In James 4:1-10, the brother of our Lord shares an important word on the subject of cleansing. He employs a contrast between the kind of person we are in the flesh and the kind of person we are when under grace. Remember, he is speaking to believers. James had earlier stated, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8 This phrase “double minded” literally “double souled” refers to a person who is driven by two differing desires. Thus he is unstable. It appears only here and in James 4:8. But the concept appears in Paul's discussion in Romans 7 and in Galatians 5. It refers to the struggle that believers have with the old sinful nature and the new new nature given us in salvation. Note this constrast.
A man of flesh is described as:
warring and fighting within himself,
killing, fighting and warring
a friend of the world,
an enemy of God.
But in verse six he begins to describe a man under grace as:
fighting, not with himself, but with the devil,
broken and contrite,
dependent on God for victory.
What a difference God's grace makes!
It is in the midst of this discussion that James appears to draw a mental picture of how a worshiper obtains cleansing: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8 You see, we have a natural tendency to be driven by our old nature, the flesh, the old man. That is why he describes a believer as “double minded.” But God desires that we be single minded, led by the Spirit of God, directed by the Word of God and that we put to death the old man. Paul used the phrase, “Mortify” that is to put to death the deeds of the body. James seems to be using the mental picture of a person worshiping God at the temple. Notice...
(1) drawing nigh to God (as if to offer an offering),
(2) cleansing his hands (as if at the laver of washing in the temple of God), and
(3) purifying the heart by offering (the body and blood of Jesus, God's chosen sacrifice).
It is only through the substitutionary work of Christ that we are able to overcome the flesh and sin and the devil. This is the only means of cleansing and victory for the child of God. It is not our own abilities and gifts, our own intellectual prowess, our own internal goodness or our money, position or fame. The victory is all of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. To God be the glory!