The Inward Look – Not Outward
Categories: Dying to Self, Faith, Hearing God, Obedience, Overcoming, Prayer, Sanctification, Spiritual Maturity, The Bride, The Holy Spirit, Walk The Walk
The Lord changed things up for me this past week and He led me from my study of the Book of Esther in the Old Testament to the Book of Jude. I wasn’t quite sure why after just spending some time digesting the message of Esther.
Just as an aside, the book is all about the Lord saving the Jews and the beginning of Purim. How interesting that Purim occurs on the 14th day of Adar in the Jewish calendar (March 12-13) and how Benjamin Netanyahu just used it as an occasion to proclaim that God would once again save the Jews from their enemies; Iran… coincident?)
At any rate, last week I had one of my troublesome questions answered by Jude.
It’s true that “elections have consequences,” and that statement has certainly been validated this time around. If we think back, it began way before the campaigns and it continues today. And as I read these verses I had to stop and contemplate the fact that I have been struggling with those consequences. Oh, not the results of the election but rather the whole process.
Jude 20-21 But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. ESV
The entire book of Jude is about those who have become apostate.
Jude 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. ESV
Apostasy is a word that troubles many and I am not going to go into it here other than to voice the words of Jude. The apostasy that was facing the church at its beginning is facing her today. Those who Jude addressed as apostates were the result of the “mixed multitude” that followed the Jews out of Egypt; those who did not believe, not those who believe but are backslidden. Suffice it to say for our purpose here, our world and our country and even the church today are surrounded and inhabited by apostates. They act the part in many cases but they are not among the genuinely saved. But what they represent and the threat they pose is what the Lord had me focus on as I read verses 20 and 21 and how do we deal with them.
I like the KJV version that translates verse 20 this way… Keep yourselves in the love of God. Keep in the Greek is tereo and it carries the thought of hold, preserve, observe or watch. It can also mean “to charge or adjure.” Jude tells us that when we engage the apostate in battle we are in peril. But not in peril of being convinced of their arguments but of allowing bitterness, dislike, hostility, anger, etc. to enter into our heart.
I had to admit … guilty as charged!
It is so easy to allow ourselves to become engaged in that battle and suffer the consequences of not “keeping” our focus on the love of God. How easy it is for me to forget the example that Jesus set for us when He was challenging the apostate leaders of Israel that were plotting His crucifixion. He never stopped loving them! He even tried to reach Judas at the very last moment of His betrayal. I’m afraid that I have found myself facing that very decision many many times during the past few years and have not always kept my focus on the love of God. And while there was no thought of ever escaping His love, it is very easy to stop enjoying it by allowing myself to entertain the bitterness that can easily accompany controversy. John Philips hit that nail square on the head when he said “we must be ever on the watch to ensure that combat does not overwhelm compassion, that hatred for the apostasy does not degenerate into hatred for the apostate, and that in our zeal we do not become zealots.” What a perfect answer and daunting challenge!
Apostasy and apostates have been around since the beginning and its head being raised as we approach the end of the church age is not only a challenge for the bride of Christ, it is also a very clear indication that we are approaching the soon return of our Bridegroom.
2 Thess 2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, ESV
Yes, we are surrounded with the spirit of apostasy that challenges us each and every day. And as I asked the Lord how we are supposed to deal with it and not allow bitterness and anger to rise up He just led me to the next verse…
Jude 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; ESV
And as I read that verse a number of words flooded my thoughts… kindness, compassion, patience, gentleness. And the caution not to get caught and pulled into a battle with flesh and bone, but rather to stay in the spiritual battle we have been created to wage. And for me that has been a challenge, a challenge to “keep” focused on the love of God and not the challenges of the apostasy that is currently ruling our world and our country.
The solution… focus inward on the righteousness we have been given, not outward on the threat facing us.
Say, you got a nice blog.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.
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