Put Away Evil
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes.” (Isaiah 1:16 NIV)
We’re accustomed to asking the Lord to wash us after we have sinned (Psalm 51:2,7), but this text commands us to wash ourselves! This doesn’t mean that we have the authority and ability to remove our own sins, but rather that we need to repent and put out of our lives the things that make it easy for us to sin. I heard about a church member who prayed long at each prayer meeting and always closed by saying, “And, Lord, take the cobwebs out of my life.” One of the men in the group had gotten weary of hearing this and one night called out, “And, Lord, while you’re at it, kill the spider!” That’s what this text means.
God’s invitation is “Come now” and his promise is “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). God forgives our sins, but he also commands us to forsake the things that encourage us to sin. “Let the wicked forsake his way” (Isaiah 55:7) and start walking in the right way with the right people. To obey this command, some Christians must clean out their library and magazine rack, and perhaps their music collection. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). We must wash ourselves and make ourselves clean as proof that we are serious about living a holy life. God will renew us if we will repent and put away the sins that defile us. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8).
- Warren Wiersbe (excerpted and adapted from Old Testament Words for Today)
Let us do what’s within our power to do in terms of turning away from sin, and God will do what only he can do: forgive us and empower us to live a life that is pleasing to him.
Read James 4:7-17.