Summary: James teaches the importance of endurance, love, resting temptations and responding obediently to God's word if we are going to receive the crown of life.
1. Open your bibles to James 1:12-27.
2. Studying the book of James will help Christians with an age old problem. The problem that we are talking about is the fact that not everybody who grows old, grows up spiritually. There is a vast difference between physical age and spiritual maturity.
3. Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs today, in homes and in the church.
4. God is looking for spiritually mature men and women to build homes and congregations that will carry on His work. A great majority of the time all He can find is the young people of those homes and congregations.
5. Someone made a statement, something similar to the following, “too many congregations are play pens for the youth instead of workshops for adults.”
6. Let’s begin to read and study some things that will help us to mature and be strong and faithful Christians.
I. FIRST, JAMES 1:12 TEACHES THE IMPORTANCE OF ENDURANCE IN THE TIME OF DIFFICULTIES AND THE IMPORTANCE OF PROVING OUR LOVE TO GOD.
1. Let’s read verse 12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
2. “Enduring temptations” refers to remaining faithful as we deal with persecutions and difficulties in our daily life. The Christian life will never be a bed of roses and free from all trouble.
3. Those who endure and hold out to the end of life are promised three blessings in this one verse.
(1) “Blessed” refers to the enduring Christian to be assured that he or she will experience the joy, rejoicing and happiness that has been referred to in the first eleven verses.
(2) The “being approved” comes from a Greek word that refers to the enduring Christian becoming like metal which has passed through the fiery furnace, and has been cleansed of all impurity, he now possesses a character wholly free from all contamination, and is therefore pure”
(3) Such a character is ready to receive the third blessing: “he or she will receive the crown of life.” (v. 12d).
The crown is the victor's crown. The “crown of life” means the glory and blessings of heaven. God’s people will not wear literal crowns in heaven. “Crown of life” is figuratively referring to eternal life to enjoy in heaven. This is what the Lord Jesus promised (Revelation 2:10). “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life.”
That doesn’t mean that we are merely to be faithful until we die (although that definitely is taught in other passages). Rather, it means that we are to be faithful even during the receiving of death. Faithful during whatever experience would bring death to us.
Paul, in 2 Tim. 4:7&8 said, at the end of his life, 7“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
We might summarize this by saying, “faithful endurance leads to eternal life.”
4. Before moving away from verse 12 it is important to stress that James emphasizes that the “crown of live” comes to Christians not only because they endure, but also because they the show genuine love. James says it is “promised to those who love the Lord”.
(1) In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
(2) James is telling Christians that they will receive the “crown of life” – that is heaven, if they will endure through the trials of life and do it in a way that they show their love for God and Christ.
II. SECOND, JAMES 1:13-18 TEACHE THAT CHRISTIANS ARE NEVER TEMPTED BY GOD, BUT RATHER EACH ONE IS TEMPTED WHEN THEY DO NOT EXERCISE PROPER SELF CONTROL.
1. Let’s read vs. 13-15 and make a few comments as we read. “13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Let’s make a comment before reading verse 15.
(1) As Satan dangles alcohol or drugs or sexual immorality or stealing or “what ever sin” in front of us and our desires are so strong for that which is sinful that we are “enticed” to do the sin we are the one to blame. Desire plus the opportunity = temptation.
(2) We can’t blame God! We can’t blame the devil! We can’t blame some other person! Each individual always has the ability to say: “No”!