We are continuing our study of the Book of Jude, and are nearing the end; only a few more verses to go. In this letter Jude is warning the church about apostates who have crept into the church unnoticed. It was a danger in Jude's day, and it is still a danger in our day, there are many apostates in the Church today claiming to be teachers. Just as Jude appealed to believers in his day to contend for the faith against apostasy, we must do the same. After going into detail about these apostates and their characteristics and their judgment, Jude switches gears in verses 20-23 and instructs the beloved, that is believers, on how to survive in a time of apostasy; how we can stand against apostasy. Last week we looked at:
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Jude 1:20 NASB
The "building up" spoken of here refers to spiritual edification and/or spiritual growth. The verb for "building" is in the active voice telling us that we, as believers, must produce the action of building up ourselves. The present tense calls for continual building on the superstructure of our faith. We can only build ourselves up by spending time in the Word of God. So Jude is telling the believers that they have a responsibility to be constantly building themselves up in the faith. So let me ask you, What are you doing to build yourself up in the faith?
"Praying in the Holy Spirit"—praying in the Spirit is to pray in dependence on the Spirit, and in accordance with God's revealed will in His Word. Prayer is an act of dependence: "Yahweh, I admit I have a need. I need Your help in my life." This means that while I'm working on building myself up in the faith, I'm doing it in dependence upon Yahweh. I'm dependant upon Him to teach me as I study His Word.
keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Christ to eternal life. Jude 1:21 NASB
"Keep yourselves in the love of God"—the word "keep" here is tereo, from teros—a guard or warden; it means: "to keep an eye on, to keep something in view, to hold firmly, to attend carefully, or to watch over it." Yeshua uses this word in His prayer to the Father for His disciples:
"I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. John 17:11 NASB
Tereo speaks of guarding something which is in one's possession. It means: "to watch as one would guard some precious possession." "Keep" is an aorist imperative, a command calling for urgent attention. "Yourselves" (heautou) is plural indicating that Jude is addressing not just individuals, but the entire Church body. Jude is calling for the saints to "keep" themselves "In the love of God"—"in" is locative of sphere, indicating as Wuest translates it: "within the sphere of God's love."
What does this mean? Is he saying that we need to keep God loving us? No, look at verse 1:
Jude, a bond-servant of Yeshua the Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Yeshua the Christ: Jude 1:1 NASB
"Called" is from the Greek word kletos, which is a verbal adjective from kaleo (to call). Every time this term is used in the Epistles and Revelation, it means the same as "chosen." It's a synonym for chosen, and it is the main word in this sentence. The other perfect passive participles are in apposition or explanation of this main one. Because we are the called, we are beloved in God the Father and kept by Yeshua the Christ. That's the way you would understand the grammar here.
We know that once God loves and saves someone, once God does the work of salvation in the life of a sinner, it means that the person then has their sins forgiven—past, present, and future. Every sin, every offense, every transgression they will ever commit against God has been paid for.
Jude is not telling the believers to keep themselves saved, he's not saying, "Don't get yourself in a position where God will no longer love you." We know he's not saying that because verse 24 says:
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, Jude 1:24 NASB
He begins with our security, he ends with our security. He's not questioning our security and telling us that we must do something to stay saved.
So Jude made it clear in verse 1 that the called are kept. The word for "kept" in verse 1 and "keep" in verse 21 are the exact same Greek words. So in verse 21 Jude is telling those who are kept in Christ to keep themselves in the love of God.
Barclay translates this: "You must keep yourselves in the love of God." And Wuest translates it: "With watchful care keep yourselves within the sphere of God's love."
To keep yourself in the love of God simply means: "keep yourself in the place where you experience the blessing that God's love brings." It means: "to stay in the sphere of God's love."
William MacDonald writes, "The love of God can be compared to sunshine. The sun is always shining. But when something comes between us and the sun, we are no longer in the sunshine."
Keeping yourself in the love of God requires consistent self-discipline on your part. You can never get out from under the love of God as far as God is concerned, but you can get out from the blessings that the love of God bestows upon you as you live your life on this earth.
What does it mean to be in the love of God? What do we have to do to keep ourselves in the love of God?:
Whoever believes that Yeshua is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:1-3 NASB
What does it mean to keep yourself in the love of God? It means you walk in obedience to His revealed will. And when you remain obedient, you will enjoy all the fullness of God's love:
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15 NASB
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." John 14:21 NASB
Christ says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments"; that is, do the will of God. Obey the Father; obey what the Bible tells us. Be obedient—do not be rebellious or usurp the authority of the Word of God. God is admonishing us and encouraging us, "Keep yourselves in the love of God."
