The General Epistle of James (Part 18)
A. Set forth here is the antidote to this world and an escape from the corruption that is in it through lusts (2PE 1:4).
1. Mind that Jesus did not pray that disciples should be prematurely taken out of this world as an antidote (JOH 17:15). We are rather to occupy till He comes.
LUK 19:13 c/w JAM 5:7.
2. Neither are we to deem lawful things as unlawful and defiling, including lawful diets, relationships or efforts in personal advancement in life. 1TI 4:1-3; LUK 16:9.
3. Neither are we to physically maim ourselves to counteract fleshly lusts.
a. We are to rather mortify (put to death) sin itself. ROM 8:13; COL 3:5; GAL 5:24.
b. Any wounds our bodies suffer in the cause of righteousness ought to be by
persecution, not self-mutilation. 2CO 11:23-25 c/w GAL 6:17.
4. Such as the above are fruitless, false escapism. This world is overcome by faith. 1JO 5:4.
B. Against the natural spirit that lusts to envy (v. 5) and their worldly approach to life, James points them to grace. v. 6 c/w ROM 5:20.
1. The grace of eternal justification and a new nature is the necessary first installment and the
fount of the “...manifold grace of God” (1PE 4:10). 2TI 1:9; JOH 1:16.
a. As bad and as many as were there sins, God's grace was greater. There is
forgiveness with Him for great sinners. PSA 32:1-6; 103:8; 1TI 1:13-16.
b. Salvation by grace rather than law-works was a grand new concept to the Jewish
Christians but this could not justify sinfulness. ROM 6:15.
2. The elect are invested with Christ's Spirit for victory. 1JO 4:4.
3. The elect have a great store of grace available to them through faith. ROM 5:1-2.
4. The wayward, worldly Jewish Christians were not resisting the devil (v. 7) but proudly
resisting the grace. They had received the grace of God in vain. c/w 2CO 6:1.
5. Paul warned the Hebrew Christians against failing of the grace of God. HEB 12:15.
a. The cost of following Christ had hit them hard and Paul gave needed warnings against abandoning their faith to revert to old ways. HEB 10:32-39.
b. It is conceivable that those whom James was upbraiding had had their goods spoiled but had become impatient in waiting for a promised turnaround of fortunes such as Jesus taught in LUK 18:28-30.
c. (Speculation here): I wonder if any entertained the notion that as their fathers had spoiled the Egyptians under Moses (EXO 12:36), that somehow there were similar spoils in store for them under Christ. After all, is not the wealth of sinners laid up for the just? PRO 13:22.
6. These principles are universal to all the elect, as witness the similar falling from grace of the Galatian saints. GAL 5:4.
a. This falling from grace was a departure from the doctrine of salvation by grace.
b. Their corruption of the doctrine of grace was being realized in their reversion to
bondage and fleshly wisdom. GAL 4:9; 5:13-17.
7. The solution to their trouble was grace, not avaricious, worldly pride of life which God
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resists. James points them to wise Solomon for wisdom from above. v. 6 c/w PRO 3:34.
a. grace: Favour, favourable or benignant regard or its manifestation (now only on the
part of a superior); favour or goodwill, in contradistinction to right or obligation, as
the ground of a concession.
b. The proud and the faithless are exempted from conditionally given grace which is
for the humble believer.
(1) The elect may have justifying unconditional grace that secures his eternal
life but not have the conditional grace flowing from that which reigns
through righteousness in this life unto eternal life. ROM 5:21.
(2) Paul labored that the elect “...may ALSO obtain the salvation which is in
Christ Jesus WITH eternal glory” (2TI 2:10).
c. By accessing grace through faith (ROM 5:2), they would have the solution to their
need for forgiveness, also to their worldly wisdom, lusts and envy. TIT 2:11-12.
d. This would also facilitate their improvement in the grace of life in the everyday
things which they were striving to obtain by the wrong means.
