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James 1:1-11 James 1:12-27 James 2:1-26 James 3:1-12
  James 4:1-17 James 5:1-20  
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James 1:12-27

 

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

 

Review & Introduction

 

"James, how many of you were not here last Wednesday, anybody? OK, where were you last Wednesday? [laughter] We began James last Wednesday, and I'm taking a particular track on the Book of James. James, you know, just a cursory reading, you go through and you read James, many have perceived James as a bit Pharisaic, steeped in his Judaism [and that would be because most people don't understand, that the early Church was Judeo-Christian for about the first 250 years of it's existence, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm, which would prove to be a paradigm-breaker for most Christians today, and why Martin Luther had these views. But Martin Luther was coming straight out of Catholicism almost 1500 years after James wrote his letter]. Martin Luther felt like James shouldn't be part of the New Testament, legalistic. But I'm taking a different track. It is my conviction, and you're entitled to your own, that James was the oldest of the other sons of Joseph and Mary. I know, you can have your other opinions, Epiphaneus, 3rd century, bishop of Salmos wrote a letter that said that Joseph was married before he was married to Mary, and that there were older children from another marriage. [That is proto-Catholic church doctrine creeping onto the scene.] Ah, not promoted before that. Earlier church writers, the 1st century said that these were the uterine siblings of Jesus Christ, born of Joseph and Mary after Christ was born. We looked at that last week. Four brothers, named in Matthew and Mark, James we're reading, Joses, Simon and Jude, who wrote the other letter, the Book of Jude, and sisters, plural. So we got at least seven kids in the house. You know, Jesus could have been an only child if he wanted to, had plenty of time to study and get ready for his ministry, instead he had his life thrown into a house packed with people, and a carpenter who wasn't real wealthy. And again, you know they didn't have any 8-bedroom house [not in Nazareth, a very poor village, historically]. So, James, growing up under his older brother, Jesus. And just image what that must have been like. Because he doesn't come to faith until after Christ's resurrection. But he has to be greatly impressed by the things that his brother said, the way his brother acted, and he communicates much of that. So as we go through this kind of staccato letter, again, with over fifty imperatives, it's almost like the Book of Proverbs, command-verbs every other verse, he's not legalistic, he just grew up with Jesus, and he's saying 'You can do this! You can live the Christian life! Religious hypocrisy is wrong,' the things he saw in his brother are very real and very alive in his life, and he just nails them, and he's just black and white, 'this is right and this is wrong, and do this,' just imagine growing up, and then finding out that your older brother was God. And then looking back, and regretting in one sense, all of those years that he lived in the house with him, and didn't recognize, in the house with him and didn't recognize. Because Jesus didn't float off the ground, he didn't glow in the dark [not visibly, but the angels and demons could see the Holy Spirit glowing brightly inside of him], symphonies weren't playing in the background when he walked in the room. John the Baptist said 'I would not have known him, except the One who sent me to baptize him said, 'The One you see the Spirit descending upon, that's the One to baptize with water,' John the Baptist, 'I would not have known,'' He didn't stick out, he came to be among us, he talked to us about sowing seed, and about fields and about fishing, he wanted his word to be relevant to our lives, to be understood, and he walked among us. And James more than any man, more than any writer in the New Testament, beheld him in those years, ten years old, teenage years, watched him, watched him grow to a young man of 30 years old, and no doubt after he comes to the faith, this man, Old Camel Knees, spends his entire life in prayer with his older brother, talking to his older brother. He gleans so much in reflection, remembering those years when he didn't know Christ. You know, isn't it interesting, I remember after I got saved, and I'm sure you can too, looking back to my life before I was a Christian, and now recognizing God's hand, and many times in my life, saving my life, doing many things in my life, before I knew who he was. [That is so true. At 9-years-old I would have blown myself up had it not been for a very visible miracle. The episcopal minister who held special children's services (only 15-minutes long) gave a sermon that has defined my life ever since, God talking expressly to me through this man.] And those things become precious to me. But I can't imagine having had walked with him and looked at him and sat at the table with him everyday, go through all of that. So James has gathered so many of those things into his letter. "James," he begins, "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying [testing] of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways." (verses 1-11) And we come to the twelfth verse, that's where we left off last week, and the twelfth verse is kind of a segue, it brings the first section to a close, and it introduces the second part now, as he moves on in this first chapter. He's been talking about trials, and trials that come to us from without, circumstantially in life, allowed by God. And he says they're to be endured. As he comes now to the second part, he talks about temptations that are within, and we're to be victorious over them, they're not to be endured, they're to be refused, we're to turn away from them. So the first part of the chapter he talks about these trials that come in life, to all of us. There isn't anybody in this room who doesn't know about this. And if you don't, I'll talk to you next week, you will. But he gives us this beatitude, I wonder, thinking maybe of his older brother, same word, "Blessed" and Jesus said "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness," James now in verse 12 says, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Blessed is the man that endureth, not the man that escapes, the man that endures. 'Blessed is the man, who under the pressure of trials endures those things,' he says, here's the reason, "for when he is tried," and the idea is 'tried out to completion,' and he's talking about the same lingo that was used in metallurgy, when he is assessed, the assayer, when he's tried out, proven, he's assayed, he's worth his weight as it were. He's proven out to what he's worth, "he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Not 'he shall receive life, salvation,' salvation is a free gift. The crown of life, a quality of life relative to rewards, because he's endured, or she's endured trials. And the way it's written out is 'trials are a part of our experience, they're a part of our experience.' And James says 'Blessed is the individual, man or woman, that endures, that bears up, perseveres in the trials of life.' Because unbelievers don't. They have lots of ways of escaping, alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, Club Med, sleep, who knows. But for the believer, there's something in this "knowing that the trying of your faith," that God's sovereignty is involved somehow, that he's allowing it. If we lack wisdom in dealing with that, we can ask, he gives to all men liberally, he doesn't upbraid us, he's not going to chasten us for asking him. James says 'Believe me, I spent every day with him, every day with my older brother in prayer, he's not going to say 'Get outa here,' he's not going to do that.' He gives to all men liberally, he's willing. And he doesn't scold us because we come and ask for wisdom when we're going through trials, and he helps us. And they [trials] come to the poor man and they come to the rich man, he gives the poor man no excuse, or the rich man. Money can't buy our way out of these things. Life is filled with trials, this is earth. But he says 'Blessed is that man that holds up, endures under these trials, because when he is tried, he shall receive,' he's saying, 'look to the end of this, he shall receive the crown of life, he shall receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.' Now look, Paul tells us much the same thing, at the end of his life he said 'I've fought the good fight, kept the faith, finished my course,' he lays it out, it was a struggle. 'But henceforth there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me, and for all of those who love the Lord's appearing.' Paul says it, 'I've gone through the struggle, I've fought the good fight.' We can fight lots of stupid fights. Let's fight the good fight. Life's a struggle, it's a contest, it's a fight anyway, so if we're going to be engaged in it, let's fight the good fight. The problem is, we put the gloves on and get in the ring when we shouldn't, and are in the wrong fight all the time. When we should be saying 'Lord, let me be a spectator instead of a participant, in this one,' you know, because we get drawn into those things. Ah, Paul said he fought the good fight. He said that 'the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory, the sufferings of this present world, our light affliction, which is but for a moment,' he said, 'works for a more exceeding eternal weight of glory.' He says the same thing James says. Endure it, because there's something eternal, weighty, beautiful ahead of us. Peter says 'Don't think some strange thing has happened to you when some fiery trial has come to try your faith.' And he goes on to say there's glory on the other side of it. And maybe James is thinking of his older brother, "In this world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world" Jesus said. 'Rejoice when men persecute you and hassle you for my name's sake, for great is your reward in heaven.' Maybe he's not just thinking of his older brother's words, maybe he's thinking of his older brother's example, for the glory that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame. He says much the same to us. There's a blessedness that's attached to standing up under these things, knowing that glory is attached to the other end. We have a different destiny, trials do different things in our lives than they do in the lives of unbelievers.

