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After reading God’s judgments upon Egypt, Israel and others in Ezekiel 32-34:10, I am grateful for the refreshing of Psalm 134. Turning my eyes upward to “bless the Lord.” I need that.
Then seeing the way Jesus’ was so completely misunderstood and how even His brothers failed to believe in Him, I am grateful for the counsel of Jude 17-23. For Jude – one of those very same brothers of Jesus but now converted – counsels us on how dangerous it is to be more concerned with the failures and sins of “them” – than the sins of “us.”
A few words on that today on Through the Word in 2020.
I’m Reid Ferguson.
Jude is another very diminutive but powerful book. Like 3 John or Philemon, it too is more like a postcard. But it is addressing some major issues in its tiny package.
Jude starts his note by telling his readers he really was intending to write to them in order to round out their understanding of salvation as a whole. Help them get some foundations cemented. But apparently having been informed that this group was facing some particular issues, he shifted to exhorting them to get into the fight, engage in the struggle of preserving “the Faith”. It seems some wanted to modify the basics. And he is warning them that what they had already received in the Gospel, was a once and for all time thing. It needed to be defended against innovators.
A timely warning for us too.
Then, after warning them about those who creep into Christianity trying to bring in all sorts of modifications and new things, and how these were foreknown by God and will suffer severe punishment for leading God’s people astray, he unpacks his strategic response. How they can best react.
This is where Jude’s counsel by the Holy Spirit takes an unexpected turn.
You would have thought he would tell his readers what to do about “THEM”. The bad guys. Instead, he expounds on what to do about “US.” You see the biggest dangers spiritually aren’t the ones we face from “them”, but from ourselves. Especially in sinful responses to other’s sins.
If there is anything to be gleaned from the highly charged political and social atmosphere in America right now – it is how much all sides are consumed with the sins of “THEM.” And barely invested in dealing with “US.” With self. With me.
So what does Jude tell them to do about these hidden reefs, self-satisfying shepherds, who are waterless clouds swept along by winds? The fruitless trees who are twice dead, uprooted and casting up the foam of their shame for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever?
- Remember God told you these would show up. Don’t be shocked and dismayed.
- Build yourself up in the most holy faith. Keep growing in Christ. In Biblical truth.
- Pray in the Holy Spirit – in concert with God’s agenda.
- Keep yourself anchored in the love of God manifested in the Cross.
- Keep looking for and anticipating Christ’s return.
- Have mercy on those who get sidetracked.
- Keep preaching a Gospel of salvation from God’s judgment.
- Show mercy on those who fall, hating their sin but rescuing them.
In other words, be about the basics – and the health of your own soul and the good of Christ’s Church.
Don’t get all bound up with “them.”
It reminds me of that pivotal moment when after the resurrection Jesus told Peter he was not going to die pleasantly. When Peter turned and pointing to John said: “what about him?” Jesus said, “what is that to you? – follow me.”
Beloved, stop being invested in the “thems” of this world and follow Christ. That is the single best thing you can do in response.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.