Real Faith for Real Life Faith Service Worship Vision
There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds. These sessions are not about opinion, they are about learning truth, the truth contained in the Bible, together we are going to focus on how we apply God’s truth, black & white in a grey world. To set godly priorities, grow in Christian character and live according to God’s standards so that we are a living witness to others. Notes from previous sessions are available from the Bible Study Section of www.ashingdonelim.co.uk.
29 March 2011
The Righteous Life James 1:19-1:27 We are continuing our series through the book of James and how we can live a real faith in real life. In this study we will look at what James tells us about living a righteous life, and our relationship with the Word of God.
How would your best friend describe you? What does it mean to be righteous? Would you want to be known as a righteous person?
To be righteous is to be morally upright. This is not self righteous, which would be to be pridefully assured of your own righteousness, but in humility, striving to live your life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
So, do you want to be known as a person living a righteous life?
We might think this is an easy answer to give, but there are many people who would struggle with that because they think that living a righteous life is not going to be enjoyable, or that living a righteous life is living a boring life. James tells us that living the righteous life is where the blessed life is found. He also gives us some practical help in how we can live this righteous life, and describes some of the things that living a righteous life entails. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 19
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. 22 23
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:19-27) 26
Hear the Word Would you describe yourself as a person who is quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry? Would your friends describe you in the same way? This advice of being quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry is good advice for any relationship or occasion, In the context of this passage it is speaking in the context of the Word of God.
Are we open to hearing the Word of God? We may think we are, but that doesn’t mean we are. The Pharisees would have said they were quick to listen, that they were open to hearing the word of God, but Jesus often said “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43, Mark 4:9, 4:23, Luke 8:8, 14:35)
We need to be slow to speak, take time to be still and meditate on the word so we can be quick to listen, so that we can really hear what God is saying to us.
The Pharisees thought they knew all they needed to know, but were full of pride and unteachable.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
Keep Calm Again, this is good advice for all of our relationships, but let’s consider it in the context of the Word of God. People can become angry at God or His word because it exposes sin. Angry people tend not to listen!
Do you need to be more open to hearing what the Word of God says? How can a greater interest in the Word help us?
God is not exposing our sin to make us feel bad. His word is seeking to transform us and he is trying to help us overcome these things in His strength.
Do you get angry at the sin in your life or the One who is pointing it out? We should not become angry at
Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…
God or His word, but there are times that we should be angry at sin.
Again this is great advice in all of our relationships, and James is speaks about our speech and our tongue several times in this letter. Talking in the context of the Word of God, is stating that we need to be cautious in applying the meaning of it in regards to what we think it says.
Jesus became angry when he went to the temple and the people had turned it into a market place where they were ripping people off, instead of the house of prayer it was supposed to be. He was angry at the sin.
Many people skim through the Bible, reading isolated passages, or a verse of the day and only scratch the surface of the depth of God’s Words to us. Many often glance at something or hear something about God’s word and think they know its meaning and will say this is what it must mean.
We need to be slow to get angry, we need to keep calm and seek to consider on God’s word as we are slow to speak and let God’s word teach us and penetrate us and judge our motives and actions and transform us. God loves us too much to leave us the way we are, but to change us, we need our sin exposed. Don’t get angry about that, but be grateful that we have a God who loves us enough to help us overcome those things in our life that ultimately are harming us. So we need to hear the word and to really hear it we need to keep quiet and keep calm.
James is telling us that if we are going to live the righteous life, then we have to be open to hearing what the Lord is saying, but we have to pause and digest it to grasp its meaning.
How often do you spend quality time reading and thinking about His word without rushing through?
Accept the Word
Do you think you need to be “quieter” for longer to let God speak to you more?
Was there a specific verse or passage that God used as a catalyst to bring you to know Him?
How can you spend more time in the Word for it to have a greater meaning in your life?
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James implies a dichotomy here. (A dichotomy is a split into two parts which are considered to be either contradictory or mutually exclusive. For example, the colours black and white represent a classic dichotomy: either something is black, or it is white, with no room for overlap or alternatives.)
This is easier said than done, but we need to understand that reading the Word and hearing it is really not about us accomplishing something. It is about allowing God to accomplish something in us. The author of Hebrews tells us that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
He says as we hear the word of God and it exposes sin in us, the moral filth and the evil that we have allowed in us from the outside, we need to reject that and instead humbly accept the word of God planted in us that can save us. He is basically saying there is a choice here. After hearing the word of God, really heard it, you have to choose whether you are going to believe it for you, accept its truth for your life OR reject it and live in the moral filth and evil that is so prevalent around us. Now this choice sounds easy.
