Book of Jude Part 20 (series: Lessons on Jude)
by John Lowe
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude admonishes believers to behave in a way that is sharply different from the way that the lawless intruders behave. The word “faith” is used in the same way as it is in verse three. Christians are to establish their personal faith on the sure foundation of the testimony of the God-breathed Scriptures--(1 John 5:4) “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Overcometh denotes gaining victory over; it is used four times in verses (4–5). Its first occurrence is present tense in the original, giving the sense: “The true believer is always victorious over the world.” Victory is normal and natural, and that is why His commandments are not difficult. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. This could be put, “Our faith is the key to victory over the world.” Faith, in verse 4, is defined as “believing” that Jesus is the Son of God; This faith, saving faith, is what makes us true children of God, which in turn assures us of victory over the world."
Those false teachers must firmly establish their relationship with God through Jesus Christ by faithful, consistent devotion to His Word by which they were brought to the throne of grace and received their eternal salvation. Using the adjective “holy,” Jude was reminding the early Christians of his original opening statement that declared that God had called them, separated them, and will preserve them.
Only by the work of the Holy Spirit can the lost be found, the sinner saved, and the believer confirmed in his faith. Once the believer is firmly established within the community of those who are faithful to their calling in Jesus Christ, then the Spirit also gives to him the ability to discern what is true from what is false—the brother in Christ from the fraud, and faithful teaching from heresy “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:18).
Keep yourselves in the love of God--Believers are urged to keep themselves in the love of God. Again, the word used here for love signifies the kind of love that God showed to man when He gave His only Son as the only acceptable sacrifice for sin. Man did not reach out to God and ask Him for this forgiveness. The heavenly Father initiated the act of redemption and gave to mankind the mediation for its sin. “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins. Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love each other” (1 John 4:10-11). Only within the context of this love can the believer be sustained in the midst of the conflicts and trials that come his way throughout the course of this life. The only hope any believer has to endure these conflicts and trials while on life’s highway is to keep ourselves in the love of God. Here the love of God can be compared to the sunshine. The sun is always shining. But when something comes between us and the sun, we are no longer in the sunshine. That’s the way it is with the love of God. It is always beaming down upon us. But if sin comes between us and the Lord, then we are no longer enjoying His love in practice. We can keep ourselves in His love, first of all by lives of holiness and godliness. And if sin should come between us and that Godly love, then we should confess and forsake that sin immediately. The secret is to let nothing come between us and God.
According to the apostle, we have a duty to love God; "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." (John 15:9). The phrase "the love of God" (v 21) may mean either God's love for us, or our love for him. The latter appears, however, to be the sense here, because it is not a subject which could be ordered; that we should keep up God's love to us. That is a point over which we can have no success unless we are led to love God by the Holy Spirit rather than listening to these false prophets who do not have the Spirit at all (vs. 19). And, keep yourselves by looking for (anticipating) the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Finally, we should be eagerly looking for (in hope) the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. The mercy of our Lord here refers to His imminent return to take His people home to heaven. In days of darkness and apostasy, we are to keep the light of the blessed hope burning in our hearts. It will prove a comforting and purifying hope: (1 Thess. 4:18) "Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1Jn.3:3 ) "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
B. Exhortation by Example. 22–23.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
As Jude ends his short epistle, he addresses a vitally important aspect for Christians who are surrounded by unbelievers, some who openly oppose them and others who have infiltrated their fellowship through deception. How are believers to respond? How can they avoid conforming to the world’s culture and to the imposters’ false teachings? Most important, how are the ones who are redeemed by God’s grace to conduct themselves toward those who would seek to destroy their relationship with God through Jesus Christ?
First, believers are to conduct themselves with compassion toward those who have not accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. To display true compassion, one must have genuine empathy. Believers can truly understand the plight of unbelievers because they remember that they, too, are sinners who, but for the grace of God, would not have received the forgiveness of their sins-- “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10 ). Believers can truly understand the unbeliever’s quandary because they were called by God while in that same state of rebellion. However, true compassion goes one step further. Just as God reached out to us, we must take the initiative toward others who do not believe. True compassion involves action that will make a difference.
However, there is a qualification to the exercise of compassion toward those who have not received forgiveness of their sins. Believers are charged to make a distinction, meaning to exercise discernment or to make a difference between those who are openly hostile toward God and His people and those who are simply struggling with doubt. Not all people are moved by the act of compassion. Some are so hostile toward the Christian message that it is best to avoid them entirely. “If anyone comes to you and doesn’t bring these teachings, don’t take him into your home or even greet him” (2 John 10). This type of spiritual discernment has been encouraged by Christ in the Gospels and by the apostolic teaching. “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls to pigs. Otherwise, they will trample them and then tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6).
Jude seems to have some mercy himself for the false teachers (more likely, for some of the brethren who may have been influenced by them) and we would translate, “Have mercy on those who waver in doubt; save those you can by snatching them, as it were, from the flames. Show mercy in godly fear, although you hate the clothes they wear, stained as they are by the flesh.”