But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 20, 21)
We have in view perhaps the most important thing Jude says in his short letter to the saints, Keep yourselves in the love of God. Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God; Paul tells us that now faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest is love. We can deduce from these facts that if love is greater than faith then without love it is also impossible to please God. Satan challenges our faith and he challenges our love. Job is a case in point. Satan tried to destroy Job's faith, so that he would curse God to His face. Likewise Satan seeks to set up circumstances that will destroy our love. Jude provides the solution, Keep yourselves in the love of God.
When iniquity abounds
Jesus, telling of end time events, inserts a sobering prophesy; And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12). I have given this prophesy much thought over the years. Why would iniquity affect peoples love? The answer is simple. Iniquity means to be without moral law or the laws of God. The whole moral law can be summed up with one saying, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Galatians 5:14). When people live as if there is no moral law the result is offence on top of offense. The law was given, in one sense, to enforce an environment of love. The law created a society that whether people truly loved each other or not, they somewhat treated them like they did. There were laws against unloving behavior. It was not a matter of feeling, but a matter of institutional law. If someone broke the law there was a penalty. This greatly reduced the number of hard-core offenses that had the capacity to cause hatred. If you murder someone or stole something, the law brought justice. If you fornicated or wronged a person, there were laws that dealt with the behavior. In this way the law served as a deterrent to destructive offenses against ones neighbor. But what are we to do in a society that systematically removes the laws of God from the culture? Soon everything is 'OK' and the offenses pile up until everyone has offended everyone until people hate one another. The civil codes and its immoral culture allow for and promote behaviors that causes intense human suffering and bitterness.
Loving in a culture of lawlessness
Understand that when iniquity abounds then offenses abound. We are watching the world morally disintegrate. Things that used to be illegal are now promoted on television. Immoral sexual practice, extreme physical violence, flagrant disregard for common sense and justice, all come together to try and forge people into agents of bitterness and hate. Christians are not exempt. When we see our society, that our forefathers and mothers labored diligently to pass on as Godly and respectable, being flushed down the toilet as if it were nothing we are provoked. When injustice and gross immorality rule the day we are provoked at the sight. It was said of Lot when he loved in Sodom, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds (2 Peter 2:7, 8). Here we have two Greek words for 'vexed', one meaning to wear down and the other to torment. The first word vexed is the root katapaneo (kataponou/menon) and is only here and Acts 7:24 where Moses killed the Egyptian that was oppressing the Israelite. The Rev. translates it "sorely distressed." The second word for vexed is ebasanizen (ebä-sä-nē'-zen) from the root basanizo (bä-sä-nē'-zō) meaning to "test metals". It is in the imperfect active (kept on vexing). Their nonsense and immorality kept putting him to the test. What are we to do when we are worn down and tormented by the iniquity (unlawful behavior) of our times? Lot left Sodom, but Paul said that in order for us to get away from the evil we would need to go out of the world itself (1 Corinthians 5:10). So we are here and that is that. What can we do?
Keeping yourselves in the love of God
Jude first tells us that we need to build up ourselves in our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. This means we are to pray no matter how our circumstances press against us. Lot didn't seem to do a whole Lot of praying in Sodom, but we cannot afford to allow our love to wax cold under the deluge of madness and sin that is progressing in our times. When the enemy opens up a volley upon our soul we must take to God in Spirit-filled prayer. We need to pray until we touch God and He anoints us to pray. The old-timers use to speak of the Spirit of prayer coming upon a person. This is when God enables a person to pray in a way they could not ordinarily pray. Secondly Jude says, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. We have to keep our eyes focused on eternity. We have to look unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. Jesus was full of love and compassion and He loved to the very end. This is our test. Can we love like that? Surely we can if we will allow God to love through us. The love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). We can allow that love to flow like a river from our bellies. The world is trying to dam up the flow with all manor of madness that we see and hear.
Finally, sandwiched in the middle of these two admonitions we have this profound directive, Keep yourselves in the love of God. This is the objective. We have to do it. None can do it for us. We have to make that determination. God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. We have to remember from where God brought us and look upon sinners through eyes of compassion. When you don't feel like loving, love anyway. Pray until you can love. Rebuke the thoughts that would come into your mind to challenge your love. Satan would like nothing more than to place our love in the freezer of offense and bitterness until we were as cold as ice. But Jesus didn't say that the love of all people would wax cold, but the love of many. May we move in a determination in this crisis, evil hour, that we will be numbered among the few that stoked a fiery love. No one can do it for you, as Jude admonishes us, Keep yourselves in the love of God.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon