BEING A DOUBLE-MINDED MAN,
UNSTABLE IN ALL HIS WAYS: aner dipsuchos, akatastatos en pasais tais
hodois autou: (Jas 4:8; 1Ki 18:21; 2Ki 17:33,41; Is
29:13; Ho 7:8, 9, 10, 11; 10:2; Mt 6:22,24; 2Pe 2:14; 3:16)
Being - No verb is present,
so that "being" is added by the NAS translators for continuity.
(aner) is the Greek word for man in contrast to woman, but as
he has just used the more general word anthropos in v7, it is not
likely that he intends to make this gender specific.
Double minded - "Two souled"
as if two distinct souls were effecting this man's attitudes and
actions! One of the souls is oriented as it were toward God and trusts
in God, while the other is oriented toward the natural world and
disbelieves God. As one writer has put it James is describing a man
who is "a walking civil war in which trust and distrust of God wage a
continual battle against each other." John Bunyan in Pilgrims Progress
gives a similar picture in his description of "Mr. Facing-both-ways"!
(dipsuchos from dís = twice +
mind) is an adjective which literally describes one who has two minds
or one who is two-spirited and has been called one of the most
picturesque words in the entire epistle. Dipsuchos is the one who hesitates or
vacillates between two or more opinions, This person in a sense has a
divided loyalty and is manifest by indecision and doubting. Some might
see such a person as "fickle" (marked by lack of steadfastness,
constancy, or stability -- given to erratic changeableness). This is
the man or woman who is uncertain about the truth of something, in
this case the truth of the sovereign, omnipotent power of God.
The only other use of dipsuchos
is also by James...
to God and He will draw near to you.
your hands, you sinners; and
your hearts, you double-minded. (All verbs in red =
Synonyms for double minded -
vacillating, halting, hesitant, hesitating, indecisive, irresolute,
tentative, uncertain, indecisive, wavering. Idioms of two minds
The field mouse who illustrated
James "Double-minded man" - Driving in country at night when
headlights showed up a field mouse dead ahead. He first started toward
the left, then right, then left, and finally stood still as the car
passed over him.
A similar thought is described in
the OT passages which describe a person with a divided (versus a
whole) heart (1Ki 8:61, 11:4, 15:3,14, 2Ki20:3, 1Ch12:38, 28:9,
29:19, 2Ch15:17, 16:9, 19:9, 25:2). Same idea in Ps 12:2 = double
heart. Opposite of "undivided heart" = 1Chr 12:33. Cp "hesitate
between two opinions" (1Ki 18:21). Dipsuchos is the opposite of Dt
4:29 = "with all your heart and all your soul".
James helps define double-minded
as one who is unstable. This is the person who lacks integrity, who
claims one thing and lives another. This is the hypocrite in the
assembly of believers.
O HAPPY DAY THAT FIXED
Play this hymn
Now rest, my long divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest.
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heavenly pleasures fill my breast.
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus
washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.
The Puritan writer Thomas Manton says that...
The word signifies a person who has
two souls, and so it may imply:
(1) A hypocrite, since the same
word is used with that meaning in Jas 4:8 : “Purify your hearts, you
double-minded.” As he speaks to open sinners to cleanse their hands,
so he speaks to secret hypocrites (whom he calls double-minded since
they pretend one thing but mean another) to purify their hearts—that
is, to grow more inwardly sincere. This word is similar to the Hebrew
word for “deceive.” “Their flattering lips speak with deception”
(Psalm 12:2); in the Hebrew this is “with a heart and a heart,” which
is their way of expressing something that is double or deceitful
(deceitful weights are “a weight and a weight” in the Hebrew of Pr
20:23). As Theophrastus says of the partridges of Paphlagonia that
they had two hearts, so every hypocrite has two hearts or two souls.
