Friday, August 16, 2019
Faith without works is dead
The Apostle James starts out by saying not to commit adultery or to kill but he gets more specific when he writes if you do not commit adultery but kill then you are a transgressor of the law. This is James 2:11 but remember in verse ten if we even offend in one point we are guilty of the whole law. This is why Jesus Christ had to come to planet earth to die on a cross. He conquered death by raising from the dead on the third day. All we initially have to do is accept the Son of God into our hearts by repenting of all our sins.
James then writes about speaking and doing and how we will be judged.
The Apostle then speaks some very tough words that a person will receive judgment without mercy if an individual shows no mercy on earth. The good news is mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
I always felt really good when a person put on mercy with me and some of my adverse circumstances because most people do not care about other people. We need to do our best in showing mercy even if we don't feel like reaching out because God and the other person will appreciate that extension on our part. We live in a world that is tired, angry, apathy and preoccupied with our own melodramas but this is all the more reason we should step out of our comfort zone and just let someone know that we care about them and their situation.
James then writes a person can not say he or she has true faith in God and not have any works because the two go hand in hand. James gives an example of seeing a brother or sister naked and destitute of daily food and warns us not to depart without at least trying our very best to meet their needs.
Faith without works is dead. Notice the word faith is mentioned first because true belief in Jesus Christ produces fruit. On the other hand a person can do good works and not be a believer in Jesus Christ. They just never came to know Jesus Christ in a personal way so the key to being in the will of God is first accepting His Son and then allowing the Holy Spirit to show us what to do for God.
I think James phrased it perfect when he said, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2:17. Let me just quote the entire text so you can read it and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(11) "For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. (12) So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. (13) For He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (14) What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food. (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warned and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2: 11 - 17.
Verse eleven is very similar to verse ten. Maybe I should say the same principle is evident in both verses. In verse ten if we even broke one point of the law we broke the whole thing because God gave this to man as a bundle for obedience. Verse eleven basically says if you do not commit adultery but kill someone this person becomes a transgressor of the law. I have a feeling James was trying to repeat his point in verse ten but in a more specific way to make his point. If we offend in one point we have contemn for the authority of God who gave the entire law thus we become guilty of all even if we commit one sin. This is not fairness because the proper word would be justice. If I were driving 150 miles down the road and a policeman pulled me over can I really say but I follow all the other laws?
The Apostle James encourages Christians to conduct themselves by the law of God but through the grace of Jesus Christ. The gospel is referred to as a law because it requires duty, gives comfort and most of all we must realize Jesus Christ is our King to rule, teach and intercede for us to His Father. We are under the law of liberty and this wonderful service is from God. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is perfect freedom. This is the reason we should give it our best to obey God by faith because we are going to be judged by this law of liberty. If our temperament and conversation is Godly we are on the right path of righteousness.
James gets even more specific to be merciful to the poor. If we do not show mercy now we will not be granted mercy on the day of judgment. In simple terms the Apostle is saying if we show mercy now we will triumph at the bema seat which is a judgment for believers in Jesus Christ.
A mere confession of the Christian faith does not make us a true believer in Jesus Christ. According to this particular text that is not true salvation in Jesus Christ. A person is not justified by faith only but by works in conjunction with belief in Jesus Christ. If you do not believe me read the text again because a refusal to move in the will of God is rebellion.
I can hear the questions. Why did the Apostle Paul say that we are justified by faith only and not by the works of the law. Paul is writing about a different type of work than James but not another sort of faith. Different work, same faith because Paul was speaking of obedience to the law of Moses and then gave the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ. James writes about obedience to the gospel after they got saved through Jesus Christ.
Both Apostles had a deep concern to magnify the belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This alone saves and justifies us in our salvation. The Apostle Paul was dealing with people that thought their merit or works were going to save them in the sight of God. The Apostle James was dealing with those that claimed to have faith in Jesus Christ but would not allow works to be used as evidence of their belief in the Son of God. The word belief in John 3:16 is in the present tense which simply means a continual faith in Jesus Christ. It is not a one time thing where we make a decision and then walk away from the faith and say, "O.K I did my part." True faith in Jesus Christ does not work that way. When we get to heaven we will be engaging in some sort of task for the kingdom of God.
The Apostle James was dealing with people who claimed faith in Jesus Christ but set aside the law. The Apostle Paul was dealing with people that did good works but laid aside faith in Jesus Christ. Both of these groups are wrong. Paul writes about being justified in Jesus Christ before God the Father. James is speaking of our faith being justified before other people. At the risk of repeating myself if the word believe in John 3:16 is a continual belief then it would only stand to reason that we as true Christians would be compelled to labor for Jesus Christ for the right reason of doing the will of God.
