“Faith’s Hope” – James 1:12-18

May 26th, 2013

James 1:12-18

“Faith’s Hope”

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Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.  — Revelation 2:10

 

Background Information:

  • James leads his readers to see that troubles are both external and internal.  And many times what begins as an external trial ends up becoming an internal temptation.  There are certain truths that we must never forget in the process of dealing with our troubles.
  • When something unfortunate happens, we casually call it “bad” or “evil,” because that is the way it appears to us.  It is a problem or a tragedy that cuts to the heart.  In practice we tend to define “good” the same way we think God does, and that God wants only “good things” for us.  We also demand to know the answer to any misfortune immediately.  But patience is needed, for time is a potent tool in God’s hands.  The stumbling block here is that in our arrogance and ignorance, we demand the right to define what “good” is.  God’s definition is often different from ours.  So we need wisdom and insight from him in order to see difficulties for what they are. . . .We may fail to distinguish between trials, temptations, and the difficulties or misfortunes with which we associate them.  In fact, we usually see them as “evils” in some sense of the word.  James did not see them in this fashion.  He would have us work on separating the various ideas that our culture often binds together, that is, distinguishing between “trials,” “temptations,” “misfortune,” and “evil.”  (David P. Nystrom, The NIV Application Commentary: James, 80)
  • (v. 15) The word used here is apokuei, (NIV “give birth to”) which literally means ‘ceases to be pregnant’.  Do you see the powerful point of this?  Pregnancy is by nature something that must cease.  It must come to an end and produce the child that has been in the process of gestation during the preceding months.  There is an awesome inevitability about pregnancy and this is exactly what James wants to get across to us.  Sin always comes to an inevitable end and that inevitable end is what the Bible calls ‘death.’  The primary meaning of death is separation and the full biblical meaning of death is not only the separation of the soul from the body, but the eternal separation of man from God.  This is the terrible, tragic conclusion to which all sin inevitably leads.  In Paul’s equally chilling metaphor, ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Rom 6:23).  (John Blanchard, Truth for Life, 51)
  • (v. 16) My dear brothers.  The phrase is literally “my beloved brothers.”  It both softens and directs the warning.  James mixes even the hard statements that he must write with reminders of the love behind his letter.  People will listen to hard things more readily when they are reminded that the one saying them is doing so out of genuine love.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 28)

 

The question to be answered is . . . What does James hope to accomplish here in James 1:12-18?

 

Answer: James wants his audience (as well as us) to know that every trial, temptation, trouble, and problem is there to test you so you can know the truth about yourself and your faith.  Because the crown of life that God desires to give to all who are truly born again and persevere in their faith, is worth every single sacrifice, trial and trouble we might have to endure to obtain it.  So we should never give up.  God loves us dearly, and everything that comes from God is ultimately for our good.  So stick with God.

 

If there were no suffering, would there be compassion?  If there were no discipline and hardship, would we ever learn patience and endurance?  Construct a universe with no trouble in it and immediately you banish some of the finest qualities in the world. — James Stewart

 

It’s hard to stumble when you’re down on your knees.

 

The same sun softens wax but hardens clayThose that fall away have not fallen away because of God’s trial, but because unfaithfulness lies at the core of their being.

 

Faith that is not tried and true is worthless.  God wants the believer to come to him in a time of trial so that he may give him the strength to endure.  God is not interested in seeing the believer falter and fail; he wants him to endure, overcome, and triumph.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: James, 47)

 

The believer who passes the test is blessed, but the one who fails it is filled with remorse.  The one who failed the test refuses to admit that he lacks faith in God.  That is what Adam did in paradise when he fell into sin.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: James, 48)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Endure

 

James the Just, with his deep moral earnestness, wants to help suffering Christians find the strength to make tough moral choices.  He therefore calls us to face the issue of worth.  Persevering is worth doing, because the crown of life is worth more than avoiding the trial.  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 51)

 

What is James attempting to communicate?:

I.  Faith’s hope is motivated and confirmed when believers persevere under the severest of trials looking forward to receiving the crown of life(Jas 1:12; Rom 5:3-5; 8:18; 2 Cor 4:17-18; 2 Tm 4:7-8; 1 Pt 5:4; Rv 2:10)

 

As the athlete ‘endures’ bodily stress in order to achieve a high level of physical endurance, so the Christian is to endure the trials of life in order to attain the spiritual endurance that will bring perfection.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 70)

 

Even when enduring the trial means physical death, life is the reward for those who love God.  This love for God is demonstrated by, and perfected in, our willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 71)

 

Bernard of Clairvaux once said, if we demand a reward to obey God, we love the reward rather than God.  “The soul that loves God seeks no other reward than that God whom it loves.  Were the soul to demand anything else, then it would certainly love that other thing and not God.  (Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary: James, 33)

 

By fixing his gaze on this inheritance, the believer is able to find sustenance and strength in the trial, recognizing that the suffering of this present time is not long.  This inheritance cannot be earned and it is unattainable by those who do not serve God from a heart of love and devotion.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 71)

 

There is far more than one thought here.  In the ancient world the crown (stephanos) had at least four great associations.

(a) The crown of flowers was worn at times of joy, at weddings and at feasts (cf. Isa 28:1, 2; Sg 3:11).  The crown was the sign of festive joy.

(b) The crown was the mark of royalty.  It was worn by kings and by those in authority.  Sometimes this was the crown of gold; sometimes it was the linen band, or fillet, worn around the brows (cp. Ps 21:3; Jer 13:18).

(c) The crown of laurel leaves was the victor’s crown in the games, the prize which the athlete coveted above all (cp. 2 Tm 4:8).

