Apostle James on True Faith


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Apostle James on True Faith

  1. 1. James 1:19-27 True Religion
  2. 2. Most Bible scholars believe that the James who wrote this epistle is the one who was a brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). Though he was skeptical of Jesus during his ministry (John 7:5), James was convinced that Jesus was the Son of God after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). Context
  3. 3. James was numbered among the company in Jerusalem waiting and praying after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:14). Later Peter and Paul met with him in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19) where he was the ―presiding elder‖ at a church conference (Acts 15). Context
  4. 4. The letter of James shows a few marks of being addressed to specific groups of believing Jews outside the land of Israel. James applied the wisdom of Jesus, Proverbs, and the Law of Moses to these problems. Context
  5. 5. It seems there were problems with angry conversation and a lack of clarity about the right way of life for a disciple of Jesus. James called for humble acceptance of the way of Jesus and taught the reward of pure religion. Context
  6. 6. The letter's perspective is distinctly Christian. We see the Jewishness of the letter in its address to "the twelve tribes scattered among the nations" (James 1:1). These are not simply Jews, but believers in Jesus, the people of God in Christ. Context
  7. 7. They are scattered partly because of persecution (Acts 8:1) and partly because missionaries planted the seed of the gospel outside Palestine, efforts that led still more people to faith in Christ. But after coming to faith, what's next? Today's lesson addresses just this question. Context
  8. 8. The text examines how we as Christians we are to hear and do the Word. The study's aim is to see that being a real Christian requires more than mere profession. The study's application is to demonstrate that one truly knows the Lord by living a changed life devoted to Christ. Context
  9. 9. Do not be deceived, my beloved. James 1:16
  10. 10. The command ―Do not be deceived‖ may relate to the preceding verses regarding temptation and sin, or stand alone as a dire warning in general, or relate to the verses that follow verse 16 or both. James 1:16
  11. 11. Both Christians and unbelievers are susceptible to deception and deceivers. No one should deceive themselves into thinking they can continue to practice sin and not receive the wages of or consequences of sin—death (Romans 6:23). James 1:16
  12. 12. Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
  13. 13. God gives generously beyond what anyone can deserve, expect, or imagine. God gives perfectly whatever is best suited to each person. God inspires people to give generously and rightly according to His will. . James 1:17
  14. 14. God gives light, which reveals reality, what is, and what remains to be competed. God’s light reveals what is outside and within a person. God shines His light from within true Christians out into the world. James 1:17
  15. 15. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures. James 1:18
  16. 16. When people come to true faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they become new people and receive a new beginning from God. They come to true faith because the light of God gives them understanding and the ability to read and rightly apply the word of truth (the Bible) to all of life. James 1:18
  17. 17. Respecting people as created in the image of God, God chose to use truth, the word of truth, as the means of creating Christians two thousand years ago, throughout the subsequent centuries, and today. James 1:18
  18. 18. Hearing the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13) And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. James 1:18
  19. 19. You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19
  20. 20. Those who truly know God express their faith in self-control. James emphasizes that selfcontrol begins with our speech. The instructions here are familiar, reflecting the wisdom of the Old Testament (Proverbs 13:3; 15:1; 29:20). James 1:19
  21. 21. Self-control in speech begins with being swift to hear. Practically, that means listening to others with consideration and empathy. But more specifically, James is telling readers that their first step is to listen to God’s Word. Only then can they speak well. James 1:19
  22. 22. The result of quick hearing and slow speaking is that our words can be redirected by the wisdom of God. James 1:19
  23. 23. A proper self-assessment will restrain our speech and make us better listeners. That in turn leads to a different response with our wrath or anger (Ecclesiastes 7:9). True faith in God redirects our wrath because we first realize that God, not we humans, will do the judging and punishing that needs to be done. James 1:19
  24. 24. for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. James 1:20
