“Therefore 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 NKJV).
As the world’s population increases and manufacture of goods continues to rise, the problem of where we put the garbage becomes a most pressing issue. The environment cannot continue to absorb millions of tons of waste annually without harm. Something major is going to have to be done, or else the earth will perish.
Long ago God perceived a similar problem in the spiritual realm. The sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden led to a universal fall as every human who has lived since them has also sinned (Romans 5:12-14). Sin is everywhere; it is a burden borne by everyone (Romans 3:23). And it too has devastating results: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Not only will every person die, but they will also face judgment under condemnation of spiritual death (Revelation 20:11-15). Just like dealing with material trash, something major is going to have to be done, or else all will perish.
In the spiritual realm, we are not talking about garbage that will decompose. Sin is the issue, and it is incredibly abundant.
“There is none righteous, no not one; . . . There is none that does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10, 12b-18).
Sin is also eternal. Once we have rebelled against God we cannot escape our guilt. Good works do not make up for evil. Only God can forgive sins, and he can do so only in ways consistent with his own nature, that is with his justice. That is what made it necessary for Jesus to come to the earth and become the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 2:10-14).
Once we have obeyed the Gospel of Christ, however, we must then begin to deal with the garbage that threatens our salvation. We must resist temptation and “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Or, as James put it, “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness.”
Sin is universal; we all violate God’s will. But while it is inevitable that we do sin (1 John 1:8, 10), it is not true that we are helpless against temptation. We can resist, flee, and fight against Satan’s attempts to defeat us. God will forgive those sins we commit, if we are in Christ (Romans 8;1) and truly repent of each sin, confessing them and asking forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Most of us will not willingly live in a house with an accumulation of molding, rotting, stinking garbage. We take out the trash regularly that we might have a cleaner, more healthy environment. We should adopt the same practice spiritually. Let us remove bad habits of speech, attitude, and practice. It’s time to take out the trash.