Summary: Rejecting the wisdom of the world means little if we fail to embrace the wisdom from above. James provides practical steps that will lead to success in the Christian life.
STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN LIFE
“Do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the Spirit that he has made to dwell in us?’ But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
There is appointed a day when each individual must stand before God. Unbelievers will stand before the great white throne as described in the Apocalypse [REVELATION 20:11-15]. Before God, each lost individual shall receive the judgement he or she has earned as they are formally sentenced to separation from God and from His goodness for all eternity.
In a similar manner, all who are redeemed by the grace of God must stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ to receive the divine assessment of their life [2 CORINTHIANS 5:10]. Standing before Christ the Lord, no one will be asked whether he has amassed wealth, or whether she was popular, or whether she felt good about herself. We each will give an account of our life as we shall stand as open books before the Judge of the entire universe. What will be revealed for us who are Christians is whether we have been successful in our life as Christians.
Writing the Corinthian church, Paul spoke of that time when we shall appear before the Lord Jesus. He wrote, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” [1 CORINTHIANS 3:10-15].
Ultimately, we will be called to give an account of how we have conducted our lives. The divine review appointed for Christians is not to determine whether they are saved or lost; the review is to demonstrate the perfection of Christ’s work in their lives. This is the point that disturbs me. Many people profess to be followers of Christ the Lord; however, their lives show little of His perfecting work. Though I am not judge of any man, I am appointed, as is each Christian, to be discerning about the fruit produced in the life of those confessing Christ. For if the fruit is bitter, it is because the root is bitter.
James has confronted professing Christians with the knowledge that those who position themselves as friends of the world—loving the present life more than the life to come—set themselves in opposition to God. For the child of God, this places them in the position of the loss of rewards that might otherwise be granted. More immediately, it means that the child of God will experience diminished intimacy with the Father because the child has sacrificed access to God’s throne and knowledge of His will.
Those who are unknown to Christ are even now under condemnation. Such people do not merely position themselves as friends of the world—they are fully identified with the world. Therefore, the Bible refers to them as “earth dwellers.” They only delude themselves if they imagine that God will overlook self-centred lives to accept them into His Kingdom.
The focus of the message this day is to examine James’ words to discover the steps necessary for a successful Christian life. I am not primarily focused on outsiders to the Faith at this time. Nevertheless, as I begin the message, I am compelled to offer any who are not believers in the Risen Son of God and who are sharing the service, mercy and life through Christ Jesus the Lord. Before moving any farther into the study today, I want to take a moment to point any such individual in our service to the life that is found in Jesus the Lord.
The Word of God verifies our experience and innate knowledge that we are sinners. The Word declares in dark words that censures all mankind: