James 3:13 ESV
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
The book of James does not teach works-based salvation. It is also not opposed to the teachings of Paul, as some would state is the case. The teachings of James and the teachings of Paul agree together. They both teach that true faith in Jesus Christ is shown genuine by what we practice in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, in following him in his ways.
So, the works James speaks of here are not our own good works done out of our own flesh, which are like filthy rags in God’s sight (Is. 64:6). They are not self-righteousness or good deeds done in the flesh in order to earn or to deserve our own salvation, either, or to work our own way into heaven.
The works James is referring to here are the works of God done in the power and strength and wisdom of the Spirit of God through our lives, by his grace (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:12-13; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit. 2:11-14; Tit. 3:8). And, scripture teaches that, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed, that he will render to each one according to his works (Rom. 2:1-11; Jas. 2:17).
So, we don’t work to earn or to deserve our own salvation, but works done in the Spirit, and of the Spirit of God, are essential to our eternal life with God, because they reveal the genuineness of our faith. For, true faith in Jesus Christ is in action, not just in thought and in words. Our faith is shown to be true through our repentance and through walks of obedience to Jesus Christ (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
James 3:14-16 ESV
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Some people, purportedly in order to resist works-based salvation, and to follow the truth of the gospel, have swung the pendulum the other direction, and they are teaching a diluted, adulterated and altered gospel message of the flesh of humans, and not of God, but of the devil, in reality.
These people have “fat bellies,” having insatiable appetites for the things of this world, and so they have altered the gospel message to make it more appealing to human flesh, and in order to coddle people in their sins, but not to deliver them from their bondage (addiction, slavery) to sin.
So, outside the entrance (the door) to our salvation, they have taken hold of the control (the authority, the “chair”) that is in their lives while they are still living in sin, and they are lifting that up, and they are promoting it, furthering that control over their lives which is immoral, dishonorable, and dishonest. And, they are carrying (conveying and transferring) it to the side of righteousness, but it is still the same control (authority), of the devil.
But, this is not accidental. These people have done this deliberately in order to take down the true gospel and to put in its place a false gospel of a cheap grace which leaves people still bound in their sin and with a false hope of heaven when they die. And, they have done this slowly, and calculatingly over an extended period of time in order to deceive the immature and the naïve.
So, they give the appearance of having moved from the left to the right, i.e. from wickedness to righteousness – from unbelief to belief in Jesus – but they didn’t leave the old control of sin over their lives behind them. They took it with them, and they are raising it up as some kind of symbol of freedom in Christ Jesus, but it is a lie. For, they are not free! They are still under the control of sin and Satan.
Thus, those who are buying into this “cheap grace” gospel are following suit. They are taking hold of their old sinful lives and they are taking them with them over to what they suppose are their new lives in Christ Jesus. But, their lives are not really being made new by the blood of Jesus Christ, because they have not relinquished their old lives of living for sin and self.
Some of them may do this unwittingly, because they truly bought into the lies, although scripture teaches we are all without excuse (Rom. 1). Others know the truth, and yet they willingly take up their old lives and carry them with them into their “new lives,” which are still their old lives with an appearance of being made new. And, they do this because they want to hold on to their sin, but they want to give an appearance of righteousness.
So, if you buy into the cheap grace gospel, which teaches that you don’t have to repent of your sins, and you don’t have to obey God, and/or even that promotes that submission to Christ and obedience to his will is works-based salvation, and it is to be avoided, then know you have believed a lie. For, there is no true freedom in Christ or forgiveness of sins for those who still hold on to their old lives of living for sin and self, but only for the repentant who are walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God.
James 3:17-18 ESV
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
The wisdom of the devil tells you that you can maintain control over your own life, that you can still hold on to that control, and that you don’t have to relinquish it or your life to anyone, not even to God.
So, it tells you that you can be saved from your sins and have eternal life with God just by walking from the left to the right, i.e. by taking those steps towards God and toward his salvation that humans tell you to take – such as repeating some words after someone else in a prayer, or by merely acknowledging Jesus and his gift of salvation from sin.
But, if you don’t let go of control over your own life, then you are still walking in the flesh, and not in the Spirit, no matter what appearance you may give of walking in righteousness or by faith in Jesus Christ. For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. So, we have to leave those old lives of sin behind us, and we have to take up our cross daily and follow (obey) Jesus Christ if we want to have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
For, the wisdom of the devil convinces you that you can be saved and go to heaven when you die, but that you can continue in your sinful practices. Whereas the wisdom from above, which is pure, holy and righteous, teaches that we have to die to sin and live to righteousness, in the power of God, if we want to have heaven secured and to have eternal life with God.
If you follow the ways of the “cheap grace” gospel, you are not sowing a harvest of righteousness, but a harvest of wickedness, of the devil. And, you must know the truth of God’s word, that it teaches us that we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we are going to reap destruction (decay, death). But if we, by the Spirit, sow to please the Spirit, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).
So, don’t be fooled by preaching that says that you can be saved from your sins and have eternal life with God but that you can still continue in your sinful addictions. For scripture says if we make sin our practice, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-24).
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.