(d) The crown was the mark of honor and of dignity.  The instructions of parents can bring a crown of grace to those who listen to them (Prv 1:9); Wisdom provides a man with a crown of glory (Prv 4:9); in a time of disaster and dishonor it can be said, “The crown has fallen from our head” (Lam 5:16).

We do not need to choose between these meanings.  They are all included.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: James and Peter, 49)

 

Blessed.  This Greek word, makarios, in common usage described the happiness of a carefree life.  The Bible deepens the meaning of blessed to include a deep joy that comes from receiving God’s favor.  Jesus used this word in each of what are called the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12).  In that message, it is surprising to see the kind of people Jesus called “blessed.”  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 19)

 

Joy-filled, then, is the man who perseveres under trial.  As athletes persevere in training in order to improve their abilities and endurance for competition, so Christians persevere in spiritual training, enduring the trials that will bring maturity and completeness.  Today’s trials will seem like training when we face tomorrow’s challenges.  The way to get into God’s winner’s circle is to love him and stay faithful even under pressure.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 20)

 

The blessing formula begins with makarios.  Although the translation “happy” is certainly possible (Hort, 19; see Plato, Rep. 354A; Gen 30:13), “blessed” is preferable not only because it can be distinguished from “happiness” (eudaimonia; see Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1101A), but also because of its consistent use within the biblical tradition to describe the result of right relatedness of humans to God (Dt 33:29; Ps 1:1; 2:12; 31:1; 39:5; 83:5; 111:1; 143:15; Prv 3:13; Sir 34:15).  In the gospel tradition (especially in the material found in Q), the macarism is especially associated with the speech of Jesus (Mt 5:3-11; 11:6; 13:16; 16:17; 24:46; Lk 6:20-22; 7:23; 10:23; 11:27-28; 12:37-38, 43; 14:14; 23:29; Jn 13:17; 20:29).  (Luke Johnson, The Anchor Yale Bible: James187)

 

In the Gospels, “endurance to the end” is attached to the expectation of salvation (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13; Lk 21:19).  (Luke Johnson, The Anchor Yale Bible: James188)

 

Given the widespread use of zōē or zōē aiōnios as shorthand for the goal of Christian existence (see Mt 7:14; 19:16-17; 25:46; Mk 9:45; 10:17; Lk 10:25; 18:18, 30; Jn 3:15-16; 5:29; 20:31; Acts 3:15; 13:46-48; Rom 5:21; 6:22-23; Gal 6:8; Jude 21), the “crown of life” could be understood as “the crown that signifies elevation into future life with God,” which finds an exact parallel in Rv 2:10; or better, “the crown that is life with God” (compare “crown of righteousness” in 2 Tm 4:8 and “crown of glory” in 1 Pt 5:4).  (Luke Johnson, The Anchor Yale Bible: James188)

 

The NT idea is that present growth in holiness culminates in a future sharing of glory with Christ.  The teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount again provide the basis (Mt 5:48; 7:15-23).  Peter lends parallel explanation of the early Christian leaders’ teaching (1 Pt 1:7, 13, 15; 4:13-14; 5:1, 10).  And John points to the same reward for Christians in persecution–the crown of life (Rv 2:10).  This ultimate sharing of glory with Christ is the vision high enough with which to call people to joy in the midst of terrible trials.  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 50)

 

It is not sufficient to translate the word makarios as “happy.”  Even in secular Greek the word described “the transcendent happiness of a life beyond care, labor and death” (TDNT, 4:362).  In biblical usage it speaks of “the distinctive religious joy” which is one of the benefits of salvation (ibid., 367).  James uses the term to describe the enviable state of the man who does not give up when confronted with trying circumstances but remains strong in faith and devotion to God.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 171)

 

James clearly associates faithful perseverance under trial with genuine love for God, perseverance being one of the surest evidences of those who love Him.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 42)

 

It is only love to God, that can enable a man to endure the trials of life.  Love feels no loads; all practicable things are possible to him who loveth.  (Adam Clarke, Commentary and Critical Notes: Vol. IV, 820)

 

To be blessed means that we are content, serene, and confident that our God is still managing the world’s business, confident that he manages everything for our ultimate good, and confident that our life’s story is guaranteed to have a happy ending.  To be blessed means that we are aware that God intervenes in our lives to make good things happen for us.  (Mark Jeske, The People’s Bible: James, Peter, John, Jude, 16)

 

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.  -John Quincy Adams

 

II.  Faith is confirmed when believers resist temptation knowing that the source of temptation is themselves. (Jas 1:14; Jer 17:9; Mt 15:18-19; Rom 3:9-20; 6:23; 1 Cor 10:13; 2 Tm 2:22; 1 Jn 2:16)

 

Lust is not wanting bad things.  It is wanting things badly.  — Tim Keller

 

Desire (epithymia) does not always have a bad meaning (cf. Lk 22:15; Phil 1:23), but here, as most often in the NT, it refers to fleshly, selfish, illicit desire.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 73)

 

To err is human; to blame it on the divine is even more human.  (Kent Hughes, James, Faith That Works, 44)

 

With irresistible power desire seizes mastery over the flesh…It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money…Joy in God is…extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature.  At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real;…Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God…The lust thus aroused envelops the mind and will of man in deepest darkness.  The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us.  The questions present themselves: “Is what the flesh desires really sin in this case?”  “Is it my particular situation, to appease desire?”…It is here that everything within me rises us against the Word of God.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Temptation, 33)

 

