James 1:1 – Jacob, the author of this letter is the English equivalent for Jacob. Hence the real name of this letter was known as Jacob. Three men of significance in the New Testament are called Jacob.
(1) Jacob the son of Zebedee and brother of John who was the first apostle martyr, in a.d. 44 and so was unlikely to be the author of this book.
(2) Jacob the son of Alphaeus was also one of the Twelve. He was probably younger than John’s brother Jacob and so known as Jacob the Less or Younger (Mark 15:40). Since Matthew’s father was named Alphaeus (Mark 2:14) it was believed that he was the brother of Matthew. Little else is know about this Jacob and so it is believed that he is not the Jacob of this book.
(3) Jacob the half brother of Jesus was one of several half brothers of Jesus (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3). This Jacob, was slow to accept Jesus as the Messiah (John 7:5), he came to faith when he saw the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:7) and became a follower of Jesus (Acts 1:14). He quickly rose to a position of great authority in the early church (Acts 12:17; 15:13-29; 21:17, 18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12; Jude 1). Tradition attributes this letter to the Lord’s half brother and internal evidence is consistent with this view. The most concrete evidences are the similarities between this letter and the speech of Jacob at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15:13-21). In addition, this letter is one of the most Jewish books in the entire New Testament. It further demonstrates that the author is steeped in an Old Testament perspective.
The Scriptures emphasize two themes throughout both Old and New Covenants: The way to God and the Walk with God. It speaks of the callings of God and His provisions for a relationship with Him, and then how to develop a personal relationship with Him. The Book of Jacob deals with the second theme, How to walk and develop a relationship with Him.
One Bible scholar has called the Book of Jacob “The proverbs of the New Covenant”. There is a great similarity to Solomon and Jacob in their writing styles. The Book of Jacob was written to the Jewish Believers and is of course for those who have been grafted in as well. The main theme of this letter is real faith produces genuine works. We might say that the person who has really found the Way walks in it.
James 1:1 This is a most interesting passage of Scripture. It tells us some facts about one of the brothers of our Messiah Yeshua, who lived with Yeshua day by day and had an opportunity to notice closely what kind of life He lived. He simply calls himself Jacob. He was apparently so well known among the believers throughout the world that no title was needed other than his name. This points rather strongly toward his being Jacob, the Lord’s brother.
He is a leader among God’s people, a world renowned leader. Yet his glory is not in the title of his position, but in the fact that he is a servant of God and Messiah. Despite his position, and world-wide reputation, what matters to him most is the intimacy of his relationship to God and his Lord. This is clearly seen when the word servant is understood, for the meaning of the word shows that Jacob deliberately chose the word to describe his relationship to the Lord.
The word “servant” (doulos) in the Greek means far more than just a servant. It means a slave totally possessed by the master. It means a bond-servant bound by law to a master. A look at the slave market of Jacob’s day shows more clearly what Jacob meant when he said he was a “slave of Yeshua Messiah.”
1) The slave was owned and totally possessed by his master. Jacob was purchased and possessed by Messiah, the Son of the living God. Messiah loved him and bought him; therefore, he was now the possession of Messiah.
2) The slave existed for his master and he had no other reason for existence. He had no personal rights whatsoever. The same was true with Jacob: he existed only for Messiah. His rights were the rights of Messiah only.
3) The slave served his master and he existed only for the purpose of service. He was at the master’s disposal any hour of the day. So it was with Jacob: he lived only to serve Messiah—hour by hour and day by day.
