7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

5.     Keep your hearts tender to sin (v. 8-9)

8 Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.

To this originally Jewish audience who were the first recipients of James’ letter, it would be common knowledge that the Hebrew word for heart in verse 8 means conscience. Rather than talking about the blood-pumping organ in our chest, James refers to the inner person, the soul, the conscience.

  • Moses recorded that Pharaoh “hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:15), which meant that Pharaoh had seared his conscience from heeding God’s will.
  • When Scripture speaks of a tender heart as in 2 Chronicles 2:27, it’s talking about a sensitive conscience.
  • Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

We may mentally know the source of sin and possess a genuine fear for the effects of sin, but without an alert and tender heart to the presence of sin, we fall into sin.

6.     Don’t judge each other in sinful ways (v. 11)

11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

We wrongly think that we can hide our sins by highlighting the sins of others. We sinfully judge through subtle forms of gossip and slander, both of which grieve the Spirit and divide the family of God. It’s important to have discernment. And that means Christians can, and should, use sound judgment about whose professions of faith are credible. Jesus Himself said that we evaluate not by a person's words but by what fruit is shown in his or her life (Matthew 7:20). But rather than judge in sinful ways, we follow Christ’s way of restoration spelled out in Scriptures like Matthew 18 and Galatians 6:1.

7.     Trust God to work in each other’s lives (v. 12)