So when a believer walks in obedience, he is demonstrating that he loves Yahweh. And when we are obedient, we abide in His love:
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10 NASB
Keep yourselves in the love of God is synonymous with keep His commandments. Notice what Paul said to the Thessalonians:
We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:4-5 NASB
God is telling us that the demonstration of a believer's love for God is in the keeping of the commandments. What commandments? Torah? Are we subject to the 613 laws of Torah? No, as believers we are not under the Old Covenant Law, but we are under the Law of Christ:
Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NASB
The Law of Christ is the law of love. We are to love Yahweh and love our neighbor as ourself. We are under the laws of the New Covenant.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yeshua has set you free from the law of the sin and of the death. Romans 8:2 NASB
"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yeshua—this is Torah of the Spirit. This introduces us to a new facet of Torah, this is New Covenant Torah. Paul says that the Torah of the Spirit "has set you free"—he is talking of setting slaves free in exodus language. Those in Christ are brought out of the Egypt of sin and death and made citizens in the Kingdom of God. Through the death of Christ, they become dead to the Law of sin and death. The Law of sin and death was the Old Covenant Law.
Believers often ask the question, "Since we are saved by grace through faith and faith alone, does it matter how we live once we are saved?" Absolutely! It makes a tremendous difference—not in your eternal destiny—but in your quality of life, here and now.
Let's look at Yeshua's "Sermon on the Mount." In this sermon Yeshua delivered a message that contained all the great ethical precepts of His teaching. In it, Yeshua lays it all out: "love your enemies, forgive those who wrong you, forgive those who wrong you time and time again, do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Then, as a conclusion to the message, He tells this little story; what's known as a parable:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall." Matthew 7:24-27 NASB
Now let me ask you," What is the essence of this parable? What is it illustrating? What separates the wise builder from the foolish builder?" It is a one word answer, obedience!
In this parable Yeshua says NOTHING about believing. His stress here is on DOING. This is very important! We are saved by faith alone, but here Yeshua is talking to those who believe in Him and stressing the importance of obedience. Yeshua says something like, "It's important to actually do these things, I've told you, not just think it's a good idea to do them, but to actually follow through and do them."
There are some questions that we must answer to understand this text: What do the "houses" of the wise and foolish builders represent? What "storms" is Yeshua talking about? How can we "build" so as to be able to withstand the storms?
Let's begin by identifying the "houses." I suggest that the houses represent our lives. Each of us is building a life. A life that will respond to the many ups and downs that come our way. Yeshua is saying in this parable, "If you want to protect your life from damage, you've got to be wise and obey my commandments and my rules for your life." Please notice that this obedience results in quality of life and preservation of life. This teaching about obedience and life preservation runs all through the Scriptures:
When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation. Proverbs 10:25 NASB
Our preservation in the storms of life is tied to our obedience.
James teaches that our deliverance from the destructive effects of sin is directly connected to our obedience to the Word of God. The theme verse of James is:
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21 NASB
The purpose of the Book of James is to teach us how we can save ourselves from the damaging effects of sin. James says we are to receive with meekness the "word implanted." When was it implanted? Verse 18 tells us, it was at our redemption:
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:18 NASB
Why should we receive the Word with meekness? Because it is able to "save your life." The word "soul" is psuche, which can also be translated: "life." The word "save" is the Greek word sozo, which means: "to deliver." It is used here in a temporal sense of saving your life from the damage that sin brings. The expression "Save your soul" is never found any place in the New Testament to describe the conversion experience. James is writing about the temporal life and how to preserve it from damage. "Save" has the idea of prolong and enhance your life. It is used this way in:
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16 NASB
Paul tells Timothy to watch his doctrine and his life, and in doing this he cannot only save himself but those who hear him.
In verses 22-25 James states and illustrates the need for active obedience to the Word which will save us from damage:
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22 NASB
"But" indicates something further must be said, it's not enough to hear, "obedience must follow." Literally, it reads: "Become ye continually doers." Do believers always put the word into practice? No! Many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them. "Doers" is poietes, which means: "a performer." It is used 6 times in the New Testament; four times in James. Why didn't he just say, "Do the Word"? Because it's one thing to fix a car, it's another thing to be a mechanic. It's one thing to build a house, it's another thing to be a builder. We are not just to occasionally do the Word, we are to be doers of the Word.
