Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church https://covenantpensacola.org Exalting Christ Changing hearts Wed, 15 Jun 2022 13:40:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0 https://covenantpensacola.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-LOGO-Covenant-OPC-New-Style-Outline-Special-32x32.png Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church https://covenantpensacola.org 32 32 Joshua 11:1-23. Sermon 13. Divine Justice and Divine Mercy – War and Peace https://covenantpensacola.org/2022/06/14/joshua-111-13-sermon-13-divine-justice-and-divine-mercy-war-and-peace/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2022/06/14/joshua-111-13-sermon-13-divine-justice-and-divine-mercy-war-and-peace/#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2022 22:27:41 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3361

The greeting.

Peace to you in the name of Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace who reigns over the true city of peace, the new Jerusalem. (Isa.9:6, Gen.14:18, Heb.7:2, Isa.2:1-4)

The Word.

In today’s passage we have the acquisition of peace by war. A sad thought. But clearly the truth of God’s word. The passage is Joshua chapter eleven. I will begin to read from verse one, may we sanctify God in our hearts as we hear the holy words of our holy God – read.

The confederacy against Israel.  Joshua 11:1. Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard of it, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, 2 and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the Arabah– south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west– 3 to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. 4 They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5 So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

The encouragement of Israel’s delivererJoshua 11:6. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”

Israel’s deliverer defeats the kings. Joshua 11:7. So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. 8 The LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. 9 Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

Israel’s deliverer destroys the cities. Joshua 11:10. Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. 11 They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. 12 Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13 However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, which Joshua burned. 14 All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed. 15 Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

Israel’s deliverer subdues the land. Joshua 11:16. Thus Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all that land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17 from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them down and put them to death. 18 Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19 There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Israel’s deliverer destroys the giants.  Joshua 11:21. Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. 22 There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained.

(See Gen.23:2, Josh.15:13-14, Dt.2:19-21, Dt.9:2, I Chron.20:6-8, 2 Sam.21:15-22Goliath. Nephalim and Anakim seem related. Progenitor: Anak, Num.13:22, 28, 33, Dt.9:2, Josh.21:11, Judges 1:20)

The victory of Israel’s deliverer. Joshua 11:23. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus, the land had rest from war.

The prayer.

Let’s ask God to help us understand this difficult passage, pray.

The difficulty of this passage.

Well, I just said that this passage is a difficult passage. What I mean is that it is difficult to accept or receive. We mentioned the other day that chapters six through twelve record the battles of Israel driving the Canaanites out of the Promised Land. War passages are hard to read. And if you think about them even a little deeply (which we should), they can be unsettling. Death is unsettling. This is meant to make us believe that the cause of death (sin) is even more unsettling.

The clarity of this passage.

Now I would argue that the passage is actually fairly clear. And to some degree easy to understand. Easy to understand if you are a Believer and therefore have true faith in God and in His word. (Eph.2:1-9, Jn.4:10, Rom.3:24, WSC 26)

Once you are subdued and reconciled to God then we do not balk at the painful parts of His word. We tremble. But we still believe. We receive the hard things as part of God’s truth. (WCF 14.2)

The deliverer of God’s people.

God is busy saving His people via His Deliverer. His Deliverer that comes out of Zion. (2 Sam.22:2, Ps.18:2, Ps.40:17, Rom.11:26)

Joshua is God’s chosen redeemer of God’s people. He is the warrior king leader of God’s people. He is God’s chosen man to bring God’s people into the Promised Land.

There are two main things that Joshua does for the people of God.

The deliverer administers justice.

He puts down all their enemies. He administers God’s justice to sinners. We see that applied by war.

The deliverer administers peace.

And thus, by doing so he procures the peace for the people of Israel. The Promised Land is a land of peace for the people of God.

All the enemies of God have been defeated. This is God’s mercy to vessels of mercy. (Rom.9:21-23) All war is over. Mercy is realized in everlasting peace.

In chapter ten we saw the defeat of the southern kings of Canaan.

Chapter eleven is the defeat of the northern kings of Canaan. (Josh.11:1-3)

The true deliverer of God’s people.

And this Joshua stands as a type of the ultimate or the true Joshua – Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:8. For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. (WCF 7.5, 8.6)

Some of the ways that we see Joshua point forward to Christ. Things we see Joshua do imperfectly, but that Christ does them perfectly.

Joshua receives, proclaims and obeys the word of the Lord. (Josh.1:6-8) Jesus always does that which pleases His heavenly Father. Even completing the work on the Cross.

Joshua saves sinners, like Rahab. (Josh.6:22-25) In Christ’s blood every type of sinner finds forgiveness. (I Cor.6:9-11)

Joshua saves sinners, Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners, like the Gibeonites. Christ did this. We who were far off have been brought near. (Eph.2:12-21)

Joshua conquers all of the enemies of God’s people. (Josh.8, 10, 11) Christ satisfies the law and defeats the devil. (I Jn.3:8, Col.2:15, I Cor.15:55)

Joshua secures peace for the people in the Promised Land. Christ is preparing the heavenly Promised Land even now, where very soon all of the Israel of God will reside.

The justice of God.

Let’s say a few general words about the destruction of these various Gentile kings and Gentile people.

First, I am stressing the word Gentile only to denote that these people are not God’s people. (Eph.2:12-21) They are sinners still in their sin. They are sinners before an angry God. And God is angry with them Because He is holy and He hates sin. He hates all that is contrary to His holiness.

When we see all of these people die by the means of this war, this is God exacting the death penalty on sinners for their sin.

The Bible clearly says that the wages of sin is death. (Gen.2:16-17, Rom.6:23) The Bible clearly says the soul that sins must die. (Ezek.18:20-24)

This is how we understand what the Bible teaches on God’s punishment of sin. 

WLC 152  What does every sin deserve at the hands of God?  Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty,(1) goodness,(2) and holiness of God,(3) and against his righteous law,(4) deserves his wrath and curse,(5) both in this life,(6) and that which is to come;(7) and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.(8)       1) James 2:10,11 (2) Exod. 20:1,2 (3) Hab. 1:13 (4) 1 John 3:4; Rom. 7:12 (5) Eph. 5:6; Gal. 3:10 (6) Lam. 3:39; Deut. 28:15 to end. (7) Matt. 25:41 (8) Heb. 9:22; 1 Pet. 1:18,19

Mostly we do not think in terms of God’s just hatred of sin or of His justice. And mostly-mostly we do not think in terms of God’s strict justice. That is to say, only justice and no extension of mercy. That is what we see God doing upon His enemies here. Only justice. No mercy.

Joshua 11:20. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The day of divine justice.

And that is what Judgment Day for the unbelieving will be – strict justice with no mercy. The law of God or the penalty for lawbreaking will be applied to the unbeliever strictly with no mitigation. (WCF 32, 33)

Jesus shows this with the rich unbelieving man cast into torments. The man asks for Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue. And Christ says “no” there is an uncrossable divide, no mercy for those that receive eternal justice. That is the fate of all those that will not yield to Christ as He is presented to them in the Holy Scriptures. (Lk.16:23-31)

The Judge will be true, faithful, impartial, and without mercy. Stunning. Terrifying actually.

If God should mark our sins, then who could stand before Him? (Ps.130:3) The answer of course, is no one. That is why our only hope is the mercy of God and not the justice of God.

The evangelical useful of hearing of divine justice.

This is the benefit of hearing about God’s terrible justice, it drives us to find God’s mercy in God’s Christ. (Ga.3:16-29), WLC 95-97)

Divine justice is advancing for the unbeliever.

And what we see here in Joshua 11:1-5 is another futile Gentile alliance against the Lord and His people. This is meant to comfort God’s people and to warn God’s enemies.

The numbers of sinners do not thwart justice.

See Joshua 11:4-9.

Previously in Joshua chapter ten we had another alliance among unbelievers to fight against the Believers in the Lord. And that alliance also failed. (Josh.10:1-5)

And what is interesting here is that the providence of God does not permit all of the unbelievers to ally together all at once and face Israel. Physically and naturally speaking they would have been too powerful to conquer.

God is governing all His creatures and all their actions for the good of His people and the glory of His name. He governs even the malice of His enemies. Think of God restricting the malice of Satan against Job. (Job 1, 2) Think of Christ granting permission to Satan to sift Peter. But Christ prayed for Peter so that his faith would not fail. (Lk.22:31)

But what we are seeing here is that condemnation is advancing for the unbeliever. One set of unbelievers receives divine justice and then another and then another. Each subsequent defeat should have inspired the remaining unbelievers to repent and believe. But we see that it did not.

2 Peter 2:2. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (Jude 1:1-25)

By this we learn that the unbelieving do not believe by their seeing or by experience. No. They are literally watching men, women and children sinners receive the divine wages for their sins and they remain in their unbelieving rebellion. Think of the rich man in hell in Luke sixteen. Even in hell he did not repent. (Lk.16:20-31)

The judgment of the unbeliever is just.

Just as the Bible says to Believers, look up your redemption or salvation draws near. (Lk.21:28-33, Rom.13:11, 2 Tim.4:8)

So too we can say, that the Bible says to the unbelievers, look up your condemnation draws near. (I Pt.4:7, 2 Thess.1:8) Oh how terrible unbelief and sin are.

Divine justice is overwhelming for the sinner.

Another thing that we learn is that the enemies of God and of His people are many and mighty. And God’s people are small in comparison.

Joshua 11:4. They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots.

If you were to reason by flesh and not by faith you would reason that the people of God would surely fail. The many and the mighty will always beat the few and the weak. Wolves always devour lambs. Unless of course, the divine Shepherd fights for His lambs. 

Now Israel here in these military conquests and for us as Christians with our spiritual conquests we are not successful because we ourselves are mighty. In fact, the Israel of God physically in the world is small and weak in comparison with the worldling. (Dt.7:1-9, Jn.18:36, Rom.8:36) 

But rather we are regularly told throughout these victories how Israel has been so successful.

Joshua 1:5. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 

Joshua 10:14. The Lord fights for His people. The Lord put down all of His and all of our enemies because the Lord is the true King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s.

Joshua 11:6. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”

God repeatedly tells Joshua to trust in the Lord and in the Lord’s might. God promises to save His people by destroying their enemies.

Listen to these passages that express this truth.

Exodus 15:1. Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. 2 “The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. 3 “The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name. (2 Sam.22:8-15, Zeph.3:17)

Jeremiah 20:11. But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. 12 Yet, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, Who see the mind and the heart; Let me see Your vengeance on them; For to You I have set forth my cause. 13 Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one From the hand of evildoers.

The gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ’s church because of the power of the church, but rather because of the power of the Christ of the Church. (Zech.4:6, Mt.16:16)

The weapons of sinners do not thwart God.

V.6. Let me just say a word about the harming of the horses by hamstringing them. God told the people to let these war horses live but to make them unfit for war. That is the idea here.

The weapons of sinners are prohibited to God’s children.

Related to this, God wants Israel to destroy the chariots of these Gentile unbelievers.

God does not want His people to be tempted to trust in the power of their might or of their military might, but only and always to trust in the power and goodness of God. (Ps.20:7, Isa.30:1-5, Ps.146:3-7)

God is teaching His people, do not trust in Man only trust in God. Listen to this. (Prov.29:25)

Isaiah 8:11. For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 “It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. 14 “Then He shall become a sanctuary;

Zechariah 4:6. Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

You see we need these regular reminders because even as the Believing people of God we still have the flesh nature. And or flesh is addicted to trusting in the flesh.

Our flesh is “intoxicated”, to use Calvin’s term, with outward pomp and power. Our flesh nature gets drunk with earthly power. And unless our faith is constantly fed and exercised (by battles) we would live by sight and not by faith. And so, dishonor the Lord and ourselves.

Divine justice is universal for the sinner.

Soldier killing solider is hard to bear.

However, once the Gentile armies were defeated by Israel then Israel would take their city and put all the non-military people to the sword. How incredibly harsh. Who could doubt this? And we can say this as true Believers in the Lord. We do not doubt the truthfulness of this. We are just stating that is terrible, it strikes terror into our hearts.

The notion is that all of these sinners, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, are devoted to destruction. Or as the text says, they are utterly destroyed. And this is at God’s command.

Joshua 10:40. Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.

Joshua 11:20. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. (Dt.20:10-20, 7:1-7, Exodus 33:1-3, 34:1-16, 2 Cor.6:14-18)

The idea is that all that are sinners will die. And we see that all of the enemies of God, young and old, rich and poor, they are all sinners. Therefore, God’s justice is universal on all sinners. (Rom.3:8-19)

Look at the sovereignty of God here over all men.

And in context, over all sinful men. Remember these people are tokens or vessels of God’s wrath.

God does not intend to have mercy on them.

Joshua 11:20. And to that end, the Bible says that God hardened their heart so that He might destroy them. (I Pt.2:8, Rom.9:18, Exod.4:21, 7:3, 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8, 14:17, Dt.2:30, Isa.63:17, Rom.11:7)

God gives the reprobate, the non-elect, over to his reprobate mind. (Rom.1:18-32, 2 Pt.2:17. See also WCF 5.6)

Romans 1:22. Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

Romans 9:13. Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Oh, beloved this is what the better part of the church denies.

They say, God is love. Of course, God is love. (I Jn.4:1-12) God the Father loves sinners so much that He sent His Son to die for them. Whoever believes in Christ has passed from death to life. (Jn.3:16, 1:10-13, Col.1:13, Rom.5:1-10)

But whoever does not believe, the wrath of God abides upon him or her for their sins. (Jn.3:36)

You see Man forgets that God is holy. God is all ethical purity. He is all righteousness. He has no essential or ethical blemishes, no sins.

And God hates sin. God is just. He must punish sin. And He will. God has a day of vengeance. And this is the God of the Bible and no other. On that day, Jesus Christ meek and mild, will be a terrifying Judge to those that hated Him and loved their sin.

Hebrews 10:28. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 12:29. for our God is a consuming fire.

And of course, the unbelieving mind rises up in judgment against the Judge of heaven and earth. Fallen Man accuses God of wrongdoing, even barbarous wrongdoing. Fallen man accuses holy God of being a wicked mass-murderer. Fallen man says God is wrong. Fallen Man says God’s word is wicked. (Ezek.18:15-18, Isa.5:20)

That is fallen man beloved. That is why we have these passages. That is why we will have Judgment Day. Fallen man, who is three times wicked accuses God who is spotlessly holy of being wicked.

Think of it. Fallen man is so offended at the justice of God. In a very real way, their “offense” is a farce. Think of our country. We butcher babies by the millions for convenience sake and for the love of money. Our culture is rotten to the core with sexual immorality. Yet, murderers and adulterers are “offended” with God’s justice! Of course they are! The criminal hates the holy and righteous Judge.

Divine mercy is given – Divine peace is procured.

But what do we see by God making war against sinners? He procures peace for His children. This is peace out of war. This is peace by war. This is peace from war. Everlasting peace. 

God makes good on His promise to Abraham and to his descendants. (Gen.12:7, Dt.30:3-5, Josh.14:15, Judges 3:11, 3:30, 5:31, Exod.33:2, 34:11, Dt.9:3) 

Joshua 11:23. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus, the land had rest from war. 

Joshua Jesus procures our inheritance – in the Promised Land. (Rom.8:17, I Pt.1:4, Ps.16:6, Rev.21:7)

Joshua Jesus procures our peace – in the Promised Land.

In that Land. We will beat our spears into plowshares. And man will study war not more. (Isa.2:4)

Everlasting peace will be upon our heads. (Isa.51:11, 26:3, Dt.33:27)

Even so Lord Jesus come quickly. 

Amen

 

Additional Notes.

Divine Justice substituting. Let me first state one exception to this truth of strict sovereign divine justice for sinners.

Rahab and her family found mercy under the wings of the Lord. They were grafted into the people of God. God changed them from criminals to children, from strangers to citizens. (Josh.2)

Also, the Hivites that lived in Gibeon that sought a covenant of peace or of life with Joshua and were granted their lives and I believe were grafted into Israel as foretastes of the Gentile inclusion that would come in its fullest form with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ – they received mercy and not justice. Justice for their sins was paid for by Another – even Joshua-Jesus. (Josh.9)

And I will say as well, that is what all the Believing Jews here represent; they are recipients of God’s mercy and not God’s justice. Or if I could put it another way, God provide for Another to satisfy His justice for their sins – this is mercy. The Innocent One dies in the guilty’s place. 

Divine Justice advancing. Let’s say a few things about the people of God that He is using as His instruments of divine justice upon the sinner.

Exaltation is advancing for the Believer. The people of God have survived slavery. They have been sustained in the howling wasteland in their pilgrimage. And now we see that they are overcoming their enemies. They have successfully arrived at the Promised Land.

Notice the scheme is an estate of humiliation to exaltation, from slavery to ruling, something like that. Remember this is here to teach us the larger and eternal spiritual lessons of an estate of humiliation in this life and an estate of exaltation and glory in the heavenly Promised Land. (Heb.11)

Suffering now. Glory then. This is the path of our Lord Jesus. This is our path. It may be narrow and hard now, but it leads to a glorious promised land where the enemies of God shall be no more. (Rev.21:4, Isa.25:8, Isa.2:4)

Beloved, while I do emphasize the malice of those that oppose us, even the world, the flesh and the devil. I hope I do not want to give anyone the impression that the Believing people of God will be ashamed of following God. Or in some way humiliated for believing in Him and serving Him. (Isa.54:4, 45:17, Joel 2:26, Rom.10:11,

Our life in Christ is not one of defeat but one of victory. And I would add, as God counts defeat and as God’s counts victory. God’s thoughts and ways are infinitely higher (and different) than man’s. (Isa.55:8-9)

Listen how God through the prophet Isaiah expresses this hope to His beleaguered people in this world. 