When we are in the grip of lust, God is never more distant.  We forget who we are, who God is, and discount his Word.  Is God at that time truly distant?  Was he once real, but now only a faint mirage?  If we think so, it is because we are fish-eyed over a lust, either material or immaterial–perhaps ambition or revenge or power or sex or fame.  There is only one thing to do–turn tail and head for home and the safety of Christ.  Do you need to turn around?  Do I?  (Kent Hughes, James, Faith That Works, 48)

 

When a person becomes a friend of God, he becomes an enemy of Satan, and can expect to be attacked at any time, at any level and along any avenue.  The Christian who thinks otherwise and who imagines that he will gradually outgrow temptation as he matures in the faith has already fallen into one of the devil’s subtlest traps.  (John Blanchard, Truth for Life, 45)

 

Christian living is a matter of the will, not the feelings.  I often hear believers say, “I don’t feel like reading the Bible.”  Or, “I don’t feel like attending prayer meeting.”  Children operate on the basis of feeling, but adults operate on the basis of will.  They act because it is right, no matter how they feel.  This explains why immature Christians easily fall into temptation: they let their feelings make the decisions.  The more you exercise your will in saying a decisive “No” to temptation, the more God will take control of your life.  “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, 39)

 

Of all the creatures God has in this universe, Christians are the very highest and the finest!  We share God’s nature.  For this reason, it is beneath our dignity to accept Satan’s bait or to desire sinful things.  A higher birth must mean a higher life.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, 45)

 

The various hardships and afflictions that meet Christians in the world can produce spiritual perfection (v 4) and lead to God’s reward (v 12) if they are endured in faith.  However, they can have a harmful effect if met with the wrong attitude.  One such wrong attitude, James suggests, is to blame God for the enticement to sin that accompanies trials.  The OT makes clear that God does test his people, in the sense that he brings them into situations where their willingness to obey him is tested.  ‘God tested Abraham’ when he ordered him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gn 22:1), he tested Israel by leaving them surrounded by pagan nations (Jdg 2:22) and he tested King Hezekiah by leaving him to his own devices in his reception of the Babylonian envoys (2 Chr 32:31; cf. 2 Kgs 20:12-19).  But while God may test or prove his servants in order to strengthen their faith, he never seeks to induce sin and destroy their faith.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 72)

 

Temptation springs from this ‘evil impulse,’ as it lures and entices man.  The former of these verbs (deleazō) suggests the attraction exerted by proffered bait.  Both terms were used in a metaphorical sense to describe the attractive force of pleasure or persuasive teachers.  But the imagery of fishing with which the words were originally associated is probably still present: ‘desire’ is like the hook with its bait, that first entices its prey and then drags it away.  If the superficial attractiveness of ‘desire’ is not strenuously resisted, a person can become ‘hooked’ on it, unable to escape from its all-powerful lure.  James’ omission of Satan as a source of temptation does not mean that he ignores the ultimate ‘tempter’ (cf. 4:7).  His purpose here is to highlight individual responsibility for sin.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 73)

 

The word which James uses in verse 15, and which the Authorized and the Revised Standard Versions translate brings forth death, is an animal word for birth; and it means that sin spawns death.  Mastered by desire, man becomes less than a man and sinks to the level of the brute creation.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: James and Peter, 53)

 

The act of procreation leads to conception, conception to gestation, gestation to birth.  Once the process is set in motion it takes over; it has an inevitability about it.  The end is implicit in the beginning.  Let us then but entertain the desire which conceives sin, and we have admitted death and disintegration into our experience.  Through endurance and perseverance we come to the wholeness that is ours in Christ; through desire and sin we forfeit that wholeness and instead embrace death.  (J. A. Motyer, The Message of James, 54)

 

Like Jesus, the author sees the inner heart of man as the source of evil (cf. Mk 7:21-23, ‘For from inside, out of a man’s heart, come evil thoughts, acts of fornication, of theft, murder, adultery…these evil things all come from inside, and they defile the man’).  All this does not mean that God has not done his work as Creator well: it means that man has allowed good things in his make-up to get out of proportion, out of hand, distorted and perverted.  (R. Williams, The Cambridge Bible Commentary: John and James, 102)

 

It is crucial for us to remember always that God tests people for good; he does not tempt people for evil.  Even during temptation we can see God’s sovereignty in permitting Satan to tempt us in order to refine our faith and help us grow in our dependence on Christ.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 22)

 

  • “It’s the other ‘person’s fault.”
  • “I couldn’t help it.”
  • “Everybody’s doing it.”
  • “It was just a mistake.”
  • “Nobody’s perfect.”
  • “I didn’t know it was wrong.”
  • “The devil made me do it.”
  • “I was pressured into it.”

A person who makes excuses is trying to shift blame from himself or herself to something or someone else.  A Christian, on the other hand, accepts responsibility for his or her wrongs, confesses them, and asks God for forgiveness.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 22-23)

 

At this point, the question may be rightly asked: “If God really loves us, why doesn’t he protect us from temptation?”  A God who kept us from temptation would be a God unwilling to allow us to grow.  In order for a test to be an effective tool for growth, it must be capable of being failed.  God actually proves his love by protecting us in temptation instead of protecting us from temptation.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 23)

 

If a test becomes a temptation, it is sinful human nature that makes it so.  God does not “tempt anyone; but each one is tempted…by his own evil desire” (1:13-14).  (Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary: James, 35)

 

Men ought to be capable of noticing God’s handiwork with the female form with perfect innocence.  They can have a detached admiration, much as a visitor to an art gallery has a detached admiration for a still-life painting of fruit on a table.  But many men have difficulty with such detachment.  Approval of beauty becomes desire for beauty, and desire for beauty becomes lust for beauty.  Where does the fault lie?  With the beauty created by God and tended by the woman?  No, it lies with the man, who so readily turns approval to lust.  A well-appointed home and a well-engineered car are similar.  I can admire a well-constructed touring sedan or I can covet it.  Physical beauty and automotive excellence are good in themselves.  Yet if we add selfish desire to them, they can become occasions for sin.  (Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary: James, 35-36)

