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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : The vileness of the saint

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 The vileness of the saint

It is regularly seen as a profane offense here to see oneself as vile in one’s own eyes. This has not been something that has been profane but rather something that has been regularly owned by saints of old when viewing themselves in the light of God.

Here are a couple of links and quotes on the subject to comfort those who see themselves in this way.

“He that is vile in his own eyes is precious in God's eyes.” – Thomas Watson

“[3.] When a man is vile in his own eyes, and reflecteth with most indignation upon his own sins. There are none that pass a severer doom than the children of God do upon themselves when they have sinned against God; they need no other judge than their own consciences to pass a sentence upon them. Men naturally are apt to favour themselves; they are slight in self-humiliation, and deep in censure of others. With indignation they reflect upon the sins of others, but with indulgence upon their own. As Judah, when it was told him, 'Tamar thy daughter hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. Judah said, bring her forth, and let her be burnt,' Gen.38.24. But when she showed him the tokens, and that he had defiled her, then he was calm enough. It is otherwise with God's children, no sins so odious to them as their own: 1 Tim. 1.15, 'Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief.' Oh, there is no such sinner in the world as I am, saith Paul. So Prov. 30.2, 'Surely I am more brutish than any man, and I have not the understanding of a man.' How could a godly man say so? It is the fruit of spiritual indignation. A godly man spends the most of his revenge and spiritual indignation upon himself. Oh, there cannot be a more brutish person than I have been, that have sinned against so many mercies, so many obligations, and so much light! These are not compliments, but they speak them with bitter feeling. Saith Chrysostom, They do not only speak it in humility, but in truth. They can but know the sins of others by guess and imagination, but they feel their own sins, they know them by sense. As in sorrow we are apt to say, There is none like mine. Why? Because we feel the gripes of our own pains. So the children of God, they feel how grievously they have sinned against God. Saith David, Ps. 73.23, 'I was as a beast before thee.' They know they have more mercies than others, and more obligations than others, therefore their offences seem to them to be more grievous. Well, if the heart be brought to this pass, that the heat of indignation is spent upon thy own sins, and these things be spoken not by rote and imitation, but out of deep sense and feeling, it is a comfortable sign that self is dethroned in thee.” - Thomas Manton

“You ought, therefore, to be so dead to such human affections as to wish as far as lies within you to be without the fellowship of men. Man draws nearer to God in proportion as he withdraws farther from all earthly comfort. And he ascends higher to God as he descends lower into himself and grows more vile in his own eyes. He who attributes any good to himself hinders God's grace from coming into his heart, for the grace of the Holy Spirit seeks always the humble heart.” - Thomas A Kempis

“Behold, I am vile” - Job

Upon a meeting of self and God in all His perfection, my question would be "How on earth can one not see oneself as vile?"


 2012/3/4 13:18

 Re: The vileness of the saint

Here are a few more:

Sermon 17 - The Circumcision of the Heart (Romans 2:29)
“I am, in the Second place, to mention some reflections that naturally arise from such an inquiry, as a plain rule whereby every man may judge of himself, whether he be of the world or of God. And, First, it is clear from what has been said, that no man has a title to the praise of God, unless his heart is circumcised by humility; unless he is little, and base, and vile in his own eyes; unless he is deeply convinced of that inbred "corruption of his nature," "whereby be is very far gone from original righteousness," being prone to all evil, averse to all good, corrupt and abominable; having a "carnal mind which is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be," unless he continually feels in his inmost soul, that without the Spirit of God resting upon him, he can neither think, nor desire, nor speak, nor act anything good, or well-pleasing in his sight. No man I say, has A title to the praise of God, till he feels his want of God; nor indeed, till he seeketh that "honor which cometh of God only;" and neither desires nor pursues that which cometh of man, unless so far only as it tends to this.” - John Wesley

Sermon 92 - On Zeal (Gal. 4:18)
“From hence it follows, that the properties of love are the properties of zeal also. Now, one of the chief properties of love is humility: "Love is not puffed up." Accordingly, this is a property of true zeal: humility is inseparable from it. As is the degree of zeal, such is the degree of humility: they must rise and fall together. The same love which fills a man with zeal for God, makes him little, and poor, and vile in his own eyes.” - John Wesley