Working for God could mean being way in the background or in the front but it is for the purpose of getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to a dying world. There is no profit anywhere if a person says he has faith but no works in response to his or her belief in Jesus Christ. My question to you is where is the faith? According to this passage it could not possibly be in Jesus Christ. I can say I am a millionaire but that does not make me a millionaire. Words without proper responses are destitute and empty.
Love is a biblical principle but so is faith in Jesus Christ. We can say we are a person of love but where is the works to prove our charity. Faith and fruits go hand in hand and are the same principle as love being demonstrated with our hearts to other people in a tangible way. If we have love we will respond with mercy which is evidence of our faith in Jesus Christ especially to the poor.
True faith produces fruit. If we just have a profession of faith and we stop there it is the same thing as saying we are a millionaire and not really having a million dollars. Faith without works is a dead heart and will eventually produce bad fruit. A trained eye will be able to spot faith without works but it will also be able to recognize faith in Jesus Christ with good works to follow which is obedience to God.
If you never initially came to know Jesus Christ in a personal way now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your very own Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of God into your life. If you just made that all important eternal decision your life will take on a true purpose for God and the Holy Spirit will show you opportunities to do good works because of your new found belief in Jesus Christ. People complain of having no purpose all the time but true born again Christians have a purpose and place in the kingdom of God. All we have to do is follow with simple faith and obedience to God and respond accordingly to people with real needs.
God Bless you,
Saturday, August 10, 2019
The rich and poor living for the glory of God
The Apostle James reminds his readers that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith through Jesus Christ and heirs of the Kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him. It is true most true Christians around this world are poor. If I may when James says, to them that love Him this is very comforting to me because that is the main truth Jesus Christ desires to see in our lives.
James makes a deeper point that it is not even logical to despise the poor because rich people are the ones that tend to oppress you and take you to court. The Apostle also explains that they are in more of a position to slander you because they tend to have power in one way or another. James continues on the subject by urging his readers to fulfill the royal law that they should love thy neighbor as thyself. To put on love to the rich and poor is the answer to the question.
James reminds them that if you have respect to persons you are committing a sin. I have a feeling that something of this reality was happening so the Apostle wrote this to his readers.
Then James quotes one of the most popular verses by saying, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Let me quote the original text so you can read this passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study in the Bible.
(4) "Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (5) Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him? (6) But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? (7) Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? (8) If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: (9) But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. (10) For whosoever shall offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2: 4 - 10.
James tries to explain the gravity of this sin to his readers because some were engaging in this transgression. James was concerned that they would be partial in themselves and then he had a question for them which was have you not made a difference. This is a rare way to explain something but in that difference they were judging by a false rule and advancing in the situation with false measures. The respect of people is owing to the sin and injustice of thoughts because the next part says you have become judges of evil thoughts. A person that does this has unrealistic estimations which alters their opinions and was then invented to themselves. Outward hype can change in one day but inward grace will last forever. Rich men are seen when mercy should be the characteristic that is visible.
James mentions our evil thoughts because sin is never seen until the evil of our thoughts comes out in the form of a transgression against God. If we show respect of persons it is contrary to the will of God. If you judge those who are heirs of the kingdom you are against your brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of the poor in this world are chosen by God. In general those with external advantages do not have as much intrinsic worth as the poor but of course there are exceptions to this rule.
If you are poor in this world and rich in faith through the Person of Jesus Christ then you are in the will of God. What I am trying to say is the poorest may be the richest so why the discrimination. Remember there is time, talents and treasures. The rich is only under the category of treasures and the pastor better hope they are not cheap. Another point I would like to make is they may be far more prone to being stingy with their time and talents. It has been my experience that the poor is far more generous than the wealthy with their time and talents. Ideally the wealthy should be rich in giving and good works. The poor should be rich in their faith along with using their time and talents. They can not help with the expenses because --- no money. One more point in that everybody better be doing these things for God with the right motive. If Christians are doing tasks for the Lord with the wrong reasons involving self will rather than the will of God than it will be thrown out for all eternity.
If the rich or poor accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts they are both heirs to the kingdom of God. Both are in a position of divine love but the key is to love Jesus Christ through our faith and obedience in God. The Apostle James tells us in James 1:12 that there is a crown of life for Christians who engage in this practice throughout their life. We serve an everlasting God who directs an everlasting kingdom so isn't it pretty obvious that riches will fade away and die. If we respect the rich over the poor this sin in light of all the facts will make us look foolish because it will bring us down. We as Christians will not be honoring the worthy name of Jesus Christ.
