But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
The love of God! We have lost it today. We have turned our back on the ocean and are looking over barren, colorless hills for the ocean’s fullness. We need converting again—a turning around to see the ocean’s fullness, the waves sparkling and rippling on fathomless deeps.
We are too introspective today. We mourn and wonder, then lifted on waves of feeling, we glow and say we love God. But again our feelings ebb and flow and we mourn. Christianity, however, is not a thing of times and seasons but of God and faith. Drink deep and full of the love of God and you will not demand the impossible from earth’s loves. The love of wife and child, of husband and friend, will grow holier, healthier, simpler, and grander.
Before we come to Jude’s glorious exhortation, there are initial truths to be considered. The love of God is not revealed by intellectual discernment; it is a spiritual revelation. What ups and downs we experience because we build on feeling rather than faith, not on the finished work of Christ but on our own work and endeavor and experience.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith . . .”
Is that what you are doing every day? Do you have family worship? Do you have private devotions? Do you read your Bible more and more? Can you answer yes to these questions, or does your spirit give a hesitant no to God? Family worship is so far off, so remote; you remember your father and mother who prayed and talked of sin and righteousness and judgment to come, but you have other things to heed. You, of course, are more enlightened; you read skeptical, controversial books that attack the foundations of your faith.
If these things have crept into our hearts unawares, let us return with penitence and consider the foundation on which we build our most holy faith: the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (john 3:16). Let us get down to the cross, to the broken heart of our God, down to the sacrifice that paid for our sins. Let us put away the books that have sapped our faith; let us cut off the interests and the relationships that have weighed our lives down to the dust. Then, looking to Jesus, let us build ourselves up in our most holy faith.
“. . . praying in the Holy Spirit . . .”
That is the next step after laying the foundation of faith. Nothing is so hard as to pray properly. Do you pray for God’s servants till your heart glows? Do you ask for your minister to be set ablaze with divine fire? Do you pray Sunday after Sunday that souls may be converted to God? “Praying in the Holy Spirit”—have you ever asked for the Holy Spirit?
We can only keep ourselves in the love of God by building ourselves up in our most holy faith—by Holy Spirit praying, and by nothing else. If we try to fight God’s battles with our own weapons, with our own moral power, we shall fail and fail miserably. But if we use the spiritual weapons of implicitly trusting God and maintaining a simple relationship to Jesus Christ by praying in the Holy Spirit, we shall never fail.
“. . . keep yourselves in the love of God. . .”
We know how to keep ourselves in health, how to keep ourselves in knowledge, and so on; but to keep ourselves in the love of God is a big order. Our minds are exercised to know what Jude means by this exhortation. Does it mean by relaxing all severity to slip into a broad, humanitarian spirit—as Robert Browning has said, “God’s in His heaven—all’s right with the world”?
No, it cannot mean anything so natural as that; otherwise we would have no need of an inspired writer to tell us to do it. Besides, Jude strikes terrible notes of warning (see vv. 17–19). “Keep yourselves in the love of God” refers very clearly to something distinct and special, something revealed in the direct will of God; a spiritual endeavor that we must consider, and consider carefully with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Keep means work. It is not a lazy floating; it is work. Work, or you will depart from the love of God. Begin to trace the finger of God and the love of God in the great calamities of earth, and in the calamities that have befallen you. In sweat of brain and spirit, work—agonize at times—to keep yourself in the love of God. It is our wisdom, our happiness, our security to keep ourselves in the love of God.
How do I keep myself in any sphere but by using every means to stay there? If I wish to keep in the spiritual sphere of the love of God, I must use the great instrument of the spiritual realm, which is faith. “God loves me”—say it over and over and over, without thought to your feelings that come and go. Do not live at a distance from God; live near Him, delighting yourself in Him. Remove all barriers of selfishness and fear, and plunge into the fathomless love of God.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God.” The Bible does not say, “keep on loving God”—no one can do that. When once you have understood the truth about your own heart’s sinfulness, don’t think of it again. Instead, look at the great, vast, measureless magnificence of the love of God. May we be driven, further and further, into the ocean fullness of the love of God! And may we take care that nothing entices us out again.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Oh, the fullness of peace and joy and gladness when we are persuaded that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (romans 8:35, 39).