 

James Switches From External Trials To Internal Solicitation To Do Evil, And The Blame-Game

 

But what happens, you know, verse 13, he's going to say, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." (verses 13-14) What happens is, we get into circumstances that are difficult, external circumstances, they squeeze us, they cook us, they winnow away at us. And then often we can be more inclined to act out the way we shouldn't act out when we're under those kinds of pressures. 'It's their fault, they made me do it. It's because of this, that's why I'm doing it. I can't stand the pressure anymore.' Now maybe you can't relate to this. But there have been times in my life, when just everything's piling up, doesn't seem like there's any let-up. You say 'it can't get any worse than this,' and you realize that was a really stupid thing to say, because it got worse right after I said it. And then instead of standing up under it, something might come out of your mouth, out of your attitude, out of your actions, out of frustration, but it shouldn't go there. And when it does, we all love to blame somebody else, don't we? So James says to us, "Let no man say when he is tempted," individually, applies to all of us, "when he is tempted," notice, not 'if he is tempted,' put it on your schedule, tomorrow's October 14th, write on there, 'I will be tempted today, in the midst of my trials,' "let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God" who is Holy "cannot be tempted with evil," Now we've changed from external circumstances to internal solicitation to do evil. He says that's not from God. 'God himself cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man to do evil,' is the idea. But this story is an old story, blaming God. 'Adam, what have you done?' 'Me!? Hey, Lord, it was me and you. We were in paradise, everything was Kosher, no problems, and that WOMAN you made, until you messed with the situation there was no problems, Lord. That woman YOU made, she gave me the fruit to eat, and I ate it. You wouldn't have given it to me. I wouldn't have taken it myself, but that woman you made, she did it.' 'Eve, what have you done?' 'Me!? it was the serpent. You made him.' You know, passing the buck. It's gone on since the Garden of Eden. And people love to blame God. You know, it's very important for us to understand this, because when we make a mistake, when we're tempted, it says at that point, if we confess our sins. Not if we say "sorry", that's a very different thing. 'Oh I'm sorry,' Judas was sorry. Confession is admitting what we've done is wrong. Confession is admitting that what we've done is wrong, what we've done. Not what he's done, but what we've done. 'Well the only reason I did that is because of this, I mean, where's God? if he loves me, my life stinks, and this never works out. And then this happened, and the cat got caught in the vacuum cleaner, and I tried to get him out and he scratched me, my arm got infected, and then they had to cut my arm offÉ' We've got all of these excuses. James says no, that's not why it happens. 'Don't let any man blame God when he's tempted to act out and to do evil, because God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.'

