Standing Tall in an Ungodly World
Jude, the brother of the Lord, wrote of the harsh environment in which disciples of Jesus found themselves during the final half of the first century. He appeals for them to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (JUDE 3b). This shows us that the revealing of "the faith"; that is, those teachings given by God including the account of Jesus' life and His precepts by which we are able to live lives of faith, was never meant to be an ongoing thing. "The faith" was "once for all delivered to the saints." This means that the document given to the world by Jesus through His chosen ones in the first century is complete and adequate for our spiritual needs.
Jude also gives warning of the corrupting influence that false teachers were having in turning the grace of God into a license to sin (vs 4). Sounds like a much needed warning for today as well, as does the remainder of this short letter.
Jude reminds the disciples of God's judgments in the past, and affirms that God will judge the world again. Jude also warns that the mocking of the rebellious ought not be a surprise. It was not unforeseen. "But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.' (JUDE 17,18).
So what were these hard pressed disciples of the first century to do? How would they successfully stand in a world that so often treats them with contempt? The answer to these questions is important for us as well as them, because we live today is such an environment!
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Jude closes his short letter by giving a brief summary about what the Christian can do to remain strong. The solution had been given previously in other Scriptures; for example, Peter had dealt with it in greater length in his second epistle (to which Jude refers in vss 17-18). Notice how Jude summarizes the Lord's solution to dealing with these pressures:
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them from the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (JUDE 20-25).
BUILD YOURSELF UP ON YOUR FAITH
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith..." (JUDE 20). Success will only come through a firm reliance upon the "most holy faith." It is genuine. It is true. It is powerful. Doctrines and traditions of men, speculations and opinions, philosophies and theories will only bring ruin.
It is our responsibility to "build" ourselves up in this faith. To accomplish this, "the most holy faith" must be known and applied. To know it and not use it will suffice nothing. Many people know the right thing to do. Far fewer are willing to do it.
Can the Lord count on you? Will you prepare yourself to stand up for Jesus? Knowing the truth brings freedom only to those who are willing to apply it (JOHN 8:31,32).
PRAY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
"...praying in the Holy Spirit;" (JUDE 20). It ought to be no surprise that prayer has an important role to play in "standing tall in an ungodly world." But there is a proper way to pray as well as an improper way to pray. Our text does not just say to pray, but to "pray in the Holy Spirit."
The Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian who is walking by faith. The evidence of this is not seen through some miraculous manifestation, but rather through the fruit of the Spirit being present in one's life, as well as the putting away of those fleshly things contrary to the Lord's will. After listing the fruit of the Spirit; "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control," the Scripture says, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." (see GALATIANS 5:16-26). So, for one to "pray in the Spirit" he must be "walking by the Spirit."
What would one pray in such circumstances? Certainly he would echo the words of Jesus' prayer, "Not My will, but Thy will be done." He would ask for strength and wisdom. He would pray for those that persecute him. Such a prayer will certainly be answered!
KEEP YOURSELF IN THE LOVE OF GOD
"...keep yourselves in the love of God..." (JUDE 21). God, because of His love for us, has provided for our salvation. He gave His beloved Son. We are wonderfully blessed because of God's love for us. He is our great Savior!
But while His love is unconditional; He gave His Son for the whole world without any condition at all; the blessings of His love are not unconditional. If they were, then everybody would be saved. But some are lost; Why? Because they have not or are not meeting the conditions God has arranged for receiving His blessings.
To stand tall, we must continue to abide in God's love; that is, to continue to meet the conditions He has established by His grace to receive the benefits of that grace. This is exactly what Jesus said; "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept the Father's commandments, and abide in His love." (JOHN 15:10; cf vss 1-9).
WAIT FOR THE LORD AND ETERNAL LIFE
"...waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." (JUDE 21). Standing tall comes easier for those who look to the final result of faith. Jesus is coming again. He will vindicate the faithful by showing their faith to have been valid. The mocking will die as it is exposed for the absolute foolishness that it really is. Those thought to be wise by the world in their rebellion against the God of heaven will regret their inexcusable obstinacies forever.
"Eternal life" is God's future for the faithful. This term describes not only the length of existence, but also the dynamic quality of it. The Scriptures describe it as an "inheritance" which is "imperishable" (will not spoil or lose its value) and "undefiled" (pure, unpolluted) and will not "not fade away" (will not lose its luster) which is "reserved in heaven for you" (I PETER 1:4).
SEEK TO SAVE OTHERS
"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them from the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh" (JUDE 22,23). They say that the more concerned you are about others, the less your own problems will seem. They are correct.
Every faithful Christian needs to be aware of this very important fact when he is being mocked and treated shamefully: As a Christian, you have much more of true value than those who mock you do! Do not ever regret the choice you made and do not ever trade away the hope you have for something so much less. Do not envy the mocker who may seem so proud and invincible. Instead, be merciful to him. He is in such great need. If he does not awake soon, the fire will get him. You will never stand taller than when you try to snatch him from the flame.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. " (JUDE 24,25).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 3.1; January 1996