22 October 2012
Winston Churchill was once asked, “ Doesn't it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech, the hall is packed to overflowing?” “It’s quite flattering,” replied Sir Winston. “But whenever I feel that way, I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.” Humility is something that each and every one of must strive towards each and every day as children of the Living God. Why? By nature we are a proud, self-righteous, ignorant to the truth of scripture, haters, boasters and depraved to the core sinner who is deserving of the ultimate wrath of God. Jesus said “….., "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." Mark 7:20-23. See, that statement Jesus made goes against everything this post-modern, everything tolerant and self-esteem movement try’s to teach us today. Do you know that well intentioned Christians have gone so far to change some of the words to some of the greatest hymns ever composed? For example in the hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” there is a line that says “my own worthlessness” was changed to “my unworthiness” by one gentleman. This same person also criticized the working of Isaac Watts “Alas, And Did My Saviour Bleed” He said “such a worm as I….could convey to many people a quite unflattering self-image.” But that’s the point…..when you examine your wretched life as it lines up with a holy and perfect God. We don’t deserve His grace….and if you think otherwise then you are only fooling yourself! As C J Mahaney said “Contrary to popular and false belief, it’s not “those who help themselves” whom God helps; it’s those who humble themselves.” This is the promise of humility. God is personally and providentially supportive of the humble. And the grace He extends to the humble is indescribably rich…goes beyond the riches of this life.
The Apostle Paul the most self-assured and proud person on the planet penned these words. In Phil 3:7-10 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”By nature we will never understand what humility means until the light of God’s grace illuminates our desperate need of saving. As J C Ryle said “Humility like this is one of the strongest evidences of the indwelling of the Spirit of God. We know nothing of humility by nature, for we are all born proud. To convince us of sin, to show us our own vileness and corruption, to put us in our right place, to make us lowly and self-abased–these are among the principal works which the Holy Spirit works in the soul of man. Few of our Lord’s sayings are so often repeated as the one which closes the parable of the Pharisee and Tax-collector–“Every one that exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14.) To have great gifts, and do great works for God, is not given to all believers. But all believers ought to strive to be clothed with humility.” ~ J.C. Ryle
- Humility is what brought us to our knees.
- Humility is what keeps in a right relationship with Christ.
- Humility shows us where our worth is hidden.
- Humility is what keeps us aware of our desperate need for the Good Shepherd every day.
We come to the continuation of what we talked about last week…What does James say “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (v6b). Not only does He give grace, but He gives….. what? “more grace” (v6a). The only hope we have in our spiritual darkness is more grace from a sovereign God. The only One that can save and deliver us from our sin nature and the sins that cling to our selfish desires even today. Which can be anything from lust, to anger, covetousness, selfishness….. to simply lying about something minute. But in order for “more grace” we must be humbled and not be proud! Proud in this passage could be rendered “arrogant or boastful” as seen in Romans 1:30 “slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,”Pride kills! Listen to happen to a prideful person according to God’s word.
- It’s always accompanied by shame “When pride comes, then comes disgrace,” Prov 11:2
- It loves to fight “Pride only breeds quarrels,” Prov 13:10
- It tricks you in falling “The pride of your heart has deceived you” Obadiah 1:3
- The LORD detests all the proud of heart “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord” Prov 16:5
- It’s the opposite of love “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” 1 Cor 13:4
- Can I tell you this God hates the sin of pride! Prov 6:16-17 “a proud look”
James is warning us…… because he loves us, and he writes to the church in (v7) Humble yourselves under His mighty hand of grace. James says “Submit” which comes from a military term “to rank under”. As a private would submit under the command of a general…..you will never see a General submit to a private…..EVER! Who are we to submit to or rank under? The sovereign Lord who desires to give you more grace. But again in order to receive more grace we must come humbly before Him. And resist the Devil and all that he has to offer you sinful heart. “Resist” means to “stand against” or “to oppose” there is no middle ground that we can stand on…..it’s either this present world system or His sovereign arms. As John said “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17. See we are to “Draw near” humbling oneself under the care and supervision of His grace for sinners through the gospel and His sanctifying mercies each and every day.In order to draw near to God and for God to draw near to us we need to do something which is crucial for our fellowship with a holy God.