4) The slave’s will belong to his master. He was allowed no will and no ambition other than the will and ambition of the master. He was completely subservient to the master and owed total obedience to the will of the master. Paul too understood that he was a bond servant of the Messiah. Paul, like Jacob, fought and struggled to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
5) The most precious thing that Jacob meant by “a slave of Jesus the Messiah.” was that he had the highest and most honored and kingly profession in all the world. Men of God, the greatest men of history, have always been called “the servants of God.” It was the highest title of honor. The believer’s slavery to Jesus is not a cringing, cowardly, or shameful subjection. It is the position of honor that bestows on a man the privileges and responsibilities of serving the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Moses was the slave of God (Deuteronomy 34:5; Psalm 105:26; Malachi 4:4). Joshua was the slave of God (Joshua 24:9). David was the slave of God (2 Samuel 3:18; Psalm 78:70) the prophets were the slaves of God (Amos 3:7; Jeremiah 7:25). All believers are said to be the slaves of Jesus (Acts 2:18; 1 Corinthians 7:22; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 4:12;2 Timothy 2:24).
Jacob identifies Jesus as Lord Jesus the Messiah. By Lord (kurios) he meant God. By Messiah (Christos) he meant the Savior whom God had promised down through the centuries. This is striking and touching, for Jacob had lived as a brother to Yeshua for years. He had roamed the hills with Jesus as a boy and seen Him play with other children and relate to the neighbors and adults of their neighborhood. Jacob had seen how his brother received and responded to adult instruction, teaching, and supervision.
He had also probably seen Yeshua take over as head of the household when their father, Joseph, had died. The point is this: Jacob is saying that the Lord Jesus is God, the very Son of God who is equal to God the Father. He is saying that his brother, Yeshua the carpenter from Nazareth, is of the very nature and character of God, of the very being and essence of God. He was able to observe the life of his brother, and found no fault in Him.
After the Lord’s resurrection, Jacob was able to accept the incredible truth that his brother was the Lord of glory, the Savior of the world whom God had promised from the beginning of time. This letter was written to the Jews scattered all over the world. Jacob is writing to a specific group of believers: the twelve tribes of Israel. How could this be when the twelve tribes had been scattered all over the world and had lost their identity?
Jacob is not writing to each of the tribes of Israel; he is writing to all the tribes of Israel—to all Jews wherever they might be and no matter to what tribe they belonged. Jacob is using the title “the twelve tribes of Israel” as a comprehensive term. He is referring to all Israel, not wanting a single Jewish person to feel left out of his message, what he had to say was imperative for all Jews to hear and heed.
Even if a Jewish person was no longer in Israel and could not trace his roots back to any particular tribe, Jacob wanted the person to know that he was writing to him. By using the term “the twelve tribes” Jacob left no doubt that he was writing to every son of Abraham no matter where they were. His heart longed to reach the millions of the diaspora. Diaspora is simply a Greek word that means all the millions of Jews scattered all over the world. While he is writing primarily to Jewish believers what he says is applicable to all believers of all generations.
James 1:2-3 – All of us experience troubles in the form of heartache and pain, problems and disappointments, sickness, suffering, disease and ultimately death. At times all of us question God’s justice and life’s purpose. King David wrote in Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, Job who suffered deeply stated, “Man . . . is short-lived and full of turmoil. Jesus told us we would have trials in John 16:33.
Even Paul who was used of God to heal and bless multitudes, spoke of being perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. We could all share the afflictions and trials that we have experienced in our lives, moved by God’s Spirit Jacob deals with this issue in a way that enables us to have hope. James was writing this letter primarily to Jewish Believers, particularly to those who has been thrown from their places of security into fierce persecution under the Roman emperor Cladius.
If this were not bad enough they were also experiencing persecution and ostracism from their own brethren for believing that Jesus was the promised Messiah. In light of this it is most fitting that Jacob begins this letter addressing their troubles. From this letter we can learn some valuable lessons that are as current today as they were in the first century.
Troubles are inevitable – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, – when, not if. Jacob used the word various to describe the trials; in the original language this is the word from which we get “polka dot”. It means “spread out; of all different shapes, colors, varieties, and sizes.” In other words Jacob sees our lives dotted with trials. Some trials come simply because we are human, other trials come because we are Christians – 1 Peter 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:12.
