God’s Judgment on Ungodly Sinners
November 15, 2015 / No. 3802
Dear Radio Friends,
The subject of verses 14-16 of Jude’s epistle is that of the final judgment. But not from the viewpoint of a general discussion of this truth. Jude is specific: Christ is coming to judge these ungodly men who troubled the church of Jesus Christ. Let us read those verses: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” In these three verses Jude directs our attention to that day of Christ’s return from heaven when He will execute His just judgment upon ungodly men.
Jude is finished characterizing these wicked men in the church. It may seem as if he takes this up again in verse 16 of our text, but we will find that Jude has a different reason in mind with this verse. Jude is finished describing their defiance against God, Christ, and the church. He is finished comparing these men with other men and angels who also walked in their sin of rebellion. Now Jude reminds the church about what will happen to these men when Jesus Christ comes again to judge all men. Jude does this to remind those weak members of the church of the end of wicked men. Christ comes! He comes swiftly! And He will execute judgment! It is true that such judgment is delayed. But it comes. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” It may be that Christ’s sentence or judgment on evil men is not executed immediately. For that reason the heart of men will continue on in their evil deeds. But here is the truth: Christ comes and He will execute judgment. And no man who walks in ungodly deeds will escape punishment!
That, then, is the subject of today’s broadcast. With these verses Jude brings to a conclusion his condemnation of these ungodly men. The rest of the verses of this epistle are spent warning and encouraging the saints to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. In them Jude instructs the members of the church to keep themselves in love and build themselves on their faith. So, today we conclude Jude’s condemnation of ungodly men by considering the end of their lives.
GOD’S JUDGMENT ON UNGODLY SINNERS
I. The Final Judgment
That the subject we consider is the final judgment is evident from the prophecy of Enoch that Jude quotes. In verse 14 and at the beginning of 15 we read, “Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment upon all.” This is a description of the final judgment. Notice how the word of God here ties together the second coming of Jesus Christ and the final judgment. Christ comes again one more time to bring this world to its end. With the destruction of this present world, all men will be brought to stand before the great white throne, where Christ will sit in judgment. At that time every soul that ever lived from the beginning of time to the end will come before Jesus Christ and He will judge them. He will pronounce His judgment upon His elect, whom He will send into that realm of eternal bliss and joy to dwell with God forever. And He will also pronounce His judgment upon the reprobate, whom He will cast into the eternal realm of suffering, where there is alienation from God and a burning under His eternal wrath. This judgment is delayed until the time of Christ’s second coming. Although God has already judged the righteous and the wicked at the cross, this final judgment is set aside by God to take place when time ends. And no man, woman, child, or angel will escape that judgment. Verse 15 tells us that the Lord will execute judgment upon all. Furthermore, we are told that the Lord will execute this judgment.
Now, it is true that Enoch so early on in the history of this world did not know exactly that this Lord of which he spoke was Jesus Christ. But his reference here to “the Lord” is not to God, who is also spoken of as Lord in the Bible. It is a direct prophecy that refers to Christ. The Lord in Enoch’s mind was, no doubt, the great Messiah who was to come to execute judgment.
Christ will be that Judge. The ungodly men in the early church denied the Lordship of Christ. But, it is exactly because Christ is Lord that He is indeed worthy to be the Judge of all creatures in heaven and on earth. This is a part of Christ’s rule. It is a part of His exaltation: He sits at God’s right hand and will return to judge all men. This right and authority belongs to Christ because Christ has earned that right by means of His exaltation. Because Christ walked the way of the cross in perfect obedience to God, because He suffered eternal wrath against our sin and paid the price for our sin, God has highly exalted Him. Christ earned the right to execute judgment.
We learn further, in our text, that Christ will come with ten thousands of His saints. Now, although this translation gives us a simple explanation of who comes with Christ, it is not as easy as it seems. The literal translation is not “ten thousands of his saints” but “holy myriads.”
This terminology does not refer only or specifically to holy men. The word “myriads” means “an immense number or amount.” So the reference here is not to a specific number but simply to an immense number of holy ones. These holy ones refer to God’s saints, but it also to the angels. Both will indeed be present in the coming of Christ and in the judgment. More than likely, the prophecy of our text refers to both. God’s holy ones—both those who are cleansed and made holy in the blood of Christ, as well as the holy angels—make up the myriads, the immense number of creatures that will accompany Christ when He comes to execute judgment.
Such is the final judgment.
And that this judgment will indeed take place is testified throughout all of Scripture. Notice what Solomon states in Ecclesiastes 12:14: “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Psalm 96:13 likewise speaks of this judgment, “For Jehovah cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” The Old Testament saints knew that the judgment was coming. The New Testament is even clearer. Paul preached in Acts 17:31, “Because God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” This truth is clearly stated II Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” And these are but a few examples that verify to you and me that all men will stand in judgment. To all those who doubt, let it be known, the final judgment is real! It will take place. It has not come yet. It is delayed. But do not think that God who sees and knows all things, even when we hide ourselves in our rooms or in the darkness of nighttime, will not hold us in judgment! Christ comes and we will be judged!
And this becomes even the more sure when we consider that these words of our text here are words that the man Enoch prophesied! What man Enoch? The Enoch that was born in the line of the covenant prior to the Flood—the Enoch that walked with God. Because this Enoch preached of the coming judgment of the Flood, men sought his life. But they could not find him because God had translated him, that is, had taken him directly into heaven without seeing death. Even then ungodly men who walked ungodly lives heard the judgment of God upon them in their sin. Even then wicked men sought to kill this saint because he preached judgment. We are told that Enoch was the seventh from Adam. This holds no special significance other than to identify him and to show that it took only seven generations before the world was becoming ripe for judgment already. Throughout the ages the church has been plagued by men from within who walk in unbelief and follow after their lusts. All these stand under the righteous judgment of God and, in that Day of Judgment, will receive their just reward. Enoch therefore prophesied of these ungodly men that would again appear in the church of Jude’s day and their judgment.
