James 2:1-14

James 2023  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  55:49
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James 2:1-14

Good morning Church! Hey before we get started, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine, Ronny Larson. I’ve known Ronny or known of Ronny for over a dozen years. I’ve mostly been able to observe from a distance and what validates Ronny as a true Son of God is that there is observable fruit in his life. We’ve talked about that a little bit here in the book of James. He is a man who is a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away, and all things have been new.
Before I have him come up and introduce himself, I want to show you a video of a piece that CBN did about his story.
Video
Thank you Ron! Join me if you will now in James chapter 2. Let’s pray...
Before we start here, I want to remind you where we left off, just one verse back. James had been speaking about deceiving ourselves by thinking we had something we didn’t. He talked about a useless religion. And then in vs. 27 of chapter 1 he says...
James 1:27 NKJV
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Remember this guys. Not just to serve those that couldn’t pay you back. Not just to look out for those that others don’t even see, but also in their trouble, when things are a mess. AND...we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. You guys know that verse that says Christians should be in the world, but not of the world right? There’s not that verse, well not one that says it that directly, but there are a few that hit the point.
First Jesus says in the Gospel of John
John 17:14–15 NKJV
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
And then we have the words of Paul in Romans chapter 12...
Romans 12:1–2 NKJV
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
That sounds a whole lot like what James is talking about here, to keep ones self unspotted from the world. There’s an old saying, “That a leopard can’t change it’s spots.” Meaning something to the effect that no one can change who they are, that they can’t change their innate nature, innate meaning in inborn. After spending a lifetime in law enforcement, I have to say I agree with that. None of us can change our nature, but…Jesus can! We can become a new creation in Christ.
So James is saying that true religion, or this is what a real Christian looks like,... they’re different. They don’t just look out for themselves like we see in the world, but instead they look out for the ones that can’t look out for themselves. The ones that can’t repay, the ones that have nothing to give in return.
Here James is instructing us on how we are to live individually, but as a pastor, He knows that there is another element to our lives, these new creation lives in Jesus well that life has a corporate aspect to it. Doing life together. So when we get into chapter two James takes a look at that. Let’s check it out, chapter 2 vs. 1
James 2:1 NKJV
1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.
So James is doing something here that we are going to see again in this chapter, in fact through the rest of the letter. He give us a principle and then shows us an example. He does it similar to how Jesus used parables. A few quick things I want you to notice about this verse though before we get to the example. Again pay attention throughout how pastor James refers to himself and how he refers to his audience.
He never elevates himself. He starts the letter as James a bondservant. He’s writing to his brethren, in most places it is his beloved brethren, James loves these guys. And just as He recognizes Jesus as Lord, as God at the beginning of chapter 1, he does so here as well. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, and then there is this word partiality. Don’t hold the faith of our Lord with partiality.
The word itself is an interesting one because it means to lift up ones face. Similar to how God told the priests of Aaron to bless the people...
Numbers 6:24–26 NKJV
24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’
James is giving us a principle here, of not showing favoritism toward one over another, and it’s regarding our conduct as a church. Now 2,000 years later, the world isn’t looking at favoritism, everyone wants that, we focus on the negative underbelly of it prejudice and discrimination. But James gives us an example here in which we can see both. He says...
James 2:2–4 NKJV
2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
The example that James gives was relevant and real in the day that he wrote it and I think even more-so today. See they lived in a day where there were huge distinctions between the rich and the poor. The rich found ways to turn their wealth into power and once they had power, their pride would cause them to do whatever it took, to hang onto it. OK, so not so different from today.
Property owners often had slaves to work their land, or people would have to go into slavery for a period of time to work off their debt. Yet, when they came to church. The slave master might be given a seat right next to his slave, or maybe even be served communion by his slave, or be taught the Word by his slave.
I spent much of my life in LE which included a dozen years as a Chaplain, so it is not all that uncommon for us to have both cops and robbers (reformed of course), but those from both sides of the bars worshiping here together. James is saying that the church, when we gather together, this needs to be the one place where all distinctions are wiped out.
Where we focus on what unites us, not what makes the person sitting next to you, not like you.
The example that James gives is the rich and the poor, and that’s a good one, very often the rich are treated way different than the poor in the church. Prior to coming to Calvary Chapel, most of the churches I went to had their financial boards made up of the wealthiest business men among them. Was it because they were the most mature spiritually? I’m not even sure they were all saved.
Why does James warn against this? Sadly, because it’s human nature. We have a tendency by nature, to want to associate ourselves with those that can most benefit ourselves. It should never be so in the church!
This is one of the reasons why I don’t want to know what you give as a part of your worship to God in the offering. We have a mortgage here like you do at home, we have a light bill, a gas bill, maintenance expenses. A couple of years ago we added this big addition on the back to bless your kids, we’re still paying for that. If I knew that you gave a ton towards all that, or if the church board came to me and said we want to give you a big raise this year because this person or that person makes 10 million a year and they started tithing here, couldn’t that have a pretty good chance of making me act a little goofy around you?
Or if I found out that you give nothing, might I want to find a special seat for you? I hope not. I hope I’ve grown past all that stuff, but you know what? I don’t want to risk it. So I don’t know who gives what around here. That makes it real easy to love you all the same.
I see the church as a whole make this mistake in all kinds of areas all of the time. What do we do when a celebrity makes a profession of faith? We flaunt all over them. Maybe give they an opportunity to share their testimony, or to be the Main Speaker at a conference after they’ve been saved for a total of about 7 minutes. Why? Because they’re not a widow, an orphan, or someone in poverty, they can benefit me.
James says don’t do it. Can rich people be real Christians? Of course they can. Don’t you think they can tell when you’re giving them the best seat and the place of honor just because of their net worth? OF course they can, and it’s painful to not be valued for who you are in Christ, and you probably won’t see them again. AND the poor don’t want special treatment because you pity them.
