James 1:2-8 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
James starts his letter by encouraging the reader to count it joy when they face trials of their faith because the testing of their faith results in patience, and when patience completes its work, the person who perseveres is mature and complete and lacks nothing. James then goes on to write that wisdom is available to anyone who asks God, but the asker must ask in faith, with no doubt. Doubt causes wavering and anyone who wavers should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
A person who wavers is double-minded and unstable not only in their faith in God but in all that they do. They are unstable, and in my experience, they are also pretty miserable. It is awful to waver back and forth between trust and fear. This back and forth happens when you consider what the Bible says about what God will do, give, or enable and then you consider your experiences and what you can see, hear, or feel. Wavering also occurs when you consider yourself unworthy of receiving what the Bible says God will do or has provided for those who are His.
Double-minded is often translated as divided loyalties. Your loyalty to God and your belief in His loyalty to you get disconnected. Regardless of the reason, doubting is not a good state of mind. There is no peace there. There is little hope there.
We spent several weeks exploring what faith is, how faith comes, and how to build and maintain your faith. We reviewed how faith is trusting God enough to believe what he reveals about himself and to do what He directs us to do. But what if you find yourself wavering, considering the circumstances, succumbing to fears and doubts based on what you can see, feel, and experience? James introduces the concept of purifying your heart in James 4:8. In James 1:8, he writes that doubters should not expect to receive anything from the Lord because they are double-minded and unstable in all their ways. That is not a condition I want to be in. Unstable in all your ways sounds like a miserable existence. Up and then down, some victory and a lot of defeat. I want the peace of God. I want to be consistent and reliable. Someone on whom God can rely, ready to do what He asks me to do when He asks me to do it. So, according to James, the solution to being double-minded is to purify the heart. In reading the scripture, it is understood that the reader, you and I, are to purify our own hearts.
1 John 3:1-3; 1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (NIV)
Acts 15:7-9; 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.
1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth to unfeigned brotherly love, love one another out of a pure heart fervently; (Darby)
A purified heart is a heart that is uncontaminated and undefiled. The word purification comes from the Greek word for catharsis. Other words for catharsis include purification, cleansing, release. A pure heart is a clean, guilt-free heart. A heart that is steadfast in its faith, in the belief of the cleansing power of the resurrection of Christ. The belief that they stand holy and without blame before the Father, wrapped in His love (Ephesians 1:4).
The opposite state of a pure heart is described in Hebrews 3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
As we see here, a pure heart is a believing heart. It is a heart that trusts and remains steadfast. Unbelief introduces the thoughts that cause double-mindedness.
Those that waver or are double-minded should purify their hearts by increasing their faith, faith in Whose they are, and who they are in Christ Jesus. Purifying your heart is developing and growing in your faith and understanding what God has provided for you.