The FIRST THING James addresses is by saying “cleanse your hands you sinners” (v8). In the Old Testament the priests hand to wash their hands before approaching God…and same rule applies to our spiritual lives. It’s possible that James is talking to two different groups of people! The saved and the unsaved. “Sinners” in this passage means “a sinful behaviour or a sinner who needs saving” Whichever category you fit into this morning?……James is giving a clear gospel and reminder to where our true fellowship belongs and the importance of repentance. The Apostle Paul penned these words “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Cor 7:10. We must come in genuine repentance and recognize that we have sinned against a holy God.
The SECOND THING that is required is the other side of the coin idea! We are to “purify our hearts” turn from our wicked ways. (v8) James goes even further…….by calling us out, by saying “you double minded” people. Which literally means “doubled souled” this is a person who claims one thing, but lives, or does the opposite of what he claims? I believe in Jesus but I don’t live according to His word, it’s the same thing James said back in 1:22-24. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
The THIRD THING is we’re to truly hate our sin…. Or don’t make lite of your sin! James says “lament and mourn and weep” (v9) this is the outward display of an inner sorrow over sin. A brokenness that humbles a person to the ground. Did you know that it took David a year before he was truly broken over his sin with Bathsheba? David wrote “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Ps 51:2-10. If we do these things not only does it lead us to humility it leads us into a proper communion with God! As the Apostle John said “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7. And when we are in fellowship with Him……the Bible says “He will draw near to us”……because our hearts are receptive to His wonderful work in grace in our lives.
This is vital for the Christian walk……this vital for the Christian life. Our greatest desire and blessing is for the sovereign Creator to draw near to sinners like us. To not care or cherish the blessing of His fellowship is to forsake the grace of the Gospel. We need to flee from this evil world system and submit to our Master in complete humility! Why? 2 Chron 15:2 says "……Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. Charles Swindoll “Humility isn't a show we put on; in fact, if we think we're humble, we're probably not. In our day of self-promotion, self-assertion, spotlighting "celebrities of the faith," and magnifying the flesh, this quality---so greatly valued by the Lord Jesus---is a rare commodity indeed. . . .A truly humble person looks for opportunities to give himself freely to others rather than holding back, to release rather than hoarding, to build up rather than tearing down, to serve rather than being served, to learn from others rather than clamoring for the teaching stand. How blessed are those who learn this early in life.” The Pharisee’s were a proud people who thought they had it all together. We have people even the church think they make it on their own without the help of a loving Saviour! Listen to Jesus said to them in John’s gospel about their self-righteousness. John 5:37-47 “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" They were so blinded with pride they couldn't see the one Moses talked about! We live in a fallen world that is blind and deaf to the truth of the gospel……all because of pride and the love for this fallen world. Don’t be like the Pharisee’s and lose out on the greatest grace ever given to man? Jesus Christ. Humble yourselves under the care and direction of the Savior and He will as James said in the end of (v10) “and He will lift you up” He will lift you up by His sovereign grace into Heavenly places where He is seated at the right hand of the Father......which is "more grace".
