Study of James: Wisdom and Practical Christian Living
JAMES 1: 9-14
The Book of James is probably the oldest book of the New Testament, written perhaps as early as A.D. 45, before the first council of Jerusalem in A.D. 50. James was martyred in approximately A.D. 62, according to the historian Josephus.
James is a great complement to Paul’s teaching on faith…
• By grace alone (solo grati)
• By Faith alone (solo fidei)
Although James does not teach us how to come nearer the lord through salvation, he does tell us how a just man orders his daily existence. James, throughout his life, was known as James the Just, because of the correctness of his actions, the uprightness of his demeanor and the strength of his character.
By following his words, we can live the same way.
MAJOR THEME: THE BALANCE BETWEEN FAITH AND WORKS
Some think that this epistle was written in response to an overzealous interpretation of Paul’s teaching regarding faith. This extreme view, called antinomianism, held that through faith in Christ one is completely free from all Old Testament law, all legalism, all secular law, and all the morality of a society. The Book of James is directed to Jewish Christians scattered among all the nations (James 1:1).
In the book of James we see the reality of the Christian walk and how to walk it…
• The adages…
o Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk
The Book of James is the ultimate description of the relationship between faith and works. So ingrained in the Mosaic Law and its system of works were the Jewish Christians to whom James wrote that he spent considerable time explaining the difficult truth that no one is justified by the works of the law (Galatians 2:16). He declares to them that even if they try their very best to keep all the various laws and rituals, doing so is impossible, and transgressing the tiniest part of the law made them guilty of all of it
As Martin Luther himself said, "You are saved by faith alone, but if faith is alone, it is not faith."
Some of the more famous passages:
(James 2:10) because the law is one entity and breaking one part of it is breaking all of it.
James 1:19: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
James 2:17-18: "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
James 3:5: "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
James 5:16b: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
LAST TIME WE APPROACHED JAMES WE DISCUSSED…
• MATURITY IN THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
• BALANCE BETWEEN FAITH AND WORKS
• PERSERVERE, ENDURE THE TEST OF LIFE… AND RELY ON THE PROMISES OF GOD
Lesson: God is consistent and good… we struggle with selfish sin, but endure through the test!
James 1: 13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
As we focus on verses 13-18 I want to tell you about a town from Oklahoma called Picher.
In 2009 Picher closed it’s doors… the entire city closed, evacuated, and shut down. Once it was a town of 20,000 people… in the first quarter of 1900’s it was a boomtown and had abundant lead and zinc.
The Picher area became the most productive lead-zinc mining field in the Tri-State district producing over $20 billion worth of ore between 1917 and 1947. More than fifty percent of the lead and zinc metal used during World War I were produced by the Picher district. At its peak over 14,000 miners worked the mines and another 4,000 worked in mining services.
Many of these workers commuted by an extensive trolley system from as far away as Joplin and Carthage, Missouri. Mining ceased in 1967 and water pumping from the mines ceased..
The town faded as ore began to run out… but the biggest problem was while the ore and zinc made them wealthy… the pollution was destroying the town. Over time not enough or even nothing was being done to deal with the pollutants. And it became a toxic wasteland.
The contaminated water from some 14,000 abandoned mine shafts, 70 million tons of mine tailings, and 36 million tons of mill sand and sludge remained as a huge environmental cleanup problem. The area became part of the Tar Creek Superfund site
What happened to this entire city becomes the backdrop for our discussion from James regarding sin.
James 1: 13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
o Remember that God is good, and doesn’t tempt us.
o Temptation comes from us…
o Our own selfish desire drags us away…
o And birth’s sin… so temptation is not the sin, it is the action we take on it our minds, which eventually leads to with our bodies…
o Eventually leads to death…
With God we should know what to expect… He is good, and cannot be tempted by evil… we know who He is and that he cannot go against His character.
Sometimes we don’t know what to expect from people like the farmer who was in the accident…
Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court, the trucking company’s fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. "Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, ’I’m fine’?," questioned the lawyer.
Farmer Joe responded, "Well I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the..."
"I didn’t ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, ’I’m fine’!"
Farmer Joe said, "Well I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..."
The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."
By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe’s answer and said to the lawyer, "I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie."
Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, "Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?"
It was then that I said, "I’m fine."
We can trust God… He is good. We can’t trust ourselves when sin gets in the picture…
14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Enticed – like our city Picher, Oklahoma… ore, zinc… enticed by riches but slowly destroyed by pollution over time… a little bit at a time, not dealt with, destroys a city of 20,000.
15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Reminded me of a scene from Narnia: Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe… regarding Edmund and Turkish Delights:
Tasty Tidbit #1 – Sin is most appealing when we are weak.
Tasty Tidbit #2 – Sin clouds how evil evil really is.
Tasty Tidbit #3 – Sin appears as what you want.
Tasty Tidbit #4 – Sin clouds your judgement.
Tasty Tidbit #5 – Sin’s pleasure doesn’t last long.
Tasty Tidbit #6 – Sin will eventually kill.
Tasty Tidbit #7 – Sin promises better days ahead.
Tasty Tidbit #8 – Sin lies about your importance.
Tasty Tidbit #9 – Sin leads to the betrayal of others.
Tasty Tidbit #10 – Sin spoils good things
16 Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
Everything good from God… everything is grace.
• Who does not change like shifting shadow…
o Sin promises one thing, and shifts in the shadows giving another… sin full grown is death.
We are a gift of God into the Earth… meant for good… for good works… and to the light of His gospel… He gives birth to us through the word of truth… and it leads to life… so that we might be the first fruits of all he created…
Roland Allen tells about a veteran missionary who came up to him one day after he had delivered his sermon. The missionary introduced himself and said, "I was a medical missionary for many years in India. And I served in a region where there was progressive blindness. People were born with healthy vision, but there was something in that area that caused people to lose their sight as they matured."
But this missionary had developed a process which would arrest progressive blindness. So people came to him, and he performed his operation. They would leave realizing that they had been spared a life of blindness because of this missionary.
He said that they never said, "Thank you," because that phrase was not in their dialect. Instead, they spoke a word that meant, "I will tell your name." Wherever they went, they would tell the name of the missionary who had cured their blindness. They had received something so wonderful that they eagerly proclaimed it.
This Sunday we will be taking communion…
But every day we remember and look to our heavenly Father… and declare that we will tell of His name… we will persevere through sin… and do good works for His name.