Christian Ethics 2022

Contending for the Faith Today - Lessons in Jude

May 16, 2023 10:13:03 AM / by Gavin Peacock

This General Session was recorded live at the Shepherds 360 Church Leaders Conference in Cary, NC on October 19, 2022. For information about the next conference, please visit


This transcript was created by an automatic transcript generator, and may contain minor errors and mistakes compared to the original recording as a result.


Good morning, everyone. Wonderful to be with you. I don't have a lot of time this morning. I've been trying to negotiate for an extra few minutes with the doctor. But he's, he's tough. He won't let me go too long. And he said, if I go too long, that big shepherd's crook will come on, drag me off. I said, I'm used to being substituted during my soccer career. So not a problem. But I want us to dive straight into the book of Jude. So go to Revelation, turn left, and you get to Jude. I'm gonna read the whole passage, which will take two or three minutes, but I want us to feel the weight of the word, before we dive in and look at it in depth.


Book of Jude verse one:


1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


Friends, there is a conflict, a war against God and against God's people going on. And the greatest battle we are in is the battle for truth. The attack on Truth has manifested itself particularly in the area of human sexuality and sexual ethics. And under the pressure of an immoral culture, our conclusion has too often been that the Bible is insufficient to deal with sexual turmoil, rebellion, depression, dysphoria, and so on that people experience. And so we've often adopted the world's philosophies and empty strategies to deal with it. Moreover, the greatest threat to the Christian church occurs actually not from the culture outside, but from the inside. When its own pastors and teachers deny those very trues that they have been entrusted to proclaim. And in our day, in this cosmic war, as it were, it's as if a Trojan horse has secretly entered the evangelical city, and within it are contained erroneous teachings on sexuality, which actually undermine significant doctrines, the doctrine of sin and man, a doctrine of grace, the Gospel itself. And so we must prepare to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude tells us in this letter, who must contend, what we contend for, against whom we must contend, and how we must contend for things that we'll look at in a moment. But I want us to see before we dive into those four main points that he writes to us in the context of love, if you just look at the beginning, Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ, may mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you. Those to whom he writes are identified within the life and love of the Triune God. That's what he's hinting at here. They are sovereignly called, supernaturally effectively called by the Holy Spirit, they are beloved of God, the Farther, they are kept by Jesus Christ preserved even by the hand of our Lord, who unfailingly died for believers.


And then as his threefold prayer, mercy, peace and love, multiplied to you, He saved you beloved of God. And so I pray for more mercy, more peace, more love, to be extended to you, so that you can extend that in your ministry, because you will need it as you contend for the faith. Telling people to contend for the faith here is not against the idea of love friends. In fact, the apostle Paul tells us elsewhere that Love rejoices in the truth. And Jude says, contend for the faith, contend for the faith brothers and sisters. So here are some lessons from Jude to help us contend for the faith in the area of sexuality.


Lesson one: we are all called to contend. This is the who. We are all called to contend. Every Christian in here is called to contend. He's speaking to the beloved, that is the church not to a special class of Christian ninjas. You know, those people that have all the best arguments and can outdo everyone and in any, you know, in these evangelical debates? No, it is to the one who is called beloved, kept by the Triune God. So contending is not about being gifted. It's about being called. If you're called, then contend you must. What is it to contend to contend in the Greek it’s a hard word to say at this time in the morning, but to agonize. It denotes wrestling, a hand to hand combat a military or athletic term, intense struggle is in view. And that's one of the reasons why people tend to turn away because it's hard. If you to contend, then you need to know the grace of God for you. You need to know your beloved you need to know there's a supply of mercy peace and love for you. It's going to be the fuel the oxygen as it were in your tank, because you contend. Sometimes brothers and sisters we can get weary or even apathetic towards the struggle for complementarity and the creation truths of manhood and womanhood in the face of an LGBTQ agenda. So we need to be reminded of the necessity of the battle and the supply that we are promised, because some things are worth fighting for. And every Christian in here is called to contend. That's Lesson number one.