 

It's Not Wrong To Be Tempted, Everyone Gets Tempted

 

He says, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." (verse 14) Now look, every man, that's every woman too, that's the grammar, it's not "male" here, it's every human. "Everyone is tempted," ok? Because what we like to do is say 'Well, of course I'd be doing good, if my life was as easy as their life. Nothing ever goes wrong in their life. Look at my life, I'm in a struggleÉ' No, no, it says "every man is tempted," nobody's off the hook. Every man is tempted. Now look, it isn't wrong to be tempted. Jesus Christ was tempted. 'Since, and that's the class condition, not if, 'since you're the Son of God, turn these rocks into bread. God's your Father and he lets you out in the wilderness hungry? you're the Son of God, turn these stones into bread,' lust of the flesh. 'Here's all of the kingdoms of the world, you bow down and worship me and I'll give them to you, I can give them to whoever I want, they were given to me, I can give them to whoever I want,' lust of the eyes. 'You're the Messiah, cast yourself down, make a grand entrance. His Word says that his angels will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone,' pride of life. Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life. If that's what Satan used against Christ, then that's his best three shots. We don't have to be afraid of anything better, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life, those are his best shots. And Jesus answered in our place, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God," he didn't just smoke him, he could have just smoked him right there. He was the Son of God, he could have just fried him. But he came and walked in our place. Now that's still an outside influence. He's still going to say, the hook is set inside because of what we are. Yea, Satan can tempt you, you don't have to submit to it. You have the Word of God, you don't have to submit to it. "every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." Jesus was tempted. It says "he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" his own desire, or her own desire, and enticed. And James uses some words here from the fishing boat. The bait is set, and then you're lured to be trapped, there's entrapment in the idea, there's bait, every man is lured, but he's lured because of what's inside, the traitor within. All of us. Every man. The traitor within. Everybody in this room has a traitor within, "the old man." He's there in all of our lives. All of us have to deal with lust, all of us have to deal with anger, all of us have to deal with temptation, because of what's inside. We don't have to submit to it, we don't have to be defeated by it, we don't have to let it reign, the Bible's clear. The new birth, the power of the Holy Spirit, has broken the power of sin in our lives. But all of us are tempted. John, a 90-year-old apostle said, "If we say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," he includes himself. So, it's not sin to be tempted. If you see something that goes in front of your eyes, something comes into your ears, there's pressure in life, 'I'd just like to slug this guy, Lord, it would relieve all kinds of stress, if I could slug him, so I won't have a heart-attack, if I have to live under this stress I don't know what I'm going to do.' And that's just a wife talking about her husband. [laughter] So, there's all kinds of stress and pressure, but we don't have to submit to it. It's there in all of our lives, every man is tempted, he says.

 

The Process Of Temptation---How It Works

 

