Contending for the Faith (Jude 3)
Jude 1:3 (NASB) Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
There is a terrible danger facing believers, a horrifying danger that always lies right over the horizon. What is it? The danger of false teaching. If a believer swallows false teaching, he dooms himself. No matter who the person is—no matter how well liked and influential and attractive his teachings may be—if he denies Jesus Christ and God’s Word, he is a false teacher.
The occasion of this letter, is the intrusion into the readers’ Christian assemblies of false teachers, impious people living and propagating a heretical form of the faith (v. 4). To meet the needs of this occasion, Jude focuses on a single theme: maintaining the truth of the Christian faith as it has been handed down from Christ and the apostles.
Jude has two major concerns—that the believers do not drift and that they will not be led astray by false teachers. He prays that they will instead take the initiative and contend for the faith. The word contend is to exert intense effort on behalf of something— ‘to struggle for’ ‘to encourage you to struggle for the faith’. N. T. Wright translates this as “I found it necessary to write to you to urge you to struggle hard for the faith which was once and for all given to God’s people.”
Jude urges believers to resist those who pervert the promises of grace into an excuse for sensuality. He urges believers to contend for the faith once for all delivered to them. In 1 Timothy 1:8–11 we learn that sensual sins, passions of the flesh, are contrary to “sound doctrine” and “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” What we learn in this passage in Jude and others is that God’s grace does not lead us away from our Master and Lord (Jude 4). Grace liberates us not only by forgiving us but also by freeing us from bondage to sin by instilling loyalty to Christ in our hearts. Because he has given himself for us, we give ourselves to him. The gospel transforms our desires from the inside out. We are led into righteousness by discovering that our life and joy are most full as we serve the One we most love.