Picture your worst possible day working out in your yard. It is 127 degrees out there (well, it feels like it) and you have been sweating profusely. As you were cutting your grass, the wind intentionally changed directions every time you turned and it blew all of the grass trimmings all over your sweat-drenched body. But, of course, your yard has as much dirt as it does grass, so you’re now covered in dirt from head to toe. You spend time cutting down some high tree limbs, and the shavings fall all over you and are now caked on you like some kind of sticky glaze. You look great! Smell even better!
When you’re done, what do you do? Do you just act like nothing has happened? No! Every rational person would not go about the day like a normal day. Instead, he/she would immediately head to the shower, remove every single piece of filthy clothing and get cleaned up. If we recognize this desperate need in regard to a physical filth, why not in regard to a spiritual filth?
The first chapter of the letter from James warns Christians about the severe dangers of sin. Sin is the result of man giving in to “his own desires and [being] enticed” (Jas. 1:13-15). He warns of the danger of being “deceived” (1:16) and not learning self-control (1:19-20). He then bids Christians to understand these dangers and to “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness” (1:21). Think about these words.
“Lay aside” was an expression that was used of taking off clothes. The Greek middle voice emphasizes “to put off, cast off or strip off from oneself.” In other words, get it away from you, as far away as possible. Do we do that with sin? Lay aside “all” wickedness. The word “all” does not leave any room for any exceptions. We cannot look at any sin and think, “Well, that one is no biggie, especially compared to some big ones that I could be doing.” God says to cast ALL of it off. Do we?
Lay aside all “filthiness and overflow of wickedness.” The word “filthiness,” as would be expected, was used of physical “dirt, filth,” but it was used in Scripture metaphorically of “moral uncleanness, vulgarity, particularly of impurity of thoughts and mind.” James focuses on both the “filthiness” of one’s heart and the “wickedness” of one’s deeds. The word “overflow” emphasizes every level and extent of wickedness (great and small), even to the point of needing to put off the evil “residue” that remains when wickedness bubbles over. By demanding the removing of the abundance of wickedness, God requires stripping off every level or piece of it. Do we?
If we would not go about daily activities when we’re physically filthy, how can we when we’re spiritually filthy?
~Via Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