Charles Spurgeon once told of sitting in a nice restaurant. As he ate he kept noticing a rather angry looking man across the dining room who scowled at him every time he looked his way. Finally Spurgeon decided to go over and speak to the man to see what his problem was. However, as he stood he realized that what he had been seeing was his own reflection in mirrors that lined the walls across the room. We may not always like what we see in the mirror of God’s Word but what we see there is always the truth and always the best! SEE! God’s word is a mirror that displays what still needs to go in our lives, God’s word is to help and guide us in His righteousness. The biblical truth is that when we are in right relationship with God the things of this world don’t seem to be so pleasing to our sight anymore. Why? Because Christ is precious to us. As J C Ryle said “Look to the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you can."
How does one come to that position in life and say “I’m completely satisfied in Christ” IT COMES THROUGH:
- Reading and memorizing the Holy Scriptures.
- Rightly dividing the word of truth showing yourself approved unto God.
- The supernatural power of God’s sanctifying grace.
- The harvest of fruit that you bare as He grows you in His grace.
I THINK WE HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT HOW POWERFUL AND RELEVANT THIS BOOK TRULY IS IN OUR GENERATION? This isn't some fairy-tale story about a needy God looking for His princess. This is a letter telling us about the how AWESOME GOD truly is whether it’s through His creation, His redemptive plan or the glories of His majesty. This is a book that will not maybe; but transform your life….it will literally gut you from the inside out and make you a new creation. As Paul said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 2 Cor 5:17. As we continue in this letter that challenges the person to examine his or hers life as it lines up with scripture....A letter we can call “Practical applications for the Christian life” or better yet “Just do it!” JAMES TELLS US IN THIS PASSAGE AND THE PASSAGE THAT FOLLOWS HOW WE CAN GROW IN OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE. And it begins with this foundational and fundamental truth……(v21a)
“put off” implies “a rupture from a former association” literally “to put or take something away from its normal location and thus to put it out of the way (way out of the way!).” The Apostle Paul said “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Rom 13:12-14
This verb has 5 senses:
- hold back to a later time
- cause to feel intense dislike or distaste
- take away the enthusiasm of
- cause to feel embarrassment
- avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing (duties, questions, or issues)
It’s like getting ready for a physical activity by putting on the proper attire. It was used literally of runners who participated in the Olympic Games who stripped off and cast aside their clothes and then ran almost completely naked in the stadium.
PUTTING ASIDE WHAT?
“all filthiness” means “depravity, defilement or dirty garments” This is a vivid word picture. James is saying take off your filthy attitudes and actions (moral defilement) just as you would soiled, smelly clothes! As a snake sheds its skin to make ready for the new one that is underneath the old skin. 2Cor 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” One Writer explains this way...We all bring baggage from our old way of life over into the Christian life. Usually, we’re blind to much of it. We don’t realize that we’re displeasing God by our thoughts, words, or actions. As we begin to read God’s word, it convicts us of areas that we didn’t even know were sin. When this happens, the receptive heart cleans out the crud of sin and puts on the clean clothes of new life in Christ. If you don’t do this, the crud will prevent you from growing as a Christian.
WHAT ELSE ARE WE TO PUT OFF?
“overflow [abundance] of wickedness” this is speaking of “evil desires or intent” Signifies: moral evil and it pertains to sin that is deliberate and determined. Albert Barnes in his commentary of this word said “the particular reference in these passages is to the reception of the truth; and the doctrine taught is, that a corrupt mind, a mind full of sensuality and wickedness, is not favorable to the reception of the truth. It is not fitted to see its beauty, to appreciate its value, to understand it’s just claims, or to welcome it to the soul.” All you’re left with is an unteachable spirit that is more interested in what they desire over what God desires. As the Apostle Paul said “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Eph 4:31. He also wrote in Gal 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”Filthiness is a serious barrier to us. It hinders our ability to clearly hear and comprehend the Word of God. So we must put off the works of darkness…put off the works of the flesh!
USUALLY WHEN YOU TAKE OFF OR REMOVE SOMETHING…YOU HAVE TO REPLACE IT WITH SOMETHING ELSE! THIS IS WHERE OUR FOUNDATION BEGINS AND CONTINUES……..(v21b)
“receive with meekness the implanted word” which is a teachable heart to act upon His word. A teachable spirit that will grow, take hold of through the truth of God’s word. See in order to receive……. you must be ready to receive the foundation which is God’s instruction as He carries you through His righteousness. Paul said in 1Thess 2:13 “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” See this goes back to (v20) Trusting in Him…… because He knows what’s best for His children!
- It’s a righteousness that God gives
- It’s a righteousness that God requires
- It’s a righteousness that God does
Matt 18:2-4 “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
- We are to receive the word with joy; not with opposition and resistance.
- We are to receive the word as a privilege; not as an interruption into my day.
- We are to receive the word for wisdom; not to contradict and debate everything to fit my ideas.
- We are to receive the word as instruction; not to de-construct to our life-style
- We are to receive the word to grow to His likeness; not ours.
When you receive something we are required to do something! And that is? Act upon it. He must increase! I must decrease! He must be glorified I must be sanctified and purified into the image of the Son. WHY ARE WE TO RECEIVE THE WORD WITH MEEKNESS? BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY FOR YOU TO SEE THE KINGDOM…………. (v21c)
“which is able to save your soul” which simple means to “keep alive, rescue, deliver from bondage. As Vernie McGee said “I have been saved, I’am being saved, I shall be saved.” It’s the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through the written word that brings a person to foot of the Cross in repentance and faith. The word of God powerful….a power that can penetrate the vilest of sinner. Heb 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”Just as the word brought salvation….the word will continue in your sanctification as you await glorification. Put off the works of the flesh and the devil and put on Christ and grow deeper in love with Him. The word of God is the greatest prevention against sin of the flesh. As one Scottish preacher said “sin will keep you the bible, or the bible will keep you from sin.” William Gurnall said "He that loves the Word and the purity of its precepts cannot turn traitor." My life should be evident to a life that has and is continuing to be transformed by the power of God’s word.
REMEMBER when you put off self……your putting something far greater and more powerful that anything you could imagine…it’s Christ...But for that to take place, we must put off what is crippling our relationship with the Triune God. As Ps 137:7 says “Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, "Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!" Lay aside everything that hinders my life from the intimate relationship that have with Christ Jesus. Strip it all away and leave nothing but the foundation so that I can be clothed in His righteousness. So that I can receive with joy the implanted word which will save you, keep you and glorify you into the arms of Jesus Christ my Lord.