‘Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’ 1 Peter 2:1–3
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 34:8–14 (this Psalm was read earlier)
Evils to be avoided—malice. ‘Revenge is sweet,’ is the proverb of the Italians, and many an Englishman has half learned it, if not wholly. ‘Revenge is sweet;’ but not to the man who has tasted Christ, for he says, ‘How can I have vengeance upon my fellow, when Christ has put away my sin?’ Now, forgiveness is sweet, and he loathes malice, and turns aside from it as from venom itself. Guile: that is craftiness whereby men rob their fellow-creatures. Some men think guile a very fine thing. See that trader; you must keep both your eyes open or he will take you in; he does not exactly tell lies, but, well, he shaves very closely to the truth. It is guile; low craftiness and cunning. A man of God hates that thing. ‘What! Am I, the servant of the God of truth, to crouch, bend, fawn, do anything but what is upright, to gain wealth?’ As surely as the Lord says concerning the Laodicean church, ‘I will spue thee out of my mouth,’ so the believer says concerning anything that is not true and straightforward, ‘I am sick of it; I loathe it; I abhor it; I turn from it.’ The next thing is hypocrisy, whereby men are not so much robbed and injured as deceived. A Christian can be no hypocrite. Hypocrisy, like all other sins, lurks in man till the very last; but a believer hates to pretend to be what he is not. A man who has once tasted that the Lord is gracious, is a true and transparent man in his profession. If any suppose him to be better than he is, he does not wish to wear feathers that are not his own; he would not be glorified by another man’s labours, nor build upon another man’s foundation; hypocrisy he utterly detests.
For meditation: The best way of avoiding these sins is to seek their opposites with the Lord’s help—kindness for malice (Ephesians 4:31–32), openness for guile (2 Corinthians 4:2) and genuineness for hypocrisy (Matthew 6:2–6; Romans 12:9).
Sermon no. 459
6 July (1862)