Keeping Ourselves in the Love Of God

July 3, 2024

The Book of Jude teaches us how to prepare for the coming of a group of teachers on the earth known as the Apostates. Apostates are false teachers who teach doctrines of apostasy. Doctrines of apostasy are doctrines that depart from the faith and once and for all are delivered to the saints. Jude started to write about a more pleasant subject—the common salvation. Yet, he says to us in verse 3 that there came this impression on his heart that rather than write about the common salvation, he should write a word to encourage us to contend for the faith and be delivered to the saints. The reason for this he explains in verse 4 is the apostates are, “ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

If we read only the first 16 verses, it would be a rather discouraging experience. We might find ourselves in despair and want to throw up our hands and say, “My, if it’s going to be that dark and difficult in the closing days, how in the world can a person live for the Lord and be faithful to Christ?” Some do not believe it is possible to live the Christian life in difficult surroundings. Some believe that the Christian has to go along with the tide and be a part of the culture rather than changing the culture. The book of Jude, however, was written to show us that Christians, amid an Egyptian culture characterized by apostasy in the religious world, can be Goshen Christians who experience a special closeness to God and can be used marvelously and miraculously.

In the closing verses, there are several admonitions. First, in verses 17-19, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He says in these verses that the Scripture has already predicted they would come. God has given it to us in His Word.

Second, in verses 20-23, he says, “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” There are some things you ought to continue to do even in the days of apostasy.

Third, in verses 24-25, he says, “Now to Him who is able to protect 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, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

The central admonition is around this verb “keep yourselves in the love of God.” This central verb creates the rotation of all the encouragements for us. He’s not saying to keep yourself saved. You can’t save yourself and you can’t keep yourself saved alone. God has to keep you saved. That’s why in verse 24 he says, “Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling.” It is He who does that protecting. It is the preservation of the Lord that keeps you saved. In Jude 1, we read, “To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.” If you and I had to depend upon what we do or do not do to keep ourselves saved, then none of us would ever be saved. God does the keeping. He doesn’t say to keep yourself saved; he says to keep yourselves in the love of God.

We could paraphrase this admonition—keep yourself in the center of God’s love. Stay within the circle of the love of God. A believer can get outside the circle of God’s love. For instance, the sun. The sun is shining all the time. Whether you and I are out in the sun or not has nothing to do with the sun shining. You can enjoy the warmth of the sun by being in it. But you can take yourself out of the shining of the sun. The sun is shining, but you can take yourself out of the warmth of it. God’s love remains constant. God’s love never changes, but a Christian can take himself away from the circle of that love. Jude is saying that in these days of the apostates, don’t let the apostates stop you.

While keeping ourselves in the love of God, Jude gives us a series of encouragements that we are to do to remain in the center of God’s love.

I. Studying The Scriptures

In verse 20, we read, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” I’m using that statement to encourage you to keep studying the Word of God. In these last days of apostasy, you have to keep studying the Scriptures. Look at that terminology—“Your most holy faith.” He’s talking about the same thing he talked about in verse 3. He says, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all time handed down to the saints.” He’s talking about God’s Word. The Bible is not only the “once for all delivered faith,” but the Bible is also the “most holy faith.”

Why does this verse refer to the Scriptures as “your most holy faith?” It’s because of the message of the Bible. There’s no other book in the world you can read that has a message like this. No book in existence deals with the two problems we have in life like this book does.

We don’t have but two problems. However, all of the problems that mankind has revolve around two problems. There is the sin problem. What am I going to do with my sins? There’s the death problem. How am I going to cope with the death of a loved one or face my death?

It deals with the sin problem and presents us with the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross for our sins. It deals with the death problem because it presents the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for in that unique, miraculous resurrection of Jesus is the answer to the death problem.

Thus, the Word of God is unique in the message it contains. This book is also unique in the lifestyle it produces in the hearts of those who choose to follow the teachings of the Bible. Nothing can produce the kind of life that the teachings of the Scripture applied in the heart of an individual can produce. Our Bible is a most holy book. He says, “building up yourselves on your most holy faith.” We build ourselves by reading and studying the Bible. This method will help us to become the kind of Christian God saved us to become.

If we are not very careful, we will let the tensions of the time and the stresses of the kind of world we live in cause us to neglect our Bible. It’s the worst possible thing a Christian can do—to begin to neglect the daily time when you study the Bible.

