The Bible is so complete, so solid. Rock solid in fact. And God is so thorough and convincing in his word. And God tells us that mercy wins. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Don’t let go of that very clear truth. Mercy wins. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
I am emphatic here because it seems that many believers struggle with this concept. I don’t think it is overstatement in fact to say that many are fearful of this very biblical idea. And this fear is a stain of the world. A human rationalizing God’s truth and not hearing God.
But James is not writing here of lives without guidance from God’s moral code. Quite the opposite. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are no longer “under the law,” but we are to “so speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.”
So what does that mean? What is the law of liberty? The law of liberty is just what it says–the moral instruction of God that frees us to righteous living. God’s instruction that frees our stained minds from the world’s way of thinking. As we live under the law of liberty, we learn God’s righteousness and we “unlearn” our righteousness.
Last week’s text ended with “and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Showing partiality, or favoritism, is a damaging stain of this world. James addresses this stain in three ways in this week’s text.
Stain in regard to our acceptance of people from differing socio-economic levels.
Stain in regard to our rationalized view God’s command to love.
Stain in regard to our view of morality and justice.
Contrary to popular opinion all religions are not the same. Not even within Christianity. Or within protestantism. Not even within the ranks of those who profess a strong belief in the Bible. No. Being religious is not enough.
Some of what I am about to say this morning will sound harsh.
And that would be because it is.
Investing your entire life in a religion that brings nothing but the condemnation of God is harsh. Finding yourself before the great white throne of God because you bought into the lie that any old religion would do is harsh. Pleading your cause to Christ at the end of your life, reciting all of your religious good works only to hearhim say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you worker of lawlessness” is harsh. Finding yourself in the judgment fires of hell instead of the bliss of heaven is harsh.
The good news is that not unlike the experience of Ebenezer Scrooge, you can throw open the window this morning, and see that you are still alive. There is yet time to find out before it is forever too late.
The graveside service just barely finished, when there was a massive clap of thunder, followed by a tremendous bolt of lightning, accompanied by even more thunder rumbling in the distance. The little old man looked at the preacher and calmly said, “Well … She’s there.”
Another “wow” study in James. Can’t wait for Sunday.
As happens so often (all the time) when I study/preach through a book of the Bible, I got blasted away this week with the word of God’s truth–the Bible. The B-I-B–L-E is the “book” for me.
So often when we come to this place in James we immediately go to our comparison between only hearing the word and hearing and doing the word. However … in this we assume way too much.
Our faulty assumption, our miscue, is assuming that we are in fact hearing God. Follow me? We typically begin our discussion in verse 22–“be doers of the word.” But we cannot obey the words of God if we have not first heard him, or received his words. We sometimes mistake Bible study for hearing the voice of God or receiving his words. That may or may not be the case.
Look at James 1:19-21. We are given a method in our approach to the word of truth–quick to listen, slow to speak (voicing opinion), slow to anger. And James then outlines the necessity of dealing with our sin before receiving the word of truth–moral filth and rampant wickedness.
If we are not letting God clean the inside of the vessel, then we will not be able to receive his truth. Not someone else’s filth and evil, but ours.
So before we ever get to the issue of being a hearer and a doer, we need to make sure that we are first a hearer.
And then there’s the little matter of the tongue … Oh, boy! 🙂
Colchester Area Historical Society: Meeting on Tuesday October 20 at 7 p.m. at the Colchester City Hall Community Room located at Friendway Park. Mary Fairchild Bunney will present the program titled “Forgotten Photos of Plymouth.” Everyone invited.