James 1:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 1:21, NIV: "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 1:21, ESV: "Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."

James 1:21, KJV: "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls."

James 1:21, NASB: "Therefore, ridding yourselves of all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls."

James 1:21, NLT: "So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls."

James 1:21, CSB: "Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."

What does James 1:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

James continues to describe what it looks like to truly trust God our Father. How does that show up in our daily lives? Here, he writes that those who trust God reject sin. Sin is what happens when we choose to serve ourselves first, and above all. Because God perfectly provides, what do we need sin for? So let's put sin away, James says. The Greek word used here is apothemenoi, which means to remove something as one would remove clothing.

To take off something is a choice, a conscious action. To live in moral filth, to participate in the evil all around us, is normal for humans. It's how most people continue to live throughout their lives. This is why we speak of "lesser evils," or say certain decisions are "just business." It's why we always want to compare our morals to other people, instead of comparing them to God. Those who trust the Father, though, choose to opt out of sin, no matter how alien that may appear in the culture of the day.

And what do we opt in to? What do we choose instead? It's interesting that James doesn't yet give us a concrete list of good things to do here, instead of the bad things we were doing. He writes that we should, in humility, accept the Word planted in us. Throughout the Bible, Christ is often described as "the Word." James likely refers to Christ, to the message of Christ, when he calls us to accept, with humility, the Word that was planted in us when we believed in Jesus.

James doesn't tell us to stop sinning and just be better people. He tells us to stop sinning and accept—or keep accepting or accept on a deeper level—the message of Christ, with humility. It is Christ's goodness in us that counts, not our own efforts to be good. Christ in us is what will save our souls.