'And it happens when he is drawn away of his own lust,' you know, 'our own desire, inside, draws our hearts.' Then, he says, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (verse 15) Lust, sin, death, LSD, and this is a bad trip. Ok? What he's saying in regards to temptation, first is 'Look to the end, it ends in judgment.' He's going to give us four ways to kind of deal with temptation internally. One is that we should look to the end in regards to God's judgment. He's taken us through that. Then he says we should look around, "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Then he says, Look within, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we might be the firstfruits of his creatures." (verses 17-18) And then he says the Word of God, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." (verses 19-21) It says we should look out, and the King James shines here, of course, "lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness," "I'd like to Lord, but I don't know what in the world that is. But if I knew what is was I'd lay it aside." So we'll work there, but the first part of temptation, he's saying there's consequences and there's an end to this. 'Every man is drawn away of his own lust, enticed, then when lust hath conceived, it gives birth to something, it brings forth sin.' So temptation is not sin. It's yielding to it, and putting ourselves into a place where we act out on it, and then what it brings forth is the evidence, sin is born. And then it says 'then sin, when it is finished, or fully grown, it brings forth death.' Interesting phraseology, "When lust hath conceived," and the word "conception" there means "to bring together." It has the idea of clasping your hands, but it's like when a sperm hits the egg, when there's conception. How that happens is when lust has conceived. The desire within us finally yields to the opportunity that's presented. And then those two things are brought together. That's why we have to be careful playing with things in our minds. Yea, you can't stop the fiery darts of the enemy and strange thoughts that go through your head, but you can bring every thought into captivity to Christ. Martin Luther said you can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep him from making a nest in your hair. And what happens is, we have little pet sins, little things that we will play with. 'They don't hurt anybody else, nobody can see them, I just turn them over and over in here.' And believe me, all of us are, when it says lust, desire, it's not just sexual things, it's for money, it's covetousness, gambling, alcohol [immoderate use of it. The Bible teaches extreme moderation when it comes to alcohol], for revenge to satisfy bitterness, hatred, there's all kinds of things that we play with. And then what we do is think in, you don't think in print, the newspaper doesn't grow across your mind, we think in images. 'If I ever see that guy, I'm gonna hit him with a left hook, I'll bring my right across, give him an upper cut, I'm gonna drop him cold,' and we think, 'If I ever see that guy,' and we think 'If I ever see that guy,' and then what happens, we see that guy [laughter], and when we see that guy, we don't have to think, because we've rehearsed it so many times in our mind, that all of a sudden we're in a situation where lust, desire, finds the circumstance, and then it conceives, it joins together. [David and Bathsheba didn't happen spontaneously, just out of the blue. A careful study of the Scriptures shows Bathsheba was the grand-daughter of Ahitophel, David's trusted advisor. David watched that beautiful little girl grow up and become a beautiful young woman. He must have been rehearsing this situation in his mind for years, in reality, the way the mind works, as described here in James.] And we don't even, you know, we're reacting instead of acting, because we've rehearsed it and rehearsed it and rehearsed it. Lust works the same way. You have a circumstance with somebody at work, let it go on in your mind, you play with it, go over and over and over it, somehow some circumstance arises, you feed this thing, you play with it, instead of saying 'Lord, this is wrong, it's not what you have for my life, if I endure these trials you have a crown of life, what you have for me is life, not death.' But the temptation says 'This won't end in death. This will end in fulfillment.' That's what the fish thinks, sees that worm dangling around on that hook, mmmm, I have to use my imagination because I've never thought that when I looked at a worm, you know, just when I have gone fishing I've imagined the fish thinking that when I threw in my worm. But once that hook is set, got a barb on it, then he's trapped. The pain of it all. So lust, when it conceives, then it brings forth, it gives birth to sin in our lives. And then sin, when it fully matures, it brings forth death. Now what happens so often, when someone, even when they fall into sin, they try to cover it. They try to cover it. They try to cover it. And they lie, and they try to cover it. [Again, David with Bathsheba, that went on for over a year, he was covering it, until Nathan confronted him.] Now the great thing about telling the truth and walking in the light, is you can be as stupid and happy as I am. Because if you don't lie, you don't ever have to cover anything up, or remember what you said, because you tell the truth. The problem is, once you start telling a lie, then you've got to remember it, 'Oh yea, I said this to this buddy, I didn't say it to this person, so I told this person not to tell anybody about what I said about this, because I knew they would say something to this person, and if they did that this person already knows what happened,' and it gets so complicated, you get caught up in it, you get snared in it. But light is not like that, truth is not like that. It's so easy to us and simple to us, soothing to us, to walk in the light and truth. But when sin is conceived, and we cover it, then it grows, and it comes to maturity. And it produces death, ultimately, there's judgment. There's laws of sowing and reaping, God isn't changing them. It can cause death in many ways. Certainly, ultimately, it's talking about physical death, and then ultimately about spiritual death for those who are not saved [or reversing the order, spiritual death, and then physical death, either way works. Also, the apostle Paul tells us "Quench not the Spirit." This would indicate God's Holy Spirit can be quenched in believers, through ignorance or prolonged sin. Different parts of the Body of Christ disagree in various ways to what the Bible apparently says about quenching God's Holy Spirit.] It can be physical death for those that are saved, who give themselves over, we have it in the end of 1st John, and in 1st Corinthians chapter 11, those who are sick unto death, not discerning the Body, they were out of course, and God realizes it is healthier for this person not to be here, for the sake of my Body, my Flock, there is a time when that happens. I don't know where that line is, that's God's decision. But it brings death to a family, brings death to a marriage, brings death to trust, it brings death to so many things. It brings forth death. 'Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be complete and entire, lacking nothing.' If you're in that situation, it's difficult to rejoice, you're having a problem, you lack wisdom, 'If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally, doesn't scold, and ask in faith, nothing wavering.' And he says, 'Remember, the brother whose poor, he can rejoice in that he's exalted, the rich in that he's made low, because as life goes by, no matter how much you have, life fades away, like the flower of the grass, the grace of the fashion thereof perisheth,' he says. 'But blessed is the man who endures trials, outward pressures as they come, because he's going to receive the crown of life.' 'Don't let any man say, though, when he's tempted, internally, to react the wrong way or to sin, and say he's temped of God, God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man, but every man is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, finds its opportunity, it brings forth sin, and sin when it's finished, brings forth death.' Now when the King James says "Do not err my beloved brethren." (verse 16) it's literally in the sense 'Stop being deceived in regards to this, God does not tempt, God is not the cause.' When we sin, when someone sins, it's because of what's inside.

