We are in a battle right now. However, that is not a unique characteristic of today. In the New Testament, Jude recognized it and wrote in Jude 3, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” He wanted to warn people so that they could be prepared.
It is no different today. We live in an age that touts religious freedom and tolerance, yet people are still dying for their faith and the faith of many continues to fall further and further from the truth. We still have a job to do.
Though we may be seeing a change in culture in our own country, we are still fairly blessed when it comes to the freedoms that we have in our faith. In looking at the whole world, there are many countries in which admitting to being a Christian is liable to get you killed. In that way, the fight for the faith is considerably different. They are literally fighting for their physical lives as they fight for the faith.
We have a different, less physical fight in the U.S. A decline in church attendance, a falling away from the faith, a bending of the faith to fit what culture says. Are we willing to stand up, to contend, for our faith?
Jude 3 tells us that the faith was entrusted to all of God’s holy people. I believe that by accepting Jesus into our lives, we become one of those holy people. That means we are entrusted with the faith. We should be fighting for what is true, to hold on to that faith, so that at Christ’s return, we, and as many others as possible can be found faithful.
After urging his readers to contend for the faith, what warnings does he give through the rest of his short book? What situations, sins, and characteristics of people is Jude warning against?
What does Jude want to see from God’s people?
Where do you see a battle for the faith taking place today? How do you think God wants you to participate?
One of the major themes of the Bible is God making a broken people holy. Holiness is a characteristic of God; in fact, God is repeatedly called the “Holy One of Israel” throughout scripture. But, what is holiness? “The Hebrew word for “holiness” is qōdes, a word that highlights the realm of the sacred in contrast to everything common and profane.” (See here for more info.) Holiness describes what is sacred or set apart. God is the ultimate holy one, and he sets the bar for what is holy or sacred. We can determine if something is holy by comparing it to the standard that God has set for us.
Unfortunately, after the fall, we were not a holy people anymore. We would die if we were in the presence of God because of this fact. God’s ministry of reconciliation which we read about yesterday is all about God bringing us back into relationship with him. God cannot lessen his holiness, but he can redeem us and make us more holy. This is what the whole Bible is about. God making his chosen people holy. In the Old Testament, God made his people holy through sacrifices and the law. The law could not completely redeem us though. So, in the New Testament, the new covenant was establish in which God was making us holy – reconciling us to himself – through Christ. We are saved through this reconciliation (2 Cor. 6:2).
At the end of the chapter we read today, we see some important warnings that Paul gave to the Corinthians encouraging them to remain holy. In verses 16-18, it says,
“As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
We are called to be set apart, called to be holy. Our lifestyles should reflect that. This requires discipline and an awareness of our habits. Are we living in a way that shows we are set apart? Or are we living just like the world? When we live a holy life, we have the promise of a deep and personal relationship with God. He will walk among us. He will be a Father to us. That promise is worth all the sacrifices that we make.
~ Cayce Fletcher
Questions for Application:
When you read the word ‘holiness’, what kind of feelings does it stir in you? Do you think that become holy is a worthwhile pursuit?
What does a holy lifestyle look like?
One characteristic of being holy described in this chapter is in verse 14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” What do you think this verse means? Why is this important in our pursuit of holiness?
I had an oppsortunity to teach the importance of keeping the Name of God holy a few weeks ago. A five year old was loudly saying “God” clearly showing that she was surprised by something that was going on. I helped her understand that because we love and respect God that we would never use His name this way. Thankfully that is the last time that she has expressed surprise in that manner.
But this experience reminded me of Moses. He was not only the person that was bringing the people the Law-he wanted them to understand and practice it. We may hear that we should not misuse the name of God, but when we really enter into a genuine, loving relationship with God, we would only use His name with sincere words from our heart.
In Deuteronomy 5, Moses summoned all Israel in order to recount the decrees and laws to them. He wanted the Israelites to learn them and follow them. He reminded the people that they were involved in a covenant with God. The Law showed the Israelites which actions were right and wrong. God wanted them to know how to live as His holy people. He wanted them to know how to interact with Him and others. He wanted them to “walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”
God still wants us to “live and prosper” today. We are His people, His family.
When we experience God’s love our motivation for doing what is right is produced from a place of love. (Deuteronomy 6) Christ later explained the greatest commandment of the Law. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)