Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry


James 1

Faith In Action-The Path of Sin

faith in action

James 1:14,15

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

 Whose problem is sin? Well, it’s ours. Note what James says…our own lust. Lust here is not referring to sexual lust necessarily, just all the things we desire for. God did, in fact, create us all to seek certain things. Sexual desire is one of  those things. God created men to seek certain things: success, to be good at what we do. Inside of all of us are things God planted so we could use them in attaining His purposes. The fact that they exist is not wrong. The wrongness comes in our application of them.

So, God does not tempt us with sin. Even though Satan tempts us, he does not cause it, either. He does use our own desires, which we all have, to entice us to use them wrongly and sinfully. That is the enticement part, we are enticed to take our God given desires and point them the wrong way.

Having a desire, and even being enticed to head the wrong way, is not wrong necessarily either. Anybody reading not been tempted to sin or do wrong? I didn’t think so! So, what happens? Lust conceives; that is we come to some point where we think it is okay. And once the sin has conceived, that same thing happens with any conception: a birth. In this case, a sin is born.

Sadly, sin has consequences. When sin is finished, it brings forth death. One form is certainly physical death; sin is what brought that into the world and the death rate remains 100%. It also brought spiritual death, in the form of eternal separation from God.

But, God loves us. We will all physically die, but we need not all eternally die.

Faith In Action-God Does NOT Tempt Us With Sin

faith in action

James 1:13

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

Now James moves on to a different use of the word which was translated temptation. Here, James IS referring to temptation to sin; he is no longer discussing the tests and trials of life. James has made a transition from temptation, or trials, as a noun to the use of temptations, or sin, as a verb. He is talking about the act of sin.

The discussion of the origin of sin and evil in the world could be, and has been, written about in volumes. We aren’t going that deep here.

Clearly God allows and even causes things to be placed into our lives that will test and grow our faith; we have talked about that up to this point. This is not true of temptation to sin. God Himself cannot, of course violate His own Law; nor can He even entertain the thought of doing something out of His nature. In the same vein, God will never place temptations to sin and perform evil into our paths as a way to test and refine us. That is what we are being taught here.

Although God did not create, and is not responsible for sin, He did create us with free will. It did not take man long to exercise his free will and blow it. Even then, nobody wanted to assume responsibility for what they had done. Eve blamed the serpent; Adam blamed Eve and Adam even blamed God.

James is simply teaching us that our sin, and our actions, are our responsibility. Jesus saves us,and forgives us, but we are responsible for the things we do.

Faith In Action-Endure For a Crown

faith in action

James 1:12

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Here, James is wrapping up his discourse on trials for the time being. After this, he takes off in another direction which we will explore later. At this point, the use of the word “temptation” is still referring to the idea of trials or testings; he will, as we will see, later change to a differing use of the word.

The crown referred to here is a crown such as the victor in an athletic contest would win for his feats of athletics. So, what is James telling us here? First, let’s discuss what he is NOT telling us.

In light of the overall context of this passage, it is clear James is not telling us that eternal life, or a crown of life or salvation is the reward for enduring the tests and trials of life. James was speaking to people who were already believers. So, we do not earn our salvation by enduring.

On the other hand, endurance of life’s tests and trial is clear evidence of our salvation and relationship with God. The worldly man is likely to cave in and be defeated by these tests, but the man of God has the power of the Holy Spirit in him to persevere and endure them.

However, even among believers, not all will truly show this evidence of their relationship with God. Even believers can cave in and become defeated. James is simply teaching us that there is a special reward on the future for those who trust in God through whatever life may toss at them.

Faith In Action-Faith In God Not Wealth

faith in action

James 1:9-11

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

We need to say right away that James is not making any links between Godliness and poverty, or that a rich person cannot be Godly. The Bible never teaches us that you have to be poor to be a Godly, believing person.

James was, however, writing to people who were mostly suffering financially due to their circumstances; who were even being harassed and persecuted by those with wealth. James’ intent is to teach us that wealth is not what we should depend on, or the things of this world; what we are to depend on is the provision of God.

Here James is issuing reminders to both poor and rich brothers and sisters in Christ.

His reminder to the poor is that his poverty is a material one only and that in the eyes and sight of God he has just an exalted position as a rich man in this world.  The world and men may have tossed the poor brother aside, but God has welcomed him with open arms. His lot here on Earth may not seem pleasant, but he has an eternal inheritance to look forward to.

James also issues a reminder to the rich brother that, even though he may be wealthy, he should rejoice even in his trials because they show him the temporary nature of his wealth and the permanent nature of what God provides.

Finally, by comparing wealth to withering grass which fades away, James reminds us all that what we may have here is just transitory, but our riches in God’s Kingdom are eternal and secure. This is a reminder that rich or poor, we are all equals by faith in Christ.

Faith In Action-Pray Without Wavering

faith in action

James 1:6-8
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

We have learned that trials will come; we have learned why they come and we have learned the proper response to them, prayer. But the way in which and the heart with which we pray matter greatly.

God is not just some cosmic candy dispenser so we can put in a coin of prayer and get an answer dropped out in the palm of our hand. The Bible is simply full of examples of how we should pray, and James gives us yet more guidance here.