21 October 2012
16 October 2012
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU MAKE FRIENDS WITH? That’s a tough one to answer isn’t it? We live in a society that tries so hard…… wanting to fit in! But the sad reality to that idea is like trying to put a square in a round hole. It won’t fit no matter how hard you try to make it fit. The only way a person can make it fit is shaving off the corners…….which is no different than compromising for the sake of others and this world. That could mean possibly compromising certain passages of scripture, or not speaking about the truth of the gospel to people for the sake of losing a friendship or employment. Let’s get a little closer to home….our so-called evangelical churches! Has the church allowed the world into our fellowship? YES. Has the church changed in order to adapt to this fallen world? YES. There are churches around the globe that have done it, or doing it right now! A church in the States rein acted the kissing scene from Spiderman, to illustrate our Hero’s in the Bible. Another church did “I’m sexy and I know it” as special during the service. New Springs Church in South Carolina….Opened the service with “I Wanna Rock & Roll All Night” by rock band KISS. A few years back The Church of England is getting help from the Simpsons to provide a more relevant way of teaching children about theology and to give a boost to dwindling congregations. We have everything from the “Shark Dance” to “Circus” in our churches. We even had a church 2 hours from here put on a Batman Play to represent the resurrection on Easter Sunday last year. That's disgusting! As Paul Washer said “the church today in America looks like a six flags over Jesus, because if you draw people using carnal means, you will have to keep people by using carnal means.”It comes dow to this one question! Do we even care anymore that we have allowed the world to dictate the way we act and live in our homes, or churches?
This even goes back to what we looked at last week! Whose counsel are we to be seeking out? This fallen and depraved world or the all- knowing, self- sufficient Creator of the Universe? It’s no wonder why…..so many so-called Christian homes are falling apart. It’s no wonder why….. the church is in the state it’s in. It’s no wonder why…. the unsaved world doesn't embrace the gospel…..we look different than them. It’s no wonder why……. that we are following in the footsteps of our father Adam. This is a sad state of affairs in the realm of Christianity……..and the number one problem is that we have chosen to make friends with this world over Jesus. The church has left the back door open wider than the front door and our churches are filled with partial truth to no truth, to fun and excitement! Why? The church has embraced this world’s philosophy and fallen ideals. The word of God says “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15. Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed [adapt, fashioned, resemble] to this world”. John wrote 1 John 3:13 “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”. John also wrote “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” 1 John 2:15. This present age will drag you down! Paul said “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted [forsaken, left] me and gone to Thessalonica.” 2 Tim 4:10. A friendship with the world only brings death. Paul wrote “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Rom 8:13. AND JAMES HAS SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THAT ISSUE AS WELL THIS MORNING! So we come to chapter 4 and James summarizes this portion of his letter in (v4) “friend with the world is hostility towards God”
Let me ask you! In what direction do you steer your Christina life towards? Is it more inclined to be swayed by the world with all it has to offer which is temporary and destructive in the end?Or is it more inclined to be swayed by things in Heaven which have eternal implications where Jesus is?Because we see a bring problem if you are more concerned and swayed by this present evil system! What do I mean?
FIRST THING IS IT RESULTS IN PERSONAL CONFLICT WITH OTHERS (V1A)
“quarrels” This statement gives us an indication that there is something wrong in the church. This word means “serious disputing or combat” this word often renders “war” as you would see in the KJV. It’s not a universal battle for the church! James says “fights among you” this was a specific issue, or discord among the church. Obviously there were some unwelcomed guests who were trying to disrupt the fellowship of these people!
- John talks about this in his letters
- Peter warned the church about this.
- Jude said there here among us
And we see the clearest example given by the Apostle Paul in his last letter. In 2 Tim 4:3-4 Paul said “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”John said “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” 1 John2;18-19. No church is perfect and never will be on this side of glory……but the more we allow the world into our homes, families, marriages and the church the more wars we’re going to see go on.
SECOND THING IS IT RESULTS IN PERSONAL CONFLICT WITH ONESELF (V1B-V3)
It brings conflict to the individual……you or me! And we see 2 internal conflicts in this portion of James letter.
