THINK: Many Christians like to flaunt their spiritual freedom by disregarding anything that remotely resembles a religious rule or constraint. They feel that since spiritual salvation is a result of God's grace - His unearned, undeserved favor and love - they are not obligated to follow such "legalistic" standards. The problem is that they end up disregarding many of the moral standards of God's law. Some people go so far as to think that it doesn't really matter what they do, as long as they believe the right things. But this abuses God's grace, and can ultimately lead a person to justify all kinds of morally questionable and spiritually destructive behaviors - both in their own lives and in those who follow their example. Those who get caught up in this misguided reasoning want to rely on God's pardon for sin while neglecting His command for holiness - moral purity, spiritual wholeness, sepa- ration from evil and dedication to God.
RESPOND: From an earthly standpoint, what was Jude's relationship to Jesus? (See 1:1 note.) How can God's mercy, peace and love be compounded in our lives? (See 1:2 note.) What does it mean "to contend for the faith"? (See 1:3 note.) Why is this necessary, and what practical ways can we do this in our daily lives? In what ways might this spiritual struggle cost you personally? How were the godless men who had come into the church distorting God's grace and the message of Christ? (See 1:4 note.) In what way was their teaching promoting immoral behavior? (See the "Background" section of the Introduction to Jude.) Why do some people - even in the church - see nothing wrong with such behavior? In what way do they detach their beliefs from their behaviors? How do they tend to view God's forgiveness and salvation? (See 1:4 note.) How are God's dealings with the ancient Is- raelites, fallen angels, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah an example to people in the church today (vv. 5-7)? (See 1:6 and 1:7 notes.) Who were "these dreamers" (v. 8), and how did they behave? (See 1:8 notes.) How is the archangel, Michael, an example to us regarding our attitudes and response toward the devil and spiritual battles? (See 1:9 note.) What did Michael rely on to prevail over the devil? In what ways were the deceptive dreamers behaving like Cain, Balaam and Korah? (See 1:11 note.) What do the metaphors, or symbolic illustrations, in verses 12-13 indicate about these selfish individuals? (See 1:12-13 note.) What does it mean that they are "twice dead"? (See 1:12 note.) What is significant about the repetitive use of the term "ungodly" in verse 15? (See 1:15 note.) Why did the false teachers boast and flatter other people (v. 16)? In what way was it evident that the divisive teachers did not follow God or have His Spirit? (See 1:19 note.) How can you build yourself up in faith, and why is this vital? (See 1:20 note.) What does it mean to "pray in the Holy Spirit"? (See 1:20 note, sub point 2.) To whom are Christ's followers to "show mercy, mixed with fear" (v. 23), and what does that imply? (See 1:23 note.) Why must we use caution as we do this? In light of Jude's warnings about corruption and deception, what encourage- ment and assurance does he leave us with regarding faith in Jesus? (See 1:24 note.)
PRAY: Thank Jesus for His ever-increasing mercy, peace and love in your life. Ask Him to help you boldly, firmly and graciously defend His truth, regardless of the cost. Pray that your beliefs will always be founded on God's truth and that your behavior will be consistent with those beliefs. Pray that you will never abuse God's grace by trying to justify morally questionable thoughts or behaviors. Pray for discernment when people compliment you with selfish or deceptive motives. Pray for a compassion toward those who sincerely struggle with doubts about their faith.
ACT: Do a school project or paper on an issue related to your faith or godly standards. Make any changes nec- essary to bring your behavior in line with your beliefs (as long as those beliefs are in line with God's Word). Do something practical to encourage someone you know who is struggling with doubts about the Christian faith.