James 1:2-4, 12 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
There are people in this world of ours who truly hate God. They resist him, they refuse to do what he says, and they reject his Lordship over their lives and his commandments. They are self-indulgent hypocritical liars who live for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. They are lustful, lewd, hateful, mean, angry, bullies, abusers, gossipers, and spiteful. And, they take advantage of people who are weaker than them.
Some of them, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, are religious people, and they may even be leaders within the church, and pastors, and Bible teachers, and those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, and they may also be heads of governments and of corporations. They may be legalists, too, who hold to a bunch of man-made religious customs and think they are righteous because they follow a set of surface-level rituals while they deny Christ as Lord, and while they engage in all sorts of evil behind closed doors.
Many of these are those who are presently persecuting the saints of God, the followers of Jesus Christ who love the Lord their God, and who are walking in fellowship with their Lord Jesus Christ. They resent them, they are bitter against them, and they hate them, so they speak evil against them, abuse, mock, insult, and slander them. Or, they are trying to trip them up or to tempt them to leave the way of holiness to return to walking in the ways of the flesh. For, they are given over to Satan.
They are those who are out to steal, to kill and to destroy the church. So, they are also out to destroy the gospel of our salvation, too, by diluting it and altering it to make it more appealing and acceptable to human flesh. And, so they are persecuting those who still hold to the truths of God’s Word – who are still teaching (sharing, preaching) the full gospel message.
So, we need to stand firm on the Word of God, and resist Satan, who is the one behind these persecutors, and we need to flee the temptation to fear or to give in and to compromise for the sake of peace. We have to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lustful desires) no matter how much pressure is being aimed at us to be more like everyone else. And, we need to be proactive and determined about this, too, so that we don’t buckle under pressure. And, we need to continue to live godly, upright and self-controlled lives in the power of the Holy Spirit until the day Jesus returns.
James 1:22-24 ESV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 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. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
Many of these hypocritical liars and deceivers, who are hotly pursuing the saints of God in order to persecute them, are those who are promoting a cheap grace gospel which says we don’t have to obey God. For, these liars are working for Satan who wants to convince all people that they can go to heaven when they die, and yet still live like hell when on the earth. Or, they will convince them that they can, at least, still be lords of their own lives.
And, thus, many people, at least here in America, have bought into the cheap grace (easy believism) gospel which makes no demands for holiness, godliness, obedience, submission or repentance. And, so they may look into what the Word of God teaches, and they may even have much head knowledge about what the scriptures teach, too, but they are convinced that they don’t have to do what it says and that nothing bad will happen to them if they don’t do what it says.
They assume, because they said some magic words to save their souls, that heaven is guaranteed them when they die, so they believe that their sinful lifestyles will not impact their eternal security. And, thus they are lulled to sleep by these lies and deceptions. So, even if they do read scriptures which say the opposite of what these deceivers are telling them, they ignore them, for they are convinced that their actions have no bearing on their eternal life.
The result of all of this is that we have many “thumb-sucking” so-called Christians in America who are pacifying, appeasing and soothing themselves with sinful practices, idolatry and immorality. They worship the god of entertainment and self-gratification, rather than worship and obey the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They think only of themselves and of getting what they want to satisfy their sinful cravings with no or little regard for what God wants for them and from them in the way of holy living.
Thus, we have a bunch of zombies who walk around in a daze, who are like robots just doing what they are programmed to do, living in sinful addiction, without conscience, without regard for how their actions might impact or hurt others. Their minds are controlled by the media, including social media and the news, by religious leaders, many of whom are entertainers and liars, and by the sinful practices in which they engage themselves regularly.
Even though they may be hearing the Word of God with their physical ears, they are not listening to it with their hearts. For, their hearts are already given over to their sinful practices and to their idols of entertainment. And, so they are not really taking in the Word of God. They know it intellectually, but they have not applied it to their hearts and to their lives, in practice.
So, oftentimes the things that they say they desire, with regard to their faith in Jesus Christ, or in relationships with others, they actually circumvent by their behaviors. They shoot themselves in their own feet (an idiomatic phrase) by doing the opposite of what they say they believe and even what they say that they truly want. And, it is because they refuse to believe the truth, but instead they follow after the lie, because it is easier.
James 1:25 ESV
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.
What we know intellectually doesn’t matter for eternity. What we do with what we know does matter! For, faith in Jesus Christ is not just words we repeat after someone so that we have our tickets into heaven. It is not mere intellectual or emotional assent to who Jesus Christ was and is and to what he did for us in dying on a cross to deliver us from our sins.
Faith in Jesus Christ is doing what the Word of God teaches, by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. It is not just following a set of rules, though. It is surrender of one’s life wholly unto God to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord, in all of his ways, according to his Word. And, it is God working in us as we yield our lives to his control.
This is not saying we will never sin again, though. But, what it means for us is that sin is no longer our master, in control of our lives. Now Jesus is our Lord (owner-master), and our lives are given over to him and not to the flesh. If we do sin against God, we confess it, we turn from it, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, we don’t keep returning to that same sin. But, we learn from our errors not to keep repeating them, and we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord in how to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God.
So, this we have to know. Our actions do matter for eternity. We are not saved by works of the flesh, though. We can do nothing to deserve or to earn our own salvation. But, we are saved to good works which God prepared in advance that we should do by his Spirit. And, true faith in Jesus Christ submits to his Lordship and walks in obedience to his commands.
Also, we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8; cf. Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25).
God is With Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.
Friday, August 2, 2019