As we begin to focus on the purpose of this epistle, we see that Jude’s original desire was to write about our common salvation shared in Christ (v.3). The need to change his purpose is seen in the next verse (v. 4). That men “crept in “unawares” (“unnoticed” NKJV) should cause us to stop and think. That such could happen in spite of the many warnings given by Jesus, Paul, and Peter, how much easier for this to happen today when we live in a time far removed from the initial warnings?
In light of this, Jude’s call to “contend earnestly for the faith” becomes even more relevant and needful for us today. We ought to appreciate the need to contend for the faith. And we should understand the “how” when it comes to contending earnestly for the faith. And so, in this study, we want to concentrate on how this is to be accomplished.
1. We must contend earnestly. “The expression that is here translated contend earnestly, is related to the English word agony. The term is associated with strife and combat of a most vigorous and determined variety, this is to be a continuing struggle.” (The Believers’ Study Bible).
Therefore, the use of such an expression suggests that this is a serious matter. We are at war! Paul described the nature of our warfare in II Corinthians 10:3-6 and again in Ephesians 6:10-13. This means that this is not a time to be unprepared; we must arm ourselves! We must contend with vigor, even to the point of agony, for “the faith once delivered to the saints.”
2. We must use the weapons at our disposal. Paul describes our weaponry in Ephesians 6:13-18. We are to be girded with truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, and watching (vigilant) and prayer.
Notice that most of these are for our own defense, lest we be lost in the struggle! The element of truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, and salvation are needed for our own salvation as much as for those we seek to conquer. We must make sure that we first “cast out the beam out of our own eye,” so that we will be able to see clearly how to “cast out the mote out of our brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). Some are so quick to take up the “sword,” they leave the rest of their armor behind!
Paul also had something to say about the weapons that are “mighty through God” (II Cor. 10:4) such as the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (II Cor. 10:1), making sure that we are first “spiritual,” and then displaying gentleness and caution (Gal. 6:1), refraining from quarrels, using gentleness, and the Word, with patience and humility correcting the opposition (II Tim. 2:23-26).
Next week we will attempt to draw some conclusions from what we have learned.