 

Stop And Take Inventory

 

He says 'Rather than that, look around, one way is you can look to the end, realize the consequences of sin are disastrous, and the other way is, every good, every perfect, every complete gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning.' "every good and perfect" is complete, so every good and perfect gift. We are surrounded with them, and don't think about them. Because the Media parades all this other stuff in front of us. Get sick and lay in the hospital for a week. Have the doctor say, 'We don't know if this is cancer.' I remember in the old building, couple weeks there, doctor told me 'You might have cancer.' I think, 'OK Lord, I got four kids, what are you doing now? You know, I can't fit the pieces of this puzzle together, Lord. If I was you, I wouldn't kill my pastor, but you know, of course it's just a suggestion, I don't know what's going on,' But I'll tell you something, it makes you take inventory, and you're glad to get up in the morning. 'A cup of coffee, Thank you Lord, a cup of coffee. Thank you Lord, the sun's out, thank you Lord, it's raining, thank you Lord, my kids are miserable, thank you Lord,' you know, it just changes your perspective. 'Every good and complete gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,' our lives are surrounded with great things, to take a deep breath of air, that you have your sight, that you have friends, you have the fellowship of the saints, you've got food in your refrigerator. Our lives are filled with things that probably 75 percent of the human beings on this planet will never see, and we take them for granted every day, every good and every perfect gift, comes down from above, from the Father of lights, stars, moon, sun, only with him, there's no variableness nor shadow of turning. Yes he's the Father of lights, yea, when the moon rotates one side of it's dark, one side of it's light, when the earth rotates there's night, there's day. But with him, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, he is the Father of lights, every good and perfect gift cometh down from him, continues to come from him, he doesn't have a bad day. He doesn't say to us, 'You know, come on, I bless you 364 days a year, can I have a day off?' "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and foreverÉI am the LORD, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed," you go through the Scripture, he never changes, he never changes. Endure trials when they come. Don't get yourself in the frame of mind, 'oh, pity-party,' and then respond to sin and temptation the wrong way. Rather, stop being deceived in regards to that, because sin, and acting out, the consequences, they're terrible. 'But every good and every perfect gift, the things that we should really long for, come down from above, from the Father of lights, of whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his own creatures, of his own will,' he decided he wanted us to be born-again. Look at James, 'Of his own will, my big Brother, I didn't know who he was for 30 years, and after his resurrection, he came and appeared to me. You think you know what it's like to have your mind blown? You don't know nothing. To find out your older brother is God!? That will blow your mind. Of his own will begot he us,' James, his whole heart is involved in that statement. He begat us of his own will, of the word of truth, how his older brother had come to him, and spoken to him, the Word of life, he was the Living Word, that was made flesh and dwelt among us. Of his own will, he's the initiator, begot he us of the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation, the idea is, in regards to the new creation. It's not creation in Genesis. In regards to the new creation. And where it says "begot he us" it's the same phrase that he uses up in verse 15, where it says there, "that when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin," gives birth to sin, here it says, unlike that, he "begot us of the word of truth," he gave us life, he brought us forth. Sin brings something else forth. Temptation brings something else forth, it brings forth death. He brought forth life in us. And that's who he is. 'So don't let anybody say that he's tempted of God, that's not the business he's in. He brings forth life.' So we can look around, we can look within at the grace of God that's demonstrated in our own lives. "Wherefore," here it is, "my beloved brethren," 19 times in the book, "my beloved brethren." Again, he never pulls executive privilege, 'Wherefore listen to me, you know who my Big Brother is, and I'm going to talk to him tonight, and if you don't listen to me, I'll put your name on the hit-list,' We're his beloved brethren, you and I. Because his older brother had said, 'Whose my mother, sister, my brethren? Those that hear the word of God and do it.'

 

'Be Swift To Hear, Slow To Speak, Slow To Wrath'

 

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man" again, that's not male, we don't want to leave you women out, "be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (verse 19) Ah, I wish everybody was swift to hear, I think of the categories of my life that would be so much simpler if everybody I knew was swift to hear. [he's a pastor whom the Lord has used to draw about 30,000 into the faith.] Of course I think of how much easier my life would be if I would be swift to hear, Lord. "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak," this sounds like a wonderful place to live, "slow to wrath:" Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, now again, we should be able to figure that out. You have two ears and one mouth, you have a parable on your head. You should listen twice as much as you talk. That's just the way you were designed. If you had an ear here and a mouth on each side, then you would be supposed to talk twice as much as you listen, then sitting in pews like this you could talk to the person on each side of youÉdon't want to think about that J. 'Be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to loose your tempter.' Now look, slow to speak, I don't regret many things that I didn't say. [chuckles] I mean, there's the exception. I can think, 'You know, I wish I would have said something,' My father passed away in July, and I can sit and think, 'You know, I wished there were more times I would have said this.' [I actually wished I had asked my father more relevant questions, and then shut up long enough to hear the wisdom of his answers, for he was a very wise man. I regret not listening enough, and not shutting up long enough to hear what he was saying.] And you can, but by in large, I don't regret the things I didn't say. Be in large I regret the things I did say. Because you know when you say it, immediately, 'I can't believe I said that, and now it's gone,' and because you're a member of the best dysfunctional family going, the Church, it spreads like wildfire, 'Did you hear what he said?' [he laughs] And you know, it's usually speaking that comes before wrath. Nobody ever lost their temper with me for listening to them, it isn't your ear that usually gets you into trouble, it's your mouth. Ever notice that? Or maybe it's just me. "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak," keep thinking Sloooow toooo speak,' that's not what it's talking about. "slow to speak, and slow to wrath:" so to loose your temper, slow to blow your stack. And I fulfill this, I am very slow to blow my stack. When I blow my stack I tell my wife, 'Honey, I'm slow to blow my stack, I'm Biblical in the way I get angry, takes a lot to provoke me, and if you hadn't done that' no, just kidding. James, this is, you know how many times that he looked at his older brother and said, 'I can't believe he's just listening,' and Jesus could say an awful lot in a few words. When did he see him angry? Was he there when he overturned the tables of the money-changers? I don't know. "for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (verse 20)

