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On The Book of James
In this chapter, after the inscription and salutation, James instructs the saints he writes to, how to behave under afflictions. He tells us that in every state of life, we are NOT to blame God for our sins, but ourselves! WE are the guilty ones, NOT God! James tells them and us to HEAR the Word, and cautions against self-deception in religion.
God tests faith by trials; God does NOT test with evil; God tests faith by the Word (God's Word), NOT by man's words.
The Epistle of James is a very practical book which deals with the principles of Christianity rather than with doctrine. James will really bear down on some practical issues, but the theme of FAITH is seen throughout his entire letter. The emphasis in James is on the works which are produced by faith. In the first three chapters he is going to speak of the verification of genuine faith and give us some of the ways God tests faith.
God Tests Faith By Trials (1:1-12)
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (KJV)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . "Servant" is literally a bond slave. IF you had been the Lord's half brother on the human side, wouldn't you have brought in that fact in a humble way? But, James does not do that. Instead, he calls himself a bond slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. James certainly is humble.
At first the Lord Jesus' human family did not believe He was the Son of God (John 7:5). They had been brought up with Him and had played with Him. They had seen Him grow. They certainly had to have seen that He was unusual, different from them! BUT, they did NOT believe that He was the Saviour of the world. Our Lord Jesus was so human when He was here on this Earth that even His own brothers did not believe at the first. But, family members are ALWAYS the hardest people to reach, even thought they are the ones we should reach. James came to know the Lord Jesus not only as his blood Brother but as his own Saviour, AFTER the resurrection, and it is THEN that he became Jesus' bond slave. See what James calls Him! He uses His full name, the Lord Jesus Christ. James tells us, "He is my Lord." Jesus was His human Name, and James knew Him as Jesus, his half Brother; but he also knew Him as Christ, the Messiah who had come and had died for the sins of the world. Jesus was NOT just a Name, He was called Jesus because He would save His people from their sins.
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting . . . it is clear that James is referring to the believers in Israel, the Jews. He is writing to the Christian Jews of that day. After all, the early church was 100 percent Jewish for quite a period of time. A few Gentiles became believers, and then a great revival broke out in the heart of the Roman Empire in the area of what is Turkey today. That is where the seven churches of Asia Minor were located. But James seems to be writing this before this took place, and is addressing the Jewish believers.
Today people speak of the "ten lost tribes of Israel," but friend, NO tribes really got lost. God scattered them throughout the world, and He KNOWS where they are! They are on every continent of the world. There is a tremendous Jewish population in Russia. There are some in China, some in Japan. They really are "scattered abroad." James wrote this epistle to believing Jews of that day who were scattered abroad.
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (KJV)
Divers temptations . . . means various trials. In other words, when you are having trouble, don't start belly-aching as if something terrible has happened to you. You are to rejoice and count it all joy that God is testing you in this way! (1 Pet.4:13).
Many people say they have accepted God's will, yet they go around with a long, dark face. Unless you are really reconciled to the will of God, and truly desire it in your life, you CANNOT rejoice. God does not give us trouble for trouble's sake; if you are a TRUE child of God, there is a reason! Believe that!
James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (KJV)
God ALWAYS has a goal in mind. And ALL that comes your way shall benefit you in some way (Rom.8:28). You can count on that. I think what James is speaking here is about the attitude of your heart toward your trouble. If you believe that God wants only the best for His children, you accept the trial, the trouble, knowing that He will NEVER leave you (Heb.13:5), and that His grace is ALWAYS sufficient (2 Cor.12:9), no matter what happens. And friend, God will NEVER give you more than you can bear (1 Cor.10:13). God is SO good!
We will not always understand what purpose God has for what He allows. What comes our way is the test of faith. We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor.5:7).
Trials test our faith and the one who stands true in them proves their belief and trust in God is firm and their faith sincere. Trials lead to patience and patience brings us to perfection (Jam.1:3-4,12; Rom.5:3-5; 1 Pet.1:7).
