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Presentation 14. The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 14. The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation 14

2 The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation and Gift (1: 12-18) Hindrances to Fruitfulness(1: 19-21) Doers and Hearers (1: 22-25) True Religion (1: 26-27) Favouritism (2: 1-7) The Royal Law (2: 8-12a) Showing Mercy (2.12b-13] Faith and Works (2:14-26) Teachers and the Tongue (3: 1-12) True and False Wisdom, (3: 13-17) Peacemakers (3: 18) Defeat Through Lack of Submission(4: 1-6) Victory Through Submission(4: 7-10) Judging One Another (4: 11-12) Boasting of Tomorrow (4: 13-17) The Misuse of Wealth(5: 1-6) The Need of Patience (5: 7-12) Appropriate Responses (5:13-16) Restoring the Wanderer (5:17-20) Presentation 14


4 Introduction “The crowds are massing in the streets, banners held high and shouts of defiance ring out. There is a widespread refusal to submit to the authorities”. Are these the words of a TV journalist reporting on scenes of unrest in Pakistan or in Israel? No! They come from James and his camera crew, in the public square of the human heart. They are filming a demonstration of defiance against God’s rule. Fallen human nature constantly cries out for independence. It longs to be free of God’s authority. If we yield to its demands and do not suppress this revolt then we will experience the inevitable consequences in our lives. Presentation 14

5 Introduction The first consequence drawn to our attention is that of a chronic state of hostility in the fellowship of God’s people: ‘there is quarrelling and unrest among you now let me tell you why this situation persists’, says James. Presentation 14

6 The Battlefront James draws a connecting line between quarrels and fights among Christians and their unsubmissive heart. He says to the local church: ‘the battles you experience in your daily lives is due to your failure to take seriously the battle which is being fought in your heart. You are failing in your external relationships because you have failed in another battlefield’. There are two forces that line up against one another in the Christian’s heart. The ‘desires’ mentioned in v1 [the cravings of self-gratification] line up against the influence of God’s Holy Spirit. James is addressing the believer who thinks, “If a thing is enjoyable it must be good, if it is good then I must have it, and I must have it whenever I want it and I want it no matter what the cost.” Presentation 14

7 The Battlefront Why does James indicate that the approach of such a person towards life produces fights and quarrels? Well quite simply because the person who is determined to satisfy all of their own self- centred desires can only do so by struggling against the desires of other people. Think of the man who says, “I am going to ignore God’s instruction, I am going to live as I please. I can indulge my every desire be they material or sensual. I will take what I want out of life”. Now the terrifying thing is that, when a person acts like that, there is a price to be paid. Part of that price is conflict with other people. Presentation 14

8 The Battlefront The Christian is a walking civil war. One writer describes it in this manner, ‘The human personality has … been invaded by an alien army, which is always campaigning within it. Self- seeking desires are permanently on active service.’ You may ask, ‘Had not James taught that the Christian is the possessor of a new nature, has God not made of him a new creation?’ Yes but the remnants of the old nature cling on and are determined to impose their influence. We need to be vigilant and dare not be lax and indifferent towards these inner disorders. We need to stand at the side of God’s Holy Spirit and seek his help to put these selfish desires to death. Presentation 14

9 The Battlefront What will happen if we fail to take this battle seriously? The answer is found in v2 ‘You want something but don’t get it so you kill. You covet but you cannot have what you want so you quarrel and fight’. Do you see what James is saying? Unchecked desire can become a raging passion within our hearts and produce undreamed of consequences. The Bible is full of examples: Think of King Ahab who wanted a vineyard that was owned by Naboth… the result -murder! [1 Kings 21] Or David whose sexual appetite was aroused when he saw Bathsheba bathing on a rooftop… the result - murder! [2Sam.11] How many tragedies in life have been produced when unchecked rebel desires have gathered a mad momentum in the lives of God’s people? Presentation 14

10 Unfulfilled Desire Secondly, James teaches that the course of self-gratification is unfulfilling. Here is a great irony - the man who makes it his aim in life to satisfy the clamouring selfish desires of his sinful nature will never be satisfied. Like trying to hold a ton of salt in ones hand. A prominent atheist, who later came to faith, wrote the following as he described his attempts to secure happiness by seeking to satisfy the selfish desires of his heart, ‘the pursuit of happiness however conceived is the most foolish of all pursuits’. It is not only foolish, it is fatal, because whenever you have seeking without finding, you have all the ingredients for unrest and turmoil. And that is precisely the point James is making here. Presentation 14

