The Lesson Concerning Sin
James deals with the subject of sin in every chapter of the epistle. When we read his epistle, we are not left in doubt as to its character, its cause, the course it takes, and the consequences it yields.
He tells his readers that the problem is within. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts (passions) that war in your members?” James deals with a nature that has been implanted within, but he also deals with the sinful principle within, the flesh. He shows them that God cannot be tempted with evil. There is nothing within Him that responds to the solicitations to evil He is the Father of Lights. In Him there is no darkness and no shadow caused by turning, for there is no variableness in His character.
This is not the case with us, for there is darkness within, and this explains our responsiveness to sin. When does sin occur? Is it not when desire and opportunity meet? Is it not when the will submits to the desire? “When lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death” (1:15).
How can a Christian keep sin from conceiving? The adage of a former generation seems to explain the course of sin. “Sow a thought; reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit; reap a character; sow a character; reap a destiny” If we study the events that led to the fall of David (2 Sam 11 -12) and that of Achan, (Josh 7), we can trace the course of sin. Notice where sin was contemplated, when the sin was committed, and what were the consequences of sin. When could David have broken the course of sin? When could Achan have broken its course? How did Joseph break its course (Gen 39)?
James did not have a light view of sin. He told his audience that if they “have respect of persons they commit sin” (2:9). Disobedience is sin in the vocabulary of James.
What great lessons for the present day when there are in society no standards of behavior, no absolutes in conduct, and where immorality is marketed instead of being decried!
Lessons About the Scriptures
James showed in Acts 15:1-22 that he was a “man of the Book.” The evangelists to the Gentiles had just related their experiences. James stood up and gave direction for the ages with the words,” To this agree the words of the prophets.” In other words, with James, every experience had to be tested by the Scriptures. James would have said, whenever a decision had to be made, “Bring the Book! Is it consistent with the Book?”
In the epistle, his first reference to the Scriptures is in 1:21 where he writes, ” Receive with meekness the implanted (engrafted) Word which is able to save your souls.” This Word has been implanted within the believer at conversion in the process of regeneration. Because of this implanting, there is an innate desire to live in accordance with the Word, and also an innate power to so live. Where there is an absence of desire or an absence of power, one should search to see if the Word has really been implanted.
James next deals with the Scriptures in 1:11-25, where the exhortation is to look intently into the Word, listen for Gods voice in the Word, and continue in the Word by obeying it. Look! Listen! Live! This is James and the Scriptures.
In 2:8-11, after showing his audience that there can be no respect of persons among the people of God, for they are all the chosen of God (2:5), and also because of the character of the godless (2:6-7), he now shows them that it is inconsistent with the commandments of God (2:8-11).
To be Continued