 

Normal desires, such as hunger, can also be the starting point of temptation if they are allowed to control our actions.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 24)

 

Desires can be either fed or starved.  If the desire itself is evil, we must deny its wish.  It is up to us, with God’s help.  If we encourage our desires, they will soon become actions.  The blame for sin is ours alone.  The kind of desire James is describing here is desire out of control.  It is selfish and seductive.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 24)

 

Desires that present themselves to us in expressions that begin with “I have to have,” “I can’t do without,” or even “I would do anything if only I could” are all ripe for conception and birth into sin.  It is helpful to ask ourselves occasionally, “What reasoning do I use that tends to lead me into sin?”  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 27)

 

There is more to stopping sin than just stopping sinning.  Damage has been done.  Deciding to “sin no more” may take care of the future, but it does not heal the past.  That healing must come through repentance and forgiveness.  Sometimes restitution must be made.  As serious as the remedy sounds, we can be deeply grateful that there is a remedy at all.  God loves us.  It is his gracious love that breaks the cycle of desire-sin-death.  Wherever we find ourselves in the process, we can turn to God in repentance for help.  His way leads to life.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 27)

 

The Bible says that the trial itself is not the most seriously life-threatening factor.  The greatest danger to me is not the wrong being done to me, but the wrong that may be done by me.  The real threat is that when wrong is done to me, I may be tempted to fall into sin myself.  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 53)

 

One of the most significant ways we resist the work of God for our growth toward becoming “mature and complete” is that we blame factors outside of ourselves for our sin.  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 56)

 

There would be no attraction of sin were it not for man’s own sinful lust, which makes evil seem more appealing than righteousness, falsehood more appealing than truth, immorality more appealing than moral purity, the things of the world more appealing than the things of God.  We cannot blame Satan, his demons, ungodly people, or the world in general for our own lust.  Even more certainly, we cannot blame God.  The problem is not a tempter from without, but the traitor within.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 50)

 

Stop blaming other people, circumstances, or Satan for your temptations and sins, he is saying.  Above all, do not blame God.  Take full blame on yourselves, where it belongs.   Realize that your enemy–your fallenness, your lusts, your weaknesses, your rationalizations, and your sins–are within and have to be dealt with from within.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 54)

 

In the Greek language, there are two different words used for our one word by.  James’ choice, in verse 13, strengthens his message that we are not “tempted by God.”  He could have used the preposition hupo, which would have indicated that God is not directly responsible for temptation.  Instead, James uses apo, which shows that God is not even indirectly involved in tempting us to sin.  (Charles R. Swindoll, James: Practical and Authentic Living, 35)

 

Solomon tells us that the eyes of man are never satisfied (Pv 27:20).  One more lustful look or one more piece of pie never satisfies.  In fact, quite the opposite takes place.  Every time we say yes to temptation, we make it harder to say no the next time.  (Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, 95)

 

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (I.ii.134) offers a possible parallel:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars

                        But in ourselves, that we are underllings.  (James B. Adamson, The Epistle of James, 69)

 

And yet, temptations can be useful to us even though they seem to cause us nothing but pain.  They are useful because they can make us humble, they can cleanse us, and they can teach us.  All of the saints passed through times of temptation and tribulation, and they used them to make progress in the spiritual life.  Those who did not deal with temptation successfully fell to the wayside. — Thomas á Kempis

 

What is temptation?  It is always, in one way or another, the deception that something is more to be desired than God and his ways.  Therefore, the prayer for deliverance is that we would not fall for that deception but always taste and know that God and his ways are to be desired above all others.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, p. 147)

 

If we would turn every doubt into greater faith, the Devil would soon stop allowing things that cause us to doubt to come into our view.  If we would turn every temptation into greater obedience and devotion to Christ, the Devil would soon stop allowing us to be tempted in any way at all. — Keith Porter contemplating Romans 4:18-25

 

When Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden, Satan used as the source of his temptation that he could make Adam and Eve “like God” . . . the very thing that God designed and created them to be and the very thing that God desires to restore in us (Rom 8:29-30; 1 Pt 1:1-4) — Jean Porter 8-7-12

 

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty of something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.  (Wayne W. Dyer; Your Erroneous Zones)

 

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.  – Ben Franklin

 

The tendency to excuse ourselves and quickly judge others is proof that pride has gripped our hearts.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 136)

 

One of the terrible things sin did when it came into the world was to introduce complications.  Life in the Garden of Eden, in Paradise, was very simple until sin came in; but the moment sin entered complications arose.  The first sin had to be covered, and they went and hid themselves.  Then they began to lie, and so the process has continued ever since.  Do not blame the Truth, do not blame God, do not blame the Law, do not blame the Apostle Paul; it is this foul sin that is in us that has produced these complications in man.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 7:1-8:4, 207)

 

When Temptation Crosses the Line: What is the difference between a temptation in our thought life and an actual sin?  The best example is sex.  Since all men are physically attracted to women, when does mental attraction become sin?  Is there some definable threshold over which we cross from mere temptation to actual sin?  Can we mark a line over which we are not to cross?

