faith in action

James 4:8

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Read James Chapter 4 here

We are still talking about God’s offer of grace to help us work through the conflicts which arise among us, and some steps we can take to appropriate, or take full advantage of that grace. We have talked about submission to God, resisting the Devil, and drawing near to God. The next section has to do with how we approach the topic of sin in our lives.

Sin, if we are unsaved, has separated us from God; the only way that relationship can be restored is, of course, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Even for those who are saved, sin in our lives can interfere with our daily fellowship and communion with God. That is why it matters that we come to God with clean hearts and minds.

We can see the beginnings of this thought back in the priestly system of the Old Testament when the priests washed their hands and feet in the bronze basin before approaching God in the Tabernacle. Exodus 30:17-21. Even James seems to be drawing from the Old Testament when he teaches us this lesson.

Psalm 24:3,4 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

The word “purify” carries the meaning and usage in the Greek of the day,”to make chaste.” That is an interesting usage when compared to the earlier discussion of James 4:4 of adulterers and adulteresses. There does seem to be a strong parallel between the idea of being spiritual adulterers and that of presenting ourselves as chaste to The Lord.

And, finally, we see the idea of being “double minded.” This would be a reference it seems to people vacillating between their allegiances. Are we friends with God, or friends with the world? Are we chaste and loyal or are we spiritual adulterers?

A final question is appropriate. If we are saved, are we daily washing in the forgiveness of our sins through the power of the Holy Spirit? Are we washing our hearts and minds so that God will give us the daily grace to overcome the obstacles in our lives? More importantly in terms of washing is this question: have you been permanently washed in the Blood of Jesus Christ for the eternal forgiveness of your sin?