How can we CONTINUE to MAINTAIN a GODLY LIFESTYLE? "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. 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 1:20-23)
The general epistle of Jude is the last and perhaps one of the most important components of practical instructions for believers today. After denouncing the false teachers who would penetrate the Christian world, Jude now turns to exhort the Christian believers to contend for their faith when under attack from the opposing false teachers. This involves exhibiting a positive life that is faithful to the gospel and in the practice of Christian virtues.
As we practice the Christian virtues, we should pray in the Spirit, keep ourselves in the love of God, look forward for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, show mercy to others as we pull them from disaster, and avoid those who have associated with false teaching. While some unbelievers will be won to Christ through tenderness and demonstration of compassion, others would be saved with fear of not being contaminated ourselves. In trying to minister to people, we must be careful and exercise discernment so that they do not harm us. We should ask God for wisdom as we seek to help persons wandering from the faith. In fact, being sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit during witnessing is crucial in the life of a believer!
How can we continue to maintain a godly lifestyle? Jude proposes that we need to stay close to God and live in unbroken fellowship with Him through four steps:
- First, we should build ourselves up on our most holy Christian faith. This is done by studying and obeying God’s Word. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Our familiarity with God’s Word guides us positively in the way of righteousness, and warns us against the perils along the way.
- Second, we should pray in the Holy Spirit. We should pray guided by the Holy Spirit who alone knows what we should pray for. "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26). Just like our lives, our prayers should also be controlled by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16–18; Eph. 6:18).
- Third, we should keep ourselves in the love of God. God’s love is always beaming down upon us, but when sin penetrates our lives then we can no longer enjoy His love in our daily lives. However, we can keep ourselves in His love through holy and godly living and by making sure that nothing comes between us and God (see Rom. 8:35–39). Even if we sin, we should confess and forsake that sin immediately: "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Prov. 28:13)
- Fourth, we should be eagerly looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. The mercy of our Lord here refers to His imminent return to take His people home to heaven. Even when the world around us does not care, we should keep the light of the blessed hope always burning in our hearts. This will comfort us during our stressful times (see 1 Thess. 4:18; 1 John 3:3).
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13)