.
“Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license” Notice the word “turning” is actually “replace”. In fact the word “turns” here means to take out one thing and replace it with another.
Let me show you the verse in the KJV with Strong’s Concordance.
Jud 1:4 ForG1063 there are certainG5100 menG444 crept in unawares,G3921 who were before of old ordainedG4270 G3819 toG1519 thisG5124 condemnation,G2917 ungodly men,G765 turningG3346 theG3588 graceG5485 of ourG2257 GodG2316 intoG1519 lasciviousness,G766 andG2532 denyingG720 theG3588 onlyG3441 LordG1203 God,G2316 andG2532 ourG2257 LordG2962 JesusG2424 Christ.G5547
Now the word “turning”.
1) to transpose (two things, one of which is put in place of the other)
This is how the verse should be translated.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, took out the grace of our God and replace it with lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Look how the Amplified Bible uses the word “pervert into”.
4 For certain men have crept in stealthily [[c]gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
This means the message of Grace actually leads you away from lawlessness andwantonness and immorality. BUT to promote lawlessness, wantonness and immorality, you have to PERVERT GRACE. You have to “metatithēmi” take out Grace and replace it with another gospel.
When you remove the Grace of God, license will come in.
Of course! Just take a look at the book of Acts and what Grace meant to the apostles.
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all
[ Stephen Seized ] Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.
Note to them, Grace is:
b) Power of holiness
c) The very Gospel itself.
When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
When you take Grace out and replace with something else, it breeds license. Do you honestly think without the grace of God you can be holy by your own? Do you actually think you can be protected or be exempted from curses without the grace of God?
That was also what happen to the children of Israel who was led away by God through the covenant of Abraham (grace) and ended up dead in the desert when they replace the covenant of Abraham (grace) with the covenant of Moses (law). That was what Jude meant by “they defected”.
See how the Amplified speaks about “self reliant” rather than “God reliant”?
5 Now I want to remind you, though you were fully informed once for all, that though the Lord [at one time] delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, He subsequently destroyed those [of them] who did not believe [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him].
That is the way of Cain who offered a bloodless sacrifice to seek worship from God. A religion of works. That was the error of Balaam think God’s people can be curse despite their frailties.