"Not merely hearers"—akroates, which is a classical term for an academic auditor who listens and maybe even takes notes, but has no assignments, responsibilities, or tests. They listen, but don't do any of the work. Many people want to audit Christianity. They don't want to get involved in service, they just listen. Many attend church the same way they would a movie, they're just spectators who listen and then evaluate the message as to how it appealed to them. Hearing is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end.
"Delude themselves"—is the Greek word paralogizomai, which means: "to misreckon, to delude or beguile, deceive." It is fallacious reasoning; you are making a huge mistake. This word is only used one other time in the New Testament and that is:
I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. Colossians 2:4 NASB
If you think that all that is required is listening, you are making a big mistake. James now gives us an analogy of some one who hears but doesn't do; he says:
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; James 1:23 NASB
The word "looks" is the Greek word katanoeo, which means: "to observe fully, to look carefully and intently at oneself." Why do we use mirrors? To see ourselves. Why do we want to see ourselves? So we can make corrections where they are needed.
for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. James 1:24 NASB
He looks at himself and sees all the flaws, but instead of fixing them, he walks away from the mirror and forgets what he saw. Have you ever done that? Looked in a mirror and saw your faults and then walked away without dealing with them? I doubt it!
Now James gives us the other side of the analogy; the doer:
But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25 NASB
"Looks intently"—is the Greek word parakupto, it means: "to bend beside, to lean over (so as to peer within) to examine closely." Your attitude when you come to the Word means everything. Are you teachable? Do you come here in prayer saying, "Teach me from your Word oh Lord"? Or is your attitude, "I sure hope that David's interesting today"? Do you read over the text before you get here? Do you memorize and meditate on it asking God to teach you? If you are here just to audit, I need to warn you that you will be tested. In chapter four James says:
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17 NASB
James calls the Scripture the "law of liberty." It is God's perfect will for our lives. Seneca said, "To obey God is liberty." Our liberty comes through obedience. If you want to have freedom to drive down the highway, you had better obey the highway laws.
James says that this man "abides" in the perfect law of liberty. The word he uses for continue is parameno; from para, which means: "beside" and meno, which means: "remain or continue." The emphasis here is not on the manner of looking, but on the duty of continuing or persevering in the observance of the law. This man doesn't forget what he looks like, he keeps looking and looking.
People, for the most part, don't want to seriously evaluate their lives, they're afraid of what they might see. We need to be willing to look honestly at ourselves, and we can only do this through the Word.
James goes on to say, "...not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does"—the word "blessed" literally means: "Oh, the happiness." "Blessedness," as the Bible defines it, is the heart condition the whole world is looking for. You see, "blessedness," biblically defined, is that almost indescribable, but very real "inner sense of well being." It's an inner feeling of security and contentment, and a positive outlook on life. It's to experience an unusual level of joy. "Blessedness" is a calm assurance of self-worth. It's the vitality of spirit that comes when you know deep down that all is well between you and God. Please notice that it is the "doer" who is blessed. It is the person who lives in obedience to the Word that is blessed.
In the book of John, Yeshua said:
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:10-11 NASB
It is through keeping the commandments that we find full joy. This man is blessed, not by hearing alone, but by being a doer of the work. He is blessed because he continues to stare into the Word of God and lives his life in obedience to it.
God delights in our obedience, because everything God commands us is for our own good. And so what God is really delighting in when He delights in our obedience is our deep and lasting joy.
"So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. Deuteronomy 6:24 NASB
"Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD'S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NASB
The commandments of Yahweh are for our good! The word Torah is usually translated as: "Law," but to the Hebrew it meant: "the journey." To a Hebrew "command" is the direction for the journey. "Righteous" is traveling on the path. And "wicked" is lost from the path. If we could grasp this Hebraic concept about Yahweh's Word, it would change our thinking and our walk.
We don't like commandments, they seem restrictive—"don't do this." But directions are helpful and beneficial—"go this way." If you want to get somewhere you must follow directions. If you are in Virginia Beach and you want to go to Maine, you have to follow the directions which would take you north. You cannot go west if you want to end up in Maine. The same is true with Yahweh's directions. If you want a life of fellowship with the Father, a life of joy and peace, you must follow the directions that Yahweh has given us. To not follow the directions and leave the path is to not arrive at your goal of joy and peace. Yahweh has laid out the direction for the path in His Word. So we need to read it, study it, and follow it.
"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:25 NASB
What "storms" is Yeshua talking about? I think that the storms are things that threaten our well being. This could be literal storms: such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc., which may take away all we own, perhaps even our loved ones. How we respond to such tragedies will reveal the quality of our "building." Will we be emotionally devastated? Will we be able to stand strong, willing to continue on without despair?
