Category Archives: meek

Put down the sin and back away!

** I am going to repost some of my earlier blogs from the blog study I did through James. I will probably do this for the next five to six posts. I hope you enjoy them as many of my current readers were not with me when I put these out. There may be some slight edits but essentially they will be the same.***

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  (Jas 1:21 ESV)

When ever you see the word “therefore” you should look and see what it is there for! And sure enough, this therefore is there for a reason. It concludes a thought that James is expressing and brings to close an argument (or at least a portion of it) that he has been making.  Because we are responsible for our own temptations and sins and God is the one who is giving us all of the good gifts, especially being born again into his family, we need to stop! Listen! and realize that our anger at our perceptions of reality (which are not the way things really are) is messed up. So….

We should put away something and receive something that will benefit us.

That which we are to put away is all of the filthiness and rampant wickedness in our lives. Wait! What is that? Filth and wickedness?  Isn’t James talking to Christians who had been washed in the blood of Jesus? Cleansed from their old sins? How can they have filth and wickedness? Sure, a little sin once in a while (everyone does) but “filth” is such a …well, it is such a filthy word! Don’t even get me started on wickedness. Contrary to the popular usage (or the little note of encouragement that WordPress gave me at post 14 “Wicked!”) it is not a compliment.

James is not the first person to address this issue and every Christian realizes that from about 5 minutes after coming up out of the grave, sin is still a possibility. We are not mechanically prevented from sinning. Paul dealt with it in Romans 6 and told those Christians that they could not live in sin any longer.  In this context though, the filthiness and wickedness would be attributable to a life that was not lived in faith and, worse yet, one that blamed God for the situation.  You can see now perhaps why James goes on from here to give so much good practical advice to his audience on how to live a life of faith and the many actions that will show that you live a life of faith.

I like the phrase ‘put away’. It is used in several meanings. 

  1. To put in its proper spot. “Would you put the trash away please.”
  2. To incarcerate. “The judge put him away for 1000 years.”
  3. To be victorious over. “He put him away with that final shot”

In either case, the understanding should be to remove that stuff out of your life because it does not belong there.

To contrast the putting away and removal of filth and wickedness, James says you are to receive something. In this case, the implanted word.

How you are to receive it is very important: with meekness. As I have heard all my life, “meek doesn’t mean weak” but we still tend to think of it that way. Actually, meek has more to do with the control of strength not  the absence of strength. A meek horse is still a powerful animal but, rather than flexing his muscles and running away with or bucking off the rider, he permits the rider to be there. We also need to permit the word that God has implanted to be there. To fight against it and to tear it out is not good for us.

Jesus spreading seedThe illustration reminds me of the parable of the sower. In that parable, the seed was also the word of God and it fell on four soils. These have already proven themselves not to be the hard soil and probably not the rocky soil. Judging by James’ book, I think he was concerned that they may be the thorny soil. When the word is implanted into the soil (our hearts) if we receive it with meekness, it is able to save our souls. If we do not, well… it cannot do its job.

James is going to expand on this thought in the next few verses. What we need to consider, as we read the word, is are we receiving the word with meekness or trying to remake it into our own image and plans? One last cliché to close. We have seen those bumper stickers that say “God is my co-pilot”. While the thought is nice, I would suggest that God should be the pilot!  Let’s meekly let God direct us in His paths.

Question: How hard is it for you to back away from sin and meekly accept only God’s word?

Drawing near to God means moving away from Sin

 Jas 4:8-10  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  (9)  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  (10)  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

In seeing this verse, I am reminded of the older couple driving along a country road. As he drove along, his wife sighed and said, “Do you remember how when we would take these drives and sit next to each other, holding hands?” (this was in the day of bench seats, of course) “Yes, I remember” he said. “Why don’t we do that anymore?” she asked. After a short pause, he replied: “I haven’t moved.”

How true is it that we think that God has forsaken us and withdrawn from us when in fact, it is the other way around.  How sad it is for Christians (and James is writing to Christians) to drift away from God when they should be heading closer and closer to Him. All of this is in the realm of being humble which we talked about in the last post. James is not through with that thought.

God sent His Son to die for you, he had the Gospel preached to you, you responded to it and now, now?! you want to slide away to be friends with the world?  No! You should be doing something else instead, you should be getting closer to Him.