James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (KJV)
But let patience have her perfect work . . . or be brought unto maturity; which may mean both in sincerity and persevering to the end. Patience can be said to be perfect, only when it is real and sincere, and not evaded! Because there really is an artificial faith, a hypocritical love, and a hope that has no real expectation of the things that God so graciously promises in His Word (Tit.1:2; 1 Cor.15:19). Let patience have its full effect in you, both in making you completely subject to God's will, and standing firm continually to the end.
That ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing . . . that you may grow perfect in this grace, as well as in others, and have the image of Christ (to whom ye are to be conformed) completed in you.
Wanting nothing . . . not failing, not fainting in trials, not defective in any thing which is a needful part of your Christian life.
Six Perfect Things in James:
- #1. Perfect work of patience (Jam.1:4).
- #2. Perfect knowledge (Acts 24:22; Eph.4:13; Phil.3:15).
- #3. Perfect gifts (Jam.1:17).
- #4. Perfect law of liberty Jam.1:25)
- #5. Perfect faith by works (Jam.2:22).
- #6. Perfect man by restraint (Jam.3:2).
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (KJV)
Wisdom . . . here speaks of the trials which James has been talking about. We ALL have troubles, trials, problems and misery. How are you going to solve this problem? How are you going to meet this issue? How are you going to deal with the situation, the person? James says if we lack wisdom in regard to a certain problem, you need to go to God in prayer. Wisdom is the exercise and practical use of knowledge you have. Many people have knowledge, but they do not have any common sense whatsoever. Wisdom is our knowing how to act under certain circumstances of testing, of trial or when problems or questions arise. Life shall be filled with these until God calls us Home! When we lack wisdom to overcome a certain problem (or person), it is WISDOM to go to the Lord in prayer! James says: "Ask God for it!"
Many ways of wisdom:
- #1. Human education (Acts 7:22).
- #2. Man's wisdom (Jam.2:1-13).
- #3. Worldly wisdom (Jam.3:14-16).
- #4. Godly training (Luke 2:40,52).
- #5. Wisdom to speak (1 Cor.2:7).
- #6. Wisdom for ministry (Eph.1:8,17).
- #7 Christ the wisdom of God (1 Cor.1:24,30; Col.2:3).
- #8. Heavenly wisdom (Jam. 3:17-18).
- #9. Spirit of revelation 2 Pet.3:15).
- #10. Ability of Christ (Mat.13:54).
Wisdom means practical discernment; common sense! It MUST begin with love, gratefulness, respect and fear for God, and it MUST lead to right living, that ends with the increased ability to tell right from wrong. God is VERY willing to give us this kind of wisdom, BUT we will NOT be able to receive it IF our goals are centered on self (me, me, me) instead of centering on God and His will for us.
To learn God's will, we MUST read (study) His Word and ask Him to help us obey it. Once the Lord tells us what He expects of us, we MUST do it! THAT is true, Godly wisdom!
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (KJV)
A great problem in the world today, is that people just do NOT believe God. What about you? All too often, I fall into this group, and believe me, I do NOT want to be there!
But let him ask in faith nothing wavering . . . WHY don't we believe God? WHY do we go around with a long face? WHY do we wonder how our problems are going to work out? I've been there. WHY don't we believe God? WHY don't we trust Him and turn the problems over to Him? I know I certainly do NOT have the knowledge to meet the problems of life and solve them! And I know I am NOT capable of living in this extremely complex civilization on my own . . . but I DO have a heavenly Father who can supply the wisdom that I need. So, I do know what James is talking about here! And many times, I will turn over a problem to Him . . . but it won't be 30 minutes later, I grab it back and try to do it myself. STUPID!!! After all the years of failing on my own, you would think that I would soon wake up! But, every now and then, there I go again!
For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed . . . We tell ourselves, "I believe God is going to work this out," but then we make another unsuccessful stab at it on our own! This is what James is talking about here! "Like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." Back and forth!
We must ask in faith! Not only in the faith that the divine Being IS God . . . but also in the faith of the Promises He has made! We MUST have faith in His power and His never-ending faithfulness to perform them! We MUST have faith that whatsoever it is that we ask, IF it is according to the will of God, and is for His glory, and His people's good, it shall shall be given to us.
