Summary: In today's message, Jude expresses the attitude of believer's regarding false teaching.
The Letter of Jude deals with the subject of false teaching, which is the greatest danger to the Church of Jesus Christ today.
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 20-23)
The Lord Jesus Christ had at least four half-brothers and two half-sisters (cf. Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). Two of his half-brothers wrote letters that are part of the New Testament canon. James wrote the Letter of James and Jude wrote the Letter of Jude, the letter we are currently studying.
Jude did not believe that his older half-brother, Jesus, was anything special while he was alive. However, some time after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, Jude came to believe that Jesus really was the Messiah, the Son of God, and Savior of sinners.
After Jude came to saving faith, he was called to become an itinerant minister. He travelled all over the ancient world preaching and teaching the glorious truths of the gospel of God’s grace.
About 30 years after his conversion and a lifetime of ministry, Jude decided to write this letter in the mid-60s AD.
Jude began to write this marvelous letter to believers to encourage them with the wonderful truths “about our common salvation” (v. 3a). However, he “found it necessary to write appealing to [the believers] to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3b).
Why? Because word had reached Jude that false teachers had “crept in unnoticed.” They perverted the grace of God into sensuality and denied the deity of Jesus by their character, their conduct, and their creed (v. 4).
Jude said that God’s attitude toward false teachers was displayed in implacable judgment. He pointed to God’s attitude in his judgment of unbelieving individuals, rebellious angels, and sinful communities (vv. 5-7).
Jude then gave a description of false teachers. He said that false teachers were immoral (they “defile the flesh”), insubordinate (they “reject authority”), and irreverent (they “blaspheme the glorious ones”) (vv. 8-10).
Further, Jude said that false teachers disobeyed God (v. 11a), they influenced others to disobey God (v. 11b), and they led a full rebellion against God (11c).
He compared false teachers to five natural phenomena: hidden reefs (v. 12a), waterless clouds (v. 12b), fruitless autumn trees (v. 12c), wild sea waves (v. 13a), and wandering stars (v. 13b).
Jude noted that false teaching existed in ancient times (vv. 14-15), it exists in the present (v. 16), and it will exist in the future (vv. 17-19).
As Jude began to draw his letter to a close, one important question remained: what should be the attitude of believers regarding false teaching? In other words, how do believers practically contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints?
In our lesson today, Jude expresses the believer’s attitude regarding false teaching.
I. Believers Avoid False Teaching by Growing Spiritually (20-21)
First, believers avoid false teaching by growing spiritually.
Jude turned his attention back to the Christians when he started writing about the believer’s attitude regarding false teaching. He said in verse 20, “But you, beloved. . . .” This is the first time since verse 3 that he has addressed his readers directly. So, it is clear that he is now directing his closing remarks to believers.
Specifically, believers avoid false teaching by growing spiritually in four particular areas.
A. In Doctrine (20a)
First, believers avoid false teaching by growing spiritually in doctrine.
Jude said in verse 20a: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith. . . .”
Building yourselves up in the Greek is a command. It is not optional. Jude wanted his readers to understand that spiritual growth for the Christian is not optional. It is absolutely necessary.
But in what way are believers to build themselves up? Jude said that believers are to build themselves up in your most holy faith. This harkens back to verse 3 where Jude said, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
The faith or the most holy faith refers to the objective body of biblical truth. It is the gospel. It is the essential truths of the Scriptures that relate primarily to salvation. It is biblical doctrine.