Our spiritual communities are as susceptible to disease as our physical bodies. but it is easier to detect whatever is wrong in our stomachs and lungs than in our worship and witness. When our physical bodies are sick or damaged, the pain calls our attention to it, and we do something quick. But a dangerous, even deadly, virus in our spiritual communities can go undetected for a long time. As much as we need physicians for our bodies, we have even greater need for diagnosticians and healers of the spirit.
Jude’s letter to an early community of Christians is just such diagnosis. It is all the more necessary in that those believers apparently didn’t know anything was wrong, or at least not as desperately wrong as Jude points out.
There is far more, of course, to living in Christian community than protecting the faith against assault or subversion. Paranoia is as unhealthy spiritually as it is mentally.
The primary Christian posture is, in Jude’s words, “keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ.” All the same, energetic watchfulness is required. Jude’s whistle-blowing has prevented many a disaster.
Jude, (The Message)
1-2 I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
Fight with All You Have in You
3-4 Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.
Lost Stars in Outer Space
5-7 I’m laying this out as clearly as I can, even though you once knew all this well enough and shouldn’t need reminding. Here it is in brief: The Master saved a people out of the land of Egypt. Later he destroyed those who defected. And you know the story of the angels who didn’t stick to their post, abandoning it for other, darker missions. But they are now chained and jailed in a black hole until the great Judgment Day. Sodom and Gomorrah, which went to sexual rack and ruin along with the surrounding cities that acted just like them, are another example. Burning and burning and never burning up, they serve still as a stock warning.
8 This is exactly the same program of these latest infiltrators: dirty sex, rule and rulers thrown out, glory dragged in the mud.
9-11 The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn’t have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, “No you don’t. God will take care of you!” But these people sneer at anything they can’t understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing—living by animal instinct only—they participate in their own destruction. I’m fed up with them! They’ve gone down Cain’s road; they’ve been sucked into Balaam’s error by greed; they’re canceled out in Korah’s rebellion.
12-13 These people are warts on your love feasts as you worship and eat together. They’re giving you a black eye—carousing shamelessly, grabbing anything that isn’t nailed down. They’re—
Puffs of smoke pushed by gusts of wind;
late autumn trees stripped clean of leaf and fruit,
Doubly dead, pulled up by the roots;
wild ocean waves leaving nothing on the beach
but the foam of their shame;
Lost stars in outer space
on their way to the black hole.
14-16 Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: “Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth.” These are the “grumpers,” the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead.
17-19 But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: “In the last days there will be people who don’t take these things seriously anymore. They’ll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts.” These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There’s nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!
20-21 But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!
22-23 Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.
24-25 And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.
Who are those in your life who have the uncanny, relentless ability to suck the life from your souls just by being around them?
How do you cope with those who want to argue, keep a record of your wrongs and remind you of them often?
Not only are God’s saints set apart, but they are also preserved.This means “carefully watched and guarded.” The believer is secure in Jesus Christ.
God is preserving the fallen angels and the apostates, those against Christ, for judgment, but He is preserving His own children for glory. Meanwhile, He is able to preserve us in our daily walk and keep us from stumbling. God will help us!
God in His mercy does not give us what we deserve. Instead, He gave our punishment to His own Son on the cross.
Because of Christ’s work on the cross, believers enjoy peace. The unsaved person is at war with God and cannot please Him (Rom. 8:7–8), but when he trusts the Savior, the war ends and he receives God’s peace (Rom. 5:1).
He also experiences God’s love (Rom. 5:5). The cross is God’s demonstration of love (Rom. 5:8), but His love is not experienced within until His Spirit comes into the believing heart. As the believer grows in his spiritual life, he enters into a deeper relationship of love (John 14:21–24).
Certainly those who know Christ as their Savior enjoy a unique position. They are called BY God to be set apart FOR God that they might enjoy love WITH God.
The name Jude (Judah) means “praise,” and he was anxious to praise God and rejoice in the salvation God gives in Jesus Christ. But the Spirit of God changed his mind and led Jude to write about the battle against the forces of evil in the world. Why? Because it was “needful” for the church. The Christian life is a battleground, not a playground. Jude wasted no time in identifying the enemy.