Wavering . . . back and forth . . . between belief and unbelief. We must not by unbelief "limit" God's power, God's wisdom and God's love for us. We must NOT doubt and stagger through unbelief and lack of faith (Acts 10:20; Rom.4:20; 1 Tim.2:8). We must NOT be like a wave of the sea (Isa.57:20; Eph.4:14).
James 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (KJV)
A person can hope for favor from God ONLY when he/she puts confidence in Him. God sees the heart; and if He sees that there is NO belief in His existence or His power and NO real trust in Him . . . NO reliance on His promises, His wisdom, His grace . . . it would be ridiculous that you should expect an answer from Him . . . that He would grant an answer to your petitions. Have you ever considered WHY you do not receive answers to your prayers! My friend, IF you go to the throne of grace without faith, you may as well NOT go! Anyone who goes to God in such a state of mind, should NOT expect to receive any favor. Heb.11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (KJV)
James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (KJV)
A double minded man . . . the word here used occurs only here and in Jam.4:8. Or of a double heart (1 Chron.12:33; Ps.12:2), as one who halts between two opinions (1 K.18:21), and is uncertain as what to do or say, and who does not know what to ask for; or who is not sincere and upright in his requests, who asks for one thing, but means another, or asks with an evil plan in mind . . . does not call upon God in truth, with NO sincerity in his soul. They draw near to God with the mouth, and honor Him with the lips, but their heart is far from him (Isa.29:13; Mat.15:8; Mk.7:6). These are the ones who are
unstable in all their ways. Their restless mind is confused, and their thoughts and plans are unsettled. Their actions can vary from one moment to the next, especially about 'religion.'
Is unstable in all his ways . . . . not just in prayer, the point James is discussing, but in respect to everything.
This was Israel's big problem. Hosea said Israel was like a silly dove (Isa.7:11). She first went to Egypt seeking help, and then to Assyria. First to one and then to the other, but she did NOT turn to God. Many times when a problem comes up we go here, then there, trying to solve it on our own. WHY don't we wise up and take it to God? Our prayer should be: "Lord, give me wisdom today." We MUST have Godly wisdom to meet the issues of life.
James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: (KJV)
Let the brother of low degree . . . "the brother" here is a brother in a spiritual relation; one of God's children.
Do you consider yourself poor, thinking that you don't have very much? OH! My friend, if you are a child of God you have great wealth. You have treasure in Heaven (Mat.6:19-21), and you have an incorruptible inheritance there (John 14:2-3; 1 Pet.1:4). You are a child of the King!
And have you ever stopped to think what you have here on Earth, what you have in Christ? We have everything in Christ! We have wealth. Paul wrote, "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (1 Cor.3:21-23). If you belong to Christ, everything that He has, you will one day share with Him!
Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (KJV)
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (KJV)
Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV)
Galatians 4:6-7 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (KJV)
Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (KJV)
James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (KJV)
I don't care who you are, it does not matter if you are the humblest saint or the poorest person on earth, you are RICH in Christ, my friend! Rejoice!
James 1:10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. (KJV)
Have you ever considered just how many buildings, facilities, parks, etc., are named for some rich man? Where are those rich men today? Dead and gone! They are like the flowers that bloomed yesterday. They are gone! Consider just how rich and powerful and famous they were! The riches and the influence they had have faded away.
IF you are a rich man, do NOT rejoice in your wealth, position, power or fame! What you cherish now will not be with you very long. Death will separate you from all that you have here on earth! The old saying, "There are no pockets in a shroud." You cannot take it with you (1 Tim.6:7). The rich man is like the flower of the grass, he shall pass away. 1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; (KJV
Life on earth is SO brief! Consider the following:
- Like a shadow: 1 Chron.29:15; Job 8:9; 14:2; Ps.102:11; 144:4; Ecc.6:12
- Like a flying shuttle: Job 7:6; 8:9
- Like hurrying messengers: Job 9:25; 14:2
- Time is short: Ps.39:5; 89:47; 90:9; 102:11; Ecc.6:12
- Like a weaver's web: Isa.38:12
- Like a vanishing vapor: James 4:14
- A passing shadow: Job 8:9; 14:2
- As ships passing on the sea: Job 9:26
- As an eagle on its prey: Job 9:26
- Like a cut flower: Job 14:2
- Like a dream: Job 20:8
But the rich, in that he is made low . . . in his humiliation . . . in his being brought to the foot of the cross to receive, as a poor and miserable sinner (Rom.3:10,23), redemption through the
Blood of the cross (Col.1:20).