Isaiah 49:22. Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. 23 “Kings will be your guardians, And their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth And lick the dust of your feet; And you will know that I am the LORD; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.

So, at the end of the pilgrimage is victory. And I would say, victory in the pilgrimage. Right now the world sits as a judge as it were lording it over the church. But in the final estate, in the true Promised Land, the Bible says that Believers in Christ will sit with Christ judging falling angels and fallen men, from all the nations. (I Cor.6:1-3, Rev.3:21)

The Israel of God will be victorious.

 

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Joshua 10:1-28. Sermon 12. The Sun Stands Still – Spiritual Lessons https://covenantpensacola.org/2022/06/08/joshua-101-28-sermon-12-the-sun-stands-still-spiritual-lessons/ https://covenantpensacola.org/2022/06/08/joshua-101-28-sermon-12-the-sun-stands-still-spiritual-lessons/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2022 21:33:27 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3318

The greeting.

Grace, peace, and mercy to you in the Name of Jesus Christ – the Risen Savior.

The Word.

Today we are going to look at a very interesting chapter where God commands the sun to stand still for Joshua and the army of the Lord. Open your Bible to Joshua chapter ten. I will read from verse one to verse twenty-eight, hear the word of the Lord – read.

Joshua’s enemies plot against his servants.

Joshua 10:1. Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land, 2 that he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3 Therefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to Piram king of Jarmuth and to Japhia king of Lachish and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel.” 5 So the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with all their armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it.

Joshua is petitioned by his servants.

Joshua 10:6. Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us.”

Joshua defeats the enemy armies.

Joshua 10:7. So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors. 8 The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal. 10 And the LORD confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.12 Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.

Joshua executes the enemy kings.

Joshua 10:15. Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp to Gilgal. 16 Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17 It was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18 Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them, 19 but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies and attack them in the rear. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” 20 It came about when Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished slaying them with a very great slaughter, until they were destroyed, and the survivors who remained of them had entered the fortified cities, 21 that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace. No one uttered a word against any of the sons of Israel. 22 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave.” 23 They did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24 When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25 Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.” 26 So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening. 27 It came about at sunset that Joshua gave a command, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and put large stones over the mouth of the cave, to this very day.

Joshua 10:28. Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

The prayer.

Let’s ask God to help us worship Him from this passage this evening, pray.

The historical context.

Well, I have said previously that Joshua chapter six through twelve contains the historical record of Joshua’s defeat of the various Canaanites and their various cities.

God’s government of war.

These chapters contain all the painful things associated with war and the purpose of war which is to kill other men.

Unbelievers hate.

This has enraged many an unbeliever. They do not want a God that orders war and death. Of course, they do not want God at all. (Rom.3:9-18, Rom.8:7)

Believers fear.

And I will say, these war narratives also perplex and trouble many true Believers in Christ, myself included. As a young Christian new to the Faith these kind of passages greatly disturbed me. Then in God’s time as I grew in the Lord and grew in the use of God’s word then I understood what God was doing with these battles in the Promised Land. (2 Tim.3:14-17, Acts 17:11)

Then my confusion of what the Lord purposed with the wars was replaced by a holy fear of this holy God. (Dan.4:34-37, Heb.12:28)

God is doing two general things by these battles.

Divine judgment.

God is God is administering the wages of sin to these sinners. And the physical death is just a foretaste of the eternal death that awaits those that die in unbelief. (Rom.6:23, Gen.2:16-17, Eph.2:1-3) God was using Israel as His agent to administer justice to the Canaanites.

Divine salvation.

In the same event God is administering divine mercy to His people. God is saving His people from their enemies. In this case through the use of war.

What this represents is judgment to some and salvation to others. And seen by the same event. This is much like the Noah and the ark and Israel and the Egyptians at the Red Sea, judgment to the enemies of God, salvation to the children of God.

Divine promise.

Remember also God has promised to give His people the Promised Land. Through the use of these wars God is casting the Canaanites out of the Land and replacing them with His people. God has promised this land. God cannot lie. He is truth. He is making good on His word. (Gen.13:1-18, Josh.23:1-16, Exod.34:11, Deut.6:19, 7:1, 9:3-5)

The earthly Promised Land is a type of the heavenly Promised Land where God will cast out all of our enemies and the wicked will be no more and the weary will finally be at rest. (Heb.11:1-40, Job 3:17, Rev.21:4)

The application.

The application is that we would believe God’s word and that we would live upon His word, tremble at sin, rejoice in salvation. (Mt.4:4, Mt.7:13-29)

The sermon method.

Because of the common theme it is my purpose to look at the various things we have here tonight and glean from them the spiritual lessons that they teach.

A disclaimer here. I am not “spiritualizing” the text. I am not denying the physical realities in this account. These are real battles. People are really dying. But what I am doing is seeking the larger spiritual lessons behind these physical circumstances.

For example, think of the crucifixion of Jesus. Men physically hated and crucified Jesus. Spiritually this reveals the spiritual or moral nature of fallen man. That is to say, fallen man hates God and seeks to kill God. God is love and He dies for His enemies to make them His children. Well, that is the kind of method I would like to employ today.

God conquers the Promised land slowly and incrementally.

Think back to the first battle in Jericho and then battles two and three that occurred in Ai. Then remember the averting of a battle with the Gibeonites.

God is showing us how He plans to take the Promised Land.

And that is, little by little, battle by battle. Total victory does not come all at once. God is working slowly and incrementally. Rome was not built in a day. And the Promised Land was not conquered in a day.

Beloved, the Christian walk and fight is a marathon and a protracted battle, something that occurs daily. Bit by bit we fight against the world, the flesh and the devil.

Beloved, do not expect the moment you come to Christ that all your battles are over. That would only occur for men like the thief converted in the cross. And even he had to suffer intensely before he entered Paradise with Christ.

Oh beloved, this is why we need faith so much. We must walk by faith daily because we will be fighting by faith daily. The battles are not done until we are in heaven. Look at the children of Israel and their battles for the Promised Land. Look at the great cloud of witnesses. (Heb.11:1-40)

God’s method of bringing His word to pass often proceeds very slowly.

Finding salvation in Christ does not exempt us from battles.

We said the last time that many of the Reformers believed that the Gibeonites manifested saving faith akin to that of Rahab’s when they came to Joshua and sought a covenant of peace of a covenant of life with him. (Josh.9:1-27)

I tend to think the Reformers are correct. (Reformation Commentary on Scripture, OT, Vol.4, pp.124-133)

Of course, we are in the OT where redemptive revelation is still in the seed form or in the time of infancy and so things tend to be a bit more shadowy and less clear.

But the Gibeonites did believe that the Lord would be victorious over the Canaanites and that He would in fact give the Promised Land to His people. This is faith. They believed certain true things about the Lord and His word and His deeds as they heard them from others. Again, I say, this is faith.

Let me read from our secondary standards summarizing what our primary standard teaches about saving faith.

WCF 14.2  By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein;(1) and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands,(2) trembling at the threatenings,(3) and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come.(4) But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.(5)

(1) John 4:42; 1 Thess. 2:13; John 5:10; Acts 24:14. (2) Rom. 16:26. (3) Isa. 66:2. (4) Heb. 11:13; 1 Tim. 4:8. (5) John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Gal. 2:20; Acts 15:11 

Now what do we see in verses one through five for these infant believers?

Well, no sooner did the Gibeonites join themselves to the people of God and seek their life and peace with them, albeit at the cost of their liberty that their former Gentile neighbors, their former fellow Canaanites, have now become their enemies in earnest.

Faith in Christ separates.

The moment we declare that we are on the Lord’s side then our former unbelieving family and friends that were previous our friends will become our enemies. (Mt.10:15-42)

Think of Saul of Tarsus. When he was a Christ-hating Pharisee, his fellow Pharisees loved him. When he was converted to Christ and preached Christ then his former friends hated him and wanted to kill him. (Phil.3:1-14, Acts 23:12-35, 26:21, Gal.1:23)

There is a real war going on in the heavenlies beloved. (Eph.6:10-18) Just as real as the battles before us.

And there are only two sides in this spiritual war. Those that believe in the Lord and fight under His banner. And those that are still found in their sin and unbelief and they fight under the banner of the devil. That is it. Two sides. Two roads. Either the Lord is your Lord. Or fallen Baal is your Lord. (Mt.7:13-14, 2 Cor.6:14-18, Exod.32:26)

And both sides reveal their opposition to one another. And unless a person is converted to Christ by God the Holy Spirit, they will remain opposed to God and God’s people.

Carnal people love their own, they love other people that are in the flesh and sow to the flesh. But “love”, I think, is not the right word. These fallen Canaanites were often fighting each other. Fallen man has no real peace within himself or with others.

True peace can only be found when we find peace with God in Christ.

But beloved let us learn this spiritual lesson from these Gibeonites.

Do not expect peace-peace from your unbelieving family and friends when you come to embrace Christ. Expect rather a spiritual battle, spiritual and physical opposition. Here the opponents are using swords and spears. But mostly in our lives they use bitter words and bitter feelings and unkind deeds. But even this lesser opposition still hurts us and deject us.

Listen to what Jesus Christ says,

John 15:17. This I command you, that you love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

All who desire to live godly for Christ in an ungodly antichrist world will suffer persecution.(2 Tim.3:12, Phil.1:29, Jn.16:33) Paul said, through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)

Let’s seek our strength in Joshua-Jesus. He fights our battles for us. He strengthens us in our hard times.

And remember, God is able to covert our enemies into fellow Believers the way that He did for us. Or as we see that God does here, He is able to defeat our enemies for us.

Those who oppose the Lord and the Lord’s people boast in self.

Let’s take a look at some of these enemies.

In V.1. we meet with this fellow Adoni-Zedek. This means the Lord of Righteousness. Or the Righteous Lord. He is the king of Jerusalem. But remember he is not a Jew in saving relationship with Jehovah. (Dt.7:1-10)

This is a pagan Gentile calling himself the Righteous Lord king over the City of Peace.

What creature wanted to be the Lord over the LORD? Satan. Think how he plied our first parents. (Gen.3:1-8) What was found within Satan that he sought to elevate himself as a god over God? Pride. (Isa.14:12-15)

Oh beloved, fallen man is such a proud creature. And what is so sad, is that being fallen we have no just cause to be proud. The fallen world lives for the pride of life and the lusts of the flesh. (I Jn.2:15-17)

And God hates the proud. And some day if they do not humble themselves before Him on earth, He will humble them on the Day of Judgment. (Prov.8:13, James 4:6, Prov.6:16-19, 11:2, 2 Tim.3:1-5)

This man, this fallen mannish king is a mini tyrant. Tyrants often take grossly boastful names and titles to themselves. Alexander the Great. Herod the Great. Pontifex Maximus, the greatest priest, the pope – the holy father, the vicar of Christ, and so on.

The enemies of God pretend to be god.

In a way this is like this fellow took to himself the name Melchizedek the prince of Salem that we meet with in Genesis 14.

Melchizedek means King of Righteousness or Righteous King.

As I say, this is fallen man beloved. Fallen earthly kings boast that they are equal to God. They think they are their own god or lord.

This is the enemy of God’s people. Fallen men refuse to seek their righteousness in Christ because they believe that they already are righteous. (Rom.9:30-33, 10:1-4)

Fallen man opposes Christ and His church because they think that they do not need saving. And they believe they are in the right and God is in the wrong. They call evil – good and they call good- evil. (Isa.5:20)

The unbeliever is the unjust one pretending to be the just one. The unbeliever is self-deceived.

Remember what God says through the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 17:5. Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant.

Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

The enemies of God know they are not God.

V.2. But what is interesting is that we see the sinner is self-righteous but at the very same time he (or she) is afraid to die.

Our text tells us that Adoni-Zedek “feared greatly” when he heard how Joshua and Israel defeated Jericho and Ai.

You see fallen man in his depravity pretends to be God. But even in his depravity he knows that he is not God. He knows that only the Lord is God. But natural man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. But his fallen conscience still convicts him of sin against the true Lord. (Rom.1:18-32)

This is like the unclean spirits, they rebel against the Lord but at the same time when God expresses His power, they are terrified. Think of the demons fighting against Christ. But at the same time that are terrified Christ will send then to hell before the appointed time. (Mt.8:29)

But for all this, what do we see the enemies of God continue to do? Remember that all these various kings have just seen one enemy of God after another fall before God. And that by way of miracle in Jericho and by military might in Ai – and what do they conclude?

Oh, this will not happen to us. We will be the only ones that can withstand the Lord. Oh, Pharaoh and his army were cast into the Red Sea by a mighty miracle, oh that will not happen to us!

You see he is afraid of God, but he refuses to submit to God. (Gen.19:1-11)

Stunning. This is total depravity beloved.

Though all men live under the threat of God’s justice and judgment for their sin, though they hear it in His word, though they see it in their lives, all men die, but still left to themselves they convince themselves death with not come for them.

The unbeliever is so self-deceived and spiritually blind he convinces himself that though all may come to Judgment Day, yet they themselves will be the only one to escape.

Such is the fallen spiritual condition of those who oppose Christ and His people. Their only hope is, they must be born again by God’s Spirit giving them faith in God’s Christ. (Jn.3:1-9)

The servants of God turn to Joshua to save them.

V.6-14. The Gibeonites know that Joshua is the appointed leader of God’s people, they know that he is their warrior-king-leader. We know that this Joshua is a type of the true Joshua Jesus. (Heb.4:8-10)

Previously, this Joshua made a covenant of peace and protection with these people. They became the servants to the priestly servants of the Lord in the House of the Lord, in the tabernacle and later in the temple.

But see what they do in their time of need. They send and call out to this Joshua, to this man in covenant with them, to this man in covenant himself with the Lord.

Oh beloved, when our enemies come near, we do right to call upon our Joshua Jesus to rescue us.

You see the Gibeonites did right. When their enemies drew near, they did not rely upon their own wisdom or power to fight them. No. They sought out their Joshua, their Defender.

This is what every Christian ought to do in their darkest times, when the opponents are right at the door and your downfall is immanent, run to Christ, tell Him about the enemies, tell Him your dire needs. He will rise up and defend you.

Joshua saves those that seek their salvation by him.

Now what do we see with Joshua?

He answers their cry for help immediately. Remember these people now belong to Israel as their covenanted servants. Joshua is in covenant with these Gentiles.

And really, in a way, they are no longer Gentiles separated from the people of God and the promises of God and the covenants of God – in Joshua they have been brought near to Israel and to the God of Israel. (Eph.2:11-22)

And so the Lord fights on their behalf. I think, more proof that the Reformers were correct seeing these people as having saving faith.

Also, even though the Gibeonites secured their covenant with Joshua by dealing “falsely” with him, see that he deals faithfully with them.

Though we stumble and fail and are many times faithless to Christ, He always deals faithfully with us. (2 Tim.2:13)

Our salvation is not dependent upon how we treat Jesus. Our salvation is dependent on how Jesus treats us. Christ saves all those in covenant with Him. (WCF 7.1-6)

You see Christ always does that which pleases His heavenly Father. Christ preserves all those that He has justified and saved. Christ does not lose any sheep. (Mt.18:12-14, Lk.15:3-7)

Joshua is encouraged by the Lord as to the victory.

V.7-8. God comforts His man Joshua.

God again and again encourages Joshua, do not fear, do not be afraid. God wants Joshua to know the Lord Himself will be with Him, and that the Lord will ensure the victory. 

Joshua 10:8. The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” (Joshua 1:5-9)

You see as Joshua comforts the Gibeonites his servants so too the Lord comforts Joshua His servant.

Beloved this is true. It is often in the darkest time, the times when our enemies surround us that we experience the greatest testimonies of God’s provision and protection of us.

Now in the actual battle we seek a mixture of ordinary providence and extraordinary providence acquiring the victory over the enemies and salvation for the Gibeonites. (WCF 3.1-8, 5.1-7)

The ordinary providence or the secondary means are the battle plans and the execution of those plans by Joshua, by Israel actually fighting with zeal and with courage. Joshua uses those secondary means with diligence. So, he was not presuming on a victory by miraculous means or presuming that he would defeat them as he at first did with Ai.

But then we see the miraculous. God sends hailstones down on the enemies of God and His people. (Ezek.13:11-13, Rev.8:7, 11:19, Isa.28:2)

How did God ensure that only the unbelieving Gentiles were killed and not His people? We answer the sovereign government and power and mercy of God.

This is similar to what God did in Egypt. He made a distinction between His people and His enemies.

Exodus 9:14. For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. 15 “For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. 16 “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. 17 “Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go. 18 “Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 “Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die.”‘” 20 The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses; 21 but he who paid no regard to the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field. 22 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.” 23 Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck all that was in the field through all the land of Egypt, both man and beast; the hail also struck every plant of the field and shattered every tree of the field26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the sons of Israel were, there was no hail.

Listen to how John on the Isle of Patmos sees the coming Judgment of Judgment Day upon the earth.

Revelation 16:19. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.

And then another miracle of the sun and the moon standing still. And this miracle allows Joshua more time to use those secondary means of the actual fighting. (2 Kg.20:8-11, Isa.38:8)

God is governing all of His creatures and all of their actions. And He does so preeminently to save His people and to preserve His saved people for the purpose of living with them in the promised land.

Joshua 10:14. for the LORD fought for Israel.  

The conclusion.

Beloved, the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil is not ultimately ours. It belongs to the war. We do not defeat our enemies. God in Christ does. We do not save ourselves and place ourselves in the Promised Land. God in Christ does.

Amen

 

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JAMES 5:13-20. Study 22. Christian be prayerful at all times for all things https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/08/11/james-513-20-study-22-christian-be-prayerful-at-all-times-for-all-things/ Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:35:38 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3307

The greeting.

Greetings Beloved in the name of Christ. 

The Scripture.