We need to love our neighbors whether they be rich or poor as ourselves because we are to have constant regard for this rule. This is a lifestyle. This is written in the Bible but the real question is it settled in our hearts? This is coming straight from the King of Kings because it is a royal law. It should be honored without partiality because our judgment before Jesus Christ will be impartial. The rich person will not be able to help us at the judgment seat.
As I look back on my life the poor was far more willing to help me in my troubled circumstances. If we follow the golden rule we teach other people by example to have empathy for all people. Granted some individuals are so rebellious before God that they do not want our understanding but for those that do this it is an opportunity to minister to them with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit working through our hearts.
We can not love our neighbor as ourselves if we are giving special attention to the rich. "For whosoever shall offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 1:10. This verse is in the context of treating the wealthy with special treatment so if you show partiality in one point then it would be impossible to truly love one another as ourselves to everybody.
I would be lacking if I did not quote this verse the way most Christians do which is if you even sinned one time in your life you broke the whole law. This is how serious God is regarding the subject of sin.
Imagine if you are hanging from a cliff with ten chains but just one breaks. What do you think will happen? You will fall to the ground. If you ever sinned even once in your life you broke the entire law and are a sinner separated from God for all eternity. This is why God sent His Son to planet earth to die on a cross and rise from the dead on the third day. Everybody sinned at least one time so we all need a Savior.
Now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of God in your life. I hope and pray that you just made that all important eternal decision.
God bless you,
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
An unspotted life before Jesus Christ
The Apostle James starts out writing that whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues into being a quickened hearer and a doer of the work this person will be blessed in all his or her deeds. I think it is interesting that James uses the verb "Work" because when we read the Bible there is labor in us applying the precepts of the word of God to our life. We as Christians are not supposed to be spectators merely sitting on the sidelines of the otter perimeter on the work of God. There are no unemployment lines for or in the kingdom of God. Notice we can not apply this labor for Jesus Christ unless we read the Bible with open ears and a willing heart because verse twenty five is in the context of the word of God. If you do not have access to a Bible or portions of the word of God try and surround yourself with fellow believers in Jesus Christ.
James also talks about people that say they are Christians but can not control their tongues. This unfortunately deceives their own heart and his or her faith is in vain. These are strong words that revolve around our speech but I will expound on this later in the article.
The Apostle explains what genuine faith in Jesus Christ is in an undefiled form before God. One example would be to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. This true believer in Jesus Christ is also supposed to keep him or herself unspotted from the world. God really does not desire us to blend or conform in with the world because our message will be compromised and we will probably fall into some kind of sin.
We are to have faith in Jesus Christ who is described as the Lord of glory and has no respect of persons.
Let us say for example you are the pastor of a congregation and someone rich comes in with a Godly appearance but next to him comes a poor person who is not dressed very well. James is saying do not show favorites. Special attention should not be giving to the rich nor should lousy treatment be giving to the poor.
Let me quote the original text so you can read the passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(25) "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. (26) 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. (27) 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. (1) My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. (2) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; (3) And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool. James 1: 25 - 27, James 2:1 - 3.
The ceremonial law although perfect was first introduced in the Old Testament. It was a burden of bondage to the souls of men because nobody was perfect. The is why the Apostle James writes about the gospel is the law of liberty which is liberation to a believer in Jesus Christ. When we read the Bible Christians hear the perfect law of God or the law of liberty but then we must continue to travel in the proper path of obedience to God.
Our ultimate objective is to be blessed in our deed which is not only hearing the word of God but a doer of the work. It is good to know the Bible but that is not where the connection is made in us as believers in Christ being blessed. The hand of approval only comes when we do the will of God. If you hear Christians say, "Talk the talk but walk the walk remember the second part of the saying is far more important than the first. Walk the walk.
We have to discern between a vain faith in Jesus Christ and a pure belief that is truly approved by God. According to this passage the vainness is seen by a Christian that can not control his or her tongue. This person is in self deception and his or her faith is in vain in their relationship with Jesus Christ. It is is merely a show because this individual is far more concerned in appearing religious so truth gets thrown away and there is no real authentic relationship with Jesus Christ especially if you see them speak of the faults of others and make themselves look wise with God. People that have a deceiving tongue can not be humble and gracious in their hearts to God. We want strength and power in our faith through Jesus Christ, not a bunch of chatter lies about other people. You would be best just praying for them and getting back into the yoke of Jesus Christ. If these people continue to engage in this erroneous activity their self deception will grow greater and the amount of people that will be mislead usually multiplies.
