“Charles Spurgeon once told of sitting in a nice restaurant. As he ate he kept noticing a rather angry looking man across the dining room who scowled at him every time he looked his way. Finally Spurgeon decided to go over and speak to the man to see what his problem was. However, as he stood he realized that what he had been seeing was his own reflection in mirrors that lined the walls across the room. We may not always like what we see in the mirror of God’s Word but what we see there is always the truth and always the best!” God’s word is a mirror that displays and shows in us what needs to change in our lives. God’s word is to help and guide us in His righteousness. The biblical truth is that when we are in right relationship with God the things of this world don’t seem to be so pleasing to our sight anymore. Why? Because Christ is precious to us. As J C Ryle said “Look to the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you can."
How does one come to that position in life and say “I’m completely satisfied in Christ”
It comes through……
Reading and memorizing the Holy Scriptures.
Rightly dividing the word of truth from error and opinions.
The supernatural power of God’s sanctifying grace and having a teachable spirit.
The harvest of fruit that you bare as He grows you daily.
I think we can easily forget how powerful and relevant this book truly is in our generation? This isn’t some fairy-tale story about a fictitious needy God looking for His princess. This is a love letter in detail to how AWESOME GOD truly is, whether it’s through His creation, His redemptive plan or the glories of His majesty. This is a book is not filled with a bunch of maybe’s and hopeless promises; but a book that will transform your life….it will literally gut you from the inside out and make you a new creation. That’s why Paul said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 2 Cor 5:17.As we continue in this letter we are going to be challenged, stretched to examine his or hers life as it lines up with scripture
Again this letter can be called “Practical applications for the Christian life” or as the Company Nike says “Just do it!” James tells us in this passage and the passage that follows how we can grow in our Christian life. And it begins with this utmost important foundational and fundamental truth. (v21a) “put off”
This phrase “put off” implies “a rupture from a former association” We are too literally “to put or take something away from its normal location and thus to put it out of the way (way out of the way!).” The Apostle Paul said “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Rom 13:12-14
“Putting off” is like getting ready for a physical activity by putting on the proper attire. It was used literally of runners who participated in the Olympic Games who stripped off and cast aside their clothes and then ran almost completely naked in the stadium. James saw the human heart as a garden; if left to itself……the soil only produces weeds.
What is James telling us to “put aside” or “pull out the weeds?” “all filthiness” means “depravity, any sort of moral defilement or dirty garments” This is a vivid word picture. James is saying take off your filthy attitudes and actions (moral defilement) just as you would soiled, smelly clothes! As a snake sheds its skin to make ready for the new one that is underneath the old skin. 2 Cor 7:1 says “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” One Writer explains this way...We all bring baggage from our old way of life over into the Christian life. Usually, we’re blind and don’t realize that we’re displeasing God by our thoughts, words, or actions. As we begin to read God’s word, it convicts us of areas that we didn’t even know were sin. When this happens, the receptive heart cleans out the crud of sin and puts on the clean clothes of new life in Christ. If you don’t do this, the crud will prevent you from growing as a Christian.
What else are we to put off? “overflow [abundance] of wickedness” this is speaking of “evil desires or intent” Signifies: moral evil and it pertains to sin that is deliberate and determined. Albert Barnes in his commentary of this word said “the particular reference in these passages is to the reception of the truth; and the doctrine taught is, that a corrupt mind, a mind full of sensuality and wickedness, is not favorable to the reception of the truth. It is not fitted to see its beauty, to appreciate its value, to understand it’s just claims, or to welcome it to the soul.” All you’re left with is an unteachable spirit that is more interested in what they desire over what God desires. As the Apostle Paul said “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Eph 4:31. He also wrote in Gal 5:19-21 that “….those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Filthiness is a serious barrier to us. It hinders our ability to clearly hear and comprehend the Word of God. So we must put off the works of darkness and put off the works of the flesh!
