The General Epistle of James (Part 24)

vs. 19-20. A. James here encourages brethren to vigilance and mutual accountability to the truth, i.e., “...the truth of the gospel” (COL 1:5), not scientific, political, historical or philosophical “truth.” 1. These instructions contrast Cain's attitude, “...Am I my brother's keeper?” (GEN 4:9). 2. We are accountable to God for deliberately ignoring the destructive pathway of an erring brother. PRO 24:11-12; EZE 3:18. 3. It is an a. b. c. d. e. act of hatred to willingly suffer sin upon a brother. LEV 19:17. We must avoid thinking that necessary rebuke should be withheld because we love a brother and don't want to make him feel bad. The reality is that such thinking is born out of a love of self, not of the brother. (1) Cowardice may be a factor: one fears confrontation. But perfect love casts out fear and does right. 1JO 4:18-21. (2) Inordinate affection may be a factor: one values the relationship he has with the brother more than the brother's salvation. COL 3:5. (PRO 27:5-6) Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (PRO 28:23) He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. (PSA 141:5) Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. 4. One may be reluctant to try to save an erring brother because of guilt over one's own sin, in which case there are two conversions needed. PSA 51:10-13; PRO 11:30. 5. One may feel inadequate in knowledge to address an erring brother. a. Pray for wisdom (JAM 1:5), study (2TI 2:15), seek counsel. PRO 19:20; 24:6. b. The simplest of points can convict great men. 2SAM 12:1-9. 6. Discernment is needed for this work. JUDE 1:22-23. B. Mind that this work of conversion is of a brother who already has been converted to the truth in the sense of initial repentance and submission to Christ, per ACT 3:19; MAT 18:3. 1. This admonition addresses the saving of a backsliding brother. 2. Unarrested backsliding has especially weight implications. HEB 10:26-31. C. James is not teaching a loss of regeneration and eternal life to be regained by the intervention of a brother. 1. Regeneration (the new birth) is devoid of human works. TIT 3:5. 2. Eternal life cannot be lost; saints are preserved forever. JOH 10:27-28; PSA 37:28. 3. One can be born of God but need conversion (turned in position or direction). James 8-24-14 Page 59 a. Peter confessed Jesus as Christ. MAT 16:16. b. One who does so is born of God. 1JO 5:1. c. Peter would later require conversion. LUK 22:31-32. d. Each time a child of God is reconciled to the truth is a conversion. He is turned from error through the instrument of conversion: God's law. PSA 19:7. 4. What a saint can lose through erring from the truth is his present inheritance in the kingdom of God in this world and his usefulness to the kingdom. MAT 5:13; 1CO 9:27. D. Mind that he who is said to err from the truth (v. 19) needs to be converted from the error of his way. v. 20. 1. Bad doctrine causes bad practice. a. How many have adopted a devilish lie as a substitute for the truth and corrupted their practice thereby? 1TI 4:1-3. b. This problem is readily manifest by the change of morality facilitated by the corruptions of modern bible versions. Eg. Sodomite has been upgraded to homosexual offender or male temple prostitute. 2. This may be a wilful problem where one deliberately adopts bad doctrine or it may be that one is duped by false teaching. 2PE 2:1-2. a. Some seek bad doctrine to accommodate their lusts; they err from the truth to justify the error of their way. 2TI 4:3-4. b. Some fall into bad doctrine because of instability. 2PE 2:14; 3:16. (1) Caution should be exercised to avoid overexposure to teaching that counters what you have been taught from Scripture. PRO 19:27; TIT 1:14; 1CO 15:33. (2) A faithful pastor will resist false doctrine by whatever means lawfully available to him and appropriate. 2TI 2:25; GAL 2:5; 1TI 1:3. E. This passage concerns sins (“...converteth the sinner...”) which have not been commonly reported per 1CO 5:1. 1. If the sin is already public, there is no saving from death, per 1CO 5:5. 2. As a private sin, there is the chance of conversion so that a multitude of sins will be hidden rather than become public. a. Since one sin not repented of leads to another (ROM 1:21-32; 6:19), conversion puts a halt to a potential multitude of sins. b. This “daisy-chain” of sins will not become public and so demand church exclusion. 3. The converted soul shall be saved from death. Some have taught that it is the converter that is saved from death but he is saved only by his effort, not his success. EZE 3:19-21. 4. There are four things in Scripture to which the word “death” is applied: a. b. c. d. 5. This is a. b. death of the body. ROM 4:19; JAM 2:26. death in sins. EPH 2:1-3. the second death in the lake of fire. REV 21:8. the loss of fellowship. LUK 15:24; EPH 5:14. sin committed by brethren, by children of God in error who may be recovered. Thus, this death cannot be death in sins or the second death, since God's children cannot lose their eternal salvation, as noted above. But God's disobedient children can be punished with physical death and/or the loss of fellowship with God and the church. 1CO 5:1-13; 10:1-11; 11:30. 6. A sin from which one is converted does not result in physical death or death of fellowship and is therefore a sin NOT unto death. 1JO 5:16-17. 7. How important it is for us to repent while we may! LUK 13:6-8; REV 2:21; 2PE 3:9.
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