We have been given the call to contend. God, through Jude, has described how to contend and who it is we are contending against. In all of this, we should not be surprised. Especially, we should not be stunned by people who live in sin. Jude 17-19 reminds us of the fact these times and instances were predicted and prophesied by the apostles of Jesus Christ (verse 17), these people were said to be scoffers and ungodly (verse 18), and they would be exposed as those devoid of the Spirit (verse 19). In sharp contrast to people who are against God, we are called to be different. We not only fight for the faith; we grow in the faith. Jude 20-21 shows us this, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” As we contend for the faith, we should be growing in the faith. Growing in the faith involves building up and praying in the Holy Spirit. Spirit-driven and Spirit–empowered prayer are critical in the Christian life. As we do that, we will be able to remain in the love of God and be kept by Him. This is because of the mercy of God as we wait and endure for eternal life with Him. Understanding His mercy, we extend that mercy to those who doubt, with the hope it will point them to Christ, it will allow them to hate their sin, and that they will find salvation in Him. For those who have found salvation in Christ and fight in contending for the faith, we praise God together: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now forever. Amen” (verses 24-25).
- In contending for the faith, Christians are called to live different from the world? How is this proved true in your life?
We have observed one of the commands for the Christian life is to fight the good fight of faith. We have come to the book of Jude, finding that we have been called to contend for the faith (vv. 1-4) and having been shown how to contend (vv. 5-7). Now, we will begin to dig deeper and understand what we are contending against. Verse 15 sums it up well, “all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way”. What we contend against are those who are ungodly practicing ungodly deeds in an ungodly way. With this in hand, there are some important factors to take into account when contending against such people. First, these people had their own agendas. They did not submit to authority but rejected authority (verse 8). By rejecting true authority, they were ultimately following the agenda of the evil one, the devil (verses 8-9). We see this in the dispute between Michael the archangel and the devil. The important thing to note here is while Michael did say, “The Lord rebuke you!”, he did not bring an accusation to the forefront. In other words, he left judgment to God. In contending for the faith, we remember ultimate judgment does not come from us, but from God. A second insight of these ungodly people is that they have been around since the days of old. From Cain in Genesis 4 to the examples of Balaam and Korah, greed, error, and rebellion have permeated the hearts of the ungodly. They were even prophesied about (verses 14-16) and still are deceiving (verse 12). Yet, their end is fruitlessness, shame, and darkness (verse 13). Their focus and goal is their own gain. They are selfish in their motives and actions. They don’t desire to make much of God; they desire to make much of self. Beware of such people! They are ungodly, those who abide in ungodly works and with ungodly motives. They are not working for the gospel; they are working against the gospel. That is why we must contend for the faith. That is why we must understand who we contend against. We need to be aware of such people and to understand they are being used by the devil himself. So, let’s contend for the faith.
- Why is it important to know who we are fighting against when we contend for the faith?
We left off last week with the admonition to contend for the faith. We saw false teachers had crept in the church and were distorting the truth. Jude, wanting to write to fellow believers about their common salvation, decided it would be best to address these Christians and appeal to them to contend for the faith. Having laid that foundation, then, the next appropriate question comes into view: How do we contend for the faith? If we are being told the ‘what’, then we must also learn the ‘how’. Thankfully, Jude continues on for us. Jude calls for his partners in the gospel, including us, to remember (verse 5). To be upfront, Jude goes into detail concerning particular things such as rebellious angels and the immorality surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah. While those are important issues to discuss, for the purpose of this devotional, we will look in broader terms. The broad terms we see in this passage are salvation, rebellion, and judgment. Jude 5 displays for us the reminder of salvation. Interestingly enough, this particular act of salvation, or deliverance, is in reference to the Exodus and Jude says it was “Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt”. This is a reminder that Jesus is not a created being, not someone who came into existence at his incarnation. From the pages of the Old Testament to now, we can be assured Jesus is eternal. Jesus is also Savior. He is the one who delivered the Israelites and He is the one who can save us from our sins and restore us to God. His life, death, and resurrection must be kept at the forefront of our lives. But we know this is not always the case and sometimes never the case for some. We live in a sinful and fallen world. Until we repent and trust in Christ, we are rebels against God. As rebels and enemies of God, the consequences and punishment is judgment. We see destruction for those who did not believe (verse 5). We see darkness and eternal chains in wait for judgment day for attempting to usurp authority (verse 6). And, yes, we see the eternal punishment served because of sexual immorality, where Sodom and Gomorrah are shown as examples (verse 7). In other words, to contend for the faith means to understand rebellion and the rightfulness of judgment from God as a result. We have all sinned and deserve so (Romans 6:23). But we are also reminded of the salvation that comes from Jesus. If we will turn from our sin and ourselves and turn to Christ as Lord and Savior, we can be delivered. Only then can we contend for the faith and know how to do so.
- How does knowing the ‘how’ of contending for the faith help in understanding and applying the gospel to your life?
We were warned. We were told this would happen. Jesus said in Matthew 24:11, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” In Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, he says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3). Where there are those who desire to be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ, there are also false teachers who want to distort it and destroy it. This is nothing new. The problem we face today with false teachers is a problem Christians had to deal with in biblical times too. Therefore, we can look upon the wisdom of God’s Word to see how we are to respond in such a situation. Jude helps us with this. A servant of Jesus Christ, Jude writes to the authentic followers of Christ (v. 1). You can see his affection for them and the commonality of their faith in Christ (vv. 2-3a). Yet, in a world ravaged by sin, this common salvation does not mean no opposition or deception. Rather, Jude realizes he must write to them to “contend for the faith” because it is under attack. They must protect and fight for the gospel that has been delivered to all Christians (v. 3b). The contend for the gospel because there are those who want to distort it. Verse 4 lays it out plainly, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” These false teachers were deceptive and entered the church. They were prophesied about and were those who others were warned about. Moreover, these false prophets perverted the grace of God and twisted the gospel of grace. As a result, the message they preached was not a message that saved at all. It was a message that led straight to hell. That is why Jude tells his Christian brothers and sisters to contend for the faith. That is why we must take seriously the call to contend for the faith. We do not live in peacetime. We are bombarded with false messages and distorted “gospels”. We must be discerning on what God says and we must guard the gospel and proclaim it.
- How does knowing there are false teachers among us today relate to our commitment to the Word of God? How can you practice spiritual discernment this week so as to not be deceived?