Genuine Christians abide in Christ. They remain. They may go through the worst tribulation imaginable, yet they remain attached to the Vine. However, when tribulation descends on the disingenuous professing Christians they do not endure because they have no root in themselves. The world and the deceitfulness of riches cause others to fall away. These are not genuine believers.
20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Matthew 13:20-22 (NASB)
The Bible very clearly teaches that Christians should examine themselves quite often in order to see what their spiritual condition is. Genuine Christians are not perfect people. Neither are they always full of happiness, in perfect health while having plenty of money in the bank. No, the fact that all believers are called to be humble, poor in spirit, meek, pure in heart and many other things that are growing in their character means that they will spend much of their time in the fires of sanctification. It is during these times of pruning that believers are in the greatest danger of becoming despondent, discouraged, and even depressed if they have not learned to view their circumstances correctly.
Despite what many in the Easy-believism or Universalism camp teach, there are people who profess Christ who are not genuine. They are not regenerate nor do they have the Holy Spirit. They are not in Christ. Genuine Christians abide in Christ. They remain. They may go through the worst tribulation imaginable, yet they remain attached to the Vine. However, when tribulation descends on the disingenuous professing Christians they do not endure because they have no root in themselves. The world and the deceitfulness of riches cause others to fall away. These are not genuine believers.
19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19 (NASB)
The English word “Apostate” describes one who has renounced their religious faith. It implies that he or she is a defector. Many apostates make no public profession of their defection from Christ yet they are because their allegiance is to another Jesus, not the genuine Christ of the Bible. What are the traits of an apostate so that we may recognize them? Is that possible? Our Lord’s brother, Jude, wrote a book bearing his name that we find in the New Testament. It contains just one chapter. We find the purpose of this book in vv3-4.
3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3-4 (NASB)
As we look at the profile of an apostate, we should also be encouraged to contend earnestly for the faith so let us begin. Jude lists the attributes that are common traits of apostates. Some will have them all while others will have fewer. We have already seen the first three attributes in v4 where Jude tells us that apostates are ungodly, morally perverted, and have denied Christ.
The Greek Word that is translated as “ungodly persons” is a combined word that means “without worship.” It describes one who is godless and without fear and reverence of God. It does not mean irreligious, but one who actively practices the opposite of what the fear of God demands. Therefore, we must come to grips with the fact that professing Christians can be apostate.
The phrase, “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness,” describes people involved in “unrestrained vice” or “gross immorality.” This means they have shameless lifestyles while irreverently flaunting God’s grace by indulging in unchecked and open immorality.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Romans 6:12-15 (NASB)
This brings to mind those demanding the freedom to live any way they desire while insisting on being regarded as genuine Christians. This is a demand by apostates.
The last trait from v4 is, “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” The Greek word Jude used for “Master” is “despotes.” It is translated as “Lord” in other parts of the New Testament. It means “master of slaves.” The Greek word Jude used for “Lord” in v4 is “kurios.” It means “Lord and Master.” What is he saying in this phrase? The apostates disowned Christ as sovereign Lord (despotes) and disdained any recognition of Christ as “Lord and Master” (kurios). They did this by their wicked behavior. All apostates pervert what the Bible declares is true about our Lord Jesus Christ.