III. Instruction on Faith. 2:1-26
A. Empty faith. 2:1-7
B. Examined faith. 2:8-13
Wisdom – do we have the wisdom of God or the wisdom of the world? I believe that today’s message will help us to examine ourselves and come to the right conclusion –
Seeking to find a Godly example to follow and encourage us in this life is a good thing. We should not only follow good examples “…follow me as I follow Christ…” But we should seek to be good examples for others.
We must be careful though, to make a difference between looking for an example to follow and looking for a reason to fail!
Too often, we choose to compare ourselves with the imperfect and judge ourselves by a flawed standard and determine that we are okay because we are better or as good as the other people. We are warned that this is not wise –
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
James is speaking to this issue as directed by the Holy Spirit and gives us instruction and warning in these verses that we should examine our faith, not by man’s standard, but by God’s standard –
John 12:47-48 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
James exhorts believers to consider –
1. The Standard has been revealed. James 2:8,9
This declaration makes clear to the believer both the positive and negative results of our actions. We need to remember also that our attitudes and actions forth from the heart. Some may say that they display good attitudes and actions, but they are simply play acting. We all need to remember that God knows our hearts –
Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Note the standard stated by God by which we should judge ourselves as believers –
a. The standard of righteousness. 2:8
b. The standard of sinfulness. 2:9
If this standard is not clear to all, or if some will argue with God, trying to justify themselves by saying “I showed favour to this man because he is rich – I did not kill anyone! What is the problem?”, we see that James continues to help us understand God’s will –
2. The Standard has been explained. James 2:10,11
a. The Law, the revealed will of God, is the standard by which we will be judged.
b. The Law defines transgressions and penalties.
Let’s look at some principles of law in Exodus 22:1-4
1). The man found guilty of stealing livestock. Exodus 22:1
a). The oxen. The thief shall restore to the owner five oxen for the one that he stole.
(1). The owner not only lost the present use of the ox, but had to replace it
and train it.
(2). The penalty includes not only his present loss, but also his future loss in time finding a replacement and then training it
to do the work necessary.
b). The sheep. The thief shall restore to the owner four sheep for the one that he stole.
The owner lost the present use but does not have to train the replacement.
2). The man found breaking into someone’s house. Exodus 22:2-4
This law has two provisions – stealing and self-defense.
a). Stealing. The thief shall restore double for the one he stole if he is caught with the goods that he stole intact or if
an animal, alive. Exodus 22:4
(He must repay the fair market value, what he would have paid if he had bought it. The owner receives the original and a new one)
b). Self defense.
(1). In the night time, the home owner can kill the thief to protect his family
(2). In the day time, the home owner cannot kill the thief, because he can call
for help and also identify the thief.
We note here the wisdom in the justice system of God! We see that the punishment fits the crime, but no matter how small the crime may seem –
c. The lawbreaker is guilty before God.
The severity of the crime and the penalty does not change the fact that God’s law has been broken and the lawbreaker stands guilty
James was writing to Jewish believers who knew and understood the law, but were justifying themselves by measuring themselves by man’s standard instead of God’s standard.
He is also writing to you and to me to warn us of this same danger – do not think that we will be excused for doing wrong just because other people do the same thing –
3. The Standard should be obeyed. James 2:12
James exhorts believers to live according to the perfect law of liberty –
Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
4. The Standard will be upheld. James 2:13
It is a dangerous thing to measure ourselves by our own thinking or the standards that others follow. We are to measure our lives by God’s Word.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
As we stand here before the Lord today submitting to the examination of our lives in the Light of His Standard, His perfect Word, what judgment will we receive –
Will you have –
Joyful commendation? “…ye do well”?
There may be some that will hear or read this message and say “You have got to be kidding me! All of this because I showed favour to a rich man over a poor man”?
The answer is YES, all of this because of that – God cares about people – how they feel and how they are treated. We, as His children, have a responsibility to uphold His testimony in all things and especially in this – He is no respecter of persons!