For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy…
1. The consideration of the common condition is a notable ground of meekness and moderation towards those who are yet uncalled to the faith. For —
(1) Whereas pride maketh the heart to swell against the brother, and is a root whence these bitter fruits arise, this consideration pulleth those peacock feathers, and humbleth the heart, so as when it can find no other reason of forbearance, here it never wanteth a most effectual one.
2. This consideration not only subdueth that violent affection of pride, but worketh the heart to such affections as not only beseem ourselves but befit the offender, and these are two —
(1) For time present pity and compassion.
(2) Hope for time to come.
3. Whosoever are called unto the faith have experience of a double estate in themselves, one in time past, another for the present, the one of nature, the other of grace. Our apostle affirmeth it of all believers, of which there is none but he had his once, his time past, in regard of which he may now be said to be changed into another man (Romans 7:5, 6). The time was when the Romans were in the flesh, when sinful motions had force in them unto death; and there was an aftertime when they were delivered from the law, and served God not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of spirit (Ephesians 2:3). Among whom the Gentiles we believers had our conversation in time past. "Wherein ye walked also once, but now," etc. (1 Corinthians 6:11). "And such were some of you, but ye are washed." And good reason there is that he that is now beloved should see that once he was not beloved, and that he who now is in the state of grace should see that he was once in the state of wrath as well as others, which will cause him to love much; and indeed the elect could not be elect, nor justified, nor washed, if they were always the children of God, and were it not for this once, and time past, wherein there was no difference between them and the reprobate, but only in God's counsel and possibility of calling. I add, further, that the converted may and must have experience of this change, for the conversion of a sinner is a miracle above all natural wonders; and therefore, except in some Jeremiah, John Baptist, and some few sanctified from the womb, is no such insensible thing as cannot be perceived. It is no such natural change as is effected by insensible degrees, as when he that was a child is now become a man; but a supernatural change by the Spirit of grace, such as when a man is born into the world, or when a blind man is restored to his sight, or rather a dead man unto life, which are things of much note and manifest alteration, and that of the whole man. Again, faith it is which as an internal instrument purgeth the Augean Stable, and purifieth the foul cage of the heart. Now this we may know, and must examine whether we be in the faith or no; know ye not that Christ is in you, unless ye be reprobates. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). "Know ye that ye are dead to sin, but are alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11). Labour to find this change in thyself and examine whether thou canst put difference between time past and time present, for otherwise I see not but thou must set thyself down without comfort, as one that hath no sound proof of thy conversion. Hence may many a one learn what to think of himself. Some profess they love God with all their hearts and have ever so done since they can remember; they always believed in Christ and never doubted but they were ever dear unto God. But all this is nothing but a deceitful skinning over the sores of their souls with peace, peace, whereas the case that was ever so good was never good at all; no, if thou canst not remember the time past, when thy state was worse than nought, I can never be persuaded that it is good for the present.Every Christian learn hence —
1. If we see a change in ourselves or others to bless God that hath made this separation (Romans 6:17). God be thanked that ye were such, but now ye obey the form, and blessed be God for this unspeakable gift.
2. Not to deem of men as they were once in time past, when once this change is come, the Lord esteemeth of men according to the present grace received, and never casteth them in the teeth with that they were in time past; and why should we upbraid men with sins or infirmities past, which the Lord hath covered? Paul accounted not James, John, Peter, fishermen, as they had been in times past, but highly esteemed of them as apostles of Christ, being called thereunto.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.