But because Satan fights us, and the world opposes us, we can expect trials. What is to be our response? To count it all joy. This was the attitude of the apostles Acts 5:41, the attitude of Paul Romans 5:3; Philippians 2:17-18 and the early believers 1 Peter 1:6-8; 4:12-14. So the first step to turning trials into triumph is to begin to thank God and adopt an attitude of joy. How is it possible to rejoice in the midst of trials?” The answer is found in James 1:3 explains how: because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. The right knowledge concerning the value of trials makes it possible to have a joyful attitude. Trials test our faith and a tested faith can bring out the best in us. Just as fire purifies gold – 1 Peter 1:7. Just as training makes the athlete stronger. With this understanding, we can have joy in trials because we know that testing works for us, not against us – cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17 Trials rightly used help us to mature.
In looking at these verses carefully, we observe two things: First, testing or troubles are not to be taken as personal offenses. Our faith is the target, not we. God directs specific tests our way to stretch us spiritually. Someone has said “The only people who do not have problems are those in the cemeteries and some of them really have problems.”
If you have problems, it simply means you are alive and the more problems you have the more alive you are. Warren Wiersbe noted that when God permits his children to go through the furnace, he keeps his eye on the clock and his hand on the thermostat. The testing of our faith produces patience Romans 5:3-4 2. In the Bible patience is not a passive acceptance of circumstances.
The Greek word is Hupomone, From the preposition Hupo (under), and Meno (to remain, to abide). It denotes the ability to exhibit steadfastness and constancy in the face of the most formidable difficulty! It is a courageous perseverance in the face of suffering. It is the continuing on even when it is rough, despite the circumstances. This kind of steadfastness can come only through experiencing trials.
Listen to the words recorded by John Wesley in his journal: Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann’s, was asked not to come back anymore. Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.” Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude’s, can’t go back there either. Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George’s, kicked out again.
Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else’s, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return. Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street. Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services.
Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway. Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon service, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me. Having this understanding about what trials can accomplish enables us to have a joyful attitude toward such trials.
James 1:4 – The results of facing trials and temptations can be wonderful. A most wonderful thing happens when a person perseveres and conquers the trials and temptations of life. A person becomes more perfect (teleioi). The word does not mean perfect in the sense of becoming a perfect person. The word means perfection of purpose. It has to do with an end, an aim, a goal, a purpose. It means fit, mature, fully grown at a particular stage of growth. For example, a fully grown child is a perfect child; he has reached his childhood and achieved the purpose of childhood.
It does not mean perfection of character, that is, being without sin. It is fitness, maturity for task and purpose. It is full development, maturity of godliness. Too often, we want to get our trials or difficulties over with quickly. But there are times when the best course is to bear up under the trial patiently. Instead of grumbling and complaining patiently endure the trial, doing good despite the trial. If we wish prosper in our walk with the Lord bearing the kind of fruit that pleases the Lord and can affect others, we need to develop patience. Letting patience have its perfect work is not easy. It certainly requires wisdom which enables us to see the value of our trials.
James 1:5-8 – Why do troubles overwhelm us? Because we lack wisdom. Those blows that bombard us when we’re least prepared exhaust our human understanding. Our best thoughts are not adequate to help us endure. In those times of trial, we need to ask God for wisdom; which is the ability to view life from His viewpoint. What is this wisdom? We should be careful to distinguish “wisdom” from “knowledge”. Knowledge involves information, facts, etc. Wisdom is the ability or insight to properly use those facts in the best way. Failure to understand this distinction has led many into error.
Many believe that this passage James 1:5-8 teaches that God will give knowledge concerning His will in answer to prayer, but knowledge comes only through His Word; we must carefully study it if we would know the Will of God. However, the Wisdom to properly use His Word can be received through prayer. Troubles also overwhelm us because we lack faith James 1:6-8.
Jacob contrasts faith with double-mindedness. This is when we want our own will, and at the same time want God’s will, and not being able to decide between the two. A double minded person can say the right things with his lips, but entertains reservations deep within himself. We have all known that struggle. What is promised to him who handles his problems correctly James 1:12 This means at least two things. First, when a person stands against trials and temptations and conquers them he experiences the purpose God intended.
