Putting Up a Fight
All throughout church history, there have been certain beliefs that make a Christian, a Christian: the deity of Jesus Christ, the vicarious atonement, the bodily resurrection, the virgin birth, the second coming of Jesus to the earth. But cults and heresies have also been around since the beginning, denying the basic doctrines of Christianity and seeking to twist and pervert the gospel.
The church in Jude's time was in a state of apostasy--falling away from the true faith. When Jude sat down to write his fiery little letter, he intended to write a quiet devotional that dealt with our common salvation, but the Spirit of God impressed on him a new direction: "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (1:3). To contend earnestly for the faith means put up a good fight for it, to defend it.
And how do we do this? If you've got people, cults, and false doctrines all around you denying Jesus Christ and telling you that you can live any way you want, what do you do? Look at verses 20-21: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." The resource in the midst of this kind of apostasy is to maintain a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
And how do you do that? First of all, build yourself up in the most holy faith--the body of faith Jude spoke about in verse 3, "once for all delivered to the saints": the Scriptures. Have you ever met a strong, vibrant, bold, powerful believer who didn't spend time in the Word of God? I haven't--not even once. Stick close to the Word of God. Read it every day.
Secondly, "Praying in the Holy Spirit." This could literally be translated, "Pray being led or guided by the Spirit of God, according to the will of God." This is in contrast to the mechanical, ritualistic kind of praying that many of us grew up with. It's something that's real and from the heart.
Third, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." That doesn't mean keep yourself in a place where God can love you. You're unlovable--and I am, too! But God doesn't love me because I'm a nice person; He loves me in spite of who I am. His love is like the sun: it constantly shines. However, just like with sunshine, you can block the rays from getting to you. Sin can block the experience of His love. So get rid of the sins that are keeping you from experiencing that love.
Fourth, "Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." That word looking means eagerly expecting. In other words, be ready for Him to return, for Him to come and show mercy to you.
So, keep yourself in the love of God. Pray in the Spirit. Build yourself up in the most holy faith. Get into the Word. Continue to pray. Continue to fellowship. And if you want to be kept by Him, you will be (see v. 24). Know what you believe and why you believe it so that when somebody comes and tries to pass off something false, you'll be able to spot it.