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Thursday, March 17, 2011

First 2011 Crocus bloom (Doris High)
First Crocus blooms for 2011
(Photo by Doris High)

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"Grace - A License For Immorality?"

"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 license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" (Jude 1:4).

I carry a couple of licenses with me in my wallet. My driver's license, which I occasionally have to show for identity purposes (including police officers, which thankfully has not happened in a long time).  I also carry my ministry ordination license which I rarely need to show. In addition I have a marriage license, way too big for my wallet, from 1976 filed away in our important papers. But one license neither you nor I have either literally or spiritually is a license for immorality!

Jude is warning about two grievous errors these unnamed godless men taught and promoted; errors persisting even to this day.
    1) They change the grace of our God into a license for immorality
    2) They deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord

This is the reason Jude urged his readers "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Today let us consider the first error. When I study a text I find it helpful to examine various versions in regard to slight wording differences and shades of meaning. Here are some of the ways this phrase is translated:
  • "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness" (KJV)
  • "who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness" (NASV)
  • "who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality" (ESV)
  • "who turn the grace of our God into lewdness" (NKJV)
  • "who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality" (NIV)
  • "who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality" (Amplified)
The word in this phrase which is translated differently is "Aselgeia" denoting “excess” and it further means the “absence of restraint”.  It is used to describe “indecency” and “wantonness” in Jude 4.  It is this excess of which the grace of God had been exploited, abused, and advanced by ungodly men. Jude in this verse is showing what it is like when one goes against the gospel and the atrocity of such an act.

Instead of self-restraint they live lascivious lives. (Does that not sound like about 95% of the plots from movies produced in Hollywood so much so that sinful behavior becomes the "norm" or acceptable rather than the unacceptable.)  It is said that from the very times of the apostles there have been antinomians who have held that what was sin to others might be permitted to the sanctified. They asserted that the Spirit was not defiled by the sins of the body.

Here's the Weber paraphrase which I feel captures the sense of the passage, "who use the grace of God as an excuse for immorality and disobedience."

Thank God for grace! It's the sole basis of our salvation. It's been defined as God's unmerited favor or to use the familiar acrostic "God's Riches At Christ's Expense". We are not saved by our works. But following the great passage on grace in Ephesians 2:8-9 (a portion memorized by many) Paul writes, "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).

Grace must not be used as an excuse. Genuine Biblical grace is transforming (life-changing). A great passage in this regard is from Titus 2:11,12. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age."

But sadly there is a perversion of grace that either implicitly or in some cases explicitly teaches that because of grace we can live however we choose; a license for immorality. Jude strongly denounces this viewpoint.

Today we urge our readers to experience
genuine grace that transforms and "teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life in this present life!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, because of Your extravagant grace we are able to say no to ungodliness and yes to righteousness; no to lasciviousness and yes to self-control; no to the lust of the flesh and yes to the Spirit.  We want to be quick to obey the Scriptures and discerning when anyone adds to or takes away from Your absolute truths that are to be followed in every generation. We want to align our desires with Yours, rather than trying to align Your truths with our desires, for that would lead to error and serve our old sin nature, rather than our new spiritual nature.  Transform us day by day to be more like You we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

The most helpful book I have ever read on today's topic is "Transforming Grace" by Jerry Bridges.  While properly emphasizing God's grace Bridges' also expresses the need to live holy and obedient lives. "Our love for God, expressed through obedience to Him, is to be a response to His love, not a means of trying to earn it."

Transforming GraceTransforming Grace  By Jerry Bridges / NAV Press
Funny how the riches of God's grace seem to run out the moment we're saved! From then on, we tend to base our relationship with him on our accomplishments rather than on his unconditional acceptance. In "Transforming Grace" Bridges addresses the "performance treadmill" and what can happen when we forget how generous God's grace is. Come back to the love that's waiting for you, and learn to trust His grace every day. Ordering information

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Child, You're Forgiven"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Amazing Love"
 Video  Chris Tomlin

I'm forgiven, because You were forsaken.
I'm accepted, You were condemned.
I'm alive and well. Your Spirit is within me

Because You died and rose again.

"Grace Greater Than All Our Sin"  Video  (This video takes a few seconds to start) This is one of our favorite hymns from our Bible College chapel days. In fact I still recall the hymn number (200) even though we haven't used that hymnal regularly in over twenty years!

Like many of you we continue to pray for the people in Japan. Here's a prayer written by John Piper.

Finally today:
Mourning dove
I had a surprise guest in the barn the other day. I had left the doors open and a mourning dove discovered a small container of dog feed.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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