James 4:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 4:8, NIV: "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

James 4:8, ESV: "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

James 4:8, KJV: "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, NASB: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

James 4:8, NLT: "Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world."

James 4:8, CSB: "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

What does James 4:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

How should we respond if we realize we've been living according to worldly wisdom, driven by envy and selfish ambition to get what we want? What should we do if we want to get back to living according to heaven's wisdom, trusting God to provide all the good we need and focusing ourselves on serving others?

Beginning in the previous verse, James describes how we should repent. First, he wrote that we should quit blindly chasing what we want. Instead, we should submit to God. Next, we should resist the devil, instead of continuing to cooperate with him. James promised that when we resist Satan, he will leave.

Here in verse 8, James calls us to draw near—to move closer—to God. This comes with an additional promise: God will respond by moving closer to us. That's an incredible act of mercy on God's part. The God of the universe owes us nothing, including His closeness. What grace on His part to come in our direction at all! This is especially gracious as a response to our step in His direction.

Next, James calls us sinners to clean our hands. He calls us double-minded people: trying to serve both self and God. James pleads with us to purify our hearts. For James's Jewish readers who had grown up under the law, these commands would have called to mind ceremonial washings. The idea here is to completely turn from our sin, to resolve that we will serve God, and to begin again.

That is what true repentance is.