2CO 9:4-15 c/w MAT 6:33.
e. We are completely beholding to God's favour (grace) for both victory over worldly lusts and worldly needs. ROM 6:14; DEU 8:18; PRO 12:2.
f. Faith says, “If I humble myself in God's sight, He will give grace to lift me up out of worldliness and the dunghill.” v. 10 c/w PSA 113:7; 147:6; MAT 5:5.
g. (1JO 5:4) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
h. (PRO 16:19) Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
C. vs. 7-9 detail what humbling oneself entails.
1. Humbling oneself is submitting oneself to God. As submission accords with humility,
rebellion accords with pride. NEH 9:16-17.
a. One CANNOT resist the devil if not submitted to God: the lack of submission to
God is itself a work of the devil. PSA 81:15.
b. (JOB 9:4) He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself
against him, and hath prospered?
c. (HEB 12:9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and
we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father
of spirits, and live?
2. As we submit to God, we do resist the devil. As we submit to the devil, we resist God.
a. We serve whom we yield to. ROM 6:16.
b. We cannot serve God and the devil. 1CO 10:21.
3. Mind the imperative, “Resist the devil...” and compare that with EPH 4:27.
a. The imperative command to us is an imperative command from God to Satan:
“...and he will flee from you.” No “maybe,” no “might,” no “sometimes.”
b. Satan can be successfully resisted no matter what the temptation, and this is godly
escaping. 1CO 10:13.
c. We resist by being “...stedfast in the faith...” (1PE 5:8-9).
(1) As Peter says, one must be sober and vigilant in this warfare. No success is to be expected without serious attention.
(2) stedfast: Fixed or secure in position. Of a person, esp. a soldier in battle: Maintaining his ground. Of persons: Unshaken, immovable in faith,
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resolution, friendship, etc. (See 1CO 15:58; 2TH 2:2)
(3) Satan will attack that area of our faith where we are not stedfast, not resolute
that we will not yield.
(4) “If we basely yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if
we put on the whole armour of God, and stand it out against him, he will be gone from us. Resolution shuts and bolts the door against temptation.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)
(5) This is [a]
a. Saints are no longer restrained from drawing nigh to God as was Israel of old.
b. Christ's work has made us able to draw nigh in prayer and service.
HEB 7:19; 10:19-22.
c. They had no excuse, therefore, to be distant from God based upon former fears.
d. All humble believers may boldly draw nigh to God for the very thing that they need
in order to be overcomers: mercy and grace. HEB 4:16.
e. Annexed to drawing nigh to God is repentance: “...Cleanse your hands, ye sinners;
and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep...” (vs. 8-9).
why the double-minded man must purify his heart. v. 8. double-minded: Having two 'minds'; undecided or wavering in mind.
A stedfast man is not wavering with a double mind.
James makes clear that there is no middle ground between God and the world or between God and Satan.
purify: To make pure, in various senses. To free from admixture of extraneous matter, esp. such as pollutes or deteriorates; to rid of (material) defilement or taint; to cleanse.
A double-minded man has a mixed-up mind wavering between God and Satan.
Expert warriors are not of a double heart. 1CH 12:33.
4. In this holy submission and warfare we are called to draw nigh to God. v. 8.
Mind the cleansing of both the outward man and the inward man is necessary. c/w 2CO 7:1.
Sinful acts must cease. Sinful thoughts must be forsaken. Waffling allegiances must be halted. ISA 55:6-7; JOS 24:15.
“Those that draw nigh to God in a way of duty shall find God drawing nigh to them in a way of mercy.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)
The fool avoids all sorrow. ECC 7:2-6.
Better to weep now over sin than to laugh about it now only to weep for eternity later. MAT 5:4, 8; LUK 6:21, 25.
God dwells with the contrite ones. ISA 57:15.
(1JO 3:1-2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
D. (JAM 4:10) Humble
1. Though they be bowed down with sorrow over sin, God will lift them up.
2. God will revive them. ISA 57:15.
3. God will hear their prayer. PSA 10:17.
4. God will give them grace to overcome sin and life. PSA 84:11.
5. God will lift them up at the last to eternal glory. PSA 73:21-24 c/w JAM 5:7.
E. Grace was what they needed. Grace is what we need.
1. It is withheld from the proud and the unbeliever.
2. The worldly-wise too proud to confess and receive pardon for sins does not receive it.
3. The worldly-wise who presumes to be accepted with God while living after the flesh does
not receive it.
4. The proud or unbeliever does not receive it for overcoming worldliness.
5. The proud or unbeliever does not receive it for overcoming material deficiencies.
6. The proud or unbeliever does not receive it for overcoming weakness and trouble.
7. (1PE 5:5-7) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be
subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (6) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8. (2PE 3:18) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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