By Andi Hines
For a little book, Jude is packed. What a great book to study as it is especially relevant for us today.
What did I find so relevant? First, I note Jude’s desire to confirm for the faithful their standing with God. Jude wants them to know how special they are, to understand they are chosen by God, loved beyond human comprehension, and kept for the day to come by the power of our risen Lord Jesus Christ, who endured all manner of cruelty for our sake. They are beneficiaries of a power that keeps us safe when we remain within that love.
Jude’s letter then moves into a discussion about those who have crept into the church with unholy intentions. He wants the faithful to see the true condition of the unfaithful. He uses more than 20 adjectives to convey a picture of these ungodly men. Here are two of Jude’s most consequential observations:
One, the unfaithful rejected the authority of Jesus as Savior and did not respect the divine powers of God, showing rebellion against Him.
Some godless people have sneaked in among us and are saying, ‘God treats us much better than we deserve, and so it is all right to be immoral.’ They even deny that we must obey Jesus Christ as our only Master and Lord. But long ago the Scriptures warned that these godless people were doomed. — Jude 4, CEV
How does faithfully following divine principles work in our life today? Imagine for a minute that you were headed out to do errands. Shortly after your drive begins, you realize no one is paying any attention to traffic signals. How would you know when to go or when to stop when others disregard the rules?
The traffic signals are in place after much-considered thought and study. They are given to best keep us safe. Outside of those who studied, researched and contributed to those rules, which one of us is qualified to choose for everyone else which rules to obey and which ones to throw away? Who believes they have preeminent authority to pick what affects everyone else on the road?
Our spiritual life is no different. God gives us a clear pattern in the Word to have a full, joyful and productive spiritual life. These principles not only benefit us but also have the potential to benefit everyone we come in contact with.
In the book of Jude, God records His response toward someone with a mentality that believes in one’s superiority over His.
“Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?” — Jude 38:3-5, NASB
Here is the second significant point Jude makes. These unfaithful men did not have the Spirit of God in them. This could be the only comment we need to know, for if they could not claim the blessing of the indwelling Spirit of God, then they were not of God.
These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. — Jude 19, CEV
Scripture is quite plain about this point.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him...For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. — Romans 8:9, 14, NASB
Jobs’ words describing the unfaithful give us a picture of the character and intentions of these men — and the threat they, or others like them today, pose to the faith.
Although I loved the movie Lord of the Rings, there is a character that keeps coming to mind when I think about these unholy men. Do you remember Gullum? He was a small, elf-like creature with large, piercing eyes. One might, under different circumstances, assign a coyness, or even playfulness to him. But with any sustained glance, his lack of any redeeming quality is clear. These men Jude warned about were just as sinister.
The book of Jude shows us why it’s so important to stand firm in our faith. Yes, we must have grace and mercy for anyone confused or misled, but when confronted with deliberate, unholy behaviors, we must stand firm without apology.
Jude’s last words to the faithful are fitting:
Dear friends, keep building on the foundation of your most holy faith, as the Holy Spirit helps you to pray. — Jude 20, CEV
Jude’s final remarks are intended to bolster the faithful. Building ourselves up in the faith means trusting in the love of God as manifested in the work completed by Jesus Christ on our behalf. Keeping ourselves in the love of God does not refer to our continued love of God, but rather it refers to remaining within His love. That’s where we remain safe! If we step out of that divine sphere of protection, we become prey for the games and deceits of the unfaithful. It can happen to any of us or anyone of our family or friends.
We are called to defend our faith, which has been given to us without distortions, lies, or misconceptions. Because Jude’s book shows we are clearly loved and kept, we can guard our faith proudly without apology, remembering this call to contend for the faith applies to us today as much as it did then.