Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity…
It is the virtue of a garment that it covers. The ideas of covering and of atoning were very closely allied in Hebrew thought. The prophet intimates that there were webs of their own spinning which would never hide their sin from the sight of God. Such are there now. We look at -
I. THE SOUL'S SUPREME NECESSITY. The presence of sin is the sternest of all facts; the mark which it has made on our manhood is by far the deepest and darkest of any; all others are mere touches, mere scratches in comparison. This is true of the individual as well as of the community. The thing that we have done, more serious and of greater consequence than any other, is that we have sinned against the Lord and come beneath his condemnation. What we most urgently want is a covering for our soul. Our naked and guilty soul imperatively and sorely needs that under which it may appear before God without shame and shrinking, and take its place, in this world or in any other, among the pure, the holy, the righteous. The question is - What is that garment which will cover the sinful human soul?
II. THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE PROVISION WHICH SOME MEN ARE MAKING. Many are providing for themselves that which is utterly inadequate; they are spinning webs - poor, thin, gossamer productions - which "will not become garments" available for this purpose. There is:
1. The web of Christian profession. Some find comfort and complacency of soul in the fact that they are acknowledged members of a Church, ancient, or catholic, or established, or scriptural. Desirable, in many ways, as is an avowal of attachment to Christ, it is not a thing in which to put any trust; a man may be a member of the most scriptural Church, and yet be destitute of that which is vital and essential. "He is not a Jew who is one outwardly," etc. Christian profession is a poor thing for a soul to hide in; it is no true refuge for the human heart; it is a "web that will not make a garment."
2. The web of ceremony and ordinance. Many have an undefined but strong confidence in having passed through Christian ceremonies (Baptism and the Lord's Supper), or in having been constant in attendance on Divine worship, or in having taken on their lips apostolic and evangelical language; but to trust in these things as garments of salvation is to put "confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:1): they may exist without any faith or love prompting and vitalizing them.
3. The web of correct behaviour - abstinence from impurity, inebriety, untruthfulness, trickery, profanity. This is altogether and in every way desirable, and it may be eminently praiseworthy from a human standpoint; but it will not atone for the supreme omission - the failure to respond to a heavenly Father's love, to subject the will to the will of the Creator, to dedicate the life to the service of God. It, too, is a web that will not make a garment with which to cover a sinful soul.
III. THE ONE GARMENT TEAT SUFFICES. What did Christ mean by that "wedding garment" without which the guest might not sit down to the marriage-feast (Matthew 22:11)? May it not have been the abounding mercy of God unto eternal life, received through faith in a Divine Saviour (Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1; Philippians 3:7-9)? Men will be just with God, their sins wilt be covered and hidden for evermore, when, in the spirit of penitence and faith, they accept the Saviour of mankind as the Lord in whom they hide and to whom they yield themselves in glad surrender. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.