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20 But you, loved ones, continue building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Ruach ha-Kodesh21 Keep yourselves in the love of [YeHoVaH], eagerly waiting for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who are wavering— 23 save them by snatching them out of the fire; but on others have mercy with fear—hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.  – Jude vv. 20-23, TLV (the bracketed word is my emphasis)

I used to be unable to understand how apostates could creep in anywhere unaware. That changed while I was evangelizing in South Korea.

Sadly, at the South Korean Christian school where I taught English, there were professed Christians who, as Jude describes, were “…bellyaching grumblers, following after their own desires. Their mouth speaks grandiose things, showing favoritism for the sake of gain” (Jude v. 16, TLV). They were believers in Yeshua who also possessed knowledge of Yeshua’s Gospel; however, they were way too much like the metaphorical seed that falls on rocky soil and springs up quickly only to wilt when the scorching sun of trouble shines on them or when they are under the roasting pressure of persecution.

For sure, it was their love for more money, larger schools, more curriculum knowledge, and/or better-paying jobs that had caused them to fall away from what they at one time must have believed. Put differently, they were not walking in obedience to Yeshua, as it was evident that, as backsliders, they were following the desires of their flesh.

They were behaving like the kind of apostates Jude says the apostle Paul had warned about – “…the ones who cause divisions—worldly-minded, not having the Ruach” (Jude v.19, TLV). Indeed, the people who worked at this school when I was there were definitely spiritually divided – that is to say, those who kept the faith were spiritually separated from those who had sincere doubt. It also didn’t help that the school’s Christian owners also physically separated certain staff members from each other. In other words, the backsliders or those who were wavering — those who had not become committed apostates – were isolated. These segregated backsliding apostates are the ones that Jude advises the overcomers to “…save…by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude v.23a).

At this school, there also was another kind of apostates – those who willfully rejected the Gospel of Yeshua. These were the apostates that not only distorted YeHoVaH’s Truths but also denied those spiritual Truths and biblical doctrines that defined the genuinely saved believers in Yeshua. In other words, these apostates were no longer backslidden believers but rather they had become the kind of unbelievers that the writer of Hebrews says cannot be brought back to repentance (see Hebrews 6:4-6).

There were the kind of apostates who had passed the point of no return – those whom Jude describes as the apostates that overcomers should “…have mercy with fear—hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude v.23b), as they are apostates whose damnation had already been secured (Jude v.4). Additionally, the apostle Peter describes these apostates as the proverbial dogs who return to their own vomit and pigs who return to wallowing in the mire (see 2 Peter 2:22 and Proverbs 26:11).

Now, the reasons why these apostates were able to creep into our churches, our schools, our business, etcetera is because so few of today’s believers in Yeshua are spiritually savvy enough to discern when believers have departed from the faith, or when wolves have joined flocks, or when a backslider’s conscience has been seared, or when so-called Christians have a form of godliness, and so forth. For sure, there are many believers in Yeshua today who are living and/or behaving as the apostates who are described above, BUT far too many professed Christians either are clueless or indifferent about these apostates who clearly neither are clinging to the Holy Spirit nor are controlled by (cooperating with) Him. In other words, these professed Christians have not crucified their own ‘self,’ and they have not been filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. They, instead, are sensual, which means they live in accordance with their senses because they are too soulish. This truth is why they are walking after their own lusts instead of being in accordance with the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, Jude makes it clear that believers in Yeshua can have victory over apostasy but only as overcomers who stay filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only One who is able to keep believers in Yeshua from falling away from the faith. He also is the only One who is able to present believers in Yeshua as blameless before their Lord and Savior, but only if they allow Him to change them into overcomers.  

Becoming overcomers begins when believers in Yeshua realize their assured victory does not mean that they don’t have to fight to win. Every genuine believer has to contend for the faith – the kind of faith that will help them to become victorious over sin, the world, and their flesh. However, living a holy life will keep those believers who are progressively becoming overcomers on the battlefield. Put differently, there is no way that contending for the faith won’t be dangerous at times. That is why it is important to remember what Yeshua and His apostles taught, which is that those seeking to become overcomers will obediently do the following: 1. Build themselves up on their most holy faith; 2. Pray in the Holy Spirit; and 3.Keep themselves in the Love of YeHoVaH  (Jude vv. 20-21). This is how they not only survive apostasy but also how they become victorious over sin, the world, and their flesh. Additionally, this is how they will have the power to snatch backsliders out of the fire – apostates who have NOT passed the point of no return.

Once again, the ultimate solution to apostasy is believers’ proximity to Yeshua, which is achieved through the Holy Spirit. This Divine Truth is why believers in Yeshua must always stay close to Him, and they must always keep preaching His Gospel. By contending for the faith, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, and by staying close – via the Holy Spirit – to the only One who is able to keep believers in Yeshua from falling, Yeshua’s believers will be able not only to survive apostasy but also able to thrive as holy overcomers in spite of the fact that apostasy is everywhere in today’s world. Selah . . .