“Put Up a Hard Fight for the Faith”!
“Put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones.”—JUDE 3.
1. In what sense are true Christians today engaged in warfare?
SOLDIERS at war have always had a hard lot. Imagine donning full battle gear and marching countless miles in all kinds of weather, undergoing grueling training in the use of weaponry, or having to defend yourself against all manner of violent threats to life and limb. True Christians, however, do not take part in the wars of the nations. (Isaiah 2:2-4; John 17:14) Still, we must never forget that we are all at war in a sense. Satan is full of hatred for Jesus Christ and his followers on the earth. (Revelation 12:17) All who decide to serve Jehovah God are, in effect, enlisting as soldiers to wage spiritual warfare.—2 Corinthians 10:4.
2. How does Jude describe Christian warfare, and how can his letter help us endure in it?
2 Fittingly, Jesus’ half brother Jude writes: “Beloved ones, though I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write you to exhort you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones.” (Jude 3) When Jude urges Christians to “put up a hard fight,” he uses a term related to the word for “agony.” Yes, this fight can be difficult, even agonizing! Do you sometimes find it hard to endure in this warfare? Jude’s short but powerful letter can help us. It urges us to resist immorality, to respect divinely constituted authority, and to keep ourselves in God’s love. Let us see how to apply this counsel.
3. What emergency situation faced the Christian congregation in Jude’s day?
3 Jude could see that not all of his fellow Christians were winning the war against Satan. An emergency situation faced the flock. Corrupt men had “slipped in,” writes Jude. These men were subtly promoting immorality. And they cleverly rationalized their deeds, “turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct.” (Jude 4) Perhaps, like some ancient Gnostics, they reasoned that the more one sinned, the more one could receive of God’s grace—so, in effect, it was better to sin more! Or perhaps they figured that a kind God would never punish them. In any case, they were wrong.—1 Corinthians 3:19.
4. What three Scriptural examples of Jehovah’s past judgments does Jude cite?
4 Jude refutes their wicked reasonings by citing three examples of Jehovah’s judgments in times past: against the Israelites who were “not showing faith”; against the “angels that . . . forsook their own proper dwelling place” in order to sin with women; and against the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, who “had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use.” (Jude 5-7; Genesis 6:2-4; 19:4-25; Numbers 14:35) In each case, Jehovah brought a resounding judgment against the sinners.
5. From what ancient prophet does Jude quote, and how did that prophecy express the absolute certainty of its fulfillment?
5 Later, Jude refers to an even more far-reaching judgment. He quotes a prophecy of Enoch—a passage that is not found anywhere else in the inspired Scriptures.* (Jude 14, 15) Enoch foretold a time when Jehovah would judge all the ungodly and their ungodly deeds. Interestingly, Enoch spoke in the past tense, for God’s judgments were as certain as if they had already taken place. People may have scoffed at Enoch and later at Noah, but all such ridiculers drowned in the global Deluge.
6. (a) Of what did the Christians in Jude’s day need to be reminded? (b) Why should we take Jude’s reminders to heart?
6 Why did Jude write of these divine judgments? Because he knew that some who were associated with the Christian congregations in his own day were committing sins just as filthy and reprehensible as the ones that provoked those past judgments. Thus, Jude writes that the congregations need to be reminded of some basic spiritual truths. (Jude 5) They had evidently forgotten that Jehovah God saw what they were doing. Yes, when his servants deliberately violate his laws, defiling themselves and others, he sees. (Proverbs 15:3) Such acts hurt him deeply. (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40) It is an awesome thought that we mere humans can affect the feelings of the Sovereign Lord of the universe. He watches us daily, and when we do our very best to follow the footsteps of his Son, Jesus Christ, then our conduct makes his heart rejoice. Let us, then, never resent such reminders as Jude offers but take them to heart.—Proverbs 27:11; 1 Peter 2:21.
7. (a) Why is it crucial for those involved in serious wrongdoing to seek help immediately? (b) How can all of us avoid immorality?
7 Not only does Jehovah see but he acts. A God of justice, he brings punishment upon evildoers—sooner or later. (1 Timothy 5:24) Those who reason that his judgments are just ancient history and that he is not concerned with the evil they do are merely fooling themselves. How crucial it is for any today who are involved in immorality to seek help immediately from Christian elders! (James 5:14, 15) All of us may be sobered by the threat that immorality poses in our spiritual warfare. Every year there are casualties—individuals who are expelled from our midst, the majority of them for unrepentantly committing immoral acts. We must firmly resolve to resist any temptations that even begin to lead us in such a direction.—Compare Matthew 26:41.
