The “Therefore” of verse 21 tells us what the first 20 verses are there for. The point is to let us know that God gives us trials, but not temptations. Every circumstance is a trial. Temptations don’t come from trials. Temptations come from within. James tells us that first our lust is conceived within our hearts. Lust then gives birth to sin and then, when sin is full-grown, it results in death. Separation. The most tragic separation may be when we are separated from the life we could be living.
What is the solution? The solution does not lie in reforming our old selves. The cure comes from a transplant. As with any transplant, the first step is to put away the old. James tells us to put aside our inner wickedness. Move it out of the way. Render it inoperative. Tell our old self, our flesh, “no thanks.” And in its place implant God’s word. His perspective of our best interest. His perspective of winning at life.
Just like a heart transplant saves the life of someone whose heart is failing, implanting the word saves our lives. The word translated “soul” is the Greek word “psuche” which is translated “life” about half of the time it appears in Scripture (“soul” the other half). Living under the control of our dead self’s passions is like living as a zombie. Transplanting God’s word frees us to become all we can be. To encounter every circumstance as a champion. And win life’s gold by living in godly wisdom. Listening to others trains us to listen to God. Listening to God gives us a life transplant.
“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
– James 1:21