(2) It implies a person who is
distracted and divided in his thoughts, floating between two different
opinions, as if he had two minds or two souls. In the apostle’s time
there were some Judaizing brethren who sometimes sided with the Jews,
sometimes with the Christians. They were not settled in the truth. See
also 2Kings 17:33 , “They worshiped the Lord , but they also served
their own gods”; they were divided between God and idols. The prophet
says this shows a double or divided heart: “Their heart is deceitful,
and now they must bear their guilt” (Hosea 10:2). Thus Athanasius
applied this description to the Eusebians, who sometimes held one
thing and then another.
(3) In the context of James this
may refer to those whose minds were tossed to and fro with various
ideas: now lifted up with a wave of presumption, then cast down in a
gulf of despair, being torn between hopes and fears concerning their
acceptance with God. I prefer this latter sense, as it conveys the
apostle’s purpose best. (Manton, T. Exposition of James)
The Shepherd of Hermas
(Apostolic Fathers) expounds on double mindedness in Mandate
He said to me, “Rid yourself of
double-mindedness (dipsuchos - used in Greek text in all the
occurrences of double-mindedness in this mandate), and do not be at
all double-minded about asking God for something, saying to yourself,
for example, ‘How can I ask for something from God and receive it,
when I have sinned so often against him?’
(2) Do not reason in this way, but
turn to the Lord with all your heart and ask of him unhesitatingly,
and you will know his extraordinary compassion, because he will never
abandon you, but will fulfill your soul’s request.
(3) For God is not like men, who
bear grudges; no, he is without malice and has compassion on his
(4) Do, therefore, cleanse your
heart of all the vanities of this life, and of all the things
mentioned to you above, and ask of the Lord, and you will receive
everything, and will not fail to receive all of your requests, if you
(5) But if you hesitate in your
heart, you will certainly not receive any of your requests. For those
who hesitate in their relation to God are the double-minded, and they
never obtain any of their requests.
(6) But those who are perfect in
faith make all their requests trusting in the Lord, and they receive
them, because they ask unhesitatingly, without any double-mindedness.
For every double-minded man, unless he repents, will scarcely be
(7) So cleanse your heart of
double-mindedness and put on faith, because it is strong, and trust
God that you will receive all the requests you make. And whenever you
ask for something from the Lord and you receive your request rather
slowly, do not become double-minded just because you did not receive
your soul’s request quickly, for assuredly it is because of some
temptation or some transgression, of which you are ignorant, that you
are receiving your request rather slowly.
(8) Do not, therefore, stop making
your soul’s request, and you will receive it. But if you become weary
and double-minded as you ask, blame yourself and not the One who gives
(9) Beware of this
double-mindedness, for it is evil and senseless, and has uprooted many
from the faith, even those who are very faithful and strong. For this
double-mindedness is indeed a daughter of the devil, and does much
evil to God’s servants.
(10) So despise double-mindedness
and gain mastery over it in everything by clothing yourself with faith
that is strong and powerful. For faith promises all things, perfects
all things; but double-mindedness, not having any confidence in
itself, fails in all the works it tries to do.
(11) So you see,” he said, “that
faith is from above, from the Lord, and has great power, but
double-mindedness is an earthly spirit from the devil that has no
(12) So serve faith, which has
power, and have nothing to do with double-mindedness, which has no
power, and you will live to God; indeed, all who are so minded will
live to God.” (The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English
translations. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books)
If you wrestle with a
double-mindedness, a great prayer to utter is Psalm 86:11...
Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will
walk in Thy truth;
Unite my heart to fear Thy name.
Spurgeon comments on this prayer
- Having taught me one way, give me one heart to walk therein, for
too often I feel a heart and a heart, two natures contending, two
principles struggling for sovereignty. Our minds are apt to be divided
between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste
their force in a hundred runnels; our great desire should be to have
all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel
directed towards the Lord alone. A man of divided heart is weak, the
man of one object is the man. God who created the bands of our nature
can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so
braced and inwardly knit by his uniting grace, we shall be powerful
for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the
growth, and the maturity of wisdom, therefore should we be undividedly
given up to it, heart, and soul.
Example of a divided heart...
