This epistle was written about 45-50 A.D. James was the first book of the New Testament to be written. The author is James, the Lord's half brother, the son of Mary and Joseph. Before the death of Christ, he apparently was not a believer in Jesus, for we are told in John 7:5 that "neither did his brethren believe in him." After seeing the death and resurrection of our Lord, he became a firm believer and soon rose to a prominent place in the Jerusalem church. James was a pious devout man of Christian character, who lived the doctrine he preached. Tradition says that he was given the name "Old Camel Knees" because he spent so much time in prayer. James was stoned to death on the orders of the high priest, Ananus. Why? They begged him to restrain the people from embracing Christianity. The Pharisees were so infuriated that they threw him from the pinnacle of the temple. The fall did not kill him so they stoned him and beat him to death with what was called a fuller's club. A fuller's club was used in cleaning and bleaching clothing in containers of water. James deals with the practical Christian life as it should be lived before the world. He deals with the ethics of Christianity, not doctrine. CHAPTER 1, Verse 1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: greetings. Servant is literally a bond slave. James came to know the Lord Jesus not only has his blood brother but as his own Savior, and then became his bond slave. If you will notice, James calls Jesus the Lord Jesus Christ, saying "He is my Lord." The 12 tribes refers to the believers in Israel. We have heard in the past about the "lost tribes of Israel," but no tribes really got lost. God scattered them throughout the world. Their tribal identify may not be known to them selves, but it is still known to God. James wrote this epistle to believing jews of that day who were scattered abroad. Greeting here means "Rejoice." Verse 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Temptation here does not refer to enticements to sin, but to trials, persecution, and afflictions from the world or Satan. Ordinarily we count it all joy when we escape trials and temptations. But here we are told we should rejoice when trials come our way. How can a believer be joyful or rejoice when facing such trials as disease, pain, sorrow, disappointments, death to name a few. We have switch our thinking, turn our attitudes completely around. We have to quit thinking negatively and think positive. Our faith can only reach full maturity when faced with difficulties and opposition. God does not give us trouble just for troubles sake. What is the purpose of temptation or trials? To make us stronger and more pure. When we overcome the trials of life, we become a much stronger person, more steadfast, enduring, persevering. When we stand up against trials and temptations we become a dynamic witness to all those who see us. We demonstrate the living presence and power of Christ in our lives. Verse 3 Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James is speaking here about the attitude of your heart toward your trouble. Trials are meaningless, suffering is senseless, and testing is unreasonable unless there is a good purpose for them. Trials are sometimes brought into a believers life so that God can test our faith. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 God is seeking to mold our Christian character. Therefore we should rejoice in trials because we can know that God is dealing with us for our own good. What are some of the purposes served in the testing of faith? Testing is the positive proof of genuine faith. He tests us in order that he might produce patience in our lives And what is patience? A steady and determined perseverance, in spite of difficulties, pressing toward the goal of God's will for our lives. This sort of patience is developed only thru tribulation. What if we never had any trials or temptations in our lives? What kind of Christian would we be? We would not even be able to witness to others of the things that God had done for us or know how to help someone who was having a trial. A young minister once asked an older man of God to pray that he might have more patience, as he realized this was his great lacking. The older man knelt and began to pray that God would send trouble and trials upon the young minister. Finally the young minister tapped the older man on the shoulder & whispered: "You must have misunderstood me; I asked that you would pray that I might have more patience, not more troubles. The older man gave him this answer: Remember the Scripture says "Tribulation worketh patience." That is the only way! So God tests our faith for a purpose: he tests us in order that He might produce patience in our lives. Scripture nowhere teaches that troubles in life are always an indication that God is displeased with us. Verse 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. How does God produce patience in us? Patience comes thru suffering and testing. Patience is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We will never be perfect or a complete and mature Christian without patience. Some Christians have never really grown up but have remained babes. The believer who faces trials and temptations in the joy of Christ conquers all, and he lacks nothing. The stronger we become in our faith, the more we become like the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 12:12 says Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer. Hebrews:10:36 says "for ye have need of patience, that, after ye have one the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Verse 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. What is wisdom? Wisdom is the exercise and practical use of knowledge. Wisdom is seeing and knowing what to do with the truth. Wisdom is not a head full of facts. God does not offer knowledge, because he expects us to obtain that thru work and study, but he does offer wisdom. The way to receive this wisdom is simply to ask. He will give wisdom to all men, to all who ask. Wisdom is to know how to act under certain circumstance of testing, or trials, or when problems or questions arise. He gives liberally, with no thought of any return whatsoever. Upbraideth not means not to rebuke or scold. So he doesn't scold or rebuke us when we ask for wisdom. If you lack wisdom, go to God who will hear and answer your prayer. Verse 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. Faith is essential if we are to receive the answer to our prayers. Hebrews 11:6 says "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. So God does not answer the prayers of a doubting person. If he