How goes the battle? How are you doing in contending for the faith? Having a good testimony as a Christian is often a struggle. The things that bring you joy don’t appeal to many of your peers. Your beliefs will sometimes be ridiculed. Don’t be surprised by any of this. The apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ told us that there would “be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 17-18). Opposition to your faith is likely to increase in your society. It won’t always be a blatant hatred for Christ, though. Sometimes it will be subtle, stemming from religion that has been hijacked by natural thinking. It becomes a challenge, then, to identify the right path. The pressure to be like everyone else increases. Living a life separated unto God becomes difficult. Being a good testimony? Some think that’s too much to ask. It’s too hard. You’re more concerned with whether you’ll even survive as a Christian. Will you survive? Will you be preserved?
Jude wrote his letter amidst an all-out attack on Christian testimony. Under a banner of Christian liberty, people were perverting God’s grace into an excuse for sensual lifestyles. Rebellious, selfish people were crashing the Christians’ fellowship. These ungodly people had weaseled their way into local churches and brought their worldly thinking and passions with them. The believers were surrounded by wickedness and were being pressured to follow the same ungodly path.
Will you survive the onslaught of opposition to your faith? Evil emissaries of the devil are also actively plotting your downfall. The world around you, engineered by that same evil one, is orchestrated to corrupt your mind and steer you away from the Lord. Within you, the flesh wars against the Spirit, urging you to give in to the world and to gratify self-centered impulses. Will you be kept safe through it all? You will. You must. You can.
You will be kept. Jude says you are “kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1, NAS). The safekeeping of your soul is secure because God is the One keeping you. You are not responsible to keep yourself in your salvation – you could not. 1 John 5:18 is no exception – it is actually telling us that the Lord Jesus protects us, not that we keep ourselves. Here in Jude, it is the Father. By speaking of God as our Father, Jude is emphasizing our relationship to God. If you have been born of God, then God is your Father and He always will be. The same thing is being taught in John 10. “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). This is eternal security, the divine safekeeping of your soul. You are “kept for Jesus Christ.” Since it is for Jesus Christ, and it is Jesus Christ’s joy and glory that are at stake, the Father is not going to disappoint His Son by failing to keep some of those whom Christ has redeemed. The Lord Jesus prayed to His Father, “Now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me” (John 17:11). That prayer is being answered. You are kept for Jesus Christ.
That doesn’t mean you can be irresponsible in your faith. You must keep yourself. How does that jive with the preceding paragraph? Jude 21 says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” This is not keeping your position in Christ. Nor does it mean you are responsible to make God love you, as if you could earn God’s love. No, God is love, and there is a particular bond between God and His dear children that is unbreakable. But your enjoyment of His love is your responsibility. Keep yourself in the good of His love. Keep enjoying it. Take time to thrill your soul with it. Let your mind dwell upon His love. Sin has a hardening effect upon your heart. The wickedness of the world can weaken your devotion and your enjoyment of God. “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt 24:12, NKJV). So amidst a sensual, corrupted, greedy world, Jude gives you a command : “Keep yourselves in the love of God.”
What about the need to be kept from stumbling in your faith? Will you be guarded from making a mess of it? Will you be kept from giving others a reason to dismiss the Christian faith? You can be. Using a different word for “keep,” Jude says “Now to Him Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24-25, NAS). The One Who will keep you safe for Jesus Christ, and in a perfect standing in Christ, is able to keep you from stumbling. At verse 1 it was based on a divine relationship – God as your Father. Here, the keeping is in regard to your present testimony and it is based on divine power – God as Saviour. You know that succumbing will be disastrous, but you feel that the temptation is overwhelming, and you don’t know if you can continue to resist. God is able to keep you. You are sometimes disappointed with the lack of apparent results in your service, and you feel like throwing in the towel. God is able to keep you. You know they mean well, but the comments from other believers in the fellowship aren’t helping; you’re thinking about taking an extended leave of absence from the meetings. God is able to keep you. You are developing a keen sense of your own weakness and your susceptibility to failure. Good, because in your own strength, you will not make it in your testimony for the Lord. Your survival in the spiritual battle for your soul requires divine strength. Thankfully, God is able to keep you.
Kept, safely kept; my fears away are swept;
In weakness to my God I cling, though foes be strong I calmly sing,
Kept, safely kept.
Kept by His power, whatever dangers lower.
The strength of God’s almighty arm, doth shield my soul from every harm,
Kept by His power.
– Blane, William. Believers Hymnbook, #121