11 Unfulfilled Desire In v2 James says, “You do not have because you do not ask God”. The lives of these Christians were not only empty of satisfaction they were marked by prayerlessness. God wants to satisfy every desire he excites within our hearts but the desires of sinful nature he cannot satisfy. The people James has in mind daren’t ask God to satisfy their desires because they know in their hearts that what they want would not meet with God’s approval. How could the Christian pray, ‘Help me in this immoral venture’ or, ‘Help me to deceive my employer’ or, ‘Help me to pretend I am something I am not’? There is a simple lesson here; if you cannot pray about it, then you cannot profit from it. If we cannot say, ‘Lord bless me in this venture’ then we ought not to be doing it at all. Presentation 14

12 Unfulfilled Desire But even if such a person determined to satisfy their selfish appetites, does pray v3 they are disappointed. “When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” It is not just the content but the motive of our prayer that God examines. The following prayer was found among the papers of John Ward an English MP after his death. “Lord you know that I have my estates in the city of London and also I have lately purchased an estate in the county of Essex. I beg you to preserve both London and Essex from fire and earthquake. And since I have a property in Hertfordshire, I beg of you likewise to keep that county safe. As for the rest of the counties you may do, as you are pleased”. Presentation 14

13 Unfulfilled Desire Are our prayers also sometimes marked by wrong motives? It is possible to pray for good things but with the wrong motive. You can pray for the conversion of an unbelieving work-mate because his behaviour makes your life miserable and life would be easier for you if he was a Christian. A terrible emptiness follows selfish praying. It is like trying to fill a bottomless pit. It brings no satisfaction. When we have yearnings and cravings that God never seems to satisfy we should ask is there something wrong with the desire itself? Instead of asking God to satisfy our wrong desires we should be asking for his help in identifying them and rooting them out. Presentation 14

14 Unfaithful Relationship Thirdly, James teaches that unbridled desires displace God as the first love in our lives. The seriousness of this is seen in the strong language used to address his readers as ‘adulterous people’ v4. James has spiritual adultery in mind. By refusing to deal with selfish desires they have begun to flirt with the world. They pursued the satisfaction of every self- centred. They had become worldly Christians. Having solemnly vowed to be God’s people they now allowed their hearts to be wooed by the world. J.B. Philips translation reads, ‘You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of the world, and never realising that to be the world’s lover means becoming an enemy of God.’ Presentation 14

15 Unfaithful Relationship The marriage analogy James uses is very pointed. A faithful spouse cannot contemplate forbidden relationships. And for the same reason we read in v5 that ‘The Spirit that dwells within us yearns for the entire devotion of our hearts’. God is a jealous God and rightly so. Just as a husband feels he has the right to the undivided loyalty and love of his wife’s heart and so can say to his wife ‘choose between me and all other men’, how much more can God say, ‘Chose between submission to my will and satisfying the competing desires of your heart’. Presentation 14

16 The Encouragement of Grace How thoroughly James exposes the desires and motives of our hearts. When faced with a challenge such as this it is easy to feel despondent, particularly when we are aware of the intensity of our inner desires. Past failures hang accusingly in the art gallery of our memories. But James’ intention is not to expose us to public ridicule or grind his hearers into the dirt. Often all that an investigative journalist can do is report the unsavoury facts of his story. James goes beyond that! His aim is not to leave us broken but to renew us. He does not want us to be overcome by despondency but to triumph through God’s grace. Presentation 14

17 The Encouragement of Grace The battle in which we are engaged is not an equal one. The down- drag of the remnants of our fallen natures is more than offset by the abundant supply of God’s grace. God’s power is far greater than the greatest down-drag of evil in our lives. Paul alludes to this in Rom8.2 where he says, that ‘the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death’. Let me illustrate. You will have seen large jumbo jets weighing several tons as they taxi along airport runways. What enables them to defy the law of gravity and take off into the sky? It is another law, a more powerful law, the law of aerodynamics. In the same way the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit provides the Christian with lift off, thus overcoming the down-drag of selfish desires. Presentation 14

18 The Encouragement of Grace Every selfish and tormenting desire in our hearts God’s grace can subdue. For our part we need humbly to ask for his help. We need to admit to God that we have a problem that is too big for us to handle. Why is this so difficult? Often human pride wants to struggle on in its own strength. But you have a better chance of getting a jumbo jet off the ground by a tying a piece of string to its nose and pulling it up and down the runway than you have of overcoming these selfish desires without the help of God’s Spirit. Presentation 14

19 Conclusion James’ aim is to convince us to take seriously the battle against the desires of the flesh. This is not a war game, big issues are at stake. Nothing less than the level of our spiritual growth our love for God and the measure of our usefulness to him in the service of the Kingdom. This is not a little passing local skirmish but a battle will rage throughout the course of our Christian lives. There will be no ceasefire. There can be no negotiated peace. God has given us all the resources we require to be victorious. Hallelujah! Presentation 14

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