Examples of Those Who Pervert God’s Grace
Like a good preacher, Jude now provides examples to prove his thesis—which is that God’s people must contend for the faith against those who teach that grace is a license to sin. (The Epistle of Jude is a sermon written in the form of a letter.) The doctrine of grace is one of the most precious doctrines of the Church and must be guarded against such perverse teaching. Jude now provides three examples of those who sinned against God’s magnanimous grace, and did so with a high hand.
1) First, we have the ancient Israelites who tempted the Lord ten times even before they reached Kadesh-Barnea where they were to battle for the Promised Land (Numbers 14:22). So which time is it to which Jude refers? I cannot say for sure—perhaps the rebellion with the golden calf in which several thousand died as a result of the zeal of the Levites and a plague sent by the Lord (Exodus 32), or maybe that entire generation who did not live to enter the land after their treachery and unbelief (Numbers 13-14). God had delivered them with an outstretched arm from Egyptian slavery through the Red Sea and yet the people still would not believe. Instead, they treated God’s grace as a little thing and even went on to commit even greater sins thereafter (Numbers 25). And please note that it was the pre-incarnate Christ whom they sinned against and who destroyed them.
2) Second, we have the angels who rebelled and followed Satan in his treachery. These had been given such high status in God’s kingdom, able to behold and serve their Creator for all eternity in the beauty of holiness. But their sin reminds us that if such high creatures of far nobler being and higher intelligence than us can commit such a foolish act, how great must be the darkness to which sin plunges and blinds the heart and mind when given fully over to it. Their chains are not literal but their consignment to the “air” (hence, nothingness; Ephesians 2:2) and eternal fixture in their inability and unwillingness to repent and demonic delight in their sin against grace.
3) Third, we see the Sodomites and the surrounding towns who “indulged sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire” (literally, “other flesh”). Given the account (Genesis 18-19), there is no mistaking the meaning; and, yes, they were guilty of others sins as well (Ezekiel 16:49-50). These sin against the grace of nature—the beauty of sexual differentiation and its divine complementary endowment. Each of these perverts God’s grace and “serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”