UNCONTROLLED and UNFULFILLED DESIRES “Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (v1b-2a). We don’t know what he specific desire is but whatever it is makes a person aggressive and in the end the only thing it brings is sin.” “Murder” in in this verse could also include: murderous hatred, extremely destructive behaviour, and even suicide. As John MacArthur said “when the lusting person cannot achieve his desired goals …whether for reputation, prestige, sexual gratification, money, power, escape through drugs or aclchol, success, possessions, the affections of another person, or whatever….the result is often catastrophic to others and always destructive of oneself.” Example:
- Cain first murderer over worship and jealousy
- Absalom was willing to kill his father David to rule Israel
- David himself after his encounter with Bathsheba
Seeking this world is like saying “God you don’t and can’t satisfy my wants and needs, so I’m going to do it myself”
SELFISH DESIRES “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (v2b-v3). Seeking this world and having uncontrolled and unfilled desires is also selfish…..I’m self-sufficient, I don’t need God and I’m fully capable of taking care of myself thank you! So they seek the world to meet their needs instead of going to the one that James described earlier as pure and good. (1:v17) or the passage we looked at last week (3:v17) James says when they do ask…. they ask with wrong motives! “you ask wrongly” has the basic meaning of bad, evil or wicked. You could compare this portion of James letter with the prodigal son who wanted his best life now! [Luke 15:13]
THIRDLY IT RESULTS IN PERSONAL CONFLICT WITH GOD (V4-V6)
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (v4). “Adulterous” this word is used metaphorically [figurative, symbolically] in a way the people would understand how they were treating their relationship with the God. We need to understand that James isn’t talking about their sexuality but there spiritual infidelity. I think one of the greatest examples of that is found in the Prophet Hosea…..powerful book about God’s never ending mercy as He seeks out His people even when they are ugly and filthy because of their spiritual idolatry. That’s the gospel when he found you and me hiding underneath a rock because of our shame and adulterous behaviour. What James was saying and still is to the church….. ….You unfaithful people do you not realize that to be a friend with the world makes you an ………enemy of God. “Enemy” gives the idea that it’s fleshly and by definition devoid of the Holy Spirit. You can do a study on the word enemy in how it relates to God and every one of them comes back to the simple truth God will prevail over His enemies. 1 Cor 15:25-26 “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
I GUESS IT BOILS DOWN TO THIS OWN QUESTION! Who are you going to depend on in order to get to Heaven? This world that is still under judgement and wrath? Or the selfless and unconditional love found in the finishing work of Christ for your life as He bore your sin? As the hymn song “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face…..and the things on earth will go [WHAT?] strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”We serve a Jealous God who takes great pride and care for His bride….and He doesn't like His bride falling for another man [meaning: the things of this world]. We wouldn't expect it our relationships so what makes you think He would? There is a song by a wonderful man of God! His name Shai Linne, it’s called “Jealous One” Listen to a portion from that song!
God's jealousy is frightful, yet it's delightful and good, too
I couldn't think of much worse if I tried
Than a dude who smirks if you flirt with His bride
So tell me, what kind of God would He be
If He wasn't bothered to see idolatry?
Is God just supposed to laugh and withhold His wrath
When He's replaced by a golden calf?
You say, I don't worship a golden calf!
Well for us, it’s self and sex and loads of cash
Atrocious paths, we still don't know the half
Of how these things provoke His holy wrath
So we stand in awe and wonder how come
God took His jealous anger out on His Son
So all those trust Him can see like we're supposed to see
And be forgiven for our spiritual adultery!
The chorus says…….
How quickly we are to break the vows we made
As our unbelief leads our hearts astray
How long before He turns His face away?
We belong to the Jealous One
We belong to the Jealous One
Whose blood bought us back, whose victory won
Our worship and praise to Him belong
The Jealous One
Who are you going to depend on in order to get to Heaven? A world that wants you to commit spiritual adultery....Or a God who wants to present you blameless at His coming? As Jude said in his letter “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy (v24). It’s His joy to give you joy......not what this world offers but the joy that flows through the gospel of eternity in His Son…..Jesus Christ.
08 October 2012
We have been looking at a powerful little letter that speaks directly to heart of a professing believer. There is no beating around the bush…he gets right to the point and the concerns that face the Christian faith. We have seen……
- Count it all joy when you face trials…..no excuses.