A humbling confession

I. THE SELF-ACCUSATION. "Behold, I am vile."

1. The quality acknowledged. "Vileness." "Behold, I am vile." "Vile," says Johnson in his Dictionary, is "base, mean, worthless, despicable, impure." There is nothing in the world to which this will so much apply as sin; and to sin Job referred when he said, "Behold, I am vile." He does not call himself vile because he was a man reduced, poor, and needy; no man of sense ever would do so. Character intrinsically does not depend Upon adventitious circumstances. If poverty were vileness, as by their discourse some people seem to think, how vile must the apostles have been, who said, "Even to this very hour, we hunger, and thirst, are naked, are destitute, and have no Certain dwelling place!" How vile must that be which leads God to hate the work of His own hands; which leads a God of love to threaten to punish with everlasting destruction from His presence and His power, and which would not allow of His pardoning without the sacrifice of His own Son!

2. Who made this confession? Surely it was some very gross transgressor? No. It was some newly-awakened returning penitent? No. It was Job; a saint of no ordinary magnitude. What, then, do we learn from hence, but that the most eminent saints are the most remote from vain thoughts of themselves? We know that the nearer a man approaches to perfection in anything, the more sensible he becomes of his remaining deficiency, and the more hungry and thirsty he is after improvement. Take knowledge; advancement in knowledge is like sailing down a river; it widens as you proceed, till you are out at sea. A little knowledge puffs a man up, but Sir Isaac Newton was the most modest of men. Not that there is no difference between a saint and a sinner. Job does not mean to intimate that he loves sin, or that he lives in it. His friends accused him of this, which he denied, saying, in his address to God, "Thou knowest that I am not wicked." "Behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high." But he knew that sin, though it did not reign in him, yet lived in him, yet opposed him, yet vexed him, yet defiled. him; so that he could not do the thing that he would.

3. When was the acknowledgment here uttered, "Behold, I am vile"? It was immediately after God's interview with him, God's intercourse with him, God's addressing him. "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me." It was after God had further displayed Himself in the perfection of several of His works; it was then that "Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile." And what does this teach us but this -- that the more we have to do with God, the more we shall see and feel our unworthiness. Those who have never been abroad to see great things are pleased with littleness, but travelling expands and enlarges the mind, furnishes it with superior objects and images; so that the man is no longer struck, upon his return, with the little rivulet and the little hill, which seemed to astonish him before he went from home, and during his infancy. And when a man has gone far enough, so to speak, to be introduced to God Himself, he will be sure to think afterward very little of himself. Yes, if anything can make us feel our littleness, it must be a view of His wisdom; if anything can make us sensible of our weakness, it must be the view of His almighty sovereignty; if anything can make us feel our depravity, it must be the view of His spotless purity, -- the spotless purity of Him "who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and in whose sight the very heavens are not clean." - The Biblical Illustrator


 2012/3/5 9:10

 Re: Joe

Brother I recommend this in gentle love. Get out of these writings. Get a New Testament and immerse yourself in it. For Paul says to the Ephesian elders that I commit you to God and to the word of his grace which cam build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Brother you need buiding up in Jesus. I pray he touches your heart with his love and healing.


 2012/3/5 9:30


I think the problem comes when you can only see yourself as vile and there is no joy or testimony in your life apart from looking at your vileness, then it becomes something very destructive. The balance is always love and joy, this is why we have 1Cor 13 where Paul reminds us that that we can all things, but without love, we have nothing. The problem with the people who are imbalanced in this way is that they believe that their ministry is to prove others vileness and they believe that this is their love.............bro Frank

 2012/3/5 9:48


Behold, I am vile!

(James Smith, "Daily Bible Readings for the Lord's Household")

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

JOB did not always think so. While at a distance from God—he could boast, argue, and contend with God! But when brought into the presence of God's holiness—the contrast was so striking, that he sunk down in astonishment, clothed with shame, and filled with self-loathing!

The manifestation of God's glory to a sinner—always produces the same effect!

ISAIAH felt as Job did, and exclaimed, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! My eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!" Isaiah 6:5

Pride and self-righteousness can never live in God's presence!

