The book of James was written to those believing in Jesus Christ (2:1) and is loaded with relevant truths for our day regarding true Christianity. Some of the following truths aren't found elsewhere in the Scriptures.
True Christianity Is Described In James
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
Unlike what many religious people would say, the blessed man is the person who perseveres under trial. If you don't persevere, you are not blessed regardless what you might have materially or how people might praise you. During trials, some give up and don't continue. We must endure to the end through hatred, etc. for salvation (Mt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14; Rev. 2:10,11).
Why is he blessed? Because he will receive the crown of life. The crown of life is mentioned only one other time:
True Christians Receive The Crown of Life
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Rev 2:10,11)
Those that get the crown of life are also referred to in James 1:12 as those who love God. **NOTE: The issue is: Do we love God, not does God love us! (If we love God we will OBEY him, Jn. 14:15.)
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. (James 1:13-16)
Temptation will come, but not from God since he can't tempt with evil. The text says evil comes from man's own evil desire—not from the devil. (Other Scriptures show the devil tempts with evil though.) After the evil desire comes, then SIN occurs if yielded to and that gives birth to spiritual death. Remember that spiritual death scripture! The “death” here is spiritual death, not physical death. Spiritual death for those who are spiritually alive (the saved) is taught from Gen. 2 through Rev. 22, yet MOST deny it to their own eternal harm. NOTE: the spiritual death there occurs after the sin is committed, not if one doesn't repent of the sin, like some deceivers are now saying.
The warning not to be deceived about the temptation-to-sin-to-spiritual-death process is just as relevant in our day as back then in James. Sadly, some Bibles try to connect v. 16 with verse 17 instead of viewing it in its proper context and thereby lose the force of the warning about spiritual death through sin that is revealed in verses 14 and 15. (Eternal security proponents (and some others who are not) deny spiritual death through sin after sin is committed.)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
Not only doesn't God tempt with evil, he is the source of every good and perfect gift. Often people can NOT recognize the quality of what comes from God because they are thinking of the temporal not the eternal.
The Father does not change. That is the same quality of the Lord Jesus (Heb. 13:8), yet he is NOT the Father! They are two separate beings, and the Holy Spirit is separate from them.
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:18)
The birth here refers to the New birth or as we read in Jn. 3:3,7, getting “born again.” The word of truth is Scripture. That same truth about getting saved through Scripture is repeated in 1 Peter 1:23. That is how God set the salvation system up. People must hear the word first. Hence, Christians must witness to others. The devil will oppose this.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1:19-21)
Verse 19 is a basic truth, which all Christians should walk in: Be quick to listen (to God's truth), and be slow to speak and get angry. God desires a righteous life, which man's anger can't produce. It is the Christian's responsibility to get rid of man's anger, etc. and with God's help it can be done. Such is part of grace, not legalism, or James and others were false teachers!
Verse 21 tells us God's word can SAVE US, if we humbly accept it. Many don't. They reject it to their own harm and destruction. Compare v. 21 to Psa. 119:11.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:22-24)
The person who doesn't humbly accept the word but merely listens to it (as in a sermon or Bible reading) is likened to a man who looks at himself in a mirror and forgets what he looks like when he walks away. He is not the wise person mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. We must be DOERS of the word to get the victory and blessing.
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)
Unlike the mere hearer of God's word in vs. 22-24 is the person who looks intently into the Scriptures (the perfect law which gives freedom) and CONTINUES, as well as remembering those truths and doing them, will be blessed. He will be blessed spiritually, but with it will also come persecutions! Are you so blessed?
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
One's WORDS can render a Christian's profession of salvation WORTHLESS. Few seem to recognize the power of words. Ponder this:
For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Mat 12:37)
True Christianity Is Pure and Faultless Religion
To be religious here, as in v. 27, refers to Christianity! Christianity is a RELIGION, as well as a relationship. Getting back to words, to keep a tight reign on your tongue (words) is being, in part, self-controlled.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
Part of the Christian faith is to look after the orphans and widows in their distress. All through the Bible we read of orphans and widows as being at a major life's disadvantage. Hence, the ones in such a terible condition, especially, need help.
The last part of v. 27 is hardly ever mentioned, since people tend to think they must sin all the time! We can and are commanded to keep ourselves from worldly spiritual pollutants. NOTE: The world is here shown to be the Christian's enemy. Elsewhere, it is the devil and the sinful nature. We CAN keep ourselves pure (1 Tim. 5:22b). Remember these anti eternal security scriptures and the above facts about true Christianity.
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