This is a divided heart—like the
heart of the girl to which a young man once proposed. He said,
“Darling, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else
in the world. I want you to marry me. I’m not rich. I don’t have a
yacht or a Rolls Royce like Johnny Brown, but I do love you with all
my heart.” She thought for a minute and then replied, “I love you
with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Brown.”
Vine's Outline of "The
Heart" in James...
I. The divided heart (Jas 1:8; 4:8,
II. The deceived heart (Jas 1:26).
III. The contentious heart (Jas 3:14).
IV. The selfish heart (Jas 5:5).
V. The purified heart (Jas 4:8).
VI. The established heart (Jas 5:8).
The psalmist writes...
I hate those who are double-minded,
but I love Thy law. (Ps 119:113)
The result of a double minded man
is that he is unsteady, changeable, erratic, mercurial, volatile,
(akatastatos from a = not + kathistemi = to
settle from kata = down + histemi = to stand) an
adjective that describes
one who is unsettled, unsteady, unstable, staggering, restless, reeling like a
drunken man. Vacillating in all one's activity and conduct, because he
or she lacks a solid foundation which predisposes to unsteadiness and
wobbling. It describes a person who is often changing his mind about
derivative noun akatastasia (181) = unsettlement, restlessness,
disturbance, instability, disorder, commotion, confusion, tumult.
Sometimes had political associations and had the meaning "anarchy" (Lk
21:9) - Jas 3:16 = disorder caused by those who with their "false
wisdom" trouble the group of believers by demanding their own rights
abd exercising a party spirit., Lk 21:9, 2Co 6:5 = personal unrest,
2Co 12:20, 1Co 14:33 = confusion as opposed to eirene = peace.
James has the only other NT use in his description of our speech
Jas 3:8 But no one can tame the
tongue; it is a restless (akatastatos cp "the restless sea"
moving! Uncontrollable! Not subject to control) evil and full of deadly poison.
There is one use in the
Is 54:11 "O afflicted one,
storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in
antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
Manton writes that...
An unstable man has no constancy of
soul. He is sometimes ready to depart from God and sometimes to be
close to him; he is not settled in his religious profession. (Ibid)
All (pas) means all in an all inclusive sense. In all his conduct
or behavior is the idea.
(hodos) literally refers to a way along which one travels, such
a road, street, highway or path and then speaks of a trip or journey
(Mt 10:10, Mk 6:8, Lk 9:3). Figuratively, as used in the present
passage, hodos speaks of one's course of behavior or way of
life. In other words, life itself is compared to a way or a road one
"in all his ways," is a
Hebraism depicting his personal conduct (Ps 91:11; 145:17; Pr 3:6; Je
16:17). The plural "all his ways" encompasses all the varied
aspects of his life. His fickle and vacillating attitude in the realm
of faith projects itself into all the areas of his life making him
unreliable in all of his dealings. "The man who does not trust God
cannot be trusted by men."' There is a close connection between the
way a man prays and the way he lives. "Since the resting place of our
will is the will of God found in prayer, a division at the centre
destroys unity and force of character, and this produces instability
in the whole range of conduct." (Ibid)
A double souled man cannot decide
what he believes and therefore how he is going to live. He gets caught
up in every wind of change that blows through society. A person
without priorities will constantly find his heart captured by and
worrying about every thing that might be.
Double Minded Man Pictured by
Story of How to Catch a Fly - From the often austere letters
column of the scientific journal Nature comes advice on the best way
to swat a fly: “A piece of tissue paper is taken in each hand and the
fly approached from the left and right, keeping the hands equidistant
from the fly and moving to and fro slightly. Then both hands
simultaneously pounce.” The advice is soundly grounded in
“fly-neuroscience.” Dr. Edward Gray of England’s University College,
London, wrote: “The fly cannot cope with this situation, since its
central-nervous-system circuitry is geared to avoid approaching
movement in only one part of its visual field at a time. Two
simultaneously approaching threats render the fly immobile, for its
central nervous system now cannot compute at which angle to take off.”
