Monday, May 22, 2006
Keep Yourselves In The Love Of God
I'll bet it's been awhile since you've read the book of Jude.
It's an interesting epistle, because Jude started out to write an encouraging letter about our salvation, and changed direction under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He was led to write about "contending for the Faith", because of false teachers that were abounding.
And in the midst of this very serious letter about false teaching, Jude says something very important for us to remember as we are contending for the Faith.
In verse 21 (Jude is only one chapter), he writes, "...keep yourselves in the love of God."
Have you ever seen the optical illusion of the 3-dimensional box? If you focus your eyes one way, you see the outside surface of the box. If you focus your eyes another way, you see the inside surface of the box.
Jude 21 is like that. Does Jude refer to God's love for you...or your love for God? Well, it's both.
1. Keep yourself in His love for you.
This must come first. We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19)
Doubting God's love comes from Law-based thinking. We know we can't measure up perfectly to our every duty, and so we think God loves us less. This is, of course, unbiblical, and Grace is the antidote. God loves us unconditionally, and we need to remember that. We need a crash course in Grace every day. Peter wrote in 2 Pet. 2:12,13,
"Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, "
We need to be reminded that we are His beloved.
Why is this important? Because if we’re not appropriating the love of God for us….if we’re not basking in His love and grace….then we will not be able to be filled with His Holy Spirit, and we won’t be able to walk by the Spirit….and that means we won’t have the fruit of the Spirit, and the primary fruit of the Spirit is love.
2. Keep yourself in your love for Him.
This requires walking by the Spirit. This requires being filled with the Spirit.
Jude precedes vs. 21 by saying in vs. 20, "But you, beloved, [see that word "beloved"? That’s us], but you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit".
See how we can build ourselves up in the faith? We can do that, through reading the word of God, through meditation on Jesus, on God the Father and His word, through shutting out the world and it’s noises for a time, and listening to the Lord, through praying while we’re filled with the Spirit, through thirsting after God like the deer pants after the waterbrook.
We love Him because He first loved us. But we can’t let Religion choke out this love.
I love theology. I love the study of God in His word, in depth. I want to know all I can about Him and His ways. That’s theology at it’s best. And I even love a good debate. Jude even says in vs. 3 that we should contend earnestly for the faith. I love that.
But nothing, I repeat nothing, takes the place of keeping ourselves in the love of God.
Did you know there are two letters to the Ephesians in the New Testament? The first is the epistle we call the book of Ephesians, written by Paul the Apostle. The other is the letter of Jesus to the church at Ephesus, as recorded by John in Revelation 2:1-7.
Jesus commends the Ephesian church for doing something good. That good thing they did was to contend for the faith. They recognized and fought doctrinal error in the church. But then Jesus tells them something very sad.
The Ephesian church had left their first love.
Did they apostasize? Turn against Jesus, lose their salvation? No, of course not. They merely failed to do what Jude exhorts us to do: "Keep yourselves in the love of God."
Don’t underestimate this, beloved.
Don’t be like the church at Ephesus. "Keep yourselves in the love of God."
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