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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Job 9



Verse 30-31


‘If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.’

Job 9:30-31

I. Is there nothing good in ‘the natural heart’?—Are there no features of the divine original left in the broken image?

Far be it from me to say so. A man of the world may have very honourable feelings; and an unconverted character, often, is exceedingly amiable and very charitable. We all have known very correct persons, much to be esteemed, who, nevertheless, have not the grace of God.

Each fragment of the shivered glass may give back, though distorted, the object which it was intended to reflect.

II. But this is, really, the worst part of all the inventory.—For all these moral excellences are nothing before God! They do not spring from any love of Him; they are not done according to His Spirit; they do not end in His glory—therefore, in His sight, they so utterly come short that, as our article tells us, they are even of ‘the nature of sin’; and ‘that which is so highly esteemed among men is, all the while, an abomination before God.’

And yet here is the evil. All the time it is these very good qualities in the man by which ‘the heart is deceived’; giving itself an opiate which is lulling it to repose.

Far better would it be for that man if his ‘heart’ was utterly and only base and vile—for, if he felt he carried about with him a thing altogether so bad and horrid, he must perforce be ashamed; he must be afraid of it; he must want it changed. Then a man must feel his own peril; and he must feel the value of a Saviour. But now the good part of the ‘heart,’ without God, becomes the worst—for it is by this that we are satisfied; it is by this we grow proud; it is by this we ‘neglect our so great salvation.’ So our condition becomes the most dangerous—and the good which is left in our ‘hearts’—if that can be called ‘good’ which has no God in it—the good that is left in our ‘hearts’ is our bane and our ruin.

III. Remember that sin is to be measured by what it is in the sight of God Himself.—‘God is a Spirit;’ and, therefore, a sin of spirit, i.e. a sin of thought, is as great, and perhaps greater, to God, than a sin of action—just because of the same reason, that we are material; and material sin seems the greater to us.

And so God’s scales of sin utterly confound ourselves. Take one instance in the Revelation—see the order in which things are put. ‘The fearful, and unbelieving, the abominable, and all liars’—are all of the same class!

What, then, I ask, is that ‘natural heart,’ which every one of us, at this moment, is carrying about with us, every day?

A very weak thing—always changing—taking the complexion of things about it—a thing which can never be trusted.

Can you doubt it? Try to keep your ‘heart’ fixed for one half-hour upon a good subject: try to break one inward habit, and see if your ‘heart’ is not weak.

And yet a very proud thing. It seems to be the great business of the heart to puff us up with a false consequence—arraying some little thing that we think good, and keeping out of sight all the things that we know to be bad.

—Rev. Jas. Vaughan.


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Job 9:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

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