A Time to Forcefully Speak the Truth in Love

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire…
— Jude 1:23

What does the Bible say about how we should respond to believers who continue to practice sin? If you are personally aware of individuals like this, what steps or action should you take to rescue him or her?

  • What attitude does God expect you to have regarding these people’s sin?
  • What kind of action does God expect you to take to see them delivered?
  • What approach should you take regarding the sin they are living in?
  • What is the proper outlook for you to have concerning their situation?

The answer to these questions is found in Jude 1:23. In this verse, Jude compellingly tells us, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire….”

First of all, Jude tells us to “save [them] with fear.” This word “fear” is the Greek word phobos. It suggests a fear or a strong dose of respect for something that is life-threatening, dangerous, or alarming. Because Jude uses this key Greek word, it tells us what kind of attitude we should have regarding sin. Sin is dangerous, alarming, and even life-threatening to a person’s spiritual life. Therefore, sin must not be tolerated, nor should the effects of sin be watered down. In short, we should have no stomach for sin.

Next, Jude 1:23 tells us what action we must take when we find a fellow believer who is getting caught up in sin. This verse tells us that we must act fast to “pull them out of the fire.” The word “pull” comes from the Greek word harpadzo. This is an extremely strong and aggressive word that presents the picture of snatching someone out of a dangerous situation. In fact, it would be better translated to seize.

The word harpadzo is the very word used in Colossians 1:13 when Paul writes, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son.” That word “delivered” is also from the Greek word harpadzo.

In Colossians 1:13, this word portrays that moment when Jesus Christ broke Satan’s power over our lives and snatched us out of the kingdom of darkness. One Greek expositor says the word harpadzo in Colossians 1:13 carries this idea: “He grabbed us by the back of our necks and snatched us out of danger, just in the nick of time.…”  This Greek word harpadzo contains passion, fervency, urgency, and action.

Because these words are used in Jude 1:23, it could be translated:

“Because of the alarmingly dangerous state that some believers are in, I urge you to take immediate and fast-acting measures to see them delivered and rescued. And if they don’t quickly respond, don’t stop! You need to keep up your sense of urgency until you are convinced that they are rescued and snatched out of the fires of destruction. If you must, go all the way to grab them by the back of their necks and jerk them out of those flames.…”

Jude uses the word harpadzo to tell you that sometimes people are so deceived about what they’re doing, they don’t want to change. Even if you tell them that they are headed for trouble, they may not believe it! In these cases, your sweet words and tender pleading with them may not work. That means you may have to get forceful in the way you tell these people the truth. Your words must reach out and seize their hearts.

Think back for a minute to Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Lot got so caught up in the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah that when the angels told him the two cities were about to be destroyed, he wanted to stay anyway! The angels had to take him by the hand and make him leave! They had to forcibly remove him from that situation; otherwise, he would have been destroyed. The angels literally dragged Lot out of the city against his will (Genesis 19:16).

Likewise, we must do everything within our power to snatch people from spiritually dangerous predicaments. Although they may not feel the heat of the fire at the moment or realize the seriousness of their spiritual condition, we must speak forcefully and truthfully to them in order to seize their hearts and set them free.

We’re not in the business of kidnapping people or taking them out of situations against their will. But we are to pray for fellow believers who are caught in sin and don’t realize the dangerous nature of their situation. We must also go to them and do all we can to “pull them out of the fires” of destruction they’re about to release into their lives.

If you know someone who is drifting away from his relationship with the Lord, pray for a door to open that will allow you to speak the truth in love and pull him out of impending destruction. Just think about it — if you were the one about to make a major spiritual error, wouldn’t you want your true friends to speak the truth in love to you? So believe God for an open door. He’ll show you how and when to speak the truth.

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My Prayer for Today

Lord, I ask You to give me Your heart for brothers and sisters who are living in sin. Forgive me for the times I have been insensitive to the dangerous nature of sin. Help me to be passionate and fervent in prayer for them and to keep praying for them until their deliverance is complete and they are fully restored. Help me consider the way I would want others to pray for me if I were in the same situation.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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My Confession for Today

I confess that I will do everything within my power to snatch people from spiritually dangerous predicaments. Although they may not feel the heat of the fire at the moment or realize the seriousness of their spiritual condition, I will obey the Word of God and speak truthfully to them in order to seize their hearts and set them free. I believe that God will open a door and show me how and when I am to speak the truth.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

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Questions to Answer

1. Is there anyone in your life right now who comes to mind as someone who is in danger of being consumed in the “fire” of sin?

2. Realizing the seriousness of sin and deception, how would you want someone to confront you if you were in that person’s situation?

3. In what ways could God use you to bring the truth in love to this person in order to set him or her free?