- Loving God even your trial and circumstance
- The importance of the sufficiency of Scripture in the Christian's life
- The vital importance of being doers of the word…practical Christian living.
- Not to show favoritism towards others, for we are all equal in our sins
- Faith without active works is dead……“you will see my faith by my works"
- How the tongue could be used for both good and evil.
We come to a portion of this letter that speaks about wisdom [worldly] that leads to……Destruction….deception and death…..which ultimately resides in Hell with Satan and his fallen angels. Where do you go…or where do you turn to in order to find wisdom understanding? The Spiritual status of your life will dictate your answer! God or this world? As John MacArthur says "the kind of wisdom a person possesses will be revealed by the kind of life he or she lives". Remember what Solomon said in 1 Kings 3:7-10 “Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.”There is something we need to understand! The unsaved masses seek the world for help and wisdom, where the Christian seeks His kingdom and His righteousness to find wisdom. Let me explain.....….turn to Psalm 1 This is a person who seeks after true wisdom, who will delight themselves in the precepts found in scripture. Again I will say again and again “this book is sufficient in every aspect for your life.” You have a chose to make! …….Do I want to listen to God or to the Post Modern thinker?
Listen to some of the so called wisdom of this world! The French philosopher Voltaire, a skeptic who destroyed the faith of many people, boasted that within 100 years of his death, the Bible would disappear from the face of the earth. Voltaire died in 1728, but the Bible lives on. Albert Einstein said this about the wisdom of God "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish." Sigmund Freud who declared that “religion is the universal obsessional neurosis [a mild psychiatric disorder] of humanity.” SEE! True wisdom only comes from God. Sadly these highly educated men didn’t realize their lost state…………So when fallible man or women fail you! God won’t. He is faithful! Job said “God is wise in heart and mighty in strength..” Job 9:4, in Psalm 104:24 says “O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all….” Solomon wrote “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov 1:7. Jeremiah said “For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.” Jer 10:7. Paul said to the church “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col 2:3.
Almighty God is our source of wisdom! Let me ask you…….who would rather listen to? A man who says we’re a product of our society? A man who says we’re no different than animals? Or a man who claims we can find wisdom on our own? Because every one of those men who believe this are absolutely wrong! I’m not a product of my upbringing……. I’m a sinner saved by sovereign grace. I’m not an animal……..I’m created in the image of God. I’m not able to do my own strength….….apart from Him I can do nothing. Do you see what James is telling us this morning? Look at the opening remarks in (v13) “Who is wise and understanding among you?” which gives the idea that James is saying if there is any among you……..to step forward and identify themselves. Who is wise in this age or any age for that matter? There are a lot of knowledgeable people but it doesn't mean there wise. See knowledge helps us to break things down but wisdom helps us to put all the pieces together properly. There is only one Source of true wisdom and that is found in the God breathed scriptures. See James begins this portion with the negative
PURE WISDOM CANNOT BE FOUND IN THE WORLD (V13- V16)
James gives us 3 characteristics of False Wisdom
“Earthly Wisdom” limited to the present material world, by definition it is restricted to things that man can theorize, discover, and accomplish by himself
- Selfish ambition
- Self interest
- Basically looking out for number 1
“Natural Wisdom” sensual, fleshly, it relates only to the fallen, unredeemed man, corrupted by the fall and separated from God. It originates in the natural man and is a product of Satan. 1Cor 1:18-21 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND BRING TO NOTHING THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRUDENT." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
“Demonic Wisdom” its root source is Satan himself, working through his demonic fallen angels, who rebelled with him against God in ages past. 2Cor 11:13-15 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
James gives us the outcome of earthly wisdom (v15)
“full of Disorder” instability, a state of confusion, disturbance, and disarray.
“Every Evil thing” worthless, it means vile and contemptible, it goes nowhere! It says one thing, but means another and it leads to destruction.