Usually when you take off or remove something…you have to replace it with something else! This is where our foundation begins and continues. (v21b) “receive with meekness the implanted word” which is a teachable heart to act upon His word. A teachable spirit that will grow and take hold of through the truth of God’s word. See in order to receive……. you must be ready to receive the foundation which is God’s instruction as He carries you through His righteousness. Paul said in 1Thess 2:13 “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” It’s the same truth that Jeremiah said “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer 31:33 “Receive with meekness the implanted word.” That’s what happened in (v18) “He brought us forth by the word of truth.”
See, before this happened! We were dead. We had no place for the word of God in us. We did not desire it or love it. Example of this is when Jesus said of the leaders who were trying to kill him: “You seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you” John 8:37. As John Piper explained this passage “These leaders knew their Bibles better than anyone. But the word of God “found no place in them.” It was not implanted in them. Before we are born again, our hearts are full of other things that push out the word of God. We are like people who are so stuffed with candy between meals that when the feast is offered we are not hungry. In fact, our stomach turns at the thought of eating. This is how unregenerate people feel about the real meaning of God’s word. They feel no need for it. So it has no place. It’s not implanted in them.”
The word of truth was not implanted in them and in this fallen world, but for us it has been implanted. For the purpose of trusting in Him and baring fruit of His righteousness…… because He knows what’s best for His children! (v20) Without His implanted Word all we are doing are living for the flesh, doing things in our strength and exalting our self-righteousness. God’s implanting of the word in your life, is His desire for you and me.
It’s a righteousness that God gives
It’s a righteousness that God requires
It’s a righteousness that God does
Matt 18:2-4 says “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” We are to receive the word with joy; not with opposition and resistance. We are to receive the word as a privilege; not as an interruption into my day. We are to receive the word for wisdom; not to contradict and debate everything to fit my ideas. We are to receive the word as instruction; not to de-construct to fit our life-styles. We are to receive the word to grow to His likeness; not to stay in ours. When you receive something we are required to do something! And that is? Act upon it! God must be glorified and I must be sanctified and purified into the image of His Son.
Why are we to receive the word with meekness? It’s the only possible way for you to see the kingdom. (v21c) “which is able to save your soul” which simple means to “keep alive, rescue, deliver from bondage. The word of God is “implanted” in us, and “is at work” in us, and “abides” in us, and as James 1:21 says “saves us.” We cannot overstate how overwhelmingly powerful and important the word of God is for our lives. Think about it! If the word of God does not rank with your most cherished possessions, you need to do a reality check on your life. Nothing apart from God himself is more important and powerful than His word. It’s the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through the written word that brings a person to foot of the Cross in repentance and faith. Our souls depend on the implanted word, and our souls depend on receiving the word. If you decide that you don’t need to receive the external word, you are like a person who decides he doesn’t need to breathe. The word of God is so powerful it has the power to save the vilest of sinners. YOU! That’s why you’re here today.
Expressing your love for saving you from yourself. As Heb 4:12-13 says “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Just as the word brought salvation….the word will continue in your sanctification as you await glorification. Put off the works of the flesh and the devil and put on Christ and grow deeper in love with Him. The word of God is the greatest prevention against sin of the flesh. As one Scottish preacher said “sin will keep you the bible, or the bible will keep you from sin.” William Gurnall said "He that loves the Word and the purity of its precepts cannot turn traitor." My life should be evident to a life that has and is continuing to be transformed by the power of God’s word. When you put off self……you’re putting something far greater and more powerful that anything you could imagine…its Christ. But for that to take place, we must put off what is crippling our relationship with the Triune God. As Ps 137:7 says “Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, "Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!" Lay aside everything that hinders my life from the intimate relationship that have with Christ Jesus. Strip it all away and leave nothing but the foundation so that I can be clothed in His righteousness. So that I can receive with joy the implanted word which will save you, keep you and glorify you in to the arms of Jesus Christ my Lord.