When our normal observations become abnormal preoccupations, then we have crossed the line.  Dr. R. C. Sproul, in his book Pleasing God, noted these thoughts:

Lust is not noticing that a woman is sexually attractive.  Lust is born when we turn a simple awareness into a preoccupied fantasy.  When we invite sexual thoughts into our minds and nurture them, we have passed from simple awareness into lust.  Luther put it this way: “We cannot help it if birds fly over our heads.  It is another thing if we invite them to build nests in our hair.” (Patrick Morley; The Man in the Mirror, 323-24)

 

My temptations have been my masters in divinity. (Martin Luther as quoted by Rick Warren; The Purpose Driven Life, 201)

 

Halt = don’t allow yourself to be tempted because you are:

Hungry

Angry

Lonley

Tired

 

To mortify our indwelling sin is constantly to weaken it.  We can do this in three ways: starve it out, cut it out or crowd it out.  The world today offers plenty to feed a person’s sinful nature, such as periodicals, books, movies, television programs and even conversations.  We have to remember that indwelling sin is nourished in the mind with its thoughts and imagination.  It is there that our jealousies, resentments, lust and selfishness are fostered.  We can begin mortifying sin in us by depriving the mind—starving it out—of the foods that feed its cancer.  If there are pleasures, relationships or environments which add to our temptations, we shall wherever possible avoid them.” (Kenneth Prior; The Way of Holiness, 158-59).

 

Recent anniversary celebrations of the World War II liberation of Europe have again put before our eyes the victims and the heroes of the Holocaust.  I was shaken to read a postwar account of Oskar Schindler, this daring German hustler and hero who daily risked his life employing his wealth and wiles to save the lives of twelve hundred Polish Jews.  After the war this noble heart abandoned his wife, became a womanizer and a drunkard, and fell into destitution and dependence on others.  For some schnapps he even pawned the commemorative gold ring that had been fashioned for him from the false teeth of those he had rescued.  How could one so noble fall so far?  Because there is no temptation out there in the world that does not find common chords of resonance in every human heart. (Bryan Chapell; Holiness by Grace by, 95)

 

Resisting Temptation

Be in the Word–Psalms 119:9, 11

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Be in Prayer–Luke 22:40

“…pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

Be Transparent–James 5:16

“Confess your sins to each other.”

Be Steadfast–Psalms 51:10

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Be Firm–1 Corinthians 16:13

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith.”

Be Sure to Resist the Enemy–James 4:7

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Be Swift to Run–1 Corinthians 10:12-13

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Be Accountable–Galatians 6:1

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

Be Dressed for Battle–Ephesians 6:10-18

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…”

Be Cautious about Friends–1 Corinthians 15:33

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”

 

Self-reliance is not the way of holiness, but the negation of it.  Self-confidence in face of temptation and conflicting pressures is a sure guarantee that some sort of moral failure will follow. (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 92)

 

The Christian Way — The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.   A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food.   A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water.   Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.  If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.  I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 120)

 

III.  Faith’s hope is not deceived but encouraged and confirmed when believers see that every good gift is from the God of Light who does not change. (Jas 1:17; Gen 1:3; Ps 18:30; 19:7; 115:3; 119:105; Dan 2:20-22; Mal 3:6; Mt 7:7-11; 1 Cor 2:9Eph 1:11; 3:14-21; 5:8; Heb 13:8; 1 Pt 2:9; 1 Jn 1:5, 15; 2:16-17)

 

Shifting shadows are caused by our movement . . . not the sun’s.

 

Satan appealed to Adam and Eve by suggesting that there was something better for them than what God had allowed them to enjoy.

 

This changeableness of creation was frequently used to highlight, by contrast, the unchanging nature of God the Creator (cf. Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, 2.33: ‘Every created thing must necessarily undergo change, for this is its property, even as unchangeableness is the property of God’).  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 76)

 

We need loving hearts if we are to walk on into life.  We can, of ourselves, only offer defiling hearts; but every need is fully underwritten by the endless and exactly appropriate gifts of God.  Furthermore, in this giving, he is changeless.  There is no way in which we might come to him in our need and find that he is unwilling, unable or unavailable.  (J. A. Motyer, The Message of James, 56)

 

God’s character is always trustworthy and reliable (Mal 3:6).  Nothing can block God’s goodness from reaching us.  What does not change about God is his giving nature.  It is constant and consistent.  He is undaunted by our inconsistencies and unfaithfulness.  We may be like shifting shadows, but God remains the Father of lights.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 29)

 

The closer you examine anything made by man, the more imperfect you see it to be.  By contrast, the closer you examine God’s handiwork, the more do you see it to be perfect.  Take a needle, for instance, one made by the most modern manufacturing process.  To the naked eye, it is perfection itself, its smooth surface tapering to an exquisite point.  Now put that same needle under a microscope.  Immediately you can see that its surface is pitted and scarred and its point no better than a jagged stump. . . .Nothing good comes except from God and nothing except good comes from God.  (John Blanchard, Truth for Life, 55 & 57)

 

The basic point is clear enough: God has nothing to do with evil.  The sentiment here is crisply stated by Sentences of Sextus, 30.  God is “the wise light that has no room for its opposite.”  (Luke Johnson, The Anchor Yale Bible: James, 193)

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).  He is the rock upon which we should build our lives (Mt 7:24-25).  God is the One to be trusted; what He promises, He will do (1 Thes 5:24).  These and other promises concerning the steadfastness and faithfulness of God permeate both the OT and the NT.  As James says, He is not like the shifting shadows.  You can depend upon Him.  (Paul A. Cedar, The Communicator’s Commentary: James, 41)

 

The association of God with heavenly lights is an image of his exalted glory and power.  The dissociation of God from shifting shadows is a declaration of his immutability.  Both images are designed to give us assurance that we may rely upon him confidently.  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 57)

 

