Jude 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
We see that verse 22 begins with the word “and”. It is a continuation of what we have in the previous verses. This is not a matter of perverting justice. It is a matter of understanding the situation of each individual. God has already named the apostates as brute beasts. They made a conscious choice to defy God and to develop a theology that is corrupt and unworthy of any respect.
There were also saints that needed to be warned not to yield to the temptation to adopt any of the ways of the apostates. God talks of the weaker brother in Galatians 6. The weaker brother needs to be corrected when he sins. He needs to be helped back into right fellowship with God the Father. He is not the same as the apostate who has sold his soul to do evil.
As we see here in verses 22-23, God will give discernment to His children to know how to deal with these things. Through this, God shows us some of the blessings of being a part of His family. Again, God does not play favourites. No one gets away with sin. However, the saved person has the Holy Spirit indwelling him or her. There is a difference in how we deal with sin in the family than outside of the family. We need to be able to discern the heart of the individual.
The saved person will show a level of remorse that will not be there with the ungodly. We can contrast the response of Judas to Peter in the Gospels. Both sinned against God. Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He knew he had done wrong. He chose to go back to the same wicked people that paid him for his sin, and he sought forgiveness from them. There was no forgiveness to be had there. He refused to look to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. He chose to go out and hang himself. His end and his eternity is not good and will never end.
Peter denied Jesus three times. He even went so far as to curse and to swear in his desire to distance himself from the Lord Jesus Christ. It took the crowing of a rooster, a two legged bird, to wake Peter up to what he had done. Jesus had warned him that this was going to happen, but Peter rejected the warning. He remembered the words of Jesus when that cock crowed. Peter went out and wept bitterly. He was remorseful. He was remorseful, not just because he was caught, but because he realized what he had done. Peter had a different spirit in him than that of Judas. After Jesus’ resurrection, He mentioned Peter specifically and He sought him out at the sea shore. Peter was repentant and Jesus knew that. Peter was not put on a shelf. He was forgiven and he was also strengthened for the work that Jesus had chosen him for.
We are not Jesus, however, Philippians 2 challenges the true saints to have the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 2:16 tells us that we have the mind of Christ if we are saved and walking obediently with Him. He will give us discernment to be able to deal with His sheep in a way that will give them opportunity to grow and serve Him faithfully. He will also help us to know who to leave to His judgment.
In verse 23 we see that there needs to be some effort on the part of the faithful, obedient child of God, to help the wayward saint. There will be those saints who are in deep spiritual trouble. They are in grave danger. The danger is not that of losing salvation. We see that the motivation in verse 23 is fear. Paul tells us there will be those who will be saved though as by fire. They will be saved, but have nothing to show for it, in glory. God tells us there are degrees of rewards in heaven. We do not have the full details of this. No true child of God will shrug their shoulders and think: ‘as long as I get to heaven, that is all that matters.’ The love of God makes a difference in the true child of God. However, there are those who seem to fall deeper into sin, even though they are saved. God directed Paul to write about this in I Corinthians 5.
Those who are “spiritual” need to be willing to pull them out of the fire. Fire is a picture of judgment. In verse 22 we see that we are to have compassion of some, and others we are motivated by fear. A true child of God does not rejoice in the sins of another child of God. The faithful child of God wants to help their brother or sister to overcome.
Thus we see here that even as the faithful saint seeks to help the errant brother or sister, they have a hatred for the sin. They do not allow that sin to taint them. It is possible to help a true brother or sister without becoming like them. As we look at the context here, we see that the errant brother is stained by the flesh. It seems to be speaking of a saved person who has been lured into accepting some level of the apostasy. They are not brute beasts, but they have chosen to take a wrong view of the apostasy. They need to be pulled out of their wrongful position. They need to be helped to get away from the fire of God’s judgment.
Revelation 1:14 describes the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ as a flame of fire. That phrase is found two more times in the book of the Revelation. Jesus Christ is not just the Judge of the lost. He is also the Judge of the saints. He will judge the seven churches in Revelation 2&3. He burns away the dross and reveals the real situation.
In Jude 1:23, the faithful saints need to desire to help the errant saints to deal with their sin and thus to spare them the judgment of God which will burn up the wood, hay and stubble.
The Christian life is not for the feeble hearted. It can wear on the soul of the faithful servant of God. However, that wearing is not more than the faithful can handle. God will provide for them. It is not too much of God to expect His faithful servants to be there to help the errant brother to get right with Him. There may come a time when the faithful servant will be unfaithful and will need the care of others to bring him or her back on track. True Christians have a genuine care for one another.
Others will see this care, and some might even get saved as they observe the true love that God’s people have for one another.