Today is our final study in the book of James. This is study number twenty-two. We will look at James 5:13-20. If you remember from our last study, I said that this final section of James contains two main subjects. In James 5:7-12 God tells Believers to be patient in our pilgrimage here below. And how we need God-gifted Christ-grounded hopeful patience in this troublesome world of our pilgrimage.

The subject of prayer.

Now in today’s Scripture God tells us to be prayerful on our way to our celestial home. So, prayer is our subject today.

Please take out your Bible and open up to James chapter five. I will begin to read from verse thirteen, hear the perfect word of our perfect God – read.

James 5:13. Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. 19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The prayer.

Let’s ask the Lord’s blessing on our study today – pray. 

The practice of prayer.

A few things here as regards to prayer. All people pray. Well, perhaps I should refine that, almost all people pray. Perhaps the staunch avowed atheist, he or she does not pray. They do not pray at least until they are confronted with their own mortality perhaps in a traumatic way; there are no atheists in foxholes, as the saying goes.   

Well, the near universality of prayer proves that human beings are religious creatures. (Gen.1:26-28, Gen.9:6) Humans were created to love and to serve the Lord God, and even in their fallen estate their conscience still informs them that there is a God, and He must be worshiped. But fallen man exchanges the truth of God for a lie and therefore they worship and pray to false gods. (Rom.1:18-32)

But their prayers to their false gods are an offense to the true God.

All other prayers offered to all other gods and thus without the mediation of Jesus as one’s High Priest are not acceptable prayers; they are an offense to the true Triune God of the Bible. (I Tim.2:5)

The definition of prayer.

Now let me give us a definition of (acceptable) prayer. I will use the Westminster Larger Catechism. Remember we believe that this is an accurate summary of what our primary standard the Bible teaches.

WLC 178  What is prayer? A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God,(1) in the name of Christ,(2) by the help of his Spirit;(3) with confession of our sins,(4) and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.(5)   (1) Ps. 62:8 (2) John 16:23 (3) Rom. 8:26 (4) Ps. 32:5,6; Dan. 9:4 (5) Phil. 4:6

Prayer, to be pleasing and acceptable, must only be made to the God of the Bible, Who alone is the true and the living God. And for this to be possible, we must come to God the Father though faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. (Jn.1:10-13, Jn.3:36, Rom.5:1-10, Rom.10:1-17, WCF 21.2)

Prayer is one part of our worship of God. So, as we are studying the subject of praying to God today let’s remember this is one way that we worship and adore the true and living God who has created and saved us. We have been created to worship God. We have been recreated or born again in Christ to worship God. We will be worshiping God throughout all eternity. Prayer is vital to this. What a privilege. (WCF 21.3-4)

The call to prayer.

Next God inspires James to give his Christian readership a call to prayer. 

James 5:13. Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

The occasions for prayer.

What we have here are two general instances or occasions for prayer. The first one is suffering. The second one is happiness.

The idea is that on both ends of the spectrum of human existence Believers ought to be a praying people. To be alive in Christ is to be united to the Godhead and thus to commune with Him in and by prayer. Believers are called to pray to God constantly, in all situations and for all things. (I Thess.5:16-28, Rom.12:12, Phil.4:6, Mt.6:6, Eph.6:18, Col.4:2, Mt.7:7)

In suffering.

With suffering we are told to pray to God, meaning to petition God for relief. In the instance of happiness, we are told to praise God, which is also a form of prayer. Saying praises and or singing praises to God for who and what He is, is speaking with God.

Let’s say a few words about suffering being an occasion of prayer. James uses two Greek words in V.13 and V.14 for distress. V.13 is literally to suffer evil or something bad. (kakapathei). In V.14 the word for sick (astheneo) literally means “weak”; is any among you “weak”?

Generally, we can say that there are two kinds of weakness or suffering that human beings experience. We can have physical weakness and we can have mental, emotional, and spiritual weakness. I realize that we can say that mental suffering or weakness is also a species of physical bodily distress. My point is that we can have material distress and immaterial distress.

All suffering of all kinds came into the world because of Adam’s fall, because of his initial sin against God. God cursed all things with misery and death. Even the redeemed in Christ still live in a sin cursed world with all kinds of miseries for which we need God’s help for which we ask.

God is telling us that the first thing we ought to do when we are weak or suffering in any way is to come to His throne of grace for His help in our time of trouble. Anytime we are anxious about anything God wants us to cast our cares upon Him because He does care for us. (I Pt.5:7)

Perhaps one of the reasons that we find no relief in our troubles is that we have not taken them to the Lord in prayer. James has told us earlier that sometimes we do not have from God because we have not asked of God.

And perhaps we ask for a healing or some other relief, but our motives are either selfish or sinful and thus God refrains from granting our request. Do we pray to God when we are in distress? Do we pray so that we may glorify and serve Him? What are our motives? (James 4:1-10)

In happiness.

Now God tells us to pray-praise Him in times of cheerfulness. (Phil4:4, I Thess.5:16) 

Now you might not think that God would have to tell us to pray-praise Him when we are happy, you might think that this would come most naturally and freely. But apparently God deems it necessary, which means that we are apt to be negligent in this duty.

I believe, we need to be exhorted to praise God especially when we are in periods of ease, prosperity, health, and happiness. It is precisely in these times that we are prone to forget God and to grow fleshly, worldly, and spiritually lazy. Think of the materially wealthy Christians in the church at Laodicea, they were spiritually lukewarm and in danger of Christ spitting them out of His mouth. (Rev.3:14-22)

Think of Israel. God told them to not forget Him when He brought them into the Promised Land, and they enjoyed a land flowing with milk and honey. And they did indeed become “Jeshurun” fat and spiritually lazy as the word of God says. (Dt.32:9-23, Dt.6:10-13, Dt.8:1-19)

Ask yourself this question, when do you pray to God most honestly and earnestly? In times of sorrow? Or in times of happiness? The answer is self-evident, when we are in the crucible.

While it is true in this life, we have suffering for Christ’s sake and all that desire to live godly for Christ will suffer, it is also true that God sends many occasions of peace, plenty, and happiness. It is a sin to not recognize these pleasant things and times from the Lord and to thank Him.

God desires that we acknowledge His goodness, might, majesty, mercy, love, goodness, and power in praise to Him. Oh Beloved, what would we be like if we improved in our praise of the Lord? Expressing our gratefulness to God pleases Him, blesses us, and edifies others.

The psalms are full of admonitions to praise the Lord.

Psalm 33:1. Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. 2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. 3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. 4 For the word of the LORD is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness. (Psalms 81:1-2, 92:1-3, 98:4-6, 144:9, 149:1-5, Eph.5:19, Col.3:16)

A practical side note.

Praying when we are sad keeps us from being overly sad as regards to earthly temporal things. Praying when we are sad draws us into closer friendship with our eternal and unchangeable God. Praying when we are suffering allows us to draw nearer to Christ and to live above the suffering. (2 Cor.12:7-10)

Praying when we are happy allows us to not become overly or sinfully happy with earthly temporal things. Praying when we are happy focuses our mind and heart on the true source of all of our happiness. Praying when we are happy makes us value the eternal more than the temporal and the spiritual more than the material. Praying when we are happy fixes our minds on things above and not on things below, it keeps us looking to God. (Col.3:1-3)

We know that all good comes from God in Christ. (I Chron.16:11-12, James 1:17, Ps.16:2, Rom.8:11-39, Mt.7:11, Ps.84:11, Ps.85:12, Jn.3:16)

The call for elders.

Now let’s look a little bit at this exhortation to call the elders to pray for the sick.

Church membership.

First, we cannot help but notice that the sick Christian in view here is obviously a member of some local church; he or she knows the elders and the elders know them.

Beloved, this modern idea in our country of church-less Christians is not Biblical. The Bible teaches that true disciples of Christ will join themselves to a local body of Believers and gather weekly for worship and fellowship. (Heb.10:25-27, Heb.13:17, Eph.4:11)

Habitual Sabbath breaking reveals an unrenewed spirit, a person with no interest in the eternal Sabbath. (Exod.20:8-11, 31:13-15, Ezek.20:11-16, Isa.58:13-24, Mt.5:19, I Jn.2:6, Heb.3:3-12)

Sadly, there are many people that call themselves Christians, but they are bible-less, prayer-less, church-less and worship-less “Christians”. Beloved, God will not be mocked. You will know true Christians by the holy fruit of their life. (Mt.7:15-20, Jn.15:1-8) No affiliation with Christ’s church upon the earth, none with His church in Glory (ordinarily). (WCF 25.2)

Church service.

Regarding the elders, I have been preaching through the book of First Timothy in our morning worship. In I Timothy chapter three Paul speaks about the church having two types of office bearers: the office of elder-overseer-bishop and then the office of deacon. In general, the elder looks out for the spiritual welfare of the membership of the particular church he serves, and the deacons help to relieve physical and financial distresses.

The suffering.

So, in this instance, someone at the church has become “weak”, and it looks as if in this context the person is physically sick. Either the sick person or their loved ones have notified the elders of the church to come and pray for the suffering one.

As an aside this passage teaches us the real Christians still suffer, and we suffer in multitudes of ways. Our being the recipients of the grace of God and the salvation of Christ does not prevent us hardship and sorrow in our estate of humiliation in our pilgrimage. But as Believers in Christ, we are called to suffer well for the glory of Christ. (Phil.1:29 Acts 14:22, Jn.16:33, I Cor.4:9-13, 2 Cor.4:7-18, Rev.1:9) We have One to go to for our relief.

The relief.

It is interesting that the elder responsible for spiritual care is called and not the deacon or servant for physical care is called.

Herein, we are taught that the sickness or the relief of the sickness has a spiritual component, and it cannot be remedied purely by physical or material aid.

Now with that said, sending for the elders to pray for the sick does not negate sending for the doctor for the sick. Spiritual remedies do not exclude the prudent and wise use of ordinary secondary means to get well with doctors and their skills. (WCF 5.1-3)

Though there are Christians that use this passage as their “proof text” to shun doctors and medicines. They are misguided, sadly. Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine because of his frequent stomach ailments. I have no doubt Paul prayed for Timothy as well.  (I Tim.5:23)

The perplexities.

I will tell you what you likely already know, this section has been the cause of many debates among various kinds of Christians as regards to exactly what is being taught and its precise application. 

The prayer of the elders.

The elders to told to pray for and to anoint the sick. Let’s look at the anointing first. 

James 5:14. Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 

The anointing oil.

Often one of the sticking points is the use of anointing oil.

Physical significance.

Some think that the oil is used as a form of medicine. And in the example of the Good Samaritan, he does pour oil on the beaten man’s bruises and cuts. (Lk.10:34) So, I have no doubt that there are certain healing properties in (olive) oil for certain kinds of ailments, externally used and perhaps even internally consumed.

Spiritual significance.

My sense is that the anointing oil has more of a spiritual significance to it. (Exod.28:41) In the Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil as a visible ceremony confirming that God had called and equipped them for their particular office and service. (Exod.29:7, Lev.4:3, Judges 9:8, I Sam.9:16, 10:1, 2 Sam.19:10, I Sam.24:6, I Kg.19:16, Ps.105:15, Isa.61:1, Ps.2:2, Ps.45:7)

Christ, the Messiah, is the Anointed One. The Spirit of God consecrated Him. (Isa.61:1, Zech. 4:1-6) The application of the oil (the anointing) represented the transfer of the Spirit to the consecrated person. (I Sam.10:1-10, 16:13, Lk.1:35, Mt.3:16, Jn.1:32, 3:34)

The basic idea with the anointing oil is that it is God that will heal the sick person. God gives life. God takes it away. God gives health. God takes it away. (Job 1:20-22, Exod.23:25) Even if God uses secondary means such as medicines to heal a sick person it is still God that has caused them to be effectual and successful.

Excursus – the sacramental view.

As an aside the Roman Catholic church, and I believe the Eastern Orthodox church, use this verse and Mark 6:13 as a textual “proof” for their sacrament of “Extreme Unction”. Though, I believe that may be an older outdated term. I believe Rome refers to this as “the Anointing of the Sick”.

When I was a child growing up in the Roman Catholic church, we would call this (sacrament) “the Last Rites” it was administered to a person with a persistent sickness and was near death. I believe also that Rome treats this (so-called) sacrament in connection with another (so-called) sacrament of “Penance”. The idea is that the priestly anointing is conjoined with the priestly forgiveness of sins; somehow the sacrament expiates remaining sins. (Council of Trent, session 14, on Penance and Extreme Unction)

I do not find these things to be (correctly) Biblical and thus I do not believe them to be true, but I have included this so that we can be familiar with how other people approach this passage. (Acts 17:11, 2 Tim.3:14-17, 2 Pt.3:14-18, Mk.7:1-12, WCF 20.2, WCF 7.6, WCF 27.1-4) 

The efficacy of prayer.

Now let’s look at the prayer for the healing.

James 5:15. and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

The perplexities.

For me, this section is the most perplexing. Notice the use of “will” here. The (Lord) will restore, the Lord will raise up, and the Lord will forgive him. Will.

The obvious question is, why are some people not healed when prayed for? A common answer given by some Christians is that the prayer was not offered with sufficient faith. Perhaps the person praying harbored some doubt and so God did not answer their prayer. (Jas.1:5-8, Mk.11:24, Jn.15:17, Mk.9:24, Mk.5:36)

To me this does not seem to be the complete or only answer.  My objection to this exclusive line of thought is that it makes the healing in some way wholly dependent upon man, man is (really) in the driver’s seat so to speak. How depressing, my lack of healing is my fault; I have weak faith. What about my strong Lord can’t He overcome my weak faith? Of course. (Mk.9:16-24)

Matthew Henry seems to teach that this verse of miraculous healing was confined to the times of the apostles that had miraculous powers given to them by the Lord and when the apostles died so did the miracle healers cease and so too this anointing situation. (Matthew Henry Commentaries, vol.6, pp. 804-805) I love Matthew Henry and greatly respect his work, but I am not quite sure with his view here. Although another Puritan commentator I value, Thomas Manton, seems to hold the same view. (Manton, On James, pp.446, 449) 

Another potential answer to the dilemma that some are not healed when prayed for is that the suffering and the sickness in few is not physical but rather spiritual sickness or spiritual weakness. The Bible does use the words that James uses here for spiritual maladies. (Rom.6:19, 8:26, I Cor.2:3, 2 Cor.11:30, 12:5-9, Heb.4:15, 5:2, 7:28, 11:34) This view does not fully satisfy me either. 

I believe that the best and the ultimate answer why some are healed, and some are not healed ultimately must be found in the sovereignty of God. (2 Cor.12:7-9)

God willed the healing of the one and did not will the healing of the other. We pray, Lord heal my sick loved one – Thy will be done. (Lk.22:42, Jn.21:18-22) All must rest with God’s sovereignty. (I Jn.5:14-16)

The association of sin.

Next there does seem to be a sin component associated with the sickness in view, not that all sicknesses are directly associated with a particular sin. (Job 6:28-30) But some are as indicated by this context. (Mark 2:5-11)

The examination of sin.

Therefore our times of weakness and sickness are good times for us to examine our lives to see if there is any sin we need to confess and repent of. (Ps.139:24, Dt.28:22-27, Isa.38:17, Jn.5:14, I Cor.11:30)

The confession of sin.

A very practical question here. When we sin against another person do we (ever) go to them and confess our sins to them and ask them to forgive us? My sense is that this is very rare. I do wonder, if this is why we are so spiritually and physically weak, because we have left off what God has commanded. (I Cor.11:27-32)

Just as a side note, James does make a connection between confession of sin and pardon of sin. (Prov.28:13, I Jn.1:9)

The prayers of the congregation.

Next, God tells all Believers that He wants us to pray for others. 

V.16. Pray for one another. (so that) (Col.2:1-2, Rom.9:3)

The Lord Jesus teaches us in His model prayer to us to pray for ourselves and others. (Mt.6:9-14) 

The example of prayer.

In our previous section on patience, God told us to look to the patience of Job as our example. (James 5:7-11, Job 7:11-19)

And now here He says looks to the prayer of Elijah as an example of the effectual prayers of a righteous man. Only those with faith in Christ have the righteousness of God in Christ gifted to them. Elijah then is an example of a Believer’s prayers. (Heb.11:6)

James 5:17. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

The context for this Elijah reference comes from I Kings 17 and 18. In I Kings 18:42 we are told that Elijah prayed and then God answered by sending rain.

But Elijah also called fire down from heaven on the enemies of God. (I Kg.18:38, 2 Kg.1:10) He also raised a boy from the dead. (I Kg.17:22) He also fasted forty days and night under the power of one meal. (I Kg.19:8)

Where did all this power and goodness come from? From God. From praying to God.

Application.

You see God encourages all of us to pray and to labor to pray in faith. God takes this mighty man of faith and tells us that he has the same nature as we have.

The key is that he has the same God as we have. God and our union and communion with God are the key to our prayers and their success.

Pray. Pray earnestly. And pray again. And keep praying. And wait for your Lord to respond. (Lk.18:1-8, Mt.7:7-12, Ps.40:1, Ps.88:1, I Chron.16:11, Lk.11:5-10, Acts 1:14, Acts 2:42, Eph.6:18, Rom.12:12, I Thess.5:17, Gen.32:24-32, Exod.32:31-32, I Sam.1:10-11, Micah 7:7) 

The outcome of prayer – Service to Christ.

James then ends his letter moving from praying to God to admonishing men. You see the idea is the more we give ourselves to communing with God in prayer the more like God we will grow. I do not mean that we partake of His divinity. No. That is blasphemy to think so.

I mean that we will be more conformed into His moral image, we will die more to sin, we will grow more in practical holiness. In brief we will grow more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save lost sinners. (Rom.8:29) The more we pray to our Lord and Savior the more closely we will walk in the truth of God’s Law and God’s Gospel.