  25. 25. The Bible tells us to listen carefully to understand others. If we wait to speak until we have understood as fully as possible, we should be able to speak love, light, and truth into a situation or relationship—which can require additional prayer for guidance and wisdom. James 1:20
  26. 26. But fallible humans can not measure just punishment for every wrong. Worse than that, we easily mistake our own motives, justifying our wrath prompted by selfishness as ―righteous indignation.‖ Anger tends to make a mess of our own lives and of those around us. James 1:20
  27. 27. The question is, ―What makes us angry?‖ It is one thing to be angry at injustice and wrongdoing. It is quite different to be upset because of some personal slight or difference. James warns us to be sure we are angry about the right things. (Ephesians 4:26.) James 1:20
  28. 28. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. James 1:21
  29. 29. God alone gives spiritual life, the new birth, and God gives that spiritual growth and development by implanting ―the word of truth‖ into the souls, hearts, and minds of true believers. Believers apply ―the word of truth‖ in the way they behave, converse with, and relate to God and others. James 1:21
  30. 30. The believer needs to think about and obey the implanted ―word of truth‖ in order to quit thinking about and quit doing anything sordid, evil, wicked, or that allows wickedness to grow within them. James 1:21
  31. 31. Life apart from God is sadly characterized by thoughts and actions that ruin the purpose for which God created humans (Revelation 22:11). James 1:21
  32. 32. So James says that we put aside (lay apart) the old life and receive that powerful Word of God. James describes this receiving the Word as being engrafted, meaning ―planted inside.‖ But for its power to be at work, the implanted Word needs to be received again and again. James 1:21
  33. 33. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. James 1:22
  34. 34. Those who listen but do not do are in a state of self-deception. They pretend to be God’s people, but their actions say otherwise. The engrafted Word of God will yield fruit in changed behavior (Matthew 7:15–20). James 1:22
  35. 35. If the behavior has not changed, then the Word has been uprooted or never engrafted in the first place. Our actions are the best indicators of the reality of our hearts. James 1:22
  36. 36. God and His word will help all men stop practicing sin, to which they have become enslaved. Jesus Christ has freed His followers from slavery to sin so they can do His word. James 1:22
  37. 37. Righteousness is the obedience of God's Word (Deut. 6:25) …and if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us that will be our righteousness." James 1:22
  38. 38. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; James 1:23
  39. 39. James now describes this self-deception of the person who does not act on the Word of God. In the world of the New Testament, mirrors (the meaning of glass) are rather common, though being made of polished metal they are not entirely like ours. Even so, these ancient mirrors allow people to check their appearance. James 1:23
  40. 40. Of course, the purpose of looking in a mirror is to be able to do just that. That is the situation James is describing: one who is examining his natural face so to get a close, deliberate look. The person takes note of the image in order to make adjustments to improve his or her appearance. James 1:23
  41. 41. The word of truth and the light of God can make people uncomfortable when seeing themselves as God sees them, but rather than turn away with an uncomfortable feeling, hearers of the word need to make the changes God expects them to make in accordance with the Bible, which reveals their lives to them. James 1:23
  42. 42. for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. James 1:24
  43. 43. God’s Word reveals our true selves, ―warts and all‖ as the old saying goes. It shows us what is wrong and puts us on the path to make it right. Not putting it into practice is akin to the foolish self-deception of looking in a mirror and pretending our real appearance is different. James 1:24
  44. 44. To look into the mirror of the Word of God involves an obligation. The intent and sustained look with a ready response is the key to spiritual strength and continued maturity. The word for ―looks intently into‖ literally means ―to stoop down‖ in order to have a good close look. James 1:24
  45. 45. The ―Law that gives freedom‖ seems like a paradox. Law seems to imply restraint and therefore a lack of freedom. Not so with God’s Law. His perfect Law provides true freedom. ―Hold to my teaching,‖ Christ said, ―then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free‖ (John 8:31-32). James 1:24
  46. 46. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act--they will be blessed in their doing. James 1:25
  47. 47. We tend to think of law as restrictive, but James affirms that God’s law gives liberty. This is a key theme of Scripture. The God who gave freedom to the Israelite slaves (Exodus 20:2) is the God who gives the commandments that instruct His people in the way of true freedom. Paul reminds us that the true slavery is slavery to sin (Romans 6:15–23). James 1:25
