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Pastor Scott Markle

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Shepherding The Flock - Drawn Away Of Our Own Lust – James 1:14

22 July 2014 - 12:45 PM

Weekly Sermon

James 1:14-15 reads, “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.”

As we have previously noted, James 1:12-18 gives counsel concerning a right motivation for endurance in godliness, concerning a right attitude toward the Lord our God, and concerning a right understanding of temptation unto sin.  Overall, this subject matter is arranged in order to move our focus and understanding from the outside toward the center.  Thus verse 12 & verses 17-18 give counsel concerning our right motivation for endurance in godliness.  Then verse 13 & verses 16-17 give counsel concerning our right attitude toward the Lord our God.  Finally, verses 14-15 give counsel concerning our right understanding of temptation to sin. 

Verse 14 begins with the adversative conjunction “but,” providing a direct contrast to the truth of verse 13.  The closing portion of verse 13 proclaims the truth, “For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”  Indeed, our all-holy Lord God is never the cause of our sinful temptation, either directly or even distantly through our personal constitution, relational contacts, or individual circumstances.  So then, who or what is the cause of our sinful temptation?  In contrast to the truth of verse 13, verse 14 gives answer, saying, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” 

Grammatically, James 1:14-15 presents three statements that reveal a three-step process whereby sinful temptation and sinful behavior take hold upon our hearts and lives.  Each of these three statements contains the relative conjunction “when,” revealing a conditional truth that when a certain event occurs, then a certain result will arise.  First, verse 14 presents the character of sinful temptation -- “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”  Second, the opening portion of verse 15 presents the conception of selfish desire -- “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.”  Third, the closing portion of verse 15 presents the consequence of sinful behavior -- “And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

Through these three statements, we may observe seven progressive elements in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior.  However, before we focus our attention upon these seven elements, we should consider three introductory and foundational truths to this subject matter.  The first foundational truth is that sinful temptation is a universal matter.  The opening line of James 1:14 states, “But every man is tempted.”  In like manner, the opening portion of 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.”  Each and every one of us is tempted unto sin, and is tempted on a regular basis.  Sinful temptation is a characteristic element of our lives upon this earth.  The second foundational truth is that sinful fault is a personal matter.  James 1:14 continues, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”  Each and every one of us is tempted of our own, personal lust (that is -- of our own, selfish desire).  Therefore, each and every commission of sin, whether in attitude, word, action, or neglect, is our own, personal fault and responsibility.  The third foundational truth is that sinful behavior is a consequential matter.  James 1:15 declares, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  Yielding to sinful desire always results in destructive consequences.  Whenever we consent in our heart to be drawn away from our Lord’s fellowship and to be enticed by sin’s deceptive pleasures, sin will be the consequence in some form.  Furthermore, whenever we commit sin in some form, death will be the consequence in some manner.

So then, having considered these three foundational truths to this matter, we now come to the seven progressive elements in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior.

The Element of Desire

The first element in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior is that of desire.  James 1:14 reveals that each and every one of us is tempted unto sin, each and every time of temptation, when we are drawn away and enticed of our own lust.  In this context the word “lust” does not have a narrow reference only to sexual matters.  Rather, in this con-text the word “lust” refers to any selfish desire of our hearts.  This selfish desire may include the pursuit of something that is wrong or the neglect of something that is right.  It may even include an involvement in something that is morally neutral, or even morally good, but that is rooted to selfish motivation.  Thus Proverbs 21:4 defines “the plowing of the wicked” as sin.  The definite source and direct agent of sinful temptation is the principle of selfishness in our hearts.  It is by this principle of selfishness that we choose our own will over our Lord’s will, and it is by this principle of selfishness that we behave in a self-centered manner toward others. 

Certainly, our spiritual adversary the devil is called “the tempter” in God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 3:5).  Certainly, the devil does employ his deceptive wiles against us in order to tempt us unto disobedience and rebellion against our Lord.  Yet the devil’s temptations can only find a place to take root in our hearts through our own selfish desires.   Indeed, the occasion for sinful temptation may come through our personal constitution, relational contacts, or individual circumstances.  Yet the inclination toward sinful temptation is rooted in our own selfish desire.  The true source of sinful temptation is not from outside ourselves, but from inside our selfish, sinful hearts.  The true source is not Satan’s deception from without, but our own selfish desire from within.  Thus the responsibility for any sinful fault in our lives is our own, rooted to our own selfish desire.  As God’s own children, granted newness of spiritual life and indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, we are able to resist temptation and refuse unrighteousness.  Therefore, when we commit sin in any manner, it is our own selfish choice through our own selfish desire.

Even so, the closing line of 1 Peter 1:4 reveals that the spiritual corruption of this world is “in the world through lust” (that is -- through the selfish desires of mankind).  Furthermore, Ephesians 2:3 indicates concerning our spiritual condition as lost sinners before salvation, “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts [in the selfish de-sires] of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”  Therefore, Ephesians 4:22 instructs us who are now God’s children through faith in Christ as Savior, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts [according to the deceitful desires of selfishness].”  Again 1 Peter 1:14-15 gives the instruction, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts [according to the former desires of selfishness] in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.”  Indeed, our selfish desires stand in direct contrast to the way of holiness.  1 John 2:16 reveals that the very essence of worldliness is selfish desire, saying, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  Those who rebel against the Lord do so in “walking after their own lusts,” in walking after their own selfish desires (2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:16, 18).  Yea, 2 Timothy 4:3-4 warns us concerning the spiritual backsliding of God’s own people, saying, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts [after their own selfish desires] shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”  If we give ourselves to walk after our own selfish desires, we shall depart from the wisdom and ways of God’s holy Word.

