James 1:9-18

James 2023  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:47
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James 1:9-18

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James 1:9-18

Good morning Church! Please join me in opening your bibles to the book of James. We began this book last week with an introduction of understanding that the things that James exhorts us to, or challenges us with, just can’t be done effectively or sustainably in the power of our flesh, but must be done, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The book of James is interesting for a number of reasons. It actually reads more like the book of Proverbs than it does a typical New Testament letter. It doesn’t waste words. Some of the other New Testament writer might lead you down a wordy path and have you thinking, OK, I know this is leading somewhere, but I really just don’t get it. James just says it direct.
You might remember that It was a tough time when he wrote it. It is directed to the 12 tribes that have been scattered. James was a leader of the church in Jerusalem, persecution had become so severe, that the church was driven out and they were spread out all over the place. So he writes to encourage them.
One of the things that we talked about was the radical response James encourages in us. Remember verse 2.
James 1:2 NKJV
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
We talked about this in the service and then beat it to death in our Growth Groups, so I won’t spend a ton of time on it now, but remember that James was writing to Christians. And he talks to them about how they should respond to trials now that they are Christians, and now that they are experiencing a hardship or a trial, and what he presents is just not normal.
It is a radical response to count it all joy when trial come. It is a radical response to focus on what the trial will produce in us, this hardship, this trial “Per-os-mos” in the Greek. But now that they are Christians, they should respond to trials differently than they did before they were Christians, now that they are Christians, they should respond differently than the non-Christians do in the world around them.
We respond differently, because we understand that these things aren’t random, they are with a purpose. That purpose is to produce something in us. Patience, and patience is what we want because , it will make us more like Jesus. We are going to see this word again in our text today. But there is a third category. These Christians are also supposed to respond differently than they did when they were not walking in victory.
Some of us in this room know what it is to be a Christian, to accept Christ as Savior, but then to not grow. To become a Christian and to fail and to fall back, so we will see today that we also have to have a radical attitude and take radical actions when it comes to temptation. But I’m getting ahead of ourselves now, lets pray and then tackle this.
Father, You are Holy and Righteous, unchanging, all powerful, and You are love. Thank you for loving us enough to be patient and merciful Lord. Please give us understanding of Your Word. In Jesus Name.
We made it as far as verse 8, so picking up in verse 9
James 1:9–11 NKJV
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 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.
This was written in a different time and a different place. So remember that we really need to read it through the lens of a Jewish Christian roughly 45 years after Jesus went to the cross. The culture was different. You had rich Christians and poor Christians. Some wealthy Christians may have been slave owners. Some of those slaves could have been elders in the church, or maybe the pastor of the church, but in the church there was not the disparity of the classes like there was in the worldly culture.
If you were lowly or poor in the judgement of the world, God did not see you as less than anyone else, and concerning the rich, the message was to glory in your humiliation or your humility, because your money can’t save you, you’re going to die just like the poor man. So in the church, what the world says we are doesn’t matter, and in reality what we think of ourselves or say ourselves, doesn’t matter as much as who and what God says we are.
Now to those that have struggled in their walk, it’s time to get radical again. Look at verse 12.
James 1:12 NKJV
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.
Now check this out, because again, this certainly wasn’t the way I thought before I got saved. If I’m telling the truth, I struggled to think this way for a long time after I got saved. Remember biblically, the word blessed means “happy is he.” I thought I was unhappy when I was fighting against temptation, and happy when I finally gave into it and got what I wanted.
No, James tells us Happy is He who endures…what does your bible say there? Mine says temptation. Does anybodies say anything else? I think the ESV says, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, NASB Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial. The word in the Greek is “Per-os-mos” the same word that is translated as trial in verse number 2. So what is up with that?
In the Greek, this particular word can mean test, trial, temptation, enticement to sin, examination, … it all depends and the meaning is determined by the context. But I think that both can apply here. Blessed is the man who endures temptation to sin, or blessed is the man who perseveres, or remains steadfast under a trial. Because it is when we are under a trial, stressing out about something that we are often tempted to sin.
If someone is having trouble in their marriage and they are constantly fighting with their spouse, they might be tempted to go outside of their marriage and sin. If your experiencing a financial trial, you might be tempted to cheat or to steal, to earn under the table. Are you following me? When bad things are happening, or I’m under trial, say a medical trial, or you experience a severe loss, the temptation may be to blame God, or to give up on God. So whether it is enduring temptation or persevering through a trial rather than rebelling against God, the pathway to the blessing is endurance, or perseverance.
