“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 20-23)

Jude wrote to a church audience that was experiencing an influx of false teachers. These teachers were corrupting the faith of believers by promoting sensuality and sexual license as true forms of worshipping Christ. Jude urged his readers to use strong and uncompromising methods to warn those among the brethren who were promoting such dangerous lies. They are not only in danger of eternal punishment themselves but are putting other believers at risk of the same. As for those who were confused or in doubt about those teachings, Jude recommended mercy not condemnation. After all these troubled believers had been legitimately deceived by powerful and respected preachers who claimed to speak for Jesus.

In our own day we are surrounded by a host of false preachers who possess great eloquence and charisma. It is easy for some believers to be swayed by such as these for they claim to speak in the Name of Jesus. Yet most of them do not properly balance law and gospel. Some equate law to following principles that will ensure health and prosperity. But many more false preachers and apostate churches over emphasize grace to the exclusion of sin. This is not mercy: it is the tolerance and acceptance of sin. The true mercy that Jude commends is applied to people who are truly humbled by and sorrowful over their sins. It does not ignore the severity or evil nature of any sin. True mercy leads to repentance.