Sadly though as Jesus said “many go in by it” Matt 7:13 James makes it very clear if we have any of these characteristics in our lives, this wisdom is not from our Heavenly Sovereign Lord, but Earthy which is evil, sensual and Demonic.
PURE WISDOM IS FOUND ONLY FROM ABOVE (v17-v18)
James gives us 7 characteristics of True Wisdom
Heavenly wisdom is Peaceable it’s someone who displays humility.
Heavenly wisdom is Gentle it’s fair, moderate, forbearing, courteous and considerate. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,” 2 Tim 2:24
Heavenly wisdom is Reasonable it’s willing to yield without bitterness or disputing, it’s teachable, compliant and not stubborn with the desire to understand.
Heavenly wisdom is Full of Mercy the evidence of saving faith and transformed life through the gospel of Christ.
Heavenly wisdom is Full of Good Fruits which refers to every sort of good work or deed. Again this goes back to what James said earlier about faith and works James 2:14-20
Heavenly wisdom is Unwavering it’s not to be parted or divided, therefore without doubt, wavering, inconsistency, treating everyone equal without favoritism. Again this also goes back to what James said in James 2:1-9
Heavenly wisdom is Without Hypocrisy it’s without malice, deceit, envy, and slander.
These are the characteristics of heavenly wisdom and the results of this true wisdom brings about (v18) A “Fruit” baring harvest! Godly wisdom produces a continuing cycle of righteousness, which is planted and harvested in the life of the believer. This brings about a “Peaceful righteousness!” A harmonious relationship between the Lord and His faithful servants……you and me! So who are we going to seek?...................Who are you going to seek? This self-seeking world that is selfishness, immoral, corrupt, spiritually bankrupt? Or are we going to seek the wisdom that flows down freely from Heaven which is pure, holy, perfect, gentle, merciful and most of all peaceable? Remember as John Calvin said “…man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.” Seek Him…..cast your burdens upon Him…..rest in Him…..mediate on His word……and you will grow in grace………you will grow in His wisdom! Why? The bible says so and that’s good enough for me, you…..because His word is sufficient! Herman Bavinck said “faith is concentrated on the historic realities of redemption and results in trust that these historic acts are God’s saving acts for us. It is the same Spirit that inspired the apostolic witness that now seals the truth of that witness in believers’ hearts. Christians submit to Scripture because they believe it is a divine word, a word from God…. The authority of Scripture, accepted in Spirit-inspired faith, is a powerful self-asserted authority. We believe it because God said it, and God’s speaking is the final ground of our faith. There is no power in the world comparable to that of Scripture.” As Jesus said in Matt 7:24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:” The only wisdom that is pure, gentle, peaceable, and full of God's truth and mercy to His created called out ones. You and me!
03 October 2012
01 October 2012
I came across a story of an ancient storyteller, who told this fable “Once upon a time, a donkey found a lion’s skin. He tried it on, walked around, and frightened many animals. Soon a fox came along, and the donkey tried to scare him, too. But the fox, hearing the donkey’s voice, said, “If you want to terrify me, you’ll have to disguise your bray [loud cry of a donkey].” The ancient writer’s moral of the story was……“Clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away.” Think about that statement as we open James letter to the church as he addresses the seriousness of the tongue. What is the tongue capable of? It can be used for both good and evil. For example: It can be used to tear down, It can be used to build up, It can be used to display anger, It can be used to show love “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Prov 15:1. It can be used to deceive, It can be used to bless, It can be used to hurt, It can be used to heal, It can be used to murmur [gossip] and IT CAN BE USED TO PRAY “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much.” James 5:16. It’s amazing that it has the capability with one breath to praise God, pray, read scripture and the hope of Christ….and in the next breath tell lies, say hurtful things, ruin your reputation and break a person’s heart.