One day ALL people, including the most influential this 'world' has ever known, shall bend their knees before the Lord Jesus, and confess that He IS God! I really look forward to that day!
Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (KJV)
Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (KJV)
Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (KJV)
My friend, you either believe God now (1 John 5:11-13), and accept His one and only begotten Son (John 3:15-18), or one day, AFTER it is too late to keep you from Hell (Rev.20:15), you shall bow to Him! It is YOUR CHOICE!
You will not live forever here on Earth, BUT you shall live forever somewhere because your soul is eternal! Only a few will make it to Heaven! (Mat.7:13-14). Will you be one of that group? OR will you be condemned to an agonizing and eternal Hell? (Ps.9:17; Mat.25:41,46; Isa.5:14; 14:9; Rev.11-15).
If your name is not in the book of life, Hell shall be your eternal dwelling place! Rev. 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (KJV) It is YOUR CHOICE!
James 1:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. (KJV)
For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat . . . when the sun shines in its full strength, its heat can scorch. But it withereth the grass . . . causes it to shrivel, and dry up. And the flower thereof falleth . . . drops to the ground, dead.
And the grace of the fashion of it perisheth . . . its form and color, all its glory and beauty, are gone! James is showing us that earthly riches, just like the flower of the field, DO have an outward show and glory in them, and they DO attract the mind, and fix our attention to them. Earthly riches are gay and glittering, and look lovely, are pleasant to behold, and very desirable!
BUT . . . So too shall the rich man fade away in his ways . . . just like those beautiful flowers! Riches are very uncertain, they often seem to develop wings and fly away! Earthly riches are things that are not solid and substantial, but just a show of vanity!
For the sun is no sooner risen . . . James' meaning is very clear. All humans, no matter how rich or famous will die one day, and so shall their glory!
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (KJV)
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation . . . means the person who endures and bears up under it, as not to be offended by it, and NOT stumble in the ways of Christ, and fall away from the Truth.
Many who profess to be "Christians" often are offended by things that come their way. Instead of standing bravely under it, they sink under the weight of it, or faint because of it. A TRUE Christian endures temptations by NOT complaining and is quiet and still, bearing them patiently and enduring to the end (Mat.24:13; Heb.6:15).
We are to expect afflictions, and when they come, and they shall, we are to withstand them, and continue in the ways and work of the Lord. Only then can we rejoice, now and hereafter. Saints are to rejoice under afflictions, and even because of them, for they are really tokens of God's love to us, proving our sonship (1 Cor.11:32; Heb.12:5; Rev.3:19).
He shall receive the crown of life . . . eternal happiness is called a "crown", because of the glory of it.
Which the Lord hath promised to them that love him . . . this promise He made before the world began (Eph.1:4; 1 Tim.1:9; Tit.1:2), who cannot lie, cannot deceive, and who is able to perform ALL that he has promised! God is faithful, and His faithfulness will NEVER fail . . . so that this happiness is certain! We can depend on it!
God Does Not Tempt Us With Evil (1:13-21)
Temptation can be testing under trial, as we saw in verse 12. Temptation also can be solicitation to evil, verses 13-14. James now will talk about temptation to do evil. People often say that the Lord tested them when it was NOT the Lord at all. God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does He tempt anyone with evil. People often blame God for many things that He is NOT responsible for.
James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (KJV)
Let no man say . . . not with the mouth, not in the mind or heart. We cannot blasphemously cast the blame of our sins on God, trying to clear self. It will NOT work! Here James uses the word "tempted", in a different way than he did before. Before he speaks of temptations as matter of joy and boasting, but here, temptations are sinful and could end in shame and death. The temptations before were to be patiently endured, making men happy, but here temptations are are to be denounced and watched against. Before temptations were the means of trying and exercising grace, but here temptations lead to sin.
When he is tempted . . . SO many things can tempt us. Each person is tempted differently, by whatever it is, where we are weak.