Lesson number two: we contend for the faith. There's the walk first, we've had the who. Now we have the what. To contend for the faith. Jude says that was once for all delivered to the saints––the faith, not necessarily your personal faith that you exercise but the faith. That is the truth, sound doctrine, gospel truths. In verse 20, it is referred to as the most holy faith. We're talking of the holy scriptures here, apostolic doctrine. Once delivered for all the saints that is once for all it is signed, sealed and delivered. It is in here. There is no more needed to doctrine, true doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, sin and grace, creation and so on. And notice is given to the saints, that is the church. So it is in here that we need to defend the truth it must be protected in here. And we cannot let the outside influences enter and affect our grip on the truth. Nowadays, it seems that truth doesn't matter. Authenticity matters. It's the desire to pursue one's own path, and find fulfillment through that identity. A worldview of self determination equals true freedom and liberty. You decide who you are, and what you do, against tradition, God's word, and your body. Today, one's identity lies in self fulfillment. So that section, sexuality isn't rooted in God's creation truth of male and female in his image, and sex within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman alone. Therefore, sex and sexuality becomes for selfish pleasure not for God. As long as it's consensual, it is good. The connection between love and sex isn't even necessary anymore. Only individual pleasure. sexual feelings become the core of one's identity. So then, if you're to repress them, you repress the person. The result of not addressing this is that lust runs wild and pornography is rife. Cohabitation is a cultural norm, and same-sex attraction and transgenderism are considered acceptable, and morally good. But thankfully, there is true truth, the faith, which is true, whatever you feel, or anyone else thinks, they say, truth divides, yes, it does. It divides those who will believe it from those who won't. And if you don't contend for this faith, this truth, the danger is you will compromise the faith. And I'm afraid that we've departed in many quarters from the truth about man and woman as fixed binary sexes, and thus we've assaulted the glory of God. And we've taken sex and sexuality outside the bounds of the one flesh, holy union of marriage between the man and a woman meant for procreation and meant to lead us to adoration of Christ. And we have lost order in the home and in many places in the church. Why? Because we have not contended for the faith.


So number one, we must all content number two, we must all contend for the faith. Now the why.


Lesson three: we contend because of false teachers. You see it there in the text. For certain people have crept in unnoticed, verse four. The greatest and most subtle threat to the church is not persecution from the outside. It is false teachers from the inside. It's an inside job. That's another part of what making weight contending is so difficult. It's so painful, so agonizing. Maybe we've known these people, maybe we've worked with them, maybe they visited our churches, maybe we've bought their books. But I want us to notice three things about the false teachers. There's subtlety. Their character, and their judgment, their subtlety, they've crept in unnoticed, they've slithered in subtly, like a serpent like that serpent in the garden, and we didn't see them coming. When I think the whole press of the LGBTQ agenda in our culture in our schools has come on so fast. It's taken so many of us by surprise, because we didn't see it come in. They are hidden reefs in verse 12. At your love feasts, like a reef then below the surface of the water, waiting to ship wreck your faith. Jesus prepares us for this alongside Jude. Remember Jesus’ words, Matthew seven: Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Apostate false teachers will creep into the church. And that's the first thing to notice: their subtlety. Next, their current character is interested in, in this letter of Jude doesn't specify the heresy. That is the false teaching as the way to spot the false teacher. He points mainly to their lifestyle to the character. In verse four, they are ungodly. They are not toward God, they are away from God. He emphasizes that in verses 14 to 16 you can look at it later. See how Many times the word ungodly is repeated. They commit deeds of ungodliness in ungodly ways. They're also antinomian. They pervert the grace and deny the Lordship of Christ. Verse four: they are licentious, they use grace as an excuse to sin and then they follow their own ungodly passions. Their lives are centrally driven. Verse four, and that brings us to a point: there is often a close connection between false teachers and sexual immorality. Not always, but very often. Even the three examples that are given here in Jude and from the Old Testament are heavily to do with sexual immorality and verses five to eight speaks of apostate Egypt in their unbelief in the wilderness. He speaks of apostate angels who didn't stay in their proper place, but rebelled becoming men and having sex with women. And he speaks of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, homosexual desire is in view here. This is what the apostate false teachers are like leaving the creative position rebelling against God's will, often with a manifestation of sexual immorality. Notice also that they are characterized by subjectivism. They rely on dreams, verse eight, subjective mystical impressions. It's interesting to note that although the Gnostic heresy hadn't yet developed, it formed in the same way, people have a secret knowledge and knowledge that lies within the self. And defiles, a physical body. With self autonomy like this, we see the ancient view of narcissism. Narcissism emphasizes that a person's self awareness is different and more important than their physical body, and there's a tension between the true self and the body we inhabit. So a man can identify as a woman even if he is a man with male chromosomes, and a male body, and so we change the habitation to suit our desires. Andrew Walker, in his book The Transgender Debate says, the concept that agenda can be different from our biological sex is a modern form of the old Gnostic heresy. So here is what the false teachers are like. They are insiders who have crept in, who pervert grace and deny the Lordship of Christ, and they are known by the character of ungodliness, sexual immorality, and subjectivism. But never forget their fate. Friends, never forget this, we must remember that if we're going to contend and not compromise. Judgment is coming for them, as it did for others. Jesus destroyed Egypt. He put rebellious angels in eternal chains. He torched Sodom and Gomorrah, serving as an example of eternal fire to come. So false teachers won't escape the judgment, Jesus will come with 10,000 Angels and judge them with all the ungodly, so I fear for the lost. But I fear even more for the apostate false teachers who lead others astray.


