“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do“ – James 1:5-8
I believe that this ‘doubt’, this being ‘blown and tossed by the wind’, is actually the wavering between Law and Grace that goes on in a believer’s mind. This is the double-mindedness James speaks of.
Joseph Prince put it really well in Chapter 8 of his book, ‘Unmerited Favor‘, where he says this:
“Be sure that you are receiving from a ministry that is established on the new covenant of Grace, and not a ministry that slips in and out of the two covenants. Failure to rightly divide God’s Word leads to confusion, and [this is called] ‘Mixture’. He cannot* bless Mixture, which portrays Him as being angry with us sometimes because of our failure to keep the Law, but wanting to bless us at other times because of His Grace. Mixture teaches that God is happy with us sometimes, but at other times our fellowship with God is broken because of our failures.
“A believer can find no peace, no assurance and no confidence in Mixture. You cannot put new wine into an old wineskin because you will lose both (Mk 2:22). The Law will lose its convicting power to lead you to Christ if it is balanced with Grace. Grace will lose its essence of being unmerited, unearned and undeserved when people are told that they still need to depend on themselves and their works to deserve God’s presence and favour. It is an outright contradiction. What man calls ‘Balance’, God calls ‘Mixture’ “
I can put this no better myself, so I will leave it at that. Ponder this in your heart and see what God says to you!
*Those who know me may be puzzled by my use of the phrase “God can’t”. Because they know that I believe that God can.
The only time when God can’t is when the thing in question is an intrinsic impossibility. For example, a simple light switch can be in either the ‘On’ position or the ‘Off’ position; it cannot be in both positions at the same time. This is an intrinsic impossibility and it is the way that God has made things.
On the other hand, an impossibility that is simply because of human, theoretical or technological limitations – like, for example, raising the dead or suddenly displacing your body two hundred miles in a second just by snapping your fingers – that sort of impossibility is only a conceptual impossibility; it’s not impossible by nature in that it’s not self-contradictory like the light switch being on and off at the same time. So, when Joseph Prince says “it is an outright contradiction”, that is actually the best way to put it because we are saying that it is in intrinsic impossibility to live under both Law and Grace at the same time, and therefore it is wholly correct to say that ‘God cannot’ bless Mixture. It simply doesn’t work; it is an intrinsic impossibility. It would be like having the light switch both on and off at the same time. Its being intrinsically impossible sounds like it’s putting it a bit strongly, but that’s actually the way it is.
Some people interpret double-mindedness as being other combinations – for example, faith vs. doubt; my way vs. God’s way; the flesh vs. the Spirit; not making your mind up about God; or even divided loyalty (whatever that means). But actually these, while possibly sometimes applying, are nowhere near as fundamental as the divide between Law and Grace. You simply can’t have both!
9 thoughts on “How Not to be Double – Minded”
Tony, I really enjoyed this post; I have never thought of James post in this way, but I went back to read it and I think it fits very well. This is interesting because I have often seen this passage used in support of legalism–to overcome temptation and persevere in our salvation.
Yes, James’s book is often used by legalists; it can come across as harsh and unyielding, which I’m sure suits legalists down to the ground.
But I have to say that I used to do James a disservice. I too, probably because of said legalists, used to mark him as a hardline legalist and what have you. But actually when you read about him and what he said at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts, he’s actually conciliatory, gentle and lenient. He’s not a legalist at all! And I was mistaken.
It’s also interesting that I made the link between Joseph Prince’s piece and the James passage; he does not do this in his book. But it certainly is a plausible idea.
I too agree with the law/grace double minded issue. Jesus said that there was no double standards, you’ll be judged by the standard that you judge others by (paraphrasing). To me I see that as the two covenants, old and new. Under the ” influence” of the old/ law, we judge others by their ability to obey God and do ” right ” while simultaneously judging ourselves forgiven and accepted by grace. But if we are being influenced by the new/grace, then we judge ALL equally forgiven and accepted. For Christ saved the sinner, and who isn’t one?!! So if we are taught that the character of God is both merciful and unmerciful, and we become deceived by said teaching, then we have become double minded. Another thing that just came to mind is the mount of transfiguration. Paraphrasing again, but didn’t God say listen to Jesus, not Moses and prophets? Jesus’ work on the cross and resurrection is the revelation of God’s grace toward the sinner. Moses not the prophets could ever reveal such an amazing God! So even today, following religious leaders and not solely Jesus will only cause us to be double minded. We have to test the spirit to tell if it’s truth or not. Holding all things up to Jesus full of GRACE AND TRUTH.
Beautiful comment! Well said. Thanks, Rach 🙂