Earlier, I believe, we were called to pray for relief for physical or spiritual sickness. Now here we are like Elijah speaking to spiritually dead men, men dead in their sins and then praying that God would raise them to life. See the kinds of things that we will be prone to speak to our fellow man about. 

James 5:19. My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (Prov.10:12, I Pt.4:8)

Converting a sinner or saving a sinner is fundamentally a work and a gift of God. But God uses His children as His servants and heralds of the truth of God’s word to sinners that stand in need of it. (Eph.2:1-10, Acts 16:18) One servant plants, another waters, but God causes the growth. (I Cor.3:5, 2 Cor.6:1, Gal.2:20)

What a fitting conclusion to such a practical book on practical godliness or holiness. One saved sinner in Christ, now living for the glory of Christ, telling other sinners about Christ, about the forgiveness of sins, and about eternal life out of death. Oh, what a ministry. Christ giving us the gospel talent and then blessing it with increase. What a life. What a Christ. To God be the glory.

Amen

Study Questions.

  1. What does the near universality of prayer teach us about the nature of man? (Gen.1:26-28, Gen.9:6, Rom.1:18-32, Rom.2:14-15, WCF 21.1)
  1. What is prayer? Define acceptable prayer. How does Christ make our prayers acceptable? (Ps.62:8, Jn.16:23, Rom.8:26, Ps.32:5-6, Dan.9:4, Phil.4:6, I Tim.2:5, Rom.5:1-10, Jn.3:16)
  1. Prayer is a special part of our worship of God how ought this inform and affect our prayer life knowing that our prayer is worship? (Jn.1:10-13, Jn.3:36, Jn.4:23, Rev.5:6-14, Rom.5:1-10, Rom.10:1-17, WCF 21.2-4)
  1. Give some examples of suffering and sickness for which we ought to pray to God. In sickness and suffering what are we asking God to do? Anything beyond or in addition to healing? What does our praying to God in suffering teach us about man and about our God? (James 5:13-14, I Pt.5:7, Phil.1:29 Acts 14:22, Jn.16:33, I Cor.4:9-13, 2 Cor.4:7-18, Rev.1:9, I Thess.5:16-28, Rom.12:12, Phil.4:6, Mt.6:6, Eph.6:18, Col.4:2, Mt.7:7)
  1. Give some examples of cheerful or happy times and things for which we ought to pray-praise God. Why is it easier to pray when we are in distress rather than praise when we are happy? What are some dangers of physically peaceful and prosperous times for our souls? (Jn.3:16, Rom.5:1-10, Mt.5:45, Ps.33:1-4, Psalms 81:1-2, 92:1-3, 98:4-6, 144:9, 149:1-5, Eph.5:19, Col.3:16, Rev.3:14-22, Dt.32:9-23, Dt.6:10-13, Dt.8:1-19)
  1. Calling for the church elders in times of sickness presupposes church membership and Sabbath observance what do we learn by this? (Heb.10:25-27, Heb.13:17, Eph.4:11, Exod.20:8-11, 31:13-15, Ezek.20:11-16, Isa.58:13-24, Mt.5:19, I Jn.2:6, Heb.3:3-12, Mt.7:15-20, Jn.15:1-8, WCF 25.2)
  1. What is the spiritual significance of the anointing oil upon the sick, what does it denote? What is the person receiving the oil being taught? (James 5:14, Exod.28:41, Exod.29:7, Lev.4:3, Judges 9:8, I Sam.9:16, 10:1, 2 Sam.19:10, I Sam.24:6, I Kg.19:16, Ps.105:15, Isa.61:1, Ps.2:2, Ps.45:7, Isa.61:1, Zech. 4:1-6, I Sam.10:1-10, 16:13, Lk.1:35, Mt.3:16, Jn.1:32, 3:34, Job 1:20-22, Exod.23:25)
  1. What are various explanations given for why a man prayed to be healed and is not healed? When people are healed to what do we attribute their healing? (James 5:15-16, Jas.1:5-8, Mk.11:24, Jn.15:17, Mk.9:24, Mk.5:36, James 4:1-10, Mk.9:16-24, 2 Cor.12:7-9, Lk.22:42, Jn.21:18-22, I Jn.5:14-16)
  1. James does speak about a connection of sin to sickness or suffering. How might our sin be a cause of our sickness or suffering? What ought we to do about this? Do we confess our sins against other people to them seeking their forgiveness? If not, why not? If not, might this be a cause of our weakness? (James 5:13-16, Job 6:28-30, Mark 2:5-11, Ps.139:24, Dt.28:22-27, Isa.38:17, Jn.5:14, I Cor.11:30, I Cor.11:27-32, Prov.28:13, I Jn.1:9)
  1. We are to pray for others? What ought we to pray for them? Why ought we to pray for them? For whom do we personally or really pray? Why do we not pray for others the way we ought? What does our praying for others teaches us about the necessity and efficacy of prayer and of the nature of the Body of Christ? (James 5:16, Col.2:1-2, Rom.9:3, Mt.6:1-15)
  1. What does the example of Elijah and his prayers teach us regarding our own prayers? Where did Elijah’s efficacy of prayer come from? (James 5:17-18, Heb.11:6, I Kings 18:42, I Kg.18:38, 2 Kg.1:10, I Kg.17:22, I Kg.19:8, Lk.18:1-8, Mt.7:7-12, Ps.40:1, Ps.88:1, I Chron.16:11, Lk.11:5-10, Acts 1:14, Acts 2:42, Eph.6:18, Rom.12:12, I Thess.5:17, Gen.32:24-32, Exod.32:31-32, I Sam.1:10-11, Micah 7:7)
  1. How and why would an improved prayer life promote an increased desire and activity to point lost sinners and sinful and or needy saints to Christ? Do we speak to other people of Christ and of His gospel of salvation? How will this redound to Christ’s glory and our everlasting happiness? (James 5:19-20, (Rom.8:29, Prov.10:12, I Pt.4:8, I Cor.3:5, 2 Cor.6:1, Gal.2:20, Mt.25:14-46)

 

 

 

 

 

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JAMES 5:7-12. Study 21. Patiently Endure Hard Things to Honor Christ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/07/28/james-57-12-study-21-patiently-endure-hard-things-to-honor-christ/ Wed, 28 Jul 2021 16:36:36 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3296

The greeting.

Grace, peace, and mercy to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. I trust that you are growing in your love for Him and in your experience of His love for you. 

The Scripture.

Today we are going to look at James 5:7-12. The general petition here is that God calls us to be patient while we serve Him here in this life. The final exhortation in this letter is God tells His people to be a praying people as we serve Him here in this life. So today the duty of patience. And our next study, the duty of prayer. We patiently pray. We have patience because we pray for it.

Please take your Bible out and read along with me. James chapter five, I will begin at verse seven, hear the perfect word of our perfect God – read.

James 5:7. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. 12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

The prayer.

Let’s go to the throne of God and seek His grace to help us in our study of His word – pray.

The definition of duty.

Before we look at the particular duty of patience let’s say a few words about the idea of duty in general.

Here is the dictionary definition of duty. Duty is a moral or legal obligation, a responsibility, a task, or an action that someone is required to perform, obligatory tasks that arise from one’s position.

May I say that the idea of duty is something objective and not something subjective. The idea is that this is some required service no matter what a person thinks or feels. The antonym of duty is choice or option.

Let me provide an example or two of duty from the Bible. God called Abraham His servant to sacrifice his son Isaac. That is an obligatory service. Abraham was required to do it. He had ‘no choice’ in the matter. If he disobeyed, he would have been faithless to God. Now we know that God graciously provided the ram instead of his son, this being shades of Christ as the grace provided substitutionary Atoner of our sins. (Gen.22:1-24, Jn.1:29, Gal.3:13)

And then of course, Christ always did His duty to His heavenly Father, and I will say to His elect Bride as well. The Father gave the Son obligatory work to perform, and Christ suffered and died doing His duty. (Jn.17:4, Jn.4:34, Jn.5:19-20)

Duty is serving God and not self. Duty is adhering to what He wills and not what we will. (Mk.14:36, Lk.22:42)

Our flesh is opposed to doing our duty to obey God.  (Mt.24:11-13, 2 Pt.3:3-4, I Tim.4:1, 2 Tim.3:1-13) But we see here that God is so good to remind us of our duty and to wean us from our selfish self. (Lk.6:46) 

The revelation of duty.

I say all of this because our passage is a duty passage.  God, in the Bible, requires us to patiently endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ. (2 Tim.1:13, 2 Tim.3:16)

Salvation by the grace of God or the free gift of God in Christ does not nullify the truth of duty. We obey God not to merit God or forgiveness with God or any other good thing. We labor to obey God because He has given us Himself in and through Christ.

The goal of patience.

Remember the subtitle of this study is, Living to Honor Christ. Living patiently thinking on Christ honors Christ.

The duty of patience.

Now let’s address the duty of patience. And this is a duty, V.7 is in the command form, second person plural. So, this is you-all must be patient.

The definition of patience.

We see the word patience used four times in our passage. The Greek word is makrothumeo. It has the idea of waiting for something with expectancy, waiting without fretting, waiting with hope, that kind of an idea.

There is also the notion of constraining oneself and forbearing with difficulty. (I Cor.13:4) So we see the idea of postponing or delaying satisfaction of certain things while going through afflictive things. (Lk.18:7) This patience is a steadfastness or constancy in bearing troubles and hardships. (Jer.15:15, Rom.2:4; 9:22, 2 Cor.6:6, Gal.5:22, Eph.4:2, Col.3:12, 1 Tim.1:16, 2 Tim.4:2, 1 Pt.3:20, 2 Pet. 3:15)

This word also is used for having patience bearing with the offenses and injuries of others. Part of this patience is to be mild or meek when others abuse you and to not seek your own vengeance but to wait on the Lord’s justice for you. So, slow to anger, slow to punish your abusers.

Our passage also uses a word related to patience and sometimes it is also translated patience, but here in my version we see it translated endurance. V.11 uses the word endurance twice.

The Greek word is hupomeno. This word has the idea or persevering in the face of hardships, or patiently enduring hard circumstances, continuing firm in the faith, refusing to run away in danger, standing one’s ground in the face of the enemy. This is what James spoke about in chapter one. (James 1:3-4, Rom.12:12)

So, Christian or Biblical patient endurance is persisting doing the revealed will of God without grumbling and by God’s grace with submission, quietness, and even with cheerfulness. The Bible says that patient endurance “is” the will of God for all His children. (Rom.2:7)

A positive duty.

I want to point something out here, this is a positive duty, a do-something Christianity. And not merely a not-do-something Christianity. You see many professing Christians think that refraining from outright sin is all that God requires of us. Do not hate your brother, for example. And so, if they do not hate their brother then they conclude they are obeying God. But God says, love your brother, a positive duty.

Beloved do not rest satisfied in not doing evil. Do positive good. Be patient. Remember on Judgment Day as we see in Matthew chapter twenty-five Jesus says well done good and faithful servants to Believers that proved their faith by positive good, a cup of cold water and so on. (Mt.25:31-46)

A negative duty.

V.9, 12. But then negatively our passage warns us, don’t be impatient.

Do not grumble.

And the impatience is seen by grumbling, which is a breaking of the tenth commandment. Ultimately impatience expresses a distrust of God and a dissatisfaction with God and His government over us. (WLC 146-148)

Do not swear.

V.12. And the command not to swear an oath is connected to the command not to grumble. The notion is do not grow so impatient with the difficulties in your life that you are tempted to take the Lord’s name in vain. In this case with the form of a sinful or rash vow.

We could easily see how this would work. You have some enemies that are making your life miserable. You are not finding your peace in Christ. You are not walking by faith in Christ. You are responding according to the flesh. And so, you give way to the temptation after provocation and you say something like, I swear to God you will not do thus and so. Or I swear to God I will do thus and so. Something like this.

I recommend that you study WCF 21.5 and WCF 22.1-7 along with the Bible proofs for a further study on oaths. But the main idea is to govern your heart.

The need for patient endurance.

Now that we have a basic definition of what God requires of us let’s try to unpack the duty of patience.

First, this call to duty presupposes the need to be patient by God’s people.

Remember how this letter opened and to whom James is inspired to write.

James 1:1. James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Believers will be hated by unbelievers.

When these people came to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they were then hated by those around them. Scattered. Exiled. Abused.

We need patience to follow Christ because we will be hated and opposed by those that do not love Christ. (Jn.15:18-27, Acts 14:22, Acts 5:40-43, 2 Tim.3:12, Rev.1:9, 7:14)

For Jews that came to believe in Christ Jesus they were put out of the synagogue. (Jn.9:22, Jn.16:1-3) And as we see with Saul before he became the apostle Paul, the unbelieving Jews would throw Christians into jail and even execute them.  (Acts 8:1, 9:1-3)

And if you were a Gentile and you came to believe in Jesus as your Sin-Bearer Savior that meant renouncing your former religion and its gods as false gods, that offered no salvation. You also would be an outcast by family and friends.

Listen to what Jesus says.

Matthew 10:16. Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 “But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 “For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

One more quote by Christ.

John 15:17. This I command you, that you love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

Beloved, as Believers in Christ we are children of light living in a fallen and sin-cursed world. And because of the enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil we need to patiently endure hardship like a faithful servant of Christ.

We must not expect uninterrupted easy and peaceful times in our pilgrimage here below. We are to consciously live as aliens among a foreign people. The unbeliever is at home in the world, and we are not. We are just passing through until we come to our true eternal home in heaven with Christ.

The Bible says that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of heaven. (Acts 14:22) Christ says in this life you will have much tribulation, but take cheer or courage, I have overcome the world (on your behalf). (Jn.16:33) Beloved, it has been granted to us by God to savingly believe in Jesus Christ. But it has also been granted to us by God to suffer for the namesake of Christ. (Phil.1:29)

All who desire to live godly (in Christ) will suffer persecution. (2 Tim.3:12)

Believers will experience common miseries.

And it is not only spiritual enemies that necessitate the need to have patient endurance, but also the common miseries of this life.

What I mean is that because of Adam’s Fall and God’s curse for Adam’s fall, the whole world is filled with thorns and thistles. We have sickness beyond number and accidents of every stripe. Everything about our constitution and all our relationships are liable to misery; our minds, bodies, souls, jobs, families, everything. (Rev.1:9, 7:14, 2 Cor.12:7-10)

But even in our common miseries we are to approach them in such a way as to bring honor to Christ.

Believers will strive after Christ.

In addition, Believers need patience because Christ calls us to pick up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him. In this life Jesus calls us to strive after Him. He speaks about the “violent” taking heaven by force. (Mt.11:11-12) Our earthly pilgrimage requires joyful endurance to live in such a way to honor Christ.

Think of how the Christian life is depicted. (Phil.3:1-14)

We need patient endurance because life in Christ on earth is a marathon race, a boxing match, a wrestling match, a spiritual battle, and often depicted as farm labor – hard work.

The provision for patient endurance.

The next obvious question is, how are we going to do this duty of patiently enduring a lifetime of hardships in a God-pleasing Christ-honoring way?

Remember Christ.

The flesh has “patience” or “endures” something out of necessity. Our flesh does not have to power to put down our enemies or to stop the hard things in our life. So, this is a kind of grudging apathy or carnal acquiescence.

But that is not what we are commanded to do. God shows us how to have patient endurance by this phrase, until the coming of the Lord. Life is hard. This is enduring hardship by faith in Christ, by faith in His word. Faith works patience. (Heb.11:1-6) Faith draws us to God. Faith enables us to enjoy the love of God for us. God’s love will enable us to endure anything for God. (Rom.8:31-37)

We endure by remembering who our God is. We endure by remembering who we are in God.

As Believers in Christ, we are spiritually united to the Godhead. (Gal.2:20) We have union and communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In Christ we have received all of the spiritual blessings Christ procured for us. Everything we need to follow Christ and to live for Him is yes and amen. (2 Cor.1:20) In Christ we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. (Phil.4:13)

This means the strength to carry out this duty is not ultimately found in us. It is ultimately found in Christ and as we seek Him by faith. (Phil.2:12-13, I Cor.15:10)

Remember the return of Christ.

V.7-8. In particular the Holy Spirit inspires James to tell us that part of the way that we are enabled to patiently endure hard times is by meditating on the return of Christ when hard times shall be no more. (Jer.29:11)

Remember the day Jesus returns is on the Day of Judgement. All men will appear before the righteous Judge Christ and give an account of themselves to Him.

In light of patiently enduring our enemies now, we can do so knowing that God will come to our defense on that Last Day. (Phil.1:6)

2 Thessalonians 1:4. therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

God is telling us that we do not have to be overly concerned about those that abuse us in this life. We do not have to take matters into our own hands. No. Just wait on the Lord. He will repay them to their face. (Dt.32:35, Rom.12:12, Heb.10:30)

V.8. See how he repeats himself and reminds us, that the Lord is near. (Rom.13:11-12, I Cor.1:8, 2 Cor.1:14, Phil.1:6-10, Phil.2:16, I Thess.5:2, 2 Thess.2:2, Heb.10:25)

Christ is near to us spatially. He is in us. And we are in Him. Christ is near to us temporally. In the blink of an eye, we will be in His immediate presence.

Remember the farmer.

V.7. Then God condescends to give us practical examples to follow in order to help us live with patient enduring during the hard times of life. God tells us to look to the farmer.

The idea here is the Christian life is hard work, the tilling of the field, and the sowing of the seed. And then waiting on the Lord to send the rains. (Dt.11:14, Jer.5:24, Hos.6:3, Joel 2:23) And then waiting hopefully for God to cause the growth. That is the hopeful patient persevering that we need as Christians.

We are so immersed in an “instant” everything culture. We do not want to delay gratification on anything. No need to diet and exercise. No. Pop a pill. Have a surgery. Voila! Great shape. Well, we apply this same wrong thinking to our life in Christ. Everything has to be quicky-quick. Quicky-quick sermons. Quicky-quick devotional reading. Quicky-quick prayers. And we will have instant results. No. God has shown us a more excellent way, persist in obeying Him.

Remember the OT prophets.

V.10 James then gives us the prophets as examples of patient endurance or hopeful, steadfast, perseverance in the face of great trials and oppositions.

And this example to me is a bit sad. God called these men to proclaim God’s will of salvation to the people of God. And to a great extent the people of God hated and persecuted the heralds of God. To be an OT prophet was not quite like been a modern pastor over some mega church. No. Not at all. (I Pt.1:10-13)

Think of the ministry of Isaiah, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah. Almost universally hated and abused. (Isa.6:1-13, Isa.20:3-4, Micah 1:8, Jer.1:1-19, Ezek.3:1-27, Mt.27:36, Lk.13:34)

And the same is true for the NT apostles. They preached Christ in an anti-Christ world. And they were killed for it, all I believe except the apostle John. He was imprisoned on the isle of Patmos for speaking of Savior Christ.

And what did these men do? They kept right on following Christ and sowing the seed of the gospel, praying that the Lord of the harvest would save souls. And He did. In His own time. You see these servants of God left the results to God. They lived by faith in the Son of God, no matter what.

God is encouraging us to suffer hard things now by looking to the future promised good things.  (Mt.5:10-12, see also James 1:3, 12)

Remember Job.

V.11. Then James uses Job as our next example. It is proverbial to say, that fellow “has the patience of Job”. Job lost all his possessions, then he lost his children, and then he lost his health.

Yet for all of this he refused to do what his wife told him to do, forsake his integrity or his faith in following the Lord, to curse God and then die! (Job 2:9) Job endured all his hardships while (and by) holding on to God by faith. Job reasoned even if God killed him, he would still hold on to God. (Job 13:15) Job was going to wait until his “change” to come in the Eternal Estate when he would see His Redeemer. (Job 14:14, Job 19:25-27)

The fruits of patient endurance.

V.11. God says that those people that patiently endure hard things for Christ’s sake that they are blessed and that they are recipients of God’s compassion and mercy.

This is completely contrary to how the natural man thinks. He thinks health and wealth and ease and pleasure and friendship with the world is what it means to be blessed. (Ps.73:1-28) But God’s ways are not man’s ways. (Isa.55:8-9)

Let’s talk about some of the good fruit that patient endurance produces in the life of a Believer.

It proves our nature.

Think of the prophets. Their opposition by the unbelievers proved that they were faithful prophets and true Believers themselves. Hardships prove our true spiritual nature. Do we profess Christ and stay with Christ in the face of hard things?

It purifies our faith.

Also, when we hopefully persevere in the face of pain and suffering and we will not let go of Christ our Redeemer, this exercises, purifies, and strengthens our faith in Him.

These things provide us the opportunity to walk by faith in God and not by sight.

It weans us from this world and sin.

Patiently enduing in the face of hardships and suffering weans us from the love of sin and from friendship with this fallen world; it prepares us for Glory.

It exercises our gifts.

It is part of patient endurance to pray for our enemies. Having enemies provides us the opportunity to exercise our spiritual gifts and thus builds our graces. Though our enemies do not intend for our good, spiritual, or otherwise. But God does.

Think of Christ on the cross. He endured it all, looking for His reward. And so, He prayed for His persecutors, Father forgive them, they know not what they do. (Lk.23:34-35)

This allows us to overcome evil with good. (Rom.12:17-21)

It brings us to Christ.

Beloved, just living in a fallen world can be so frustrating. Certainly, following Christ in an anti-Christ world can be so hard. Stay in God’s word. Pray constantly. Pray to obey God’s word. Be patient. Think often on Christ. Think of His return. Very soon you will be with Him.

Amen

Study Questions.

  1. Define duty. How does duty differ from a choice or an option? How did Christ do His duty to His Father? Does God in the Bible require us to perform duties to God and Man? Describe. Is duty-doing popular among modern Christians? Why? Why not? (Gen.22:1-24, Jn.1:29, Gal.3:13, Jn.17:4, Jn.4:34, Jn.5:19-20, Lk.22:42, Exod.20:1-17, Mt.24:11-13, 2 Pt.3:3-4, I Tim.4:1, 2 Tim.3:1-13, WSC 3)
  1. What is the goal of obeying God and doing our duty to be patient in this life? How does being patient as a Believer help you to fulfill the subtitle of this study? (James 5:7-12, Phil.1:27, Col.1:10, Eph.4:1, WSC 1)
  1. Define biblical patience and endurance. Describe the nature of Christian patience with examples from Scripture. What lessons do we learn here? (Jer.15:15, Rom.2:4; 9:22, 2 Cor.6:6, Gal.5:22, Eph.4:2, Col.3:12, 1 Tim.1:16, 2 Tim.4:2, 1 Pt.3:20, 2 Pet. 3:15, James 1:3-4, Rom.12:12)
  1. How does grumbling reveal a lack of patience? How does grumbling reveal a lack of faith in God and love for God? How is grumbling a breaking of the tenth commandment? In the context of our passage how does taking an improper or unlawful oath reveal a lack of patience? (James 5:7-12, Exod.20:17, WLC 146-148, WCF 21.5 and WCF 22.1-7)
  1. Why do we as Believers in Christ need to have patience and endurance in this life? Hint: Where do we live? Among whom do we live? With what difficulties do we live? How does Scripture depict the Christian life? (James 1:1-4, Jn.15:18-27, Acts 14:22, Acts 5:40-43, 2 Tim.3:12, Rev.1:9, 7:14, Mt.10:16-21, Rev.1:9, 7:14, 2 Cor.12:7-10)
  1. Where do we get our ability to persevere and endure? What lessons do we learn by this? (James 5:7-121, I Cor.4:7, Rom.8:32, Gal.5:22-23, Heb.11:1-40)
  1. Why does meditating on Christ and the immanent return of Christ improve your patience and endurance in this life? Is Christ ‘near’? How? (James 5:7-12, Phil.1:6, 2 Thess.1:4-8, Dt.32:35, Rom.12:12, Heb.10:30, Rom.13:11-12, I Cor.1:8, 2 Cor.1:14, Phil.1:6-10, Phil.2:16, I Thess.5:2, 2 Thess.2:2, Heb.10:25, Mt.5:10-12, James 1:3, 12, Job 1, 2, Job 13:15, Job 14:14, Job 19:25-27)
  1. How is enduring all things for the sake of Christ contrary to the way the Natural Man thinks? What do we learn about God and Man by this? (Ps.73:1-28, Isa.55:8-9)
  1. What are some benefits or fruits of Christian patience? How does patience improve our faith and exercise our gifts? (James 1:1-4, Heb.6:12, Col.1:11-14, I Tim.1:16, 2 Tim.3:10-12, I Pt.2:20-21, Lk.23:34-35, Rom.12:17-21)
  1. How are patience and prayer related? What lessons do we learn by this? When will we no longer need patience? What lessons do we learn by this?
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Conduct in Public Worship and Gender Roles https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/06/22/i-timothy-28-15-conduct-in-public-worship-and-gender-roles/ Tue, 22 Jun 2021 12:39:39 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3273 We have been created and we have been renewed in Christ to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

I would like to speak on God’s directives to us as His children regarding His worship and in particular His gender particular directives and what that means for us.

I would like to look at two passages of holy Scripture.

I Timothy 2:8. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (see Gen.3:1-16)

The second passage comes from First Corinthians.

I Corinthians 14:33. for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 36 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? 37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. 38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

Hearing these things in our modern (apostate) times how we need to pray for hearts submissive to the word of God.

God wants to be worshiped.

We mentioned last week when we looked at I Timothy 2:1-7 that the context there (as well as our morning passage) is public worship. God wants His people to gather on the Lord’s Day to worship Him as a gathered together people. On this day of religious rest, we hear the word of God preached, we praise Him with Biblical psalms and hymns, and we pray to Him often in the language He gives us in His word. (WCF 21.5)

The spiritual man receives.

To the true Believer this is our heart’s delight. We live for God. We die for God. (Rom.14:8-13, Phil.1:21-25, 2 Cor.5:6-8)) We love God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Adoring, worshiping, serving, loving God is our life. (Gal.2:20)

By God’s gracious gift of faith, we are new creatures in Christ. (Eph.2:1-9, 2 Cor.5:17, Jn.1:11-13) And it is His blessed word that begets us and continues to sanctify us, of course effectually applied by God the Holy Spirit. (Jas.1:18, I Pt.1:23-25, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Jn.17:17, Rom.10:1-17)

The word of God is what we live on. And not the word of man. What God says in His word He approves of – we approve of. What God says in His word He disapproves of – we disapprove of. Or we should. And we repent when we don’t.

The natural man rejects.

Of course, this is the exact opposite to those without saving faith in Christ. To the unbeliever this all appears to be silly and a colossal waste of time and effort and even money (as Believers do give gifts to support the ministry of Christ’s church).

The natural man, the person still dead in their sins and their trespasses is at enmity with God, worshiping the true and the living God is the last thing they want to do. (Rom.8:7, Eph.2:1-3, I Cor.2:12-16) In fact, the unbeliever shows their spiritual hatred of God by approving of what God disapproves and disapproving of what God approves. (Isa.5:20-21, Isa.55:8-9)

We need look no further than our own anti-God culture.

Well, this will have ramifications to what we are looking at in our text, God’s instructions for men and women in the corporate assembly.

I will say at the outset that the natural man does not agree with what God says about the differences of the sexes and their different functions and roles as dictated by Him and this applies to natural unconverted man – even in the church – even in the pulpit.

Again, look at our current culture not only on God but on God’s view of the sexes. We are in rebellion against the holy Creator.

But we remind ourselves of what we profess to believe. We believe that the word of God is the only rule for our doctrine and our practice. (2 Tim.3:14-17, WCF 1.10)

God wants to be prayed to in worship.

Now with that said let’s get to the business of prayer in corporate worship. Here in our morning passage with V.8. God specifically speaks to the posture of men in prayer. But let me back up a little bit to show that the women are not being excluded from praying in corporate worship.

Men and women pray in worship.

Paul opens this chapter implying that all Christians are to pray for all kinds of people.

I Timothy 2:1. First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Again, I believe that primarily here in our passage the apostle Paul is speaking about corporate worship. And this certain also applies to private and family worship. The Bible records Hanna’s prayer and Mary’s prayer. The Bible tells us that Simeon and Anna each prayed to see the Lord’s Christ. (Lk.2:25-38) God in Christ saves men and women. That means men and women are in a spiritual union and communion with the Triune God. Included in this is the privilege of speaking with the Lord. (Gal.3:22-29)

Men and women pray together in corporate worship.

Luke the doctor missionary friend of the apostle Paul wrote this.

Acts 1:13. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (see praying for Peter’s release from prison – Acts 12:5-17)

The male disciples of Jesus and the female disciples of Jesus were praying together as they gathered together. Here this was on the day that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the NT church in fulfillment of Joel chapter two, God pouring our His Spirit on his male-servants and maid-servants.  (Joel 2:27-29)

Men and women pray together in corporate worship with gender distinct directives.

Next Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells the men and the women how he wants them to pray in corporate worship. The men are to pray without a head covering. And the women are to pray with a head covering. The head covering is a sign of a woman’s submission to her husband’s guidance, which is the essence of what Paul tells Timothy in our passage.

I Corinthians 11:3. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.

It is not my purpose here to do a study on head covering. I just introduce this for us to show that men and women both do pray in corporate worship. And that God does give some general gender specific directions. I will touch on this as we go along.

Ontologically.

Let me stress something here. Ontologically that is to say of essence men and women are equal before God. In Christ they are equally loved and equally forgiven and equally blessed.

Economically.

But then economically and I mean roles or functions or stations or calling God does give men and women different functions. This is not good versus bad, it is just different according to God’s purpose. Think of creation. Adam is the head or the leader. Eve is his helper. Both are servants to each other as they serve the Lord.

The men – the place of prayer in worship.

Now let’s consider the directives to the men. Paul says that he wants the men to pray in every place. Now the “every place” can be every place where the corporate worship of the Triune God is held.

And remember Paul exists in the same NT epoch that we do. This is worship directives for those that worship in the Last Days. The Last Days refer to the fullness of time now that Christ has come and died and rose and ascended. (Gal.4:4) The only thing we wait for is His return.

With the incarnation of Christ, the old ceremonial law that depicted Christ and His work have gone away. Part of that means that Believers no longer have to pray towards the temple in Jerusalem as God dictated under the old administration of the covenant of grace. (Dan.6:10, I Kg.8:29, Ps.5:7, WCF 7.5, 7.6)

Now in these Last Days we live under a newer and better administration of the covenant of grace, which is the gospel, and so there is no longer any one particular spot of geography that is holier than another. We can pray in every place. And wherever two or three Believers are gathered together for worship – God is there in a special way. (Mt.18:20)

And the “every place” can also be applied to men praying in private or with their families. But it seems to me that the specific directive is for corporate Sabbath worship as Paul speaks about praying with the absence of wrath or dissension which best fits the context of corporate worship.

The men – the posture of prayer in worship.

Let’s look at God’s directive for men to pray while lifting holy hands.

As we begin here, I recommend to your reading John Calvin’s sermons on this passage, not his commentary but his sermon. He says the principle that applies to the men applies to the women and the principle that applies to the women applies to the men.

God gives us one physical posture in prayer. This directive is not meant to be complete or exhaustive on God’s directives regarding prayer.

The Bible does record a number of different physical postures for prayer. We read of God’s people standing to pray and kneeling to prayer. We read of the children of God bowing down to pray and even of laying on their faces to pray.

Our Lord Jesus Himself stood to pray at the time He raised Lazarus from the dead. Again, He knelt to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He ended up throwing Himself on His face to pray such was the intensity of His prayers to His heavenly Father. (Mt.26:39) And we remember that Christ prayed while nailed to the Cross.

I do not want to make too much of the actual lifting up of our hands. Calvin says the same thing.

Principle – we must pray with a pure heart.

We acknowledge this outward form as Biblical. But if we focus on the form and forget the spiritual and inward truths the form is meant to teach us then we commit the sin of the Pharisee. We clean the outside of the cup but neglect the inward soul.

It is possible to stand on the corner with our hands over our heads and move our lips like we are praying to God when in fact we are putting on a “show” for the praise of men. (Mt.6:1-15, Lk.18:9-14)

God says a broken spirit and a contrite heart God will not despise. (Ps.51, Ps.32)

The Bible does say, in both the OT and the NT, that this is a proper posture in prayer.

Let me read a few verses for us.

Leviticus 9:22. Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings.

In this way the posture has a priestly idea to it. And in the NT epoch the Bible does speak of all Christians being a royal nation of “priests”, meaning that in and through Jesus Christ our High Priest we can offer up the sacrifice of praise to God. (Exod.19:11, Rev.1:6, 5:10, 20:6, I Pt.2:5-9)

I Kings 8:22. Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. (I Kg.8:54, Neh.8:6, Dt.32:40, Ezra 9:5)

This idea of this particular posture in prayer is that we are lifting up our hearts and voices to God in heaven. That is the idea of the uplifted hands. Oh God in heaven I lift up my praises and petitions to You, to You who are high and lifted up. The psalms are full of this idea of praying with uplifted hand denoting an uplifted heart to God.

Psalm 63:4. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. (Ps.119:48, Ps.28:2, Ps.141:2, Ps.134:2)

Listen to God’s directive in prayer to all His children as they are experiencing the destruction of Jerusalem and then the pains of Babylonian captivity.

Lamentations 2:19. Arise, cry aloud in the night, At the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones who are faint because of hunger At the head of every street.”

Lamentations 3:41. We lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven.

You see here in Lamentations God tells all the people to pray lifting up their hands expressive of lifting up their hearts and prayers to God.

Principle – part of praying with a pure heart is freedom from rancor.

Beloved, the main truth of I Timothy 2:8 is not on the men, or the males only being directed to lift up their hands. That is not it at all. The main idea is that the men are not to pray in worship while they are fighting with other Christians or anyone for that matter. The stress is on the “holy” not on the hands.

You see the gender specific directives are meant to correct gender specific or gender inclined sins. As we will see God’s tells the ladies do not worry what you look like while they pray in worship. God wants a pure heart not a fancy hairdo.

Like that God tells the men that God wants them to pray from a pure heart out of love to God and love to others. God does not want you speaking with Him while you are at war with your neighbor. I am not saying that woman cannot fight or be at odds with other women of course they can. Paul writes in Philippians chapter four trying to get Euodia and Syntyche to get along. (Phil.4:2)

You see the idea in prayer, for men and women is really the same, it is heart purity.

If I could bring in another scripture verse to support our conclusion

I Peter 3:5. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. 7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. 8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

If I could just speak to the men here. You see God through Peter tells the men be kind to your wife, don’t fight with your wife, because when you are quarreling with her your prayers to God will be hindered.

It is almost impossible to worship God and speak to God while your heart is in turmoil over some other person.

Have you every had someone speaking to you while they are looking at someone else? Isn’t it kind of offensive? Well God wants us to look at Him with our heart when we are speaking to Him and not look at men that are upsetting us.

The women – the clothing in (corporate) prayer in worship.

Now let’s look at God’s directives to the ladies in corporate worship.

Principle – all outward adornments are not forbidden.

Let me say this at the outset that I do not believe this one verse can be made to support the idea that it is always wrong or always against the Bible which means always sin for women to do their hair or to wear a nice dress or to put a necklace on or anything like that.

Again, as I see the people that focus on the “height of the hands” or the outward form for the men and miss the holiness of heart erring so too I think that people that focus on the ‘braided hair” and not on the humble heart they also miss the mark.

