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Some Christians are contentious. They are quick to quarrel over anything. This is not pleasing to the Lord. We are called to strive for peace with everyone (Heb. 12:14), and within the church we should be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). Many well-meaning Christians assume, therefore, that Christians should never contend for anything.

And yet, while we should not be quarrelsome (Rom. 14:1; 2 Tim. 2:14, 23–24; James 4:2), Holy Scripture calls us to contend for the faith. In his often-overlooked letter, Jude, the half-brother of our Lord, issues the following battle cry: “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” (Jude 3). In the next verse, Jude informs his readers why he found it “necessary” to appeal to them to contend for the faith: “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” (v. 4).

It is worth noting that Jude’s focus is the church itself. His concern is not so much about what the world is doing but about what is being done within the church. “Certain people have crept in unnoticed,” and they present a real danger for the church.

The problem seems to be twofold. First, these people live ungodly lives. Second, they teach false doctrine: they deny the “only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Sadly, this is not a unique problem that Jude had to deal with. Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus during his farewell address to them:

After my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert. (Acts 20:29–31)

Paul knew that this would happen not because he knew who these false teachers would be. He would have called them out by name as he did on other occasions. He knew this because he knew that the devil will always attempt to destroy churches.

Therefore, we need to be well grounded in the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

While we should be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit, we mustn’t be naive. There are hills that we should be willing to die on. Whenever core Christian truths are being denied and whenever ungodly living is being promoted in such a way that the lordship of Christ is denied, we must boldly contend for the faith.

Ultimately, this will ensure that we will have more than mere institutional unity; we will have true unity in the Spirit.

The Importance of Self-Control

A Woman with a Disabling Spirit

Keep Reading Called to Discipleship

From the July 2023 Issue
Jul 2023 Issue