That is, he becomes a stronger and more genuine person—a person who is a little more like Jesus. We learn a little more clearly our task and purpose for being on earth. God has a twofold purpose for every believer: to become more and more like Jesus and to do a specific task or job while on earth. When the believer perseveres against and conquers trials or temptations, he perfects both purposes a little bit more. He becomes more like Yeshua being more conformed to His image. Second, a person becomes more and more complete in all parts.
This means a most wonderful thing. When a person perseveres and conquers trials or temptations he becomes more fit, more sound, and more complete. Day by day—trial by trial and temptation by temptation—when a person perseveres and conquers, he becomes more and more complete (Hebrew – Tam).
He becomes stronger and more like Jesus. As the last two words of James 1:4 say, “lacking nothing.” The believer who faces trials and temptations in the joy of Messiah conquers all. He experiences the abundance and fullness of life. He learns the process of triumphing over the trials and temptations of life. And He experiences the process of being conformed to the image of our Messiah (Philippians 3:12).
James 1:9-12 – A second way that we can have joy in the midst of our trials is by being content with our status in life. The believer of lowly status is to rejoice in the Lord. This doesn’t mean that he is to rejoice because he is poor, unhealthy, or crippled. It means that he rejoices in Messiah despite the circumstances. Someone once said that the role of preaching should be to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comforted. In that vein Jacob was a wonderful preacher.
In this section James brings encouragement to the poor. The New Covenant was to bring to the poor man a sense of his own worth. He matters to God and he matters to God’s people. In the early church there were no class distinctions. The slave was to be on equal footing with the master, they were both sinners redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
The poor man also matters in the world each member of the Body of Messiah has a gift and a call to use that gift to reach the world. Every one is of use to God and even if bedridden that person can pray and affect the world for the Kingdom. Too often the poor and those plagued with sickness allow their circumstances to dull, or destroy their spirit and joy in life. Sometimes they can become bitter against those who have more and desire to take some of what they have. Still others develop a sense of inferiority or inadequacy and withdraw or become poor in their behavior. When you are in a situation like this you need to strive to improve your lot as much as it is within your power.
Ephesians 4:28. None of us should allow our circumstances, no matter how terrible, to destroy our joy or make us bitter, inferior or withdrawn and acting in an ungodly manner. Every human being, no matter how lowly, is needed to make his contribution to society and the world. This is especially true with believers. Believers must never forget God nor the glorious salvation and exaltation to which God has raised them. Rejoicing in our status in life, facing it squarely in the face and setting out to conquer it, is one of the ways to conquer the trials and temptations of life. A lowly person who does not allow his lot in life to defeat him, but rather who overcomes his status develops a strong spirit. That spirit coupled with the wisdom of God can conquer any trial or temptation thrown against him. Joseph the beloved son of Jacob is a clear demonstration of that.
On the other hand the New Covenant calls on the well off to be humbled. Money tends to give us a sense of independence from God. It tends to insulate us from our vulnerability. If we have enough money we can avoid many problems and not be near to God because we have no need. James draws a vivid picture utilizing the desert, which surrounded Israel. If there is a shower of rain, green shoots of grass will sprout; but one day’s burning sunshine will make them vanish as if they had never been. This is a picture of what a life dependent on riches can be like.
A man who puts his trust in riches is trusting in things that can take be taken from him at any moment. Life itself is uncertain. Isaiah 40:6, 7; Psalm 103:15. Life is so uncertain and man so vulnerable, calamity and disaster may come at any moment. Since that is so, a man is a fool to put all his trust in things like wealth which can be lost at any moment. He is only wise if he puts his trust in things which he cannot lose. To put his confidence in God and surrender His life to Him.
