James 1:19-27 (NIV)
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Imagine for a moment a married couple. They do not yet have kids. The husband has a very successful career. His career is so successful that they get to live in a nice and safe, gated community, separated from all that is not good. As a result of living there, they and their future progeny for generations to come will not be exposed to life outside of the protected boundaries of that exclusive community. They will have everything that they need to experience and to enjoy a fulfilled life, free from all that is not good. The best way to characterize where they live is “delight.” Everything is just perfect, and it will be the ideal place to raise a family.
But then, one day, it all came crashing down. The husband made an incredibly poor decision at work. He failed at his responsibilities, ending his career for good. As a result, the couple was then forced to leave delight, exposing themselves to “dis-delight,” …the outside world. Dis-delight is where they instead ended up raising their family. Unfortunately, their lives and their future progeny for generations to come were then forever polluted; shaped by a different environment than the environment that they would have been been shaped by, had the husband not squandered it all…
Genesis 3:22 – 4:1a (NIV)
And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant…
Products of Our Environment
This is how it is for us. We are products of our environment. Due to Adam’s sin, we were born in, live in, and are polluted by dis-delight. We are not (and never were) in “Eden.” In the Hebrew, Eden means “delight” or “pleasure.” This place (the world) is not delight. It’s polluted, and it polluted us.
Back to James
James encouraged his readers to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
But, how does one do that?
Yes, James says to… “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” But, that’s not all he says. He doesn’t just tell the reader to do such under his/her own power. There is something else that James says which must accompany the effort to change the course of poor behavior. It comes after the AND…
“…AND humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Without accepting “the word planted in you,” we are powerless to, “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” However, when we not only accept the planted word in us but, “Do what it says,” we (Christians) are then empowered to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
That, is how we get rid of the pollution.
Deuteronomy 24:16 (NIV)
Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.
Ezekiel 18:20 (NIV)
The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
Whatever blame we could place on Adam for our situation, he is not the one to blame for when we ignore “the word planted in you.” That is not on him…
…It is on us.
Godspeed, to the brethren!