Our corrupt flesh reaches its ugly tentacles into the life of every believer. James 1:21 is written to the “dear brothers” (1:19) who are to urgently decide to “put away all filth and evil.” The aorist–tense verb indicates a once–and–for–all decision to quit justifying our sinful behaviors and to just “strip them off as a garment.”
Paul taught the same principle to the Ephesians: “You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph 4:22–-23).
Then he wrote to Christians in Colossae, “Put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth” (Col. 3:8–-10).
We are to shed all moral evil or “all filth”—-the root word for earwax that must be cleaned out for good hearing. Moral filth impairs our hearing and understanding of God’s word and extinguishes our interest in change.
We are also to shed all “evil,” or “moral wickedness and corruption,” which is composed of deliberate, planned sins that can reside in the heart as lustful or greedy fantasies long before our sins become a reality.
Whether acted on or not, the damage to our character and motivation for God is the same. This evil is modified by the adjective “excess,” meaning our “preference.” The believer is to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Heb 12:1).
We are to “humbly welcome the message implanted within.” The “message” (Gk. “word”) has already been “implanted,” as a seed in the “good soil” (Matt 13:8,23) of our hearts and minds at the time of our salvation; the implication of the aorist tense is that we must decide from now on to “welcome” all of the word into our lives.
The word has the power to “save [our] souls” because it is the basis of our saving faith (Rom 10:17; Eph 2:8). Its instructions will save us from the dominion of sin, and it will eventually bring us to glory. Do you love the word?
“Loving Lord, everything we do that does not honor You is ‘filth’ to You. Help me to understand this concept fully and truly believe it, so I may want only what You want.”