The General Epistle of James (Part 7)

vs. 17-18. A. Having just made clear that God is not the origin of temptation and sin (evil), James presents God as being the origin of “Every good gift and every perfect gift...” (v. 17). 1. Adam gave us sin, death, shame, sorrow and the curse (GEN 3; ROM 5:12-19), hardly what could be called good and perfect gifts. Those are evil gifts from below, not above. 2. From God above comes every good gift and every perfect gift. a. That there are good gifts implies that they please God and benefit us. b. That there are perfect (complete) gifts implies that there are gifts to which nothing is to be added or taken away as if they were deficient in some way, nor do they come by degrees. c. Jesus argued from the lesser to the greater in showing God's willingness to give good things unto His children, specifically the Holy Spirit. MAT 7:11 c/w LUK 11:13. d. Wisdom is one of those good gifts from above. JAM 1:5. (1) Heavenly wisdom is “...first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (JAM 3:17). (2) Such gifts are essentially the fruit of the Spirit. GAL 5:22-23. (3) Such gifts are also perfect gifts; they are not deficient: “...against such there is no law” (GAL 5:23). 3. Since every good and perfect gift to us is from God, we must not boast as if we had not received them. JOH 3:27; 1CO 4:17. a. Righteousness and eternal life are gifts from God above (ISA 54:17; ROM 6:23; 1JO 5:11); they are not rewards we earn by works below. Boasting is thus excluded. ROM 3:27. b. Church offices are gifts from God above (EPH 4:10-11) and but for God's enabling, mercy and grace no man would hold such an office. 1TI 1:12-14. James 8-24-14 Page 16 c. Other spiritual gifts are from God above and it was therefore vainglorious of the Corinthians to exploit them for personal reasons. 1CO 14:26. 4. The good and perfect gifts from God stand in opposition to false gifts that some pretend to have received from Him. PRO 25:14 c/w JER 23:32; ACT 19:13-16; REV 2:2. B. These things come from God, “...the Father of lights...” (v. 17). 1. God is the Father of natural lights (PSA 136:7-9). Certainly no other begat them. JOB 38:28. 2. God is the Father of spiritual lights. a. He gave His word which is light. PSA 68:11; 119:105. b. He gave prophets and apostles as lights. JOH 5:35; 2CO 4:6; 2PE 1:19. c. He gave His church to be light to a dark world. MAT 5:14; PHIL 2:15. d. He gave His Son Who is the true light. MAL 4:2; JOH 1:9; 8:12. 3. (1JO 1:5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. a. This counters the objection, “If God is good, why is there so much evil?” b. God is no more the cause or source of evil than the sun is the cause or source of darkness every night or during an eclipse. C. Light suggests righteousness while darkness suggests unrighteousness. JOH 3:19-21; EPH 5:8-11. 1. James is adamant that God is the Source and Giver of all things good. a. He deserves all credit for any and all genuine good, including our righteousness. 2CO 5:21. b. The Creator of all good things is also Savior (ISA 45:18, 21), for only a Creator could make new creatures in Christ. 2CO 5:17; EPH 2:8-10. 2. Sin is chargeable to us, not God. JAM 1:13-14. D. Unlike natural light, God is “...the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (v. 17). 1. The celestial lights vary in intensity and life and have their “dark side.” 2. God is constant and eternal. HEB 1:10-12. 3. His counsel is immutable (unchanging). HEB 6:17. a. God never commands us not to sin only to turn and tempt us to sin. b. He is not the author of confusion. 1CO 14:33. b. He is not double-minded. JOB 23:13. 4. Thus, His saving Light excels natural light. ISA 60:18-22. 5. Paul connects the unchangeableness of God with His gifts. ROM 11:29. 6. Our security is owing to God's immutability. MAL 3:6. E. Since God is the source of all good, He only can be the source of the renewing of our nature. v. 18. 1. This verse speaks of regeneration (the new birth). a. We are “...by nature the children of wrath...” (EPH 2:3). b. Our nature is averse to God and unable to please Him. ROM 8:7-8. c. We have no capacity to change our nature. JER 13:23; MAT 12:33-34. 2. Any change of our nature to good could only come from the Father of lights Who begets all things good. He begets men of His own will. JOH 1:13. 3. God begets the elect with the word of truth. a. There is a written word of truth but also a Personal Word of Truth. JOH 1:1; 14:6. b. Jesus Christ is the Word by which we are begotten. JOH 5:21, 25. c. He has power to make alive by His personal utterance. JOH 11:43-44. James 8-24-14 Page 17 d. If John calls Christ “...the Word of life;” (1JO 1:1), why should it be thought strange if James calls him “...the word of truth...”? (1) Let not the lower-case “w” in word of truth be a problem for you. (2) The Person of Jesus Christ our High Priest is called the “word of God” in HEB 4:12-14. 4. God has begotten us with Christ “...that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” a. The firstfruits were to be set apart for the Lord. EXO 34:26; PRO 3:9. b. God's elect are especially set apart from amongst men for Himself (DEU 32:7-9); they are His peculiar (one's private possession) people. TIT 2:14. c. God's firstfruits were redeemed from the earth and from among men. REV 14:3-4 c/w 1CO 15:23. 5. God's begetting of us by His own will delivers us from the uncontested mastery of sin so that we may live as sons of God ought to live. PHIL 2:12-15. 6. This is not only a good gift; it is a perfect gift: it is not in any way deficient nor gained by degrees. We are so made complete. COL 2:10.
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