James 1:19-21 ESV
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
The anger being spoken of here has to do with ongoing and fixed opposition against something or someone, which could be righteous anger which is opposed to evil, or it could be unrighteous anger which is opposed to what is righteous.
But, since this says it is the anger of man which does not produce the righteousness of God, in context, this appears to be unrighteous anger which is opposed to what is righteous.
When an individual has this unrighteous, ongoing, and fixed anger (opposition) swelling up inside him (or her), it can result in all kinds of evil. If the anger is directed against another person, who this person sees as his competition (or opposition), it can result in all manner of evil done against the person he is angry with.
Especially if the angry person is living in unrighteousness, he is opposed to what is righteous, and he may decide to vent his anger against a righteous person as a way in which to cause that person harm.
One of the ways the Lord is showing me today that the unrighteous may vent his anger against the righteous is through using that person to his own advantage through deception, manipulation, lying, cheating, and/or stealing from that person, etc. He will gain the trust of that person only to stab that individual in the back and then betray him with a smile on his face.
Going along with that, he may hire himself out as a spy to spy on the opposition and to steal from his opponents (or competition, as he sees it) what is not rightfully his to take, such as their personal property, which could be personal documents, or whatever, which he would then sell to another as a way to try to inflict pain and suffering on the one he is angry against.
And, the reason he does this is that he hates the light and he loves the darkness, and thus he will not come into the light, and so he hates those who would try to bring him into the light.
And, so his goal is to, through his evil deeds, to make the light go away, to make it disappear, so that he can continue in the darkness unhindered. And, this may not be about any one individual, but it could be about a collective force which is coming against Christianity and so it is doing whatever it takes to try to destroy the light of the gospel.
And, this goes along with stealing from the truth of the gospel the words of light so that they can deceive naïve minds into believing that the darkness is light and that the light is darkness. And, the aim is to hurt, not only the gospel of our salvation, but all those who would buy into their false gospel, which is absent of the true light, which has been thieved. And, it would be to harm all who would be teaching the truth of the gospel, too.
James 1:22-25 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. 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.”
But the light which they are thieving, and which they are trying to get rid of, and to make it disappear, is what James teaches right here. And, that is that faith in Jesus Christ is doing the word of God, not merely just hearing it. So, they lie, and they say if we are teaching that we must obey our Lord that we are teaching “works-based salvation,” in hopes that they can turn others away from the light and to the darkness, which they disguise as light.
But, if we think that we can be saved from our sins, and be bound for heaven, and that we don’t have to be doers of the word, i.e. that we don’t have to obey the Lord, then we are deceiving ourselves.
For, if we are hearers only, and we don’t do what the word teaches us, then what we are hearing is fruitless in our lives and it amounts to nothing, for we don’t put it into practice. But as soon as we hear it, we just walk away and forget what it says. And, that is where many people are today, too. And, many of them are convinced that they don’t have to do what God says.
But if we don’t just walk away and forget what we look like, but we take the word of God to heart, and we do what it says, as a matter of practice, then we will be blessed with the riches of God’s eternal kingdom.
For, Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died to put sin to death in our lives and to empower us to live righteously in obedience to his commands. And, he died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
James 1:26-27 ESV
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 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.”
Our Christian faith is not worth much if we don’t put it into practice. If all it is is a set of dogmas and rites and rituals, or some intellectual assent to who Jesus was/is and to what he did in dying on the cross for our sins, then it is worthless (fruitless).
For, the true grace of God, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Eph. 4:17-24).
We are taught all throughout the New Testament to forsake our sins and to live for the Lord in obedience to his commands, and to love others, and to do good to others, to be kind, forgiving, and compassionate, etc., considering what is in the best interest of other people above ourselves.
Not only must we do what is right in God’s sight by doing what he has told us we must do, on the positive side, but we must refrain from doing what is wrong and from what will cause harm to others. For, if we are living to please our flesh, thinking we are entitled to continue living in sin once we are “saved,” we are going to hurt other people, not help them.
So, we must be doers of the word and not hearers only if we want to be blessed by God and be welcomed into his eternal kingdom. We must be those who love our Lord, who revere him, who honor him as the holy God that he is, who love his word, and who want to do what pleases our Lord, not just because we must, but because we love God and we want to do what pleases him and for his glory, honor and praise.
And, we must be willing to go wherever he leads us, and to do whatever it is he has called us to do, even if it means being hated and persecuted and having people angry with us and coming against us because they hate the light, and so they hate and are angry with those who are in the light.
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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