Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have mercy on some - Jude 22-25

"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. 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, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 22-25)
One of the greatest mistakes we can make is to treat all people and situations the same. There is a great difference between people who believe wrong and those who teach wrong. Just because someone may have an in correct view of Jesus, the Trinity, and the church does not make them a false teacher. Just because someone has a different eschatology does not make them a false prophet. There will always be those in our midst, and even in our churches, that hold what we might conciser to be "new age" beliefs, but this does not make them heretics or believers in daemons. There are those whose teaching and agenda we should oppose, especially when pushed forward within the church, but there are others whom we ought to have mercy and compassion on, even while they hold incorrect views and ideas in their heads.

This verse has proven difficult to translate. Here is how Darby translates this verse. "And of some have compassion, making a difference, but others save with fear, snatching [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." (Jude 22-23 Darby) Jude tells us to "make a difference," or to make a distinction between individuals, as each situation and person warrants. False prophets and false teachers we ought to oppose, but others, who may simply be wrong, deserve a more merciful response.

Jude distinguishes between two types of error: what a person believes and what a person does. On those who "are doubting," as some translate this verse, we are to have mercy. A doubting person, or a person who entertains incorrect ideas and thoughts, does not need our judgment, but rather our prayers and our instruction; our prayers that God would enlighten their hearts and our instruction that they might come to a more correct knowledge and understanding of God. As Paul was teaching the Philippians, he understood that there might be those who disagreed with him, yet he was not alarmed nor critical of them, rather he stated, "Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you." (Philippians 3:15) Paul was not threatened by believers that disagreed with him, trusting that God would reveal even that to them. Also, there will always be people who need our instruction. For example, there was a mighty preacher, Apollos, who taught the Gospel but only from an incomplete knowledge of it. When Aquila and Priscilla met him, they did not condemn him, rather they took him aside and taught him. "But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately." (Acts 18:26)

For those who believe right yet behave wrong, Jude also counsels us to have mercy on them. However, Jude makes a distinction between the sin, and the stain of sin, and the actual person. We are to hate the sin and everything associated with it, yet we are to have mercy on the one sinning and to reach out to them in mercy to snatch them from their sin and from its inevitable judgment. We are to see them as people being consumed by fire, the fire that is the penalty of sin, and to endeavor to spare them, least they burn and be lost forever. Paul commands us, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." (Galatians 6:1) Paul writes of those who are "caught" in sin. There are those who willfully choose sin, but there are others who are caught in sin, desiring to be free. On those we ought to have mercy; looking beyond their sin to the person and endeavoring to save them and to snatch them from the fire.

In all this, we must remember that we too might someday be the ones caught in error and sin. We too are fallible and capable of wrong. In that day we too would wish and desire the mercy of others to set us free; that same mercy that we ought to be willing to show to those today who are caught in such lies. However, whether trying to rescue others or wanting someone to rescue us, we must always remember to place our hope and trust is in God. He alone is able to save and protect us and He alone will lead us safely home.

David Robison

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