II. Jude’s explanation: How to keep yourself in the love of God
a. Building upon the foundation
The first practical way that we can keep ourselves in the love of God is to build upon the foundation of our faith. Jude writes, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on the most holy faith…” This seems like a strange exhortation because to build ourselves up seems to be contrary to the Christian teaching of loving others. But, we must understand that Jude was writing this letter to believers as a community, not just individuals. So, when Jude says that we must build ourselves up he means that we must all contribute to the spiritual growth of the entire community of believers. We must be serving the people of the church so that as a community we will grow together. By using this picture of building upon a foundation Jude is contrasting what he wants his readers to do, with what the fake Christians were doing. Verse 19 tells us that the fake Christians were “causing divisions.” Thus, they were trying to tear down what had already been built, rather than build upon what already existed.
If we are going to fight for the faith and keep ourselves in the love of God then we must maintain our own faith. This is the first step to combating false teaching, and bad influences: we must secure our own spiritual position. This is why the church is supposed to be equipping believers, and teaching God’s word. All ministries of the church should have this as their goal (Romans 14:9). We must stay close to the “most holy faith,” which means we must stay far away from the message of false teachers.
In 2 Timothy Paul was writing to Timothy to give him instructions on how the church was to conduct itself. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we find one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
If we want to be equipped to fight for the faith, and remain in the love of God then we must build upon the foundation of our original understanding of the Gospel by deepening our understanding of God’s word.
Let me give you an idea of what this would look like practically. When someone first becomes a Christian there are several things that they understand. They understand that they are a sinner, they understand that Jesus has made a sacrifice for their sins, and they understand that they need to submit to Him and seek forgiveness. By understanding these things this person has laid the foundation of the Gospel in their lives. However, if they do not continue to build upon this foundation by studying God’s word then they may never understand how important it is to be a part of the local church, or that God has gifted each Christian in a unique way to accomplish His work. Thus, they will not be ready to fight for the faith. This is why it is so important that we encourage one another, by building upon the foundation of the Gospel.
b. Praying in the Holy Spirit
The second practical way that we can keep ourselves in the love of God is to pray in the Holy Spirit. Jude writes, “But you, beloved… praying in the Holy Spirit…” If we are going to keep ourselves in the love of God so that we can fight for the faith we must be people who are committed to prayer. Jude tells us that we must pray “in the Holy Spirit.” There are many who believe that this is talking about a charismatic prayer, or even praying in tongues. However, this is not what Jude has in mind. When Jude refers to praying in the Spirit he is referring to a prayer life that: submits to God, seeks God’s wisdom, seeks God’s will, and trusts in God’s power. John 14:14 speaks of this kind of prayer. There Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” This does not mean that we simply say the name of Jesus at then end of our prayers and then we will get whatever we want. To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray in the hope and confidence of God’s sovereignty; it means that we pray for the will of God to be accomplished. When we pray for someone who is sick to be healed we genuinely want that person to be healed, however we also genuinely believe that God’s plan is perfect and even if it is not His plan to heal that person we trust that His plan is best. This is exactly what Jesus taught us in when he told us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come, and His will be done (Matthew 6:10). The only problem is that there are times when we do not know exactly what God’s will is. This is where the Spirit comes in. Romans 8:26-27:
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Here we see that the Spirit helps us when we do not know how to pray. He intercedes with groaning s that we cannot understand. What are these groanings? The end of verse 27 tells us that they are prayers for the saints according to the will of God. So, we are supposed to pray according to the will of God. However, sometimes we do not know the will of God. It is in these times the Spirit will help us by interceding according to the will of God.
Prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of a Christians. In James 5:16 it says that “in its work the prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (my own translation). This is so because God has chosen to accomplish many things through our prayers. If we are going to fight for the faith we must use this powerful resource of prayer, and we must depend on the Spirit to help us pray according to the will of God.
Sometimes it is difficult to spend time in prayer. We live in a world that is filled with TVs, ipods, computers, and all kinds of other things. We have become so used to all these things going on that we often neglect setting aside time to quietly go before the Lord in prayer. I am often convicted when I compare the amount of time that I pray with the amount of time that I spend entertaining myself. We must fight these distractions and keep ourselves in the love of God by praying in the Spirit.