Brethren, sinful temptation and sinful behavior begin with the selfish desires of our hearts.  If we would obtain spiritual victory over it, we must confront it and resist it at this point.  Thus 1 Peter 2:11 gives the instruction, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”  We must not indulge the selfish thoughts and feelings, intents and motivations of our hearts.  Rather, we must deny these selfish thoughts and feelings, these selfish intents and motivations.  Even so, Titus 2:11-12 declares, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts [the ungodly and worldly desires of selfishness], we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”  If we would walk in daily fellowship with our Lord, we must deny our selfish desires, take up our cross of self-sacrificing submission unto our Lord, and follow Him in whole-hearted dependence and obedience (Luke 9:23).  Through utter dependence upon the power of our Lord’s might (Ephesians 6:10), we must not allow sin to reign in our hearts and lives by yielding in obedience to its selfish desires (Romans 6:12).  Rather, we must walk after the direction of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, in order that we should not fulfill the selfish desire of our sinful flesh (Galatians 5:16).  We must put on our Lord Jesus Christ through abiding in Him, and must not make any provision whatsoever for our sinful flesh to fulfill the selfish desires thereof (Romans 13:14). 

The Element of Drawing Away

The second element in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior is that of drawing away.  James 1:14 reveals that each and every one of us is tempted unto sin when we are drawn away of our own selfish desires.  Here the Greek word translated “drawn away” was often employed in the context of hunting and fishing, wherein the prey was drawn away from some position of safety.  This is the manner by which sinful temptation begins to take root in our hearts.  Through our own selfish desires, we are drawn away from the place of spiritual safety.  We are drawn away from the blessed fellowship of our Lord, from the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit, from the governing truth of God’s Word, and from a focused pursuit after righteousness.  Through our own selfish desires, an intense draw is placed upon our will to move away from our Lord and His righteousness and to move toward sinful behavior in attitude, word, or action.  Thus we must guard the focus of our hearts “with all diligence,” for out of the heart “are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  We must establish the focus of our hearts upon our Lord, ever abiding in His fellowship and strength, upon the Holy Spirit, ever walking after His guidance, upon God’s Word, ever meditating upon its truth and being governed by its principles, and upon the way of righteousness, ever motivated to please the Lord our God thereby.

The Element of Deception

The third element in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior is that of deception.  James 1:14 reveals that each and every one of us is tempted when we are both drawn away and enticed of our own selfish desires.  Here the Greek word translated “enticed” presents the picture of luring with bait, as on a hook or for a trap.  It portrays some bait that offers a form of pleasure to the prey, and thereby deceives the prey into being caught by the hook or trap.  This is the manner by which sinful temptation takes hold within our hearts.  Through our own selfish desires, sinful temptation attracts us and allures us by deceptively convincing us that a given sin is pleasurable and profitable for us.  In this manner Eve was deceived into eating of the forbidden tree.  Genesis 3:6 states, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”  Sinful temptation appeals to our selfish desires, inviting us “to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). 

Every sinful temptation engages us with great cunning and deception.  It offers profit and pleasure for self, while hiding the hook and the trap behind that self-pleasure and self-profit.  It does this to distract us from considering the final consequences of yielding to that sinful temptation.  It does this to move us to disregard, discount, or even discredit the cost of yielding.  It does this to convince us that enjoying the pleasure of the sin is worth any cost that might possibly be required.  It does this to motivate us to rationalize, trivialize, and even justify yielding to the temptation.  This is the deceptive nature of sinful temptation.  Yet sinful temptation only has an attraction and allure to our hearts through our own selfish desires, because our sinful flesh views a walk in sin more appealing than a walk with our Lord.  Even so, James 1:14 presents the elements of drawing away and deception as two closely related parts of the same process.  We are drawn away from our Lord through the deceptive pleasures of sin, and we are made more susceptible to the deceptive pleasures of sin as we are drawn away from our Lord. 

Therefore, we must ponder the path and consequences of our decisions and direction, and must let all our ways be established in the fellowship and righteousness of our Lord (Proverbs 4:26).  We must steadfastly flee that which is sinful and follow after that which is righteous.  We must not allow our hearts to be drawn away from our Lord and to be enticed by sinful pleasures.  We must especially be on guard against the selfish desires that are individually our own.  One type of bait does not work equally well with every type of prey.  Even so, we each are most spiritually vulnerable through the deceptive pleasures that appeal to our own selfish desires.  Thus we each must be most concerned to guard against our own areas of spiritual weakness.

The Element of Decision

The fourth element in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior is that of decision.  The opening line of James 1:15 states, “Then when lust hath conceived.”  Through our own selfish desires, sinful temptation draws away and entices our will.  Sinful temptation upon our selfish desire calls for a decision.  Either we will decide to resist faithfully, or we will decide to yield willfully.  Even so, when our will embraces and joins in union with a given desire of our selfish, sinful heart, a decision is made in our heart and mind in favor of sin.  This is the moment at which our hearts and minds willfully yield to the sinful temptation.  This is the moment at which our hearts and minds willfully conceive the decision to partake of the deceptive pleasure offered through sinful temptation.  This is the moment at which we willfully decide to approve of the appeal to our selfish desire.  This is the moment at which we willfully decide to pursue and satisfy our selfish desire. 

The Element of Disobedience

The fifth element in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior is that of disobedience.  The opening half of James 1:15 continues, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.”  This is the certain consequence of our willful decision to yield unto the sinful temptation.  Whenever our selfish desire and our will join in union, sinful disobedience is the offspring.  Then our own selfish desire will give birth and bring forth sin and disobedience against the Lord our God, either in attitude, word, or action.  Indeed, our selfish desire is the mother of sinful disobedience.  Sinful temptation itself is not sin.  Even our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  Our responsibility is to resist and flee sinful temptation.  Yet when we join our will with our selfish desire and indulge sinful temptation, then sinful disobedience will be the inevitable result.  Then we will depart from the path of righteousness and will enter into the path of unrighteousness.  Selfish desire leads through drawing away and deception unto decision; and if a sinful decision is made, that decision leads inevitably unto sinful disobedience.  In this manner, we ourselves willfully choose to turn away from our Lord and His righteous will and to commit sinful disobedience against our Lord and His will.  Indeed, the selfish desire is our own; the sinful decision is our own; and the sinful disobedience is our own.  Therefore, the battle against sinful temptation and sinful behavior must begin with our own selfish desires in the thoughts and feelings, intents and motivations of our hearts.  We must cast down “imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God;” and we must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). 