Principle – inward (heart) adornment is commanded.

God is not against a woman wearing jewelry. God is against the woman giving her heart to the jewelry. 

Example of an earthly wife receiving outward adornments.

Genesis 24:52. When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the LORD. 53 The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.

Example of the heavenly wife receiving outward (and inward) adornments.

God Himself is said to adorn His Bride the church with beautiful accessories to further beautify the wife that He makes beautiful with His imputed and infused holiness. (Isa.61:120, Exod.35:22, Num.31:50, Song of Solomon 1:10-11, Exod.3:22, Gen.24:53)

Ezekiel 16:9. Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 “I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 “I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. 12 “I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 “Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.

Beloved the main idea is not the clothes, it is the heart, it is holiness.

I Timothy 2:9. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

I Peter 3:1. In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external– braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

You see even though the directives may appear different for the men and the women, the essence is the same for the men and the women. When you pray don’t be fighting with other people – men. When you pray don’t be trying to impress other people – ladies. When you pray give God your whole heart. A holy life pleases God not the (outward) perfect physical posture in prayer. A holy life pleases God not the (outward) perfect dress.

The women – the outward clothing in corporate prayer in worship.

Let’s say a few words more on God’s directives for the ladies.

Principle – soulish concern does not nullify bodily concern.

The idea is to be less concerned with the outward appearance and more concerned with the heart and with the life. Again, as I have said, God is not directing ladies to be slovenly or take no concern for their bodies or their appearance. I don’t think that is in keeping with a proper self-love or even a proper concern for one’s witness of Christ. We are to do everything we do for the glory of God. (I Cor.10:31, Col.3:23-24) We are labor to give to God our best effort in all things. Being disheveled and unkempt is contrary to this.

Even the proverbial Proverbs 31 woman is extolled in God’s word for her diligence even in these lesser things.

Proverbs 31:21. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

But God is telling the women (and also the men) that the true beauty of a woman is found in her relationship with God in Christ.

Principle – God prohibits extravagant dress and immodest dress.

Now our text does say that the Christian woman ought to come into God’s worship with modest and discreet apparel.

There are two sins that God warns against.

Do not dress to impress.

One, wearing extravagant clothing. Dressing for worship like you are going to a fashion show. This is directly spoken to the ladies, but it has application for the men. Calvin says that when he worships among the rich that he cannot tell the men from the women! Meaning the men are dressing like a fashion show as well.

You see the idea is if we dress to impress other people then we have not come to worship God, but rather to puff up self.

Do not dress to tempt.

The second sin is the sin of dressing provocatively.

I do not want to be indelicate. But we do live in a very unclean or immoral society. And the low standard for morality in our culture does affect Believers in the culture.

The idea is that God does not want His daughters to dress like the daughters of the world, in an unclean or an immoral way. God does not want women to come to worship dressed in a provocative or seductive fashion.

Rather the outward clothing should be a reflection of the inward heart. You see it is not good clothes that pleases God it is good works done from a good heart. And our heart is only “good” when it is cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Application.

By way of application, and I will be careful here. I suppose the church can err in two main ways here.

Too lax.

Christians can be inordinately lax here and just accept the clothing that the culture accepts. Of course, this is wrong. In part this is what Paul is writing about.

And many within our conservative camp would respond with a resounding, no! or never!

But then if we reject the clothing of the culture, do we also reject the entertainment of the culture? Are we entertained with immorality? Will our computer viewing history prove that our “indignation” with “immodest” women at church is a lie? (Rom.2:1-6)

Do we reject the philosophy of the culture on other things such as marriage? Remember calling God as our witness? Till death do us part? Perhaps we don’t so loudly respond here.

Principle – be on guard against Pharisaism, the sin of hypocrisy.

I am saying all of this beloved to keep us from feeding the little Pharisee that beats within our corrupt flesh. Oh beloved, our flesh loves to find sin in others and none in ourselves. That is the Pharisee. Christ says our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisee in order to go to heaven. (Mt.5:20, Mt.7:1-7) Pharisaical prayers are not prayers. They are prayers that tear down our fellow man and worship self. God rejects this. Though the flesh loves it.

Too strict.

The other extreme is that we can be inordinately strict or precise, more precise than the Bible. We take this verse and then make up man-made “church rules” women must only wear dresses or skirts and they must never wear pants at church. The idea is that a woman in a dress cannot appear, how shall we say, wrongly attractive. Whereas, if she wears pants, then she sinfully entices some poor unsuspecting fellow.

Principle – be on guard against Pharisaism, the sin of legalism.

Beloved beware of the religious traditions of men they nullify the word the Lord, they seek to bind the consciences of men where God has set them free, they bind up extra-biblical burdens where God has gifted liberty. Oh, I know how this goes! People in favor of their man-made so-called “moral” hobby horse are very intense. So were the Pharisees beloved. (Mk.7:1-11)

The women – the inward submission in corporate prayer in worship.

V.11-15. The actual teaching here is quite basic. It is in keeping with God’s directives to the ladies. Again, I see this as specifically speaking to corporate worship in the Lord’s Day. This is Martin Luther’s view as well. So, not specifically family worship or like venues. Not that family worship should not be orderly. Of course, it should.

Principle – there are venues where the women are permitted and required to instruct religiously.

But Luther again says that the wife has the right even the command to speak in her home – in religious worship and even in the religious instruction of her children and her children’s children.

Likewise, the Bible does tell the older women to teach the younger women how to be godly wives and mothers. (Titus 2:3-4)

Luther says this humorous statement, (rather than argue against the doctrine preached at church) if a lady wishes to be wise let her argue with her husband at home. (Reformation Commentary on Scripture, vol.12, p. 147-148)

Principle – God requires proper order and peaceableness in corporate worship.

But that is the idea here. God wants the men to be peaceable in worship, which is to say teachable in worship. And God also wants the ladies to teachable in worship.

The women – God requires their silence in corporate worship.

God is informing His daughters that He does not want them to hold the position of preacher-teacher in the church. They are not to speak-teach in the corporate assembly.

What this does not mean.

This not “speaking” is not to forbid them from praying and praising or even from asking questions in a Sunday School lesson.

God in the OT actually made use of lady singers in His worship. We think of Miriam and the women singing praises to God. (2 Chron.35:25, Eccl.2:8, Neh.7:67, I Sam.18:6)

What this does mean.

The prohibition here is on teaching in the corporate worship. The prohibition is of assuming teaching authority in the church rather than receive God’s role for her.

And while I know that this can chafe the flesh, but think of this, not all men should teach in the corporate assembly. (James 3:1-3) It is only a tiny fraction of men that God calls and gifts to be His heralds and teachers in His church.

Common objections to God’s objection to women preachers.

Here let’s address some common objections to the divine prohibition against women elders or pastor-teachers.

Some women prophesied.

Some point out that the NT does speak about women “prophesying” in corporate worship.

I Corinthians 11:3. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.

Extraordinary prophesying before the close of canon is not normative for preaching subsequent the close of canon.

The idea of women that “prophesy”. The Reformers held that in this instance before the close of canon that this prophesying was not the equivalent of preaching-teaching by the pastor.

They held that extraordinary inspiration before the close of canon does not provide us with the normative practices upon the close of canon. In other words, the extraordinary examples of the Judge Deborah (Jg.4:1-24) or of the prophetess Huldah (2 Kg.22:14-20, 2 Chron.34:22-28) or of the prophetess virgin daughters of the evangelist Philip in the NT (Acts 21:8-9) are not to be considered normative for the NT church.

In fact, in the case of Deborah I would argue that having a woman as the leader of Israel was a form of judgment against Israel. Their men were so pitiful that God gave a woman as their leader. God says the same thing in the book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 3:1. For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah Both supply and support, the whole supply of bread And the whole supply of water; 2 The mighty man and the warrior, The judge and the prophet, The diviner and the elder, 3 The captain of fifty and the honorable man, The counselor and the expert artisan, And the skillful enchanter. 4 And I will make mere lads their princes, And capricious children will rule over them, 5 And the people will be oppressed, Each one by another, and each one by his neighbor; The youth will storm against the elder And the inferior against the honorable.

Isaiah 3:12. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths. 13 The LORD arises to contend, And stands to judge the people.

Cultural or creational?

You see the whole “debate” among professing Christians that profess that the Bible is their rule book on the subject of women pastor-preachers is that Paul’s prohibition here is cultural and not creational.

Flesh obeys the word of man (or woman).

Those that promote lady ministers say Paul was against lady preachers in his day because it was so contrary to the male patriarchy of his culture and society. And thus, it would cause too much turmoil. Or something like this.

Or some say, oh Paul is only against women teaching wrong doctrine in their pastoral ministry. He is not against them teaching the truth as a preacher.

Faith obeys the word of God.

Beloved, the Bible is so clear on this. Does this have a cultural context? Of course, every word on every page of the Bible has a cultural context.

But the reason that the Holy Spirit, who is God, gives for this directive IS creational and even touching on the fall. The reason women lust to be pastors is just a species of the gender specific curse that God pronounced on women after the Fall. Women will have pain in childbirth, and they will desire to rule over their husbands. (Gen.3:16) That is the answer. Pure and simple.

The flesh wants what God forbids. (Rom.7:7, I Cor.14:34-35)

Dress it up any way that you like. We cannot worship God while we are at the same time disobeying God.

You see Beloved by this passage God the Holy Spirit is calling us to be mindful and thinking and purposeful and holy when we come into God’s worship. When we come into God’s house on the Lord’s Day – why have we come? Do we come to adore God? How have we come? Is it with an outward show? Or is our heart lifted up to the Lord?

Oh Beloved, men are all concerned with the outward. God looks at the heart. God wants your heart in worship. All of this is meant to direct us to Christ and the holiness and the blessings we have in Christ to the end that we would be conformed into the image of Christ – Who is The Perfect Worshiper.

Amen

 

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JAMES 5:1-6. Study 20. The Denunciation of the Wealthy Unbeliever https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/06/21/james-51-6-study-20-the-denunciation-of-the-wealthy-unbeliever/ Mon, 21 Jun 2021 18:15:46 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3263

The greeting.

Peace to you Beloved in the Name of Christ. 

The Scripture.

Today we are continuing with our study in the book of James. We are in chapter five which is the final chapter. I think maybe one or two more studies after today’s study. This is study number twenty. Please open God’s Word to James chapter five. I will read from James 5:1-6, hear the holy and perfect word of the true and living God – read.

James 5:1. Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted, and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Before we pray, I recommend for your study Psalm 73 the psalm of Asaph. He speaks to what James speaks to as well.

The prayer.

Let me read for us a portion of a prayer from a Reformed liturgy. It is known as a “prayer of illumination”. We want God to illuminate (to shed light) upon our understanding in the study of His Word. Here it is. May we pray in light of these truths.

Guide us, O Lord, by your Word and Holy Spirit, that in your light we may see light, in your truth find freedom, and in your will discover peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Please pray.  

The doctrine.

What we have in our passage today is the denunciation of the wealthy unbeliever. (Isa.6:10)

 The definition.

Let me give the definition of the word denunciate.

The denunciation.

To denunciate or to denounce a person means to announce or to report publicly the evil or the sin of another and also to judge against it. Our case here is not in a personal way or informal way. This is not an offended person publicly criticizing their so-called offender.

This idea of denouncing is a formal or an official or a legal announcement of wrongdoing by God or by God’s herald. This is God’s public condemnation of these sinners and their sin. This is a precursor of the final denunciation of all unbelieving sinners at the Day of Judgment.

The illustration.

Before we proceed let me give us one example that Christ gives us to illustrate the denunciation of wealth-loving unbelievers.

You remember one day when Christ was out preaching the Good News of salvation found in Him, He being the atoning Lamb of God that takes away sins, in that very occasion of speaking about salvation, reconciliation with Holy God, and everlasting life with God in glory that a man in the crowd said, Master tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me!

Oh, how telling. How this reveals the true nature of man. (Rom.3:9-18) We are so in love with self and this world that apart from saving grace we have no interest in God, or Christ, or salvation, or heaven. Imagine being in the immediate presence of God-in-the-flesh and the only thing that you are thinking about is money! Stunning.

Christ then told a parable to denounce rich and want-to-be rich unbelievers.

Christ told a story about a man that had a super abundance of the world’s goods but was poor towards God. (Lk.12:13-23, see also Luke 16:19-31, Lk.14:16-24, Lk.17:26-30)

One night while the man was imagining within himself all the good days ahead of him with all his good things that God said to that rich unbeliever, you fool this night your soul is demanded of you! What terrifying words. What would a man give in exchange for his eternal soul? (Mt.16:26) Many people worship a few pieces of silver and turn their backs on Christ. It is foolish to worship mammon or wealth and hate God in Christ. Listen to the psalmist.

Psalm 62:9. Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath. 10 Do not trust in oppression And do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

Oh, beloved our true and eternal life does not consists in an abundance of things. It consists in a reconciled life with God. (Lk.12:15, I Tim.6:19, Gal.3:1-14)

Well, that is what we are going to consider here from our passage. 

The rich.

Let’s determine who the rich are here in our passage. This is not the first time that James has written about rich people. 

The rich Believer.

Back in James 2:1-4 James introduces the two classes of the rich and the poor.

In that instance we were told that rich people, presumably Believers, were coming into corporate worship on the Lord’s Day and they were given the best seats in the church. Professing Believers were sinfully smitten with the wealth and the position of their fellow rich Believers.

Here as I say I believe these rich people are professing Christians going to church. Money and material wealth are not sinful in themselves. Inanimate objects cannot be sinful. Sin is an ethical idea. Only angels and human are ethical or moral creatures governed by the moral law of God. At least people are governed by God’s law, perhaps God governs angels differently. I am not certain.

It is the love or the idolatry of money that makes money or wealth sinful. (I Tim.6:10, Eccl.5:10, 2 Tim.3:2, Lk.16:14, 2 Pt.2:15, Heb.13:5, I Tim.3:3)

So, how we as responsible moral agents respond to wealth is what makes the difference before God. Included in this is how we use the wealth. But we will get to that further in our study.

But first let’s consider some reasons we can conclude that wealth in itself is not sinful to possess. God creates wealth. God gives wealth. (I Chron.29:12-16, I Sam.2:7, Ps.112:3, Eccl.5:19, 6:2)

Deuteronomy 8:18. But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

Some of God’s eminent saints have been wealthy, such as Job and Abraham and David. (Job 1:3, 42:7-17, Gen.13:1-6) The man who buried the body of our Lord Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, appears to have been wealthy. (Mt.27:57-60, Mk.15:43-45, Lk.23:50-53, Jn.19:38-42, Isa.53:9)

Also, for us as modern American Christians we would do well to remember that even if we are not considered “rich” in relationship to our fellow Americans that we very much would be considered rich in relationship to a great many other people. How many people in India or China or Africa would consider the life of an “average” American to be wealth beyond imagination?

The rich unbeliever.

Now let’s move from speaking of Believers with wealth to speaking about the rich unbeliever.

As I say this, there are two kinds of unbelieving rich people.

The non-Christian unbeliever.

There are the unbelieving rich that are outside of the church. These unbelievers consciously reject Jesus as the Christ, and they verbally profess themselves to be Christ-rejecters.

The (professing) “Christian” unbeliever.

Then, there are the (rich) unbelievers within the visible church. These unbelievers profess themselves to be Believers in Christ but by their deeds they prove they have no true faith and life in Christ. These are the dry and dead branches that are formally connected to Christ and His church by water baptism and confession, but they are not spiritually and savingly united to Christ by Spirit-wrought faith in Christ.

Think of Judas. He was a professing disciple of Jesus. He was a hand-picked apostle of Jesus, a minister in the church we might say. But for all these externals, Judas loved wealth and hated Christ. For thirty pieces of silver, he sold Christ to be murdered. Such is the horrible sin of wealth-worship. (Mt.26:14-16, Zech.11:12-13)

Jesus says that you will know true Believers by their fruits. (Mt.7:16-27) Worshiping wealth is a deed of the flesh and not a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal.5:16-26) Worshiping wealth evidences no saving faith in Christ and or a dead “faith” in Christ, which is the same thing. (James 2:14-26)

Beloved, let us be convinced that we cannot serve God and Mammon. Only one can have our heart. (Mt.6:24-34)

Also, in James chapter two James says that the rich were taking the poor Believers to court and abusing them. Here is that passage.

James 2:5. Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

I cannot dogmatically say that these abusive rich people in chapter two were unbelievers. My sense is that they were, especially because James says they blaspheme the “fair name” by which the poor Christians were called, namely disciples of Christ.

But you do not have to be a Christian and or a member of a Christian church very long before you will learn experimentally that Christians can and do hurt other Christians sometimes worse than unbelievers. Christians sometimes take other Christians to court. (I Cor.6:1-11, Mt.18:15-17) Sad but true. May God have mercy. May we repent of our un-Christlike behavior.

Now back to chapter five, here also James is speaking about the rich unbeliever.

James 5:1. Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

These people are certainly unbelievers because he tells us that they are in danger of damnation on Judgment Day. (WCF 32, 33) That brings us to our next point.

The arraignment of the rich unbeliever.

What we have here is the arraignment (formal reading of a criminal charge) of the rich to come before God in a trial.

God will call.

James says, “come now you rich”. James has used this language earlier in his epistle. (James 4:13)

God is calling them away from their sinful and selfish pursuits and their idolatry of their wealth to stop what they are doing and to be confronted with the word of God against them. The sinner thinks that life will always go on as it does. (2 Pt.3:3-4) They do not stop and think one day God will call them. And when God calls them, they must, and they will go. (Acts 17:24-32, Job 1:6-8, Lk.12:20, Eccl.12:7)

You see unbelievers are unbelievers. (Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:14-16) They do not believe the God of the Bible is God. Oh, by natural revelation they know that He exists. (Heb.11:6) But in their unbelief and sin they deny that He is, and they corrupt what they know about Him. (Rom.1:18-32) Unbelievers live as if the God of the Bible was not God and having all the attributes the Bible says He does. (WCF 2.1-3)

The sinner will come.

