We live in a world that is constantly tearing us down and attacking us from every angle. News broadcasts tend to attack our hope by displaying the very worst of the day, while songs on the radio tend to sing about depression, loneliness and hatred. Movies and television shows usually sensationalize godlessness and sex… and we accept it in the name of “entertainment”.
So after all of this tearing down and attacking every day, it’s no surprise that people are looking for satisfaction, for love, and usually turning to less than perfect sources that can be found in the world; settling for whatever they can get. Yet it may surprise you to learn that the Bible has a simple and effective, method for receiving more of the love of God into our lives, and strengthening us against the attacks of the world and the enemy (yes the love of God connected with strengthening). This is what we will be studying today.
Our scripture text today is going to be Jude 1:17-25:
“But, beloved, remember you the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
But you, 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 to eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now to him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
The very first thing mentioned right in verse 17, is to remember the words spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The focus here is on the Lord Jesus Christ, not on any other person or thing. Continuing in verse 18, how they said that in the last time, mockers will come who will follow their own ungodly lusts.
When we think of the word “lust” we typically think of sexual desire, but to expand our vision of the word, lust simply means any carnal desire. Some people are fear-mongers, some people love gossip, some love food, or money, some love to hear themselves speak and promote themselves. All of these things are various forms of lust.
Next in verse 19, we see the behavior of these mockers, that they will separate themselves. This means they will dis-join themselves, they will create division and separation. We also see that they will be sensual. They will be led and controlled by their senses, they will have sense-faith; and we see that they will not have the Spirit of God.
Why is all of this important? Why it it necessary to know about these mockers? Because these are the ones who the enemy will use to plant seeds of strife and division not only in the church, but sometimes personally between you and God as well. How do they do this? The same way that the false believers tried to in Galatians 2:4:
“And that because of false brothers unawares brought in, who came in privately to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
That phrase “to spy out” means “to be a sentinel and to plot against with insidious intent”. And from this verse we see that what they were spying out and plotting against was the liberty that we as believers have in Christ, that they might bring us into bondage. These were legalists who came in prepared with one purpose in mind, to wage war against everyone who has been set free by the Spirit of Christ Jesus.
And as the next verse tells plainly, these people were not given any place, not even for one hour. The moment their true intentions was discovered, they were not yielded to at all; and the purpose for such steadfast resistance to them was so that the truth of the Gospel might continue.
Returning to our text in Jude, now at verses 20 and 21, we see the distinction being made now: But you, beloved. Do you know today that you are the beloved of God? He has chosen you to be the recipient of the fulness of His love in your life. And we see here that by building ourselves up in our most holy faith, by receiving and accepting the information about what Jesus Christ has freely given to us. Many people try to build themselves up in their own abilities, knowledge or skills, but the only way that we can build ourselves up, is in the faith of Jesus Christ.
Also in this verse we see praying in the Spirit is connected here, which means letting the Spirit pray through you and letting the Spirit direct your prayers (both definitions are included in the Greek text) we see as verse 21 tells us that we keep ourselves in the love of God. My friends, this is our defense; this is our source of strength! As we build up our faith in Jesus Christ together with His Spirit (those two cannot be separated) we will be kept in the love of God, and when we are in the love of God we are exceedingly secure. How do I know that? Psalms 91:1 and indeed the entire chapter, but verse 1 in-particular, the secret place of the Most High is in Christ. We know this from John 15:4. The only way we can keep ourselves, is in the love of God.
We also see in Jude verse 21 that we should keep looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternity. This is not saying that we will only receive mercy after we get to Heaven, this is a continual action, that will be completed in full when we get to Heaven. In other words, continually look for His mercy and continue looking all the way to Heaven.
Now verses 22 and 23 are referencing those who have been influenced or even totally seduced by those mockers who were referenced back in verse 18. If we as built-up and strengthened believers living in the love of God should ever encounter one who has been shaken and in doubt as a result of dealing with a mocking legalist as mentioned previously, verse 22 tells us to have compassion, making a difference. Romans 2:4 says that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance.
Conversely, if you encounter someone who is totally hooked into legalism, verse 23 applies. It says to save them with fear, pulling them from the fire, hating even the garments spotted by the flesh.
Those who are confident in and trust in their works or self-effort, unrepentant, show them the truth. The word “fear” used here is the Greek phobos which does mean “terror and dread”. Show them that their works and efforts and good deeds is filthy rags to God, show them that apart from Jesus they are still headed for judgment and hell.
Finally, verses 24 and 25, ends by reminding us all that it is Jesus Christ alone who is able to keep us from falling, and who presents us as faultless, even with exceeding joy. He does so gladly, and with exceeding joy. He’s not saying “look, I did all this for you now you had better straighten up!”, as we see in the verse, He is the one who keeps us from falling, it’s not our job to do it ourselves, but to receive the love, power and strength from Him. To let His Spirit transform us as mentioned in 2nd Corinthians 3:18.
He is the one that has all glory, all majesty, all dominion and all power – and we are not waiting for i sometime in the future only… but now and forever. God is not slowly growing and gradually increasing in strength. This power and majesty and dominion, all is available to us now, if we receive it. It is found in the love of Christ.
The final word of this verse Amen, is a statement of acceptance. So the question is: do you accept it? If so, stay in the love of Christ, abide in Him and He will abide in you. Receive His love and find your strength in Him.