The Element of Development

The sixth element in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior is that of development.  The closing portion of James 1:15 begins, “And sin, when it is finished.”  In this context the word “finished” refers to that which has become fully developed.  Every sin that we commit produces a work of spiritual corruption within our hearts and upon our lives.  When we sow to our selfish, sinful flesh through sinful disobedience, we shall reap spiritual corruption (Galatians 6:7-8).  Even after the sinful act itself is over, the work of spiritual corruption continues its development within and upon us.  Each commission of sin spiritually hardens our hearts, spiritually darkens our thoughts and feelings, and spiritually corrupts our intents and motivations.  Thus each time that we yield to temptation, spiritual corruption develops deeper roots in our hearts and makes us more susceptible to repeat the sin in the future.  Then as we repeat the sinful behavior, a sinful habit develops in our lives and eventually becomes an integral part of our character.  In this manner we become bound with the cords and chains of our own sins (Proverbs 5:22).  Having been conceived through decision and having been born through disobedience, the sin then grows in a corruptive development.  This corruptive development can only be stopped and put to death through brokenhearted repentance unto the Lord our God.

The Element of Destruction and Death

The seventh and final element in the realm of sinful temptation and sinful behavior is that of destruction and death.  The closing portion of James 1:15 continues, “And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  This consequence of death is in direct contrast to “the crown of life” that our Lord shall give as a reward unto those who faithfully endure the trials of life through a righteous walk.  This is the absolute principle of God’s Word.  The final consequence of sin is always destruction and death in some form.  “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  By the first sin of Adam, death entered the world (Romans 5:12).  Indeed, death has passed upon every one of us because we all have sinned.  In fact, we all enter this world as sinners by nature; and as such, we enter this world already dead spiritually in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).  Furthermore, every lost sinner who dies in his or her sin “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). 

Yet every individual who places his or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as eternal Savor “hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).  Yea, every believer is born again as a child of God, given newness of spiritual life through the work of God the Holy Spirit.  As the children of God, we are no longer dead spiritually in sins, but are now alive spiritually unto God through Christ.  We possess the life of God within and can never again become completely dead spiritually in sins.  Yet even as the children of God, we can experience a spiritual deadness in our hearts and lives.  We can experience spiritual withering, spiritual fruitlessness, spiritual uselessness, spiritual emptiness, spiritual blindness, and spiritual defeat.  This spiritual deadness is the consequence of our walk in sin.  Even so, in John 15:6 our Lord Jesus Christ gave the warning unto His own, saying, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned [under the chastening hand of our Lord].”  Again Romans 8:13 gives the warning to us who are God’s own children, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”  Yet again Galatians 6:8 gives the warning, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”  And yet again 2 Peter 1:9 gives the warning, “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”  Furthermore, if we continue unrepentant in our walk of sin, our Lord may chasten us with physical death; for “there is a sin unto death” even for God’s own children (1 John 5:16). 

Brethren, all of this truth is given unto us for our admonition.  It is given to warn us against any and all selfish desire and sinful temptation, and to motivate us unto diligent, faithful resistance against such desires and temptations.  Let us not indulge these selfish desires and sinful temptations even for a moment, lest they become rooted in our character, bind us in their power, and bring us to corruption and destruction.  This admonition is also given to warn us and motivate us concerning any sin that we have already committed, that we might quickly recognize our own fault in committing that sin, repent of that sin with a broken and contrite heart, and return unto our Lord and our walk in His fellowship.   The Lord our God finds no pleasure in our destruction and death.  Rather, He desires that we should turn from our sinful ways and live.  Thus He calls unto us in love, saying, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways” (Ezekiel 33:11); and again, saying, “Wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezekiel 18:32).
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Shepherding The Flock - Let No Man Say – James 1:13

16 July 2014 - 11:45 AM

Weekly Sermon

James 1:13 reads, “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.”

James 1:12-18 gives counsel concerning a right motivation for endurance in godliness, concerning a right attitude toward the Lord our God, and concerning a right understanding of temptation to sin.  The first sentence of the paragraph (verse 12) promises a sure blessing upon those who are faithful to endure the trials of life through an obedient love to the Lord.  Then the remainder of the paragraph presents a serious warning for those who fall away at sinful temptation through the enticement of their own selfish desires.  Through this promise of a sure blessing and this presentation of a serious warning, a contrast is provided between our relationship toward the Lord our God and our relationship toward the lusts of our flesh. 

Having begun in verse 12 with a fortifying promise, this paragraph continues in verse 13 with a forceful prohibition.  Grammatically, verse 13 is a compound sentence.  The first independent clause of this compound sentence forcefully presents a prohibition against error -- “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.”  The second independent clause of this compound sentence, joined to the first by the conjunction “for,” forcefully presents a proclamation of the truth -- “For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”

The Prohibition against Error

As we have noted, the opening portion of this verse presents a forceful prohibition against error.  Grammatically, this prohibition may be divided into two parts.  The first part begins by revealing the context for the prohibition -- “Let no man say when he is tempted.”  Herein the audience, the activity, and the application of this prohibition are revealed.  The audience of this prohibition is revealed through the phrase, “Let no man.”  None of us, no, not even one of us, is ever to make the claim that he or she is “tempted of God.”  There are no exceptions to this prohibition.  Each and every one of us is included therein.  No matter who we may be and no matter how severe may be our circumstances, we are absolutely forbidden ever to make the claim that the Lord our God is the source of our temptations to sin, and thus is somehow at fault for our sin.  Furthermore, the activity of this prohibition is revealed through the word “say.”  The contextual idea of this word is not so much that of speaking this claim to others, but more so that of making this claim to ourselves.  It is the idea of rationalizing unto ourselves that the Lord our God is the source of our temptations to sin, and thereby justifying ourselves for yielding to those temptations.  Such thinking and rationalizing unto ourselves is absolutely forbidden.  Yea, such thinking and rationalizing is actually blasphemy against our all-holy Lord God.  Finally, the application of this prohibition is revealed through the phrase, “When he is tempted.”  The contextual shift from the noun form of the word, “temptation,” as used in verses 2 & 12, to the verb form of the word, “tempted,” as used in verses 13 & 14, helps to signal that there is a shift in the subject matter from the trying of our faith to the temptation (or, enticement) unto sin.  In addition, the closing portion of this verse clearly indicates that being tempted “with evil” is now the subject matter, saying, “For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”  So then, when we are in the midst of sinful temptation, we must never justify yielding to that temptation by rationalizing that the sinful temptation is from the Lord our God.  God forbid that we should ever rationalize sinful temptation in such a manner!