 

'Put Aside All Filthiness, Uncleanness, And Receive The Engrafted Word Of God'

 

"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." (verse 21) 'Wherefore, lay aside all filthiness, uncleanness, and superfluity' now if you guys would just stop with the "superfluity" I'd be so happy. [he laughs] I know you have translations that might help you there. "Super" is beyond, like supernatural, "fluity" has to do with flowing, the overflowing is the idea of naughtiness. It's been a long time since somebody told you that you were "naughty," isn't it? It's "wickedness." [Superfluity of naughtiness describes most of the crew-members on my submarine I served on, whose nickname was "the Animal-Boat of the River."] 'Lay aside all filthiness, uncleanness, and the overflowing of wickedness, lay it aside, rather receive with meekness, not with wrath, with meekness the engrafted word, implanted, like seed, the word, which is able to save your souls.' I'm thinking again, I'm thinking, he gets us with these staccato verses, but did he remember his older brother saying 'A sower went forth to sow, and he sowed seed, some of it brought forthÉreceive with meekness the engrafted word,' Peter would says 'You're born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, which is the Word of God.' "receive with meekness the engrafted word," the implanted word. Jesus said, "Father, sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." Husbands are to wash their wives in the "water of the Word." Help your wife put her life and her circumstances into a Biblical context. It's the husband's responsibility, as the high priest of the home. How many of us take that seriously? And it's not easy all the time, depending on the circumstances. If there's trials, well you go back to the earlier verses, temptations, 'don't do that, don't loose your temper,' the engrafted word, which is able to, he says, to save your souls. "But"É

 

The Word Of God & The Law Of God Is A Spiritual Mirror

 

