Jude 17-25: Strategies for Dealing with False Teaching
November 25, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jude has been urging his readers to contend for the faith. There is false teaching around and they need to proactively engage with it and show where it is false. He has warned them of the dangers of false teaching in order to motivate them to contend for the biblical faith. But how are they to contend for the faith? What is to be their strategy? Jude now explains.
First, Remember the basic issue and cause of the problem (verses 17-19). At its heart, the false teaching is arising because people are following their own natural instincts rather than the work of the Spirit. They are seeking to find room to express their ungodly desires, and therefore develop teachings that give room for that immoral lifestyle. Over and over again, church history has shown that however sophisticated the false teaching may sound, at its root – as often as not – is a basic desire to give more room for indulging in sinful behavior. That does not mean that we should dismiss the intellectual arguments or assume that everyone who argues against Christianity is immoral or wanting to be immoral. But there is an inner driving force that is beyond the merely intellectual. And it is to that basic issue that we must appeal and to which we must speak.
Second, Focus on building up your own faith (verses 20-21). The greatest defense is an offense. And the greatest way to counteract false teaching is to make the true teaching of the gospel so attractive and winsome through the lives of joy and peace that we live. A danger that is concomitant with “contending for the faith” is that those who do so can become contentious in their attitude and demeanor. But we are instead to “keep ourselves in God’s love” as we “wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring us to eternal life.” Building ourselves up in our faith, with love and mercy, and praying in the Holy Spirit: these are the Christian characteristics that adorn the gospel of God and display it as worthy of attention and attractive.
Third, Be merciful to those who doubt (verses 22-23). Do not be shrill or argumentative with those who are attracted to the false teaching. Do not go after them with anger and aggression. Do not dismiss their concerns out of hand. We need to show mercy, even as at the same time we are horrified by the false teaching itself. Love the sinner, but hate the sin.
Fourth, Be assured of God’s final victory (verses 24-25). Despite the great danger of false teaching, the real problem it is, and the concern that it brings, God’s victory is not in doubt. He is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. Fear the false teaching, but do not fear that it is going to win. Contend for the faith, but not in spirit of anxiety or panic. God will win. To him be the glory.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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