The second part of this prohibition against error continues by revealing the claim that is prohibited -- “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.”  Selfish human nature commonly seeks to excuse and justify itself by shifting the blame of its sinful faults away from itself onto another.  It is especially perverse when our selfish nature seeks to shift the blame for our sinful faults onto the Lord our God.  Yes, God’s Word reveals that the Lord our God brings the trying of our faith into our lives.  Furthermore, there is indeed some form of temptation to sin in the midst of every trial.  Therefore, the perverted mindset of our sinful flesh may justify and excuse yielding to temptation and sin by claiming that because God brought the trial, He also caused the temptation.  However, although the Lord our God brings trials into our lives in order to purify our faith, He never causes sinful temptation in our lives in order to corrupt our faith.  In fact, the prohibition of this verse is not simply that we are never to indicate that we are tempted by God as the direct agent of our temptations.  Rather, the prohibition of this verse is that we are never even to imply that we are tempted from God as the distant cause of our temptations through some other means.  Adam made such a false implication when he stated that his wife, which the Lord God Himself had created to be with him, had tempted him to eat the forbidden fruit (Gene-sis 1:13). 

Even so, this implication that we are “tempted of God” as a distant cause is rationalized in three ways.  First, we might blame our sinful faults upon our personal constitution (that is -- upon our hereditary characteristics, personality type, mental disorders, etc.).  Thus we imply that the Lord our God, who created us with this personal constitution, is the cause of our sinful temptations and sinful behavior.  Second, we might blame our sinful faults upon our relational contacts (that is -- upon our contact with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, enemies, etc.).  Thus we imply that the Lord our God, who arranged these relational contacts, is the cause of our sinful temptations and sinful behavior.  Third, we might blame our sinful faults upon our individual circumstances (that is -- upon our living conditions, financial struggles, health needs, peculiar experiences, etc.).  Thus we imply that the Lord our God, who placed us into these individual circumstances, is the cause of our sinful temptations and sinful behavior.  Yet the forceful prohibition and sharp rebuke of God’s Word goes forth, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.” 

The Proclamation of the Truth

Having presented a forceful prohibition against error in the opening portion of the verse, James 1:13 then presents a forceful proclamation of the truth in the closing portion.  The two independent clauses of this sentence are joined by the conjunction “for,” indicating that this proclamation of the truth is an explanation for the prohibition against error.  Grammatically, this proclamation of the truth can be divided into two parts.  The first part of this proclamation reveals the truth concerning the character of the Lord our God -- “For God cannot be tempted with evil.”  By the nature of His character, the Lord our God is literally untemptable.  He is literally incapable of being tempted.  By nature the Lord our God is absolutely holy, pure, and righteous.  “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).  Yea, the Lord our God is “glorious in holiness” (Exodus 15:11).  “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  “There is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92:15).  His righteousness “is an everlasting righteousness” (Psalm 119:142).  Thus by the nature of His character, the Lord our God despises all sin with absolute disgust and hatred.  By nature the Lord our God and wicked sin are completely adverse to one another without any opening for compromise.  Wicked sin has no appeal whatsoever to our all-holy Lord God; therefore, temptation to sin can never find a foothold with Him.

The second part of this proclamation reveals the truth concerning the conduct of the Lord our God -- “Neither tempteth he any man.”  The all-holy, all-righteous character of the Lord our God is the foundation for His conduct.  “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17).  Because He is all-holy and all-righteous in the nature of His character, He Himself can never and will never tempt any one at any time in any way unto unrighteousness.  To be even the distant cause of sinful temptation in our lives would be directly contrary to His nature.  Our all-righteous Lord loves righteousness in our lives (Psalm 11:7).  He is of such pure nature and of such pure eyes that He cannot behold evil or look upon sinful iniquity with any favor (Habakkuk 1:13).  Therefore, the Lord our God can never and will never promote that unrighteousness in our lives which is a hateful abomination in His sight. 

The Lord our God never tempts anyone to sin.  Rather, in His all-righteous faithfulness, He will not allow us to be tempted above our ability for victory through faith in Him, “but will with the temptation also make a way to escape” in order that we may be able to bear it in righteousness (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Therefore, no one should ever claim that he or she is “tempted of God.”  In addition, no one should ever blame God in any manner for his or her sinful failure.  Yet if the Lord our God is not the cause of our sinful temptation and sinful failure, what is the cause?  James 1:14 gives answer, saying, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”  Not one of us is tempted unto sin of the Lord our God.  Every one of us is tempted unto sin of his own lust (selfish desire).  Even so, our sinful failure is never God’s fault!  Rather, our sinful failure is always our own fault.
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Shepherding The Flock - Blessed Is The Man That Endureth Temptation – James 1:12

08 July 2014 - 12:58 PM

Weekly Sermon

James 1:12 reads, “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.”

As we have previously noted, the third paragraph of the epistle begins in verse 12 by pronouncing a sure blessing upon those who endure the trials of life aright.  Grammatically, this verse is a compound sentence.  The first independent clause of this compound sentence presents an expression of a blessed position -- “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.”  Then the second independent clause of this compound sentence provides an explanation of this blessed position -- “For when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”  Furthermore, the second independent clause itself can be divided grammatically into three parts.  First, there is the conditional prospect of the adverb clause -- “When he is tried.”  Second, there is the certain provision of the main clause -- “He shall receive the crown of life.”  Finally, there is the confident promise of the adjective clause -- “Which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

The Record of this Blessed Position

Brethren, the blessing of the Lord our God from the Lord our God is available to us who are His own.  Indeed, there is a position of blessing upon which we may establish ourselves throughout our daily walk.  The opening four words of James 1:12 presents the record of this blessed position, saying, “Blessed is the man.”  This is the eternal, absolute record of God’s own Word.  Yea, the ringing declaration of God’s own Word is that there is a position of blessing for God’s own people.  Yet in this context the word “blessed” does not refer to the circumstantial happiness of a favorable and pleasurable life without trials, troubles, and tribulations.  Rather, this word “blessed” refers to the spiritual joy, peace, hope, confidence, and strength of our Lord’s favor and pleasure upon a godly, faithful life.  The experience of this blessed position begins even now and shall find its full glory in the life to come.  Even so, the opening line of this verse focuses our attention upon the blessed position in this present life; even as the remainder of the verse focuses our attention upon that blessed position in the life to come.  Each and every one of God’s children who meets the requirement shall experience this blessed position.