If we as Christians have true faith in Jesus Christ our belief will be pure and undefiled in our devotion to God. Jesus Christ loves to see a holy life and a charitable heart not gossip today. It is interesting that James uses words like pure and undefiled because this is one of the attributes of God. This means that we should do everything with the presence of the Holy Spirit working through our hearts.
James gets more specific when he talks about compassion and love to the poor or distressed in life. This evolves into a tremendous necessary part of our faith in Christ if we were for example visit the fatherless or the widow in their afflictions. We are to have a special love for those who are helpless and are suffering. The person in this context who can not control his or her tongue and desires self admiration would not even care about these issues. On the outside which comes from the inside we are to show love and receive the downtrodden in our life.
Part of living an unspotted life is to have a big heart for love and charity. Look at the word "Unspotted." I can not resist telling you this story. A very Godly man had a dream and he saw people waiting in line to be judged before they went to hell. He explained to his audience that God allowed him to see the spots in their hearts. I am not even sure he made the connection in the Bible from James 1:27 to his vision but I did not even think about this verse regarding that particular dream until now. This verse says ... "And to keep himself unspotted from the world."
There is only a certain point that we as Christians can get involved in this world. Of course to some degree we have to go to work, pay our bills but the more we as believers in Christ get immersed in worldly things our soul will become blemished and defiled but the degree will depend on the intensity of our involvement in worldly pursuits. Our constant endeavor must be to live pure and holy because this is undefiled faith in Jesus Christ.
I would rather live a little boring and be right with Jesus Christ as opposed to living in the drama of sin and having all kinds of spots on my soul. There are so many false doctrines of compromise in Christianity that I actually feel sorry for the participants because usually they are fed a couple of lines and they accept this as doctrine for their theological paradigm as they walk through life. They usually fall into some kind of sin / sins. They often stand very strong on their false convictions and are extremely big on taking verses way out of context.
James changes his tone and actually shows how much dishonesty there is in sin due to respect of persons. James cautions against this because the character of the Christian is at stake. Our faith in Jesus Christ is a trust and treasure so he refers to the Son of God as the Lord of glory. We really should not have any special respect for Christians unless they are truly being conformed to Jesus Christ. If we show this favoritism to people our glorious Lord will for all practical purposes be pushed off to the side when He should be in the center of our hearts. Once again sin will take center stage if we engage in the practice of showing respect for persons.
In verses two and three the Apostle James gives an example of the folly of this sin. The problem with looking at who has the better appearance is God has His remnant of all sorts of people both rich and poor. A Christian's poverty does not put him at a distance with God. If anybody has the disadvantage in this area it is a believer in Christ that has a lot of money. It is not wrong to be rich because God is looking at your heart nor is it wrong to be poor because God is looking at your heart. I could expand on this issue but I can not believe an internet audience is not getting the basic idea of what the Apostle James is writing about in this passage.
If you do not know the Lord it does not matter if you are rich or poor. God loves you and you are precious in His sight. Now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your very own personal Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of the Living God in your life. I hope and pray you just made that choice.
God Bless you,
Monday, July 22, 2019
How do we hear from God and proceed?
James starts out in verse nineteen with one of the most popular verses in the Bible. First he refers to the Christians that he is writing to as my beloved brethren. It is comforting to know and understand that a fellow believer in Christ has a Godly affection for me. Then the Apostle says such incredible words of wisdom. He writes be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath. In a world where people by and large think they know so much James comes in and refutes this by saying be fast to hear but this does not mean gossip.
How many people do you know who are slow to speak? If we can train ourselves to respond slowly people will listen to us more because there is a large amount of humbleness in not knowing everything. The real truth of the matter is we know very little and this should help us to be slow to wrath. I try and love people as much as I can and leave the wrath for God. The Bible does say vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord so this has never been my role as a Christian. The wrath of man will never produce the righteousness of God. We were not made to have wrath in our hearts and at the same time have the love of Jesus Christ in our spirit.
The next statement James makes is phrased kind of strange but in essence he is telling his readers to lay aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness and then receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls. Since the Apostle is talking to believers in Christ he is writing about the present tense of our salvation in Jesus Christ. There was the past tense (when we became born again in and through the regenerating work of Jesus Christ). There is the present tense of our salvation which means we have to be constantly lead by the Holy Spirit and His empowering work through us as Christians. Then finally there is the future tense of our salvation which is when we will be in heaven with Jesus Christ himself and unable to sin.