There's the first three lessons from Jude, we must all contend, we must contend for the faith. And we must contend because of false teachers who attack the faith.


I just want to pause here for a couple of minutes, for some particular applications in the area of homosexuality, transgenderism. There is a subtle and dangerous teaching that has crept into the church, unnoticed, as Jude says. The Trojan horse that's entered the evangelical city while we've been asleep, within that horse, wrong teachings on sexuality that undermine deep doctrines of sin and grace. It's been placarded in recent years in a US based conference called Revoice. Revoice was an attempt to make a way for men and women to affirm both their homosexual identity and the Christian faith. And so the term gay Christianity was promoted at the event, and it was promoted from so called teachers within the church. But a Christian is called, we love and kept by God and takes his or her identity from Christ, and not sexual orientation, so that to identify as a gay or a LGBTQ Christian is an oxymoron, because it uses an unholy sinful desire as an adjective to describe the person who is in the second person of the Trinity prefixing it with a sin that Christ hung on that tree for. And so the issue becomes clearer is how we understand sin, and the doctrine of man and the power of regenerating grace. If you are a Christian here today, you are in Christ. You are not a gay Christian, you are a Christian. There is your identity: you are free. His Spirit indwells you. Jesus is your Lord and Master, not sexual sin or desire. And here lies the power to overcome, as a person increasingly repents from what he or she was and embraces what he or she is, in union with Christ. LGBTQ Christian teaching is in the Trojan horse that's crept into the evangelical city. And so we must all contend for the faith, we must all contend number one, we must contend for the faith number two, and number three must all contend for the faith against false teachers who attack it.


At the same time, friends, it is a sacred duty of the church to be compassionate towards all those whom the false teachers have deceived. So this is the final lesson then, in two parts, how we contend. How we contend. And the first way we can turn the first how is that we need to keep ourselves in the love of God. We see that down there, in verses 20 and 21. We need to keep ourselves in the love of God, so we won't compromise with the false teaching. Can you lose your salvation? No. Because if you're saved, you will be kept. You will be kept by Christ. And because you're kept, you'll be keeping yourself in the love of God. And how do you do these things? Well, there are three words here in verses 20 and 21 that describe how you keep yourself in the love of God. You do it by building, by praying, and by waiting. Building, praying, waiting, building ourselves up in the most holy faith. So we grow then in our knowledge of the gospel, our knowledge of the scriptures, our knowledge of the scriptures in the area of sexuality. Abraham Kuyper famously said that the fundamental contrast has always been, still is and will be until the end Christianity and paganism. And so we see back in Leviticus 18 that homosexuality is handled as part of a group of pagan practices. Leviticus 18, places homosexuality within a list of these pagan ethics, one that includes a total rejection of God's creation design in Genesis one and due to killing one's children, as opposed to caring for them having sex with a member of the same sex as opposed to one spouse, and pursuing sex with an animal as opposed to ruling over the beasts all opposite to Genesis one and two. Transgenderism is also rooted in paganism. The truth of binary sexes is a central facet of sex and sexuality in God's creation. Transgender ideology may be new to some extent in our culture. But it is in fact, ancient Paganism. The Bible speaks directly to the instinct to take on a personal identity that doesn't correspond with one’s sex. So Deuteronomy 22 And verse five addresses the issue that a woman should not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. We might call this transvestitism, which is under the umbrella term of transgenderism. But the exchanging of sexual identity is in view here, associated with paganism. And then we look at First Corinthians 11, the New Testament and we see Paul saying that women and man should grow their hair of different lengths, so that natural creation distinctions in a culturally appropriate way should be maintained. Men and women are not the same and shouldn't present themselves physically as if it is so and so. We ought to take care to honor the distinctions between the sexes, and in doing that we display the order of creation in God's good and grand design. So a sexual paganism against God's creation design is at the heart of the homosexual and transgender agenda. But we will be able to contend against false teaching here by keeping ourselves in the love of God through building ourselves up in the most holy faith for knowing the scriptures for being confident in their sufficiency and their accuracy. It makes you strong friends, to contend. We need to be building our faith with sound doctrine in these areas. Next is praying. First building then praying, praying in the Spirit, he says with a childlike affection as it were in with a heart that cries out “Abba, Father,” we intercede, we persist. We plead with God, our minds are on his word and we gain security and his love and confidence in His Word as we pray in the Spirit. So we keep ourselves in the love of God by building, and by praying. And finally, by waiting, waiting for the mercy of our crucified and risen and returning Lord. Friends, we live in eager anticipation of Christ's coming. Sometimes we don't live in that anticipation enough, looking for him waiting for Him, obeying him now and preparing to be found in him. And knowing this one thing, when He comes, He will be merciful to me. For the Christian, it ends well, we can look around us in the culture and see how it's all going. But Jesus Christ is building his church and the gates of hell will not prevail and he is coming for us and He will take us home.


