(Vs. 19.) Since the gospel, "the word of truth", is the means and instrument which God uses in regeneration (Vs.18), in Christian growth (1 Peter 2:2) and to comfort his people (1 Thess. 4:18), "Let every man be swift [eager] to hear." Let us seize upon every opportunity to hear the Word. "Let us be slow to speak," either against what is heard without thoroughly weighing and considering it, or for what is heard until we are taught in the Word. Be content to be a hearer of the Word. We must not set ourselves up as teachers of the Scriptures until we have listened, learned and been taught of the Spirit (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Tim. 2:15).
"Let us be slow to wrath," when the doctrines of grace are preached, when corrections and instructions are given and when sin is exposed. According to the context, we are not to become angry or upset when someone disagrees with us, does not believe our gospel or lives contrary to our desires (Provs. 14:29). A passionate, angry spirit does not adorn the gospel.
(Vs. 20.) We do not persuade men to faith and righteousness, nor do we promote the glory of God, with an angry spirit. "A meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God."
(Vs. 21.) To divide this verse into two pints will open it up to us.
1. "Lay aside all manner of filthiness," both of flesh and spirit, especially pride, vanity, malice and evil speaking. The word "superfluity" means "excess" or what is "not needed". We are never wholly cleansed or rid of these things in this life. We are exhorted constantly to "weed our gardens" and rid ourselves of the passions of flesh and spirit.
2. "Receive the word with meekness and gentleness," even that word which is contrary to our thoughts and ideas. The "engrafted" word is that which is put into the heart by the Holy Spirit, made a part of our very being by the power of God and is able to save our souls (Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 3:15).
1. We are to bear it thoughtfully and quietly, slow to become authorities and teachers.
2. We are to bear it humbly, as it is the Word of our Lord (Rom. 9:20).
3. But we are not to be hearers only. The Word of God is to be believed, loved and obeyed! We are to put into practice its commandments, ordinances and principles (John 25:14). Those who rest upon outward hearing of the Word only will be greatly disappointed in that day (Matt. 7: 26, 27).
(Vs. 23, 24.) The Word of God not only reveals the holy God to men; it also discovers sinful man to himself. The man who hears only is like a man who looks into a mirror and sees dirt, blemishes, hair in disarray but, rather than seeking cleansing and renewal, he goes his way, forgetting his condition and need. He finds it convenient to forget what he saw both his guilt and the grace of Christ.
(Vs. 25.) The man who "looks into" the Word (not beholds and goes his way, but gazes with care, concern and interest into this gospel called the perfect law of liberty with full intent to receive, believe and obey it) shall be blessed in his life of faith and obedience. It is called "the perfect law of liberty" because it has liberty as its subject.
1. Christ frees us from the curse, condemnation and bondage of the law.
2. He frees us from the power and dominion of sin.
3. He gives us freedom to approach the throne of grace.
4. He leads us into the liberty of his grace!
"He continues therein." Looking to Christ, looking into his Word for faith, growth and leadership, and looking to his spirit for grace strength and instruction is a lifelong occupation and privilege (Heb. 12:1,2).
(Vs. 26.) If a man professes to be religious (or appears to be so by preaching, praying or personal piety) and does not control his tongue, but boasts of his works, speaks evil of others, is critical of others, sows discord among the brethren, or speaks in wrath, unkindness and gossip, the man is a fraud, a phony, a hypocrite, and his profession is in vain!
(Vs. 27.) That religion which is sincere and genuine, free from hypocrisy before God, is supported by the labours of love and works of faith. This is not a full definition of true religion, but shows the effects and evidences of it, by which if is known, and without which it cannot be genuine and sincere. Where there is true faith in the heart, there is love to God; where there is love to God, there is love to others; and this will show itself in works.