did, He would be rewarding doubt, rewarding those who do not believe or trust Him. God does not hear and answer a person who wavers in his or her faith. What does the Scripture say about a person who wavers in his faith? That person is just like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and tossed to and fro. We say that we believe God is going to work a situation out, then we jump in and make our own decision leaving God out. We think we know more than God. Verse 7-8 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord: he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. If faith is wavering and the heart is wavering in unbelief, it is useless to ask anything of God. If you are going to work out your problem yourself, then God cannot work it out for you. We need to learn to turn our problems over to God. The person who wavers in faith is a double-minded person and unstable in all his ways. This person lives a life that is up and down, back and forth. His whole behavior is unstable and unreliable, and that includes his prayer life with God. Many times when facing a trial we seek God's help and promise to follow him if he will just help us out of the situation. Then when God helps us out of the situation we immediately forget God. Pharaoh was one such man. He promised to let the Israelites go if God would grant relief. When the plagues were lifted he forgot his promise. This is what God calls a double minded man, unstable in all his ways. When we come to God with a pure heart of faith, seeking his will, God will graciously hear us. Verse 9-10 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. In these two verses James is speaking of two extremes, poverty and wealth. How should the true Christian face these situations? We are to rejoice in our status in life. If doesn't matter if a person is poor or rich, healthy or unhealthy, crippled or sound, he is to rejoice in the Lord. This does not mean we are to rejoice because we are poor, unhealthy, or crippled, but we are to rejoice in Christ despite the circumstances, no matter how terrible. Many people allow their circumstances to destroy their spirit and joy in life. A lowly person who does not allow his status to defeat him, develops a strong spirit. I know that for many people this is easier said than done. But with God's help we can be an overcomer. Let's look at the rich person a moment. The rich person is not accepted by God because of who he is or how many riches he has. These things mean nothing to God. All men, no matter their status in life stand before God as equals. The rich man is more tempted to turn from God, and trust in self. Verse 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. James compares the rich man with "the flower of the grass," which soon passes away. He is like the flower of the field, fresh in the summer morning, but withered and gone by nightfall because of the burning heat. So shall the rich man fade away in his ways. Remember the rich fool, who trusted in his riches rather than God? Verse 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him. The person who endures temptation shall be blessed. This refers to this life, here and now. The word blessed means inward and spiritual joy and satisfaction, an inner assurance and confidence that carries one thru all the trials and temptations of life no matter the pain, sorrow, loss or grief. Temptation can have 2 different meanings. (1) To put one to the test. (2) To solicit one to do evil. In this verse it means solicit one to do evil. In this verse James states that when he is tried. Tried refers to the testing or approving of one's faith. The man or woman who is tried is approved. His faith is made genuine. Testing is one of God's methods of developing us in the Christian faith. This enables us to grow and develop patience in our lives here on earth. Temptation in the sense of trials and tribulations are sent from God for a definite purpose in our lives. Testing will either drive you to the Lord or it will drive you away from Him. Let's look at the man of the world. The man of the world will sink beneath the waves of adversity. They become pessimistic, they become cynical, bitter even though they have everything. We see today an epidemic of suicides among teenagers, thousands just dropping out of society. Why? They have no goal in life. They have been given everything. When faith is tested and surrounded by darkness, and all seems lost, the child of God knows that this is not the end. James says that the child of God will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. Psalm 30:5 says weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. What is the "crown of Life?' It is rewards given to the believers. We will each receive a reward for enduring all the trials and temptations here in this life. Each one of us will have a degree of life in heaven which some one else will not have. Verse 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone. God does not test with evil. God cannot be tempted with evil, and he does not tempt with evil. God is holy, righteous, and pure. When a person commits sin and iniquity, he cannot blame God by saying that he has merely yielded to the temptation God sent. We often blame God for a great many things in our lives for which he is not responsible. Man is always blaming someone else for tempting him. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, Cain blamed Abel, on and on and on. No one wanted then and no one wants today to take responsibility for their own actions. They are always passing the buck. Verse 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Temptation is of man, of his own lust. Lust means to crave either good or evil. Enticed means to lure and bait. When you yield to evil temptation, God is not responsible. The Devil is not responsible, you are responsible. The devil may tempt you, but it is YOU that gives in to the temptation. Many things are not bad with in themselves, but it is the use we make of them that is wrong. One person stated lust as desire headed in the wrong direction. Sin begins in the heart Verse 15 Then when desire (lust) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown brings forth death. Sin begins small and subtle. Sin begins in the heart and moves out into action. Is temptation sin? No. It becomes sin when you commit the sin inwardly and outwardly. Lust is the mother that gives birth to sin/ sin is the child of lust. One cannot play with fire with out getting burned. Lust will always produce sin if it is not checked. When sin is born into the life of a believer, when it becomes an action, fellowship with God is broken. 