James doesn’t pull punches. He just called them adulterers and now he calls them sinners. “Sinners!” Now, we may not be surprised by that because we know that we all sin.  However, those in Christ are not to be characterized as being sinners as Paul points out in Romans 6. Sin should be dead to us and we, are also to be dead, to it. The fact that these Christians were not was the source of their problems and the source of the source was their own desires, ambitions, and selfishness. (see James 1:13, 3:16 and 4:1)

James tells them to cleanse their hands and purify their hearts. A whole blog (not just a post) could be written on this. To Cleanse your hands involves the outside. Stop doing those things which are wrong;  Do not cast your lot with the sinners. Purifying your hearts involves the inside, where man cannot see. However, God can. You cannot be double minded on this. Either you are for sin or you are not. It can’t be that Jesus is Lord on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday but the other days are left for yourself to indulge. You cannot put your hand to the plow and then look back.

Have you ever known someone who rejoiced in their sin? Looked back on the ‘good ole days’ of parties and raucous behavior? I have. They go back to those days in their mind or boast about them at gatherings. They make their sinful behavior appear to be a glamorous thing. Those that did not engage in it, (or those who are too young but will soon be old enough) listen and think “I am missing out”.

Call a spade a spade and call sin, sin. Do not sugar coat the lifestyle of the world or that which you in your former life (I hope it is former) engaged in. Mourn over the things you used to take pride in. Weep at the thought of the wasted years. Be sorry for that sin that you are still struggling with simply because you are not ready to give it up. In other words, REPENT! Humble yourself before God. Be the publican in Luke “Lord, forgive me the sinner”. Be David who in a moment of clarity could only say “I have sinned.”

If you do, God will exalt you. When God exalts a person, He does it right. God gives grace, James has just said, but he gives it to the humble. Be humble!

 

Put down the sin and back away!

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  (Jas 1:21 ESV)

When ever you see the word “therefore” you should look and see what it is there for! And sure enough, this therefore is there for a reason. It concludes a thought that James is expressing and brings to close an argument (or at least a portion of it) that he has been making.  Because we are responsible for our own temptations and sins and God is the one who is giving us all of the good gifts, especially being born again into his family, we need to stop! Listen! and realize that our anger at our perceptions of reality (which are not the way things really are) is messed up. So….

We should put away something and receive something that will benefit us.

That which we are to put away is all of the filthiness and rampant wickedness in our lives. Wait! What is that? Filth and wickedness?  Isn’t James talking to Christians who had been washed in the blood of Jesus? Cleansed from their old sins? How can they have filth and wickedness? Sure, a little sin once in a while (everyone does) but “filth” is such a …well, it is such a filthy word! Don’t even get me started on wickedness. Contrary to the popular usage (or the little note of encouragement that WordPress gave me at post 14 “Wicked!”) it is not a compliment.

James is not the first person to address this issue and every Christian realizes that from about 5 minutes after coming up out of the grave, sin is still a possibility. We are not mechanically prevented from sinning. Paul dealt with it in Romans 6 and told those Christians that they could not live in sin any longer.  In this context though, the filthiness and wickedness would be attributable to a life that was not lived in faith and, worse yet, one that blamed God for the situation.  You can see now perhaps why James goes on from here to give so much good practical advice to his audience on how to live a life of faith and the many actions that will show that you live a life of faith.

I like the phrase ‘put away’. It is used in several meanings. 

  1. To put in its proper spot. “Would you put the trash away please.”
  2. To incarcerate. “The judge put him away for 1000 years.”
  3. To be victorious over. “He put him away with that final shot”

In either case, the understanding should be to remove that stuff out of your life because it does not belong there.

To contrast the putting away and removal of filth and wickedness, James says you are to receive something. In this case, the implanted word.

How you are to receive it is very important: with meekness. As I have heard all my life, “meek doesn’t mean weak” but we still tend to think of it that way. Actually, meek has more to do with the control of strength not  the absence of strength. A meek horse is still a powerful animal but, rather than flexing his muscles and running away with or bucking off the rider, he permits the rider to be there. We also need to permit the word that God has implanted to be there. To fight against it and to tear it out is not good for us.

Jesus spreading seedThe illustration reminds me of the parable of the sower. In that parable, the seed was also the word of God and it fell on four soils. These have already proven themselves not to be the hard soil and probably not the rocky soil. Judging by James’ book, I think he was concerned that they may be the thorny soil. When the word is implanted into the soil (our hearts) if we receive it with meekness, it is able to save our souls. If we do not, well… it cannot do its job.

James is going to expand on this thought in the next few verses. What we need to consider, as we read the word, is are we receiving the word with meekness or trying to remake it into our own image and plans? One last cliché to close. We have seen those bumper stickers that say “God is my co-pilot”. While the thought is nice, I would suggest that God should be the pilot!  Let’s meekly let God direct us in His paths.

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