Devoted to Integrity
James 1:12-15, 23-25
With God’s help, we can live lives of integrity: being who we said we would be.
• Over the past two weeks, we have been diving into the subject of devotion in our series Devoted, Faithful Obedience in the Same Direction.
• One of the issues we all need to grasp being a Christian is the concept of being devoted or faithful to Jesus no matter what the circumstances we face.
• While we sit together today in church, I would think that being devoted to Jesus right here and now is not too difficult.
• In this room, we usually do not have fear persecution for how we feel about Jesus.
• We can verbalize our beliefs about Jesus as well as the issues we face in society without fear.
• The pressure to abandon with we believe and what we teach can be tempting.
• If we are not careful, we can become one person when we are gathered, but when we are in society, we can become another person.
• The fear of people rejecting us or sometimes doing things even worse can temp us not to stay devoted to Jesus.
• Last two weeks, we have looked at the concept of standing firm and then being devoted to God’s wisdom to help guide our lives.
• Today we will talk about the concept of integrity in our relationship with Jesus.
• According to Dictionary.com, integrity means “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty; the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished” (Dictionary.com, s.v. “integrity,” accessed February 22, 2020, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/integrity?s=t).
• In our fragmented world, it is all too easy to live a fractured life, showing only parts of ourselves to certain people or groups.
• But this is like looking in the mirror and forgetting what we look like.
• Living with integrity requires us to live one life of character, no matter where we are or who we are with.
• In the passage today, we will dig into the issue of integrity.
• Let’s turn to James 1:12 to begin!
James 1:12 (CSB)
12Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
1. I. A great promise.
• The theme of the first part of the book of James is the thought of standing firm when the pressure is on.
• We have talked about the concept of having joy amid the trials of life as well as understanding the effect perseverance when tested can have on us.
• When we stand on the other side of our trials victorious with Jesus, we can possess an even greater joy.
• James returns to the topic of enduring trials (see vv. 2–4).
• The word for trial is the same here as above in verses 2–4 and below in verses 13–14.
• Here in verse 12, it implies persecution and trouble, not temptation, for temptation should be resisted, not just endured. Holloway, G. (1996). James & Jude (Jas 1:12). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub.
• James offers some new things to be joyful about when we persevere through trials!
• First, he says we are blessed!
• The word BLESSED is used frequently in Psalms and Proverbs. The term is also the focus of the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12.
• The word can be translated HAPPY, but the term actually goes much deeper than merely being happy.
• The word BLESSED carries the thought of being spiritually prosperous! It implies a deep, long-lasting joy that comes as a result of staying faithful to God!
• Next, James tells us that when we endure the trials and have stood the test, we will receive the crown of LIFE that God promises to those who love Him!
• The phase STOOD THE TEST describes the person who does not give up when confronted with difficult circumstances but rather remains strong in one’s faith and devotion to God.
• This thought is where integrity comes into play and why we need to be devoted to integrity.
• Remember that integrity is defined as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty; the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.”
• The definition does not give exceptions.
• When I am fiercely devoted to God, even while facing difficult circumstances, I am showing integrity.
• When I gave my life to Jesus, I told Him that I would live my life for Him and with Him.
• That promise does not end when things get tough; that promise does not end when other people do not see me.
• Integrity includes doing the right thing even when no one is watching. It means doing the right thing when it is not easy or when it may cost me something.
• Integrity includes admitting I made a mistake when I make them; it includes confessing my sins to God when they happen.
• I have said this before; I do not build up brownie points that I can cash in when I die.
• It is not like earning enough credit card points to purchase that new IPad.
• I cannot live for Jesus until I feel I have enough points to cash them in for a ticket to heaven!
• Jesus wants me to be faithful until death; then He will GIVE me the crown of life! REVELATION 2:10!
• The crown of life is eternal life with Jesus in heaven!
• At the time when James wrote this passage, the word we translate CROWN could also be translated GARLANDS.
• The crown was made of branches and flowers woven in a circle,
• These crowns were rewards for winning an athletic contest, or they could be ornaments worn on occasions of joy, like a wedding feast.
• This crown is something we will receive in the future.
• We are told it will go to those who love God!
• How do we show God that we love Him? We live for Him; we are faithful to Him.
• We are people of integrity in our faith! This concept is not much different than how we show a person we love them.
• The integrity of our faith will lead to a great blessing when we get to spent eternity with God!
• Big Idea of the Message: With God’s help, we can live lives of integrity: being who we said we would be.
• Let’s look at verses 13-15!