We learn (and they should learn) that God is and He knows all and He knows all sins committed against Him and He is holy and He hates and judges all sin. And that in the blink of an eye all unbelievers will hear a call to cease from their sin and present themselves before God to give an account of themselves before God. How terrifying. (Rom.14:12, Mt.12:36-37, Rev.20:12, Mt.25:14-30)

Oh, Beloved how silly to think that transient grass will remain forever. (Jas.1:10, I Pt.1:24, Ps.103:15-16, Ps.90:5-6, Isa.37:27, Isa.40:6-7, Isa.51:12)

As I said earlier this is shades of the final judgement. 

The preacher must preach.

God through His apostle calls sinners “sinners”. God has His herald use hard or harsh language. Beloved, while I think it would be wrong for a minister-pastor to regularly thunder from the pulpit and be inordinately hard.

I also think it is equally wrong for the pew to demand that the minister only preach peace-peace sermons and never to denounce sin in the terms that God uses. (Ezek.13:10, Jer.30:19-24, Mt.7:13-14)

Beloved it is not loving to God or to man to not tell a sinner that he or she is a sinner while there is still time to find salvation in Christ. Peace-peace sermons to stubborn sinners is a positive evil. In a way it seals their damnation.

Many preachers are mute watchdogs. They are useless to God and to man. (Isa.56:10-11, Ezek.3:17-19, 33:1-33, Isa.62:6)

Woe to such heralds that give in to the unfaithful wishes of any man or woman. This is the fear of man trying to control the word of God. Pray that God’s heralds remain faithful to preach God’s law and Gospel. (2 Tim.4:1-5, Prov.29:25, Dt.1:17, I Sam.15:24, Isa.51:12, Jn.7:13, Lk.12:4) Remember John the Baptist? (Mt.3:7, Lk.3:7) Christ commended his preaching. (Mt.11:7-15) Let’s pray for such preachers. (Eph.6:18-20)

The law thunders against sin.

In our modern day even in conservative Bible believing churches is it not considered altogether polite to call those that break the moral law of God law-breakers or sinners. (I Jn.3:4, Rom.7:7-25, Gal.3:19-26)

The law thunders against the sin of greed.

And if we do, we often reserve our denunciation for sexual sins and not sins dealing with material wealth.

Beloved if I could use the language of the women singers, sexual immorality has killed its thousands, but greed has killed its ten thousands. (I Sam.18:7, 29:5)

Most of us would see the human paramour (virtual or actual) as dangerous. The harlot appears dangerous to the thinking husband. But wealth, that is another thing. Wealth does not often appear to be spiritually dangerous. Wealth appears most often to be something desirous, even good and helpful and necessary.

In the right portion material wealth is necessary and good. But wealth worshiped is condemning.

You see the devil tempts us to take a lawful thing such as wealth and to use it unlawfully. Perhaps this passage is so applicable to us as modern American Christians because we live in a land and in a time of such affluence. Oh, how we need to watch and to pray that we do not fall to this temptation. (Mt.26:41, 2 Jn.1:8, Col.4:2)

Listen to what Jesus says on this.

Mark 4:18. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Luke 12:15. Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.

Beloved, Jesus tells His disciples that earthly riches are not always a sign of God’s saving blessing upon a person as our flesh is inclined to think. No. Jesus says God’s ways are markedly different than the way that fleshly man thinks. Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to heaven! (Mk.10:25) Oh, how this should cure God’s people and Christ’s lambs from lusting for perishable things destined to be destroyed.

Listen to what God tells us through the apostle Paul about the rich and about the poor as regards to those with true faith in Christ.

I Corinthians 1:26. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.

James says the same thing.

James 2:5. Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

You see Beloved, unbelievers love wealthy people, they worship them in hopes of receiving from their wealth. Unbelievers heap honors and praise upon wealthy people, even if the wealthy are notoriously sinful. Beloved, it does not matter what man says about a person. It only matters what God says. (Isa.55:8-9, Ps.73)

This is one of the proper uses of the moral law of God. (WLC 93-98) The broken moral law of God thunders out against the sinner as the holy presence of holy God thundered out to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. (Exod.19:16-25, 20:18) The broken law restrains others so inclined to like sins. The law preached warns sinners to flee to Christ from the judgment of God to come. (Gal.3:21-29)

The misery of the rich unbeliever.

V.1. See the language that the Holy Spirit inspires, weep and wail. This is language similar to that of some of the OT prophets.

Isaiah 13:6. Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands will fall limp, And every man’s heart will melt. (Isa.15:3)

Amos 8:3. The songs of the palace will turn to wailing in that day,” declares the Lord GOD. “Many will be the corpses; in every place they will cast them forth in silence.” 4 Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, 5 saying, “When will the new moon be over, So that we may sell grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, And to cheat with dishonest scales, 6 So as to buy the helpless for money And the needy for a pair of sandals, And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?” 7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob, “Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.

The change of status – wealth cannot thwart.

The rich unbeliever who enjoys all the pleasures that his or her idol-wealth can provide in this life is being told that their pleasure will be turned into abject misery and horror.

You see, there are pleasures associated with all forms of sin. The pleasures associated with immoral uncleanness are obvious. Pleasures with all sin will one day turn into weeping and howling. Temporal (sinful) pleasure will be exchanged with eternal (judicial) pain.

Beloved beware of the deceitfulness of wealth. (Mt.13:22) Wealth promises life and goodness, but it is a lie. Life and goodness are only found in God in Christ.

Beloved beware of the snares of wealth. Wealth promises only pleasures but there are many unforeseen pains associated with a super abundance of the worlds good. (I Tim.6:7-10)

The wrath of God – wealth cannot thwart.

These things are associated with the miseries of Judgement Day for those found apart from Christ Jesus, for those that die in their sin and in their unbelief.

Apart from faith in Christ the wrath of God abides upon all sinners. (Jn.3:36) Here God’s wrath is being poured out on the wealth-worshiper, the pleasure-worshiper, the greedy, covetous man.

And we are told in V.2 and V.3 that the various idols that the greedy man trusted in will like his person also be destroyed.

James 5:2. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

As an aside, it has been remarked that technically silver and gold cannot rust, but that misses the point. Silver and gold can be destroyed (by God) and they will be. (Ezek.24:6-12)

God says to wealth-worshipers, your wealth will rot, your precious metals will rust, and your body by which you enjoyed all of these sensuous pleasures will burn with fire. All of the idolatrous things will be destroyed. All the sensuous capacities to enjoy these things will be destroyed.

Oh Beloved, this is overwhelming language. It is so frightening because it is the very word of God. And it most certainly has come to pass on countless persons, and it will be exacted on countless to come.

The sins of the rich unbeliever.

Now in this final section we have some of the sins of the rich unbeliever being proclaimed to them.

The witnesses.

The first thing all wealth-worshipers will be told is that God has witnesses of their various sins or crimes against Him.

James 5:3. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

Here God anthropomorphizes inanimate objects such as clothes and metal and gives them a human voice to testify that the wealthy unbeliever has committed idolatry with them.

The English Puritans would sometimes do this with nature and have nature speak to God (like a man speaking to God) against the sinner. For example, the ground will say to God, Oh God do I have to support such a notorious sinner against You? Say the word and I shall swallow him up. Or even food speaking to God, oh God why must I nourish the one that hates you? And things like these.

On Judgment Day when sinners stand before Christ their judgment for their sins will be just, many witnesses will prove all of the charges against those apart from Christ. Even though the unbelieving sinner (including those that worship wealth) often escape the judgment of man, they will not escape the judgment of God. 

The time.

V.3. Next God says that their sin of wealth-worship is aggravated before Him because of the time in which they commit their sin. 

James 5:3. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! (Jer.23:20, Ezek.38:16, Hos.3:5, Joel 2:28, Jn.11:24, 12:48, Acts 2:17, 2 Tim.3:1, Heb.1:2)

Sometimes we do not think of this, but time and place can and do aggravate our sins before God, that is to say to make them more offensive before God. I recommend that you study Westminster Larger Catechism #151 on this.

What James is getting at is these sinners, these idolaters are committing idolatry in the fullness of time. Christ has come in the flesh. He has suffered and died and risen and ascended. The clearness of Christ’s gospel has gone forth and the canon of Scripture is coming to completion. They are sinning in the time of maturity and not the time of infancy. (Gal.4:4)

And they are sinning just before Judge Christ returns for Judgment Day!

The theft.

V.4. Now God accuses these wealth-worshipers of being thieves. This would be a breaking of the 8th commandment against stealing but also of the 10th commandment against coveting. And really all of this is a breaking of the 1st and the 2nd commandments, wealth being their false god.

These wealthy landowners withheld the lawful pay of their workers. This is theft. This is abuse of the working poor. God hates this. (Prov.10:15-16, 14:20, Lk.19:13, Mal.3:5)

And God hears the cry of the poor against those that defraud them of their just wages. You see their cries are cries for justice. And God will bring it. (Gen.4:10, Dt.24:14-15, Lk.18:1-8)

The luxury.

Another charge brought against these wealth-worshipers is that they lived in luxury while their workers lived in poverty. Imagine watching a glutton gorge themselves on dish after dish in the very faces of those starving and dying for just one morsel. That is the picture. (Lk.16:19, Jer.12:3, 25:34)

The murder.

V.6. Then God charges the wealth-worshiper that defrauds the working poor with murder! How is this possible? Is being a thief the equivalent of being a murderer? It is if you steal the daily necessities away from a human being that needs those daily necessities to stay alive. 

James 5:4. Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

The conclusion.

Beloved, be on your guard against the deceitfulness of wealth. Be content with Christ and what God in Christ has given you. Be content with your daily bread.

Remember, naked you came into this world, naked you will leave. (Job 1:20-22, I Tim.6:7-10)

Value your true riches in Christ. (Rom.5:1-10, WSC 36-38, Lk.6:20-27)

Amen

Study Questions.

  1. What are some things that you learn about wealth or being wealthy in the following passages? (James 5:1-6, Lk.12:13-23, Lk 16:19-31)
  1. Why is material wealth in itself not sinful? (I Chron.29:12-16, I Sam.2:7, Ps.112:3, Eccl.5:19, 6:2, Dt.8:18, Job 1:3, 42:7-17, Gen.13:1-6, Mt.27:57-60, Mk.15:43-45, Lk.23:50-53)
  1. What makes material wealth sinful for a person? What is the deceitfulness and the danger of wealth? (James 5:1-6, I Tim.6:10, Eccl.5:10, 2 Tim.3:2, Lk.16:14, 2 Pt.2:15, Heb.13:5, I Tim.3:3, Mk.4:18-19, Lk.12:15)
  1. Is the rich person in James 5:1-6 a professing Christian or a professing non-Christian? Are there any professing Believers in the Bible that by their money-worship prove that they were in reality unbelievers? (James 5:1-6, Mt.26:14-16, Zech.11:12-13, Mt.7:16-27, Mt.6:24-34)
  1. God as Judge calls the wealth-worshiper to appear before Him to hear God’s judgment on him. Will all sinners appear before God on Judgment Day to answer for theirs sins? What do we learn about God and about man by this? (James 5:1, 2 Pt.3:3-4, Acts 17:24-32, Job 1:6-8, Lk.12:20, Eccl.12:7, Rom.14:12, Mt.12:36-37, Rev.20:12, Mt.25:14-30)
  1. Why it necessary to preach the Law and also the Gospel? In preaching the Law must the preacher warn the sinner? Of what should he warn him? What does God say about the preacher who preaches peace-peace sermons to unrepentant sinners? (WLC 92-97, Gal.3:21-29, Ezek.13:10, Jer.30:19-24, Mt.7:13-14, Isa.56:10-11, Ezek.3:17-19, 33:1-33, Isa.62:6, 2 Tim.4:1-5, Prov.29:25, Dt.1:17, I Sam.15:24, Isa.51:12, Jn.7:13, Lk.12:4, Mt.3:7, Lk.3:7)
  1. Why does God call the wealth-worshiper to weep and wail? Is the status and the experience of health and wealth permanent? In what ways does the Believer experience hardship in this life as compared with the experience of the wealth and ease of the unbeliever? (James 5:1-6, Ps.73, Isa.15:3, Amos 8:3-7, I Tim.6:7-10, Mt.5:1-16, Mt.23:13-39, Lk.6:20-26, Lk.16:13-15, Lk.19:19-31, Col.3:1-3, I Cor.4:16-18)
  1. What is God teaching the wealth-worshiper by telling them that their fine clothes will rot and their precious metals will rust and their bodies by which they enjoyed their sensuous pleasures will burn? (James 5:1-6, Ezek.24:6-12)
  1. Why does committing the sin of wealth-worship in the Last Days aggravate this sin? How can the time of our sin make them more heinous before God? (James 5:1-6, Jer.23:20, Ezek.38:16, Hos.3:5, Joel 2:28, Jn.11:24, 12:48, Acts 2:17, 2 Tim.3:1, Heb.1:2, WLC 151)
  1. In what way is wealth-worship theft and murder? How does the luxury of the wealth-worshiper aggravate his sins against the working-poor? (James 5:1-6, Prov.10:15-16, 14:20, Lk.19:13, Mal.3:5, Gen.4:10, Dt.24:14-15, Lk.18:1-8, Lk.16:19, Jer.12:3, 25:34)
  1. What is the answer against the sin of unbelieving wealth-worship? (Rom.5:1-10, Job 1:20-22, I Tim.6:7-10, WSC 36-38, Lk.6:20-28, Jn.3:16)
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JAMES 4:13-17. Study 19. Presumptuousness and Its Cure https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/05/26/james-413-17-study-19-presumptuousness-and-its-cure/ Wed, 26 May 2021 21:44:15 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3250

The greeting.

Grace and mercy and peace to you Beloved in the name of Christ. God has given us another day to love Him and serve Him where He has placed us. I pray that you may be flourishing in Christ and for Christ where He has planted you. Part of the watering to make us flourish is to drink of the word of life – the holy Bible. 

The Scripture.

Today we are on our 19th study in the book of James. We will look at James 4:13-17. Please get your Bible out and read along with me. Hear the holy word of God – read. 

James 4:13. Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Let me read for us a related verse from the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 27:1. Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. 

The prayer.

Please join me in praying to our Lord for His assistance in our study of His word today – pray. 

The sin of presumption.

God through James warns these professing Believers in Jesus Christ from being presumptuous in their thinking.

The definition of presumption.

Perhaps it might be helpful to define presumption. Too bold, overly confident, inordinately certain. And the idea is without just reason for the confidence. Overstepping the bounds of propriety.

Words related to presumptuousness are arrogance, rudeness, egotistical, prideful, self-conceit, self-importance, braggart, boastful, conceited.

The opposite of boastful proud presumption would be humble, lowly, meek, mild, modest, and quiet.

Which one sounds like an imitation of Satan? Which one sounds like an imitation of Christ? (Mt.11:20-30) Look at the nature of the true Believer as Jesus expresses it in the Beatitudes. (Mt.5:1-16) Over-confident braggart is not on the list! 😊

The expression of presumption.

Notice James says those that say.  Jesus has told us that what is in our hearts will come out of our mouths. Will. Not might. Not maybe. Certainly will. (Mt.12:32-37)

Sinful words.

James chapter three is about sinning with our words.

Slanderous words.

And just before our passage James warns believers against slandering their brother and their neighbor.

James 4:10. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. 11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

Boastful words.

The same heart that tears down other seeks to build self up. Now in verses 13-17 we learn that overly confident hearts produce overly confident words. Pride in the heart produces boastful words.

Such a professing Believer “says”, “I” and I “will” and I will “go” and I will “do” and I will “make”! What two words do you keep hearing? “I” And I “will”. This is man’s so called free will, it is self-will, selfish will.

The desire of presumption.

Let’s look at the desire of this example of presumptuousness. 

These Christians are assuming that their intended business enterprises will be financially successful. In short, these Believers think, well I have such and so money-making idea and when I put it into action, well I will make a lot of money.

But as professing Christians they probably would want to dress up their worldliness just a bit. Oh, I am not doing this for the money or the profit of course. I am a Christian. I wouldn’t do anything for the “love” of money because I know the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. I just want to “help people”. Or something like that! 😊

Now this example that James gives is what we would call a business idea or venture. But the same idea would be true of any earthly desires or desired physical or material projects. For example, we could say, right now I have a certain level of health or body weight and physical fitness, well by next year I will be nice and slim and totally physically fit. I will be running marathons by the end of the year!

You see the inordinate certitude is in something “good” and not in something “bad”. And I will say, as the flesh defines good and bad and not as the Bible defines good and bad.

In this example the sin of presumption is not in the desire to succeed in business.

In fact, as Reformed Presbyterian we see that the 8th commandment requires us to be diligent in our work. And that the main way that people excel in a material venture is to put for the necessary effort to that endeavor.

Listen to this.

WSC 73  Which is the eighth commandment?  The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal. (Exod.20:15, see WCF 140-142)

WSC 74 What is required in the eighth commandment?  The eighth commandment requires the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others. (Gen. 30:30; 1 Tim. 5:8; Lev. 25:35; Deut. 22:1-5; Exod. 23:4,5; Gen. 47:14,20)

WSC 75  What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?  The eighth commandment forbids whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbor’s wealth or outward estate. (Prov. 21:17; Prov. 23:20,21; Prov. 28:19; Eph. 4:28)

It is the idolatry of self.

Wealth is not sinful. To desire wealth is not necessarily a sinful thing either. Health and desiring physical health are not sinful in themselves. The sin in view is saying “I” “will” have these things that “I” “say” I will have.

