Lord, Kill the Spider!
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted.
The Apostle Paul echoes James’ warning to the Ephesians when he writes:
[I]n reference to your former manner of life, lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:22–24).
To the Colossians he also writes:
[P]ut them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self (Colossians 3:8–9).
Both James and Paul never hesitate to call sin what it is. They don’t beat around the bush and pat any of us on the back and say, “Well, you’re only human.”
Instead, they warn us to put aside the old self, which is described as filthiness. The root word for filthiness in James 1:21 is a word the Greeks used to refer to wax in the ears, which hindered a person from hearing clearly. The Christian who is keeping sin hidden in his life is unable to clearly hear the Word of God. He, effectively, has wax in his ears.
James also refers to wickedness, which describes moral corruption, and he warns us to get rid of it.
He doesn’t mean that we are going to fully rid ourselves of all that is sinful and achieve some level of perfection. Rather, we should be constantly cutting back the sin that continually grows up around us. Like weeds in a garden, sin will grow back and strangle our intimacy with Christ if we aren’t using the Word of God to root it out.
According to James, one of the marks of spiritual maturity is an aversion to sin that actually leads us to do something about it.
Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates told of a Christian who attended prayer meeting every week at his little church, and every week he would confess the same sins, closing with the same prayer: “O Lord, the cobwebs have come between You and me; please clear them away.” Finally an older Christian grew tired of hearing the same thing week in and week out, so he prayed immediately afterwards, “Lord, would you have him kill the spider?!”
This is exactly what James is telling us to do. Deal with sin. Don’t expect to allow a spider to roam free in your mind and not become entangled in the web it weaves.
Whatever analogy says it best, do something about it today: get rid of the wax in your ears, the weeds in your heart, and the spiders in your mind.
Growing old in the faith is not nearly as rewarding as growing up in the faith. And those who are growing up will clear away the cobwebs . . . and kill the spider!
Prayer Point: How did you do yesterday in regards to temptation? Did you choose to host a little spider or did you choose to kill it? Make it your prayer and ambition today to root out the smallest weed of sin. Choose today to love Christ with all your mind, heart, and strength.
Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 5 and listen to Paul’s warning to Christians who choose to accommodate and practice sin.
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