Wednesday, December 30, 2020

David's Digest: Of Sin's Filthiness & Abundant Wickedness

James 1:21 - "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Whether we like it or not, or believe it or not, our hearts are full of uncleanness and wickedness:
Jer 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

This is a result of the fall, and the continued sin in man through all generations. It is as odious as odious can be to a perfectly holy and righteous God. But we don't want to believe it, really, about ourselves; yet, the Bible says it's there.

Puritan Thomas Manton in his most excellent work "A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James" paints a picture of sin's filthiness and depth of wickedness.

You can listen to all of verse 21 here:


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The entire book is scanned in here: https://archive.org/stream/apracticalcomme01mantgoog/apracticalcomme01mantgoog_djvu.txt...

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Thomas Manton - James Commentary


From Thomas Manton:

Verse 21. - Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.


Obs 5. From that word filthiness. Sin is filthiness. It sullies the glory and beauty of the soul, defaces the image of God. This expression is often used, "Filthiness of flesh and spirit" (2 Cor. vii. 1), where not only gross wickedness, such as proceeds from fleshly and brutish lusts, is called filthiness, but such as is more spiritual, unbelief, heresy, or misbelief, etc., nay, original corruption is called so, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" (Job xiv. 4.) "How can man be clean?" (Job xv. 14.)

Nay, things glorious in the eyes of men: duties they are called dung, because of the iniquity that is found in them: "I will spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts" (Mai. ii. 3).

So it was in God's eyes. The Spirit of God everywhere uses comparisons taken from things that are most odious, that our hearts may be wrought into the greatest detestation of sin. Certainly they are much mistaken that think sin an ornament, when the Spirit of God calls it dung and excrement. But more especially I find three sins called filthiness in Scripture:

(1.) Covetousness, because it debases the spirit of man, and makes him stoop to such indecencies as are beneath humanity; so it is said, "filthy lucre" (1 Pet. V. 2).

(2.) Lust, which in Scripture dialect is called filthiness, or the sin of uncleanness (1 Thess. iv. 7), because it makes a man to subject or submit his desires to the beasts' happiness, which is sensual pleasures.

(3.) In this place [here in James; see the verses leading into vs 21: vs 19-20] anger and malice are called filthiness. We please ourselves in it, but it is but filthiness. It is brutish to yield to our rage and the turbulent agitation of our spirits, and not to be able to withstand a provocation. It is worse than poison in toads or asps, or what may be conceived to be most filthy in the creatures. Poison in them does hurt others, it cannot hurt themselves: anger may not hurt others, it cannot choose but hurt us.

[The Solution:] Well then, all that hath been said is an engagement to us to resist sin, to detest it as a defilement. It will darken the glory of our natures. There are some spots that are not as "the spots of God's children" (Deut. xxxii. 5). Oh! let us get rid of these "filthy garments", (Zech. iii. 4, 5), and desire change of raiment, the righteousness of Christ. Ay, but there are some lesser sins that are spots too: "The garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude 23); unseemly words are called "filthiness" (Ephes. v. 4), and duties "dung".


Obs 6. From that superfluity of wickedness. That there is abundance of wickedness to be purged out of the heart of man. Such a fulness as runs over, a deluge of sin; "All the imaginations of the heart are evil, only evil, and that continually" (Gen. vi. 5). It runs out into every thought, into every desire, into every purpose. As there is saltness in every drop of the sea, and bitterness in every branch of wormwood; so sin in every thing that is framed within the soul. Whatever an unclean person touched, though it were holy flesh, it was unclean: so all our actions are poisoned with it.

We read of the "overspreading of abominations" (Dan. ix. 27); and David said, "They are all become vile, and gone out of the way" (Psa. xiv.); all, and all over.

In the understanding there are filthy thoughts and purposes, there sin begins; fish stink first at the head.

In the will filthy motions; the affections mingle with filthy objects.

The memory, that should be like the ark, the chest of the law, retains, like the grate of a sink, nothing but mud and filthiness.

The conscience is defiled and stained with the impurities of our lives.

The members [of our physical body] are but instruments of filthiness. A rolling eye provokes a wanton fancy, and stirs up unclean glances, "Having eyes full of adultery" (2 Pet. ii. 14): in the original, "full of the adulteress".

The tongue bewrays the rottenness of the heart in filthy speaking.

[The Solution:] Oh! what cause have we to bless God that there is "a fountain opened for uncleanness"! (Zech. xiii. 1.) Certainly conversion is not an easy work, there is such a mass of corruption to be laid aside.


May we see the filthiness and pervasive wickedness in our sin, even the smaller ones. May God grant us His Son's perfect righteousness, and cleansing from the blood of Christ. May He grant us a hatred of sin as it is an offense to a perfect and holy God, and a desire for holiness and purity in living. And may He grant that we do these out of love for Him!

-- David

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