Moving on to Maturity
Category : General
James 4: 8 (KJV)
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
It is said that the persons addressed are not the profane men of the world, but sinners in Zion, formal professors, hypocritical persons; who speak with a double tongue to men, and who draw nigh to God with their mouths, but not with their hearts; who halt between two opinions, and are unstable in all their ways.
There may possibly be an allusion here to Isaiah 1:15-16; “Your hands are full of blood; wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil.” The heart is the seat of motives and intentions – that by which we devise anything; the hands, the instruments by which we execute our purposes. The hands here are represented as defiled by blood, or by acts of iniquity. To wash or cleanse the hands was, therefore, emblematic of putting away transgression, Matthew 27:24 (Deuteronomy 21:6; Psalm 26:6). The heathen and the Jews were accustomed to wash their hands before they engaged in public worship. The particular idea here is, that in order to obtain the favor of God, it is necessary to put away our sins; to approach him with a desire to be pure and holy. The mere washing of the hands, in itself, could not recommend us to his favor; but that of which the washing of the hands would be an emblem, would be acceptable in his sight. It may be inferred from what is said here that no one can hope for the favor of God who does not abandon his transgressions. The design of the apostle is, evidently, to state one of the conditions on which we can make an acceptable approach to God. It is indispensable that we come with a purpose and desire to wash ourselves from all iniquity, to put away from us all our transgressions. So, David said, “I will wash my hands in innocency; so will I compass thine altar. O Lord,” Psalm 26:6.
We must understand that “To obtain the favor of God, it is necessary to put away our sins” – is somewhat unguarded phraseology. If the favor of God were not obtained but on this condition none ever would obtain it. The passage is a strong injunction to holiness and singleness of heart. It does not say, however, that by these we obtain acceptance with God. Of His favor, holiness is the fruit, the effect, and not the cause. The sinner must not think of getting rid of his sins to prepare him for going to God by Jesus; but he must first go to Jesus to prepare for laying aside his sins. Understand that in every approach to God, it is true there must be a “desire “to be free from sin; and this doubtless is the view of the commentary; indeed it is so expressed, though some words are objectionable.
“And purify your hearts”; That is, do not rest satisfied with a mere external reformation; with putting away your outward transgressions. There must be a deeper work than that; a work which shall reach to the heart, and which shall purify the affections. This agrees with all the requisitions of the Bible, and is in accordance with what must be the nature of religion. If the heart is wrong, nothing can be right. If, while we seek an external reformation, we still give indulgence to the secret corruptions of the heart, it is clear that we can have no true religion.
As believers in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we need to separate ourselves from the world, and consecrate ourselves to God. We have often seen that to sanctify signifies to separate a thing or person from profane or common use, and consecrate it or him to God; this is the true notion of sanctification.
Have a great and God filled day!