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“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17 NLT).

November 20, 2018

There are sins of commission and sins of omission. The first is to commit a sin by breaking a law, and the second is to omit to do the good thing that was within your power to do. The word “know” has serious implications. For although ignorance of the law is no excuse, there might be some leniency for the one without knowledge. Yet, for the one who “knows,” there is greater condemnation. For to whom much is given, much is required.

There is the sin of doing what you ought not to do. And there is the sin of not doing what you ought to do. Both are sin. Although most of the commands are “thou shalt not,” some are “thou shalt.” In the case of the latter, such examples being, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” and “Honor thy father and mother,” they have at least equal, if not greater weight than the former.

I suppose we always know more than we do. This is the problem of the heart bent by the Fall. Yet, to the one who would know and believe in Christ, the righteousness of God is imputed unto him.

“So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone” (James 2:24 NLT).

November 19, 2018

At first glance, this statement about faith seems to contradict Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians, which clearly uphold that faith alone pleases God. Yet, James and Paul are not in conflict. Paul is concerned that some would make works and law-keeping the means for justification. He rightly proclaims that faith in Christ’s finished work is the only means for our justification. While James is concerned that those who claim to be followers of Jesus, might bear the fruit of salvation, which is good works.

Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is Paul’s clear teaching. But if Paul corrects those who think that good works will be sufficient for salvation, James corrects those who would offer mere lip service to their faith without any fruit verifying its authenticity. Paul is concerned with what true faith believes, while James is concerned with what true faith does after it believes. Good works are the evidence, not the the precedence of saving faith.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 NKJV).

November 21, 2017

James encouraged a mutual accountability among believers in prayer. This level of fellowship is rare in the church today, but is much needed. Healing in body, soul and relationships is experienced when believers are honest about their needs, weaknesses, and sins in prayers together.

Do you have one or two close friends of the same gender that you share mutual accountability and prayers with? Do you meet regularly? Gathering together regularly and authentically is “effective.” And doing so fervently “avails much.”

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4 NKJV).

November 20, 2017

Who did James accuse of adultery? Wasn’t it those who claimed to be Christians and therefore members of the Bride of Christ? Yet, they had not broken off “friendship with the world.” James used the same imagery that the Old Testament prophets used when accusing Israel of committing adultery against God because of their idolatry. The Lord was their husband, yet they were giving themselves to other gods of this world in worship.

What was this “friendship with the world” that James called adultery against Christ? Wasn’t it their tendency to covet and lust after the temporal things of this world, attempting to get them by any means? Even trying to use religion to gain worldly things (i.e. “you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures”).

The one who has truly become a member of the Bride of Christ will declare as Paul did, that the “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). The believer’s love of God leaves no room for any other love, especially that of the world system, which is in rebellion against God. As the apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

Let us bring our desires before the Lord today that they may be purified by His Word. What is causing anxiety in your soul? What are you over-desiring for, yet not getting, so that you are tempted to take shortcuts? Have you asked the Father to test your desires to see whether they are true? Or are you asking “amiss?” Let us break off our “friendship with the world” and focus all our desire on the Lord Jesus. For in Him all our needs are fully met.

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15 NKJV).

November 17, 2017

The Greek word translated “desire” is “epithumia,” which literally means over-heated desire or lust. Desire in and of itself is not evil. God has desires. But God’s desires are under His control, while ours are not. We desire over-much and we become over-heated in wanting, so we take shortcuts and we overeat and we overindulge and we over-do-it in getting things, but our over-desire cannot be fully satisfied because it wants over-much. James is graphic in describing this over-desire as a womb conceiving and giving birth to sin. And sin, as a growing thing that when mature “brings forth death.”

God has given us “every good gift” (James 1:17), yet we desire the gift over the Giver. However, when we receive the “word of truth” (James 1:18), which is the gospel, we are born again of the Spirit of God. And His Spirit gives us His desires and grants us self-control over our “over-desires.” Being born again, we begin to desire the Giver more than the gift.

Bow Down to be Lifted Up

June 4, 2017 | James 4:6-10 | humility, submission

Are you “up” or “down” today? If you are feeling down today, guess what? God wants to teach you how to give that to Him today. He wants to show you how that actually puts you in a better position to hear from Him and get some things in order with Him. If you’re feeling up today, great! But is it based on circumstance or is it because God has lifted you up by His power? The paradoxical truth is this: In order to be at peace with God–– to experience His salvation and grace–– we must “bow down to be lifted up!” In God’s economy, we descend to greatness! In the book of James, he taught his hearers that God lifts up those that humble themselves before Him. We can experience how God lifts up those who humble themselves before Him.

Talk Less to Say More

May 21, 2017 | James 1:19-25 | listening

In a modern culture of self-promotion on social media and the constant chatter on our smart phones, texting and tweeting about every opinion that pops in our heads, the Bible says, “Be quick to hear and slow to speak.” That’s biblical wisdom, godly wisdom. Stop talking so much and start listening more. Even when we keep quiet, in our heads we’re already thinking of what we’re going to say. No wonder we’re having so much trouble in our society. Divisions within and without. Arguments everywhere. But no one is listening. And no one is really being heard.

What can be done? The book of James offers the paradoxical wisdom that we can actually talk less in order to say more. For real communication, real understanding to take place, we need less talk and more listening, and more appropriate action. The book of James is one of the most practical books of wisdom in the Bible. It is sometimes referred to as the New Testament’s book of proverbs. Written by James, the brother of Jesus, and the pastor of the first church of Jerusalem, it is also a very pastoral book, and a very practical one too.

In the first chapter of James, he told believers that the first place to apply this paradoxical principle of talking less to say more should be in rightly responding to God’s Word. We can learn to rightly respond to God’s Word.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14 NKJV)

November 21, 2015

An often overlooked resource in the modern church. Having available modern medicine, we forget the benefit of prayer and laying on of hands. Yet, the Bible says that having the elders in the church pray for you and anoint you is the proper response when you are sick. In our materialistic view of the world, we forget the spiritual component to health and wholeness. We forget that we are more than physical beings. However, real healing must involve the whole self. The church has always been deeply involved with caring for the sick. Throughout history, wherever the church has gone, it has built schools and hospitals because it recognizes that the need to care for the whole self, is to care for mind, soul, and body. So, keep going to the doctor, but don’t forget to have the church praying for you too.

“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10 NKJV)

November 19, 2015

Those who love talking beware! The tongue has great power. Power to bless and to curse. Yet, sin is on the tip of the tongue. Complaining, gossip, lying, filthy language, sarcastic joking and cursing are among the sins of the tongue. From where does this talk come? The heart. The tongue is a heart monitor. It reports the attitude of the heart. Only God can give us new hearts and tame our tongues.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2 NKJV)

November 17, 2015

James describes the spiritual mindset that the Christian should have when facing trials. What is this mindset? “All joy.” Not happiness, which is based on external happenings, but joy, which comes from within and is the fruit of the Spirit for the believer that abides in Christ. And not partial joy, but “all” joy. Pure and whole joy that comes from the knowledge that God is sovereign and that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom.8:28). This mindset is a choice of the will, one that can be “counted.” The Greek verb here is in the imperative middle voice, meaning that one is to command oneself to choose joy. Like an accounting term, one can choose to move their emotional response to trials from the sad column to the glad column. Rather than seeing trials as a reason to be discouraged, count them as a reason to trust God all the more.