Has sin really changed? The specific sins may have changed (although I doubt very fundamentally) but the motivation behind sin has not. Jude 6-7 gives us some insight into what sin is and what it warrants. Jude does so using two references from Genesis, a further illustration that the very nature of sin has been left intact.
The Sin of Angels in Genesis 6
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 while until the judgement of the great day.
In Genesis 6, angels came down to earth in the form of man. They were seduced by women and committed sexual sin with them. This is the scene Jude is referencing here. These angels left the position God had gave them and committed this sin against the Almighty. This is what sin is. Just as the angels were putting themselves before God, desiring equality with Him, so were the false teachers that cropped up in Jude’s church audience. By their lives of sin, they denied the Lordship of Christ (v. 4) and were storing up wrath just as the people of Israel did in the wilderness and just as these angels did. The root of their sin was stepping out of the line of authority. Is this not what sin is? These angels knew the glory of God and yet rejected it with their lifestyle.
Sodom and Gomorrah
In verse 7 Jude compares the judgement to come with God’s judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. The men of Sodom pursued “unnatural desires” and so serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. This is a reference to blatant homosexual behavior. This behavior is sin because it is wrong. It also is unnatural, going against the way God set things up. Sex was created as a gift for marriage. Any behavior (all kinds of sexual immorality) contrary to God’s design is a slap in the face of God. It is like saying that we know better than God. Our ways are higher than his, if you will. This is the attitude of apostasy! The habitual sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was judged by God will a pillar of fire. The smoke rose from the site for thousands of years after. Jude’s use of this story probably points to sexual immorality being one of the main thrusts of the false teacher’s license.
What God Does With Sin
He punishes it. In all three allusions to the Old Testament, the emphasis is on God’s judgement on the unrepentant. Hell is the final judgement. The angels who left their authority are being kept in eternal chains of darkness until the final judgement. Hell is just that, eternal. Any hint of annhilationism is destroyed here. Sin against a holy God warrants eternity separate from him in hell. Sodom and Gomorrah’s physical punishment was just a precursor to the “eternal fire” they would receive. As Paul states in Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death. Not just physical death. No, much more severe. The false teachers Jude is addressing are living in their own created order, trying to be their own God. Jude is reminding his audience that such behavior has always been judged harshly by God. Much like the hall of faith in Hebrews, this is almost the hall of hell. God is faithful to save and to judge. His nature is inseparable.
The Good News for Our Audience
God takes sin very, very seriously. Jude wants to remind his audience of this. We are not saved by our lifestyle but a changed life will flow out of a new heart. God will judge sin. The Good News here (pun intended), is that Jesus took the believer’s sin and bore the wrath and judgement of God that they deserved. They can rest in this! They are the called, beloved in God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. The sin around them sounds pervasive, but they can have hope because their resurrected Savior lives. Reader, there is provision in the cross. The perfect life Jesus lived, the perfect sacrifice he made, is counted to us as righteousness if we will just turn from ourselves and our desires to follow Christ. By faith, we can have the very righteousness of Christ. This is the difference between the sins discussed above. Both sins did not go unpunished. The only difference is that Jesus took our punishment for us.
soli deo gloria