James does not stop there because the first part is to receive the engrafted word but we as believers in Christ must then become doers of the Bible which always has to be taken in context. James says do not just become hearers of the word because we will be involved in self deception.
James then compares a hearer to a doer of the word of God. A hearer is like a person looking at his own face in a mirror. This sounds boring and vain but this human being will go his or her own way and forget what manner of faith this Christian has in the Person of Jesus Christ. When we read the Bible or hear a true message of God our responsibility is to allow the Holy Spirit to impart the biblical precepts to our hearts and apply this in our life. Let me quote the original text so you can read the passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(19) "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (21) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word , and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) 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: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetheth what manner of man he was." James 1:19 - 24.
To be ready to hear probably for the most part means what does the Bible teach. James may have been referring to the afflictions and temptations that he wrote about in the beginning of chapter one but in combination of being very fast to listen to the word of God. The basic tone of the first part of this chapter is restraining the works of passion if it is in the category of sin. James is urging his readers not to censure God in our problems but to open our hearts to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us as Christians.
The church was running into disputes which is obviously differences of opinions that Christians were bumping into each in a bad way among their members in the congregation. This fast to hear was also meant for believers in Christ to listen to all sides so they could be slow to speak. When we do talk there is never to be any wrath in our speech because this does not produce the righteousness of God. In general James is saying keep a guard on our tongues and passions because we can not trust our emotions. Just because we feel something does not mean we have to respond especially if it is sin. It only stands to reason that if we are quick to hear and slow to speak then wrath is not our final result. Love should be our response to God and people.
If our anger is within us there are great reasons for suppressing this bad emotion. The very last thing we want to do is allow our discontent to come out in a theological controversy. Wrath is of man but it goes deeper than this because it stands directly opposed to the righteousness of God. This "Debate" starts out as a cause for God but if the wrath comes out it becomes evident that they are not associated with Jesus Christ or any of His concerns. It is like saying I do not like anyone wearing the color blue but all the while he has blue clothes on his body. He is contradicting himself and if we throw wrath in our disagreements we are contradicting the word of God as true representatives of Jesus Christ. Never try and win an argument because it is an exercise in futility.
It is not just anger that we as Christians are to suppress but other corrupt emotions. We as believers in Christ are to watch and lay aside all of our transgressions of a corrupt heart. If we do not do this we will not be able to follow the precepts of the Bible. Most people would agree that there is a lot of evil in us by nature because that is the way our heart is without the presence Jesus Christ; therefore, we must watch against superfluity of naughtiness. Restraining evil afflictions is good but we must take it one step deeper and cast them from us because sins have to be separated from our heart. This means everything --- outward sins, bad thoughts and speech. It is all considered filthy to God so if we struggle with any of these things at the very least talk to the Lord about your transgressions with sincerity because God is indeed looking at our hearts. He understands there is going to be a struggle in all of His children but consistent earnestly everyday pleases Jesus Christ. If we do our part God will certainly accomplish a good work in us which includes giving us wisdom and making us clean before Him.
We need to ask God to prepare our hearts so we can hear the word of God. In verse twenty one James says we are to receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. The first thing we need to do when we hear the word of God is receive it in such a way where good righteous fruit is produced according to the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ which is engrafted in our souls. The Apostle James is saying yield yourselves to what the Bible teaches with a submissive temperament because we need to receive the word of God with meekness. If we see faults in our life be patient but with a thankful heart that we have a Savior who can help us correct those sins which tend to haunt us before Holy God. In our hearing of what the Bible teaches we allow the Holy Spirit to point out sins in our souls and become more aware of what happened to us when we became born again in the Person of Jesus Christ.
After we hear we must do because being attentive and applying the biblical promises of the Bible go hand in hand. The worst thing we could do is hear and then walk away living in our own world and eventually falling into a downward spiral in our life. These people will not remember what they learned but self deception will be a the center of their hearts.
James writes about the proper use of the Bible. He compares this to a glass in which a man may behold his natural face. This person sees the imperfections on his or her face but the Bible shows us our sins. The word of God shows us the emptiness in our souls because of the world, flesh or the devil influencing our lives. The Bible inspires us as Christians to go in the opposite direction. Laws get amended all the time but our journey on this earth must also be amended through the ongoing work of Jesus Christ in our lives.
