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Presentation 06. 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 06. 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:

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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 06

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4 Introduction Have you ever sat a multiple choice exam in which you are given a number of answers to choose from. In that situation you can't waffle or choose some compromising middle ground. And you are certainly not allowed to make up your own answer. In this epistle James brings before us a number of multiple choice questions beside each one there are two boxes and he asks us to tick one! The question James puts to us asks, "Is your religion true or false?" And before we answer James describes what he means by true and false religion. Presentation 06

5 False Religion In describing false religion James does not set Christianity over against other world religions. That would be too easy. He's not saying, "If you wear a label that says Christian then your O.K." James is addressing those who call themselves Christian and saying that within that grouping there are those whose religion is suspect. How does James identify this false worshipper? First, the word translated "religion" in v26 describes the ‘outward observance of religious ritual’. This man pays scrupulous attention to the details of formal worship. He goes to church, sings in the choir, has Christian friends. He reads Christian books etc. But his religion is external there is no inner reality. There's no heart love for God. His ritual worship does not shape his daily living. Presentation 06

6 False Religion This is precisely the grievance God had against Israel in Isaiah's day [Isa. 1v10-17]. Oh they wore the right label, “worshippers of the one true God”! And they were painstaking in their religious observance. But it was all external! As soon as they got outside of the worship situation they exchanged their religious label, for one which read "I will live as I please". God was forgotten until they attended their next religious service. Did James have the Isaiah passage in mind when he warns his readers to beware of being no more than mere ritualists, slipping into a comfortable routine of outward religion but lacking inner reality? Presentation 06

7 False Religion Secondly, this false worshipper is recognised by a lack of restrained language v26 "he does not keep a tight reign on his tongue". Men reveal the genuineness of their religious profession by the words they speak and betray themselves with their mouths. "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" Mat James pictures the tongue as a powerful animal needing to be reigned in. This kind of self control is one of the fruits of the Spirit Gal But where there is no evidence of that kind of restraint on a person's speech, then no matter how diligent they are in the performance of religious duties, the genuineness of their religion is called into question. Those indwelt by the Spirit of God the will want to pray the psalmists prayer: "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord keep watch over the door of my lips” Ps. 141v3 Presentation 06

8 False Religion Thirdly, the false worshipper possesses a worthless religion. The word ‘worthless’ literally means "being unable to produce any positive results." Despite all appearances it is powerless. A man bought a watch in street market. He thought he got a real bargain! When he got home he found the watch did not work. He opened it up to discover there were no working parts inside. It was quite worthless because it was powerless. That is James' comment on false religion. It does not work. It does not save. It does not bring forgiveness. It does not bring the peace of God’s acceptance to the mind and heart. Paul describes it as "a form of godliness but denying the power thereof“ 2Tim. 3v5. It is possible to fool others with an empty shell religion but God knows when there are no working parts inside. Presentation 06

9 False Religion Is there a greater tragedy than empty shell religion? Such people are diligent in all the small details of religious ritual but there is no evidence of spiritual progress. There is no power in their lives to defeat sin. There is no power of comfort in their distress. There is no power to bring peace to their troubled minds. There is no power to bring spiritual refreshment to their weary souls. They are on a religious roundabout- but going nowhere. Their religious involvement may fill their diaries but it does not fill their hearts! No wonder James writes the word WORTHLESS over this kind of religion! Presentation 06

10 True Religion In v27 our attention is drawn to acceptable religion. James selects some examples which show that true religion produces spiritual fruit. We need to set all this instruction in context. The spiritual birth mentioned in v18 cannot be observed like a physical birth in a hospital delivery room. Jesus instructing Nicodemus [Jn. 3v7-8] drew a parallel between the wind and the secret operation of the Holy Spirit in our heart. Neither can be seen but the results produced are observable. When we see the branches of a tree moving we know the wind is at work. Similarly, when the Holy Spirit brings about a spiritual birth certain observable results are to be found. cf. v certain things are cultivated and uprooted; v22-25 an attitude towards the God’s word is developed. And now in v27 we find that compassion for the needy and diligence in holy living are two further expressions of this new birth. Presentation 06

11 True Religion In Ps.68.5 God describes himself as, "A father to the fatherless a defender of the widows." James says the man with a genuine religion will share God's concern for the weak and vulnerable in society. The Greek word translated "distress" refers to those whose suffering has been brought about by pressure of circumstances. Such pressures abound today. Perhaps the pressure of persecution or of chronic illness, of a low income, or sudden bereavement, of unkind discrimination or fractured relationships, of mental illness or unemployment etc. Now says James, true religion will show itself in that sort of situation by going to the help of the person in need, doing all that can be done to relieve the pressure. Presentation 06

12 True Religion Secondly, James argues that a concern for holy living is a further mark of true religion. It involves keeping oneself from being polluted by the world. The word ‘pollution’ conjures up pictures of forests devastated by acid rain, of rivers incapable of supporting life because of the discharging of chemical materials, of wildlife dying in their thousands because of contact with oil slicks. Pollution of the environment is a great evil but it is a greater evil which James is referring to here. The pollution of the mind and heart by the world. What does James mean? Presentation 06

13 True Religion Here the word “world" refers to humanity at large in its state of sinful rebellion against God. Its value system and practices are corrupt eg. its immorality, dishonesty, greed, selfishness, violence, envy, arrogance, blasphemy, cruelty. These things are polluting, their influence slowly and subtly erodes Christian standards. Some years ago the stonework of Glasgow’s main library was cleaned. Since then the bright yellow stonework has again turned black. The exhaust fumes of thousands of cars is responsible. The change was only noticed over a period of time. So it is with the polluting influence of the world. As we daily breath in its influence we are affected by it. And so the person whose influence is true will make every effort to deal with the pollution that washes over him. And this must be a daily operation not a blitz every 10 years. How does the Christian deal with pollution? Presentation 06

14 True Religion First, by rejecting the worlds standards. No Christian should swallow the moral and ethical standards presented in the mass media of radio, T.V. and press, nor by any social grouping to which he belongs in his work, neighbourhood, or organisation. How many Christians have been persuaded by the argument, "Everybody's doing it". Everybody's, cheating on their wives, putting in false expense claims, taking days of work by pretending to be sick, and lying to get out of difficult situations. The Christian is called to reject the polluting influence of the world's standards. Presentation 06

15 True Religion More positively the Christian will pay attention to God's Word and allow it to shape and mould his thinking and his standards. Jesus prayed for his followers in Jn "Sanctify them by thy truth, thy word is truth." The process of sanctification is the reverse of pollution. It is the means by which God produces holiness in our lives. And so we are to allow God's Word to have its sanctifying influence. As it washes over us, it washes out the polluting influence of the world and washes in truths which will make us more like Jesus. We must feed our minds on things that are conducive to growth in godliness. Phil. 4v8. We must guard against being so undisciplined that we only allow the trash and garbage of the world to pollute our thought life. Presentation 06

16 Conclusion James asks a simple yet searching question concerning our religious life. Is it true or false? He has helped us to answer that question honestly. He has provided us with two quite different pictures of religion; One is true, the other false. One is acceptable to God, the other is worthless. One empowers, the other is powerless. One is dead ritual, the other is living fellowship. One is undisciplined life with free reign to live a polluted life, the other a disciplined response to the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are challenged to tick only one box. We are not allowed to qualify our answer. It is a simple multiple choice question. Presentation 06


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