James 1:13-15 (CSB)
13No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone.
14But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire.
15Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
2. II. A negative progression.
• These verses serve to show us a negative progression that will take us off the path of integrity.
• In verse 13, James turns to another type of trial, temptation.
• Although the word in Greek is the same here as in verse 12, the context clearly implies temptation, not just any test.
• James counters the charge that it is God who tempts. Why would anyone make such a charge?
• Perhaps it stems from a misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God; if this is truly God’s world, then evil, as well as good, must come from him.
• When we start to stray off the path, one of the things we usually resort to is blaming others for our failure.
• If I am in a troubled marriage, and I think you are the problem, then I will never face my own demons and issues.
• This concept is as old as creation itself.
• What did Adam do? He pointed the finger at his wife; I am sure that landed Adam on the couch for a few weeks!
• However, in blaming Eve, he told God, the woman YOU put here with me, she gave me some, and I ate of it.
• What did Eve do when God confronted her about her sin of eating what she was not supposed to eat? Genesis 3:12
• She blamed the serpent.
• Adam began a long tradition of blaming God for our failures.
• God does not tempt people to do evil since God is not tempted by evil.
• God tests people, as He did with Abraham in Genesis 22:1, the people of Israel in their testing in the wilderness.
• God tested Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:31.
• God was not tempting them folks to do evil, but rather to show their love for Him by giving them the opportunity to trust Him, which would lead to further blessings for them.
• The real progression of the problem is outlined in verses 14-15.
• This progression was the same one, followed by Adam and Eve in the beginning!
• Verse 14 tells us that each one of us is tempted when we are drawn away and enticed by our own evil desires.
• When you look at what happened to Eve, Satan appealed to something inside of her when she was drawn to eat.
• He knew what chain to pull, and the chain he pulled appealed to something inside of her, then her desire for what she was craving won the battle.
• I have fought this with food. Why is it that a can of hominy, you know that styrofoam bean looking substance some folks eat, and others use for package filler, has NEVER tempted me in the least?
• Yet, a bowl of ice cream has a powerful draw for me?
• No desire of the fake plastic food called hominy, but ICE CREAM, different story!
• Once that desire is conceived, it gives birth to a large waistline, I mean, sin.
• When sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
• The death is spiritual death, this is when we are separated from God, and this is why we need Jesus for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! Romans 3:23.
• When we allow sin to control us, we are enslaved to sin, when this is when our integrity becomes fractured.
• We start to become a different person around different people, hoping and praying folks do not see the real me!
• Let’s look at verses 23-25
James 1:23-25 (CSB)
23Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror.
24For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was.
25But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works?—?this person will be blessed in what he does.
3. III. A positive progression.
• Last week we touched on verse 23 as I stated that one of the goals of being devoted to God’s wisdom is so that we become DOERS of the Word and not merely HEARERS!
• Integrity demands that we become DOERS of the Word, that we are to implement God’s Word into our lives. We are called to build our lives upon God’s Word!
• James uses the image of a mirror.
• James says if we become hearers of the Word and not doers, we are like the person who looks in the mirror, walks away, and then forgets what we are.
• If you look in a mirror, see a smudge on your face or your hair out of place, and do nothing to improve your appearance, then you have forgotten what you should look like or are self-deceived, believing you are attractive as you are with no room for improvement. In the same way, one who hears the Word but does not do it has forgotten the ethical demands of the Word and has deceived himself into thinking he is already perfect. (College Press Commentary).
• Verse 25 offers the positive progression we need to grasp.
• James 1:25 (CSB) — 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.
• James reminds us that God’s desire for us it for us to be those who DO what He has called us to do.
• Another way to phrase James’s message is to let the Bible read you.
• We don’t merely read the words of God; we allow God’s words to examine our lives.
• In this way, we hold ourselves up to the mirror of God’s law and character and do not forget what we look like as we go about our days.
• When we are devoted to integrity, we will strive to carry out God’s Word in every area of our lives,
• The positive progression is that we hear the Word, and we apply and follow the Word. We grow closer to Jesus, and we stay devoted to Him.
• Our devotion to integrity in our relationship with Him shows Him we love Him, and in the end, we receive the crown of LIFE!
Application Point: By keeping our eyes on God, we develop our identity in the Lord and maintain integrity even during temptation.
• If you do not have integrity, you do not have much else in life. We are called to people if integrity, people who show integrity in all areas of life.
• We are not called to be a Bible Thumper who will not live by the Bible. We are called to be the Bible that people read!