So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls.
In our physical world, two solid objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. This is a principle that is easily illustrated on any freeway or subway car during the rush hour. Whether it is shoulder to shoulder or bumper to bumper, the illustration is clear. In our spiritual world, the same principle applies to the inclinations of our hearts.
James’s instructions here are sequential for a reason. First, he directs us to rid ourselves of uncleanness and wickedness. This is step one. Second, we are to receive the word of God humbly. This is step two. Can a man be selfish and selfless at the same time? No, he must choose from these distinct attitudes. Neither can he treat his brother with both love and hate simultaneously, nor compassion and contempt. In order to fill ourselves with the good things of God, we first must purge ourselves of the evil within us. According to James, this is an intentional removal of that which makes man unclean, just as Jesus commanded us to voluntarily turn from sin [Luke 13:1-5].
For every wicked thought and desire within us, our Father desires to replace it with one of righteousness. To do that, we must voluntarily let go of the uncleanness within us. If we hold on to that which is ungodly, it leaves no space for God to implant his word in us. We control what we retain and what we release. Father, give us the wisdom and the strength to remove all impurity from within us so that You may implant in us your word, replacing the ungodly with righteousness for your name’s sake.