Respect Divinely Constituted Authority
8. Who were the “glorious ones” mentioned in Jude 8?
8 Another problem that Jude addresses is the lack of respect for divinely constituted authority. For instance, in Jude verse 8 he charges the same wicked men with “speaking abusively of glorious ones.” Who were these “glorious ones”? They were imperfect men, but they had responsibilities conferred upon them by Jehovah’s holy spirit. For example, the congregations had elders, who were charged with shepherding the flock of God. (1 Peter 5:2) There were traveling overseers too, such as the apostle Paul. And the body of elders in Jerusalem acted as a governing body, making decisions affecting the Christian congregation as a whole. (Acts 15:6) Jude was deeply concerned that certain ones in the congregations were speaking abusively of, or blaspheming, such men.
9. What examples regarding disrespect for authority does Jude cite?
9 To denounce such disrespectful talk, in Jude verse 11, Jude cites three more examples as reminders: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Cain ignored Jehovah’s loving counsel and willfully pursued his own course of murderous hatred. (Genesis 4:4-8) Balaam received repeated warnings that unquestionably came from a supernatural source—even his own she-ass spoke to him! But Balaam selfishly continued to plot against God’s people. (Numbers 22:28, 32-34; Deuteronomy 23:5) Korah had his own position of responsibility, but it was not enough. He fomented rebellion against the meekest man on the earth, Moses.—Numbers 12:3; 16:1-3, 32.
10. How might some today fall into the trap of “speaking abusively of glorious ones,” and why should such talk be avoided?
10 How vividly these examples teach us to listen to counsel and to respect those whom Jehovah uses in positions of responsibility! (Hebrews 13:17) It is all too easy to find fault with the appointed elders, for they are imperfect, as all of us are imperfect. But if we dwell on their faults and undermine respect for them, might we be “speaking abusively of glorious ones”? In Jude verse 10, Jude mentions those who “are speaking abusively of all the things they really do not know.” Some will, at times, criticize a decision made by a body of elders or a judicial committee. Yet, they are not privy to all the details that the elders had to consider in order to reach a decision. So why speak abusively about things they really do not know? (Proverbs 18:13) Those who persist in such negative talk could cause divisions in the congregation and perhaps even be likened to dangerous “rocks hidden below water” at gatherings of fellow believers. (Jude 12, 16, 19) Never would we want to pose a spiritual danger to others. Rather, let each of us resolve to appreciate responsible men for their hard work and devotion to the flock of God.—1 Timothy 5:17.
11. Why did Michael refrain from bringing a judgment in abusive terms against Satan?
11 Jude cites an example of one who respected duly constituted authority. He writes: “When Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: ‘May Jehovah rebuke you.’” (Jude 9) This fascinating account, unique to Jude in the inspired Scriptures, teaches two distinct lessons. On the one hand, it teaches us to leave judgment with Jehovah. Satan evidently wanted to misuse the body of the faithful man Moses in order to promote false worship. How wicked! Yet, Michael humbly refrained from bringing a judgment, for only Jehovah had that authority. How much more, then, should we refrain from judging faithful men who are trying to serve Jehovah.
12. What might those with responsible positions in the Christian congregation learn from Michael’s example?
12 On the other hand, those with a measure of authority in the congregation may also learn a lesson from Michael. After all, though Michael was the “archangel,” chief of all the angels, he did not abuse his position of power, even under provocation. Faithful elders follow that example closely, recognizing that abuse of their authority is disrespectful of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Jude’s letter had much to say about men who had positions of respect in the congregations but had come to abuse their power. For instance, in Jude verses 12 through 14, Jude pens a blistering denunciation of “shepherds that feed themselves without fear.” (Compare Ezekiel 34:7-10.) In other words, their first interest was in benefiting themselves, not Jehovah’s flock. Elders today can learn much from such negative examples. Really, Jude’s words here paint a vivid picture of what we do not want to become. When we give in to selfishness, we cannot be soldiers of Christ; we are too busy fighting for self. Let us all, rather, live by Jesus’ words: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
“Keep Yourselves in God’s Love”
13. Why should we all earnestly desire to remain in God’s love?
13 Toward the end of his letter, Jude offers this heartwarming counsel: “Keep yourselves in God’s love.” (Jude 21) Nothing will help us to wage the Christian warfare more than this one thing, remaining the objects of Jehovah God’s love. After all, love is Jehovah’s dominant quality. (1 John 4:8) Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38, 39) How, though, do we remain in that love? Notice three of the measures we can take, according to Jude.