That is actually a very interesting word as well. Sorry for the Greek lesson this morning and sorry I pronounce Greek words even worse than I do English words. But his word endurance is hoop-o-meno. It can mean endure, await, wait upon, or remain. Now what I love about this word is that it is the same word, or the root of the word rather meno, is a super important bible word, as it is the word translated abide.
It’s the word that Jesus uses when He tells us that the most important thing we can do is abide in Him. He is the Vine, we are the branches, if we remain in Him we will bear much fruit. So the word abide means to remain or to stay, to live in. Now our word hoop-o-meno, the prefix hoop-o means under, so it literally means remain under or to stay under.
So when we face things in life that tempt us to do what God says will harm us, will separate us from Him, we need to hold fast, to remain under Jesus and don’t go there, don’t let those things pull us away. That is a radical move. That is not what the world encourages. Follow your heart, you deserve it, you only live once. You know that this messed up world economy is completely based upon you falling for your temptations. Did you know that? That is basically what the economic term consumer confidence is.
That you and I are confident enough in the economy, even though our government is bankrupting our children’s children. Consumer confidence means that if we see something that we want, even those things at the check out counter that we don’t need, we are still going to grab them. After all your country is depending on you, the entire American economy is counting on you to get that king size snickers bar. The world tells us to satisfy ourselves all the time. Modern day Psychology tells us to give in to our desires, don’t repress our desires because of someone else’s expectations.
There was an article in the wall street journal within the past week, titled, Americans can’t stop spending, five reasons why. It’s because of all of this.
James says, here is some more radical stuff for you. Rather than cave to your cravings, rather than let temptation lead you way from Jesus, you need to remain under His covering. Endure that temptation by clinging to Jesus.
The blessing comes from enduring and not caving. Those of you that have blown it. Actually, I don’t want to assume anything here. Any of you guys experience something like that after you became a Christian. A temptation came up and you sinned, after you were a Christian, just me? Well then you know that what you thought would satisfy, pretty quickly becomes a discouragement. Maybe you felt like a failure, maybe you felt weak.
James tells us that happy is the man or the woman who endures the temptation or the trial and doesn’t let it lead them into sin. And it is in the endurance, in the perseverance, in the not sinning that true happiness is found. Our verse goes on to say…for when he has been approved. So again, different culture, different time, their monetary system was completely different from ours.
Our system is based upon promises. We walk around and we carry pieces of paper that have no value in and of themselves. It’s just paper. Based upon that paper, our government says we promise there is money here that is of that same value. If you don’t use cash, it is the same with your credit card. Well will this digital transaction, I promise that I’ll send my credit card company some money and they will give you either another digital transaction, or something so you can think that you now have some money.
Theirs was based on precious metals. They had coins. These coins had different values based upon their weight. The value would be stamped on the face of the coin, and you could buy and sell with it and everyone knew the value. Every system has it’s problems the problem with that system was that the ones that manufactures the coins or minted the coins, not all of them were completely honest. Some would mint the coin and make it just a little bit light. Why would they do that? Well if you short this coin and short that coin, eventually you have enough material left over to make a coin of your own.
The problem was so bad that in the city of Athens there was upwards of 80 laws on the books to deal with those that would manufacture these short coins. There were also men that fought against this practice, They were men of integrity that would not accept a coin without weighing each and every coin to verify its weight and approve it. If the coin didn’t measure up, it would be rejected. These guys were called the dokimos. That is this same word in verse 12 for approved. Dokimos. James is saying the real joy is in the endurance the staying under Jesus, not moving towards sin, but being tested and approved, its he or she that has been proven and will receive the Crown of Life, eternal life with Jesus.
So he gives us some tips here. The first is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own actions and avoid blaming God or others. Lets look at…verse 13
James 1:13 NKJV
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.
It has been my experience not just as a pastor, but also as a probation officer for several years that when people mess up almost always, they blame someone else. Let me remind you that James is writing this to Christians. Why would he have to write this to Christians? Because Christians mess up and far too often they blame their husband or their wife, or maybe even God. That has been going on literally since the beginning of time.
In fact if we go all the way back to Gen 3, we see Adam saying well Lord, it’s not my fault it was the woman that you gave me. Did God let him get away with that even though he was right? Kidding. No, Adam basically says man God, everything you created was good, except You said I needed a helper and that’s what You came up with? You and Eve have some stuff to work out God, I’ll be over here snacking on a Pomegranate, that’s on the approved list. Adam blamed two others, both God and Eve.
