I have come to believe that it’s time for believers to fight for our faith. Not with pitchforks or guns or verbal attacks across the aisle. There’s a better way and it will do us well to learn it and live it. Join me in the book of Jude.
His opening words set the tone: “I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (v. 3). Jude wrote about the danger of “godless men” slipping into the church to “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (v. 4). If ever a verse applied to the church, it is this. It is appalling and grievous to see the immoral condition of the Body of Christ. But it’s also apparent that this has been going on for a very long time.
Jude warned his readers that these wicked people have no regard for the things of God. Their motive is to cause disruption and discord – “these are the men who divide you (v. 19). They are: grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves, flatter others for their own advantage . . . follow mere natural instincts, and do not have the Spirit” (v. 16, 19). I know Jude was talking about his own day, but it’s almost as if he was peering into the future – to the twenty-first century.
So how do we fight? How do we take our church back from the vile hands of wicked people? Jude gave the battle plan: “But you, dear friends, built yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (vs. 20-21). That’s it? How is that “contending” for the faith? Where’s the fight? In the spiritual realm. Paul said it best: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). We chase away darkness by introducing light. We drive away wickedness by living in righteousness.
The truth is Beloved, you’re in this battle whether you wanted to be or not, so you’d better learn how to fight. Put down your pitchfork and pick up your Bible. We’ll reclaim the church by being the holy people of God.
“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out” Romans 7:18
One of the biggest challenges of being a Bible teacher is the tension between expressing what the Bible says about sin and recognizing my own sinful nature.How can I stand before a class or post something I’ve written that tells other “how to live” when I fail so often in my own walk?Who do I think I am?
That’s why I find great comfort in Paul’s letters.Paul addresses every kind of sin we can imagine – sexual sin, lying, stealing, hate, laziness, idolatry, marital unfaithfulness, abuse, self-centeredness, drunkenness, and yes even gluttony (Ouch!).He is very outspoken about sin and points a finger wherever he sees it.But he also points a finger back at himself.Paul frequently admits his own human failure to walk the walk of which he talks.In Romans 7, he laments this all too common push-and-pull of righteousness vs. sin.“What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (v. 15). “The evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” (v. 19).From Paul’s words we realize that the sinful nature we inherited from Adam constantly “wages war” against out new nature in Christ (v. 23).
So what do we – as those called to share the gospel and the truth of righteousness – do with that conflict?First, we stop focusing on ourselves.That’s a guarantee to keep failing.Instead we follow Paul’s example and shift our focus upward.He wrapped up his lament, by recognizing his failure: “What a wretched man I am!” He admitted his need for a savior: “Who will rescue me from the body of death?”Then he rejoiced in the goodness and faithfulness of God: “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv. 24-25).
Beloved, you and I are part of the fallen human race, and even though we have trusted in Christ as our Savior, we still fall to our sinful nature.Satan would have us languish there in self-hatred.But we are no longer under the sentence of condemnation (Romans 8:1).We have been rescued and redeemed.When we focus on who we are because of Jesus, we live more in the freedom of our new nature and less in the bondage of our sin. Yes, I still fail – but thanks be to God – through Christ Jesus my Lord!