  48. 48. The conscientious believer looks into God’s Word and then considers the implications for his life. It is called the ―perfect law,‖ just what the law ought to be (Psalm 19:7). Scripture is the perfect law that gives freedom. All who continue doing what they have learned will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25
  49. 49. The truth is implanted for us to recognize what is right (Isa 51:7) "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.‖ James 1:25
  50. 50. If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. James 1:26
  51. 51. It is possible for those who think they are religious to fail at practicing Christianity by continuing to say harmful, hurtful, or angry words. They speak without thinking or understanding, and they do not speak the truth in love. James 1:26
  52. 52. Proper respect for the one true God consists of behavior that reflects who God is. This involves being obedient to His will, upholding His standards of justice, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. It means acknowledging God’s supreme authority in what we say and do. James 1:26
  53. 53. Some people consider themselves religious and they give scrupulous attention to details of formal worship. Tasker said, ―Such a person may be very careful to use the right words when he is performing a religious ceremony, but very careless in his speech at other times.‖ James 1:26
  54. 54. Speech that honors God is under control, the way that a horse with a bit and bridle is under the control of an equestrian (Psalms 34:13; 39:1; 141:3). The speech of a God-honoring person follows the path that God sets. Such speech is filled with love, grace, and forgiveness, but tempered by righteousness and justice. James 1:26
  55. 55. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27
  56. 56. The situation for widows who could not remarry was harsh. While the book of Job testifies that only wicked people mistreat the widow (24:3; 31:16), the fact is that wide mistreatment occurred. Even Israel's leaders did not treat widows well (Isa. 1:23) but often oppressed them (Jer. 7:6). James 1:27
  57. 57. Widows were vulnerable to having their properties confiscated (Isa. 10:2) and were occasionally killed for such purposes (Ps. 94:6). The oppression of widows was so common that a widow without children was "legally homeless, without any social, political, or economic status in the village" James 1:27
  58. 58. James pairs generosity toward the helpless with being unspotted from the world’s corruption. We end up bearing the world’s filth when we continue in the attitudes and behaviors that the world produces: selfishness, violence, hatred, vindictiveness, etc. God-honoring lives, by contrast, stand out from the world. James 1:27
  59. 59. Pure … and undefiled is the kind of devotion we seek when we see ourselves and our situation rightly. If we try to split the difference between God and the world, we show that we are holding onto our problem, not embracing our salvation. A grasp of the truth impels us to end the world’s kind of life and pursue God’s kind. James 1:27
  60. 60. Jesus told the rich young ruler, "There is none good but one, that is, God" (Matt. 19:17). He is our example of all that is good. The more conformed we are to the image of Christ, the more people will see good in us, especially as we become doers of the Word. Conclusion
  61. 61. Those who continually spout their own opinions and wisdom find it difficult to hear God's voice. And those who are always ready to give someone a piece of their mind should recognize that even if they are logically correct, their anger does not accomplish the righteousness God desires. Gentle kindness is a more fitting tool for doing the work of Christ. Conclusion
  62. 62. James knew that not all of his readers would be both good hearers and good doers. He recognized a basic trait of sinful humanity: we are very willing to deceive ourselves when the truth does not suit us. So he spelled out how a good doer progresses spiritually. Conclusion
  63. 63. It is human nature to excuse our vices and the corruption that so easily flows from our sinful flesh. We should instead nurture the word of truth that God has planted within us. As it grows and fills our heart, it gives meaning and purpose to life. Conclusion
  64. 64. Those who are truly religious focus their efforts on two main objectives: caring for the needy and avoiding the many vices of this world. Without any exaggeration, we could spend our whole lives trying to do these two things and never fully reach these goals. Conclusion
  65. 65. Being a good listener is the work of a wise person. Work on it! (Jas. 1:19) Hearing God's Word but not acting on it is harmful to our spiritual well-being (vs. 22) Renew the Mind
  66. 66. Remember that only God is capable of truly fair judgments (vs. 20) Determine to let the Word of God reform your attitude and demeanor (vs. 21) Renew the Mind