James tells us we should pray with faith. Do we really expect an answer when we pray, or are we just punching a prayer ticket? Do we really, truly believe that God is willing and able to solve our problem? We are to pray with faith, “nothing wavering” that is, we should pray with no doubt that God can and will solve our problem.

James compares a doubting prayer to a storm tossed sea. This implies instability, which James goes on clearly to say is just what a doubting or double minded man is. The issue seems to be here a question of just who are we depending on to solve our problem. Do we depend on the world to get us through our issues, or do we depend on God? Is God the place we go first or is He our last resort?

We never know what God has planned for us, or how He intends to get us through a particular thing. If we want to receive that blessing and help He offers, we have to approach Him without doubt, not wavering and with single mindedness of purpose. If we don’t, then what will we get? James tells us that we should expect nothing of The Lord.

Faith In Action-Why Be Joyful Over Trials?

faith in action

James 1:3,4

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

We already know that James was inspired by the Holy Spirit to instruct us to react to our trials with joy. We are to be glad we are being tempted, or tried, rather than sad or upset over them. Why?

The simple answer is that we need to consider trials not from our standpoint, but from God’s standpoint. Of course, that is usually where we fail in most areas, when we fail to consider things from God’s viewpoint.

The trying of our faith “worketh patience.” We have all heard the old saying about being careful about praying for God to give us patience I am sure. Why is that? Because He won’t just give it to us; He will teach it to us.

“Let patience have her perfect work.” In other words, go with the flow so to speak. We need not fight, resist or rebel against the trial in our lives. Remember counting it all joy?

Now we come to the why part of things. We are given trials, in some cases, so that we may become “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Does this mean that we will become the picture of sinless perfection or be given all of the things we want. Well, I am afraid not.

That simply means that our trials will cause us to become mature in our Christian lives. To be perfect and entire here means simply we will become more grown up Christians, more suited to the work God wants us to do.

Specifically what type of things might God be trying to accomplish in our lives? Stay tuned and see.

Faith In Action-Count It All Joy

Since I am still really swamped by work and life, I am going to rely on some reworking of one of the first things I ever did in the blog world, and that is this study in the Book of James. I promise by the time we wrap this up, I will have some original stuff to present. In the meantime, blessings and enjoy!

faith in action

James 1:1-4

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Starting today, we are going to spend a little time in the Book of James. It’s such a great one. The Book of James is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It’s as close to a handbook for Christian living as a person can get really.

Early on, in Verse 1, James had made reference to the “12 tribes which are scattered abroad.” Due to persecution, Jews from Jerusalem had been scattered abroad were still suffering hardship and trials. In most cases, they were suffering because of their faith. James was writing to them to offer guidance on handling these trials and also to provide them with some guidelines to help them determine the authenticity of their faith.

So, right from the beginning, James jumps right to explain the inevitability of trials and the purposes for them. That’s where we will start also.

“Count” it all joy. Simply put, this is to consider, think about or look upon our temptations, or trials, in a particular way. James is telling us to look at them in a particular way because our human nature would not be to look at them that way.

What is that way? With joy. All joy. James is not referring to a gritting your teeth and endure it with a smile joy here; he is talking about the kind of joy we can consider trials with if we truly understand the God has a purpose for them in our lives.

James tells us to count it all joy “when” we fall into temptations or trials. The word temptation here is synonymous with trial; it’s not referring to the temptation to sin here. James is warning us that trials will come, even for and perhaps particularly for, believers.

Divers temptations. Diverse trials, various and sundry trials, trials of many different sorts. My trials will not be your trials. We will all face our own.

James has laid the groundwork here in terms of the fact that Christians can expect difficulties and trials. We are, however, to approach and deal with them the way God wants us to, with joy. Perhaps if we understand some of the purposes God has for trials in our lives, we would be better able to consider them with all joy.

Next…what trials do for us.

Just a Thought

James 1_14,15

Sin has a destination. If you don’t want to arrive at that destination, don’t take the path to it in the first place.

Daily Devotion-December 16, 2014-Looking In the Mirror

James 1:23,24

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

 Read James Chapter 1 here

Why do we look in a mirror? Usually to check and see if we look okay, to see if all is in order with the way that we look. Don’t we also do more than just look? If we look into that mirror and find things which are wrong, we normally take action to repair them, correct?

If a person looked into a mirror and saw that they were just totally messed up and just said, “okay, cool” and walked away then what was the point of even looking in the first place?

God’s Word is like that. When we read it, it becomes our mirror to show us if we are in order or if we are in disarray. It provides us with a reflection of our conduct and if our conduct is what God would like to see in our lives. We learn this clearly in Galatians 3:24. The Law never saves us; it just teaches us where we are failing. The Law is our mirror.

If all we do is look in a mirror, see what is wrong and walk away what have we gained? All we have gained is knowledge. “Well, I know my hair is a mess..great!” That’s absurd, really. We would never do that.

Why then, would we do that in response to God’s word? That is the lesson James is teaching us here. Just like looking in a real mirror, looking the the mirror of God’s Word should cause us to change. We should walk away from it prepared to do something, not just see that something is wrong.

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