Twice Dead

29861Also remember the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other towns around them. In the same way they were full of sexual sin and people who desired sexual relations that God does not allow. They suffer the punishment of eternal fire, as an example for all to see. It is the same with these people who have entered your group. They are guided by dreams and make themselves filthy with sin. They reject God’s authority and speak against the angels. Not even the archangel Michael, when he argued with the devil about who would have the body of Moses, dared to judge the devil guilty. Instead, he said, “The Lord punish you.” But these people speak against things they do not understand. And what they do know, by feeling, as dumb animals know things, are the very things that destroy them. It will be terrible for them. They have followed the way of Cain, and for money they have given themselves to doing the wrong that Balaam did. They have fought against God as Korah did, and like Korah, they surely will be destroyed. They are like dirty spots in your special Christian meals you share. They eat with you and have no fear, caring only for themselves. They are clouds without rain, which the wind blows around. They are autumn trees without fruit that are pulled out of the ground. So they are twice dead. They are like wild waves of the sea, tossing up their own shameful actions like foam. They are like stars that wander in the sky. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them forever. Jude 1:7-13

Who are these people referred to in Jude? Specifically, Jude draws a parallel between the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were destroyed because of their propensity for sexual relations, and “these people who have entered your group” who are “filthy with sin.” How are they filthy with sin? They reject God’s authority. Jude declares they are twice dead, likening them to “autumn trees without fruit that are pulled out of the ground.” They’re dead because they do not have fruit and dead because they’re pulled up from the ground. They not only didn’t produce what they were intended to produce but they also will not produce in the future.

In other words, these people who have rejected God’s authority have died spiritually (didn’t produce what they were intended to produce) and, as a result, died a natural death as a result of their decisions to reject God. They first didn’t choose to allow God to work in their lives during what would have been the opportunities for growth and were then uprooted because of their persistence to completely reject God. These are people we don’t want to follow.

It seems obvious. Why would we ever follow someone who doesn’t trust God? Our choice seems easy when we’re speaking hypothetically, but when we’re faced with one small decision at a time, we can be less guarded and end up in a pit of sin we never imagined ourselves being in. No matter where you might be in that process – deep in the darkness of the pit or standing on solid ground with perhaps no idea there is a pit waiting three steps ahead of you – know that you can grow from wherever you currently are. There is always hope. We can learn lessons from others, including the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the people to whom Jude refers.

False teachers defile the soul. They’re spiritually disturbed, refusing to recognize the position or power of God. They believe they’ve taken life into their own hands, which is never possible. We are to follow men only as they follow Christ.

The phrase “reject God’s authority” is expressed as “ungodly people” in the New International Version. The terms godly and, especially, ungodly are rarely used today, which in and of itself is a warning. Not identifying and recognizing the reality of ungodly living is a rejection of the absolute truth and presence of God. The reality is God has no problem using such categories of behavior and people and will do so on the day of judgment. Of course, even the day of judgment is ignored or rejected by many people, because (1) people refuse to believe there is one true God, (2) people refuse to believe there’s a need for judgment because a myriad of beliefs about what happens after physical death, or (3) people believe God will extend grace to everyone so judgment would not be necessary. There are likely additional options.

What perspectives on the day of judgment have you experienced?

What questions do you personally have?

Commit to following God, not out of fear but out of a desire to know him and to respond to him in obedience. The day of judgment doesn’t need to be the immediate focus. Your relationship with God and ever-increasing intimacy with him will keep you in his will, and you will consequently be well-prepared for judgment. You need to discern one moment at a time.

Using the gift God gave me, I laid the foundation of that house like an expert builder. Others are building on that foundation, but all people should be careful how they build on it. The foundation that has already been laid is Jesus Christ, and no one can lay down any other foundation. But if people build on that foundation, using gold, silver, jewels, wood, grass, or straw, their work will be clearly seen, because the Day of Judgment will make it visible. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work to show what sort of work it was. If the building that has been put on the foundation still stands, the builder will get a reward. But if the building is burned up, the builder will suffer loss. The builder will be saved, but it will be as one who escaped from a fire. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

Living by God’s Word invites us to prove dying twice doesn’t have to be destructive.

When we die spiritually…

Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life. Those who give up their lives for me will hold on to true life. (Matthew 10:39)

…and die naturally…

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have life even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

…have life with God for eternity.

That’s the kind of “twice dead” I want.

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