When Eve was questioned, it was the serpents fault, he deceived her. James says we’ve got to change out thinking on this stuff if we are going to be able to endure. First, it’s no one else’s fault. It’s not God’s fault. God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does God tempt anyone to sin. If not God, then who…verse 14
James 1:14 NKJV
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
Now that word enticed means to catch by a bait. Ladies, it is November in Maine. Many of your husbands may have been out hunting all day yesterday. They probably didn’t take the kids with them. Maybe that is OK with you, maybe it’s not. But imagine with me one of the kids got sick, or got a sore throat, maybe developed a cough and you needed to go to the store to get some cough syrup.
While you were on the way to the store, which meant that you had to pack all the kids up and take them with you, you were complaining a little bit, maybe already said a word or two you shouldn’t have said, or were a little cross with one of the kids. You are frustrated, but you gotta do what you gotta do. As you are driving, you look out into the field on the way to the store and you see a great big buck. Of course right. He’s out there in the woods somewhere, and there’s nothing to it.
At first you don’t think much of it, but then you look again, and pull over. It stays right there. You want to take a picture because of all the points it has on the horns. Actually, you could take a picture, or you could just dump that deer right there and show him. The sign says no trespassing, but no one is around for miles, and you could really stick it to him. Plus if you got a deer, maybe he wouldn’t hunt next Saturday, so you wouldn’t be alone with the kids again. And the more you think about it, the more your desires rise up, you are enticed…and you take the shot. Remember that word enticed means to catch by a bait. You shoot, but the deer doesn’t go down, you shoot again. This time you actually get out to the minivan and lay the rifle across the hood and bang, bang, bang, it doesn’t drop. And then you hear Maine Game Warden. It was just a stuffed deer.
Or better yet. You fishermen. If you just throw a hook out in the water, what are you going to catch? Nothing! The fish can see the hook. But if you dress it up with a worm, or you throw a lure out there, well that big ole bass might come out of it’s protective cover, out of the weed bed, or the branches of that tree that fell in the water, you might tempt that fish, his desires for a meal may entice him, and when he goes for it, you set the hook.
Then what? You begin to crank that real and he is drawn away from that place of safety. It’s not God that tempts us. It’s not anyone else’s fault, it’s our fault. Being tempted isn’t a sin, you guys know that right? Jesus was tempted in all ways that we are, yet he was without sin. James wants us to be painfully aware and brutally honest with our weaknesses.
If when I am tempted I forget that there is a hook inside that lure, then I will let my desire entice me. And then what happens. You get tempted. Or some of us are dumb enough to tempt ourselves. I mean we really have no intention of sinning, just getting close. Dumb. The bible tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you. Actually James tells us that later in this book. In other places we are told to flee from sin, God always, always makes a way of escape. But we need to do it at the moment of temptation and make every attempt to avoid temptation in the first place.
When we allow our desires to entice us. We begin to think about the sin, we begin to consider how we could get away with it, and then somewhere alone the line we decide to do it and the hook has been set. We are drawn away. Sorry doesn’t stop us at that point, regret is not helpful when the hook is pulling us away, farther and farther from God.
There are all kinds of hooks that will pull us away from God, that will destroy our families, that will destroy ourselves and our testimonies. We need to consider what Jesus did when He was tempted. Each time He responded it is written, it is written and then He would speak out that Scripture. Something that we can do today, in developing a radical new way of thinking about sin, is to find some Scriptures that speak to the things that we may be tempted to be drawn away by and memorize them. Learn them and lean on them.
When temptation comes, flee, resist, endure, but also speak those Scriptures out loud. Someone might think you are weird, so what? You won’t be drawn away. Verse 15
James 1:15 NKJV
15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
In order for conception to take place two things have to come together. We can’t let desire conceive. Don’t let desire and opportunity come together. Because when they do, it give birth to sin and sin always brings death.
James 1:16 NKJV
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
You can see here that James really loves these guys and has their very best interest at heart.
James 1:17–18 NKJV
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Don’t blame others, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and protect ourselves. Learn some Scripture to help defend you in the battle.
Temptation gets us when our desires entice us and draw us away, don’t move toward it. Not one step. When we allow temptation to begin to draw us toward it, we will bite the hook.
Don’t be deceived. Lets have the right thinking, the right theology. God only gives good things.
Grace and Peace
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