The warning in this passage is against being deceived into thinking that God is the author of temptation.  In fact, the Greek construction used here ( with the present tense imperative) often implies that the addressees have been engaging in the practice being prohibited.  In that case James would be saying, “Stop being deceived.”  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 172)

 

Instead of sending temptation, God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift.”  The concept of goodness rules out the possibility that God would send an influence as destructive as temptation.  God’s gifts are marked by kindness and helpfulness, not destructiveness.  They are “perfect,” which in this context excludes any possibility of moral evil, such as tempting his people to commit sin.  The point of James’ statement is that nothing but good comes from God.  The second half of the verse shows that this is invariably true.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 172-73)

 

Unlike the “shifting shadows” that are caused by the sun, moon, and stars, God “does not change.”  With him there is no variation at all (ouk eni parallagē).  The shadows cast by the sun are minimal at noon, but just before sunset they stretch out for yards across the landscape.  God is not like that.  He does not change.  He is always the giver of good gifts, never a sadistic being who would entice his creatures to destroy themselves in sin.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 173)

 

God has never tempted us to sin because he cannot!  It is a moral impossibility.  This is extremely important because the human inclination from the Garden of Eden to this day is to consciously, or at least subconsciously, blame God and thus try to palliate our own feelings of guilt.  (Kent Hughes, James, Faith That Works, 46)

 

Cannot be tempted translates the adjective apeirastos, which is used only here in the NT and carries the idea of being untemptable, without the capacity for temptation.  It is the same as being invincible to assaults of evil.  In other words, the nature of evil makes it inherently foreign to God.  The two are mutually exclusive in the most complete and profound sense.  God and evil exist in two distinct realms that never meet.  He has no vulnerability to evil and is utterly impregnable to its onslaughts.  He is aware of evil but untouched by it, like a sunbeam shining on a dump is untouched by the trash.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 47)

 

Every Christian has been brought to Christ through the “word of truth”–God’s Word.  And we are to continue to rely on His Word for deliverance in our daily struggle against temptation.  In Ps 119:9, David counsels, “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Thy word.”  And in verse 11 he says, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.”  (Charles R. Swindoll, James: Practical and Authentic Living, 37)

 

“God is incapable of tempting others to evil, because He is Himself absolutely insusceptible to evil.”  Tempting others to evil would require a delight in evil, of which he is himself incapable.  (James B. Adamson, The Epistle of James, 70)

 

God is love.  God is love in the NT and God is Love in the OT because God never changes.  That means EVERYTHING that God does, is ultimately to be understood as an act of love.

If we look at God’s treatment of Egypt and Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, and we do not see God’s love in those acts, we do not understand God’s motivation.

If we look at the conquest of Joshua and the eradication of the Canaanite people and do not see it ultimately as an act of love, it means we do not understand God’s motivation.

If we look at the cross of Christ, and the suffering, anguish, and punishment that He underwent, and do not see it as an act of love, it means we do not understand God’s motivation.

If we cannot understand an act God does and see it as love, then we are either ignorant of the circumstances and God’s motivation or we do not understand what love is.

 

The God who never changes, changes us.

 

IV.  Faith’s hope allows believers to persevere by remembering they are born again by the Word of Truth to be a firstfruit of all God created.  (Jas 1:18; Jer 2:3; 24:7; 31:31-34; Ezek 36:25-26; Jn 1:12-13; 3:1-8; Rom 6:4; 8:18-23; 10:14, 17; 11:16; 12:1-2; 1 Cor 15:20; 16:15; 2 Cor 5:17, 21; 6:7; Eph 1:4-5, 13; 2:4-5; 5:25-26; Col 1:5; 1 Thes 2:13; 2 Tm 2:15; Ti 3:5; 1 Pt 1:3, 23-25; 1 Jn 3:9; Rv 14:4)

 

Like Midas in reverse, Adam’s touch on us all has turned the luster of God’s image into tarnish (Rom. 5:12).  Each of us, to use C. S. Lewis’ words, is born “a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve,” not a child of God.  Sin’s poison passes from generation to generation through the bloodstream of humanity.  As a result, each child’s spirit is brought into the world stillborn.  The only remedy is to be “born again” (John 3:3). (Charles R. Swindoll; You and Your Child, 4)

 

Just as human birth requires two parents, so divine birth has two parents: the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (Jn 3:6).  “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pt 1:23).  The Spirit of God uses the word of God to bring about the miracle of the new birth.  Since the word of God is “living and powerful” (Heb 4:12) it can generate life in the heart of the sinner who trusts Christ; and that life is God’s life.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, 44)

 

James appeals to the spiritual ‘new birth’ of Christians as a particularly striking illustration of the good things God gives.  This new birth is motivated by the sovereign determination of God, whose will, unlike the creation he made, is unvarying.  The instrument through which God accomplishes this spiritual birth is the gospel, the word of truth.  And the purpose of this birth is that Christians should stand as the ‘first installment’ (first fruits) in the universal redemptive plan of God–‘good gifts’ that he has yet to give.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 77)

 

In the ancient world it was the law that all first-fruits were sacred to God.  They were offered in grateful sacrifice to God because they belonged to him.  So, when we are reborn by the true word of the gospel, we become the property of God, even as the first-fruits of the harvest did.