James 1:13-18 – Many people seem to have the idea that because God is good, He should not allow His people to suffer or be tempted. They forget that God wants His children to grow up and experience new blessings of His grace; and one way they can mature is by going through trials and temptations. Jacob in explaining the nature of temptations, makes a careful distinction between trials and temptations. God sends trials to bring out the best in us, but Satan sends temptations to bring out the worst in us.
We may ask, “Why did James connect the two? What is the relationship between testings without and temptations within?” Simply this: if we are not careful, the testings on the outside may become temptations on the inside. When our circumstances are difficult, we may find ourselves complaining against God, questioning His love, and resisting His will. At this point, Satan provides us with an opportunity to escape the difficulty. This opportunity is a temptation.
There are many illustrations of this truth found in the Bible. Abraham arrived in Canaan and not long after he arrived he was in the midst of a famine. His flocks and herds were in jeopardy. This trial was an opportunity to prove God; but Abraham turned it into a temptation and went down to Egypt. While Israel was wandering in the wilderness, the nation often turned testings into temptations and tempted the Lord. No sooner had they been delivered from Egypt than their water supply vanished and they had to march for three days without water. When they did find water, it was so bitter they could not drink it.
Immediately they began to murmur and blame God. They turned their testing into a temptation, and they failed. Let’s consider the facts that Jacob wants us to know about temptation. One of the biggest struggles that most Believers have is that of dealing with temptation and the sin that so easily follows. The Word of God is clear and simple, His promises are found there. All we need to do is submit to God and let Him control our lives.
And yet it is not so simple. There seems to be no easy way out. The problem is of course, our sinful nature that hangs around and won’t let go. And there is Satan who looks for every opportunity he can to lead us astray. It all seems so complicated and hopeless. When temptation comes we cannot say that God is responsible, because God bestows on us good things, perfect things, and even when we cast a shadow with our turning, He remains faithful and good bringing good and perfect gifts into our life James 1:17 tells us this. In this passage Jacob presents some basic facts regarding temptation that we must all understand and accept before we can ever begin to deal with the problem itself:
1) Temptation is always present in life (James 1:13a) Let no one say when he is tempted, not if, but when! Temptation is inevitable. On earth we will never know a place where our flesh won’t in some way be aroused toward wrong things. The term tempt is important to define. It means “to entice to do wrong by a promise of pleasure or gain” and is synonymous with “to seduce, to allure into evil, to persuade”
2) Temptation is never prompted by God – James 1:13 Jacob’s understanding of the word “Tempt” has the idea of “soliciting to do evil”. This is in contrast to the testing God allows into our lives to stretch our faith or develop our character. God does not involve mankind in the realm of the immoral.
3) Temptation follows a consistent pattern James 1:14-15. These two verses form the crux of Jacob’s argument on temptation. This is the only place in Scripture where the process of tempt Let’s consider the stages of how temptation leads to death. The first stage includes two ingredients.
1) One is our evil desire. This desire can be so inactive or hidden that we do not even know that it is there until it rears its ugly head. Even though we are Believers, we still struggle with sin. We still have evil desires. These can be pride, bitterness, anger, envy. talks about the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16-17) What these desires want is contrary to the Spirit, of God and His will for us.
2) The second ingredient is opportunity. These are the things that entice us. As we go through life we are confronted with opportunities to sin. They can be something tangible like a social drink or drug, a movie or a TV show, a bag of chips. Or they can be circumstances ‑ when someone cuts us off on the Kennedy Expressway. They can be words that are spoken to us. Something happens when these two ingredients get together. Like a powerful nuclear reaction. When our desire is combined with an opportunity we have the second stage which is temptation. Satan knows how temptation works. When he tempted Yeshua he provided opportunities for our Messiah to fulfill human sinful desires.
James 1:15 defines temptation as desire that has conceived. Remember ‑ temptation is not sin. This brings us to next stage. When temptation is acted upon then we sin. Sin is doing that which is contrary to the word or will of God. Some might say that once we have sinned we might as well give up. We’ve blown it any way. But sin unchecked can grow until it is full grown.