14, 15. (a) What does it mean to build ourselves up on our “most holy faith”? (b) How might we examine the condition of our spiritual armor?
14 First, Jude tells us to continue building ourselves up on our “most holy faith.” (Jude 20) As we saw in the preceding article, this is a continuous process. We are like buildings that need more and more fortification against the worsening onslaught of the elements. (Compare Matthew 7:24, 25.) So let us never become overconfident. Rather, let us see where we can build ourselves up on the foundation of our faith, becoming stronger, more faithful soldiers of Christ. For example, we might consider the parts of the spiritual suit of armor described at Ephesians 6:11-18.
15 What is the condition of our own spiritual armor? Is our “large shield of faith” as strong as it needs to be? As we look back over recent years, do we see some signs of slacking off, such as dwindling meeting attendance, loss of zeal for the ministry, or fading enthusiasm for personal study? Such signs are serious! We need to act now to build up and strengthen ourselves in the truth.—1 Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
16. What does it mean to pray with holy spirit, and what is one thing we should ask Jehovah for regularly?
16 A second way to remain in God’s love is to continue “praying with holy spirit.” (Jude 20) That means to pray under the influence of Jehovah’s spirit and in harmony with his spirit-inspired Word. Prayer is a vital means of drawing close to Jehovah personally and expressing our devotion to him. Never should we neglect this marvelous privilege! And when we pray, we may ask—in fact, keep asking—for holy spirit. (Luke 11:13) It is the strongest force available to us. With such help, we can always remain in God’s love and endure as soldiers of Christ.
17. (a) Why is Jude’s example in the matter of mercy so remarkable? (b) How might each of us continue to show mercy?
17 Third, Jude urges us to continue showing mercy. (Jude 22) His own example in this regard is remarkable. After all, he was rightly disturbed over the corruption, immorality, and apostasy creeping into the Christian congregation. Nevertheless, he did not succumb to panic, adopting the view that the times were somehow too dangerous to show such a “soft” quality as mercy. No, he urged his brothers to continue to show mercy whenever possible, reasoning kindly with those suffering from doubts and even ‘snatching from the fire’ those straying close to serious sin. (Jude 23; Galatians 6:1) What fine exhortation for elders in these troubled times! They too endeavor to show mercy wherever there is a basis for it, while still being firm when necessary. All of us likewise want to show mercy to one another. For example, instead of nursing petty grudges, we can be generous with our forgiveness.—Colossians 3:13.
18. How can we be certain of victory in our spiritual warfare?
18 The war we wage is not an easy one. As Jude says, it is “a hard fight.” (Jude 3) Our enemies are powerful. Not only Satan but his wicked world and our own imperfections all range up against us. Yet, we can be absolutely confident of victory! Why? Because we are on Jehovah’s side. Jude closes his letter with a reminder that Jehovah is rightly attributed “glory, majesty, might and authority for all past eternity and now and into all eternity.” (Jude 25) Is that not an awe-inspiring thought? Can there be any question, then, that this same God “is able to guard you from stumbling”? (Jude 24) Certainly not! Let each of us be determined to continue to resist immorality, to respect divinely constituted authority, and to keep ourselves in God’s love. In that way, we will enjoy a glorious victory together.
Some researchers assert that Jude is quoting from the apocryphal Book of Enoch. However, R. C. H. Lenski notes: “We ask: ‘What is the source of this patchwork, the Book of Enoch?’ This book is an accretion, and nobody is sure of the dates of its various parts . . . ; nobody can be sure that some of its expressions were not, perhaps, taken from Jude himself.”
Questions for Review
□ How does Jude’s letter teach us to resist immorality?
□ Why is it so important to respect divinely constituted authority?
□ What is so serious about misusing congregational authority?
□ How may we work to remain in God’s love?
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Unlike Roman soldiers, Christians wage a spiritual warfare
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Christian shepherds serve, not out of selfishness, but out of love