We live the fast life. Morning routines with school-going children and office hours fill the house with hasty showers, wet hair and the smell of shampoo rushing to spend a few minutes on breakfast before the duties of the day chases them out the door. Mothers stand guard, remind, encourage and pack food with one eye on the clock, no time for self-indulgence.
Evenings are better for a slow bath – thinking, meditating, judging… yes sharp and strong judging of the particular challenges that day. It takes time; sometimes the luxury of bath oil and something fragrant added – something to look forward to. A bath is the full immersion of the body in water that was used throughout history for personal hygiene, a religious ritual or therapeutic purposes.
Greeks invented showers; Romans used communal baths for socializing. Personal cleanliness took time and was constantly upgraded and modified to ensure more effectiveness and personal luxury.
We can take a spiritual bath and I would recommend the private, slow method with the fragrance of the Word of God in the water.
Ephesians 5:26: [Amplified]
26 so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God],
[NLT=New Living Translation]
to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.
The full immersion into the Word of God, cleansed by the Blood, resurrected by the Power, spending time to hear His voice, soaking in the Presence, so that we can be clothed in white robes [Revelation 3:18] all dishonour washed away and equipped for every good work, are the elements of a victorious prayer life.
2 Timothy 2:20,21:
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
The Word of God cleanses us from dishonour and makes us vessels of silver and gold, worthy of the calling. [Ephesians 4:1]
Let us open the taps and prepare to indulge.
Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your unfaithful hearts, you double-minded people. [Amplified]
Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. [The Message]
What a shame to be called double-minded. The NLT explains:
…for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Double-minded people give Christianity a bad reputation. People who live the church life unconsciously, all the trappings of secular society comfortably embedded into their lifestyle. For sure, a nasty, slimy piece of dirt waiting for some Word-water. In the chilling words of Jesus…
You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what it natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.
What brings about this sorry state of affairs? Distance from God, no doubt. What distances us from God? Sin.
We are called into holiness, set distinctively apart for a heavenly purpose.
It is not fashionable to talk about sin. Do we proclaim legalism or slavery under the law? After all, Jesus came and we have a gospel of grace, redemption, forgiveness and victory. Don’t be so negative and talk about sin…
James talked about sin straight and strong. The word used is: hamartolos, used to describe hardened sinners, those who live in the company of lawlessness. He talked about sin in the same breath of talking about drawing near to God. What is the connection?
The solution for this distancing from God is to draw near to God – a simple command. Drawing near from a place of sin, shame and guilt is a simple act of confession. Sin hinders God’s closeness. Repent and come clean. The assurance of God’s forgiveness is full guarantee of Him drawing near to you.
1 John 5:17:
All wrongdoing is sin…
1 John 1:8,9 en 3:4:
If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] 9 If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].
Sin is breaking God’s law. It is the source of all evil. Anyone who walks in the light of God will be aware of his own sinfulness. A transgression [parabaino in Greek] is the rejection of trust, rebellion against truth, disobedience and a willful change of course away from the right way. Sin will cause you to lose purpose and waste your potential. It is a decision, once off or repeatedly, that will rob you of the excellence of the life of faith.
No Christian can ever get away from the Cross. The Cross is not for first-time believers only. It is the core of our existence and our daily bath from all wrongdoing. Your distance from an awareness of the Cross and the work Jesus has done there is a good indication of your sensitivity to unrighteousness. In the brokenness of a cursed earth, the Cross is the ultimate remedy for all wrong.
This is James prescription – 4:10 [Amplified]:
10 Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].
Don’t you feel like jumping and shouting for joy?
But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness; My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation.
We have the solution for double-mindedness. We have full control over sin. A humble and contrite heart, bowing before our God empowers us to triumph in Christ. First and foremost, let us repent of pride and arrogance and humbly submit our lives to Holy Spirit inspection. We do not need to guard our honour. God will lift us up and honour us His way.
James 4:10 [The Message]:
Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
In the Garden of Eden, sin exposed their nakedness and they had to hide. The devil smirks when we are humiliated by our sin and become a public spectacle of shame. God’s covering of grace and forgiveness protects us from this humiliation.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in Him also and He will do it.
He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light,
And your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun].
The Cross is our gateway back into the Garden, the full enjoyment of His presence. Praise God, our sins are forgiven. We cling to the Cross, like the people of Israel to the animal sacrifices in the prescribed rituals to remind them of their sin and the forgiveness through innocent blood. The Holy Spirit will convict you of sin in perfect love and give you the bath you need. Of Him Jesus said:
And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment…
Come let us consider sin, identify it, face it, confess it and leap into liberty with exceeding joy!
Pride refers to an inflated sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments.
Greed is inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one’s self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort.
Know that everybody must earn money. Money is not the solution to your problem, even if your problem is a money problem. God is the solution to your problem. He is the Source of all wealth. Submit all money matters to God and His kingdom principles. Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and everything will be added...Matthew 6:33.
Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body. The lust can take any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It can take such mundane forms as the lust for food as distinct from the need for food. Lust is a psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, or circumstance fulfilling the emotion.
It is normal that feelings of jealousy and dissatisfaction with your own level of success in life come over you. Get over it quickly by counting your blessings and grabbing hold of an attitude of gratitude. Envy can rule your life and destroy relationships around you and with God. Again: Seek first the kingdom…. Back to James 4.
Believers, do not speak against or slander one another. He who speaks [self-righteously] against a brother or judges his brother [hypocritically], speaks against the Law and judges the Law. If you judge the Law, you are not a doer of the Law but a judge of it.
Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?
Gluttony, derived from the Latin: gluttire meaning to gulp down or swallow, means over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste.
Anger or wrath is an intense emotional response. It is a normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation. Often it indicates when one’s basic boundaries are violated.
Sloth is defined as spiritual or emotional apathy, neglecting what God has spoken, and being physically and emotionally inactive. It can also be either an outright refusal or merely a carelessness in the performance of one’s obligations, especially spiritual, moral or legal obligations.
God will correct and balance your life. Lean hard on Him and break free from the bondage. Our God reigns!