The Requirement for this Blessed Position

So then, what is the requirement for this blessed position?  The answer is revealed as the opening line continues, saying, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.”  Again in this context, as in the context of verses 2-3, the word “temptation” refers to the trying of our faith through the trials, troubles, and tribulations of life.  Herein the individual who is described as enduring temptation is also described as one who “is tried.”  Thus the requirement for this blessed position is that we must patiently and faithfully endure the trying of our faith.  This blessed position is not promised to those who experience the trying of their faith.  We have not choice in this matter.  We all experience the trying of our faith.  It cannot be avoided.  Rather, this blessed position is promised to those who endure the trying of their faith in a righteous manner.  This is where we make our choice, choosing how we will respond to the trying of our faith.  This is where we have personal responsibility in this matter. 

What then does it mean to endure the trying of our faith in a righteous manner?  It means that we do not become faint in our minds toward the Lord our God (Hebrews 12:3).  It means that we do not despise the training and chastening work of our Lord (Hebrews 12:5).  It means that we do not become weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9).  It means that we do not turn aside from the way of righteousness through sinful temptation, either in attitude, word, or action.  On the other hand, it means that we do maintain our confident trust in our Lord, ever waiting patiently upon Him (Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 40:31).  It means that we do “let patience have her perfect work,” in order that we might grow in spiritual maturity (James 1:4).  It means that we do remain “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  It means that we do resist sinful temptation that we might faithfully continue in the way of righteousness in attitude, word, and action.  It means that we do “run with patience the race that is set before us,” fighting the good fight unto the end, finishing our course with faithfulness, and keeping the faith without wavering (Hebrews 13:1; 2 Timothy 4:7).  This is the requirement for this blessed position -- a daily walk that is faithfully characterized by righteous endurance.  This does not mean that such an individual will never fail in sinful attitude, word, or action.  Rather, this means that such an individual will consistently pursue a daily walk of righteous endurance, and that such an individual will quickly repent of any failure in sinful behavior and will quickly return to a walk of righteous endurance.

The Result in this Blessed Position

The record of and the requirement for this blessed position are both expressed in the first independent clause of verse 12.  The explanation for that expression is then delivered in the second independent clause of this compound sentence.  This explanation begins with the result in this blessed position, saying, “For when he is tried.”  Employing a past tense verb, this phrase refers to that time when the trying of our faith is complete.  Even more, it refers to the approval of our Lord upon a completed life of faithful endurance.  The word “tried” in this phrase was often used concerning gold that had been tried by fire and had been found genuinely pure.  Such gold would be found “tried and true.”  Even so, the result of a daily walk in righteous endurance will be that we are found “tried and true” as the faithful servants of our Lord.  As the Lord’s faithful servants, our spiritual character will not only have been proved by the trying of our faith, but will also have been found approved through the trying of our faith.  Through the trying of our faith, our spiritual character will be “found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).  At the Judgment Seat of Christ, our spiritual character will be as the gold, silver, and precious stones that shall abide our Lord’s revealing fire and that shall be approved in our Lord’s righteous sight (1 Corinthians 3:12-14).  Thus we understand that the true objective of our Christian lives is to obtain our Lord’s approval on judgment day.

The Reward through this Blessed Position

The reward through this blessed position, to those who walk in this blessed position through a faithful walk of righteous endurance, shall be “the crown of life.”  The explanatory clause of James 1:12 continues, saying, “For when he is tried [found approved through trying], he shall receive the crown of life.”  This crown does not represent the eternal life that an individual receives at the moment of eternal redemption and eternal salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  Rather, this crown is the reward that the Lord our God graciously grants to a believer for a life of faithful endurance and faithful service.  This incorruptible crown is a symbol of glory and honor received from the hand of the Lord our God Himself.  For eternity it shall represent the victorious glory of a life that is lived faithfully in righteous endurance.  For eternity it shall reveal the great honor of our Lord upon such a faithful life of righteous endurance.  In this life, which is only for a season, we must endure the heaviness of the cross in fellowship with our Lord’s sufferings.  Yet in the life to come, which is for all eternity, if we have faithfully endured in righteousness, we shall receive the honor of the crown in fellowship with our Lord’s glory.  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).  This is the eternal reward that our Lord shall give to those who lose their life for His sake, denying themselves, taking up their cross daily, and following Him (Matthew 16:24-27).  This is the eternal reward that our Lord shall give to those who faithfully keep themselves in submission to His righteous will (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  This is the eternal reward that our Lord shall give to those who fight the good fight, finish their course, and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:8).  This is the eternal reward that our Lord shall give to those who faithfully endure tribulation and persecution for His sake (Matthew 5:11-12; Revelation 2:10).  This is the eternal reward that our Lord shall give to those who cast not away their confidence in Him (Hebrews 10:35-36). 