I am tempted of God . . . we are NOT to say we are tempted by God. That is NOT true. We are neither told by God to sin, or forced into it by Him.
For God cannot be tempted with evil . . . God cannot do anything that is unrighteous or evil in any way! Do NOT try to blame God for your sin! If you fall under the temptation, it is YOUR sin, NOT God's sin!
Neither tempteth he any man . . . God does NOT seduce or force you to sin! He is NOT the author of sin.
It is natural that mankind blame God for his own faults, failures and filth. From the beginning, this has been true. Adam said, "...The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat" (Gen.3:12). Adam really passed the buck! The woman did the same thing; she said, "... The serpent beguiled me..." (Gen.3:13). Actually, all three of them were responsible. Every one of us are guilty, yet we always try to blame someone else!
James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (KJV)
James shows us the biggest cause of sin . . . our own LUST! Lust has a bigger part than either the devil or any of his instruments. Satan CANNOT make us sin! He can tempt us in our weakness, but in the end, it is all in OUR hands! We can either give in and sin OR stand firm and say NO, I will NOT sin!
We are talking here about the sins of the flesh. WHO is responsible when YOU are drawn away and do evil? YOU! WHO is responsible when you yield to evil temptation? YOU! God is NOT responsible. The Devil is NOT responsible. YOU are responsible.
James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (KJV)
When lust hath conceived . . . when the lust of the soul conceives (actually means to become pregnant) . . . . it gives birth to sin! And when that sin, having been done, brings forth death.
James uses a very interesting phrase here: "when lust hath conceived." Conception is the joining or union of two. The desire of the old nature joins with the outward temptation that faces us and becomes sin. The Lord Jesus said, "If you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have already committed adultery with her" (Mat.5:28) . . . because sin begins in your heart. That is where sin always begins.
Is temptation sin? NO! Of course it's not sin. It is only when the conception takes place . . . when the thought in the heart is carried into action . . . then it is SIN!
ALL of us have an evil nature. Don't try to kid yourself! ALL of us have been tempted to do evil; ALL of us have a weakness in the flesh. One person may be a glutton (food, booze, sex, pleasure, power, wealth, etc.) and another may be a gossip. Both sins are of the flesh; both come from within. Only the Lord Jesus could say, "...for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me" (John 14:30).
And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death . . . consider the following.
Three Kinds of Death In the Bible:
- #1. Physical death . . . separation of the body from the soul/spirit. Physical death is separation of the inner man from the body. Only the body dies at this time and goes back to dust. (Gen.3:19; Ecc.12:7; Ps.104:29; Jam.2:26).
- #2. Spiritual death . . . separation from God because of sin (Isa.59:2; Mat.8:22; Rom.8:6; Eph.2:1,5; Col.2:13; 1 Tim.5:6; Jam.1:15; 5:20).
- #3. Eternal death . . . eternal separation from God because man chooses to remain in sin (Isa.66:22-24; Mat.10:28; 25:41,46; 2 Thes.1:8-9; Rev.2:11; 14:9-11; 20:11-15; 21:8,15). this is This is also called the second death.
Death in the Bible means separation. It NEVER means annihilation or to cease from being. The spirit and soul are eternal, and are either dead in sins OR in possession of eternal life in Christ at the time of physical death. In either case, they continue in consciousness whether in Heaven or Hell (Luke 12:5; 16:23). Which are you?
Temptation . . . so much of it! Many Christians say, "The Devil made me do it." Temptation CANNOT be born until it is joined with the desire of your evil nature. What you need to remember is: temptation will bring forth sin, and sin shall eventually bring forth death! If you are a child of God, it immediately breaks your fellowship with Him . . . and that is a form of death! BEWARE!!!
James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. (KJV)
Do not err . . . means do not wander, roam or stray. It is like the little lost sheep the Lord Jesus told about which the shepherd went out after. James is telling us: "Don't wander. Don't ever think that you can get by with sin." The habitual and perpetual sinner definitely does NOT have a line of communication with God! He/she has NEVER been born again. IF you can live in sin and enjoy it, you are NOT a child of God . . . it is that simple! An old saying: "He that grieves at sin is a saint. He that boasts of sin is a devil."
