1:17-23 Sensual men separate from Christ, and his church, and join themselves to the devil, the world, and the flesh, by ungodly and sinful practices. That is infinitely worse than to separate from any branch of the visible church on account of opinions, or modes and circumstances of outward government or worship. Sensual men have not the spirit of holiness, which whoever has not, does not belong to Christ. The grace of faith is most holy, as it works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world, by which it is distinguished from a false and dead faith. Our prayers are most likely to prevail, when we pray in the Holy Ghost, under his guidance and influence, according to the rule of his word, with faith, fervency, and earnestness; this is praying in the Holy Ghost. And a believing expectation of eternal life will arm us against the snares of sin: lively faith in this blessed hope will help us to mortify our lusts. We must watch over one another; faithfully, yet prudently reprove each other, and set a good example to all about us. This must be done with compassion, making a difference between the weak and the wilful. Some we must treat with tenderness. Others save with fear; urging the terrors of the Lord. All endeavours must be joined with decided abhorrence of crimes, and care be taken to avoid whatever led to, or was connected with fellowship with them, in works of darkness, keeping far from what is, or appears to be evil.
19. These be they—showing that their characters are such as Peter and Paul had foretold.
separate themselves—from Church communion in its vital, spiritual reality: for outwardly they took part in Church ordinances (Jude 12). Some oldest manuscripts omit "themselves": then understand it, "separate," cast out members of the Church by excommunication (Isa 65:5; 66:5; Lu 6:22; Joh 9:34; compare "casteth them out of the Church;" 3Jo 10). Many, however, understand "themselves," which indeed is read in some of the oldest manuscripts as English Version has it. Arrogant setting up of themselves, as having greater sanctity and a wisdom and peculiar doctrine, distinct from others, is implied.
sensual—literally, "animal-souled": as opposed to the spiritual, or "having the Spirit." It is translated, "the natural man," 1Co 2:14. In the threefold division of man's being, body, soul, and spirit, the due state in God's design is, that "the spirit," which is the recipient of the Holy Spirit uniting man to God, should be first, and should rule the soul, which stands intermediate between the body and spirit: but in the animal, or natural man, the spirit is sunk into subserviency to the animal soul, which is earthly in its motives and aims. The "carnal" sink somewhat lower, for in these the flesh, the lowest element and corrupt side of man's bodily nature, reigns paramount.
having not the Spirit—In the animal and natural man the spirit, his higher part, which ought to be the receiver of the Holy Spirit, is not so; and therefore, his spirit not being in its normal state, he is said not to have the spirit (compare Joh 3:5, 6). In the completion of redemption the parts of redeemed man shall be placed in their due relation: whereas in the ungodly, the soul severed from the spirit shall have for ever animal life without union to God and heaven—a living death.