The nearer to God—
  the more we discover our depravity,
  the more we loathe ourselves, and
  the more precious does the person and work of Jesus become!

Proud people have never been brought into God's presence!

Only clear, correct and humbling views of SELF—will make Jesus precious to us!

It is only as we see our own vileness—that we shall value the Savior's righteousness!

Precious indeed!!


 2012/3/5 10:54

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


they believe that their ministry is to prove others vileness

I admit this is one of my pet peeves; extolling the virtue of your own vileness is pointless if it leads to stingy contempt rather then gracious humility. If we aren't careful, "Worm's pride" can become fashionable!

I'm reminded of a funny story...

One day at Synagogue, a Rabbi stands up before the congregation and cries aloud "Lord, I am nothing!" The Chazzan, not to be outdone, then stands up and also cries aloud, "Lord, I am nothing!" Feeling the need to be a good exemplar for the congregation, the Gabbai rises and proclaims, "Lord, I am nothing!" Meanwhile, in the rear of the synagogue, a janitor was so moved that he drops to his knees next to his mop and bucket, and with tearful trembling prays quietly, "Lord, I am nothing!". The Rabbi, upon spying the kneeling janitor, elbows the Chazzan and Gabbai, and under his breath says to them indignantly, "Look who thinks he's nothing."


Mike Compton

 2012/3/5 11:12Profile


I am also reminded of a story. In Puritain New England a young lass presented herself before the stern elders for church membership. The ruling elder asked her sternly. Young woman describe your experience in the slough of despond. She courtseyed and said. Honorable sir. I came over the slough of despond by the stepping on the stones.

I have no idea if the young maiden was ever admitted to church membershio. My guess would be she was cut off from the assembly for choosing to believe in Jesus.


 2012/3/5 12:01


"Then Job answered the Lord and said, Behold, I am vile."—Job 40:3-4.

SURELY, if any man had a right to say, I am not vile, it was Job; for, according to the testimony of God himself, he was "a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil." Yet we find even this eminent saint, when by his nearness to God he had received light enough to discover his own condition, exclaiming, "Behold I am vile." We are sure that what Job was forced to say, we may each of us assent unto, whether we be God's children or not; and if we be partakers of divine grace, it becomes a subject of great consideration for us, since even we, although we be regenerated, must exclaim, each one for himself, "Behold, I am vile."" C.H. Spurgeon

Continue reading here


 2012/3/5 12:26


Ah brother Mike, you made me laugh out loud.

""Look who thinks he's nothing."

Thats exactly what I have run into in my travels time and time again. Its a competition to see who is the vilest and it robs of all joy while they compete to see who can crawl under the biggest rock.

"I admit this is one of my pet peeves; extolling the virtue of your own vileness is pointless if it leads to stingy contempt rather then gracious humility. If we aren't careful, "Worm's pride" can become fashionable!"

This would be a good measuring device for any who may have become imbalanced. Do you have stingy contempt for others? Do you walk in gracious humility? The Truth spoken in love is the most powerful way that we can walk our walk. "Worm's pride," is the opposite equivelent of " cheap grace." Both are dilluting and destructive to the true Gospel meassage. I am reminded of so many of the stories from Foxes book of Martyrs where the cruel inquisitors went about their business and were completly convinced that they did the Lord's work, as "unpleasant," as it was. ............ bro Frank

 2012/3/5 12:49

Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777


In Puritain New England a young lass presented herself before the stern elders for church membership. The ruling elder asked her sternly. Young woman describe your experience in the slough of despond. She courtseyed and said. Honorable sir. I came over the slough of despond by the stepping on the stones.

Praise God for the stones! “… he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40: 2

Food for thought from NETBible - regarding the word for “vile” in the KJV:

“The word (qalloti) means “to be light; to be of small account; to be unimportant.”

Notice how other translations render it:

"See, I am of small account; how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” NRSV

"I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” NIV

“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. NASB

This doesn’t appear to be a reference to total depravity as much as to Job’s renewed sense of self in comparison to a mighty God who now appears far mightier than Job had realized before: “He must increase; I must decrease.”



 2012/3/5 13:58Profile

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