What God wants from us is
singleness of heart in devotion and purpose. Only when Jesus is Lord
of the heart is there control! How we need to pray those words of Paul
O, knit my thankful heart to
And reign without a rival there …
Spurgeon's sermon -
A Divided Heart-
a sermon on Hosea 10:2KJV -
Observe, then, that our text
describes a Fearful Disease. Their heart is divided. I have called it
a fearful disease, and this will very readily appear if you observe,
first of all, the seat of it. It affects a vital part, it is not
merely a disease of the hand, that reformation might cure; it is not
merely a disease of the foot, that restraint might sometimes mollify;
it is not merely a disease of the eye which hath but to be couched to
let the light stream in upon it. It is a disease of a vital region —
of the heart; a disease in a part so vital that it affects the whole
man. The utmost extremity of the frame suffers when once the heart
becomes affected, and especially so affected as to be divided. There
is no power, no passion, there is no motive, no principle, which does
not become vitiated, when once the heart is diseased. Hence it is that
Satan, who is always crafty, endeavors to strike at the heart. He will
give you the hand if you please; you may be honest. He will give you
the eye if you please; you shall be outwardly chaste. He will give you
the foot, if you please; you shall appear to run in the way of
righteousness Only let him keep the heart, only let him rule in the
citadel, and he will be well content to give up all the rest. John
Bunyan describes this as being one of the terms which old Diabolus was
said to make with King Shaddai, — “Oh!” said he, “I will give up
all the city of Mansoul, if thou wilt but permit me to live in the
citadel of the heart.” Surely there was but little in his terms and
conditions. Ay but give up everything else; if thou retainest the
heart, thou retainest all, O, fiend! for out of the heart are the
issues of life.
Thus the disease of our text is one
that toucheth a vital part, a part which if once affected, tends to
vitiate the whole frame. But you will observe, the disease here
described, not only deals with a vital part, but toucheth it after a
most serious fashion. It does not simply say the heart palpitates; it
doth not declare that the life-floods that issue from it have become
more shallow and less rapid, but it declares something worse than all
these, namely, that the heart was cleft in twain and utterly divided.
A stony heart may be turned to flesh but turn a divided heart into
whatsoever you please, so long as it is divided, all is ill. Nothing
can go right when that which should be one organ becomes two; when the
one motive power begins to send forth its life-floods into two diverse
channels, and so creates intestine strife and war. A united heart is
life to a man, but if the heart be cut in twain, in the highest,
deepest, and most spiritual sense, he dies. It is a disease which is
not only affecting a vital part, but affecting it after the most
But we must observe again of this
divided heart, that it is a division in itself peculiarly loathsome.
Men who are possessed of it do not feel themselves to be unclean; in
fact they will visit all society, they will venture into the church,
they will propose to receive her communion, and to be numbered with
her members, and they will afterwards go and mingle with the world;
and they do not feel that they have become dishonest. They think
themselves fit to mingle with honest worldlings, and with sincere
Christians too. If a man had spots upon his countenance or some
disease that stared everyone else in the face as often as he was
beheld surely he would retire from society and endeavor to keep
himself a recluse. But not so the man with a divided heart. He goes
everywhere, utterly unconscious that his disease is of the most
loathsome character. Shall I show you how it is so? Take the glass and
look at the man’s heart, and you will discern that it is loathsome,
because Satan and sin reigns there. Although the man goes about and
has sufficient of what is right and what is wrong, to be uneasy in his
sin, yet has he such an intense love of all manner of iniquity, that
he allows the loathsome demons to come and dwell in his heart. But his
loathsomeness is worse than this, because all the while that he is
really living in sin, he is a loathsome hypocrite, pretending that he
is a child of God. Of all the things in the world that stink in the
nostrils of a honest man, hypocrisy is the worst. If thou be a
worldling, be a worldling. If thou serve Satan, serve him. If Baal be
god, serve him, but mask not thy service of self and sin by a
pretended service of God. Appear to be what thou art, tear off thy
masks. The church was never meant to be a masquerade. Stand out in thy
true colors. If thou preferest Satan’s shrine say so, and let men know
it, but if thou wilt serve God, serve him, and do it heartily, as
knowing him who is a jealous God and searcheth the hearts and trieth
the reins of the children of men. It is a terribly loathsome disease
this of a divided heart. If the man were but known, his disease is so
loathsome, that the most wicked men in the world would have nothing to
do with him. I have known sometimes instances of this. A man who
pretended to be religious and regularly attended his place of worship
is seen on one occasion entering into a ball-room of the very lowest
class. He begins at once to plunge into its gaieties, with the most
evil intentions. He is at once observed. The right senses even of the
wicked themselves are awakened. “Kick that man down stairs,” is the
unanimous verdict, and he receives it and he deserved it right well.
When a man has a divided heart — tries to do right and to do wrong, to
serve God and to serve Satan at the same time; I say his disease is of
so loathsome and degraded a character, that the very worldling, whose
leprosy is on his brow, despises, hates him, and avoids him.
And yet again, not merely is the
disease loathsome, but I must observe it is one always difficult to
cure, because it is chronic. It is not an acute disease, which brings
pain, and suffering, and sorrow with it, but it is chronic, it has got
into the very nature of the man. A divided heart, how are you to get
at that? If it were a disease in any other part, the lancet might find
it out, or some medicine might heal it. But what physician can join
together a divided heart? What skillful surgeon can set together the
disrupted members of a soul that has been divided between God and
mammon? This is a disease which enters into the very nature, and will
lie in the blood, though the most powerful medicines search it out.
This is a disease, in fact, which nothing but Omnipotent grace can
ever overcome. But he has no grace whose heart is divided between God
and mammon. He is an enemy to God, he is an injury to the church, he
is a despiser of God’s Word, he is a sheaf ripening for the harvest of
eternal fire. His disease is deeply rooted within him, and if left
alone it will come to a most dreadful end — its end is sure
I must observe once more, and then
I will leave this point of the disease, that, according to the Hebrew
of my text, this disease is a very difficult one to deal with, from
the fact that it is a flattering disease. The text might be rendered —
“Their heart flatters them; now are they found faulty.” There are
many cunning flatterers in the world, but the most cunning is man’s
own heart. A man’s own heart will flatter him even about his sins. A
man is a grasping miser — his heart flatters him that he is only
exercising proper business habits. A man on the other hand is
extravagant and spends the good gifts of God upon his own evil
passions; then his heart tells him that he is a liberal soul. The
heart turns “sweet into bitter and bitter into sweet.” It is so
“deceitful above all things,” and so “desperately wicked,” that it
has the impudence to “put darkness for light and light for
darkness.” Now when a man has a divided heart, he generally flatters
himself. “Well,” says he, “it is true I drink too much, but then
there is never a time that I refuse a guinea towards a charity. It is
true,” says he “I am not certainly what I should be in my moral
character, but still, see how regularly I keep to my church or chapel.
It is true,” says he, “I don’t now and then mind a trick or two in
my trade, but I am always ready to help the poor.” And so he imagines
that he blots out an evil trait in his character with a good one and
thus flatters his heart. And see how self-contented and satisfied he
is. The poor child of God is trying his own heart with the deepest
possible anxiety; this man knows of no such thing. He is always fully
assured that he is right. The true believer is sitting down and
turning over his accounts day by day to see whether he be really on
the road to heaven or whether he has mistaken his evidence and has
been deceived. But this man, self-satisfied, bandages his own eyes and
walks deliberately on, singing at every step, straight to his own
destruction. I know of some such now. It will not suffice for me
simply to state what their character is unless God the Holy Spirit
open their eyes. They will be sure not to know their own likeness,
even though I should paint it to the very life, and put in every touch
and stroke, yet they will say, “Ah he could not refer to me. I am so
good and so godly, there could have been no reference to me in
anything that he said.” Do you know a class of people that pull the
most tremendously long faces, that always look so serious, that talk
the English language with a kind of unctuous twang, that give a
savoury pronunciation to every word they utter? Beware of them. When a
man wears all his religion in his face, he has generally but a very
small stock in his heart. Those tradesmen that put such a great
display in their windows, frequently have very little behind. So with
these professors; no one would know they were religious, so they label
themselves that you may not make a mistake. You would think they were
worldlings, if it were not for their sanctimonious appearance. But by
putting that on, they think to glide through the world with credit. I
hope they are not imagining that they shall stand accepted before the
bar of God and deceive the Omniscient. Alas for them! Their heart is
divided. This is no uncommon disease, despite its loathsomeness and
its terrible fatality. Rife is it in this day; tens of thousands of
Englishmen who are reckoned good and honorable are afflicted with it.
