Robert Wurtz II
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. (James 4:8)
I recall as a teenager a commercial for a toy action figure that promised to be able to turn from man to robot to monster. One could simply turn a knob on the head and rotate the face that you desired; hence, the name, Man-E-Faces. Obviously this is a play on words for many faces. God, that never seems to waste anything of our life experience, has brought that toy to my remembrance many times in my Christian walk. Imagine a person that could put on the face of Christ one minute and the face of something else the next. Our passage describes the phenomena and gives an admonition, Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. (James 4:8b) Certainly this does not sound like a believer that has received a new heart and a new Spirit? Our Greek word is dipsychos (δίψυχοι) and is apparently a word coined by James. From dis (twice) and psuchē (soul) or “double-souled”, double-minded. This was John Bunyan’s “Mr. Facing-both-ways.” (A.T. Robertson) James 1:8 tells us that he/she is unstable in all of his ways.
The Man of Mammon
Anything that we are splitting our allegiance to God with has the potential of splitting our personality. That may sound like a psychological phenomena, but it is possible for a person to act like a Christian in some situations and become almost someone nobody recognizes in others. Beloved, this ought not so to be. John Wesley has this note on James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God in prayer, and he will draw nigh unto you, will hear you; which that nothing may hinder, cleanse your hands—Cease from doing evil. And purify your hearts—From all spiritual adultery. Be no more double minded, vainly endeavouring to serve both God and mammon.”
If we give our mind and heart to anything other than God, that thing has the potential to split us into a different person. We will invariably shift our loyalties and perspectives to fit that other allegiance. This is very sobering! We should be the same person every place we are found. In the churches of God there is simply no place for the proverbial Jekyll and Hyde. Wesley specifically points at mammon (money) as a potential cause of this phenomena. Jesus said that we cannot serve God and mammon. Why? Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24b ESV) If a person is serving mammon (money) they will have a money-based perspective and will behave accordingly. This means that the person’s decisions will be based upon what is in money’s best interest and not God and man’s best interest. This has the potential of putting a different face on the person: there is the person they are when money is involved and the person they are when money is not involved. If something reaches in and twists our head around to a different face when mammon is at issue them we are in the cross hairs of James 1:8 and 4:8.
The Man of _________.
We have assumed an understanding of “The Man of God” and have briefly looked at “The Man of Mammon”, but now our attention is turned to “The Man of _________.” That is to say, what subject (if anything) brings a different ‘you’ out? Is it sports? Is it politics? Is it business? I have to ask myself what, if anything, brings out a ‘me’ that shocks and disillusions people that are used to me behaving in a Christ-like way? It is not uncommon for believers to perhaps sin or compromise in the heat of the moment, but that is not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about a tendency to become someone else under certain circumstances in an almost predictable way. People start to brace themselves for the ‘you’ they know you’re about to become because now we are on the subject of __________. They don’t expect you to be loving or gentle, but rather predictably unloving, abrasive and difficult.
Impurity of the Heart
James gives his solution, purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. This statement reminds me of Ananias and Sapphira that were prepared to lie to the Holy Ghost over money and popularity because Satan had filled their hearts. (Acts 5:1ff) They may have had a new heart before, but now they have opened the door and Satan has filled it with his lies and reasonings. “The very verb used for ‘filled thine heart’ is the same for the filling by the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31). Satan the adversary is the father of lies (John 8:44). He had entered into Judas (Luke 22:3; John 13:27) and now he has filled the heart of Ananias with a lie– to lie to the Holy Spirit (pseusasthai se to pneuma to hagion).” (A.T. Robertson) We must identify these impure thoughts when Satan tries to bring them. Here God was trying to build the Church and Satan had filled this couples heart with a conspiracy to deceive even the Holy Ghost for their own personal gain. They were in their own world, just the two of them. There was no one around to challenge them in their thoughts. They served as reinforcement for one another until they went through with the deadly deed. This is why we need a voice of reason in our lives. Maybe they had shut out opposing voices? Whatever they were doing, the enemy was able to fill their hearts as full as if a person were full of the Holy Spirit. That is shocking and sobering to ponder.
Purify your heart(s)
Again, James gives his solution, purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. Purify is a word dealing with ceremonial cleaning. It is described at times as the work of God and others as the work of man. On our end we need to renounce anything that we have allowed, no matter what or how long, to split our soul into two different personalities. A well cannot bring forth both salt water and fresh. A vine cannot yield both fruit and thorns and briars. Double-mindedness is a fruit destroying venture. It is like pulling up a plant and planting it in different soil each time we have a change of heart. There will be no fruit in such a life. Solution? Go through and renounce the thing that is splitting your personality.