It ends well. This is how you contend, by keeping yourself in the love of God building, praying, and waiting. And so that from beginning to end of this letter, and beginning and end of your career, you are secure, and you need not fear, it ends well for you. That's the first part of the last point of how we contend and, and just the second part and as we close. The second part of how we contend is we must extend mercy friends, as we've been loved. So we should love apostate false teachers who lead people astray. Jesus excoriated the Pharisees who led people astray, blind guide sons of the devil, he said, but there were others he was gentler with––those who were deceived by them. So I think we need pastoral wisdom. There are those who are rampant activists, plugging an agenda and those who have been taken in by it. Sin is still at the heart. And yet, you need different courses of action for different horses, different courses for different horses. There is a difference between the ideology of the activists, and those who've been caught in the net. You see it there as the letter begins to close in verse 22, that we show mercy, a gentleness to those who are caught in doubt by false teaching. So we don't break the bruised reed. Some people experience same sex attraction and maybe transgender impulses. They've taken in the false teaching. They're going with sinful desires. They hear good biblical teaching, they're confused. Maybe you need to work through it with them. You need to come alongside them. But there are others that need to be snatched from the fire. They need a violent wrench out of the lifestyle, they're beginning to embrace. And then there are those to whom we show mercy with fear. They are entrenched in sin, their garment, he says, is stained by the flesh. And still we go, still we extend mercy, but we must be aware friends, that we don't become soiled with their sin as we get close. And you know this if you've done any counseling with deep, difficult matters, where people are embroiled in sin, as you go in, you must protect yourself that you don't actually compromise with the sin that you're dealing with with these people. Love for those who are caught in sin does not exclude hatred for the corruption of that sin. And so we must have a deep concern that we should not be led astray by false teachers, and an extraordinary sense of the mercy and love of Christ to us that we should extend to others. Number one, who must contend? We must all contend friends. Number two, what must we contend for? We must all contend for the faith. Number three, why must we contend? Because of false teachers in their teaching. And number four, how must we contend? We must first keep ourselves in the love of God by building and praying and waiting. And secondly, we must extend mercy, even as we have been shown mercy. And we execute that with pastoral wisdom, with the different kinds of people that we come in contact with. And so we contend, and we show compassion to those who confess lust problems, or homosexual or transgender identities and lifestyles. To do this, you need to know the Scriptures. You need to know the faith you contend for. You need to be a people of prayer. You need to keep your own life on track in view of Christ's coming. You need to know how much mercy you've received so that you extend that mercy. You need to know friends, that there is a war against God and His people. And there is a Trojan horse filled with doctrinal error in the evangelical city. Jude gives us some lessons here, but Jesus Christ died to purchase His Bride, he is risen. He is interceding for us at the Father's right hand at this moment, and he will return to bring us home. Forget the Trojan horse. Jesus is coming on a white horse. His eyes are aflame. The sword is coming from his mouth, wrath for the enemies. Victory for his bride. And on his robe, and on his thigh is written KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Jesus wins. And so we worship Him. And in the meantime we contend for the faith. Let's pray.


So Father God, thank You for this powerful word that you give us this morning. I ask that you bless us all in your mercy this morning with a clear understanding, with hearts set on contending for the faith and with great mercy to extend to others. I pray, Lord, that You would do a work here by your spirit and your people more than we can even imagine. As we step forward for this day, in the gospel on our lips and in our hearts in Jesus name I pray, amen. Thank you.

Topics: Christian Ethics, The Christian & The Public Square

Gavin Peacock

Written by Gavin Peacock

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