Here’s the rule we ought to have: No Bible. No breakfast. Be sure to have a good Bible breakfast. What your breakfast does for your physical life, your Bible does for your spiritual life. You wouldn’t think of going a month without eating food. You would be so weak all folks would have to do is tap you and you would fall over because food makes you strong physically. Well, your Bible is your spiritual food. Eat the Word. Study the Word. I would encourage you to take a small portion. It’s God’s love letter to you.

When we read and study the Bible, it is kind of like a weight-lifting program. We ought to strive to be a spiritual weight-lifter. You ought to strive to build yourself up in the Lord by the reading of the Word. Keep yourself in the love of God by daily studying your Bible.

II. Seeking In The Spirit

When you read the Bible, God is talking to you. When you pray, you are talking to God. The two go together. If you have only Bible reading and no prayer, then you lack dynamic. You lack power in your life. If it’s all prayer and no Bible, then you lack direction in your life. You put them together— the Bible and prayer. You’ll find this all through the Scriptures.

“Praying in the Holy Spirit.” What is that all about? What does it mean to pray in the Holy Spirit? Here’s a wonderful thing about the Christian life and prayer. As a Christian, when you receive Jesus as your personal Savior, the Bible says that God came to live in your life in the person of the Holy Spirit. God Himself lives in your life in the person of the Holy Spirit! Even prayer is a spiritual exercise that can be done with the help and strength of the Holy Spirit.

Turn to Romans 8, and I’ll explain what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit. This chapter is probably the best place to explain what praying in the Holy Spirit means. It has nothing to do with the length of your prayer. It doesn’t have a thing in the world to do with the volume of your prayer. Many Christians must think the Lord is deaf.

The Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 8:26 with, “Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Have you ever felt that you didn’t know how to pray? There are times you have needs and decisions to make, and you don’t even know how to go about it. You don’t even know what to ask. “But the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” He says the Holy Spirit makes intercession. That is He prays for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. It is talking about the movement and the impression, the leading, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in those times when you feel your weakness in prayer. But praying in the Spirit is to be led by the impression of the Spirit.

In verse 27 we read, “and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Praying in the Spirit is praying which is directed by the Spirit according to the will of God. Many people misunderstand what prayer is all about. Many people think prayer is a way for us to get our will in heaven. No. Prayer is a way for God’s will to get done on the earth. Prayer is not you twisting God’s arm to try to get Him to do what you want Him to do. Prayer is us getting ourselves in a position where the Holy Spirit can pray for us according to what God’s will in heaven is for us to have in our lives.

In the days of apostasy, we don’t need to pray less, we need to pray more.

Not many Christians really pray; so much of the praying that the average Christian does is perfunctory and irregular. For most of us, it takes a crisis to get us praying the way we ought to pray. We ought not to wait for a crisis to cause us to have the kind of prayer life we need. We should cultivate and develop that daily, conscious communion with God.

He says, “Keep studying your Bible in days of apostasy.” That will keep you in the love of God. He says, “Keep on praying in the spirit.” That will keep you in the love of God in these days of apostasy.

III. Searching For The Savior

We read in verse 21, “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” That means—keep looking for Jesus to come. In days of apostasy, don’t let that dim your hope of the coming of the Lord.

We are to keep Christian hope alive. The word, “looking,” means to expect eagerly. He is talking about the blessed hope that God’s children have. During the days of apostasy, we should not become discouraged about the return of the Lord. It ought to encourage you because the very fact of the apostates and apostate teaching is one of the clear pieces of evidence that the coming of the Lord is near. Every time we see all these false truths, wrong beliefs, bad teachings, and falling away, this indicates that the coming of the Lord is soon.

IV. Sharing with Sinners

In verses 22 and 23, we learn the responsibility, in days of apostasy, to keep witnessing to lost people. Jude gives us three specific encouragements to witnessing to unsaved people.

Lost people are in doubt. We read, “And have mercy on some, who are doubting;” (Verse 22). Some people need special compassion because of their doubts. He’s talking about lost people who have doubts. Not necessarily intellectually, but they just aren’t sure about it all. They know something is missing in their lives. They may have heard about Jesus and they may have heard about the Gospel, but they have doubts.

We should be concerned about these people—have compassion and mercy. These people who are lost, who just really aren’t sure about life and the Lord, are open game for the apostates. These are the kind of people who can be easily swayed by the cults. The cults that come around with a message filled with error. Those who are not confident about the truth are very open to untruth. He is saying that you and I need to have compassion for these vulnerable people.