1 John 1:6 says If we say that we have fellowship with him we walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. You cannot have fellowship with God and permit sin continually to happen in your life. The greatest sin today is adultery. It is tragic when today when people think they can get by with sin. Sin will bring forth death, spiritual death. If unconfessed and unrepented of in the life of the believer, it will eventually result in physical death. Verse 16 - Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. The term err means to wander, to stray or roam. James warns Christians not to wander, roam or stray in their minds. If you are satisfied with sin, you need to examine yourself to see whether or not you are in the faith. How can we overcome temptation. (1) If temptation attacks our thoughts, then we must push the wrong thought out of our mind, then begin to focus our thoughts on Christ and some passage of scripture. (2) if temptation comes from some attraction to our senses; seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, then we must turn our head or body away and flee the temptation. Again focus on Jesus, prayer and Scripture. Verse 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Our heavenly Father send only good things to us. Temptation is not the nature of God. God is good and perfect, and the source of all good and perfect gifts. God is the Father of lights. Light speaks of purity and holiness. God gives us the things that give us joy, that are good for us, that do not shame us, things that build us up and mature us, gives us assurance and confidence, makes us secure, brings us love and joy and peace. God never leaves us in the dark grasping to know the truth. He always opens up the light of truth to us. Variableness means unchangeable. He doesn't change, he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Verse 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. This is a reference to the new birth. God has chosen us to be heirs of eternal life through faith in His son. He wills for us to know the Word of truth. All humanistic and false teaching about truth is not of God. God's will is what the Word of truth proclaims, that man can be born again. Begets means to "bring forth." You have heard the remark made "If I am predestined to be lost, there is nothing I can do about it. Or if I am to be saved, I'll be saved. That is wrong thinking. You have the free will to choose to be saved or not to be saved. You have the free will to choose to be lost or not to be lost. When you are willing to come, when you believe the Word of God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will be born again or saved. It is not the will of God that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 While the Lord is the true fulfillment of the first fruits, James says that we too are "a kind of first fruits." in other words, God is seeking to perfect Christian character in us now that we may be what he wants us to be. The question needs to be asked "Is my life and your life such a manifestation of God's grace that others seeing you, desire to know your Savior also and to experience his life changing work? Verse 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow wrath. Beloved brethren, James is speaking to the child of God. What are we to be swift to hear? The Word of God. The greatest temptation in the world is for a person to walk thru life dong what he wants and pleases, ignoring, neglecting, and rejecting God. so we must be quick or swift to hear the word of God. Slow to speak Means that we must be willing to listen instead of speaking our own ideas about right and wrong and or about how a person is saved, we must be willing to listen to what God's Word says. There is a danger of talking too much. One commentary made this statement; Christians need to be very careful not to reveal their ignorance of the Word of God. If you are not sure what the Word says then don't say anything. Listen to God. We need to be very careful what we say. Socrates was teacher and a philosopher but he told a student one time "I am going to teach you how to hold your tongue and then how to use it. Slow to wrath - Don't get angry. Easier said than done. There are many Christians who spoil there testimonies by uncontrolled tempers. An angry person cannot focus his thoughts and spirit upon God's Word. An angry person cannot do what God says, he cannot live righteously. Jesus said let not the sun go down on your anger. Unfortunately many religious discussions are often attended with anger. Business meetings sometimes brings out the worst in many Christians. Verse 20 - For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Anger and bitterness will not produce the patient endurance God is seeking to work out in our lives. Anger is contrary to the will and of God. Verse 21 - Lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness (abundance of wickedness), and receive with meekness theengrafted word, which is able to save your souls. The Word of God, either preached or written, cannot effectively take hold in a person's life if he or she is not separated from oral filth and evil. God commands the believer to set aside all the ungodly filth that permeates the corrupt society that seeks to influence he or she and their family. The Scriptures tell us what is improper for God's people. We must not engage in any kind impurity or obscenity. We must be aware that allowing any kind of moral filth into our lives and homes, including dirty language or obscenity thru videos or T.V. grieves the Holy Spirit and violates the holy standards of God for his people. We must take righteousness and holiness serious. Our homes must be swept clean and filled with the Word of God and the holiness of Christ. Then we must receive the Word of God with meekness. The word engrafted means to implant. It implies that the Word must become a part of our very nature. The Word of God is the greatest preventive against the sins of the flesh. There is a quotation that I heard years ago and it goes like this SIN will keep you from the Bible, or the Bible will keep you from sin. Hebrews 4:12 says this For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any 2 edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The one who truly has faith in Christ will be eager to hear God's Word, and will turn from evil, and receive the Word with meekness.
THIS IS THE JUDGMENT that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. GOD so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have Eternal LIFE. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-19
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