When we live a life of sin and we stop fighting it and stop asking God to help us and forgive us. The result is death. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. And for those trapped in a pattern of sin there may seem to be no way out. But as we will now see we can deal with this through that which God has provided for us. God has provided for us a way to deal with our desires. The desires we have are to change as we grow mature as Believers. (Romans 12:1-2 & Galatians 5:24)
How does God enable us to change our desires? Psalm 119:11 ‑ I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. The more we are into the word, the less likely we are to sin. The 2nd ingredient of temptation is opportunity. God also helps us deal with this.
Matthew 26:41 We need to ask God to keep us from temptation. And we are to avoid situations and people? (Psalm 101:3-7) We need to learn not to associate with friends who are into wrong activities ‑ bad friends. 1 Corinthians 15:33. And then, God still provides for us when we are tempted. We must exercise self‑control and this is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
When we are tempted we must learn to be disciplined. (Galatians 5:22-24) And then, when we sin we need to remember that as believers, God has made provision for our forgiveness and reconciliation. Temptation flourishes on inconsistent thinking – (James 1:16) Believing a lie is often much easier than believing the truth.
Those who believe lies soon begin living them. When deceived, we play into the hands of temptation, and allurement builds its case upon deceptive thoughts. The desire that was first theoretical soon becomes hard reality. Then once one has indulged in sin’s pleasure, it becomes much easier to surrender to its enticements in future encounters. God had given us Wisdom how to live a life of Joy, Peace, and Fruitfulness. We must learn His Wisdom so that we might walk in His Light and Life.
In every temptation, there are 3 elements.
1) The bait – this is usually external and becomes the object of our interest.
2) The desire – where the bait is external and held out at a distance, lust rests in the victim’s heart.
3) The temptation – “drawn away” and “enticed” are the terms Jacob uses, it is the temptation that attracts the desire to the bait, whether in fantasy or reality. It is a go-between. These words don’t suggest brutality or force, but persuasion. The end result is death, not a physical death or even a spiritual death, but a death-existence. There may be pleasure for a time, but the growing emptiness soon overrides the short term enjoyment. The devil knows the precise bait that each of us prefers. He’s been fishing for souls longer than anyone else on earth. He knows our weaknesses in appetite, and spends time trying to get us to strike at his bait.
James 1:19-27 – This is a great passage of Scripture which gives us four preparations that must be made in order to overcome temptation. Without these preparations, temptation can never be conquered.
The first Preparation to overcome temptation (James 1:19-21) be quick to hear the Word of God. The thrust of these three verses is seen in James 1:21 receiving the Word so that a person’s soul will be saved.
The greatest temptation in the world is for a person to walk through life doing what he wants and pleases. When we do this we are ignoring, neglecting, and rejecting God. The result is death (James 1:15). If we are to be delivered from the great temptation that separates us from God, we need to prepare ourselves by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). This passage says that we have to do five things to hear and receive the Word of God.
1. We must be slow to speak. This means that we must be willing to listen instead relying on our own ideas and depending on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6).
2. In order to hear and receive God’s word – We must be slow to wrath or anger. This means at least two things. We need to learn to respond properly to what God says about temptation and sin and about the way that leads to life. If a person reacts against God’s plan of reconciliation and follows his own plan, he separates himself from God. None of us can ever experience God’s abundant life or conquer temptation if we react in anger against God’s Way of atonement and righteousness. Sometimes when we are told about ourselves we become angry and act against others in wrath. An angry person cannot focus his thoughts and spirit on God’s Word and His Spirit James 1:20.
3. In order to hear and receive God’s word – We must put aside all filthiness. The picture here is that of taking off a dirty garment and putting it aside. If a person enjoys dirt and filth, then his mind is going to be on it. His mind will not be clear, not enough to hear the Word of God. William Barclay makes the point that the Greek word for “filthiness” (ruparia) is taken from the Greek word rupos. The word is sometimes used to refer to wax in the ear. The picture is descriptive: a person with wax in the ear cannot hear the Word of God, not clearly. Therefore, he must take the wax out of his ear and put it away or else he will be deaf to the Word of God.