God’s word can transform us, but if we are going to hear what it is speaking into our lives, then we have got to keep quiet at times. God tells us through the psalmist to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
But this is the struggle and the deception that Satan often uses today. Satan loves to tell people that following Jesus, believing in Him and living the righteous life, the life that is morally upright, the life that is in tune and in line with God’s word is boring and unenjoyable.
In many churches, an emphasis is placed on knowledge. On having a solid grasp of right doctrine and this is very important. But I have met people that are doing multiple Bible studies and seeking to grow in their knowledge, and it would appear are truly desiring to hear and accept God’s word, but they are so busy with trying to have a perfect grasp of the truth, hearing and accepting God’s word that they never get round to doing the Word. God’s Word is not something we are going to hear and accept and digest into our lives overnight. It is a lifelong process. His word continually transforms us over our lives.
Can anything in this world that someone “gives up” to follow Christ be more valuable than eternal life? Believing in and following Jesus is hard sometimes and requires sacrifice. Jesus said to his followers that they must pick up their cross and follow him. But the sacrifices of accepting the truth of God’s word into our life, of accepting Jesus Christ as our Saviour, as the Word of God tells us, are like the sacrifices we make to save for retirement. We could spend all that we get right now, but that is going to be bad for us in the long term when we are living in poverty.
Shutting your Mouth Did your mother tell you that if you don’t have anything good to say then say nothing at all?
Living in moral filth and evil leads to very serious consequences for our eternity. Don’t just hear what God’s word says, accept the word into your life and truly believe it in your heart. But James does not stop there. There is a progression to the word that shows the reality of our belief.
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26) This is the second time that James has mentioned something about what we say and that we need to be cautious about speaking. James is telling us that doing the word in real life means what you say will be affected.
We need to hear the word of God if we are going to accept it. We know that we have heard it if we have accepted it into our lives.
Jesus told us the same thing in Luke 6:45; The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Do the word Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Our ability to stop evil coming out of our mouth is an indication that God’s word is working in our lives. We are not always going to be able to stop evil thoughts from entering our head, but we can stop them from exiting our mouth as God’s word fills our hearts and strengthens us to overcome.
Hear the word, accept the word, do the word. We can say that we hear what God is saying and that we accept it, but the reality of our faith is born out in the way we really live our life.
Do you have a living faith? What evidence is there in your life of a living faith?
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
Listen to what James says about the person who doesn’t do what it says Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:23-25) 23
“The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.” (Proverbs 10:32) Sometimes doing the word is evidenced by what we don’t do and that is speaking when it is not beneficial or helpful to someone.
Opening Your Heart
Why do so many Christians say they have heard what God’s word says and accepted it but don’t do it?
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…
That’s as crazy as looking at yourself in the mirror and forgetting what you look like. When we look at God’s perfect word and hear it, accept it and live it, we experience freedom from the slavery to sin that we are trapped in and will experience the life that is blessed eternally. The reality is born out in what we do.
In Jesus day, widows and orphans were those who had little recourse in the law and had no means of support. Many times people look around seeing those who are poor and think where is God? I think God thinks the same thing in regard to His people, “where are my people?” Where are those who say they are followers of mine?
The Righteous Life is the Blessed Life.
There are many who claim to hear and say they accept it but they are not doing anything about it.
How can we open our hearts to those who are truly in need, or those unable to provide for themselves?
Open your ears to hear the word of God. Be still before Him. Keep quiet and keep calm so you can really hear him. Meditate on His word. Then accept it and do it.
This may mean opening your home to someone to live with you. This may mean adopting a child, or helping support someone who is adopting a child. This may mean sponsoring a child through World Vision or Compassion International. It may mean checking on some of the older people, the widows whom the Lord has placed in your life.
Doing it will be evident in the way you talk to people and the way you sacrifice in your life. Then you will know that the righteous life is the blessed life.
It may mean helping them out financially as they struggle to live on an income that does not keep pace with inflation. It may mean any number of those things, but it definitely will require sacrifice. Sacrifice in time, in money, in your life. James goes on to say that doing the word is not only evidenced by opening your heart and wallet by caring for widows and orphans, those who are unable to care for themselves, but it is also evidenced by
Avoid pollution … and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Can you explain the statement ‘we need to be in the world, but not of the world’? Jesus prayed for His disciples and while he recognised they were in the world, they were not of the world and he asked the Father to sanctify them with his Word while they were in the world. The only way to keep yourself from being polluted by the world is by immersing yourself in the Pure Word. James, throughout this section tells us to hear the word, accept the word, and do the Word. Jesus prays for the disciples to be sanctified by the Word Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17) Peter tells us “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk” (1 Peter 2:2) We need to immerse ourselves in the pure word of God so we can live the righteous and blessed life that Jesus wants us to live, a life that is evidenced by doing the word, by bearing fruit in our life. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)
So, do you want to be known as a person living a righteous life? My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, sl...