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Contending for Our Sanctification

Jim Davis

Jude 1:1-2
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. (NKJ)

Jude writes to those who have been sanctified by God; sanctification is the result of having been reconciled to God through Christ. God has called the recipients of this letter into a life of sanctification through Jesus Christ. The result of sanctification is that they have found the mercy, the peace and the love of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

Contending for the faith in the context of Jude's letter has to do with living sanctified lives. When God sanctifies each of us, he sanctifies us for the purpose of living heaven's will.

Jude 1:3
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

When we willfully fail to live up to God's calling we are refusing to contend for the faith and we deny God. It is a lot easier to be contentious over our doctrines than it is to live up to what we believe. However, when we refuse to live up to what we believe we deny what we believe.

Jude writes, "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. Their only interest is in feeding themselves. Jude writes, "These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm-- shepherds who feed only themselves." (Jude 1:12 NIV)

They are godless men who creep into our lives. Jude speaks of sin that creeps into the back door and before we know it we are overtaken by it.

When we refuse to live holy lives we turn the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ.

Jude 1:4
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (NIV)

We reject the authority of God when we refuse to use our bodies to the glory God's kingdom.

Jude 1:8-10
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals-- these are the very things that destroy them. (NIV)

The Nature of Sanctification

Jude is reminding Christians of their glorious calling through the love of God, but he can't just stop with a word of encouragement. He must warn them to live sanctified lives.

Too often sanctification is a forgotten blessing because we forget why we have been sanctified. Sanctification has to do with God setting our lives apart for his use. When God sent his Son into the world, he sanctified Jesus to do his will. God has sanctified his Son (John 10:36), and Christ sanctified himself for us (John 17:19). Doing the Fathers will was the purpose of Christ coming. That was Jesus' calling.

Christian sanctification is used in three ways. First sanctification refers to our position before God. Our sanctification begins in the heart of God and not in the will of men. God has chosen to give us perfect standing before him. God has counted us righteous as a result of Christ’s sacrifice. Our position before God is the result of his love and forgiveness. It is Christ’s righteousness that gives us perfect standing before God. We are saints because of God's sanctifying work on our behalf through Jesus Christ.

Jude says we are preserved in Jesus Christ. (v. 2) He means that Christ has secured our position before God through his sacrifice on the cross. However, sanctification doesn't begin and end with our position.

Secondly, there is also a progressive sanctification. This has to do with victory over sin through personal growth. Christ secures our position before God immediately when we are saved, but this must move us toward maturity in Christ. Jude is concerned about our progressive sanctification. The message of sanctification has been delivered, but now they must embrace it with their lives.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-6
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. (NIV)

Philippians 2:12-16
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. (NIV)

God has sanctified us and Christ is protecting us, but we must pursue sanctification.

Hebrews 12:14
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (NIV)

Third, Christ will completely sanctify us when he comes at his second coming. We will be changed into his likeness and taken to heaven. Our expectation of Christ like perfection should intensify our pursuit of personal sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

Characteristics of Unsanctified Lives

Jude’s letter is full of descriptive terms to describe those who are living unsanctified lives.

Ungodly men (v. 4)
Dreamers that defile the flesh (v. 8)
Reject authority (v. 8)
Speak evil of dignitaries (v. 8)
Speak evil of whatever they do not know (v. 10)
Like brute beasts, … corrupt themselves (v. 10)
Serve only themselves (v. 12)
They are clouds without water (v. 12)
Late autumn trees without fruit (v. 12)
Raging waves of sea that foam to their own shame (v. 13)
They are "wandering stars: (v. 13)
They are murmurers and complainers (v. 16)
They "walk according to their own lusts (vv. 16,18)
They mouth great swelling words (v. 16)
They flatter people to gain advantage (v. 16)
They cause divisions (v. 19)
They are sensual (v. 19)
They don’t have the spirit of God (v. 19)

God’s Judgment of the Unsanctified

To live unsanctified lives will bring the judgement of God. When we do all these things under the guise of religion it makes matters worse.

Jude 1:5-11
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home-- these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals-- these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion. (NIV)

The Lord destroyed those who didn’t believe (v. 5)
He has reserved disobedient angels in everlasting chains under darkness for the day of judgement. (v. 6)
They shall suffer "the vengeance of eternal fire" (v. 7)
Woe to them (v. 11)

Jude 1:14-16
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (NIV)

2 Peter 2:18-22
For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-- for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." (NIV)

How to Contend for the Faith

In order to contend for the faith we must remember the Word of God.

Jude 1:17-19
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (NIV)

From the beginning Satan has attacked the authority of God's Word. He knows that only the truth of the Word can protect us from his lies. Whenever somebody offers you a new revelation, test it by what the Word of God says. You will discover the revelation is a lie.

Isaiah 8:19-20
When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. (NIV)

John 7:17
If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. (NIV)

We must remember there can be no sanctification without the Word of God.

John 17:17-21
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (NIV)

Living sanctified lives has to do with accepting God’s authority for our lives.

Jude 1:8-10
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals-- these are the very things that destroy them. (NIV)

Too many live according to their natural instincts as a result of having rejected the authority of god. They are like unreasoning animals.

These verses also teach that we reject the authority of God when we resort to slander to defend what we believe. We don't know any more about the burial of Moses body than what we read here, but we learn how to deal with the devil. When you have a dispute with the devil, you can't get down on his level. When we get on the devil's level, we deny the authority of God.

We must contend for the faith through building our lives through a personal faith. Faith in Christ is the foundation of our lives. There is no other foundation. (Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 3:11) Subjective faith is built on God's objective standard of truth.

Jude 1:20-21
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (NIV)

We remain faithful by keeping ourselves in the love of God. (v. 21) John taught that we remain in the love of God when we obey his commands.

1 John 5:2-4
This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (NIV)

The power for living sanctified lives comes through "praying in the Holy Spirit." The Word of God and prayer go together in spiritual growth. We need to use God's Word for the purpose of directing our prayers to our spiritual needs. His Word tells us what we need and what we can have. Allow God's Spirit filled Word to direct your prayers to getting God's will done in your life. When we yield to the Spirit's instruction, the Spirit begins to seek God's will for our lives.

Romans 8:26-28
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

Contending for the Faith Demands Discernment

Jude 1:22-23
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-- hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (NIV)

Have you ever dropped something in a fire and tried to snatch it from the fire. Well being merciful to those who doubt and hating their sin is just as tricky. Angels took Lot by the hand and led him out of Sodom. It takes a lot of discernment to save souls and lived sanctified lives. Most of us don't have the patience it takes to contend for the faith or courage to work with others on this personal level.

It takes a lot of discernment to work with those who are being led astray. Sometimes believers are ignorant and unstable.

Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV)

You must commit yourself to Jesus Christ.

Christ is able to keep us sanctified if we are willing.

Jude 1:24-25
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (NIV)

Conclusion:

The battle against false teachers is not to be won by mere argument or intellect. Building sanctified lives involves the Word, the Spirit and prayer.

Jude 1:9
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (NIV)

 

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