Summary: We have looked at how we are all affected by the trials and temptations of life. Now we look at preparing ourselves to be able to withstand those tribulations.
For the past few Sundays we have admitted that we all have trials and tribulations and temptations in our lives. We have seen how the trials strengthen us and make us more like Jesus. But James doesn’t just give explanations and facts about all these mishaps in our lives, he ends chapter one with an explanation of how we are to prepare to be able to withstand all these unwelcomed events in our lives.
Last time, we talked specifically about the temptations that lead us astray. Without a shadow of doubt, there are several preparations that have to be made in order to overcome temptation. Without these preparations, temptation can never be conquered. So let’s see what advice James gives us.
READ James 1:19-21. So James starts out by telling us to be quick to hear the Word of God. The moral to these 3 verses is seen in verse 21: receiving the Word so that a person’s soul will be saved. The greatest temptation in the world is for a person to walk through life doing what he wants and pleases, and rejecting God.
James says in verse 15 that the result is death. If a person is to be saved, if he is to be delivered from the great temptation that will doom his soul, he must prepare himself. He must be quick to hear the Word of God. He must make sure that he hears the Word of God. How can person make sure that he hears the Word of God?
This passage says that a person has to do five things.
First, he must be slow to speak. This means that a person must be willing to listen instead of speaking his own ideas about right and wrong and about how a person is saved. He must sit and listen instead of hanging on to his own ideas; he must be willing to listen to God’s Word instead of insisting upon what he thinks.
Secondly, he must be slow to wrath or anger. This means at least two things”
1. A person must not react against what God says about temptation and sin nor about what God says about salvation. If a person reacts against God’s plan of salvation and follows his own plan, he is dooming himself. No person can ever be saved or conquer temptation if he reacts in anger against God’s Word.
2. A person must not become angry and act against others in wrath. Anger and wrath disturb and distract. An angry person cannot focus his thoughts and spirit upon God’s Word, not enough to fear what the Word is saying.
The third thing we must do to be sure to hear the Word of God is to put aside all filthiness. The picture is that of taking off a dirty garment and putting it aside, away from yourself. If a person enjoys the dirt and filth, then their mind is going to be on it. Their mind won’t be clear, at least not enough to hear the Word of God.
It’s interesting when you study the Greek word used for filth. It’s taken from the Greek word rupos which sometimes refers to wax in the ear. The picture is descriptive: a person with wax in the ear can’t hear the Word of God clearly. So he must take the wax out of his ear and put it away or else he will be deaf to the Word of God.
Fourthly, a person must put aside all that remains of evil. Even after putting aside all moral filthiness, there will still be some evil that will show up within us. So, we must be alert to these and put them off and lay them aside as well.
And the fifth way to make sure you hear the Word of God is that we must receive the Word of God with humility. We must be as a child before God. That is, sit before Him humbly just as child does his father. The idea is that we must be humble, gentle, quiet, and attentive in listening to the Word of God.
And when we sit before God like this, we discover a most wonderful thing. Note the word “planted” (v. 21). It means to implant, to be born within. When a person listens and hears the Word of God, it is planted within his heart and life. What God says is actually born within his heart, and the person hears exactly what God says. So, this is the first preparation that a person must make to withstand temptation: he must be quick to hear the Word of God.
An American Indian left the reservation to visit downtown New York. Walking down a busy street with his friend, he suddenly stopped and said, “I hear a cricket.”