ALL of us are subject to temptation. Please do NOT give birth to sin, for there can be NO abortion if you go through with temptation. Sin and death will be the end result.
Do not err, my beloved brethren . . . to TRY to make God the author of sin, or to say that He is guilty of tempting us to sin, is a great error! It strikes at the very nature and Being of God, and the perfection of His holiness and His purity! It actually boils down to our denying Him, and is one of those damnable errors and heresies, which bring upon men swift destruction . . . therefore my friend, guard against it, reject it, and hate it . . . IF you have any regard for God, His Name and His glory. (Mk.8:38; Lu.9:26;12:9; 2 Tim.2:12; Tit.1:16; 2 Pet.2:1; 1 Jn.2:22; Jude 1:4).
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (KJV)
Every good gift and every perfect gift . . . whether of nature, providence or grace, the "best" gifts are better than those which only relate just to this present life . . . these being: righteousness, remission of sins, adoption, regeneration and eternal life. The good things of this world are not truly good, in comparison of the good things of the world to come! And every one of these is from above! They come NOT from man or from from below, but from Heaven, where God dwells.
And cometh down from the Father of lights . . . the Author of lights; of all light; as the sun, moon, and stars; of all moral light, in angels and men; of all spiritual light, or the light of grace in regenerate persons; and of eternal light, the light of glory in the souls of those made perfect by the Blood of Jesus (1 Pet.1:18-19).
With whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning . . . as there is in Universe, with the sun casting its shadow; it rises and sets, appears and disappears every day. With God, who is Light itself, and in Him is NO darkness at all, there is No change, for He is unchangeable in His nature, His perfections, His purposes, His Promises and His gifts. He is holy, and cannot turn to that which is evil; nor can He, who is the Fountain of Light, be the cause of darkness, or allow any darkness in Him. God is always the same! Constant in the giving of His goodness, His love, His grace . . . never casting any dark shadow of evil, which might infer a change in Him.
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (KJV)
Of his own will . . . out of His good pleasure, not because of any dignity or merit in us (Eph.1:9; 2 Tim.1:9).
Begat he us . . . into a spiritual generation, whereby we are newly born, and are made partakers of a Divine nature (Jn.1:13; 1 Pet.1:3,23).
With the word of truth . . . HOW are we born into God's spiritual family? By the Word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! That is the instrument or means whereby we are regenerated: and that is why it is called the word of truth (Eph.1:13).
That we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures . . . we are most excellent creatures, being singled out and separated from the rest, and consecrated to God, as under the law the first-fruits were (Num.18:12; Rev.14:4). James is definitely referring to the new birth.
James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (KJV)
Let every man be swift to hear . . . when we hear the word, we must submit to it! So many people just do NOT hear! So it is to their great and disastrous sorrow that they do not learn of Jesus! SO many people today just do NOT believe Jesus! John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV) My friend, IF you want to go to Heaven, you MUST go through Jesus! NOT everyone will go to Heaven as some churches teach! Universalism is a damnable heresy (2 Pet.1:2). It will put you in Hell! Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven! We must be quick and ready to hear God speaking in the word of truth! The Gospel! . . . . . . . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_false_doctrines_universalism.1.htm
Slow to speak . . . (Pro.10:19; 17:27-28; Ecc.5:2). God gave us two ears and one mouth. Do you think that He is trying to tell us something? Two ears are given to us, and they are open and exposed, whereas the tongue is behind a wall of teeth. A good way of escaping one kind of temptation arising from ourselves, is to guard our tongue. Keep it quiet behind that wall! James warns us over and over again (Jam.1:26; 3:5-6,8). We would be wise if we would pay attention!
Slow to wrath . . . (Jam.3:13-14; 4:5). Slow in getting angry, a quick temper will get you NO where with the Lord or anyone else! And a quick temper hinders a person to hear God's Word, like Naaman (2 K.5:11).
