The Letter of James shows one of the church’s early pastors skillfully going about his work of confronting, diagnosing, and dealing with areas of misbelief and misbehavior that had turned up in congregations committed to his care.
**Deep and living wisdom is on display here!
**Wisdom is not simply knowing the truth, although it certainly includes that; it is skill in living!!
**For what good is truth, if we don’t know how to live it!?
According to church traditions, James carried the nickname “OLD CAMEL KNEES” because of thick calluses built up on his knees from many years of determined prayer.
**Prayer is foundational to wisdom
**Prayer is foundational to transferring wisdom to living!
Many people seem to have the idea that, because God is good, He should not allow His people to suffer, or to be tempted.
They forget that God wants His children to grow up and to experience new blessings of His grace; and the only way they can do this is to go through trials and temptations.
In this paragraph, James emphasizes the goodness of God, and warns the Christian rebelling against God in times of trial (1:13, 20).
First, he makes a careful distinction between trials and temptations.
·God sends trials to bring out the best in us (see Abraham, Gen. 22:1);
·but Satan sends temptations to bring out the worst in us.
No man should say that God tempts him, because temptations to sin arise from our very nature. He describes the "birth" of sin: enticement from without generates lust within; lust conceives and gives birth to sin; and sin brings death!
V.14. The words "drawn away" and "entice" are hunting terms; they bring to mind a hunter, or a fisherman, using bait to lure his prey.
Monkey trappers in North Africa have a clever method of catching their prey. A number of gourds are filled with nuts and firmly fastened to a branch of a tree. Each has a hole just large enough for the unwary monkey to stick his forepaw into it. When the hungry animal discovers this, he quickly grasps a handful of nuts, but the hole is too small for him to withdraw his clenched fist. And he doesn't have enough sense to open up his hand and let go in order to escape, so he is easily taken captive.
This is a picture of many Christians.
The devil with his crafty devices tried to ensnare them.
As long as they hold on to worldly bait, they cannot escape from Satan's trap.
But he keeps on urging, "Don't let go! Enjoy the pleasure of your sin just a little bit longer!"
So, listening to the tempter's alluring voice, they continue in their evil way.
1:14 Man is always ready to shift responsibility for his sins.
**But sin is not a sickness; it is a moral failure for which man must give account.
James tracks the lion to its den when he says: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”
Sin comes from within us, from our old, evil, fallen, unregenerate nature.
Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19).
Are we helpless victims then, when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed?
No, we may expel all thoughts of sin from our mind and concentrate on subjects that are pure and holy
Also in the moment of fierce temptation, we may call on the Lord, remembering that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run to it, and are safe” (Prov. 18:10).
First of all, the sin of Adam brought physical death on himself and on all his posterity (Gen. 2:17).
But sin also leads to eternal, spiritual death—the final separation of the person from God and from blessing (Rom. 6:23a).
There is a sense also in which sin results in death for a believer. For instance, in 1 Timothy 5:6 we read that a believing widow who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.
This means that she is wasting her life and utterly failing to fulfill the purpose for which God saved her.
**To be out of fellowship with God is for a Christian a form of living death.
Consider God’s Goodness ( James 1:17 )
Have you ever thought about how much you have to be thankful for that God has given you?
Many of us have friends, families, jobs and homes that are nice. We have been blessed with a relationship with God and many wonderful memories.
>>James wanted to assure the people in these verses that when we receive anything that is good it is from God.
God will not by his nature give us anything that is evil or bad.
>>James begins vs.16 by warning us “Do not be deceived” which means that we should not wander from the conception of God which is found in His Word. Sometimes we might get impressions from nature or circumstances that God is one way.
**But, we are to be grounded in the truth of scripture and what it tells us about God’s nature.
- \\ He wants to remind us that even though the world may change our God does not change.*
(Heb 13:8) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
He is the God who gives all or every good and perfect gift.
James identifies the Lord and the Father of the heavenly lights.
James also says there is no shadow of turning.
“When the sun is in eclipse, it is not the fault of the sun. The sun hasn’t failed to light or shine. But something has come between the sun and the earth. It is the way the earth is turned that causes the shadow.
Whenever there is a shutting off of the presence of God from our lives, it is not His fault, but ours. **It is our sinfulness that has caused us to turn away.”
>>One of the enemy’s tricks is to convince us that our Father is holding out on us, that He does not really love us and care for us. OT When Satan approached Eve, he suggested that if God really loved her, He would permit her to eat of the forbidden tree.
NT When Satan tempted Jesus, he raised the question of hunger. “If Your Father loves You, why are You hungry?”
**It is better to be hungry in the Will of God than full out of the His Will
Moses warned Israel not to forget God’s goodness when they began to enjoy the physical blessings of the Promised Land ( Deut. 6:10–15 ). We need this warning today. James presented two facts about the goodness of God.
