"These are they who make separation, sensual, having not the Spirit!" Jude, verse 19.
WE may think that Jude had the same mother as our Lord. He probably wrote a year or so before the fall of Jerusalem. His concern, however, is not with political prospects but with the issues of the gospel as he urges his readers to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. To encourage them in this he admonishes them from history taking examples not only from the Old Testament but also from the apocryphal books of The Assumption of Moses and also the book of Enoch. The examples are impressive and they carry their serious warning.
This brings him to the hortatory part of the epistle as he reminds his readers of what the apostles have already impressed upon the newly formed churches that in the last time there should be found amongst them mockers " who should walk after their own ungodly desires." Within every assembly of the Lord's people one will probably find in greater or less degree some variety of understanding concerning the truth of God. Some may be mockers scoffing at the theological and doctrinal positions that others hold. But scoffing as we understand the word can never be the attitude of the vital child of God.
We may not agree with others, we may think them wrong, we may wonder how it is possible for them sincerely to hold such views as they proclaim, but the man of God can never scoff at them or their views. Ridicule is not a characteristic of spiritual life. The word, however, is not adequately expressed by our word "mockers;" for the sense is one of immaturity, of babyhood. These have never gone on with truth to appreciate its larger treasures but have remained static. They have never grown up. They know something of Divine truth but their progress in truth has been arrested. Divine truth is of such a nature that it affects not merely the mind but the inner being of the person concerned. It demands that having been received in its elements the person so receiving, shall press on to receive more and, if he has no desire to receive more, that which he has received may possibly, if not certainly, lead to confusion and contradiction.
If one shall wrap up the pound in a napkin he is liable to lose the pound, for from him that hath not shall be taken away that which he hath! Whence then come these babes? They are professing Christians who know nothing experimentally of the Holy Spirit. We may find them in the pew, in the pulpit, in theological colleges and in active service in churches. They give a unique significance to the name of Christ; they have made some response to Him but there is a deadline in spiritual experience. They are described as "having not the Spirit." Until one comes to the experimental truth of the Spirit, one's Christianity can be merely intellectual. The historical facts of Jesus are apprehended. The Virgin birth, the Logos, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection are truths to which in varying ways the Christian subscribes. The issues are largely historical. Did, for example, Christ rise from the dead? Some would assert that one can be a Christian without being committed to the historical fact, while others would feel that having accepted the historical fact, they must be Christians.
Of course in a true understanding of the revelation, the historical is essential to the revelation of identification, and it is identification that gives life. When, however, we come to the truth concerning the Holy Spirit, we are brought into a closer experimental association with the things of God. The Holy Spirit was sent by our Lord from heaven, to the waiting, expecting disciples in the upper room. So was revealed a marvellous ministry to operate until the Lord should return. Wherever a person should truly and sincerely repent, he should be absolved from his sin in trusting utterly the merits of the blood of Christ. That same Lord of resurrection and ascension should and would in every case without exception, communicate the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to dwell within the repentant believing sinner thus saved.
The revelation of this action demands, of course, the faith of the recipient when experience will proceed in a variety of ways to a limitless extent. The act of our Lord however, is completed in Him. The Spirit is given but, if there be no appropriation of faith, then so far as the individual recipient is concerned, instead of a Pentecostal fullness, there will be a Pentecostal emptiness! As the Whitsun season comes round, year after year, the Christian sings of the Spirit, but where there should be vitality, there is deadness; where there should be fullness, there is emptiness. The "babe mocks " at all thought of Pentecostal fullness, and feels more than content with a religion in which life has perished on the threshold of experience. Whitsun records a specialised fact of history, remote from the experience of today. One can so ignore the truth of the Spirit as to celebrate a Whit-Sunday without any sense of the incongruity of doing so in a state of personal spiritual emptiness. If we suffer from Pentecostal emptiness, then one of the symptoms will be
The child of God is to come out from the world and be separate. This isolationism, however, is in the opposite direction. Fellowship is essential to the believer. We are specifically enjoined not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and the injunction is for our highest good. Christian fellowship is a precious experience to those who truly know it. It both creates and satisfies deep longings which are a vital part of one's life. All sorts of devices are adopted to make the social life of a church a real experience. The fellowship of the Church, however, can never really be known except by those to whom Pentecost is a reality. If one has by faith received the Holy Spirit, then there is set up within, a magnetic urge that draws one to all others of like experience. It is the drawing power of life eternal in the Holy Spirit.