James 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (KJV)
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. . . man's anger is human and nearly always sinful. I encourage you to get rid of it! (Eph.4:31; Col.3:8). Man's anger is contrary to the will and work of God. This is the reason we should not argue about religion. I have never yet found anybody who agrees with me 100% or with whom I agree 100%, but that is no reason for me to fight with him/her. I have had inmates write to me, wanting to argue a point on something that I said in a Bible study booklet, also people email me wanting to argue about something on one of our web sites. I absolutely refuse to do it! What I said in the books or the web sites is how I feel. Agree or disagree . . . is up to the person. I refuse to argue about it.
James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (KJV)
Lay apart . . . once for all, as a filthy garment (Zec.3:3,5; Rev.7:14). Filthiness . . . is cleansed away by hearing the Word (John 15:3).
And superfluity of naughtiness . . . literally, abounding of evil; the overflow of wickedness; excess of maliciousness; over abundance of malice; bad temper.
James had just spoken of sin as filthy, loathsome, detestable. Here he expresses his hatred of it by a still more emphatic description, and he speaks of it not just as an evil, but as an evil abounding, overflowing; an evil in the highest degree.
Purity of heart is the best preparation always for seeing the Truth. And receive with meekness . . . meaning to open the mind and heart to instruction, and to influence of Truth. Meekness and gentleness are required in receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Mat.18:2-3).
The engrafted word . . . the Gospel is to be engrafted by the Holy Spirit, so as to be incorporated with the believer, just as the fruitful shoot is with the wild natural stock on which it is engrafted. The Gospel is engrafted inwardly, and so fulfils the ultimate design of the law (Deut.6:6; 11:18; Ps.119:11).
Which is able to save your souls . . . my friend, only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, engrafted in you, can save your soul from Hell (Jam.5:20).
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (KJV)
A TRUE child of God can NEVER get away from the Word of God, and that is the last thing they would ever want to do! Every child wants to hear the voice of his Father, especially if it that voice comforts as well as corrects. One who is not interested in the Word of God or does not want it near, (IF he is a child of God), is going to get into big trouble.
Requirement of the teaching of James: "Be swift to hear" . . . "Be ye doers . . . not hearers only". "DO the word," "BE doers" continually, because it is your regular business as TRUE Christians! James is again referring to the Sermon on the Mount (Mat.7:21-29).
Deceiving your own selves . . . don't kid yourself that just the hearing of the Word is all that is needed, WRONG! You must DO the Word! Obey God! Rom. 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (KJV)
James 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (KJV)
Not a doer . . . more accurately, "a not-doer". The TRUE disciple learns in order that he may DO (what the Word states), not just that he may merely know or teach.
His natural face . . . the face he was born with. As a man (or woman) may sees his face in a mirror, so the hearer may SEE his moral visage in God's Word. This faithful portrait of man's soul in Scripture, is the strongest proof of the Truth . . . are we a "doer" or just a "hearer" of the Word? In it, too, we see mirrored God's glory, as well as our natural vileness.
In a glass . . . the Word is compared to a mirror: as the glass represents to us the features of our faces, whether beautiful or deformed; so too does the Word shows us the TRUE face of our souls, the beauty of God's image when restored to them, and the spots of sin which so greatly disfigure them.
We sees our blemishes and imperfections and are moved by what we see. When we sees our deformities, spots and ugliness, we try to do something about them. But when we turn away from the mirror, we forget our imperfections, and they no longer bother us. So it is with the Bible. As long as one studies it, we see ourselves as we really are and we want to try to improve ourself and conform to its teaching. IF we get away from the Bible, we soon forget the real picture of self, "what manner of man he was" . . . next verse.
James 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (KJV)
Beholdeth . . . "he considered himself and hath gone his way."
Forgetteth what manner of man he was . . . forgot what he looked like in the mirror. Forgetfulness is NO excuse (Jam.1:25; 2 Pet.1:9).
As soon as you take your eye off the mirror, you forget what you looked like; you forget the spots you saw in his face, to wipe them off. It is the same with the spots and blemishes of your soul . . . in the glass of the Word! IF you take your eye, mind, heart, off the Word of God, you will forget what your soul looks like! BEWARE!!! Do NOT be just a hearer of the word, stay with it, learn more each day, and DO it!
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (KJV)
But whose looketh into . . . intently and earnestly, really wanting to know what God wants and expects of us. It means to really look into a thing, like the disciples' looking into Christ's sepulchre (Lu.24:12; Jn.20:5).
