Jude – God is able
“…keep yourselves in the love of God,” Jude 21a
Jude intended to write about our common faith, but false teachers had crept in unnoticed and began pushing, pulling and redirecting the church in evil ways that reflected their own bias and selfishness. He needed to address this falsehood head-on.
Jude is livid. He doesn’t mince words calling the false teachers “clouds without water, trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; and raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame, and wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
False teaching is a scourge on the church. Human nature is such that selfish people are always angling for a way to turn a buck. Sadly, religion provides a pretty good cover for ‘wandering stars.’ But Jude reassures the church that the presence of false teachers is no surprise to the apostles who had regularly encouraged the believers to be on the lookout for these nuts with squirrelly doctrine.
So he encourages us to ‘keep yourselves in the love of God…’ (v21), which, on the surface, sounds easy enough. But then I think about myself and my best intentions and realize I can hardly keep myself on an eating or exercise schedule, how could I ever hope to keep myself in the love of God? I think Jude knows this about human nature, so he shares some pointers as to how we can accomplish this:
“Build yourself up on your most holy faith” (v20) – which, in part, means filling your life with more of God’s Holy Word as “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). To the extent that our hearts and minds are filled with Gods word, the confident assurance of the gospel will reside in the front of our minds, bringing a ready supply of courage and faith right when we need it.
“Praying in the Holy Spirit” (v20) – Paul wrote that when we don’t know how to pray as we ought to that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groaning and uttering that we don’t necessarily comprehend (Romans 8:26). Praying in the Holy Spirit is a deep and beautiful prayer of surrender that may begin with, “Oh God, help me…” And after a deep breath or two and a sigh, we hand the baton to ‘Christ in us’, God the Holy Spirit, to express a depth of need we know we have, but can’t seem to articulate.
“Look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (v21b) – this involves the certainty of Christ’s return and eternal life with Christ. Salvation is certainly the assurance of eternal life with Christ, but it is at the same time wholeness, forgiveness, healing and life with Christ now, during our life on earth. Watching expectantly for the return of Christ helps keep us in the love of God because His mercy today brings the assurance of eternity tomorrow.
“And on some have compassion… but others save with fear…” (v22-23) – stay outward focused. One way to keep ourself in the love of God is to take our eyes off of ourself. That’s the paradox of faith. If I desire to live, I must die to myself. Serving others as an ambassador of Christ is why God has placed us in the world at this time. If you were just here to be saved God would have taken you to heaven the moment you confessed Christ. But He usually doesn’t do it that way. Generally He leaves us here for the sake of someone else. Focusing on others is a way God anoints you to remain in His love.
So keep yourself in the love of God and in so doing protect yourselves and your churches from the curse of false teaching. Think you might fall just short? Don’t worry, Jesus will always have your back. For “He is able to keep you from falling and present you faultless before the presence of His glory…” (V24) He who began a good work in you is able to complete it (Phillipians 1:6).