In one of His last messages to His disciples, Jesus spoke of the day when all would be gathered in judgment. On one side of the Judge would be placed the “sheep.” On the other side would be placed the “goats.” Ironically, they would all be mixed together. There would be those mixed in with the sheep who ate grass and followed the flock around, but were never actually sheep. When they were all finally called in, the distinguishing eye of the Shepherd separated the ones He knew were His own sheep and cast the goats out.
The picture is one of Jesus sorting through all those who call themselves His followers. All come walking through the gate at judgment with a sense of confidence. Jesus matter-of-factly separates His true followers from the ones who had just been playing the game and living on false hope. It didn’t matter that they went to Sunday school, or attended every church function. Attendance did not ensure atonement. Dedication never accomplishes deliverance. Salvation comes through faith not faithfulness. Years of following the flock around, doesn’t transform a goat into a sheep.
Judgment day will come, and those who have spent their lives laboring to convince others of their own spiritual position will have their goat-selves cast into eternal punishment.
Jude sees these in the church. Many of them are polluting the accomplishment of the church and frustrating those who long to do right. They distract from the main thing. They worry about pew and carpet color. They love words like “fellowship,” and hate words like “evangelize.” They prefer to cause strife and mutter sarcastic attacks against those God has placed in charge instead of actively growing themselves and those around them in the truth. They don’t mind enduring a forty minute monologue, but will never do the hard work of listening to the truth presented. Just about every time they appear to have fruit, reality sets in and the underdeveloped outgrowth rots away.
Following this thought of the final judgment, Paul says in Philippians 2 that all who call themselves “Christian,” should “work out [their] salvation with fear and trembling.” If the goats will one day walk in the gate with self-deceived confidence, what blindness must control them! Sadly, blindness is a condition that leads to judgment, and can never be used as an excuse from condemnation.
Food for Thought: What are some of the word pictures Jude uses to describe those who are in the church, but are not truly Christian?