Tuesday, January 3, 2023

            Jude is another, small one-chapter book found near the back of the Bible.  he identified himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.”  His purpose in writing was to encourage and warn believers against falling for immoral teachers and the heresies they teach.  He issued this warning, “They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit” (Jude 18-19).  Though issued in the first century, his warning is worth considering and remembering even today.  The enemy does seek to deceive us.  He is by nature a liar and deceiver.  The word scoffer (some Bibles say mocker) refers to those who ridicule God or misrepresent God.  In Old Testament times, these individuals would have been false prophets.  In Paul’s days, scoffers were those who preached to itching ears and said what others wanted to hear or paid to hear (see 2 Timothy 4:3) but not necessarily what they needed to hear. 
            We have to be careful not to be duped into feel-good teachings or feel-good messages.  Scriptural truth is not always easy to hear or easy to follow but it is truth.  God’s Word is His Word.  Some preachers and writers today can easily strike a bargain to trade truth for a large and captive audience or deal away God’s Word for the lesser feelings and impulses of mankind.  As Jude noted, “natural instincts” can be dangerous and deceptive.  If we followed our instincts alone, we would end up in some terrible situations.  I am not a fan of red lights.  And I would love to barrel through every one that I see—that would be a natural instinct.  But that kind of behavior could result in someone’s injury or death and possibly the same for me.  Following our natural instincts is not a recipe for discipleship or a way to bring glory to God each day.
            Jude gave us a better way.  In Jude 3, we are told to hold on to (or contend for) the faith that has been entrusted to us through God’s Word and God’s messengers.  “To contend for” means we will not settle for anything less.  We will not bargain or barter away what we know to be God’s ways, Word and truth.  You would probably contend for a number of things—your family, your health, your pictures and your home.  Likewise, Jude is saying contend for the faith you have in Christ.  Do not settle for watered-down and warmed-over feel-good messages that have little to do with Scripture and a lot to do with making some profits for preachers and writers.  If Christ is not glorified as the Son of God who died, lives again and is coming again, be careful with what you are reading or studying.  If God’s Word is devalued, dismissed or demoted to just another book, watch out for where you are.  The pathway that you are walking on is not a good one. 
            Grace is never a license to sin (Jude 4).  Truth is not fluid and constantly changing to fit one’s mood or situation.  Be wary of those who might try to convince you that God’s Word can be carelessly or dismissively handled like a beanbag.  The enemy would be happy to offer you any number of options so long as you stray from Christ and truth.  At the end of Jude, he prayed that God would be honored for His authority, majesty and power (Jude 25).  May that be true in our lives each day.  Have a good Tuesday!

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