When we read the Bible believers in Jesus Christ need to see themselves in whatever condition we are in at that moment. Be honest because we are to dress ourselves in the righteousness of Jesus Christ by the glass of the word of God.
This is an account in James chapter one of people that do not use the glass of the Bible like they should because in vain these people do hear the word of God but they observe it like glass because they are going away, forgetting their spots and as a result there is no solution for their anxious circumstances. They just made a decision to do their life on their own without God. It would be better if they hear the word of God as they should and use the glass of the Bible to convict them of any sins and get their life right with Jesus Christ.
If you have never come to know Jesus Christ and feel the Apostle James was somewhat blunt to his readers remember he had to be because there was much discard and many broken lives. One thing I learned the hard way is it is primarily through the word of God with an earnest spirit before the Triune Godhead that changes our lives. If your life is in shambles or you just find it very difficult to find true contentment then consider the Son of God. Now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Savior and Lord by repenting of all your sins and inviting the true Messiah into your life. This will be a decision for your life and eternity. I hope and pray you just made that all important eternal decision.
God Bless you,
Friday, July 12, 2019
Grace or sin
The Apostle James changes his tone about the subject of temptation. If we are tempted with a sin --- an enticement as it were according to James 1:14 we can never say "I want to sin" is from God.
First of all God can never be tempted with evil nor does He ever tempt any person for any reason. This does not come from God. The first truth we as Christians need to understand is when demons tempt us that is not a sin but it is a test. The only time the enticement becomes a sin is when that person is drawn away because of his or her lust. This is the only way the enticement will be effective so the obvious answer to not committing transgressions is to not be drawn away with our own lust. The choice is up to us but the command is from God to not let this happen which means we have to be on guard all the time.
The second step is when lust is conceived we sin. A basic principle in the Bible is sin brings forth death. James urges his readers not to be deceived but then James once again changes his tone and says every good and perfect gift is from above. Let me just stop there because when demons tempt us with sin that is from below. These good and perfect gifts come from the Father of lights and there is no variableness in God; however, this is in demons. There is no shadow of turning in God and yes I have heard many heaven testimonies where they all testified that when they were traveling down the streets of Paradise they never saw their shadow.
Whenever God does something it is of His own will and He decided to give us the word of truth. The reason why the Triune Godhead did this is because we as Christians are to be a kind of first fruits of His creatures. It would only stand to reason that if we listen to the enticement of demons and allow ourselves to be drawn away of our own lusts we are for all practical purposes second fruits of sin that leads to death. James is making a comparison of us being tempted and perhaps caving into the transgression against Jesus Christ or keeping our focus on the Father of lights. I am going to expand on this passage but first let me quote the original text of this passage so you can read it and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study of the Bible.
(13) "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: (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (16) Do not err, my beloved brethren. (17) 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. (18) Of His own will will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." James 1: 13 - 18.
God is not the author of any person's transgressions but some Christians may fall in their hour of temptation. The Bible warns believers in Jesus Christ not to live a life of sin. Whether we sin every once in a while or give ourselves to a lifestyle of transgressions the blame of this conduct lies entirely on the Christian that made a choice of being drawn away of his or her own lust. If you feel you are living a lifestyle of sin / sins do what you have to do to stop. The believer in Jesus Christ that constantly transgresses against God is in serious trouble before divine authority. Pray that Jesus Christ gives you the conviction in your heart that sin is wrong. There is nothing in the nature of God where we can say, "God made me do this transgression against Him."
The Bible clearly says that God can not be tempted with evil so it would have to be obvious that Jesus Christ will not be a tempter to other people. Sinning is bad enough but to blame it on God as opposed to taking responsibility for our transgression / transgressions is not only incorrect but the real problem is we do not have strong conviction in our hearts against something destructive in our life. When God sends afflictions and pain in our life the end result is to trust Jesus Christ and rely on His grace, not go the other way into corruption.
We need to ask ourselves a question and that would be where does the true cause of evil lie or where should the blame be put from a biblical prospective? When it comes to temptation, evil and sin it is originally in our hearts. It is born in us but outward causes may tempt us to be enticed into a full blown episode. First it is in us, then it draws us away and finally entices us into sin. This whole process carries us from good to evil. We could literally have a strong fellowship with God through His Son Jesus Christ and then fall into sin which is usually measured in degrees if we allow the temptation to draw us away and entice us into a transgression against God. The term drawn away is to be forcible compelled so at certain points of our life it will be very hard to abstain from sin. The word enticed means to be beguiled so the power of sin could never have victory unless something cunning takes place from the corruption of our hearts.
