This is the last in a series of 10 excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.
Jude describes certain false teachers as “merely natural, not having the Spirit” (v. 19). He seems to be stating plainly that these professing Christians are unbelievers. How can he make such a judgment?
Doesn’t Jesus say, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Matt. 7:1)? Isn’t God the only one who may rightly search the hearts of people (Jer. 17:10)?
How can Jude possibly know that these interlopers are lost? Isn’t it possible they are merely deceived, or backslidden?
First, we should note that Jude describes these particular false teachers as “natural.” Literally, this means “animal-souled” and stands in contrast with “spiritual,” or “having the Spirit.” The apostle Paul describes the unbeliever as a “natural man” who “does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually” (1 Cor. 2:14).
Clearly, Jude and Paul are depicting people outside the kingdom of God. Jude’s use of the term psuchikos – soulish, sensual, animal-souled – describes them in sensual rather than spiritual terms.
As John MacArthur puts it, “His [Jude’s] materialistic description exposed them for who they really were – religious terrorists who lacked such internal qualities as a proper self-perception, the ability to reason, and a true knowledge of God. Even though the false teachers claimed a transcendental understanding of God, they did not know Him at all.”
A few years ago I joined leaders of LifeWay Christian Resources in a meeting with executives of a Nashville TV station. They were preparing to launch a new program catering to gays and lesbians. We asked them to reconsider.
Among the TV executives was a lesbian. She wanted to know why Christians couldn’t just accept her for who she is. It was the only time I recall speaking up, and I said something like this:
“I accept you for who you are, if you accept me. We are both sinners who struggle with many desires. Some of them are good and some of them are not. The Bible teaches us how to tell the difference. At the end of the day, you and I must decide whether to act on these sinful desires. When we come to the point of losing our shame over sinful behavior – and actually celebrating it – we find ourselves in deep spiritual trouble.”
It wasn’t the answer she expected. It neither confirmed her suspicion of Christian malice nor compromised biblical truth. The meeting ended cordially. A few weeks later the station premiered “Out & About.”