A few years ago I was trapped in a cycle of sinful behaviour, which I felt powerless to overcome. I believed the Bible’s teaching that sex is a good gift from God. A gift designed exclusively for marriage between one man and one woman, as laid down in Genesis 2:24 and reinforced in the Law and the Prophets, by the Apostles and by the Lord Jesus. Holding to God’s truth is one thing. But living it out as a Christian battling with same-sex desires was unbelievably difficult.
At times, the temptations seemed too strong. I became ensnared by the anonymity of connecting with people online and fell into a pattern of ungodly behaviour. Some words of Jesus hit home: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). I was weary, enslaved and desperate to break free.
What God is able to do
One of the keys to escaping from my addictive cycle of sin was to meditate on the doxology (an expression of praise to God) in Jude:
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)
The Holy Spirit, speaking through Jude, asserts that:
1) God can keep us from stumbling
God has all the necessary power and resources to prevent Christians from falling into sin, or indeed from falling away entirely. Of course, we will never be totally free from the effects of the fall in this life. But if we do trip up it’s not because God lacks power.
2) God can present us blameless
Not one of us by nature is blameless (above accusation) before the glorious presence of God. But no matter what we have done or where we have been in the past, God has the ability to display us on that last day as completely blame free.
What we know about God
Sometimes I’m amazed that I’m still a Christian. That I still deny myself a same-sex relationship and still walk what used to seem like an impossible road. So how have I kept going? More generally, how is it that God can keep us from stumbling and present us blameless?
The answer is found, I believe, in the nature of God. Jude highlights four attributes of God that should give us great confidence in his ability to keep us from falling and bring us to our final destination free from accusation.
- His glory
God’s glory is his weightiness. His essential essence. So how will we possibly be blameless before the glorious presence of God? When Isaiah sees the Lord, he’s convicted about his unclean lips (Isaiah 6). When John sees a glorious vision of Jesus Christ he falls as though dead (Revelation 1). What chance do we have?
We can only be found in God’s glorious presence “through Jesus Christ” as Jude puts it.
Jesus, who is “the radiance of the glory of God” (Hebrews 1:3), died in my place and on my behalf. The one thing that will keep me from God’s presence – my sin and rebellion – has been dealt with permanently on the cross.
That we’re destined for God’s glory should come as no surprise to us. We are, after all, made for that very purpose. So in Isaiah 43:7 God speaks about his people as those “whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” So God’s glory is the goal of our salvation; God’s glory is also the means by which he will accomplish that goal.
- His majesty
The Greek word majesty (megalósuné) comes from the root ‘megas’ meaning great. The unparalleled greatness and royal authority of our God should fill us with awe.
By very nature, God is majestic. God’s majesty may seem far too lofty a concept to be of any use in our day-to-day struggles. But it should be a great confidence booster. The King of Kings, seated on his holy throne (Psalm 47:8), can employ all his royal power to keep us on our feet.
To doubt that it’s possible to break free from the enslaving effects of sin is to doubt God’s ‘mega’ power. We can easily feel defeated and battle weary, but let’s remember who God is. He is the Sovereign of all creation. The undisputed Head of State over the whole universe with countless legions of angels at his royal command.
- His dominion
The dominion of our God is not limited. He rules over all things. Everything.
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
How does this help us in our struggles and temptations? We’re assured that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). All things meaning everything, including our weaknesses and even our past failings.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed by your temptations, or if the weight of past mistakes is too much to bear, God’s boundless dominion should reassure you. Reassure you that if you love God and are called according to his purpose, He will work all your temptations and your sinful past together for good.
Trusting a God whose dominion extends that far should instil confidence in his ability to keep us from stumbling in this life.
- His authority
Pilate believed he had the authority to either release Jesus or to crucify him. In one sense, he was correct. But he had forgotten where his authority came from. “You would have no authority over me at all”, said Jesus, “unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11)
God exercises authority over all things and all people: thrones, dominions, rulers, other authorities, cosmic powers, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, kings and all who are in high positions (Colossians 1, Ephesians 6, 1 Timothy 2).
When we face a barrage of temptations, it can lead to a sense of weakness or even despair. And the truth is that, left to our own devices, we are weak. Our bodies are weak. Our sinful natures are weak. Sometimes we face temptations that have the sense of coming from our great adversary, Satan himself. But God has complete authority over my body, my sinful nature and over our enemy the devil. This is why Jesus can assure every genuine disciple that our eternal destination is secure:
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30).
Let go and let God?
God is able to keep me from stumbling and present me blameless. So does that mean I don’t have to do anything?
No, scripture is full of things that I have to do. God’s glory, majesty, dominion and authority are the powerhouse that keeps me standing. But he also calls and empowers me to do various things so that I continue in the faith. Things such as “contend for the faith”, “keep yourself in the love of God”, “resist the devil”, “be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray”, “fight the good fight of the faith”, “stand firm” and many others.
So yes, we have a vital role to play. But God is the lead actor. He is determined that my “whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
 Abraham Kuyper