Lay It Aside And Leave It Alone
After working in the orange groves as a young man the idea of laying aside dirty clothes is vivid memory. The summers were spent hoeing, grafting, burning, trimming, fueling, spraying and everything conceivable Mr. McIntosh could imagine to get his ten pounds of flesh out of those Heaton boys. We did not earn a lot of money but we earned our money. I think it would have been better for mom to simply burn our clothes at the end of the day. I grew up in a time when we had our “Sunday-go-to-meeting” clothes and they were taken care of very carefully. Shoes were to be polished, shirts pressed and pants clean. Hair had to be combed (if daddy left any on our head) and faces washed. Quite a contrast to the grimy filthy boys that came in from the groves.
James exhorts the people of God to “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). In the spiritual sense the challenge is removing the soiled garments of dirty morality and the malignant filth of sin to embrace the pure apparel of godliness. After working in the groves all day it was quite a blessing to return home to bathe and wash away the sweat and dirt of the day. A renewed and spirit of peace swept over the body. As we remove the filth of sin in our lives we will find a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Laying aside sinful activities is a choice. It will not remove itself on its own. We have to make choices that will remove the sinful things from our lives. Often in scripture the Lord reminds His people to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22); “flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18); “flee these things” (1 Timothy 6:11); “abstain from” (1 Peter 2:11); “no longer should live” (1 Peter 4:2); “take heed” (Luke 21:34). We make that choice to remove sin from our lives. Laying it aside is to remove it from its power of influence over me. It might be drastic measures as Jesus exhorted in Matthew 5:29-30. The idea is that we should remove anything that would cause us to sin – no matter what it is.
Can you live without the internet if it causes you to stumble (Matthew 5:28)? Is it possible to give up a career when it is destroying your faith (Matthew 6:33)? How important will your friends be in judgment that hinders your growth in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:33)? Would you be willing to serve the Lord as a spiritual eunuch because of an unlawful marriage (Matthew 19:11-12)? Removing sin in our lives will bring about a greater blessing in every part of our lives. The implanted word cleans our minds and our souls with the purity of God’s grace as we bathe in the glory of His divine will.
Only with the implanted word will the spiritual surgery of removing sin take place. Paul illustrates the need of laying aside and receiving with meekness the implanted word exhorting brethren “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). The word of God is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, full of goodness and virtue and should be imbedded in the lives of every child of God. Implanting the word or grafting the new growth into the old growth will bring about the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Laying filthiness and wickedness aside also suggests that we leave those soiled garments where we left them – aside. Sin should not be the prosthetic of our lives that we lay aside and pick up again and lay aside and pick up again. The Hebrew writer admonished the failing Hebrew Christians to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). No runner can run the race when encumbered with undue weights and hindrance. Sin so easily entangles itself in our lives and the only way to run true is to run free. Our troubles often come when we try to run the race and picking up old habits or refusing to lay aside burdens that hinder our growth.
In the new man we “cast off the works of darkness” (Romans 13:12) and “put off concerning your former conduct” (Ephesians 4:22) running with sin laid aside and left alone. We put away lying, anger, stealing and filthy language (Ephesians 4:25-31; Colossians 3:8-9). Leave them where we left them – aside. Paul writes in Colossians 3:5 that putting aside is to kill the spirit of sin. “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” How often do we just wound sin and lay it aside to pick it up again one day. Putting something to death is to take the life out of it. Lay sin aside as something dead in your life. Do not pick it back up.
The implanted word is life. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). Through the word of God we learn how to put aside sin. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalms 119:11). Putting sin aside requires knowledge and leaving sin aside requires knowledge. Through the power of God we can defeat sin and refuse to allow it to have dominion over our lives (Romans 6:14). Putting filthiness and wickedness aside is to not present our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness to sin but walking unhindered by the weight of sin (Romans 6:13). Growing in the grace of Jesus Christ will increase our strength to remove the hindrances of Satan’s darts and walk boldly with confidence. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil” (Isaiah 1:16).