Category Archives: James

Living it Out

(This is a re-post since I’m working through the book of James again.)

I have often stated that teaching is information for transformation. But what is the opposite? What happens when we teach or when we learn but are not transformed?

In a conversation with George May (Pastor of Counseling and Family Ministries at Calvary Church), he used the following quote (I need to find the author):

Information without Application leads to Deception.

We are reminded in James 1 that God’s goal for us is not comfort or happiness but completeness and maturity (James 1:2-4).

So, when we face trials our primary response should not be “get me out” but “grow me through.” Our prayer should be, “Give me wisdom and grow my faith through the circumstances of life” (James 1:5-8).

The more God grows our faith, the more steadfast we will be under trials (James 1:12).

The challenge is to continue to trust God even when the trial seems endless or unbearable. We should not be deceived, God is the giver of all good gifts (James 1:16-18) and is not the One tempting us to sin (James 1:13). It is our own strong desires that when not surrendered to God lead to sin, lack of self-control and all sorts of evil (James 1:14-15, 19-20).

In contrast, the individual who in meekness received the implanted Word of God (James 1:21) is to be a doer of the Word, not just a hearer only which leads to self-deception.

Therefore, information without application (the “doing”) leads to deception.
Deception of ourselves–we are not who we think we are and therefore tend to be judgmental of others
Deception of others–we are not who they think we are, but are wearing a mask of information to impress

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (ESV)

James 1:23-25 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (ESV)

Information without Application is Deception

What then honors God and gives evidence of a growing faith?–obedience. An obedience that is evident in how we speak and react (James 1:19-20) and how we reach out (James 1:26-27).

James 1:26-27 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (ESV)

Information without Application is Deception

So we must engage with God and His Word and extend to others as a means of growth and evidence of growth.

Deception

Yesterday I heard the sad news that a couple I know years ago are getting divorced.

My instinctive action, is to be heartbroken and then to be critical of the man who would leave his wife, his vows to her and the Lord.

But as I have been reflecting in my study of the book of James, rather than speculating, criticizing or condemning I am forced to ask–is there a part of my heart in which I am self-deceived?

  • What areas of strength are not guarded well so that I am actually self-deceived in my own strength?
  • What areas of weakness have I excused so as to be self-deceived to the danger I might be in?
  • Do I really believe that I am one decision away from failure?

As is the case with some temptation and most sin–we don’t just suddenly fall into it unknowingly. Though the euphemisms we use make it sound that way–“he fell into sin”–as though someone was walking backwards and fell into a big hole they didn’t see coming.  The only real surprise is probably the consequences that we experience from sin, not necessarily the reality of sin.

So how am I self-deceived?

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (ESV)

James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (ESV)

Jeremiah reminds me that my heart is inherently wicked–that I can not trust my own flesh-driven impulses or motivations.

Jeremiah 17:9–10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (ESV)

I must remember that I can be self-deceived since I am not able to understand my own heart motivations all the time. Therefore I must be ruthless in allows the Holy Spirit to rout out areas of sin or growing temptation and respond to the convicting of the Helper.

John 16:7–11 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (ESV)

But…We are not hopeless or helpless!

We are promised that if we place our trust in Jesus Christ as our only means of entering into an eternal relationship with God we are given new life and made new creatures in Christ. And that life is intended to be a guilt-free, grace-drive, honest open relationship with God through which progress transformation of our whole being is taking place–the abundant life (John 10:10).

We should never let our guard down nor should we ever yield to the false belief that we are helpless when it comes to temptation and sin.

So the sin of another should result in more than just heartbreak, it should result in positive self-evaluation:

Have I done my part in seeking to help another brother in sin?
Am I willing to get involved in the messiness true Christ-centered fellowship/relationships? For the long haul?
Am I doing my part in checking the condition of my heart?
Am I effectively investing in my own relationship with the Lord?
Am I practicing the spiritual disciplines and developing the habits that the Spirit can use to fuel my transformation into the image of Christ?
Am I proactively investing in my own relationship with my wife? Am I seeking to love her more each day? Do I show it?
Do I have others in my life who will ask me the hard questions?
Do I have others in my life who will relentless pursue me if I begin to walk down the wrong path?