Series on Jude, IV The Engagement of The Enemy, V.17-23. A Dangerous Task


That Christians have enemies comes as no surprise. But, the greatest enemies are not those who persecute, torture, and kill. There were false teachers in the Church at Philippi. In his letter to them Paul calls them enemies of the cross of Christ. In Ephesians 5 Paul reminds us that we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with the rulers of the darkness of this world and with spiritual wickedness in high places. Jude exposes these enemies who love this present world more than God, and bring it into the Church. Jude’s call to arms is important because the warnings have fallen on deaf ears. There is no institutional church in the past that has escaped this no matter how many safeguards they erect. Today Jude speaks in verses 17-23 about the dangerous task of engaging the enemy. There are four things we must do.


We read in verses 17-19, But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. The Apostles of the Lord Jesus often wrote about this. Verse 18 is a quotation from II Peter3:3. Jude could have quoted I John 2 where that Apostle says that many anti-Christs or false prophets have already come, or Paul writing to Timothy, saying, that in the last days some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits. Paul calls them hypocritical liars and the context assures us that these are professing Christians. In spite of these warnings, there is among evangelical Christians an abysmal ignorance of what the Bible teaches. A pastor entered a sunday school class and asked, "Who broke down the walls of Jericho?" A lad answered, "Not me, sir." The pastor asked the teacher, "Is this the usual behavior in this class?" The teacher replied, "I believe this boy is an honest boy, and I really don't think he did it." Leaving the room, the pastor sought out a deacon and explained what had happened. The deacon said, "I have known both the boy and the teacher for several years, and neither of them would do such a thing." The heartsick pastor reported the incident to the Christian Education Committee. They said, "We see no point in making an issue out of this thing. Let's pay the bill for the damage to the walls and charge it to upkeep. Anyway, our insurance may cover it." Many professing Christians  prefer to follow their instincts in the flesh and the world in their thinking no matter what the issue. And true believers say how can people believe that, when the Bible is so clear. Jude answers your question. He says they don’t have the Spirit and they don’t know what the Bible says. The influence of such people often leads to true believers departing from  that church.


The exhortation of verses 20 is, But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. There are just two ways of thinking: God's way and the other way. The mind of man in sinfully predisposed to the wrong way of seeing issues. Proverbs says There is a way that seems right to a man but end of it is the way of death, because it’s not an intellectual conviction but an immoral choice. Consider the subject of abortion. Many physicians who have performed abortions will no longer do so, because they are thoroughly convinced that they have been destroying human life. In a previous administration, in response to a presidential order to provide abortion services to the military. the forty four obstetricians stationed in Europe, to a man, refused, and said that they not only didn’t want to perform abortions, they would not want to work where babies are killed. By what logic can one turn the sacred trust that a woman has of bearing another life into the idea that it just part of her body? And so we continue to save by extraordinary means some unborn children and destroy others. It makes no sense, but it is not an intellectual conviction, it’s an immoral choice. Of course it’s irrational, but our postmodern society is governed by feelings, not reason. The only answer is the renewing of the mind. It is, as the first Psalm says, meditating in the Word of God day and night, so that our thinking becomes Godly. And only by studying the Scriptures and by prayer based on that study can we engage the enemy.


According to verse 21 you all must, Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude is concerned not only with arming ourselves in the present but all the resolve in the world to combat falsehood will fade away, unless we focus on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is to say, we must never forget our destiny. Long ago when the dome of the capitol in Washington, DC, was erected, some God-fearing official had  these words inscribed upon it. “One far off divine event towards which the whole creation moves.” The giant type used in newspaper headlines for articles on important events like the assassination of a president is called second coming type. Yes once the people who influenced our society looked beyond to the second coming of Christ and it made a difference. D.L.Moody was once asked the secret of his success by F.B.Meyer. He said, "I never preach a sermon without remembering that the Lord may return before I finish it.” So let me remind you today that Jesus, who is coming again in glory, came first to lay down his life for sinners. He died on the cross to save us. Unless we put our trust in the power of His death and resurrection we will never influence our generation. Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. it was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: “Unless the Divine power has raised you up…I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that abominable practice of slavery, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of his might.”


But we must not stop with our own salvation. We need to show mercy.  In verses 22,23 Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude places squarely on our shoulders the duty of rescuing people. We are not here merely to preserve ourselves, but to snatch others from the fire. We cannot do this unless we observe his advice. Mercy involves witnessing to others about the truth. We do this in fear, but fear is no reason we should not do it. We know it is dangerous because there is the possibility of being corrupted. If we are to be successful we need to be armed. Our christian faith cannot be an accessory. It has to be the driving force in our lives. We have to live for Jesus. it has to be the reason for our being here: not families or cars,or houses,or peace or prosperity, but Jesus. This is a battle for the truth. This is to be our stance today. We must know we are in a battle, we must take on the whole armor of God, and we must fight the good fight of faith, not only by waiting for mercy but by showing mercy