God gives only good gifts. Everything good in this world comes from God. If it did not come from God, it is not good. If it comes from God, it must be good, even if we do not see the goodness in it immediately. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was given to him by God and it seemed to be a strange gift; yet it became a tremendous blessing to him ( 2 Cor. 12:9 ). “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” He gives constantly. “Cometh down” is a present participle: “it keeps on coming down.” God does not give occasionally; He gives constantly. --Even when we do not see His gifts, He is sending them.
Rather, he should be swift to hear the Word, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.
1:19a The rest of this chapter gives practical instructions as to how we can be firstfruits of His creatures.
We should be swift to hear. This is an unusual command, with almost a trace of humor in it. It’s like saying, “Hurry up and hear!”
It means that we should be ready to hear the word of God, as well as all godly counsel and admonition. We should be teachable by the Holy Spirit.
We should be slow to speak.
It is surprising how much James has to say about our speech!:
**one tongue, but two ears,
Solomon would have agreed heartily with James. He once said, “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (Prov. 13:3).
He also said, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19).
V. 19 The phrase "swift to hear" brings up the matter of the Christian hearing and obeying God's Word, the theme of this section.
James is using an illustration from agriculture when he talks about "firstfruits" and "the implanted (engrafted) Word."
He is probably referring to the Parable of the Sower (Mt. 13:1-9, 18-23) in which the heart is compared to soil and the Word to implanted seed.
· If the Christian is going to receive the Word and get strength from it in trials, then he must pull out the weeds!
The soil of the heart must be prepared to receive the Word.
Don’t Blame the Seed
Let’s be sure of one thing. This has nothing to do with the seed. God’s Word is complete, all-sufficient. The Bible says of itself, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
So the seed is not deficient.
The Word of God is sufficient to raise in your life a crop of spiritual vitality, victory, power, and perseverance.
Everything you need in order to be all that God wants you to be is already given to you at the point of receiving the Word.
That’s why James 1:21 urges us to receive “the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
Jesus is saying that when you receive the seed of His Word, you have all you need to become all God wants you to be.
But the first example in His parable makes clear that some Christians don’t allow the seed to take root.
The Word does not get deep into the soil of their hearts.
In 22-25, James changes the figure, and pictures the Word as a mirror (glass).
The Word of God reveals what we are like, just as a mirror does.
When the Christian looks into the Word, he sees himself and is able to examine heart and confess sin.
But it is not enough merely to look into the Word and Word and read it; we must obey what we read.
In vs. 23 he pictures a man who glances casually into the mirror, sees that his face is dirty, and goes on his way. This is the way many Christians read their Bibles: they quickly glance into it, see some sin in their lives, and close the Bible and go on their way.
·This is self-deception: they think that they have bettered themselves spiritually when they have actually harmed themselves!
Instead, like the wicked queen in Snow White, they stand in front of the mirror and say, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
If they can get enough mirrors to lie to them, they will think they really are all right and never come to realize that Jesus Christ is the only One who can satisfy the demands of a holy God.
So the first thing the Holy Spirit does is convince men and women that they are sinners and convict them of the ultimate sin of rejecting Jesus Christ.
That’s why, when Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost and preached, the Bible says that the hearers were “pierced to the heart” (Acts 2:37). The Spirit convinced them, and all they could do was ask, “What shall we do?” They had come to an understanding they did not previously have.
It is not reading the Bible that makes a person happy; it is obeying what it says.
He calls the Word "the perfect law of liberty"
Living the Christian life is not bondage, it is wonderful liberty!
They are: (1) self-control - a bridled tongue, see 3:2; (2) love for others; and (3) a clean life.
Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE
Act on What You Hear
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God-the free life!-even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
When you take a dog to obedience school the dog and the master both learn one important thing!
It is simply this: IN ORDER TO PREVENT A DOG FROM BEING DISTRACTED AND ENTICED TO GO ASTRAY, THE TRAINER MUST MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT WITH THE DOG!
AS LONG AS THE DOG KEEPS HIS EYES UPON THE MASTER AND LISTENS FOR HIS COMMANDS, THE MORE CERTAIN HE IS TO BE OBLIVIOUS TO DISTRACTION AND TO BE OBEDIENT TO HIS MASTER!!
**I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS THE MESSAGE WHICH JAMES IS TEACHING US.
**WE NEED TO FIX OUR EYES AND MINDS UPON JESUS!!
**WE NEED TO TUNE IN ON HIS FREQUENCY!!
**WE NEED TO TRUST HIM FULLY AND CONSTANTLY!!
**WE NEED TO DEPEND UPON HIS STRENGTH AND WISDOM AND POWER!!