James insists that, so far from ever tempting man, God’s gifts are invariably good.  In all the chances and changes of a changing world they never vary.  And God’s supreme object is to re-create life through the truth of the gospel, so that men should know that they belong by right to him.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: James and Peter, 54)

 

The believer is a new creature in Christ.  He has been recreated into the image of Him who created him (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10).  Paul writes, “As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor 15:49).  Far from God enticing us to evil, He provides good things.  He has brought salvation and made us firstfruits of His creatures.  (Vernon Doerksen, Everyman’s Bible Commentary:  James, 38)

 

Believers are firstfruits because we are a new creation in Christ; we are no longer sinners separated from God, but God’s own children (Rom 8:19-23; 1 Cor 15:20-23; 2 Thes 2:13).  The rest of all he created must wait for God’s plan to unfold, but those who have been given spiritual birth have been welcomed by the first firstfruit, Christ (1 Cor 15:20), into the kingdom of God and are part of the new creation that he has established.  As Paul expresses it, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8;22-23).  Though we have been given spiritual birth we live in a world that has not yet been transformed.  Living as firstfruits (examples) of God’s goodness and role models of what he can do in a life) in a fallen world ought to be our overriding desire.  The letter of James could be subtitled, “How to live as a firstfruit!”  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 29-30)

 

The longer I continue in full-time Christian service, the more I see of evangelism and of that which goes under the name of evangelism, the more convinced I become of that power that resides only and exclusively in the naked Word of God, and to all of those involved in the ministry of the gospel, and especially those working among people with little or no religious background, I would issue this impassioned cry: ‘Never put yourself into the position where you have to evacuate the message in order to accommodate the method!’  Unless the Word of God is there, unless your work has about it the authoritative ring of scriptural truth, unmixed with the glamor, glitter and gimmickry of so many modern methods, you have no warrant for claiming for your efforts the promise that ‘Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ’ (Rom 10:17).  It is the Word of God alone that is the instrument of the new birth.  (John Blanchard, Truth for Life, 68)

 

The firstfruits constituted something very special, a part of the crop set apart for God in a particular way, and Christians, too, can humbly claim that God has set them apart in a special way from all the rest of humanity.  (John Blanchard, Truth for Life, 68-69)

 

Reminding his covenant people of blessings they had once known, God said, ‘Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest’ (Jer 2:3).  Notice the lovely link there–Israel was a holy harvest!  The confluence of those two concepts is a striking reminder to us that, as chosen children of God, as his firstfruits, our lives should be marked by a holiness that immediately distinguishes us from the rest of mankind.  What is more, that distinctive holiness should flow as a practical demonstration of our gratitude, the two of them blending together in a living anthem of worship.  God is never more properly thanked for his goodness than by our godliness.  (John Blanchard, Truth for Life, 69)

 

In the LXX, it translates a number of Hebrew terms for the offering to God of the first products of field or flock (Ex 22:28; 25:2-3; Lv 2:12; Nm 15:20-21; Dt 18:4).  In Ex 23:19, it is defined as the “first products of the earth.”  It can also be used metaphorically for first results, or pledge (Euripides, Ion 402; Dio, Or. 71:2; Plato, Protagoras 343B), that is, the part that represents the whole.  In the LXX, the term never takes on a metaphorical sense.  In the NT, however, the term is used metonymically: for the pledge of the Spirit (Rom 8:23); for the first to rise from the dead (1 Cor 15:20, 23); for the founding of Christian communities (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:15; possibly 2 Thes 2:13), the elect community in heaven (Rv 14:4), and, most strikingly, the remnant of Israel (Rom 11:16).  (Luke Johnson, The Anchor Yale Bible: James198)

 

These Jewish Christians were the first sheaves of a harvest which has been continuing for 2,000 years.  They were the original, privileged sample of what was to come, a pledge of the full harvest.  God’s unmitigated goodness will ultimately be worked out when all creation will be transformed (Rom 8:18-22).  (Kent Hughes, James, Faith That Works, 57)

 

The new birth results from God’s sovereignly coming down to a sinner and by His grace cleansing him, planting His Spirit within him, and giving him a completely new spiritual nature.  He then has “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph 4:24).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 61)

 

In regeneration, God gives birth to a new spiritual life.  Regeneration is a miracle of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  This is the new birth, being born again (cf. Jn 3:3-8; Eph 2:5-6; 1 Pt 1:23; cf. Ezek 36:25-27).

In Christ believers actually “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pt 1:4).  The new birth is unseen by any human eye but is able to be experienced by any human heart that turns to God through faith in Christ.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 62)

 

In is broadest sense, therefore, the word of truth is the whole of God’s Word, and in its more restricted sense is the gospel, as Paul also clearly states in Ephesians: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 62)

 

The first fruits were the first and best of the crops that were harvested and were usually an indicator of what the rest of the crop would be like.  A farmer would be inclined to take that early harvest and store it away in case the rest was lost to drought, locusts, or other calamities.  But the Lord required that it was to be that first and best which was offered to Him.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 63)

 

Believers are the first installment on God’s new creation that is to come (cf. 2 Pt 3:10-13).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 64)

 

Christian men and women today, and even more eminently at that time when this letter was written, are meant to be the first small example of a great harvest that is to follow.  The design that God had in view in our being Christianised is that we should stand here as specimens of what He means the world to be, and as witnesses of what He, by the gospel, is able to make men.  (Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: 2 Tm – Jas, 381)

 

All Christian men and women are Christians in order that they may make more Christians.  (Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: 2 Tm – Jas, 384)

 

The reason for this Bible centeredness is obvious: faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).  It is by the word that we are born again (1 Pet 1:23-25).  We grow by the “pure milk of the word” (2:2).  We are sanctified by the truth of God’s word (Jn 17:17).  God’s word is profitable and equips us for every good work (2 Tm 3:16-17).  God’s word is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).  It is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17).  It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16; cf. 1 Cor 2:4; 1 Thes 1:5).  It performs its work in us (2:13).  It is “like fire…and like a hammer which shatters a rock” (Jer 23:29).  It does not return void, God says, “without accomplishing what I desire, / and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 275)

 

If you are born once, you will die twice.  But, if you are born again, you will die only once.   —Bill Cryderman

 

Hope is one of the Theological virtues.  This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.  It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.  If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.  The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.  Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.  It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters.  Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you.  You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more–food, games, work, fun, open air.  In the same way, we shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object.  We must learn to want something else even more.  (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 118-19)

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this message have to do with Christ and me?:

A-  Our faith is assured and confirmed in direct proportion to our ability to persevere, our looking to the crown of life that awaits the faithful, our unwillingness to blame God or anyone else for our sins, our ability to see God as the source of every good and perfect gift and our hope and desire to one day become like Jesus. (Rom 5:1-5; 8:28-30; 1 Jn 3:1-2)

 

Don’t pray that God will give you an easier life.  Pray that God will make you a stronger person.

