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Our Guarantee [1-21-24]

January 21, 2024

Jude 24-25

“Our Guarantee”

Last week, I failed to deliver on two promises. And for that I apologize.

I said we’d get to some ensuing crudity. And we did not.

I also said we’d wrap up verses twenty-two and twenty-three. We did not do that, either. I make no promises for today.

Here’s Jude 21-23, once more:

Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

First observation. We have the responsibility to show mercy on those who are confused. We don’t write them off because they are far away from God. We don’t write them off because they are weak. We don’t write them off because they haven’t made a commitment to God. We understand that they are God’s children, created in His image, and need to hear the mercy of the gospel.

Second observation. We are called to show mercy to those who have bought the lies. For whatever reason, they were faithful and then they were drawn in by false teachers. This is the bigger challenge. These are the folks who are out of the frying pan and into the fire. They bought the lies. The are owning the lies. It’s so bad, Jude says they are already being singed by hell. Jude is talking about a merciful rescue operation.

Consider this scenario. It’s a true story.

There was a rather large church in a rather large city. On Easter morning, the pastor preached that Jesus wasn’t bodily resurrection. He was resurrected in the hearts and minds of his disciples. And he continues to be resurrected in the lives of his followers as we engage in acts of social justice in his name. When I read this I realized there was something worse than churches having Easter egg hunts. Who would have thunk a mainline Christian pastor would preach such lies on Easter morning?

How would you have responded? Do you think there were clues that this man was a wolf in sheep’s clothing prior to that Easter morning? Do you think discerning believers had already left that church because they knew something wasn’t right? Do you think visitors ever came back? What could you do to snatch this church out of the fire? Or should you even try?

Jude says that regardless of the situation, we are to be merciful. Not toward the false teacher. He is held to a higher standard. But to all others. Even when someone has bought the lie of liberal theology. Mercy has to be the driving force of our response. Look at it this way…be kind yet firm. 

That’s what I love about what God is doing in our church. We are kind yet 

firm. I know if I ever went off the deep-end, you would call me on it. And if I failed to repent and course correct, you’d know my time was up. I love knowing that you will not waver. There is no compromising with the truth.

First, Jude says we show mercy to the confused.

Second, he says we show mercy to those who have bought in to the lies.

And the third powerful point Jude makes is we are to hate even the garment stained by the flesh. 

Hate is a strong word. I once quoted Paul from Romans 12:9. The translation I used has it, “Hate what is evil.” The Greek word literally means “to detest utterly.” I’ll never forget how someone challenged me on saying “hate” in church. This family taught their children never to say “hate.” It was a banned four-letter word. Interesting.

For ease of understanding, a good number of translations use “hate” in 

Romans 12:9.

Not so in Jude twenty-three. Jude uses miseo, which is almost always translated at “hate.” And so, Jude forcefully says, “hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”

Why does he do that? What’s the point? The answer leads us to the ensuing crudity that I promised last week.

Before we get to the specifics, the general observation. The fear is that we might be corrupted by the already corrupted. Hence, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. There is evil so vile, that any kind proximity might corrupt. You can’t make friends with that kind of wickedness. These people are, as one pastor describes them, agents of the kingdom of darkness. They are highly skilled in manipulation and entrapment.

I am thinking here of charismatic pastors and preachers. Charisma is a 

huge draw. It can also cover a variety of flaws, faults, foibles, and false teaching. Some of us are what I call charisma black holes. We are where charisma goes to die. And we’re okay with that. Others are almost irresistible. You could sell ice to an Alaskan with charisma and an Irish accent.

I’m talking about some pastors and Christian authors and conference speakers who sell tons of books and churn out Bible study material for the Christian marketplace. And here’s what happens. Here’s where the charisma comes in. Sometimes – and not everyone falls into this category – but when these highly sought after preachers and authors veer off-course, their devotees makes excuses and justifications for the corrupted or erroneous teaching. Sometimes the mighty have fallen. And sometimes the fallen mighty build themselves back up. And sometimes people ignore the warning signs as they continue to gobble up their products.

The first thing we need to remember is mercy. Jude directs us to a merciful 

approach in all situations. Kindness and mercy.

Jude follows that up with hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 

Another story from years ago. Years ago, in a sermon, I was talking about something that disappears fast. I used the quite elegant turn-of-phrase, “Like a flea’s fart in the wind.” You’re welcome…feel free to use it anytime. Just more of my charisma on display.

Anyway, I had a few complaints that day. Different people…different families…same theme. That word was forbidden in their homes. They considered it a four-letter-word. Yikes. One of them was a grown adult man who had a problem with “fart.” Are you kidding me? I’d love to delve into that upbringing.

Jude digs deep into graphic language to make his very important point here in verse twenty-three.

Let’s set it up with two other biblical examples.

When we studied Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we noted how he used a word translated politely as garbage. Here’s how the English Standard Version translates it:

“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

The word he used was a crude Greek word for excrement. See how polite I can be?

Our second example is from the Old Testament. Isaiah 64:6 says:

“We have all become like one who is unclean,    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.We all fade like a leaf,    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

Some translations render the phrase translated here, “polluted garment,” as “filthy rags.” The point is, Isaiah is using the Hebrew word for menstrual cloth. If a person is into hand-wringing and pearl-clutching, certain parts of 

the Bible are not for them.

Jude joins Paul and Isaiah. Here is what he means.

In Jude’s day, there were two basic kinds of clothing people wore. There was an outer garment and then there was your underwear…the garment you wore against your body. Cloaks went over tunics. Jude is talking about the garment over which the cloak is worn. In this case, it looks clean on the outside, but is filthy on the inside.

Here's the challenge. We are to have mercy even on the people wearing polluted undergarments. They have soiled themselves in a filthy manner. They have been defiled by the flesh.

I think we get the analogy. There is a two-pronged approach. Those who have wandered dangerously close to the fire need our kindness and mercy. Even when they are literally wearing soiled undergarments.

On the other hand, we are to avoid the wicked teachers like the plague. 

You wouldn’t pick up someone’s filthy undergarment soiled by bodily function. And that’s what these false teachers were like. As Jude described several times, they were lost in their sensuality. Their celebration of the communal meal, including communion, would end in an orgy. Literally. Then they would dress, their putting back on their undergarments stained through various bodily functions. I hope I am clear without being too graphic. Jude minces no words.

Spiritual discernment rests in knowing how to be merciful without being defiled. Jude ends this section on spiritual perseverance with the warning to proceed with caution. False doctrine and wickedness stain all those who teach it and believe it. So we have to be careful. Here’s how Paul puts it in Romans 16:17:

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”

That’s exactly what Jude teaches in this section. I love the consistency of God’s Word.

As we prepare to move on to the final two verses of Jude’s letter, called a 

doxology, we’re grateful for his warning and encouragement. The warning is against spiritual defilement. The encouragement is that, even in moments of weakness, we cannot lose our salvation. We are kept for 

Jesus Christ.

I love how R.C. Sproul put it:


God, through Christ and Christ alone, will keep us from falling. He will keep us from stumbling. He will fill us with great joy. How? By keeping us faithful to His Word. We will be vigilant in worship, prayer, knowing God’s Word, and serving the needs of others. That is how God protects us from wickedness.

Let’s pray:



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