Verse 8b-9 Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
We talked yesterday about drawing close to God and mentioned a few ways we can do that. Today we are going to look at some ways James was saying would help us draw near to God.
This washing of the hands was not James saying that they had dirty fingers. The Jews had various cleansing rituals that by this time had come to include certain hand washing rituals. This was not so much a healthy habit as a way of showing that they were religious. Remember that Pilate had washed his hands to show that he wasn’t guilty of Jesus’ death. James is using a metaphor his readers would understand about cleansing themselves. He was showing them the importance of living a clean life.
Next he talks about purifying their hearts because they are double-minded. This isn’t the first time he has mentioned them being double-minded and he is once again pointing out that we can’t love both God and the world. We can’t draw close to God and still be close to the world. We mentioned the other day that God is holy and that we can’t be bringing our sin with us into His presence. Holiness and sin cannot coexist. James is pointing out that we need to purify our hearts so that we can draw near to Him.
After pointing out that they needed to be cleansed on the outside – symbolized by the washing of hands – and the inside – symbolized by the purifying of the heart – James reminds them, and us, the difference in how we should be viewing our sinful desires and the way we actually do view them. He points out that we should be greatly saddened by our sins. We should grieve over sin in our lives because God hates it. And because He hates it, we should hate it too.
Our sins may have given us happiness in the past but as we see God in all His holiness our sins should start to disgust us. We will start to see what they do to His name if we are claiming Him as Lord and yet living lives surrendered to the lords of this world. If we are to draw near to Him, we must leave the joys of this world behind us. We need to intentionally identify the sins in our lives and work at purifying them from our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit. If we love God, we must learn to hate our sin.
Making It Personal
How much do you enjoy your sin? Do you find your sin more important to you than your relationship with God? What must you do today to cleanse your life of sin?
Making It Personal Kids
What is a sin you do often? Why do you do that sin? Do you like it more than you like Jesus?
Father, we know that we should hate our sins. Give us a hate for the things that You hate. In Jesus’ name, amen.