4. In order to hear and receive God’s word we must put aside all that remains of misbehavior, wickedness, and evil. The idea is this: even after putting aside all filthiness, there will still be some misbehavior or sin that will show up within us.
5. In order to hear and receive God’s word: We must receive the Word of God with humility. We must be as a child before God our Father sitting before Him meekly just as a child does his father. The idea is that we must be humble, gentle, quiet, and attentive in listening to the Word of God. We must sit and listen with an open heart ready to hear exactly what our Father says.
The word “implanted” literally means to be born within, the Word of God is planted within our heart and life. The result is that our soul is touched and transformed so that we receive the ability to overcome. We imperceptibly gain the power to master rejecting God’s leading in our lives and doing our own thing and living like we want. This is the way of the abundant life and the joy of walking and abiding with God.
This is the first preparation that a person must make to withstand temptation: he must be quick to hear the Word of God. In James 1:22-25 we see The second Preparation necessary for overcoming temptation – Contrary to what most people think, it is not enough to hear and know the Word of God; we must live and do the Word of God. There are three points.
1. The person who only hears and knows the Word deceives himself. If a person thinks that he can hear and learn the Word of God and then go out and live like he wants deceives himself. There are many who sit under the Word of God week after week, and think that their listening and learning makes them acceptable to God. When they slip into sin, they feel that they can ask God for forgiveness and that He will forgive them. They just feel that God would never reject them.
2. But note something that God does not accept us because we hear and know the Word nor because we confess our sins. Each of these are necessary and very important, but they are not enough. God accepts us because we confess and repent. Repentance means that we turn away from our sins and turn to God. God accepts us because we turn to Him and live for Him. When we believe God, really believe Him, then we trust and follow Him and do exactly what He says.
3. Bridle and control the tongue. If a person thinks that he is religious, that is, acceptable to God, and does not bridle his tongue, he deceives himself. No matter what he thinks or professes, his religion is empty. The word religious and religion describes a person who is very religious and yet is loose with his tongue by interrupting and dominating conversations.
He is one who is easily provoked and lashes out at others. He is one who is eager to gossip and tell all kinds of unwholesome stories; a person who regularly is found criticizing and murmuring as well as judging and condemning others. He will at times curse and engage in suggestive and off-colored talk, as well as talking about and running down others.
No matter what a person thinks, no matter how religious he is, if he does not bridle his tongue, he deceives himself. His religion is empty. He does not please God and is unacceptable to God. For a person to withstand and to conquer temptation, he must bridle his tongue (Ephesians 4:31;Titus 3:1-2;James 4:11;1 Peter 2:1;3:10;Proverbs 13:3).
The 4th Preparation Necessary to Withstand Trials and Temptation (James 1:27) – is practicing pure religion, visiting the needy, and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. Two things are said to be necessary in this preparation.
1. A person must visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. This certainly would apply to visiting all who have needs within the community, those who are: orphaned, widowed, shut-in, bedridden, lost or unsaved, fatherless or motherless, grieved , lonely. Whatever the need, God expects us to visit them. He expects us to reach all within our community, and the task is not really all that difficult.
2. A person must keep himself unspotted from the world. Pure religion does not become corrupted with false beliefs or with false religion. It holds to the purity of the message of God’s Good News and to the Word of God. Pure religion doesn’t focus on simply upon form, ritual and ceremony. These can be helpful and important but our main focus must be on the power of God to change lives, through the New Covenant.
Pure religion does not become entangled with the affairs and pleasures of this world. True religion stirs people to separate themselves from the materialism that arouse our desires and cravings (Romans 12:2) is is how do we overcome trials and temptations: to be quick to hear the Word of God. – Do the Word of God; not be a hearer only – We need to learn bridle and control the tongue and by practicing pure religion, visit the needy, and keep unspotted from the world.