Ephesians 4:3-6; One Faith – Clarifying James 2, part 10.
length: 64:40 - taught on Apr, 21 2021
Wednesday April 21,2021
In the past nine hours of lessons we have studied the first and second chapters of James. To help our understanding of the subject or theme that James was addressing, we also overviewed 1JO 3:6-9 and ROM 7:14-8:11. The scripture clearly shows that during the age of the church, the believer in Christ is born of God, made new, given righteousness and a divine nature that cannot sin and loves righteousness. The scripture also clearly shows that we can still sin and this is due to the old nature termed the flesh that continues to tempt us. The scripture also tells us that these two natures are not equal. One is of Adam and the other of God. The nature of God, what we are now in our position in Christ, is far more powerful than the old nature, and it can, if we allow it to through faith, love, and obedience, so overcome the flesh that the body will become a slave to the new nature and its own members instruments of righteousness.
And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
James’ theme is to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. In his exposition of “quick to hear,” he reveals that we must lay aside filthiness and evil, we must do what we hear, and we must not have hearts that favor one person above another when we serve and give; always showing mercy to all. He will reveal to us that if we do not have and do these things, our faith will be dead, and in his meaning, our lives will be ruled by the flesh and characterized by sin and our so-called religion will be useless.
We pick it up at JAM 2:8.
The believer is to apply the royal law of loving his neighbor as himself (2:8). Love and mercy are the standards by which the believer will be judged.
If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well (Greek kalos - good or right). 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not commit murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
God has set us free from sin, death, and the world by placing us in union with Christ. God sets our new nature free through the law of liberty if we follow it. God also gives us truths or doctrines that when known and seen will make following commands far easier. We still have to fight temptation, and at times the fight will be difficult, but armed with the truth of things, we will possess a great advantage over our enemy and we will have the hope and confidence of victory.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is royal because it was given by the King and also because it is the conduct of the high order of the kingdom.
In vs. 5 did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? The heirs of the kingdom should have the conduct of the kingdom, the royal law of love for one’s neighbor. The heirship was for those who love God and the royal decree of the kingdom is to love your neighbor; love man. These two commands sum up the entire Law of Moses, but are also a part of the law of liberty.
Their partiality is violating both laws.
And if you violate one law, you are guilty before the whole law. Thus James clearly understands that no man could be justified by the law or by works before God. One has to keep all the laws all the time or else they are guilty of it all.
Paul agrees: all violate the Law
by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight;
How could any man hope to be justified by the Law unless he is perfectly sinless? Yet some in the church, influential teachers included, teach us that we can keep God’s law well enough to essentially validate our conversion and so be confident in our salvation as Christian people. No one could justify anything by works if one sin violates the whole law.
The heirs of the kingdom must aspire to love of God and love of man.
So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
2:12-13 bring us back to 1:25.
But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.
So then, the perfect law of liberty is a source of great blessing in life. It is also the criteria of our judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
2:28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.
It has already been made clear that James does not have in mind, at all, eternal judgment. He must be referring to the JSOC.
We need to act and speak with this in mind. Not in fear, but in two ways that are wonderfully freeing and will deliver us from the sin nature’s desire to compromise and gain some power, if only a little.
No believer could think that the JSOC wouldn’t be awesome and exacting. Jesus’ ability to discern good and bad are precise and final.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Would we think that we could sweet talk Him to overlook some stains on certain works, to let slide some faulty motivations? It has to be holy, perfect, and final.
There is a proper fear, but only in the sense of knowing the holiness of His judgment that would make us careful rather than sloppy or careless in our work. Directly after stating the JSOC, Paul describes it as the fear of the Lord which motivates him as an ambassador for Christ.
1) Proper fear that eliminates sloppiness and carelessness.
Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
Knowing the truth and certainty of this final judgment, we are set free from sloppy and uncaring spiritual lives. What we do will really be scrutinized by our Lord. And that is the first benefit of knowing that we will be judged by the law of liberty. It will be by the book.
The second thing is mercy. Certainly God cannot mean us to think that if we show mercy to others that we will get special treatment. I’m not exactly sure how it works. Yet still, it makes sense. If my works are going to be under the perfect eye of Christ, assessed to the fullest, what we would want most is the fullest measure of mercy and compassion. And God tells us here that if we ourselves show mercy, it shall be shown to us. If we are intolerant and exacting with others when we mercy was called for, our experience at the JSOC will be different.
2) Showing mercy to others will season our works with love and compassion, which Jesus will see. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Particulars cannot be answered, but only what the text plainly says. And if we can remember it, we will more easily show mercy to others. Plus, mercy is like love or forgiveness or gentleness or kindness; when you give it to others, you see its value and beauty, and you will find yourself loving to do it. Mercy will certainly triumph over judgment.
In light of that truth, think of the cold indifference that James’ readers had toward the poor. They could claim they gathered and listened to His word, that is good, but without mercy. In that case, judgment will be merciless. If the poor man was welcomed with warmth, not difficult to do when you love the glory of the Lord which makes all earthly riches look base and poor, then you are a victor in the day of judgment. If you had sensitivity and compassion and love to all, which would not be hard if you cared not for the world or sin or personal pleasure, then the judgment of Christ over your deeds would reveal that good.
Many believers have lived in fear of the judgment of Christ. They’ve been told they will have shame, massive fires of burning wood, hay, straw. But what if we looked at this judgment as the Lord revealing to us just exactly what is righteous and what is not. Only He could reveal to us the things that look righteous but are not. That would be invaluable information for all of eternity. I don’t know that the moment we each receive a resurrection body would automatically come with that wisdom. A perfect resurrection body, being nothing but our sinless selves as born from God, and a meeting with Jesus to go over all the work we did on earth when we could be deceived, and yet in His presence without condemnation, would be a wonderful learning experience. Would we want to enter eternity thinking that some of the things we did were good when they were not? Just another way of looking at it.