In his letter to the church, Jude gives a dire warning: “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you … 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. 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 is forewarning us that false shepherds will steal into God’s house with one goal in mind: to pervert the Lord’s grace. He is saying, “Satan is sending a certain false doctrine to infiltrate the church and it is going to come through preachers, teachers and evangelists. They will take God’s grace and subtly twist it, manipulating it until it produces lasciviousness in God’s people.”
Every Sunday, professing Christians gather in God’s house to worship, hear his Word, and enjoy fellowship. Yet many of these same holy-appearing people lead lust-filled lives. The devil is probably not bent on hooking you with filth and tempting you with gross sin. However, if he can get you to see grace as an excuse for permissiveness, then he can start you down a path to bondage.
If you have a truly biblical understanding of grace, the enemy cannot deceive you and seduce you. Here are three safeguards against the seductions of Satan’s lies concerning grace:
You have the ability within you to do all three of these and if you do them, Jude declares, you will reap the benefits: “[He] is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). Hallelujah!
It is easy to take for granted the miracles God has performed in our past. Yet the Bible tells us to remember our deliverances. Moses’ exhortation to Israel after the miracle of the Red Sea was, “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 13:3).
The Lord was telling them, in essence, “Guard these memories and every time you face a crisis, remember all the miracles I have provided for you. And be sure to tell your children so it will build your faith and the faith of generations to follow.”
The memory of our past deliverances helps increase our faith for what we are going through right now. When David volunteered to fight the giant Goliath, King Saul said to him, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). But David had the memory of killing a lion and a bear with his bare hands when he was protecting his sheep. He told Saul about this and assured him, “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God” (17:36).
David knew the danger of facing Goliath but he was not a novice, a naive kid full of bravado and looking for a fight. No, he was simply remembering his past deliverances and he was assured of victory. He looked his enemy squarely in the eye and stated, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (17:37).
Are you facing a giant in your life? Remember that time when God healed your body and raised you up? Remember the time he provided the finances you needed to get your through? Do not cower in fear, but think on his faithfulness and trust him to deliver you once again.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the church just prior to the return of Jesus. God’s people will not appear frail, wallowing in fear and stressed out. No, they will be flourishing, feasting on “the best food and wine.” The Lord is telling us, in essence, “I have saved the best for last and now I am pouring it forth for my people. They are feasting on wonderful things in my presence.”
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines” (Isaiah 25:6, NIV).
This incredible feast is taking place all over the world. Young men and women of God are hungry for a gospel that touches them deep in their spirits. They have rejected the gospel of hype, crowds and professionalism and seek only to be shut in with Jesus, receiving revelation from him. They are coming forth from prayer with a fire that stirs everyone around them.
Everything the Lord is doing in these last days is closely tied to his presence, and his feast can only take place where Jesus’ presence is manifest. The psalmist says the hills melt like wax in the Lord’s presence (see Psalm 97:5). Simply put, every spiritual wall and fleshly blockade evaporates when Jesus makes himself known. Christ’s presence is so real when it is manifested that you can almost touch it.
Is the tangible, piercing presence of Jesus evident in your church? Do people go to their knees in all-consuming adoration of him? And do they leave with the special glow of having been in Christ’s presence? And what about your home? Do visitors sense the presence of Jesus in your household? Does the aroma of his holiness permeate your family, your marriage, all your relationships?
What a wonderful thing to live in the glow of the presence of Christ! The Holy Spirit will bring and maintain his presence and power in our churches, our homes, and our hearts, if we will closely follow him.
“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame’” (1 Peter 2:1-6).
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter calls Jesus a living stone, a word picture that can be a valuable revelation in your heart if you really grasp it. Christ is a stone — firm and immovable— unchanging in all his ways! And Peter emphasizes that he is a living stone, a life-giving Spirit, who absolutely, passionately loves every single one of us.
In today’s culture, people are rejecting the stone and they do not even realize it. The stone they are building their lives on consists of their own desires, their own dreams and aspirations. They choose where they place the stone but Jesus requires us to follow him, to submit our plans to him. He has hewn you, pulled you from his own quarry and called you into this spiritual house that God is building.
You are called to be one body, to love one another deeply, and that is why Peter starts this chapter by saying, “Put away malice toward others; put away deceit; drop hypocrisy and envy and slander. These things are wood, hay, and stubble.”
When you offer your life up to Jesus and build on his foundation, you become part of a spiritual house, holy and pure and on fire for God.
In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul wrote, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). Throughout Scripture it is clear that God wants every one of his children to surrender to the reign and rulership of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Spirit’s primary purpose for living within us is to direct and guide us in all that we do.
The Holy Spirit provides absolute and detailed instructions to those who walk with him. When we walk in the Spirit, we don’t walk in confusion or doubt. His direction is clear and distinct. The early disciples of Christ understood this truth, and they allowed the Spirit to direct them in every decision, every move, every action. The Spirit talked to them and guided them in their every waking hour. No decisions were made without first consulting him. The church’s motto throughout the New Testament was, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit has to say.”
You and I have this same opportunity today. The same Spirit that guided the early believers in their walk with the Lord is living within you and me, beckoning us daily to listen, to submit, to heed his will and direction. He promises power and effectiveness beyond our wildest dreams. The only question is, will we allow him to reign?
I am always amazed at how much fun it is to move in the blessing of God. When God directs your path, it is always invigorating and seldom what you might expect. It’s never boring, never predictable, never ordinary, and always refreshing.
In the many decades I have followed God wherever he leads, I have seen him work in ways that are too awesome for words. God has displayed the power of his Spirit and his Word so many times that I have long since given up trying to second-guess him. When the Holy Spirit guides your path, the best you can do is hang on and try your best to keep up.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.