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Snatched Out of the Fire

Both Jude and Peter warn us about a group of people who will infiltrate into the church and will have a terrible influence on many in the body of Christ. Their descriptions of these folks are similar. Jude says it this way:

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 3-4 ESV

Jude goes on, and in no uncertain terms, describes these folks and the destruction they wreak:

10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 10-13

These people seem like ones we couldn’t miss – they should stand out like a sore thumb in our midst, shouldn’t they? Actually, if they did, there would be no reason to warn anyone. Notice terms like hidden and crept in unnoticed – these indicate they may already be in our churches and among our closest friends. They might even be one of us.

What if?
At this point I would normally look at the passage to see how to discover these insidious people and try to identify how God is saying we are to deal with them. For instance, both the Jude and Second Peter passages warn us to be careful how we approach rebuking them (see Jude 9).

But, what if that person was me? What if that has been my lifestyle up until recently, when I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ and chose to surrender to his lordship? What if I was so self-deceived I missed, or more accurately, denied to myself, I was living like that, and not just ineffective for God’s kingdom, but his enemy? What if Satan had me in his hands and I was his instrument of deceit and sin until God snatched me out of the fire? I don’t even know where to begin with that one, and all my best thinking is useless - it has gotten me where I am today, so I need to hold on to the Lord and trust him for what’s next.

I can understand how Paul felt, once he realized that he was destroying what God had built, was persecuting the Messiah himself, and was God’s enemy, but at least he was doing it for what he thought were righteous motives, whereas I was doing it for utter selfishness on my part. There’s just no way to sugar-coat this – it’s pure evil.

God Goes After the Lost Sheep
So, why did God keep pursuing me if my destination was destruction anyway? Why did he forgive me, when what I did for my lifetime was so unforgivable and destructive to his kingdom? I would have tossed me out long ago, and that would have been a reasonable response, humanly-speaking. But God isn’t like us, and his character is love and forgiveness and hope for those who humble themselves and repent of their sins and surrender to his lordship by faith in Jesus Christ. But is he able to change a wolf into a sheep?

All I know is, God, be merciful to me a sinner. Once I was blind, but now I see. Even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from their master’s table (see Luke 18:13, John 9:25, Matthew 15:27). I don’t say these to sound spiritual, but to express where my heart is now that I have come to my senses.

The Blood of Jesus
I believe the blood Jesus shed on the cross covers even my sins. I don’t deserve it, but he died for me and for you while we both were sinners, not when we were all cleaned up and in our Sunday best. He loved us when we were his enemies. He loved us when we rebelled against him. And he loved us into his kingdom. The blood of Jesus reaches even me!

What sort of people should we be, knowing the extent of God’s love? I will praise him as long as I live and by his power working through me become more like him, one day at a time. I will learn to forgive others and to love others as he has done. And I will be thankful every day for his grace and mercy to me!

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