Another way we can do this is with…I don’t even really know what to call them. Christian celebrities. Musicians, even pastors of large churches. What if a famous pastor came here to visit? You should love them just like you would the stranger and you should love the stranger just like you should the celebrity pastor.
You guys get the point. Notice again the point James makes in verse 4…it goes beyond partiality and he relates it to being judges with evil thoughts? Why? Because it is sin! Now William Barclay notes that there is a problem here in our translation. He tells us that the word that is translated in our text as shown partiality can have two meanings...
(1) It can mean ‘You are wavering in your judgments if you act like that.’ That is to say, ‘If you pay special honour to the rich, you are torn between the standards of the world and the standards of God, and you can’t make up your mind which you are going to apply.’ (2) It may mean ‘You are guilty of making class distinctions which in the Christian fellowship should not exist.’ We prefer the second meaning, because James goes on to say: ‘If you do that, you are judges whose thoughts are evil.’ That is to say, ‘You are breaking the commandment of him who said, “Judge not that you be not judged” ’ (Matthew 7:1).
James 2:5–7 NKJV
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
One of the things the rich could do in this day was if they saw someone that owed them money, they could basically take them captive and drag them into the court and demand payment. This would be done without mercy. And James is saying that in doing so, they are without mercy and are blaspheming the name by which they are called. By who’s name are Christians called? Christ’s. I love the way James puts this. The language he uses here is the same as a wife taking the name of her husband or the children being named after the father to designate to who’s family they belong.
Believers were first called Christians in Antioch, and at that time is was done as mockery in persecution. It was something that followers of Christ were called as if they were little Christs. That’s a pretty cool thing for the world to call you. To look at your life, to see the changes and to say, oh that is one who is identified with Christ. And then to call you Christian as if you were married to Jesus as the bride of Christ and took his name or were by spiritual birth, born into the family and had your name changed, such as when we baptise you in Jesus’ name.
James 2:8–9 NKJV
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
It is interesting when Pharisees and the Sadducees conspired together to try to trap Jesus, they asked him about the law, because they knew the rules of religion. THey wanted to know, of all the laws, what was the greatest commandment.
Matthew 22:37–39 NKJV
37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
So here, James says when it comes to church, and how we act when we gather, love everybody the same, and treat them like you’d like to be treated. Lift your face to all, don’t overlook anyone, or look down on anyone, especially, just by the way they look, or because they are different than you. He goes on to say, look, this isn’t a matter of bad manners it is a sin! And you are convicted by the law as transgressors. AND even though you might not see it as a major sin, you need to look out, because that’s not how the law works...
Verse 10
James 2:10–11 NKJV
10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
Christians, last week we talked about laying things aside that have been holding us back. We can sometimes look at sins in this way. Well, I’m a good guy, I help people, or ladies maybe you read your bibles and pray, and help others even when it gets in the way, but James tells us that sin, all sin is a big deal, and if we have one sin, we are guilty of the whole law, that is why we need forgiveness through Jesus Christ and the cross.
James 2:12 NKJV
12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.
James says there’s only one solution to this problem. The wages of sin is death, and if you let Him, if you ask, Jesus will transfer that cost of that sin from your account to His, and He paid for that with His blood on the cross.
SO then we can speak and do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. Which says we no longer do anything by compulsion. Like these guys used to as Jews under the law. But now in the New Covenant. We don’t do things by a list of rules, but by love. God writes His will on our hearts, and our love for God and gratitude toward Jesus, compels us to please Him. Paul puts it like this in 2 Cor.
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NKJV
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
James 2:13 NKJV
13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Christian we need to understand this. Only those who show mercy will find mercy. What is a good working definition of mercy…not getting what we deserve. How do we show mercy. Forgiving others, even when they don’t deserve it. Mercy says do it especially when they don’t deserve it.
There is verse after verse after verse in you Bible that tells you that as a Christian, forgiveness is not a choice it is required. Father for give us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us.
One that I’ve spent quite a bit of time in lately is found in the Gospel of Matthew. I won’t read it all now, especially because I made my Growth Group go though it. But it can be found in Matthew chapter 18 verses 23-35, and I’d encourage you to read it, consider it, and then take whatever action is required. It speak of one who was unwilling to forgive, even after they were forgiven much and it ends with the condemnation received by the unforgiving servant, I will read that.
Matthew 18:34–35 NKJV
34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Not optional for the Christian, unless of course you want to be subject to the torturers. One more verse…Verse 14 in James chapter 2.
James 2:14 NKJV
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
The answer to the question is yes and no. Can faith save a man or a woman like that, yeah faith can save all of us, but No, not the kind of faith that is mentioned here.
James is not trying to get us to doubt our salvation, nor is he trying to argue against the teachings of the Apostle Paul as many teach from these verse. Paul wrote...
Ephesians 2:8–9 NKJV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
James does not disagree. He’s just saying that you have to be more than a sayer, more than a what? More than one who just says he has faith. James 2:14
James 2:14 NKJV
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
We should have no confidence in a profession of faith that has not produced fruit. No confidence even in a prayer we might have repeated after someone else if it hasn’t turned into a changed life. We can’t just say we have faith. The devil believes, the demons believe, in fact they go further than believe, they tremble because they know its true, but their not saved. AND James is continuing on his theme from chapter 1 and encouraging us to not deceive ourselves.
Paul is right and James is right. We are saved by faith and not by works, but James tells us that a true faith, a saving faith, will result in works, and we will see and those around us will see a changed life. It isn’t the works that save us, but they are the evidence that we did real business with Jesus at the foot of the cross.
So with this verse, James presents his next principle, and we will wait until next week to unpack his examples.
Grace and Peace church
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