“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 6-7)
In this age of selfism, pride is widely applauded. The prevailing culture often refers to self-centeredness in positive terms, such as swagger or self-assuredness. But if we distill it down to biblical terms, in many cases, we find nothing more than the sin of pride.
Pride, in essence, is believing that we know better than God and deserve more than he has given. In the two verses before us today, Jude warns his readers of the dangers of pride and offers two examples of the destruction it can bring. First, he refers to “angels who did not stay within their own position of authority.” As with other phrases in Jude’s letter, the meaning of this reference is debated. I believe a strong argument can be made that Jude is referring to the original fall of the angels, including Satan, that occurred before the fall of humanity in Genesis 3. Rather than serving God in accordance with their created purpose as holy ministers and messengers of God, these angels “left their proper dwelling.” They wanted more than they were given and sought to usurp God’s authority. They thought of themselves more highly than they ought (Romans 12:3) and reaped the just consequences for their prideful actions.
Jude points to the judgment of these fallen angels to open his readers’ eyes to God’s righteous judgment of sin. If God did not spare the angels, who are superior to human beings in position and power, neither will he spare Jude’s audience. Their prideful sin, if left unrepented and in unbelief, will bring them to the same end as the fallen angels.
These fallen angels are “kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” Their fate is sealed as they await the return of Christ. While fallen angels are still active and operating with Satan, the chief demon (1 Peter 5:8), they are bound by the sovereign chains of God. They are convicted and condemned, awaiting the full execution of their sentence. Lest we think we can escape God’s judgment by any means other than the blood of Christ, let these words regarding his judgment on the angels assure us of its finality.
Jude further drives home his point with a second example. He, like other biblical authors, uses the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of God’s judgment on sin (Deuteronomy 29:23, Isaiah 1:9, Romans 9:29, 2 Peter 2:6). Like the sin of the angels, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was prideful and high-handed. Peter’s second epistle references this account of judgment and the perpetual sin that tormented Lot’s righteous soul (2 Peter 2:4-10). Though God rescued Lot out of Sodom before he carried out his judgment on it, he will “keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” (v. 9).
God is “slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8), but there are times when his judgment is immediately meted out (Genesis 19, Leviticus 10, Numbers 16, Acts 5). Jude’s audience is in danger of finding themselves at the place in which God no longer extends patience and grace toward their continued sin but brings the swift arm of judgment. We must cling to the grace of God, but we must never presume upon it.
Through these examples, Jude references instances of judgment that are directly applicable both to his readers’ attitude toward sin and their form of sin. By following the antinomian heresy of the false teachers, they, like the fallen angels, are sinning presumptuously and pridefully. Like the wicked destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah, their sin is primarily one of sensuality and sexual impurity.
The hopeful news in these verses is that this warning comes before the judgment of God has fallen on Jude’s readers. They are doubtless in a dangerous position, but it is still a position from which they can be saved by repentance and faith. Until that final judgment has been issued, as it was on the angels and Sodom and Gomorrah, there is reason to hope. Jude is not writing a eulogy but an urgent appeal.
The same is true for us as we preach the gospel to the lost. All who are outside of Christ are on the precipice of God’s judgment, but as we share the good news of Christ, they can still be snatched out of the fires of condemnation. May this add power and urgency to our message.
May your judgment on the wicked keep us from ever becoming comfortable in our sin. It is only through Christ that we are saved from your just wrath. May we be all the more diligent to daily repent and believe.
In your Son’s name, amen.
- Pray for a view of sin that is informed by an accurate view of God’s holiness and judgment.
- Pray that your evangelism would rightly communicate both the imminent condemnation of the wicked and the invitation to eternal life in Christ if one repents and believes.
- Pray that God would grant you opportunities to share the gospel with those who are currently under God’s judgment. Download this resource for helpful tactics for navigating these conversations.