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A Word to The Wise

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.  Jude 1:3-4 

In these two verses, Jude addresses the intrusion of false teachers into the church by focusing on a single theme: maintaining the truth of the Christian faith as it has been handed down from Christ and the apostles.

There is little evidence of who these false teachers were, but Jude implies that they claimed to be Christian, yet lived an immoral lifestyle. He calls them “godless (asebeis) men,”

Jude’s overall purpose of this letter is positive, to encourage true believers to display godliness in the face of the ungodliness around them, and to show the love of God to those who have lost sight of it in their lives. From verse 5 through verse 16, Jude addresses those “certain men” who “have secretly slipped in among” them. Note that he does not identify them by name.

These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.  Jude 1:16  

Although they “secretly slipped in” by hiding their real nature and purpose, they were not hidden from the faithful. They were working their deceit openly among the body of believers. Their grumbling and faultfinding were snaring the weaker members of the body. Their flattery and honey-coated words were blinding the less mature among them, and their grandiose claims did little more than promise false expectations. It is for that reason Jude was compelled by the Holy Spirit to write this letter of warning and instruction.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you,  “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.  Jude 1:17-19  

When Jude asks his readers to “remember” what the apostles said, he is telling us that we are to learn from God’s Word how to properly respond to false teachers and those that they affect. We know that the inevitable byproduct of false teaching is division. Those who “follow mere natural instincts,” are teachers who have a narrow perspective that focuses on the world and its values.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  Jude 1:20-21  

Now Jude tells us specifically what we are to do in response when those without the Spirit enter the body and attempt to divide. He gives us four separate commands in dealing with those who divide and those who have been divided.

First:  “build yourselves up in your most holy faith.” The first and most important step is to be spiritually secure. Make sure that you are built up in the faith. Only then are you ready to confront rightly.

Second:  “pray in the Holy Spirit.” In other words, all prayer that is stimulated by, guided by, and infused by the Holy Spirit is prayer that is “in” the Holy Spirit.

Third: “Keep yourselves in God’s love” God has provided all that is needed for our salvation through Christ, but now we must respond to God’s love in loving service and submission. God keeps us, we are to keep ourselves. As Jesus said, “as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9

Fourth: “wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Although God’s mercy is always present, Jude reminds us that we are to be patient when godless men enter the body to divide. We are to demonstrate the kind of lifestyle that speaks of the hope we have within us.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear — hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.  Jude 1:22-23  

Jude urges the faithful to reach out to three different groups of people. First: “Be merciful to those who doubt” He’s referring to believers,  those Christians who are being swayed by false teaching. Their footing in the faith is being undermined by the lies, the boasts, and the flatteries of those who have crept in. It would be easy to shun or condemn such people, but instead, we are to show them mercy. We are to give what we have so freely received, unmerited, undeserved mercy! Mercy is far more likely to keep them from leaving the flock than harsh rebukes.

Second, We are to “snatch others from the fire and save them.” These are the ones who have gone further down the road blazed by false teaching. The faithful are to reach out and snatch them from the edge. There is no instruction on how this is to be done, other than to pray and listen for direction from the Holy Spirit, who will clear your path.

Third, “to others show mercy, mixed with fear, hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude is thinking of the false teachers themselves, and/or those who have turned their allegiance over to them. The reference to mercy here may well be more sorrow and pity for their dreadful condition. Here mercy is to be shown through prayer. Always remember, those who have abandoned themselves to false teaching are not beyond redemption.

Our mercy must be tempered by fear. Fear of God, and fear for the lost. In order to avoid being caught in the snare of those who would distract us from the truth. let us never forget Jude’s closing words:

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.  Jude 1:24-25  


Until next time,


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