The Reassurance concerning this Blessed Position

Indeed, this “crown of life” is a sure reward unto every faithful servant of our Lord; for it is founded upon the promise of our Lord Himself.  Yet again the explanatory clause of James 1:12 continues, saying, “For when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them.”  Yea, the promise of the Lord our God is our reassurance concerning this blessed position.  This eternal, incorruptible “crown of life” shall certainly be given by our Lord unto every one of His faithful servants; for He cannot be unfaithful to His Word.  He has graciously promised this eternal reward by His own will, and He shall graciously give this eternal reward by His own hand.  Even so, in Revelation 3:11 He gives us the instruction and warning, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

The Reason behind this Blessed Position

Now, the closing phrase of James 1:12 indicates that our Lord’s promise concerning “the crown of life” is delivered “to them that love him.”  This reveals the reason behind this blessed position.  By the flow of thought in this verse, those who are characterized by love for the Lord are exactly the same as those who are characterized by a walk in righteous endurance.  In fact, our love for the Lord is that which will motivate our walk in righteous endurance.  The specific reason that we will maintain our confident trust in our Lord is because we love our Lord.  The specific reason that we will “let patience have her perfect work” is because we love our Lord.  The specific reason that we will remain “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” is because we love our Lord.  The specific reason that we will endure the trying of our faith without becoming faint in our minds and without becoming “weary in well doing” is because we love our Lord.  Our love for our Lord will be the foundation for our endurance in righteousness.  Furthermore, the reason that our Lord honors our faithful walk in righteous endurance is because it demonstrates our love for Him.  “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  If we love Him, we will keep His commandments with faithful, steadfast endurance (John 14:15, 21, 23).  Indeed, this loving obedience and loving endurance will bring honor unto the Lord our God; and the Lord our God honors those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30).
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Shepherding The Flock - Do Not Err, My Beloved Brethren – James 1:12-18

01 July 2014 - 01:32 PM

Weekly Sermon

James 1:12-18 reads, “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.  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: 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.  Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

With James 1:12-18 we come to the third paragraph of this epistle.  Again we remember that the Holy Spirit inspired purpose for this epistle is to provide pastoral counsel for a spiritually mature walk in the believer’s life.  Even so, this third paragraph gives counsel concerning a right motivation for endurance in godliness, concerning a right attitude toward the Lord our God, and concerning a right understanding of temptation to sin. 

The first sentence of the paragraph (verse 12) immediately promises a sure blessing upon those who are faithful to endure the trials of life through an obedient love unto the Lord.  Then the remainder of the paragraph extensively presents a serious warning for those who fall away at sinful temptation through the enticement of their own selfish desires.  Primarily, this paragraph is intended to motivate us unto faithful endurance in godliness through love for our Lord.  Yet because we so often fall into sin under life’s trials, this paragraph adds a warning against blaming the Lord our God for the temptation unto which we yielded.  Thus the admonition is pronounced in the midst of the paragraph, “Do not err, my beloved brethren” (verse 16).

Overall, this paragraph presents five truths for our consideration.  These five truths are arraigned in order to move our understanding from the outside toward the center.  Thus the first and fifth of these truths speak concerning our motivation for endurance in godliness.  Then the second and fourth of these truths speak concerning our attitude toward the Lord our God.  Finally, the third and central truth speaks concerning our understanding of temptations to sin.

The Promise of an Eternal Reward

As has been noted, the opening sentence immediately promises a sure blessing.  In verse 12 God’s Word declares, “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.”   Herein the focus is not simply upon a temporal blessing in this life, but upon an eternal reward in the life to come.  Thus we are brought to consider the promise of an eternal reward.  The Lord our God has promised “the crown of life” to those who love Him throughout their daily walk in this life.  Yea, our Lord has promised this eternal reward to those who demonstrate their love for Him by enduring aright the many, various trials, troubles, and tribulations of this life.  Each and every believer who faithfully endures aright is in the place of blessing and shall receive this eternal reward from our Lord’s hand.

Yet what does it mean to endure aright?  This verse speaks of the individual “that endureth temptation.”  With the word “temptation,” we return to that subject which was previously introduced in verses 2-3.  In the context of verses 2-3, the phrase “diverse temptations” referred to the trying of our faith through the many, various trials, troubles, and tribulations of life.  Flowing from that context, verse 12 also employs the word “temptation” in reference to the trying of our faith, presenting “the man that endureth temptation” as the one who “is tried” and found worthy of reward.  So then, to endure aright means to endure under the trials of life without yielding to sin in either attitude or action.  It means to endure under the trials of life without wavering from a faithful walk in obedience and godliness.  These are the individuals who maintain true love unto the Lord, for those that love Him faithfully keep His commandments (John 14:21, 23).  Even so, the Lord our God has promised “to them that love Him” that they “shall receive the crown of life.”

The Prohibition against a False Accusation

Yet the use of the word “temptation” in verse 12 does serve as a transition from the truth and teaching of verses 2-3 concerning the trying of our faith to the truth and teaching of verses 13-15 concerning our temptation unto sin.  Even so, in verse 13 God’s Word declares, “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.”  Indeed, within every situation wherein our faith is tried, there is also a temptation to commit sin in either attitude or action.  Thus we are brought to consider the prohibition against a false accusation.  Verses 2-3 reveal our Lord’s purpose in the trying of our faith that we should grow in spiritual maturity.  Verse 12 reveals our own responsibility in the trying of our faith that we should endure without spiritual wavering.  Yet verses 13-15 reveal our own fault in the trying of our faith when we yield therein to sinful temptation.

God’s Word does reveal that the Lord our God is directly instrumental in arranging and accomplishing the trying of our faith.  Because of this we may think to indicate or imply that He is at fault when we yield unto sin in the midst of these trials.  Yet this would be a false, and even blasphemous, accusation against our all-holy and all-righteous Lord God.  Thus the opening portion of verse 13 directly prohibits any such accusation, saying, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.”  We are directly commanded never, no not ever, to indicate, or even imply, that any temptation to sin is from the Lord our God.  Both His character and His conduct make this absolutely impossible.  In character He “cannot be tempted with evil.”  In character He is absolutely pure and righteous.  In character He despises all sin with absolute disgust and hatred.  Furthermore, flowing out of His all-righteous character, in conduct “neither tempteth he any man” with evil.  Yes, the Lord our God does try our faith for our spiritual growth; but it is never His purpose to entice unto sin.

The Process of Sinful Temptation

So then, how are we tempted unto sin?  Verses 14-15 gives answer, saying, “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.”  The source of temptation to sin is not to be found from the Lord our God, but is to found within our own hearts.  We are tempted unto sin when we are drawn away and enticed of our own selfish desires.  Thus we are brought to consider the process of sinful temptation.  Three steps are revealed in this process.  First, we encounter the character of sinful temptation; for temptation has power over us as we are drawn away from the Lord and enticed unto sinfulness through our own selfish desire.  Second, we encounter the conception of selfish desire; for when we permit our own selfish desire to conceive, it gives birth to sinful behavior.  Third, we encounter the consequence of sinful behavior; for when sinful behavior in any form comes to completion, it brings forth spiritual destruction and death.  Even so, through this process we are brought to understand that sinful temptation, sinful behavior, and spiritual destruction is our own fault; for it is all rooted to our own selfish desire. 

