Summary: So we can see that God didn't give His law as a means of salvation...but as a life style for those who had already been saved. It was the way He wanted His redeemed ones to live. True freedom is the opportunity and the ability to express what we truly are
THE LIFE GIVING WORD
JAMES 1:19 25
READ James 1:19 25
Last week James made us aware that our position as Christians is one of conflict...the battle of the two natures within us. Having done that, James now wants to help us to enter into a present salvation (21) which includes a blessing here and now. (No pie in the sky)
Verses 19 25 and out text from last week are connected by the idea of the Word of God..the word of truth (18)..the word planted in you (21)..the word (22)..the word (23)..the perfect law that gives freedom(25). This is a call to look to the word of God.
We have in this passage 3 absolutely essential directives regarding the Bible, each with a distinct response to the word that God speaks to us ...hearing... receiving... and obeying.
Up to this point, James has set before us the goal of maturity. Here he wants to guard us against becoming stuck in the infant stage of Christianity, which is something that happens to probably the vast majority of people who accept Christ as Savior...not only now, but back then as well.
Paul referred to the Corinthians as babes still on milk who should have been eating meat...and of course he was referring to their Christian maturity. James wants us to learn how to make the most of this great gift of salvation we've received. How do we move on from the new birth into the new life? This is a very important question James is raising.
We already know that the old nature and the new nature are locked in mortal combat. And as James sees it...it's not meant to end in stalemate. Last week we read that "every good and perfect gift" is available to us...so we have everything we need to be victorious.
But how do we actually do it? How are these resources, these heavenly forces that help us in the battle, how are they brought up to engage the enemy? Look back for a minute to verse 18...Read 18a...and then in verse 19 it says "be quick to listen.."
When we received this birth, which is salvation, we discovered an important truth...that we were able to hear, understand, and respond to the word of God. The Bible plainly says that those who aren't saved aren't able to understand the things of the Spirit. Only after the Holy Spirit comes to live in us are we able to grasp the real truth of God's Word.
And this same pattern remains the key to an on going, growing experience...we must go on hearing the word that tells us about our new nature...and in this way progressively enter in to the new life we're meant to live. It's an on going process!
By hearing the life giving word, all the energies of the new nature are stimulated into action. So we must be quick to listen to what God has to say to us. But is it really that important to read the Bible? Well, it is if we believe that the Bible is our final source of authority for all that we believe and do.
Now, God speaks to us in other ways...like through that still, small voice...or through the gifts of the Spirit, such as a word of knowledge, a prophecy, even a message in tongues that is properly interpreted...but all other means of guidance must come under the authority of God's inspired Word the Bible.
A wonderful thing happens when a born again believer is reading God's Word. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers is with us when we read it. He guided the writers of His Word by inspiration...and He guides those who read and study it by illumination.
When we read the Word of God, we make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit, who illumines the truth to our hearts and minds....He guides us through what He intends to say. But a word of warning here...we should never approach God's Word seeking confirmation of our own personal desires. We are to study His Word to understand what He is saying to us.
Now, we've all been misunderstood at some time in our lives. Someone took part of what we said out of context and changed what we meant. And what hurts the most is when that misunderstanding is inconsistent with our character. But it's even more tragic if we misrepresent what God means.
And sadly enough, this is the rule rather than the exception. Often the word is read but not really heard...not listened to. We read over the words but seldom if ever do we follow the command of Joshua 1:8 READ
And it's even worse when we pray. Look at your prayer life as it stands right now. How much of your prayer time is talking and how much is listening? For most people, once you're done talking its all over.....Amen, I'm out of here. This may sound crude...but its almost like God is saying...OK, you spoke your peace now listen to what I have to say.