Their whole head is sick, and their whole heart faint from the fact
that their heart is divided. They lack the courage to be
thorough-going sinners, and they have not sincerity enough to be
truly-devoted people of God....
This brings us to the third point,
the sad effect, of a divided heart. When a man’s heart is divided, he
is at once everything that is bad. With regard to himself he is an
unhappy man. Who can be happy while he has rival powers within his own
breast. The soul must find a nest for itself, or else it cannot find
rest. The bird that would seek to rest upon two twigs would never have
peace, and the soul that endeavors to find two resting places, first,
the world, and then the Savior, will never have any joy or comfort. A
united heart is a happy heart; hence David says, “Unite my heart to
fear thy name.” They that give themselves wholly to God are a blessed
people, for they find that the ways of religion are “ways of
pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Men who are neither this
nor that, neither one thing nor another, are always uneasy and
miserable. The fear of discovery, and the consciousness of being
wrong, conspire together to agitate the soul and make it full of
unease, disease, and restlessness of spirit. Such a man is unhappy in
himself. (See the entire sermon
A Divided Heart-)
F B Meyer (Our Daily Bread) -
THE DIVIDED HEART
"Where your treasure is, there
will your heart be also. If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall
be full of light."--Mt 6:21, 22-note
"A double minded man is unstable
in all his ways."--Jas. 1:8.
THE CLOSING paragraphs of Matthew
6 are full of instances of a divided heart. The Greek word for care
means that which divides.
Some are divided by anxiety. The
anxious soul cannot take a strong straight course, any more than a man
can sleep who is wondering whether he has bolted the front door or
wound up his watch. Some are divided by contrariness--a most difficult
and complicated disposition of soul. We would like to be pleasant,
helpful, agreeable, and amiable, but are conscious of cross-currents
that restrain and make us awkward and disagreeable, and we find
ourselves rent between two strong influences, the one to be Christlike
and gracious, the other to be distant and angular. Others are divided
by fitful and passionate impulses. Happy are they who can hold them
well in check. Even St. Paul tells us that he was conscious of these
two wills--the better serf which longed to do the will of God, and the
lower, selfish, passionate self, which brought him into subjection.
St. Augustine tells us that, though the prayers of Monica, his mother,
greatly affected him, he was constantly swept back from his ideal by
an outbreak of passion.
Bunyan also illustrates the same
condition, saying that two selves were at war within him. The Devil
came and said, "Sell Him!" But he resisted, even to blood, saying, "I
won't!" But, as the Tempter continued urging, "Sell Him!" Bunyan
finally yielded, and suffered an agony of remorse, as, on the one
hand, he accepted Christ as his only Hope, and on the other, was
prepared to barter Him away.
A divided heart lacks the first
element of strength--it is unstable. The men who leave their mark on
the world are those who can say: "This one thing I do." But we need
more than concentration, we need consecration. We must not only be
united in ourselves, we must be united in God. Let us make the prayer
of Psalm 86:11, our own: "O knit my heart unto Thee, that I may fear
Thy name." Yield yourself to God that He may disunite you from the
world, and weave you into His own life.
PRAYER - O Faithful Lord, grant to us, we pray Thee, faithful hearts
devoted to Thee, and to the service of all men for Thy sake. AMEN.