The Pronouncement of a Loving Admonition

It is a very serious matter for us to understand these truths from verses 13-15.  Concerning these truths verse 16 declares, “Do not err, my beloved brethren.”  Thus we are brought to consider the pronouncement of a loving admonition.  This is a serious admonition.  We must not be deceived and go astray into error on these truths.  Yet this is also a loving admonition.  With a great burden of love, James admonished the scattered Jewish believers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as his “beloved brethren.”  In like manner, the Holy Spirit admonishes us with a great burden of love through His inspired Word.  Even so, through a great burden of love, we are admonished not to err in thinking that the Lord our God is the source of our temptations.  Again through a great burden of love, we are admonished not to err in following after the sinful ways of our selfish desire.  Yet again through a great burden of love, we are admonished not to err in denying the fault of our own selfish desire when we sin.  Finally, through a great burden of love, we are admonished not to err in believing that our sinful behavior will not result in our destruction.  Yet this loving admonition not only looks back to the truths of verses 13-15, but also looks forward to the truth of verses 17-18.  Thus through a great burden of love, we are admonished not to err in forgetting the provision of God’s unchanging goodness. 

The Provision of God’s Goodness

In direct contrast to the false accusation that the Lord our God is the source of temptation, verse 17 declares, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  Thus we are brought to consider the provision of God’s goodness.  In character and in conduct, the Lord our God cannot Himself be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone else with evil.  He is not the source of temptation.  Rather, He is the Source of “every good gift and every perfect gift.”  He is “the Father of lights.”  He is the Source of light, both physically and spiritually.  He created the lights of heaven to provide physical light upon the earth.  He sends forth the spiritual light of His Word to guide us unto salvation and spiritual growth.  He is light, “and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  Although the lights of the earth may vary in their light and may create shadows through their turning, He is an unchanging light of glorious holiness and righteousness.  In character there is no variableness in His holy and righteous nature.  In conduct He produces no shadow of spiritual darkness, for He never turns from the light of perfect holiness and righteousness.  Even so, from Him comes down all true goodness; and from Him never comes temptation to evil.

In fact, one of the greatest gifts that the Lord our God has given unto us out of His abundant goodness is the gift of our new birth.  Thus verse 18 declares, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”  In contrast to sin that brings forth spiritual death, the Lord our God and heavenly Father has begotten us again unto newness of spiritual life.  This He did out of His own good will.  This He did through His Word of truth, the gospel.  This He did in order that we might be “a kind of firstfruits” unto His glory.  Certainly then, in His unchanging goodness the Lord our God would never contradict His good provision and purpose by tempting us unto sin.  “Do not err, my beloved brethren.”
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Shepherding The Flock - As The Flower Of The Grass – James 1:11

25 June 2014 - 12:27 PM

Weekly Sermon

James 1:11 reads, “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.”

James 1:9-11 presents the second paragraph of the epistle.  This paragraph gives counsel concerning the contrasting subjects of humble maturity and worldly materialism.  In these three verses, only two sentences are delivered.  The first sentence of this paragraph is a compound sentence, encompassing verses 9-10.  The second sentence of the paragraph encompasses verse 11.  In the closing line of verse 10, the warning of God’s Word is delivered unto the wealthy believer, saying, “Because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”  This warning provides the reason that the wealthy believer should obey the instruction of verse 10 to glory “in that he is made low.”  Then beginning with the explanatory conjunction “for,” verse 11 expands and explains that warning through the form of an illustrative picture. 

Even so, James 1:11 provides an illustration of admonition against the spirit and ways of worldly materialism, saying, “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.”  In the illustrative picture of this verse, we encounter four significant elements.  First, we encounter the scorching heat of the risen sun.  Second, we encounter the withering up of the flowering grass.  Third, we encounter the falling flower from the withered grass.  Fourth, we encounter the perishing grace of the fallen flower.  Then through the closing line of the verse, each of these four elements is applied with a direct correspondence to the materialistic believer in his materialistic ways.  “So also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”  How then do the four elements of this illustration correspond to the materialistic believer in his materialistic ways?

The materialistic believer will experience the Scorching Heat of our Lord’s Chastening.

The opening line of James 1:11 states, “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat.”  The shining light of the sun is healthy for the grass.  However, the scorching heat of the sun is destructive for the grass.  Herein we encounter, not the shining light, but the scorching heat of the sun.  This scorching heat is presented as coming immediately with the rising of the sun.  Even so, this scorching heat comes in an unrelenting, irresistible manner.  So then, how does this picture correspond to the materialistic believer?  This scorching heat of the sun represents the fiery wrath of our Lord’s chastening hand against the materialistic believer.  Although circumstantial troubles may be included as a part of our Lord’s chastening work, the scorching heat does not represent these troubles in themselves.  Rather, the scorching heat represents the fiery wrath of our Lord that sends forth these troubles.  Yea, the scorching heat represents the fiery wrath of our Lord that is kindled against us for our sinful iniquity.

Yet is the spirit and way of worldly materialism a sinful iniquity that kindles our Lord’s fiery wrath and moves our Lord’s chastening hand against us?  From the Biblical perspective, materialism can be defined as placing a greater affection and attention upon the possession and pleasures of material wealth, than upon the fellowship and service of our Lord.  This is revealed in Matthew 6:19-21.  Therein our Lord Jesus Christ preached against the spirit and way of worldly materialism, saying, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Furthermore, in Matthew 6:24 our Lord delivered the warning, saying, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon [material wealth].”  It is spiritually impossible for us to serve both the ways of materialism and the Lord our God at the same time.  If we set our affection and priority on a life of material-ism, then we will inevitably forget and forsake the Lord our God.  If we love and hold to the one, we will inevitably hate and despise the other in the direction and behavior of our life. 