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (verses 22-25) or in his doing, literally. "Be ye doers of the word, not hearers only," man oh man, how many times did Jesus say this to the Pharisees and the Sadducees? Now no wonder James comes out, you know, he's saying the Word of God is to live by, the Word of God, it's something that we can live by, it can be real in our lives. Don't just be a hearer and not a doer, you know, out of the heart of man proceeds all of these things, Jesus said, but the Word of God is to do. And isn't it amazing, let me tell you something, 1969, 1970, 1971, the Jesus Movement, one of the last movements really of the Spirit of God in the Church [and at the same time, Messianic Judaism took off in America and then around the world, where God called anywhere in excess of 150,000 to 500,000 ethnic Jews to believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah, simultaneous to the Jesus Movement which started the Calvary Chapels in southern California. Just thought I'd mention that. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm. For the start of the Jesus Movement, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm] And I pray that we might see that again. But one of the things that really characterized that movement was conviction. People got saved, and read their Bibles to see how to act as a husband. Imagine that, ladies. But imagine this, men, women went home and read their Bibles to see how to act as a wife. I always joke around, my wife and I mention this, women all know that they want their husbands to love them as Christ loved the Church. 'What's that mean, honey, sexually? No, that's agape' there. Oh, ok.' 'Well you're supposed to respect your husband. Do you know the Greek word for that?' No, I only know the Greek word for what you're supposed to do. I don't know the Greek word for what I'm supposed to do.' 'That's unfair.' But women and wives went home and read their Bibles to see how to be a wife. People read the Bible to see how to deal in their business, how to pray, how to live. And James, I believe in Jerusalem, as he's writing this, the early Church is very much in the throws of that kind of conviction. Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead for trying to be deceitful, there was a great move of the Spirit, people are being healed, James says 'Don't be just hearers of the Word and not doers, deceiving yourselves,' he says, 'that's what the Pharisees did.' How should we receive with meekness the engrafted Word? To do it, to live by it. "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:" (verse 23) Now let me tell you, we have thousands of people that go in and out of here. We have the privilege of forgoing some of the formalities, singing simple choruses and cracking open God's Word and sitting here week after week, chapter after chapter, verse after verse, and being hearers of the Word---so that we can be doers, so that we can be doers. You know, imagine this, imagine if there was only in this country today, say, 2 million born-again Christians (I'm sure there's more than that), only 2 million. We're worried about Washington so much. How many born-again Christians are there in America? There's much more than that. But say there's 10 million. Ok? Forget Washington. I think we should vote, that's not my point. But if every year those 10 million Christians led one person to Christ, and that person was the kind of Christian who led other people to Christ, as they were led to Christ by people who lead people to Christ, in one year there'd be 20 million, in two years there'd be 40 million. You know that in a few years every human being in this country would be saved? [Comment: Even as the Calvary Chapels understand, as Pastor Joe even said, God has to initiate the calling. This is backed up by Jesus in John 6:44. So we can lead people to Christ, yes, if it is God's will that that person be led to Christ. Another Calvary Chapel pastor put it this way. You wouldn't date a person that hated you, and try to marry that person. Neither does God want a person to add to the Bride of Christ someone who hates Jesus. Trust me, although most don't understand how, all will eventually be brought to the knowledge of God, and under favourable circumstances. This is the will of God, as Peter stated in 1st Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." That is the will of God.] They could legislate all the slop they wanted to and none of us would submit to it, because we have Christ in our hearts. It's easy for us to point the finger at Washington and blame them, in God's Word is says "If MY people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then would I hear from heaven, and heal their land." Be not hearers only, and believe me, I'm preaching to myself. If you're all doers, just be patient with me while I whup myself for a little while here, would you please. "If any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:" isn't it interesting, that the Word of God does that? You look into the Word of God and it really lets you see who you are. Doesn't it? [ah, that's why no one in this world wants to read the Bible!] You spend some honest time alone in the Bible, it talks to you. I'm getting ready for Wednesday night, I'm studying this, I'm thinking 'Lord, this is good stuff for the congregation here.' And my Bible is saying to me, 'I'm talking to YOU.' [he laughs] Pray that never stops. And I see what manner of man I am as I read through this. How do I do in trials? How do I do in temptations? How do I do hearing and listening, and loosing my temper? If anybody is just a hearer, it's like somebody looking at his face in a mirror, "for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." He forgets what he saw. He forgets what was reflected there. He forgets what God showed him about himself. "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty [God's Word, which includes God's Law], and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." Contrast to verse 24. Now "eth" tells us there, we have a constant, sustained, it means to stoop down and look intently with a sustained look, "looketh", "eth", I like the King James here. Whoever is constantly looking, intently, looking into "the perfect or the complete law of liberty." Isn't that interesting? What is the "law of liberty"? It certainly is the Old and New Testament, he talked about the engrafted Word, he talked about the Word of Truth, now he's talking about the complete "law of liberty", the Word of God. [Comment: And when James wrote this around 45AD, much of what we have as the New Testament hadn't been written or compiled, none of Paul's Epistles, or Johns Epistles, perhaps the Gospel of Mark had been written, but that's about it. The rest of the "engrafted Word" was the Old Testament. What was this early Church like? See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm] Because he's talking about being hearers and doers, not just hearers only of the Word. Perfect law of liberty. It seems like a paradox, doesn't it? It's like Hebrews telling us that we should labour to enter into rest [see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews4-1-16.htm]. That's a paradox too. Jesus saying 'Take my yoke upon you, because my burden is easy and my yoke is light.' My burden is light? Burden, light, that seems contradictory too. Here it says, 'Gazing into the perfect law of liberty,' the Word of God sets us free. Jesus says 'You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.' You want to be free, you'll never be free doing drugs, you'll never be free getting stoned, you'll never be free exercising all your carnal desires, all you're doing is proving you have a different master. And the pursuit of life is to find the right master, and the master that sets us free is the Living Word. You know, drugs are a cruel master, money a cruel master, but the Master that hung on the cross for us, the Master who laid down his life so we can be free, the perfect law of liberty, "and then continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." There's a blessing there.

 

Putting Feet On Your Theology

 

"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." (verse 26) That's "or woman", ok, any pastor among you, ok? If there's any human being among you, if there's any of you here tonight, humans, "If any man among you seem" thinks himself, is the idea, "to be religious," if any of you think that you're religious, that you're spiritual, and you don't bridle your tongue, you're deceiving your own heart. That kind of religion is in vain. If anybody thinks they're spiritual, and I see a lot of people, when they think they're spiritual, they're going to use their mouth to prove that they're spiritual, 'Well Erasmus said, Calvin said, this position, that position.' Any person in the church, thinks they're spiritual, they can't control their tongue? He's going to talk more about that, that person's deceiving themselves. Their religion is in vain, because "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (verse 27) Pure religion, something that's undefiled before God, and the Father is this, to visit the needy, to visit in the sense with helping, the fatherless, and the widows. Man the Old Testament has something to say about widows and orphans, and God says 'If you mess with them, you are messing with me.' God takes a very special interest and place on behalf of the widow and the orphan. [To read more about this, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm

