Jude 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (emphasis mine)
I have heard this verse used in settings where the message being inferred was that any who preach Grace were promoting lasciviousness (license to sin). As well, in most cases, I would hear the safeguard to keeping people holy and living right was to point out sin more.
Like the Lord asked me years ago as I was ignorantly trying to argue with Him about an issue I was having He said: How's that working for ya?!
Look around you! Preaching on sin hasn't exactly worked well. People know they have sin and us preaching it to them isn't going to stop them. They'll still do it! Preaching on sin is not the antidote to getting free from it. We must preach and point them to Jesus!
This verse, in the past, has been used to say that people who preach grace were preaching it as a defense to continue living in their sin. The result has been pulpits stay away from Grace teaching out of fear the congregation will go buck wild in sinful living.
I don't believe that this verse is saying what has traditionally been preached. Look closely at the verses before this verse and read carefully, Jude is concerned that the believers contend earnestly for "the faith". Simply put, without enough room here to explain and write, "the faith" is the gospel of grace given once to all. (I challenge you to study the scriptures and research the term "The Faith" and see if you agree is the gospel of grace.)
The key to understanding the message that Jude is writing is seen in one word - "turned". The greek word used here is:
metatithemi - STRONGS NT 3346: to transpose; two things, one of which is put in place of the other, to transfer, to change, to transpose.
It is not saying that people "turned" (as traditionally preached), watered down or twisted the message but changed it altogether in order to put one in place of the other. In other words Grace, under the meaning of metatithemi, was removed! Major error.
Whenever you remove Grace from the pulpit, the resultant will always be more sin in the congregation. Whether out in the open or in secret, no grace, no freedom!
These men who were marked for condemnation attempted to totally remove the Grace of our God. Why? You may ask as I did. In short, people under Grace are free! Its obvious these men attempted to totally eradicate grace from the church for some sort of control of the people.
What the verse is actually saying is that there were people who changed the original message of the gospel of grace into another message altogether. Jude is pointing out, as in the Pauline epistles that there is only one gospel. As Paul warned in Galatians 1:6-9:
though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
WOW and OUCH! Attempting to preach another gospel than what was originally preached from the beginning is most definitely dangerous business!
As the critics will always say - "so, what are you saying pastor? Are you saying that we should continue in sin that grace may abound and flow?!!" As Paul wrote: "God forbid!" That is not what the gospel is saying and neither am I.
The true gospel doesn't produce a desire to sin more. Romans 6:14 states when you are under Grace sin doesn't have dominion over you. The true gospel does for you the same that it did for the prostitute written of in John chapter 8. Deliverance, eternal love and appreciation, and a life long commitment of service to the Lord Himself for saving you from the wrath that is to come.