Thursday, October 1, 2009

sanctification: the best defense

d fence But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Jude 20-21

The command here is straightforward: keep yourselves in the love of God. This is Jude’s way of talking about the personal responsibility to live holy lives. The false teachers he is combating will have none of that. They indulge in sexual immorality (Jude 7), they blaspheme doctrine they do not understand (Jude 10), and they are ultimately not holy but ungodly and destined for God’s justice as a result (Jude 15). The book ends with a call for Christians to defend against apostasy by guarding the way they live their lives. It is the best way to combat false doctrine and practice.

There are three things we do to keep ourselves in the love of God. The first is to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. I believe it is a call to knowing doctrine AND the sanctifying work that true doctrinal commitments bring to us. That is why it is called a holy faith. It is not purely about simple propositions, statements of fact, or doctrinal vocabulary. It is about the truth of biblical teaching changing us into the holy, different, and called out people that God has always wanted for His glory. The second thing we do is called “praying in the Holy Spirit.” Nothing mystical here either… this is just prayer that stems from a relationship with God that can know and follow the promptings of His Spirit. That only really comes as we understand and follow the Word of God. The first thus is necessary to understand the second. The final piece is also important. We must be waiting for the mercy of Jesus. I believe that is an understanding that our growth in holy living is a process that is not complete UNTIL WE MEET JESUS! We are saved when we come to Christ, we are being saved by Him now, and we will be saved forever in His presence in eternity. I am just not all the way there yet. But I know my journey is headed to His destination.

One final thing to point out: we are called to keep ourselves, but God also does the keeping. Jude has already pointed this out (Jude 1 says we are beloved in God and kept for Jesus Christ). The book ends with a reminder and a prayer to the One who is “able to keep you from stumbling and present you blameless before the presence of his glory” (Jude 24). Sanctification is God’s big work in saving me and keeping me. It is my lifestyle in living like the man He has made me to be.

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