James 1:21New King James Version (NKJV)
21) Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
I have heard several pastors say that when you see the word “therefore” you need to find out what it is there for, meaning it’s IMPORTANT! Don’t skim over that verse! We say we want to know God more. We want to be closer to Him. We want to feel His presence more, but are we willing to do what it takes to get there?
When we look back at the Old Testament priests, they had to be cleansed before they could enter into the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the tabernacle, where the Lord God resided. They would actually tie a rope to this priest so that they could pull him out because if he wasn’t clean enough the Lord would take his life. That is actually part of the reason they had bells on the hem of their garments. As long as you hear the bells, you know he’s still moving. Our God hasn’t changed. He’s the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. What he desired then, He desires today. “Be ye holy as I am holy.”
God’s relationship with the priests is a metaphor for how he deals with us. We common sinners may gather in the outer areas and receive the salvation of our Lord, but if we want more from God we must be willing to give more. We must be willing to lay aside ALL filthiness and ALL overflow of wickedness.
Salvation is the first step, and Jesus did all of the hard work for us. All we have to do is admit we have sinned, accept the forgiveness that Christ sacrificed his life for and yield ourselves to Him.
Then the work of sanctification begins. Sanctification is God’s process of making our lives holy. If we truly want more of God, we must come to understand that He requires LESS of self and LESS of the world in US! It’s hard to fill a vessel that is already full 😉
Once, I asked the Lord what the difference between the great teachers and the people they taught. What He revealed to me was astounding. The great teachers were hungry to KNOW Him more and they were willing to die to self – to sacrifice those fleshly desires. They allowed God to strengthen them to resist temptation and as they obeyed, God revealed more of himself.
The revelation of Himself was reward enough to propel them forward through the next temptation and so began a cycle of trial/temptation and obedience/revelation.
I wonder how much closer God would bring us if we shed that one thing He has revealed to us that does not honor him.
Not only did God create us for worship, but He created us for RELATIONSHIP with HIM!