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. James 1, verse 21.
I never realized that my tripwire temper was morally filthy.
My son and I watched “The Exorcist” the other day and it had been years since I had seen it. I had forgotten the stark contrasts between Ellen Burstyn’s 12 year old innocent girl and the evil demon who possessed her. The moral filth that spewed from the mouth of the demon was much more than just anger.
But, today, James is telling us that our anger is the same. When I get angry, I’m evil. Yes, you heard it: evil. Not upset, not ticked off: evil. James equates that anger to the moral filth that you and I see every day. Torture porn, chemical weapons attacks, murdering little children, the very worst of skid row: we’re no better. You and I are guilty of moral filth when we go to sleep angry at someone, or hold life-long grudges, or refuse forgiveness. Whenever I lose my temper, I’m guilty of spreading evil moral filth.
Have a good weekend thinking that think.
It’s not just James. The words come from the top. Jesus Himself said that someone who is angry has committed murder in his heart; see Matthew 5:22. If you don’t believe me, believe James. If you don’t agree with James, take it up with the Man Upstairs. The words are His.
Along with those words are the way out. Notice how James doesn’t even finish the sentence of law before he offers Christ’s gospel remedy. When we humbly accept the word planted in us, Christ saves us. He saved us once for all, yet we accept that salvation again and again because we keep messing up again and again. The cure for our anger is Jesus’ patient love. The remedy for all evil is Jesus’ love. The solution for all moral filth that springs from us is Jesus’ love. It’s not some Pollyanna-ish wish: it’s a real and living medicine. Jesus’ forgiveness always turns us away from our sins. His Word always heals; His word always tells of the path we chose.
We can choose His word instead.
In the movie, when all medicine had failed, Ellen Burstyn turned to faith. Her skeptical faith was rewarded through real spiritual warriors who willingly entered into combat. They didn’t mince words: they confronted the demon head-on and drove it out. Maybe you or I don’t need Max Von Sydow; we’ll save that topic for another time. But we passionately need the power that spoke through him to exorcise the evil anger and the moral filth that comes from it.
Lord, I desperately need You in my life right now. I believe in Your patient love and ask you to take away my sin.
What good has sprung from your anger?
Where do you need Jesus’ help (trick question)?
What do you intend to do about that?