Keep yourself in the love of God
Accountability: Part 2
Editor’s note: This is the second segment in a series by Lyndon Stimeling titled “Accountability.” The column will publish weekly on the Religion page.
The responsibility of pastors and church leaders is mostly in areas of life and practice where they should be living a Christ-like life in the community, just as much as they should be in front of the members of their flock. Although a pastor must be careful how he teaches, preaches and lives before the members of his flock; the individual is ultimately responsible for his own spiritual state before the eternal, sovereign, judge of the universe.
Be careful of any pastor who claims that God speaks through him to direct you in the Christian walk. Because God has given him authority over you, you should be obedient to what he says; for he watches out for your soul. Many people (men, women and children) have been led astray and abused by power hungry dictators in the local church who claim to have this God-given authority.
In Jude 1:20-21 it says, “But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” The first thing we want to notice is that the passage is speaking to Christians (beloved).
In Jude 1:1 it says, “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.” In this verse we find,
A. the effectual calling of an individual,
B. the sanctification of that individual (being made holy), and
C. the preservation of that person’s faith (the perseverance of the saints) until the end.
This is all a sovereign work of God for His honor and glory and our good and happiness.
But notice how the writer begins to focus on the responsibility of the individual in verse 20. It’s almost as if Jude is saying, the salvation of an individual is accomplished by God; but the person is still held accountable (responsible) for his spiritual life from beginning to end.
We are responsible to build ourselves up in the Christian faith. That means we should desire to spend time with others who will encourage us to greater godliness. Doesn’t it make you wonder about so called Christians who quickly join in the fun and frolic of the ungodly most of the time? Doesn’t it make you question someone’s faith who would rather be around unbelievers more than the people of God?
Verse 20 goes on to say that Christians should be, “praying in the Holy Spirit.” Jude reminds us that when we pray, we must be in tune with Him (God) through the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We can’t be living like the devil and claim to be serving God at the same time. James 3:11 asks the question, “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” He goes on to answer his own question in verse 12, “Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh.”
Jude goes on to say in verse 21, “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” How do we keep ourselves in the love of God? Can I describe in a few sentences what others have written books about? I doubt it! I would simply say, it is a daily process of struggling against sin, to the point that we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. Not only is it struggling against what is contrary to God’s law, it is also striving to do what is good, right and acceptable to God.
We will never do this perfectly on this side of heaven; that’s why we must be looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are going to need the mercy and grace of God to strengthen and lift us up to serve Him. Are you struggling against sin? Maybe you never have, perhaps you have made up your own religion that allows you to think that living contrary to God’s will is acceptable. The Bible says you are deceiving yourself. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing.” Isn’t it time you got serious?
Comments or questions, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published two books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.