Passage of the Day: James 4: 8c [note underlined/bold portion in context] – 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
My Journal for Today: As we’ve been reflecting on James 4: 8 the last three days in my devotional entries, the Apostle James gives believers the absolute requirements, or at the very least the character traits, necessary for the humility we need as Christians to approach God in seeking a deep and abiding relationship with Christ. For that today, John MacArthur exposes Jesus’ brother James saying that we must have “clean hands” and a “clean heart.” The former, having “clean hands,” is a reference to the Jewish priestly ceremony of hand washing in the Temple before the priest could or would approach God in the Holy of Holies (see Exod. 30: 19 – 20). In the New Covenant, of course, all believers form a “royal priesthood;” [see 1st Pet. 2: 9] therefore, our walk as believers should be clean so that we can approach God’s throne of grace to avoid the death knell of sin [which is defined as anything separating our character from God’s].
However, beyond this requirement of walking with clean hands [i.e., purity of action], for a believer to be truly humble at God’s throne, he/she must also have a “clean heart” [i.e., purity of attitude]. In other words, the thoughts, motives, and desires of the Christian must be fully cleansed before that one could ever expect to receive God’s grace. God’s word is clear about the natural condition of the human heart [see Jer. 17: 9]; and as we think in our spiritual heart, so we live (see Prov. 23: 7 in the NKJV – which states: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”).
SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 18: 31-32 … 31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!”
Hence, as today’s exhortation by James, as well as this statement, directly from God, in the Old Testament (i.e., from Ezekiel 18: 31-32 - above), we who have perpetually deceitful hearts, must keep short accounts with God for our sinfulness. Fortunately we have God’s promise that He will cleanse the heart of any humble believer willing to confess his/her sin. I’ll bet you already know that promise in 1st John 1: 9 (if not, I challenge you to memorize that verse and use its application when the Holy Spirit convicts you, as He does me, of sinfulness almost daily, if not momentarily). If we humbly come to God’s throne of grace fully cleansed by the blood of Christ of our sin [and we can according to 1st John 1: 9], we can expect our Lord to shower us with His grace, … just as He did on the cross.
So, join me in a covenant THIS DAY to walk and live purely so that we can live as believers fully covered by the grace of God.
My Prayer Today: Help me, Lord, to have clean hands and a clean heart as I live for You. Amen