 

The Jewish Christians who first read James needed to hear this teaching, and so do we.  Many are strong in knowledge of the faith, but weak in the life of faith.  James brings a corrective.  The trials of life test our faith, pushing us to act, not just to think.  If we withstand the tests of life, we see that our faith in Christ is genuine.  Then, when God has confirmed our faith, he will grant us the crown of life eternal.  Then we who love him and grow in maturity toward him will dwell with him forever.  (Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary: James, 29)

 

B-  In Christ we have a hope that will never disappoint and allows us to persevere through any trial because we are a new creation.  (2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:1-4; Heb 12:1-2)                              

 

Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.  -C. S. Lewis  (R.C. Sproul, The Glory of Christ, 76)

 

Obviously, we can avoid many temptations simply by avoiding places and situations where we know they are most likely to occur.  We don’t read magazines or books, watch movies or TV programs, associate with friends, or go places where we know our emotions will be aroused to any sort of enticement to sin.  Instead, we make sure that we are exposed to things that feed our emotions in godly ways.  We not only gain positively and directly from the spiritual benefit of those things, but the godly joy we receive from them makes the ungodly things less attractive and even repulsive.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 53)

 

We must also be on guard at the level of our minds.  We train our minds to keep watch over our emotional desires.  Instead of rationalizing temptations, we prepare in advance to oppose them with God’s Word, just as Jesus did in the wilderness.  Paul therefore admonishes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).  Especially helpful in this regard is the apostle’s advice to the church at Philippi: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Phil 4:8; cf. Col 3:2).  It is not incidental that the first and greatest commandment includes loving God not only with our hearts and souls but also with our minds (Mt 22:37).  The writer of Psalm 119 memorized the truth of Scripture to strengthen his mind against temptation (vv 9-11).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 53)

 

GOD’S WAY OUT OF TEMPTATION

God gives us these resources during temptation:

 

• His presence.  “He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Dt 31:6; see also Heb 13:5).

• His model–Jesus.  “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2:17-18).

• His guidance.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105).

• His mission for our life that keeps us directed.  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb 12:1).

• His other people with whom we share encouragement.  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:24-25).

• His forgiveness when we fall and fail.  “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 23-24)

 

Because fallen man’s problem is internal, the solution to his problem must be internal.  There is no external ritual, ceremony, rite, profession, or action that can change his basic evil nature.  He cannot become righteous by trying to act righteously or talk righteously.  He needs an entirely new heart, a new nature, a new being.  He needs to be re-created, changed from his old nature of sin and death to a new nature of holiness and life, for without holiness, or sanctification, “no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 58)

 

After Augustine was converted, a woman he formerly lived with called to him as he walked down the street, but he did not answer.  She persisted and finally ran up to him and said, “Augustine, it is I.”  To which he replied, “I know, but it is no longer I.”  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 61)

 

Worship point:  God is good.  All the time.  All the Time.  God is good.  Never forget that and you will never struggle to worship.

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Keep your eyes on the prize and God will give you everything you need to persevere.   Never forget that your temptations and struggles to be who God designed and created you to be come from your own evil nature and desires.  Never give up.  To do so means you have begun trusting something other than God for your salvation.

 

We need to recognize, honestly and humbly, the enemy within our own hearts, an enemy that can and will conceive and give birth to evil thoughts, evil words, and evil deeds.  We will humbly accept James’ warning and daily repent of our sins, so that an unrepentant attitude won’t cause our spiritual death.  We need to submit to God’s law, which convicts and condemns our sinful hearts and crushes our sinful pride.  We need to cling to Christ’s gospel, which alone can give us worth and hope before God.  For it is only God’s verdict of not guilty that will spare us from the divine wrath that will fall upon Satan and all evil on the Last Day.  (Mark Jeske, The People’s Bible: James, Peter, John, Jude, 17)

 

If you are hoping and trusting in the Lord, and suddenly your health, wealth or future are taken from you and your hope is gone, then you need to confess that it was not the Lord you were hoping in.  It was what you have just lost.  Hope in the Lord NEVER disappoints (Rom 5:3-5).

 

 

 

Endurance:  How far you will go before you quit.   (Pastor at the Lahina Baptist Church; Lahina Hawaii,  8/20/06)

 

“When I am perfectly satisfied, then what can tempt me?   When I am perfectly loved, then what else do I desire?   When I am eternally secure, then what can threaten me?”  (Bryan Chapell; Holiness by Grace by, 109)

 

 

 

 

 

Bulletin Picture here

Sow a thought, reap an act.  Sow an act, reap a habit.  Sow a habit, reap your character.  Sow your character, reap your destiny.

— Charles R. Swindoll

 

 

 

 

 

 

James:

Faith Confirmed

 

 

 

                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

Hillsdale Free Methodist Church

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

 

Christ:

our hope of Glory

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