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Rubbish Disposal

James 1:21
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. (NIVUK)

Recycling is fashionable. Rather than burning rubbish (increasing our greenhouse gasses), or burying it in landfill sites (where it may not degrade for hundreds of years), we are encouraged to recycle it. Many people do that with their moral rubbish too - they think that it will be better next time around (2 Peter 2:22). But it never is. Moral filth is a bigger problem than plastic or toxic waste. All that unwanted clutter of our society is external to us human beings; we can physically move it to another place, bury or burn it. But the foul impurity of our hearts is part of us. It pollutes us from the inside, controlling our desires (Luke 6:45). And yet it is often hidden from others. We can even hide it from ourselves – imagining ourselves to be morally better than we are (Luke 18:10-14). This internal pollution provides an ideal swamp to nourish temptation and draw us away from social and spiritual disciplines.

Dealing with this internal pollutant will be painful because it validates wrong desires which have been an integral part of our life-habits (Romans 7:18). To make this change we need a greater motivation than satisfying our own, or societies', standards. Indeed, it is impossible unless we see how horribly offensive our sin is to God, slandering the sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 10:29), and want to let it go because we want to embrace the Lord (Psalm 51:10). That motivation comes from God's Word which explains His love for us, His hatred of our sin, and His anger when we love sin and ignore Him. We need a 'sin-disposal service': and in Christ Jesus that is what we can have. When Jesus died on the cross, He chose to take all our filth onto Himself, and to deal with its power as He was punished for our sin. So when we confess our sin, we can be completely forgiven (1 John 1:9).

Confession is simply admitting our sin to Jesus, who has paid to take it away - never to be seen again (Micah 7:19, Psalm 103:12). The opposite is to accept that our sin is normal and natural. But that would disagree with God who does not want us to swallow Satan's poisonous lies - which leads to separation from God. Instead, God wants us to accept His truth (in the Bible). As we read it, seeds of truth are planted in our hearts. However, these do not grow up automatically to change our lives; we need to agree with them and make room for them to grow, by weeding out the moral filth. If we do not, the rubbish will choke the truth, engulfing us and those around us.

Humility is not often seen in the workplace. The pressure to reach targets encourages arrogance and pride, which become part of our moral filth. So it is counter-cultural to accept what God says, humbly. Others may ridicule you for 'blind faith', or call your trust in Jesus 'a crutch for weaklings'. Endure that kind of talk kindly, because they are wrong. To accept that God always speaks the truth is wise as well as brave. Wise because salvation only comes through God's Word, which also gives us bravery to live wisely. So get rid of the rubbish, including pride (don't recycle filth); and accept God's Word with the humility of someone who is determined to do what He says!

Father God. Thank You for reminding me that sinfulness clings to me very easily. Forgive me for treasuring what You call 'moral filth' and allowing it to determine what is normal in my life. Help me to reject its claim over my life by taking it to Jesus, who died so that I can be fully forgiven. And help me today, to be humble enough to accept that I should do what You say, at work and at home. For Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams