Saturday, November 01, 2008

James 1:19-25 Comparing Your Fruit to God's Mirror

I. Setting Ourselves Apart for God (vv. 19-21)
A. If we are God’s Unique, Sanctified Fruit, then we must respond rather than react. (vv. 19-20)
  1. Verse 19- James states the obvious here, and I don’t think I can really expound on it anymore than he already has other than to say:
    • We all know how a soft answer turns away wrath, but the question is do we really practice that soft answer not only in what we say, but in what we do when we get into a situation that irritates or frustrates us? 
    • Sin nature does the exact opposite of this.
  2. Verse 20- James’ reasoning behind this: Our sin of anger and not showing love (I’m not talking about righteous wrath where we get angry because of sin, but where we get angry because of how that sin hurts us and we react rather out of our flesh, say by losing our temper or getting impatient, rather than responding). Speaking the truth IN LOVE.
  3. Notice, in my example, in both instances, one can confront that individual with the truth, but as the verse says, the first will not accomplish what God intended to be accomplished with that truth because the motive was wrong (lose your temper, motive = strike back; speak truth in love, motive = addressing the situation of that person’s relationship with Christ).
B.  Putting aside our sin and taking in God’s Holiness (Verse 21)
    1. He says to put aside all filthiness (literally-all the dirt of our sin nature, the guilt and shame of following down the path of sin laid out in verses 14-15) and all that remains of wickedness (literally-all that is contrary to God’s nature to do).
    2. As we put off, we must put on. James tells us to lay aside, and so we must also take up. But, the key here is that we do not put aside so that we can take it up. We take it up so that we will put it aside (2 Timothy 2:22 and Luke 9:23, follow- Greek: to intensely pursue or hunger after).
    3. Put on what, take up what? The Word of God. Ephesians 6 tells us to, “Put on the whole armor of God” and every “piece of armor” given in that passage is a specific part of God’s Revelation to us through His Word. So, as James tells us to receive the ingrafted Word of God, he is telling us in a different way to put on the Armor of God.
    4. However, the process of grafting is about more than just “putting on armor.” It’s about making the Word of God a part of every fiber of our being. The grafting process takes something outside of the object (like say a skin graft, or tree grafting) and makes it a part of the object. The grafting actually changes the object (skin grafts for example change surrounding tissue so they look more presentable; tree grafts can actually affect the fruit that is produced). The Word of God is supposed to be changing us as we “graft” it into our lives.
    5. Notice, he says that we are to do this in humility, recognizing that we are weak and solely dependant upon God and His Word to help us as we face sin day in and day out.
    6. “...which is able to save your souls.” This has the idea of deliverance, but not quite the same deliverance as salvation, though it would appear at first glance that that’s what is being referred to here. The word translated salvation can also be translated, “sanctification.” When we put this in context, we notice that he’s talking about trials and temptations, and that the deliverance he must be referring to, based on context, is the deliverance from that temptation or trial. He is telling us in other words to depend on God’s Word because it has God’s Power to help us in our time of need so that we will be more like Christ.
II. God is our Standard of Holiness (vv. 22-25)
A. True Faith = Obedience
    1. If all we do is hear/read God’s Word and we don’t put it into practice, we aren’t truly grafting God’s Word into our lives, because it DEMANDS application and obedience.
    2. The Illustration: James compares the hearing/reading of God’s Word to a man looking in a mirror and seeing what he truly looks like
    • The mirror reveals to us our true appearance, not just our self-concept of what we think we look like.
    • The person who does not apply God’s Word, has totally forgotten what his appearance in God’s Mirror really was. He has deceived himself into thinking everything is okay and he doesn’t need to change anything.
    • The mirror of God’s Word is an even sharper image than a real life mirror, because this mirror doesn’t just tell us what’s wrong with the outside (consequences of sin problems) but what’s wrong on the inside, too (the root of our sin problems).
B. God blesses those who obey
    1. When we obey God’s Word and we continue in that obedience, we can be used by Him. As Jerry Sivntsky says, “Obedience + Faithfulness = Usefulness.”
    2. Intently = seriously and deeply
    3. He blesses in several ways:
    • We have the blessing of seeing Him work in us and through us as we obey.
    • We have the blessing of being free from our sin as a result of our continued obedience to God’s Grace (“...The law of liberty, and ABIDES by it....”).
    • We have the greatest blessing of having a close, personal, intimate relationship with Him and becomBulleted Listing more like Jesus as a result of our continued obedience.
    1) Have you set yourself apart from sin and set yourself apart for God?
    2) What kind of fruit are you bearing before God’s Mirror? Do you just hear God’s Word, or do you obey?
    3) Do you have the joy of walking with Christ in obedience, and seeing Him allow more God-like fruit to be a part of your life each and every day?

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