Just as Peter graphically described returning to sin as a dog eating its vomit and a pig wallowing in mire (2 Pet 2:22), Jude likewise shows us the ugliness of sin as excremental filth on our inner clothing. When showing mercy to those affected by false teaching, or even to the false teachers themselves, we must be cautious in our interactions so that we neither join or condone their sin.
Jude 22–23 states, “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” (ESV).
In these two verses, Jude identifies three groups within the church that need special attention. Jude has admonished his readers to contend for the faith against false teachers who have crept in the church (Jude 3–4). He then went on to give a scathing sketch of what kind of people these false teachers were (Jude 5–16). Turning his attention back to his readers in Jude 17–25 (“beloved”), Jude deals with those in the church who have been affected by the false teachers.
In the headings that follow below, we will see how we are to minister to each of these three groups, and who exactly makes up each group according to Jude’s description of them.
In rescuing those who have been influenced by the false teachers, we must…
Show Mercy to Those on the Fence (Jude 22)
Jude commands us to “have mercy on those who doubt,” standing on the fence, so to speak, not sure of who to follow. To have mercy in this context is to have compassion and pity for those in the church who are vacillating in their faith.