Nothing can take its place in the experience of God's believing people. The human is bonded in the Holy Spirit as an invariable experience in the life of every person who has by faith received the Holy Spirit. Some churches may attempt fellowship on the human plane, but while that may or may not be successful in an amateur dramatic society or a dance club, real vitalising fellowship can be in the Holy Spirit alone, as every growing believer knows so well, But if there is Pentecostal emptiness, then the Christian puts very little value on Christian fellowship. Not knowing the Spirit experimentally, the society of the Spirit loses its appeal, and so the attachment is extremely uncertain, whereas the appeal of the worldly spirit is felt, appreciated and answered. It is of little use impressing upon Christians a code of rules as to where they should or should not go; the root cause is Pentecostal emptiness, the failure to realise by faith the Indwelling Spirit, and a corresponding incapacity to find and to enjoy the fellowship of the new nature. They, as Jude declares, "make separation " not from the world, but from the people of God.
The word in the text is "sensual," but that is not a suitable translation. Indeed, we have no word adequate for the writer's thought. A person can be carnal when their whole life is dominated by the flesh, and beyond the flesh they have no real interest. On the other hand, they can be spiritual, finding all their joy in God. But they can be something in between, and the word that describes them may be this word "psychical." It is the soul of the individual, the seat of the conscious ego. In an unsaved person the tendency is toward the carnal, dragging the whole consciousness down to issues of the temporal and the visible. In a person to whom the Spirit has been given, it is the purpose of God that daily the soul shall yield obedience to the Holy Spirit, and so find experimental deliverance from the bondage and mesmerism of the world that seems so real. Hence if a Christian does not know the truth of the indwelling Spirit, or knowing it does not co-operate obediently with Him, then he remains "soulish" with all the tendencies of his nature towards the things of this present world.
He cannot, of course, escape gross thoughts and desires, but the prevailing principle is a life centred on self, with purposes determined by self. His thoughts, plans and possibilities are all to be realised in time. Beyond that point, the soul has no sure confidence or eager expectation. It is the time sphere that engages his enthusiasm. Were the Holy Spirit to be recognised, however, He would immediately proceed to organise the mind in relation to the heavenly, the invisible and the real. The Lord Jesus in His glory would be unveiled and, as by faith the revelation was received, so the Indwelling Spirit would have increasing liberty in ministry in and through the believer. But if a man be living in Pentecostal emptiness, the Spirit is grieved and limited, the person in whom He dwells gives Him no liberty, and religious life is lived in the energy of the flesh with no little dependence on the world outside. Finally, the believer living in Pentecostal emptiness has
3) NO SENSE OF SPIRITUAL RESPONSIBILITY.
In the closing verses of the epistle, Jude addresses those who have by faith received the Spirit. They are to have compassion on all who are out of the way, they are to save others, if need be by fear, so that as they rejoice in a full salvation, they shall also be conscious of a full responsibility. The new convert who, by faith, goes on to receive the Holy Spirit will always begin to think of responsibility. In the home, if he is married, he will long to set up a standard of life and conduct to bear a witness and example to his children, to let them have the benefit of counsel from the Word as it is read. He will long to know the Will of God from His Word, in order that he may discharge a great debt he has to the Saviour. He will be conscious of the people with whom he works in business. A man of the world in business may know nothing of the truth in Christ, save what may be seen in a Christian working in the same establishment! What a tragedy it is when somebody whom he supposes is a Christian is actually psychic, not having the Spirit, so that the whole witness, the views expressed, the habits manifested, the outlook by which all life is governed, are entirely misleading. You cannot expect a man of the world to be able to detect a Christian suffering from Pentecostal emptiness!
A young man or woman who thus receives the Spirit will inevitably be led to the conclusion that, if Jesus Christ gave up His life to set us free from the judgment of sin, then our lives must be at God's disposal. Whether we are called to full time service or not is immaterial. What is essential is that we should recognise that Christ has the first claim upon our whole life. The Holy Spirit, if permitted, will certainly stamp this conviction upon the mind, heart and will, and so the purpose of God in the life will be accomplished. The question for each one of us is therefore: Am I a Christian who is Pentecostally empty, or Pentecostally full? The answer is most important, and the individual action is critical. Let us, if we are true believers, receive by faith the Holy Spirit, not to be held fast and grieved by our carnal wills, but to take the throne of our beings and to reign in our lives as our perpetual inspiration. He will move in today to fill up that emptiness with all the fullness of His wonderful life and, in doing so, will lay a serious sense of responsibility for the discharge and fulfilment of the purpose of God in the world.
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