There are multitudes of people who can be won by Jesus Christ if somebody would give them a clear, compassionate presentation of the simple Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you have any compassion? Do you have any concerns?

If you have a real concern and compassion for the lost, you can’t talk about evangelism too much. The bottom line is that people are either going to go to heaven or hell. Do you care? Do you have any compassion?

General Booth who was the founder of the Salvation Army had one of his Salvation Army soldiers write him a letter, rather discouraged. He said, “General Booth, I’ve been witnessing and I don’t seem to be having any luck and people aren’t responding very well to my messages and my invitations. Do you have any suggestions?”

General Booth wired him back a message that only had two words in it: “Try tears.” When was the last time you had a concern for some lost person to the point that it moved you to tears?

The second thing is lost people are in danger. In verse 23 we read “save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” He is saying that some people are in danger and just very, very close to the pit. The word fire here I think is a reference to hell fire. I believe the Bible teaches that there is fire in hell. I don’t pretend to understand it all. But when Jesus talked about hell He talked in terms of fire.

Zachariah 3:2 pictures people as brands plucked out of the burning. There are some people so close to eternity that the flames of hell are already licking around their feet.

The word, “pulling them,” means to snatch or seize. There’s a sense of urgency about it. Snatch them out of the fire! Get them quickly! This is what you would call hellfire and brimstone evangelism. If we believe this book as we claim, then we couldn’t read the serious things that Jesus had to say about a lost eternity and people going to a place called hell and not having a genuine concern and compassion that they are won to Jesus Christ.

We need to win them to Jesus. But he says do it with fear. Be cautious. Don’t get burned yourself.

Lost people are in doubt—be concerned. Lost people are in danger—be cautious. Lost people are in defilement—Be careful. The rest of verse 23 says, “hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” The background of that statement may be in the Old Testament when people had leprosy. When a person had leprosy in the Old Testament even the garment that they wore could be defiled by the leprosy.

When an individual had leprosy they would burn their garments. The word translated garment here references what we would call underwear—the inner garments—the garment the closest to the skin. If the skin were filled with the corruption of leprosy, even the garment would be affected. He’s talking about those whose lifestyles are outwardly and extremely filled with defilement. He is saying that there are some people whose lifestyles are so ungodly that you must be cautious as you deal with them so that you don’t get affected by the lifestyle.

A form of evangelism spreading today says the way you reach sinners is to become like them, to adopt their lifestyle. To reach them you become like them. Of course, that’s absolute nonsense. You don’t reach people by becoming like them. If you followed that logic, then to reach the prostitutes you have to dress like a prostitute. No. You don’t compromise with their sin.

Some people have been gifted to witness, for instance, the social elite and the outcasts, and those who are in deep open sin and defilement. Christians have to be very careful at this point in their witness to the social elite and those who are in the open outward kinds of lifestyles that are so filled with defilement, that they do not allow themselves to be sucked in and affected by that lifestyle.

We don’t win people when you become like the people. It is not the car that goes down into the ditch after the car that’s in the ditch that gets it out. It’s the car that stays up on the road that gets the chains down and helps pull the car out of the ditch. Follow me? As you witness to the lost, the standard has to be high. We must keep our standards and our convictions high. You are separated from this old world. Jesus was a friend of sinners and yet, Hebrews 7:26 says that “he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” He loved sinners, but He was separate from their sinful lifestyle.

We are to be a Goshen Christian in an Egypt culture. Let me explain. In the Old Testament, when the Children of Israel came down into the land of Egypt, Joseph was there. When Jacob learned that Joseph was alive, he and the whole family of Israel moved to live in Egypt. But when they got down to Egypt, Joseph had arranged for them to live in a special place called Goshen. The Bible says that the land of Goshen was the choicest place in Egypt.

There was an Egypt, which was a godless, pagan culture. Israel was living right in the middle of them, but they were in the circle of Goshen. Remember when the plagues came and there was darkness in the whole land of Egypt; the Bible says that the Israelites had light in their dwellings. When the death angel came to the land of Egypt and there was death all over Egypt, people were alive and living in Goshen. We are living in an Egyptian culture. But amid this culture, we can be Goshen Christians. We are to keep ourselves in the love of God. How do you do it? Studying the Scriptures. Seeking in the Spirit. Searching For The Savior. Sharing with Sinners.

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