How could false people get into true assemblies of the saints? The soldiers had gone to sleep at the post! The spiritual leaders in the churches had grown complacent and careless. This explains why Jude had to “blow the trumpet” to wake them up.
Should the whistle or trumpet be blown today to wake up sleeping churches?
Do we pretend not to see it allowing others to be hurt and drawn away from Jesus?
Our Lord and His apostles all warned that false teachers would arise, yet the churches did not heed the warnings. Sad to say, some churches are not heeding the warnings today.
The point Jude was making is that God judges those against Christ. Therefore, the false teachers who had crept into the church would also one day be judged. Their seeming success would not last; God would have the last word.
Do you believe God will judge them in the end?
Murmurers and complainers (v. 16).
Jude 16 completes the description and emphasizes even more why they are so dangerous: they are out to please themselves by taking advantage of others. This reminds us of Peter’s statement (2 Peter 2:14), “A heart they have exercised with covetous practices”. The Phillips Commentary translates it, “Their technique of getting what they want is, through long practice, highly developed.” They give the impression that they are out to help you, but they are interested only in gratifying their own lusts.
Complainers cause people to become dissatisfied with life. While each of us should do all we can, as God enables us, to improve our lot in life, at the same time we must be careful not to criticize God’s Providences or hinder His plans.
If a false teacher can make a person critical of his pastor or church, or dissatisfied with his situation, he then can lead him astray into false doctrine.
One of the tragedies in ministry today is that some of God’s people cannot discern between “soul ministry” and the true ministry of the Spirit. There is so much “religious showmanship” these days that the saints are confused and deceived. Just as there was “false fire” in the tabernacle (Lev. 10), so there is “false fire” today in the church; therefore we must exercise careful discernment.
How can we discern between the “soulish” and the “spiritual”? By using the Word of God which is able to divide soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12) and by paying close attention to the witness of the Spirit of God within (Rom. 8:16).
A “soulish” ministry magnifies man, but the Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ. When the Spirit is ministering through the Word, there is edification; but when the soul is merely “manufacturing” a ministry, there is entertainment or, at best, only intellectual education. It takes the Spirit of God to minister to our spirits and to make us more like Jesus Christ.
The Christian life must never stand still; if it does, it will go backward. A house left to itself falls apart. The apostates are in the business of tearing down, but each Christian must be involved in building up—first, his own spiritual life and then his local assembly.
This “building process” in the Christian life involves the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and prayer. But these things, as precious as they are, can become somewhat routine; so Jude added another factor ABIDING in God’s love (Jude 21).
We build our Christian life on the foundation of faith and through the motivation of love. But we also need hope: “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” The believer’s eyes must be lifted heavenward. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12).
The word translated “looking” (Jude 21) means “earnestly expecting.” It describes an attitude of life that is motivated by the promise of our Lord’s return.
One of the best ways to draw people away from the false teachers is to magnify all that they have in Christ and to share His love for them in practical ways. Make their salvation so wonderful and the Word so exciting that they will lose interest in the teachings of the apostates. It is not enough merely to refute the false doctrines. There must also be a warmth of love that assures the young believer, “We care for you.”
It is an open secret that false teachers prey especially on disgruntled church members.
Jude’s final words of encouragement…
If we want to keep our feet on the ground spiritually, walk straight, and not stumble, then we must yield ourselves fully to the Savior. He alone is able to guard us, but we must “keep ourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). He is able if we are willing!
It is not enough to say that Jesus Christ is “a savior,” or “the Savior”; we must say that He is “our Savior—my Savior.”
He is not only our Savior, but He is “the only wise God.” He can give you the wisdom you need to live your life to the glory of God. The false teachers boasted of their special knowledge, but they lacked spiritual wisdom. God gives wisdom to those who ask Him (James 1:5), provided they are sincerely willing to obey Him. If Christians would seek the wisdom of God in the Word of God, they would not stumble into the traps of the false teachers, but would walk to please the Lord (Col 1:9–10).
We don’t have to stumble.
If we will remember the Word, build our Christian life in faith, hope, and love, exercise spiritual discernment, and commit ourselves to Christ, then He will keep us from stumbling. Be alert! The enemy is subtle and the dangers are great. But the only wise God our Savior will keep us safe and one day present us joyfully in glory!
Our prayer…In Jesus Name, By His power in us, Amen.