Sin excites desires in us and then we consent to the transgression but at this point it is conceived. Unfortunately this brings forth death. First this death takes place in the soul and then it is manifested in the body. The moral is we need to be careful with what goes into our minds and hearts. I can guarantee you that we will be tempted at our weakest moments so in advance Christians may desire to pray for those inevitable times when enticements will come into our life. If we know we sinned it should be obvious that repentance should take place before God through His Son Jesus Christ.
I like the way James changes his tone and says God is the Father and fountain of all good. If we have a wrong misconception of God this can be very dangerous to our spiritual walk with Jesus Christ. Sin is evil but we serve a good God. When James says do not err or wander we need to remember God is not the author of anything that is evil. Just the opposite is true because Jesus Christ is the cause of everything that is pure and holy. God does not change but our off course directions are not altered by God. If this happens in our walk with Jesus Christ we must look inside ourselves and even be more determined that we are going to do the will of God.
When we look at the Father of lights with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning understand that every good gift is from Jesus Christ. He is the only one that can give us as believers in Christ the light of spiritual reasoning. This is a vast contrast from temptation and sin but James understood that unless we on a regular basis seek the Father of lights that gives spiritual reasoning we will fall into transgressions. This "Light" teaches us biblical principles and divine revelation which we desperately need because our sin nature will take center stage if we as Christians do not position ourselves before God in a proper way to receive this gift through His Son Jesus Christ. The bottom line is we will receive nothing good unless we as believers in Christ get this pureness from God. We were redeemed by Jesus Christ and certainly do rejoice but the benefits of being born again Christians is His "Light" which involves spiritual reasoning, learning and as a result comfort.
When we accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts we became a new creature in Jesus Christ but we must remember this was not because of our skill, power or good works. This happened to us because of the goodwill and grace of God through the redeeming power of His Son Jesus Christ. This is why we as Christians are able to proclaim the word of truth or the gospel of Jesus Christ because His resurrection Power conquered sin and we or anyone who desires to come to the Lord has power over sin through the Son of God who died for our sins. If you feel deep down that you have not made that all important eternal decision now may be the time to accept Jesus Christ into your hearts by repenting of all your sins and inviting the true Messiah into your life. This decision will produce real and lasting effects in your life.
If you just made this decision rely upon the renewing grace of God through His Son in the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. Like the passage says in this article if we do not then we are far more susceptible to fall into sin. Remember Jesus Christ died for our sins so we could be set free from our transgressions.
James also talks about that we should be a kind of first - fruits of His creatures. Without getting to deep into this subject Jesus Christ is the first - fruits of His children. He is the head and we are His body. The most popular interpretation is Christians are the first - fruits of creatures. Our primary focus should be Jesus Christ is the first - fruits of His children. Praise the Lord because we serve the head who is sinless and pure and desires to impart this in our hearts.
God Bless You,
Tuesday, July 02, 2019
Standing strong for Jesus Christ wherever you are in lifeIn my last article I explained that if we ask God for wisdom He will bestow this in our spirit. I had to stop the writing at James 1:5 but in verses 6 - 8 the Apostle gives the conditions for receiving wisdom. If we ask Jesus by faith without wavering this is indeed what God desires to see in our hearts and minds. I believe one bit of practical advice would be we should ask God for this faith without wavering so our conviction is strong when we make intercession for this wisdom in our trials. When the average person goes through something they usually get angry or upset but this lacks the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit working through our hearts.If a Christian does not have the conviction of faith without wavering then he or she is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. If you ever observed that it is very unpredictable to say the least.Then James in verse seven writes very bluntly in essence do not think that a believer in Jesus Christ will receive anything from the Lord. This is pretty heavy duty language to not even be the recipient of even one thing in this particular context. This is not to say we did not receive anything from God in other areas of our life but when it comes to wisdom and trials that we are presently facing faith without wavering compliments God through our spirit of belief. If we are double minded the bottom line is we are unstable in all our ways. Does this sound like faith without wavering ? The latter says God I know you love me and you are a good Father and desire the best for me but being double minded is putting God in a position where He can not give us a definitive blessing which includes wisdom from heaven.The Apostle James talks about the brother of low degree and rejoice that he is exalted. This was the way of James phrasing that a born again Christian should be humble in their bad circumstances approaching Jesus Christ in faith and asking for wisdom in the middle of hardships. We think it is more spiritual to be taken away from our trials but for the most part we learn so much more trusting God during our sufferings.James also writes about the rich person and says he or she is made low because as the flower of the grass he or she will pass away and die. We were born with nothing and we will die with nothing. Of course I am talking about earthly riches. Being rich is not a sin but the "Love" of money is a transgression against God. It is not a good idea to get attached to anything in this world. James goes into another analogy about the sun with it's burning heat withers the grass and the flowers die. The beauty perishes and the rich person will die in his ways. In context James is talking about the corrupt wealthy person that does not care about God but is depending on his money to save him.In the last verse that I will be going over the Apostle James goes back to the person that has sincerity for God. He switches his tone from hardships in trials to enduring temptation. If said Christian is tempted with sin and is in the habit of refusing to cave into transgressions this believer in Jesus Christ will receive the crown of life as a reward in heaven. The connection most Christians do not seem to understand is abstaining from sin is loving God. Let me just quote the original text so you can read this passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular study in the Bible.