Choose Your Side
One of my favorite movies of all time is “The Empire Strikes Back”. It is the Star Wars movie where Luke Skywalker goes to train to be a Jedi Knight with Yoda in a swamp. Many of their conversations are about the conflicting forces of the light and dark side. Although this is a fictitious story, mankind has a similar struggle. There is a light side and dark side in this world. This is what James says:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double-minded (James 4:7-8).
James calls out some irregularities in the Church. They were trying to be friends with both the world and God. This is why James tells his readers they are double-minded. God is a jealous God. When He says He wants our lives to be for Him, He means it. The first of the Ten Commandments is that we should have no other gods then God Himself. What James says is that the Church was getting too friendly with the world and not fully committed to God. That is why he uses such strong language to his audience. You can’t be both light and dark. You have to make a choice and not making a choice means you have chosen Satan and the dark side.
This Scripture should leave us with a haunting conviction in our souls to evaluate our lives and see what side we have chosen. James encourages the Church to choose God and resist Satan. He also gives a guarantee that if we draw near to our God He will draw near to us. In this text we are given two commands as to how we can draw nearer to God: 1. Cleanse your hands. 2. Purify your hearts. Cleansing of the hands is in reference to what are actions are. God’s people are called to live out a certain standard of life, one that makes them noticeably different then the rest of the world. That is why James says, “cleanse your hands you sinners”. He said that because the actions of the Church were sinful and not in step with how God has called us to live. We see this even today in the Church. People deliberately choosing sin whether that’s sexual immorality, coveting, lying, or any other host of sins that are unclean actions therefore giving us unclean hands. That is why we need to be a people who practice repentance. It is crucial to the life of a Christian. The act of repentance is drawing near to God and changing our actions because of it.
What are you doing? What are your motives? These are questions I personally ask myself. Am I doing this for my glory or God’s? You can be the most faithful greeter, Sunday school teacher, or band member, and if you are doing them with the wrong intentions then it is all rubbish. Which leads into what James says next, purify your heart. Remember the Pharisees? They were the religious guys in Jesus’ day; they had all the right actions on the outside. They were seen in the temple praying all the time. They had all the appearance of holiness, yet Jesus tells them “you are like whitewashed tombs which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones”.
So what side do you choose, the light or the dark? One leads to a life lived to the fullest joy in God and the other leads to certain destruction. As the Church, we need to continually examine our actions and motives to make sure we are drawing nearer to God and not towards Satan and the world.
Pastor’s Academy Student