He sees countless evils in each one of us!
(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Mark" 1857)
See what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains!
"For from within, out of a person's heart, come . . .
eagerness for lustful pleasure,
All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God." Mark 7:21-23
Let us distinctly understand, when we read these words, that our Lord is speaking of the human heart universally. He is not speaking only of the notorious profligate, or the prisoner in the jail. He is speaking of all mankind. All of us, whether . . .
high or low,
rich or poor,
masters or servants,
old or young,
learned or unlearned
— all of us have by nature such a heart as Jesus here describes! The seeds of all the evils here mentioned, lie hidden within us all. They may lie dormant all our lives. They may be kept down by . . .
the fear of consequences;
the restraint of public opinion;
the dread of discovery; or
the desire to be thought respectable.
But every person has within him, the root of every sin!
How humble we ought to be, when we read these verses! "We are all as an unclean thing" in God's sight. He sees countless evils in each one of us, which the world never sees at all, for He reads our hearts. Surely of all sins to which we are liable, self-righteousness is the most unreasonable.
How thankful we ought to be for the Gospel, when we read these verses! That Gospel contains a complete provision for all the needs of our poor defiled natures. The blood of Christ can "cleanse us from all sin." The Holy Spirit can change even our sinful hearts, and keep them clean, when changed. The man that does not glory in the Gospel, can surely know little of the plague that is within him.
How watchful we ought to be, when we remember these verses! What a careful guard we ought to keep over our imaginations, our tongues, and our daily behavior! At the head of the black list of our heart's contents, stand "evil thoughts." Let us never forget that. Thoughts are the parents of words and deeds! Let us pray daily for grace to keep our thoughts in order, and let us cry earnestly and fervently, "lead us not into temptation!"