The Danger of Double-Mindedness

James 1:1-8 gives important instruction regarding the believer’s trials and testings (vv. 2-3), the need for patience while God is working in one’s life (v. 4), and the proper approach to prayer (vv. 5-7). Sometimes our trials may seem too severe, yet all along God knows exactly what we need for our good and His glory.

However, it is the last verse of this text (v. 8) that many often overlook or ignore, despite the fact that it is an extremely important warning from God about the danger of double mindedness: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Instability has become a major problem in our society, causing a multitude of people to turn to man’s wisdom for answers and solutions, which helps to explain why psychology has become so popular and why so many people today spend millions of dollars and hours reading self-help books, listening to motivational tapes and attending self-improve­ment seminars. The fact that unbelievers turn to futile sources for help is understand­able, but the reality that believers often make the very same mistake is entirely inexcusable.

God’s Word has all of the answers. In the early church, the believers demonstrated exactly the opposite of double mindedness—they worshipped, praised, and served the Lord with “singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46-47). The biblical injunction for us today is that we demonstrate that same singularity: “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). The instability of so many believers today is a direct result of listening to and seeking to please men (including themselves) rather than God. Do not make this terrible mistake. Rather, faithfully serve the Lord with singleness of heart.

The Cure for Double-Mindedness

A sure cure exists for the double mindedness that has left multitudes uncertain, unstable, confused, and desperate. This cure is found in James 4:1-8. A simple personal application of this text will produce wonderful and practical results, but unfortunately many are turning, instead, for help and guidance from so-called “Christian psychology” in which humanis­tic, godless psychology is mixed with biblical principles. The inevitable result of such an unholy mixture, however, is a more deceptive kind of double mindedness because people are usually unaware that they are embracing humanistic principles.

Both the cause and the cure for double mindedness are set forth in today’s text. The Lord forewarns that all of man’s attempts to gratify his fleshly desires will be unsuccessful (vv. 1-2) and that such misguided attention will result in unanswered prayer (v. 3), which obviously robs the believer of the help that God alone can give. Our text also warns of the dangerous consequences of worldliness (vv. 4-5), and yet, astoundingly, worldliness has infiltrated the churches and the hearts of believers today to an unprecedented degree, making them all the more double minded and unstable.

How can we as believers be protected or delivered from double mindedness? Through complete submission to God and continuous, scriptural resistance to whatever the devil puts before us (v. 7). We must “draw nigh to God,” “cleanse [our] hands,” “purify [our] hearts” (v. 8) and depend upon the Lord’s sustaining grace that He has promised to the humble saint (v. 6). The Word of God provides the only stability on which we can count in these tumultuous, deceptive days before Christ’s return.

— By Pastor M. H. Reynolds Jr. Adapted from Feature: A Daily Bible Study Guide, published by the FEA.