] 'This is pure religion,' he says, 'to visit the less fortunate, fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted, unmarred, unpolluted from the world.' It isn't talking the talk. Somebody who says they're religious and spiritual and all they can do is shoot their mouth off, James says that person has deceived themself. That's not what religion that pleases God is all about, but it's about this, to remember those who are less fortunate, and to put feet on your theology, and to care for them. And to keep yourself unspotted from the world. You can blab all you want, and man I've seen all kinds, I've seen people sin in all kinds of ways under the guise of eternal security. And believe me, if I get somebody whose worried about their eternal security, I encourage them. I get somebody whose abusing it, I can argue from either side. [Paul said in Galatians 5:19-21 that those who practice such things will not inherit eternal life. That's what Paul said about somebody whose blatantly sinning under the guise of eternal security.] But this is any one of you. If you want to be spiritual, think you're spiritual? Control the tongue, put legs and arms on your theology, reach out to the person that's hurting, and those that are less fortunate, keep yourself from compromising with sin. It's so simple, James says. James watched that. He watched that, his older brother cared for the less fortunate, Jesus healed the sick, he spent time with the broken-hearted, and all the while kept himself unspotted from the world. But we don't have enough pastors to do that, you have to help. You know, it's funny, with this many people, sometimes folks are offended because I don't do their weddings, I don't do their funerals, I don't do their hospital visitation. I could give up Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, I could give up the pulpit, and no longer teach a word in this church, and just do hospital visitations, funerals, weddings and I still wouldn't be able to get to everybody. I still need assistant pastors just to do that. But this doesn't talk to me, it talks to all of us. You know, the things we get to do down at Greys Ferry and West Philly, these are great opportunities for all of us to step in. Maybe you can't go to India, you can't, you know the programs we have for chaplains, you can do ministry in the hospital, there's so many opportunities. The Men's ministry, getting around the single moms and widows and repairing their homes, there's so many opportunities here in the church to put arms and legs on your theology. God doesn't want us to be pew-potatoes, and he tells us that through James. Jesus said, 'When I come,' he wants to find us occupied with his business, busy about spiritual things [not talking about them], serving, giving, never too old, never too young, never too old, never too young. Let me tell you something, if you are just swift to hear, you're going to minister to somebody. Because sometimes I'll sit down with somebody, and they just need to dump. No one's listened to them in ten years, and I know I'm in for it. But it is my pleasure to listen, and to let all of that stuff come, and come, and come, and come, come out, come out, come out, come out, and come out. And it means so much, just to listen. Not to give a trite answer, 'All things work together for the good,' [slap!] so does that.

 

In Conclusion

 

You know, I mean, there's a different spirit James is communicating here to all of us in regards to what's right, what's wrong. Trials, count it all joy. They're not to destroy you. Again, I read somebody last week, don't know whether it was Tozier, one of those guys said, "God may hurt you, but he'll never harm you." He may hurt you, but he'll never harm you. When trials come, count it all joy. I know that's hard, James says. But they're working something in you so that you might be complete and perfect. If you lack wisdom in regards to that, ask, and God just loves to lavish wisdom, answer our questions when we ask sincerely. He doesn't scold, ask in faith, nothing wavering, you don't want to be like a wave in the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. Let not such a man think that he'll receive anything, a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, but the poor person, even the poor person, he has a connection with heaven. Rejoice in that he's exalted, God is lifting him up, calling him a son or a daughter. Let the rich, let them rejoice in that they're made low. God has come into their life and they realize they're a sinner saved by grace, and life has come into perspective, they're no better than anybody else. Let them rejoice in that they're made low, that they've got a reality check. Because their life is going to pass away like the grass. The sun's no sooner risen with its burning heat, the flower fadeth, and the grace and the fashion thereof perisheth. But blessed is the man, that stands up under trials, he endures them. Because when he's proven out, when he realizes this is what life is like, and he's proven out to what he really is, he's going to receive the crown of life the Lord gives to all of those who love him. Don't let any man when he is tempted, say that he's tempted of God, God doesn't tempt any man, himself he can't be tempted. Every man who is tempted is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Lust brings forth sin, and when sin is conceived it brings forth death. Stop letting yourselves be deceived in regards to temptation, it isn't God's fault. It's something we all have to deal with, every one of us. But look to God, every good and every perfect gift, they come down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, of his own will begot he us with the word of truth, that we might be the firstfruits of his creatures. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For any man that is a hearer only and not a doer is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and he goes away and immediately forgets what kind of a man he is. But he who hears the word and does it, continues there, looking into the perfect law of liberty, that man will be blessed in his doing, blessed in his deed. Any man or woman who thinks they're spiritual, and they don't bridle their own tongue, they deceive their own heart, that kind of religion is in vain. But this is the kind of religion that honors God the Father, to remember widows and orphans in their afflictions, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. James says let's do this right. He's not a legalist, not a Pharisee, but a man who grew up with Jesus Christ as his older brother, a man who spends endless hours, so his knees look like big old camel knees, and loves to talk with his brother every day. And they said he prayed hours a day for the nation of Israel, and for the Church. In fact, he was so revered by both the Jews and the Christians, that some historians record, when James was killed, they blamed the destruction of Jerusalem on the death of James, in 64AD, they said it signaled, they believed, when Titus and Vespasian came and started to besiege the city, there were some that saw James as such a remarkable person, they actually, they were probably wrong, but that was their perception. He spent all day praying for you, praying for the Church, praying for Israel, for God's forgiveness. And there's to me, this time, different from any other time, I'm going through James, I'm just looking at this through the eyes of somebody whose big brother was Jesus. And by the way, he's your big brother, your big brother is Jesus too. [transcript of a connective expository sermon on James 1:12-27, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116]

 

related links:

 

The Book of James was written early, probably about 45AD. What was the early Church like? See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm

 

How do we put legs on our theology, helping those in need? See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm

 

To read about a shining example of James 1:27 see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/mueller.htm

 

 

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