Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable…
I. THE UNCONVERTED SINNER'S ESTIMATE OF HIS OWN CONDITION.
1. "I am rich." The word "rich" is here used in its most extended meaning, as descriptive of the possession of that which is of great value. "I am rich." I possess much; and what I possess is well worth having. If the unconverted sinner has money, he is proud of it. He looks upon it as a great portion. But many of the unconverted have no money to be proud of. That circumstance, however, does not prevent them from finding out that they are rich. Perhaps they have respectable family connections, or they have a goodly personal appearance, or they possess superior talents. In any such case, the mind fastens with special complacency upon the circumstance, and feels all the satisfaction attendant upon the consciousness of being rich.
2. "And increased with goods." These words embody an additional conceit of the unconverted man. He is rich, and his wealth is not in the course of decay; on the contrary, it is rising in its amount, it is accumulating fast. If he is a .young man, he, peradventure, rejoices in the rapid growth and extensive range of his literary and scientific and professional acquirements, and his heart bounds within him as the strong hope arises of approaching distinction and fame. See, again, that man who has left behind him the gay period of youth, and has arrived at the years of maturity and wisdom. He is no longer what he once was. The fire of passion is moderated, and the greaser immoralities of early life are abandoned. From being a person of no character, he is become a person of good character. He is a prudent, a well-behaved, an honourable citizen.
3. "And have need of nothing." In these words we are presented with the unconverted man's climax. The prosperity of his state has arrived at the superlative degree.
II. THE UNCONVERTED SINNER'S REAL STATE.
1. "He is wretched." Consider the original state of mankind. Think of its enjoyments, its privileges, its honours, its prospects. What a happy condition! and how wretched the condition which has succeeded! They might be free, but instead of that they are slaves to Satan, to the world, to their own lusts. They might be noble princes; but, alas! they are disgraced outcasts from the Divine favour. They might be kings and priests unto God; but they are doomed criminals, the branded victims of coming vengeance. Surely they are in a wretched condition; they have the Almighty Potentate of heaven and earth for their foe.
2. "Miserable." It is intimated here, that when the mind comes to the consideration of the state of the unconverted, the appropriate emotion is pity. The thraldom they are held in calls for pity; the forfeiture they have incurred, the doom they have provoked, the self-deception they are practising, the false security they are indulging, the infatuation they are exemplifying, demand our pity.
3. "Poor." If the tattered garment around the body be recognised as the symbol of poverty surely we have the symbol of a deeper poverty when the soul is enveloped in the unclean rags of self-righteousness!
4. "Blind." Sinai overhangs him, but he heeds not the frowning mountain. One fairer than the sons of men, and chief among ten thousand, appears to him; but he evinces no sense of His attractions. The deformities of sin do not hinder him from embracing it. Though it be the noon-day of the Gospel, he gropes as one in darkness. The road which he travels is marked for his warning, as the way to everlasting misery and ruin, but he slackens not his pace. Can it be, then, that he sees? Would beauty have no power to draw a man, deformity none to repel him, or dangers to dismay him, unless he were blind?
5. "Naked." This completes the picture of an unconverted state. The unconverted are naked in a two-fold respect — in that they want the garment of justification, and likewise the garment of sanctification.
III. SOME INFERENCES DESCRIPTIVE OF THE UNCONVERTED MAN'S ERROR.
1. It is a great error. It is just as great an error as possibly can be. It is not, for example, the error of the man who says it is an hour before noon, or an hour after noon, when it is actually just noon; but it is the error of him who declares it is midnight while he stands under the blaze of the meridian sun.
2. It is a surprising error. It is surprising from its very grossness. Man is so prone to err that the occurrence of small mistakes excites no astonishment; on the contrary, we look for it. But it is startling to find men calling bitter sweet, emptiness abundance, disgrace honour, and misery comfort and happiness. The error in question is the more extraordinary, when it is considered that there are such ample means of getting at the truth.
3. It is a pernicious error. Death is the consequence of adhering to this error — death in its most appalling form — the eternal ruin of body and soul.
4. It is an error which, by human means, is incorrigible. We say not that its correction is beyond the power of God.
Parallel VersesKJV: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: