For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor;
1. Religion has to do with character and conduct. Religion is that which "binds," and it has a tremendous grip. It has to do not only with creeds, and forms, and rites, but with character and conduct.
2. Religion makes little of mere emotion. Some persons delight in the excitation of the sensibilities. The Master's word is, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." This is the proof of genuine love. The mother takes her boy's kiss as a sign of emotion, but sees in his obedience the proof of principle, which is more than mere feeling.
(1) The first characteristic of true religion is a right view of sin. Our prayer should be, "Wash me thoroughly," even as the spotted robe was in David's day cleansed in a vat with strong acid and alkali, mauled and bruised with mallet, till the stain was gone. God uses powerful methods to purify. Some dread to be born again, because they know that they will be required to thoroughly amend their ways, i.e., "throughly," as the word was formerly spelled. True amendment goes through and through to the uttermost end — clear to the furthest limit.
(2) There must be not only right views, but a clean sweep of sin. The people of Israel found that those they spared of idolatrous nations were thorns in their sides and pricks in their eyes. If we do not drive sin out, sin will drive us out. What we call little sins accumulate, as do the snowflakes which stop a locomotive. We shall arrest the power and blessing of God by tolerating small transgressions.
(3) Thorough amendment comprehends character and conduct — what we are and what we do. It were useless to throw our prayers into a malarious swamp and leave the source, the well head, unclean. Pray that God's Spirit may create "a clean heart." Then follow conscience. The amendment enjoined in the text is a new life. Christ and the soul are firmly united, and He is the model. A little fibre, just enough to cling to the sacrament, is not enough. That Hamburg grapevine would not have yielded you those rich clusters if the branches had not been closely united to the vine. You are Christ's. You will hate sin because He abhors it. You will also heed Christ's demands on your time, your income, and your strength.
3. The text promises permanency; not merely a visit, but an abode where one can root and grow, work and worship, till transplanted to heaven.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;