II. The Standard of Judgment
But Jude also teaches us through this prophecy of Enoch what the standard of the final judgment will be. What I mean here by standard is the objective criterion according to which God is going to judge us. All men will be judged according to the measure of godliness. That is the standard summarized in one word: godliness. We say this because of the testimony of verse 15: “To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Christ will execute judgment unto condemnation upon these men because of their ungodliness. Notice how often Jude uses that term here in this verse: four different times. These men will be condemned to punishment in the Judgment Day because they were ungodly rather than godly. The word “godliness” describes for us the inner disposition of a man’s heart. It does not draw our attention to outward works. We know they can be hypocritical. This term describes what a man must be on the inside, in his soul, in the inner recesses of his spiritual center, his heart. He must be godly within. A synonym of that word is pious. Christ as Lord will judge us according to our piety. Such piety or godliness is a deep reverence toward God. It is when a person out of a profound adoration toward God holds him in the highest esteem and honor. This adoration flows out of a true knowledge of who He is: the transcendent, sovereign, holy God who stands so high above all creatures, nevertheless, loves us in His grace and mercy toward us.
This godliness, this adoration, this reverence toward God is the result of a work of God’s grace in the heart of the sinner. There is no fear of God before the eyes of the unbeliever. He defies God and His power. Unbelieving man thinks he is able to withstand God or that God is simply a benevolent force that fulfills all man’s desires. But the believer has been transformed by the wonder work of salvation. Christ has through His powerful work on the cross destroyed the hold sin has over us. Christ has sent forth His Spirit to dwell in us, and that Spirit opens our eyes to who God is and what God has done for us. The result of that work of the Spirit is godliness—a piety that flows out of faith, a true knowledge of and confidence in God. In the Day of Judgment Christ sees in us that work of God’s grace that results in a heart filled with a humble adoration of God. He will then graciously give us a place in heavenly glory. But when Christ beholds ungodliness in the life of the unbeliever, a defiance toward God and a refusal to walk in God’s ways, that man will be cast into everlasting suffering and torment.
And that brings us to the second aspect of godliness. When one adores, honors, and loves God, then this godliness reveals itself in devout living. A person will walk in God’s ways. He will not seek to fulfill his own lusts and desires, but the Word of God will live in him and he will be characterized by godly living. This means he will walk in devotion to God. Not devotion to himself, not devotion to mankind, not devotion to society, first of all, but devotion to God! God is first in his individual life; God is first in his family life; God is first in his life in this world. Everything will be done to please God. That too is godliness. This godliness is what reveals itself to others. It is not loud and boastful. It is not sanctimonious and fake. It does not seek to draw attention to itself. But it is a quiet devotion to God and His Word—a simple walking in God’s ways to fulfill His will. It is fleeing the desires of our flesh and clinging to the desires of that new man of Christ—a redeemed heart. That is godliness. That is what will characterize the child of God in the Day of Judgment. Christ will see these works of godliness. They will not merit us a place in heaven, but they will indeed be evidence of that fear and love we have for God. A fear that Christ Himself has worked in our hearts. Our place in heaven will be a work of God’s grace alone. But the believer will be there!
Now, what will God see in those ungodly men who crept into the church unawares? Jude tells us that these ungodly men stand in judgment for their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed. Ungodliness, that is, no godliness! They will be judged for their defiance against God. And this will be revealed in their ungodly or impious deeds. What deeds? They are listed for us in verse 16: they walked after their own lusts. They also had men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. They walked in their own desires. They may have been members of the church but they fulfilled their own sinful pleasures. They were given to alcohol, they walked in fornication and adultery, they were covetous, and they were filthy and irresponsible. They were respecters of persons. They favored those who were rich in order that they might exalt themselves. They ignored and even scorned those who were of low degree in the church because they could gain no advantage being their friends.
Furthermore, these ungodly sinners were guilty of the hard speeches that they ungodly spoke against Christ. They profaned the name of Christ in their deeds but also by the way they spoke of Him. They defied His rule because they did not fear Christ any more than they feared God. And this revealed itself in the words they spoke to others in the church as well. They murmured and complained against the elders of the church or those who would walk godly. Their mouths spoke great swelling words. They boasted of themselves especially to those whom they showed respect of persons. They revealed no spirit of sorrow over their sin, but when their sin was pointed out to them they became belligerent. They defended themselves in their sin rather than confessing it before God and others. They reveled in their sin. And if there were those who reprimanded them, they spoke swelling words of pride in their sins. Because God’s sentence against their evil work was not executed speedily they set their hearts to walk in their evil deeds. Well, Jude says, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment on all that are ungodly! They will not escape!
III. An Inescapable Judgment
The church of Jesus Christ is here warned. Do not follow in their ways of sin. Do not seek to fulfill your own lusts. Because these men are condemned—even if now they with swelling words deny their own condemnation. They already are judged worthy of eternal punishment in hell. By these strong words of warning Jude hopes to discourage those in the church who are tempted to follow after such foolish men and women. No one will escape Christ’s judgment—no one that is ungodly will be worthy of a place in heaven!
Notice one more thing: Christ will execute judgment upon all to convince the ungodly of their ungodly deeds. No one will stand in the Day of Judgment before Christ and justify himself before Him. No one will be able to plead his cause and try to show to Christ that though ungodly he still deserves a place in heaven. The wicked man may deny Christ’s judgment in this life, but when the judgment comes he will be convinced that his place in hell is just. Seeing such a judgment awaits the ungodly, let us keep ourselves in the love of God. Let us build ourselves up on our faith. And let us look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.