“Double minded” is from the Greek word dipsuchos–a combination of di (meaning “twice” or “double”) and psuche (meaning “soul” or “life”). The basic idea is that a person is torn between competing choices or interests. This word is only used two times in the New Testament, here and in James 4:8.
James 4:8 states, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (emphasis added) The implication here is that there is a relationship between having an impure life and double-mindedness. Therefore, one can conclude that the conflict of having a double mind is moral purity versus impurity or sin. Applying this concept to our study verse (James 1:8) gives the following interpretation: A person who desires to live a pure life according to the standards of God (cf. James 1:5-7), but also wants the pleasures of sin (cf. Hebrews 11:25) is unstable (restless, in an uncertain state) with regard to everything that person does in life.
Perhaps this is why so many people are characterized by instability in their lives. On one hand they like the idea of pleasing God, but on the other hand, the appeal of sin is great and looks to provide satisfaction. The Bible teaches us that the pleasures of sin are only “for a season” (Hebrews 11:25), but the rewards of righteous living are eternal (see Matthew 6:20; Romans 2:7; Luke 6:35; Colossians 3:23-24). Which will you choose?