(6) "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. (7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (8) A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (9) Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: (10) But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. (11) 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. (12) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receice the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." James 1: 6 - 12.There is one thing essential to be understood in our asking God for His wisdom. No wavering or staggering at this promise of God through our spirit of unbelief. Our intention must be sincere and our mind should be steadfast in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our responsibility in our afflictions because we will be like a wave tossed by the wind. Faith can lift us up but distrust can bring us down. If you ever read the entire Bible God places a high degree of having faith in Him. If a believer in Christ changes from unbelief to doubt in God this Christian is not going to have favor with God. In this context he or she can not expect wisdom from Jesus Christ in their distress which is the plan of God. If our spirit wavers and we do not have true faith in Jesus Christ this will influence our conversation in our prayer life. It is true because some intercession can be destructive. We will even be unstable in life and our responses will be evident as people observe us walk in our journey and this will reflect bad on the Person of Jesus Christ.James makes it clear that it does not matter if you are rich or poor because both are directed on how to receive this joy and comfort from God in times of affliction. When James writes about Christians that are of low degree they are just as important as believers in Christ who have money. The only things we do that are going to last for eternity are that which we do for Jesus Christ with the right motive. I have seen some of the poorest Christians extremely rich in Jesus Christ. I have seen rich people very unhappy. There is no condition in life that puts us out of reach of rejoicing in God. If we are made low in life we are in a greater position to receive the grace of Jesus Christ through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. If we are low that just gives us an opportunity at our prospect of our exaltation because God has a heart for these types of people.If anything rich people according to James 1:10 -11 should be humbled because they along with their wealth are going to die. Just as the flower fades so will the rich man unless he lived his life for Jesus Christ. The rich person should rejoice but not in what God allowed him or her to possess but in the grace of Jesus Christ that keeps this person humble even or should I say especially in their high status of life. A rich powerful person in pride will be destroyed in his or her soul and will probably ruin other lives in life for eternity. I have never seen so much big money running around in the history of all mankind and with equal measure I have never seen so much sin and corruption on this earth.There is a special blessing that is promised to those who endure their duties for the Lord along with trials. A person that just got redeemed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ right before he dies can not expect to receive the same reward as the Apostle Paul. It is not the person that grows in the Lord only when he is blessed but endures in hard times and remains faithful to God. James 1:12 says there is a crown waiting for him or her that rejoices in good times and endures in bad times. Afflictions may cause us pain but a blessing usually arises from them. It can sometimes be very difficult to keep our devotion to Jesus Christ at horrible set backs when humanly speaking in our circumstances there is just no hope but sufferings and temptations are the way to eternal blessedness.Verse twelve says when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life because when the grace of God is found in this Christian to be authentic this is of very high worth to heaven. To give you a human analogy earthly metals are tried to their excellency by fire but in like manner the tried believer in Jesus Christ shall receive this particular crown. This is referred to in this passage as the crown of life. We only bear our cross for a season on earth in these fleshly bodies but this reward is for eternity. This is promised to a Christian living a righteous life in trials enduring to the end. When we endure trials and temptations we must continue to love Jesus Christ. To phrase this another way the crown of life is promised to believers in Jesus Christ who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Good and bad times will come because this is the way life is but we must remain faithful to Jesus Christ.If you are one that does not know the true Messiah who created you now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart by repenting of all your sins and inviting the Son of God into your life. We are all going to go through good and bad times but there is something about the person that does this with allegiance to Jesus Christ. The person who does not care may get drunk but his or her problems still lie dormant in life with no real solution. Having an eternal perspective through the Person of Jesus Christ is the plan of God and according to James 1:12 we will receive a heavenly reward.God Bless you,Bob D.