It may also involve figurative storms: such as illness, loss of loved ones, financial setbacks, which may take away our health, family, or possessions. Again, how we respond to such tragedies will reveal the quality of our "building." Will we be emotionally devastated? Will we be able to stand strong, willing to continue on without despair?
Now, you may be wondering how obedience to God helps us weather storms. The answer is that when we live in obedience, we live in fellowship with God:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 NASB
What does Paul mean when he says, "I can do all things through Christ"? He means that because he is in communion with Christ, the power of Christ is available to him for every need. Paul cannot do "all things" simply because he is a Christian. He can do all things because he is living in a dependant relationship with Christ. He is abiding in Christ.
Philippians 4:13 gives us the positive, and John 15:5 gives us the negative:
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NASB
With Me (living in dependance on Me), you can do all things, but without Me, you can do nothing. Philippians 4:13 cannot be claimed by every Christian. It is only for those believers who are abiding in Christ. When we walk in fellowship with God, we have His power available to help us deal with life. Out of fellowship, we have no power.
Yeshua doesn't say, You'd better obey my words, or the Father is going to punish you. He says, "You'd better listen to and follow through on my words so that you'll be able to survive the storms of life."
What Jude tells us here about "keeping ourselves in the love of God" is very similar to what Paul told the Ephesians:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 NASB
"Which God prepared beforehand"—the nearest antecedent to the relative pronoun "which" is "good works," which along with the following pronoun "them," refer to the works and not people. We can translate it: "which good works God prepared beforehand."
What "good works" did God prepare beforehand? What is he talking about here? It is the good works, or conduct, given in chapters 4-6. Vincent says: "God prearranged a sphere of moral action for us to walk it." And when we are walking in that sphere of moral action, we are keeping ourselves in the love of God.
"So that we would walk in them"—"so that," shows the purpose of the good works prepared beforehand. God has prepared a path of good works for believers which He will perform in and through them as they walk by faith.
Paul says, "so that we would walk in them"—this is referring to the good works, it is a locative of sphere. We are to order our behavior within the sphere of these good works, and as we do, we are keeping ourselves in the love of God.
"Walk" is the Greek verb peripateo, which means: "to walk, live, conduct one's life." It literally means: "to walk about or around." While peripateo is used in the New Testament of one's literal walk, it is often used metaphorically of one's behavior, conduct, of the way one lives. The Christian life is compared to walking. Walking becomes a visual aid to teach us how to live:
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Yeshua, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NASB
When we talk about pleasing God, we must make a distinction between our position and our practice. As believers, we stand "righteous" before God. The good news of the Bible is that our debts were paid in full by Yeshua the Christ. And not only has the Christian's debt been paid in full, there is no possibility of going into debt again. Yeshua paid the debt of all our sins; past, present, and future. This is GRACE!
So, when I talk about pleasing God, I'm talking to Christians about how they live. We are to live in such a way to please God by all that we do. Pleasing God is a way of life. Learning to walk or live to please Yahweh is a matter of biblical instruction. It is neither natural nor innate. Without the Word, there is simply no way any of us are going to be able to walk as we should so we are able to please the Lord. Over and over again in the Tanakh, we read that God's people are to walk in His ways, statutes, and laws, i.e., according to the Word (Lev. 26:3; Deut. 5:33; 8:6; 10:12; Josh. 22:5). So if we are not in the Word, we are not being reminded of what we are to do. We need reminders!
So, keeping ourselves in the love of God is a matter of living obediently to the commands of Christ. Christ's commands or directions for our lives are given for the purpose of our protection and our happiness. There is a wide host of commands that God has for us that the world says are ridiculous—commands about the sanctity and exclusivity of the marital relationship, about the restriction of sexual activity to marriage, the emphasis on others before self, on forgiveness freely given when asked for, that honesty is always the best policy, that materialism is not the road to real happiness—every last one of these "rules," plus all the others that are found in God's Word, are given to us for our own good. And if we're smart, we'll realize that and seek to live by God's guidelines, and remain in His love.
Let me close this morning with Yahweh's words to Israel about people who sin:
Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves," declares the Lord GOD. "If I were to cause wild beasts to pass through the land and they depopulated it, and it became desolate so that no one would pass through it because of the beasts, though these three men were in its midst, as I live," declares the Lord GOD, "they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the country would be desolate. Ezekiel 14:12-16 NASB
This is not only saying that Yahweh judges the ungodly, it is saying that He delivers the righteous. So, believers, keep yourselves in the sphere of God's love by walking in obedience to Him.
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