With a title like that, you’re probable wondering if I have lost my mind; I have not, at least no more than normal, but can ear wax actually damage your faith? Well… yes. Before we get to how it can damage faith, let us dig in to what ear wax actually is. As I did a little research, I found that ear wax is really in quite interesting. I have included a quote from Wikipedia below.
Earwax, also known by the medical term cerumen, is a gray, orange, or yellowish waxy substance secreted in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It protects the skin of the human ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection against bacteria, fungi, insects, and water.
Earwax consists of shedskin cells, hair, and the secretions of the ceruminous and sebaceous glands of the outside ear canal. Major components of earwax are long chain fatty acids, both saturated and unsaturated, alcohols, squalene, and cholesterol. Excess or compacted cerumen (ear wax) can press against the eardrum or block the outside ear canal or hearing aids, potentially causing hearing loss.
Because excessive ear wax build up is pretty much an issue for all humans, we invented things like cotton swabs, to clear our ears of it, so a build up causing hearing loss does not occur. I know few if any who like to feel as though they can’t hear, yet it is a common problem as a result of excessive ear wax build up. So I have established that ear wax can cause a loss of physical hearing, but how does that reality, intersect at all with our faith? Let me explain. Let us read James 1:21-22…
“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves“
Before we examine the link to earwax, let us first establish that this passage is part of a larger section in James chapter one, which gives us several practical essentials of living with faith in Jesus Christ. In simply skimming the content prior to our two focused verses, you’ll find instruction on: attaining wisdom in prayer, praying in faith rather than doubt, a caution against trusting riches, the blessing of enduring temptation, the peril of temptation, the pull of temptation, the origin of temptation, the process of temptation; and the need to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.
There is certainly much to HEAR (pun intended) from the Lord in this chapter. Listing in our focused upon verses are few hindrances to our walking in faith and more specifically hearing God rightly.
- “lay aside all filthiness” refers to things that would make us unclean before God. This refers to sinful behavior that defiles the holiness and purity we are to walk in before God. These are the grosser sensual sins of the flesh of sexual immorality, idolatry, and participation in darkness. Paul gives strong commands to break from these as well (II Corinthians 6:14-18).
- “receive with meekness the implanted word of God” is a positive command, calling us to seek God’s will and way in the word of God; being dependent on its precepts and commands, for every step we take (with meekness). Here we see God’s word is not only as the foundation of our life with Christ, but walking it it our whole life purpose. In our culture with all the watered down devotions and blinking bible apps, we have lost this dependence for pithy crumbs of scripture, that serve almost as trivia answers for our curiosity and religious need. If we will not meditate on scripture and wait for God to speak by the Holy Spirit, through the word of God, we can forget hearing anything more than human interpretation.
- “Be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” Here we see that hearing God’s Spirit through the implanted word of God is not sufficient to maintain our walk of faith; we must obey what He commands. Without the essential commitment to obedience, our faith and relationship to God has potential to be damaged. It is very important we also have clean spiritual ears.
SPIRITUAL EAR WAX BUILD-UP (“and overflow of wickedness”)
Further, the word “wickedness” refers to evil with malice of intent or malignancy. In this definition we see the sin that arises in us for the same reason that Cain killed Abel. This is sin that seeks to protect the self at any cost, that will remove challenges to what “I” want. This is the sin that causes people to defame others to make ourselves look better. This is the sin that seeks to undermine even a friend just to get ahead. This is the sin that will stop at nothing to get what it believes it deserves. This sin arises from the will of the old man of sin, that seeks to protect, propagate, and provide for what is in error seen as “my right”.
For the Christian this “wickedness” has been crucified with Christ, yet in the word “overflow” we see the faith damaging problem of ear wax and how it equates to the build up”wickedness“, which can damage our faith and spiritual hearing.
The word “overflow” in the Greek language means the residue remains: the “wickedness” remaining over in the Christian’s life from his state prior to conversion. As we know, the old man and his “wickedness” has been crucified and has no dominion over us (Romans 6:4-14). Though it is not the sovereign principal of life, as the Holy Spirit dwelling with us is to be the life principal and sovereign ruler, the pattern and pieces (of wickedness) remain floating in our spiritual system. When we lack obedience, give in to the sensual (even if its not “filthiness”), justify too many “all things are lawful… but not expedient” things, or flat out sin, then the “wickedness” builds up, like ear wax.
Oh, guess what? The word in the Greek language used to describe the condition of a person having excess wax in their ears is the same word for… you guessed it “overflow” from our text! And this word and spiritual condition is diagnosed right before the Holy Spirit led the writer of James to pen, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”. So yes, my friends, ear wax of the spiritual kind, can damage your faith, by limiting your hearing of God, making obedience more difficult.
Let me be clear, this is a residue, a build up of what used to be. An “overflow of wickedness” is not an actual malice filled murder or purposeful undermining of a friend (though to much build up can lead to horrendous sin in believers), but a build up of what causes those things… Our turning from selflessness to selfish pursuit of our desires. I believe we all need to consider how much spiritual ear wax we’ve allowed to build up.
Pray the Holy Spirit will “search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). If revealed we have excessive build up, a Q-tip will not do. We need the super powered syringe of the fullness of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-38; Ephesians 5:18). Come to think of it, let’s assume we have an issue and set our heart to be filled with that River of Living water, which will blow out all our impurities and hindrances to hearing and doing the word of God.
HAPPY HEARING SAINTS