See! Ultimately the tongue displays the true heart of the man or woman. In Luke 6:45 Jesus said “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” It’s a powerful muscle that can create many things to bless and many things to destroy…….the person it was intended too and the person who speaks! As one person said “The tongue is but three inches long, yet it can kill a man six feet high." Obviously by doing a quick read over this letter…This was a major issue with the heart of the people. I can only imagine what there board meetings or membership meeting were like? James had to address this issue numerous times in his letter. For example going back to (1:v19) “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…” James even went on to say in (1v26) “if anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle [control] his tongue but deceives his own heart, this religion is useless.” Here in this portion of his letter (3:v2-12) as well look at in few minutes. In (4:11) He says “do not speak evil of one another, brethren….” In (5:9) James says “do not grumble against one another, brethren lest you be condemned…..”But it’s not just a minor issue among believers……this is the natural man’s way of living.
In the Third chapter of Romans we are given a clear picture of all humanity and to what we are capable of or do daily. In Rom 3:10-18 “As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD. THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE." "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB; WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT"; "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS"; "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS." "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD; DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR WAYS; AND THE WAY OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN." "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."
As we come to this part of James letter he gives the underlining warning about the true Christina life…“these things ought not be so” (v10) What is James saying? There should be no place or room in the Christian’s life for this form of behaviour! PERIOD. It’s unacceptable and completely UnChristlike….and it’s blatant sin against a holy God. As John MacArthur said in his commentary on this passage he wrote “when God transformed us, He gave us the capacity for new, redeemed, holy speech, and He expects us, as His children, to speak only that which is holy and right.” See! Again this always goes back to the Gospel! We have been made new by the precious blood of Jesus Christ found in the gospel. If we fall to this form of behaviour you have to ask yourself! Do I really care about what others think, who I hurt and most of all what God thinks? As Owen Feltham said "All men will be Peters in their bragging tongue, and most men will be Peters in their base denial; but few men will be Peters in their quick repentance."
Look what James says here…..he gives us three powerful examples of the tongue. The tongue is as powerful as bit in a horse’s mouth…….which will control the horses to do what you want him or her to do. (v3) The tongue is as powerful as a ships rudder which controls the direction of where you want the ship to go. (v4) The tongue has the power to destroy a countryside. (v6-7) Sadly according to James in this passage apart from Christ all tongue does is………destroy (v6) “it defiles the whole body” And what’s worse is that the natural man has no power over it..….even the Christian has no power to tame the tongue. Which means you and I are incapable of change apart from the sanctifying work of Holy Spirit in our lives. When you speak the way, you would rather be controlled by the flesh…than submit to the Spirit who will guide you in Christ righteousness. So! Let me ask you the hard question. Does your actions or behaviour break your heart when you say things that tear down and destroy? Because if it doesn't I strongly advise you to examine your life with the mirror of scripture. As Johnny Mac said “He expects us as His children, His righteous children, His chosen children to speak ONLY that which is HOLY and RIGHT!” The Apostle Paul warned the church in Col 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Paul also went to say to the church in Ephesus “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Eph 4:29-30
Remember a continual and habitual hateful heart is an unconverted heart, and it CANNOT and WILL NOT produce loving words or works found in Christ. Jesus said so! In Matt 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles.” On the flip side to that is that loving heart is a regenerated heart that fights the battles daily through the Spirit and it CANNOT and WILL NOT produce hateful words or works of Christ. Matt 7:18 “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” Am I displaying proper us of the tongue? Or am I always using my tongue to do evil? Because the Bible clearly says "you will know them by there fruits" Matt 7:19-25 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Can you leave here today and know that my [your] tongue is being bridled by the Power of the Holy Spirit? Or is it untamed and evil, full of hate and sin, a Tongue that is full of the world and all its desires? As Peter said who had experience in this area “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12. The Sunday Question……Do you have a tongue that is bitter like salt water? Or a tongue that is pure like fresh water? In other words do I speak like a child of the world or a child of the living God? Only you can answer that question truthfully!