The perfect law of liberty . . . the whole doctrine of the Scripture, or especially the Gospel, called law (Rom.3:27). The Gospel is our rule of life, perfect and perfecting, as shown in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat.5:48). It makes us truly walk at liberty for it changes us from the inside out (Ps.119:32). TRUE Christians must aim at a higher standard of holiness than was generally understood under the law. The love and grace of God takes the place of the letter of the law (Rom.6:14-15). It is by the Spirit that we are free from the yoke of sin, and free to obey by instinct of the new man (Jam.2:8,10,12; Jn.8:31-36; 15:14-15). Also see: (1 Cor.7:22; Gal.5:1,13; 1 Pet.2:16). The law is thus NOT made void, but fulfilled (Mat.22:36-40). LOVE, my friend!
The Gospel has great power over the heart! And is a law of liberty because it shows the way to the BEST liberty, freedom from sin, the bondage of the ceremonial law, and from the wrath of God. The Gospel is the way of serving God freely and honestly as His children; and because it has been received into the heart, it is accompanied with the Spirit of adoption who works this liberty (2 Cor.3:17). It is called a perfect law, not only as being entire and without any defect, but as being able to direct us to the greatest perfection and enjoyment of Him (2 Tim.3:16-17).
And continueth therein . . . we must persevere in the study, belief and obedience of this doctrine, in all conditions and under all temptations and afflictions. Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (KJV) . . . Do you delight in the Gospel?
He being not a forgetful hearer . . . James persists in us NOT to be a forgetful hearer! We must leave behind what we were before (Phil.3:13-14), and press forward to the prize at the end!
Again! But a doer of the work . . . not only HEAR . . . but . . . DO!
This man shall be blessed in his deed . . . only the person who is a doer of the work (obeys the Gospel) is said to be blessed by God, and on the way to his future perfect happiness.
James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. (KJV)
If any man among you seem to be religious . . . . pious, devout; by his preaching, or praying and other external duties of religion, and "thinks himself to be religious" or is thought to be so by others.
And bridleth not his tongue . . . brags about how good he is, speaks poorly of his brethren; backbites them, hurting their names and characters, by private insinuations and public charges without any foundation (Ps.35:19; Jn.15:25); who does not care what he says, but allows his tongue liberty of speaking anything, to the injury of others, and the dishonor of God, and His ways . . . . seems what is meant here (Ps.39:1).
But deceiveth his own heart . . . this person deceives NO one but himself! His show of religion, on which he builds his hopes of salvation; will do him NO good at all.
This man's religion is vain . . . useless and unprofitable to himself and others. None of his preaching or praying will be of any avail to him. Instead, he by his evil tongue, brings a scandal and reproach upon the ways of God, and doctrines of Christ. Psalms 34:13-14 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (KJV)
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (KJV)
Pure religion and undefiled . . . that which is sincere and genuine, and free from corruption and hypocrisy.
Before God and the Father is this . . . or in the sight of God the Father of Christ, and all His people; that which is approved of by Him, who is the searcher of hearts and the trier of the reins of men (Jer.17:10). James is not giving a full definition of true religion; he mentions just some of the effects of it, by which it is known, and without which it CANNOT be true and genuine; he mentions these two:
#1. To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction . . . NOT only just to SEE them, and speak a word of comfort to them, but to supply their wants as needed, and according to the ability God has given them. Where there is TRUE religion in the heart, there is love to God; and where there is love to God, there is love to the saints (Mat. 22;36-40). Pure religion and undefiled will show itself, NOT hide in a corner! It will be there in times of affliction and distress. ANY time or place where this is lacking, religion is NOT pure and undefiled!
#2. And to keep himself unspotted from the world . . . stay away from people who defile by their wicked ways; and stay away from the evil vices of the world. Where TRUE religion is in its power and purity, the Gospel of the grace of God comes with effectiveness, teaching us to separate ourselves from the rest of the world (2 Cor.6:17), and to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly (Tit.2:12).
Psalms 68:5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. (KJV) . . . God is this Father! BEWARE! He is watching you (Job 34:21).
Book of James
Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3 . Ch.4 . Ch.5