Even so, in Deuteronomy 8:7-14 Moses delivered the Lord’s warning to the children of Israel concerning the spirit and ways of worldly materialism.  In verses 7-9 he revealed the Lord’s promise to bless them with material things, saying, “For the LORD thy God bring-eth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.”  Yes, this was the Lord’s own blessing in their lives.  Yet in verses 11-14 Moses also revealed the Lord’s admonition against the spirit of materialism that would accompany that blessing, saying, “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”  Material blessing always brings the temptation to a materialistic spirit.  If we yield to that temptation, we will be lifted up with pride in our material blessing and will forget and forsake the Lord our God in the direction of our lives. 

Yea, if we yield to a materialistic spirit, we will inevitably turn aside to a walk of disobedience against our Lord’s Word and will.  In 1 Timothy 6:9 God’s Word warns us against the spirit and ways of worldly materialism, saying, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”  Setting the priority of our hearts and the pursuit of our lives after material things and material success, whether we obtain it or not, will cause us to fall into sinful temptation and a spiritual snare.  Such a priority and pursuit of worldly materialism will inevitably lead us into many spiritually “foolish and hurtful lusts,” wherein we will be overwhelmed with sinful corruption.  Furthermore, the warning of God’s Word continues in verse 10, saying, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  Yes, the spirit and ways of worldly materialism will inevitably seduce us away from the faith (that is – from a walk of faithful service to our Lord and faithful obedience to His Word) unto a life of sinful iniquity.

So then, is the spirit and ways of worldly materialism a sinful iniquity that kindles our Lord’s fiery wrath and moves our Lord’s chastening hand against us?  Yes, it certainly is.  The spirit and ways of worldly materialism will certainly put us in the place of enmity with the Lord our God (James 4:4).  The spirit and ways of worldly materialism will certainly kindle our Lord’s fiery wrath against us, “for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrew 12:29; See also Deuteronomy 4:12-13; 6:10-15).  The spirit and ways of worldly materialism will certainly bring down our Lord’s heavy hand of chastening upon us.  Indeed, the materialistic believer will experience the scorching heat of our Lord’s chastening.

The materialistic believer will experience the Spiritual Withering of a Materialistic Life.

The second line of James 1:11 states, “But it [the scorching heat of the sun] withereth the grass.”  Herein we see that the scorching heat of the sun withers the growing grass.  How then does this picture correspond to the materialistic believer?  In this illustrative picture, the grass represents the rich believer “in his ways.”  Yea, the grass represents the materialistic believer himself in his materialistic ways.  Thus we understand that the scorching heat of our Lord’s chastening hand will bring spiritual withering into the materialistic life of the materialistic believer.  In John 15:6 our Lord Jesus Christ gave the warning, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”  As we already noted, the materialistic individual does not abide in the Lord, but will rather forget and forsake the Lord.  Such a one will experience the spiritual withering of his life.  Such a one will experience the burning fire of our Lord’s chastening.  Although such a one may claim to be “rich, and increased with goods,” and to “have need of nothing,” yet he will be found spiritually to be “miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).  Even so, Proverbs 11:28 declares concerning the materialistic individual who sets his trust in material things, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”  Again the opening portion of Proverbs 13:7 declares concerning the materialistic individual who sets his priority upon material things, “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing.”  Yet again the opening portion of Proverbs 15:27 declares concerning the materialistic individual who sets his pursuit after material things, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.”  Indeed, the materialistic believer will pierce himself through with the many sorrows of a withered and wasted Christian life (1 Timothy 6:10). 

The materialistic believer will experience the Sure Loss of Material Possessions.

The third line of James 1:11 states, “And the flower thereof [of the withering grass] falleth.”  Herein we see that the beautiful flower of the grass falls off as the grass withers under the scorching heat of the sun.  How then does this picture correspond to the materialistic believer?  In this illustrative picture, the flower represents the material blessings that the materialistic believer possesses.  Even so, just as the withering grass loses its beautiful flower, the materialistic believer will lose his material blessings.  The material things of this world are only in our possession for a little time, and then they fly away.  In Proverbs 23:4-5 the counsel is given, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.  Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”   The material things of this life can certainly be defined as “uncertain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17).  They are an uncertain foundation for life.  We can never be certain how long they will last.  Over time material things become corrupted and corroded, rusted and ruined, battered and broken.  Such material things are always susceptible to be lost or stolen.  Finally, when one passes through the portal of death, every bit of one’s material accumulation must be left behind.  “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7).  Even so, in Ecclesiastes 5:13-16 Solomon spoke concerning the spirit and ways of worldly materialism, saying, “There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.  But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.  As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.  And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?”  In the end all material possessions and accumulations will blow away as ashes upon the wind (2 Peter 3:10-12).  Indeed, the materialistic believer will experience the sure loss of all his material possessions and accumulations.

The materialistic believer will experience the Soon Disappearance of Material Glory.

The fourth line of James 1:11 states, “And the grace of the fashion of it [of the fallen flower] perisheth.”  Herein we see that when the beautiful flower of the grass falls away, its grace and beauty perishes.  How then does this picture correspond to the materialistic believer?  In this illustrative picture, the grace and beauty of the flower represents the glory of material things and of a materialistic life.  Initially there is much glory in material success.  The opening half of Proverbs 18:11 declares, “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city.”  Again the opening half of Proverbs 19:4 declares, “Wealth maketh many friends.”  Yet again James 5:5 declares, “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.”  The glory of power, popularity, and pleasure all come with material success.  Yet that glory will soon disappear under the fiery wrath and chastening hand of the Lord.  Even so, material things cannot bring true satisfaction to the believer’s heart.  In Ecclesiastes 5:10 the warning is given, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.”  Material things cannot bring spiritual profit to the believer’s walk.  In verse 11 the warning continues, “When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?”  Material things cannot bring rest and peace to the believer’s soul.  Yet again in verse 12 the warning continues, “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”  Finally, material things cannot deliver in the day of our Lord’s wrath.  In Proverbs 11:4 the warning is given, “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.”  Thus Psalm 49:17-20 speaks of the materialistic individual, saying, “For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.  Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.  He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.  Man that is in honour, and under-standeth not, is like the beasts that perish.”  In like manner, James 5:1-4 pronounces judgment upon the materialistically minded , saying, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.  Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.  Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”  Indeed, the materialistic believer will experience the soon and final disappearance of his materialistic glory.
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