We all long for mercy when we are hurting, wrong or wronged. Mercy is an attribute of our loving God and Savior. He gives us mercy, peace and love in Christ Jesus and we can rest in knowing that even when judgment comes, we are kept for Jesus Christ. We now wait anxiously for the mercy of Jesus Christ to eternal life at his appearing. What richness of grace and mercy is ours in Him!
Jude speaks much of the judgement and condemnation that is coming upon the ungodly who creep into our churches and turn the grace of God into licentiousness as they even deny the Lord. How fearsome their judgement will be on that day! There is a part of us that can only rejoice that they will be exposed for what they are and pay the price for their rebellion against our great Lord and Savior. But at the end of the mighty epistle written by Jude, is a reminder that we have been shown much mercy and therefore must be merciful as we are told in Mt 5:7. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.
Jude 22 instructs us to have mercy on the doubting. These false teachers who creep in create doubts and confusion about the truth, causing even true believers to be blown about by their winds of falsehood. Those of us who are able to see the lies must help expose the liars so the souls weakened by false teaching can find solid ground for their feet to stand on. It is true mercy to teach and warn those who are wavering. Love and mercy do not leave a doubting brother or sister to fend for themselves against these wolves.
We are told to save others, snatching them out of the fire. It can get hot and we sometimes get burned but those who are deceived must be literally snatched out of the deception they have fallen for. John Macarthur explains this “The implication is that they’re already in the fire of this false belief. They’ve been convinced. They’re not just confused, they’re not convinced. They’ve bought the lie of liberal theology. They’ve bought the lie that Jesus isn’t God. They’ve bought the lie that salvation is part by grace and part by works. They’ve bought the lie that whatever form of apostate Christianity they’re seduced by and they’re now in the fire, they’re already being singed by the fires of hell which will engulf them in the future. And the imagery is very vivid. Snatch them out of the fire, harpazo, to take by force, to carry away, to attack. Now we’re getting into language that is not gentle…not gentle. We’re snatching them out of the fire”
We are to have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. When we get too close to the fire in our efforts to contend for the truth, we can get pulled in to behaviors that are fleshly and we can get pulled into the deception of these ungodly persons. We must be aware of how easily we can fall and hate sin greatly if we are to be faithful. Our mercy must be grounded in the truths of God’s Word, in prayer and in the fellowship of saints who see the truth and understand the battle.
We are not lone rangers out there fighting on our own. We are to be part of a highly trained and well prepared team of saints who will wrestle against the ungodly for the glory of God. Our training comes from those things that Jude taught us about keeping ourselves in the love of God, which are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith, pray in the Spirit and keep our hope fixed on the soon return of our Lord. We must be people of the Word if we are to win this battle. But we must also be a people of great mercy always remembering the mercy we have been given.
We must never mistake mercy for weakness, or willingness to ignore sin by looking the other way. The truly merciful person will not sit by and watch someone walk into the fire and be destroyed. We will do all we can to pull them back and see them saved.