“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Jesus said, “"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Although Jesus warned his followers about the threats false teachers would impose, how many of us are willing to go to battle against false teachers? As the opening passage above states, Jude encourages Christians to contend earnestly for the faith and warns us about those who would lead people astray by promoting error (Jude 3).
Why was there a need to “contend earnestly for the faith”? False teachers had snuck into the church teaching error. Jude writes, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). Moreover, about them Jude adds: “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage” (Jude 16). These teachers posed a threat to the health of the church by the impact their deceitful teaching could have in leading Christians astray from the faith.
However, the Christians to whom Jude wrote were practicing fellowship with these false teachers as if nothing was wrong. Jude states, “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 12-13). Instead of ignoring the threat these false teachers had brought to the church, Jude notes they needed to “contend earnestly for the faith” as they were to battle against them (Jude 3)!
How were these Christians to “contend earnestly for the faith”? First, they needed to be vigilant and on guard against the threat of false teaching. Jude states, “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 17-18). Second, they were to continue to grow in following the teachings of God. Jude adds, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21). Having a strong knowledge of the truth equips one to be alert when false teaching tries to sneak into the church. Finally, they were to make every effort to rescue those who had been led astray by these false teachers. Jude writes, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).
We are blessed to live in a time when God’s Will for us has been fully revealed (cf. Ephesians 3:1-7). False teachers twist the purity of God’s message to sinful man. I acknowledge I need to continue growing in knowing and following God’s Word so I can be equipped to battle error and to do my part in rescuing those who have gone astray. Today, I will do my part to “contend earnestly for the faith”!
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).