There is no humility here. This is pride unvarnished.

This is an idolatry of self. And I mean the pleasure and ease and honor of self. Something like that. Presumption is the desire and the act of acting like the little “lord” of our own life. Acting almost like our own “mini god”! Which as a Believer we would deny, but the proof is in the pudding as they say.

We may be orthodox on paper. But our practice proves who we really are in the heart. Jesus says that you will know true Believers versus false professors from their fruit.

It is the idolatry of this world.

This boasting is an idolatry of this world, worldliness, and carnality. (I Jn.2:15-17, James 4:1-10, Lk.12:17-18, Phil.3:19)

Look at the nature of the intended project. I am going to start a business and make a million dollars! Thomas Manton says that carnal hearts are all for carnal projects. He goes on to say, thoughts are the purest offspring of the soul and reveal the nature of it. (Manton, An Exposition of the Epistle of James, p. 387)

The preoccupation with the things of this world.

Included in these expressly mercantile enterprises is all of those parts of life wherein we seek to maintain and prosper our outward condition.

So, we could say that the love of wealth is behind the boastful pride of life. But also, this expresses a species of being preoccupied with the world which all professing Christians are tempted unto.

The Bible warns Believers about giving their heart to the things of this world.

Matthew 13:22. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 

Matthew 24:37. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Luke 17:26. And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.

Luke 14:16. But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 “Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ 

Think of the ways into which we can stumble in this sin. Oh, when the children get to be 18 then I will do such and so. Oh, all my retirement savings will grow to such and so and when I retire, I will do such and so. Even our smaller plans. In three months, we will go on vacation, we will travel to such and so and we will do such and so.

Of course, James is not speaking against all plans. That would be silly. Even the ant plans for the future – wisely. (Prov.6:6-11)

He is speaking against all plans that do not include God in them! 

The folly of presumption.

It is foolishness. We do not know what will happen in the next five minutes of our life, let alone predicting the outcome in a year! There is a common saying, what a difference a day makes.

The denial of God’s lordship.

The great sin here is a denial of God. And I would say, a denial of the sovereign Lordship and government of God over all His creatures and over all their creatures. And that includes us personally.

The examples of presumptuousness.

Let me give us three Biblical examples of men that were presumptuous.

The OT. The first is from the OT. And then God taught him a lesson on Who is sovereign.

Daniel 4:28. All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. 29 “Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. 30 “The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’ 31 “While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, 32 and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’ 33 “Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. (Exod.15:11, Judges 5:28-30, I Kg.20:10-11)

The NT. Listen to our Lord’s parable about the boastful “fool”.

Luke 12:13. Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Also, we think of the apostle Peter boasting to Jesus that even if all the other disciples forsake Jesus that he never will. Peter boasted that he was willing to go to prison for Christ and even willing to die for Christ. But he (really) wasn’t willing. (Mt.26:69-75, Jn.18:15-27, Mk.14:66-72, Lk.22:54-62)

Peter relied too much upon himself. And after the devil sifted him like wheat (Lk.22:31-34), by God’s grace, Peter was restored to Christ and made more serviceable to Christ after he was humbled. (Jn.21:7-22, I Pt.5:1-7)

I will say this, when we sinfully boast in self, we tempt God to correct us.

The Bible says that pride goes before destruction. (Prov.16:18)

One almost certain way of ensuring that your plans will not come to pass is to boast about how “you will” bring them to pass. It is like issuing God a challenge. A very bad idea by the way.

Another thing for us to think about. Not only does our pride provoke God to discipline us, but when He does so (as He most certainly will) often times our loved ones suffer along with us. Think of this. Let’s say we have a sinful boasting husband and father, telling everyone about the success of all his future plans to make a great business come to pass. Well, when God humbles him and takes away his ability or opportunity to do “any” work and he comes to taste the pain of failure and poverty, well his family also suffers.

So, if there are any given to sinful selfish bragging, be careful that you are not the source of your family’s downfall. 

The experience. I can speak from sad experience in this. I actually did exactly what God tells us not to do. I was a brand-new born-again Believer so I guess my immaturity in the faith could be my only possible explanation, that and my prideful sin. 😊

Thirty years ago, shortly after I was converted to Christ for various reasons, I thought God opened a door for me to buy a business in Tallahassee Florida. I thought God was going to prosper the business as a means of providing for my desire to attend seminary to become a pastor. I talked my wife into giving me all the money that we both were working and saving to buy a home for. And I was convinced that my business would make a lot of money and all would go as I planned. And I confidently told her, and my dad, and everyone that else would listen that I was going to succeed! Well, nothing went as I planned. I moved. I failed in the business. I lost all our money. My wife and children suffered greatly for my sinfulness.

But I will say this. Even when we fail in this, God will use even that to build us up in Christ. (Rom.8:28, Ps.119:71) I learned many, many hard lessons during that time. One being, search the Scriptures before I plan and before I speak. The other was to see that God is God and I am not!

The cure of presumptuousness.

One of the things I love about the Lord and His word is that when He corrects us for a sin or an error, He also shows us how to do better. Here are some positive things to correct our sinful boasting about our future earthly good.

Say in your hearts.

The idea is to take council within yourself. The idea is to slow down and contemplate Bible truth before we formulate plans. And certainly, before we speak about those plans or intentions.

Remember God.

The idea is to remember God. Live with a conscious awareness of God. Live “Coram Deo” (before the face of God) as the saying goes.

In thinking of God is included the chief end or purpose of our life as relates to God. Remember why God has made us. And that is to glorify God and to enjoy God forever. (WSC 1)

Say, If the Lord wills.

And live with a constant daily awareness of your dependence upon God and His government over your life. (Eccl.12:13) In this we are told to imitate our Lord and our Savior saying, Father not My will but Thy will be done. (Lk.22:42-44)

We leave our desires and requests before the Lord and then we consciously submit to Him.

Wrong usage. May I say this about using this expression “if the Lord wills”. Let’s make sure that we mean it when we say it. Sometimes we say this because it is a common Christian expression amongst Christians, but we say it almost by rote without any heartfelt meaning. That is actually taking the name of the Lord in vain. (Exod.20:7, Mk.7:6, Isa.29:13, Ezek.33:31, Mt.15:7-9)

Right usage. The idea is to make your plans for your life in light of the word of God, which is the expressed will of God. So, are my plans Biblical?

Let me give us some Biblical examples of this.

Acts 18:19. They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, 21 but taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus.

I Corinthians 4:16. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. (I Cor.16:5-9, Phil.2:19-24, Heb.6:3)

We pray regularly the Lord’s Prayer. (Mt.6:9-13) In it we ask God to give us our daily bread, to sustain our physical lives and all that we require. We also ask God to forgive our daily sins and to keep us from our daily temptations. Oh Beloved, we need to be conscious of the prayer we make to God and honest in the prayers we make to God. And then to pray them in faith. And then in faith to look for God to daily answer them. And then daily to give Him the return due His name in praises and thanks.

Seek the kingdom of God.

I would also add this. Another thing we can do is to contemplate spiritual projects, to have spiritual plans and spiritual goals. And then commit these to the Lord as well. (Col.3:1-3, Mt.6:19-34)

Remember your mortality.

Then God tells us to remember our mortality. James uses the certainty of death for every person to shut the mouths of every presumptuous person. Death comes for all. Life is frail and uncertain for all. Is. And not might be.

God says, and I stress that “God” says this, that our life is a mere vapor, a mist, a morning fog. The sun rises a little in the sky and the morning mist vanishes. That “is” every human life.  (Ps.37:2, Ps.102:3, Ps.103:15, 2 Kg.19:26, Isa.40:6-8, Hosea 13:3, I Pt.1:24)

Psalm 90:2. Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. 3 You turn man back into dust And say, “Return, O children of men.” 4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. 5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. 6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. 7 For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. 8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. 9 For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. 10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.

Saint Augustine calls our life in this world a “dying life” or a “living death”. You see what he is getting at. That as long as we live, we live under the shadow of death. Life is tenuous and frail and changing.

Thinking about the day of our death and where we will go after our death will cure to a great degree our presumptuousness about our earthly success. Even if God granted us the acquisition of what we desired what will those things mean to us on the day God calls for our soul? Nothing at all. We leave all earthly things behind when God calls us to our eternal home.

We are perishing creatures that live in a perishing world. That is why the apostle Paul tells us not to cling too tightly to the things of this word, because it is all vanishing away. (I Cor.7:31)

Remember our changeability.

Of course, the end of our earthly life is the thing stated but implicit in that are a whole host of unmentioned but implied possible changes in our earthly life.

For example, we could lose our health. Or our loved one could lose their health and we are now required to care for them. We could be called away to another city. The opportunities for that business may change. The possible changes in our lives are endless.

And the key is that we do not know most of them. Nor can we truly govern-govern as in sovereignly govern any of them.

Do not boast.

V.16. God now tells vain boasters to stop their vain boasting. I almost want to smile over that one. God is saying here is a way to stop being presumptuous, stop being presumptuous!

James 4:6. But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”    (Ps.138:6, Prov.3:34, Prov.29:23, Lk.14:11, Lk.18:14, Mt.18:4, Mt.23:12)

Boasting gives man the glory. Boasting robs God of His glory. In fact, in God’s way of doing things he turns what Man values on its head. God blesses weakness and lowliness. God puts down all power and pomp. (2 Cor.11:30, 12:5-9)

The warning against presumptuousness.

James concludes with an applicatory warning. God wants us to be effectual doers of the word and not ineffectual hearers only. 

V.17 This is a warning against not obeying what God through James just wrote. The idea is “now that you have been warned” you must obey in these things. (I Sam.12:23)

Oh Beloved, the book of James is God calling us to live out the faith that we express. The book of James is calling us to live lives worthy of the high calling of Jesus Christ. Let us speak think and speak in such a way that brings glory to Christ. May we decrease and may Christ increase. Not as we will, but as God wills. Let’s humble ourselves before God and submit all to Him.

Amen

Study Questions

  1. Define presumptuousness. Use synonyms and antonyms. (James 4:13-16, Prov.27:2, Jer.9:23, 2 Tim.3:1-5, Prov.27:1, I Cor.4:7, Ps.94:4, Prov.25:14)
  1. What is the relationship between our heart (our thoughts and affections) and our words? What do presumptuous words indicate about the nature of our heart? Or the spiritual wellbeing of our heart? (Mt.12:32-37, Prov.4:23, Prov.10:11, Prov.15:7, Ps.14:1)
  1. What is the connection between slanderous words and then presumptuous words? Hint. How do “Pharisees” speak of others? How do “Pharisees” speak of self? How do you speak of others? How do you speak of self? (James 4:10-11, James 4:13-16, Lk.18:9-14, Mt.5:20, Jn.7:48-49)
  1. Are all desires (and plans) to prosper materially, financially, and physically necessarily wrong or sinful? Give examples of right and holy desires for these things. (Prov.6:6-11, 3 Jn.1:2, I Sam.1:9-28, Gen. 30:30; 1 Tim. 5:8; Lev. 25:35; Deut. 22:1-5; Exod. 23:4,5; Gen. 47:14,20, Mt.6:11)
  1. How is presumptuousness as expressed in our passage an example of the idolatry of self? How is this an idolatry of this world? How is this an inordinate preoccupation with the things of this world? What does it say about the nature and the focus of the heart? (James 4:1-10, I Jn.2:15-17, Lk.12:17-18, Phil.3:19, Mt.13:22, Mt.24:37-39, Lk.17:26-29, Lk.14:16-19, Col.3:1-3)
  1. How does presumptuousness (practically) deny the existence of God, or of His sovereignty, or of His providence? Give examples from the OT and the NT of people that were presumptuous? What do we learn by these examples? (Dan.4:28-33, Exod.15:11, Judges 5:28-30, I Kg.20:10-11, Lk.12:13-21, Mt.26:69-75, Jn.18:15-27, Mk.14:66-72, Lk.22:54-62)
  1. Have you ever been presumptuous in a similar way as expressed in James 4:13-17? Did God correct you? How? Did you learn from the correction? What did you learn? (Heb.12:1-11)
  1. How does thinking on God cure our presumptuousness? Who governs all? How does this cure our presumptuousness? How do we set our minds above? How do we first seek His kingdom? How does this cure our presumptuousness? (Acts 18:19-21, I Cor.4:16-20, I Cor.16:5-9, Phil.2:19-24, Heb.6:3, Mt.6:9-13, Col.3:1-3, Mt.6:19-34)
  1. How does thinking on our own mortality cure our presumptuousness? (James 4:13-16, Ps.37:2, Ps.102:3, Ps.103:15, 2 Kg.19:26, Isa.40:6-8, Hosea 13:3, I Pt.1:24, Ps.90:2-10)
  1. How does thinking on Christ and about our salvation in Christ cure our boastful carnal presumptuousness? How should we think and speak and act in light of these things?  (Mt.20:28, Jn.13:1-17, Mt.11:29, Phil.2:1-11, I Cor.6:9-11, I Jn.1:7)
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JAMES 4:11-12. Study 18. Do Not Slander Your Fellow Believer https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/05/18/james-living-to-honor-christ-study-18-slandering-a-brother/ Tue, 18 May 2021 21:39:25 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3230

The greeting.

Good afternoon Beloved. I trust that you are walking closely with our Lord Jesus Christ today. Thank you again for joining with us for our Bible study series in the book of James. For me it has been a very interesting book. And I will say, it is also fairly challenging and convicting in places. Today may be one of those challenging spots. 

The Scripture.

Today we are in the fourth chapter. We will unpack verses eleven and twelve. The subject matter is slander, speaking sinfully against another person. And to aggravate the sin, this is speaking evilly as a Christian against another Christian.

I have recommended this before but let me do it again. For a good study on how we aggravate our sins and make them more heinous before God read the Westminster Larger Catechism #151 with the Scripture proofs. It will be enlightening I promise.

Now to our study text. Hear the word of our omnipresent and omniscient and holy God, read. 

James 4:11. Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

The prayer.

Let’s go to the Lord in prayer to ask His help with this sinful but all too common subject – pray.

The correction of Christians.

Notice that James calls his audience brothers.  He is their brother in Christ. They are his brothers and sisters in Christ. They are one spiritual family spiritually joined together under one head – Christ. (WCF 26.1, I Cor.12:1-31)

This is family correcting family. One Christian speaking to other Christians. And the call is to live worthy of the family name – a disciple of Christ.

So, what he says, albeit in writing, is written in love. Sometimes love requires you correct an erring Believer. (see Heb.12:1-12, Ps.119:71-75) And I would say this means both love to God and love to the erring Believer. I do realize that sometimes it can be frightening or intimidating to do this, but remember, to leave fellow Christians in their sin (if we can help them) is not loving to them. (2 Tim.3:17)

Obviously, be careful you do not swing to the opposite extreme and you end up being the “sin police” for your Christian friends and family. Used graced wisdom. Or you will be one lonely person. People will treat you like the plague. No one likes to be constantly judged under the guise of “loving help”. Be wise. Be humble.

If you remember from our last study in James, he was correcting these brothers for their friendship with the world and he called them sinners and double-minded. (James 4:1-10)

In other words, God in His word tells Christians to stop sinning like sinners. God says to His holy children to stop acting like children of this world.

Christians are accounted as saints or holy ones before God not because we no longer sin. We sin every day, in thought, word, and deed. (I Jn.1:10, Rom.7:10-25, I Pt.2:11-12, Mt.6:12, WLC 149, WSC 82) Christians are considered holy or righteous (in right standing with God’s law) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us that we receive by faith alone. This of course is our justification or positional holiness before God. (Eph.2:1-9, WLC 70-72, WSC 33)

And our justification is evidenced by our sanctification, by our practical and progressive holiness, dying to sin and growing in righteousness. Remember without practical sanctification holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb.12:14) We have been saved to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. We have been saved to live for Christ and to honor Him in all things – including our speech.

The correction of our sinful judgmentalism.

God through James defines the subject, do not speak against one another.

Then God refers to this as a form of sinful or wrong judging. I put it this way because not all forms of judging are wrong.

For instance, we are required to judge between clean and unclean. This is required and right. There are times for righteous judgment. Righteously judging the doctrine of others and the practices of others.  (Jn.7:24, Gal.1:9, I Jn.4:1, I Thess.5:21, 2 Jn.9, 2 Thess.3:11, Rev.22:15) Read I Corinthians 5:1-13 where the apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church to judge against the incestuous member of the church and to put him out of the church.

But in this sinful kind of judgment, we are in some way playing The Judge over and against our neighbor or our brother. And only God is The Judge.

As I said earlier this is sinful judging or slanderous speech against another professing Believer in Jesus. Remember these are the people that we say are our brothers and sisters in Christ. God says, do not speak derisively against another Christian. 

Here James echoes his Lord and Savior, who is also his half-brother, Jesus Christ.

Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount, Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Mt.7:1-2)

This slander or evil speaking against another is an expression of sinful judgmentalism.

The divine command against our sinful judgementalism.

God in His Word forbids speaking evilly against others. And His prohibition is very clear and so that only makes our disobedience more offensive.

Listen to these Scripture texts.

Psalm 140:11  May a slanderer not be established in the earth; May evil hunt the violent man speedily.” 

Proverbs 16:28   A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends. 

Proverbs 20:19   He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip. 

Jeremiah 9:4. Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor, And do not trust any brother; Because every brother deals craftily, And every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.  5 “Everyone deceives his neighbor And does not speak the truth, They have taught their tongue to speak lies; They weary themselves committing iniquity. 

Numbers 12:8   With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?” 

Psalm 50:18. When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers.  19 “You let your mouth loose in evil And your tongue frames deceit.  20 “You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son.  21 “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.

The apostle Peter also writes against Christians slandering fellow Christians.

1 Peter 2:1. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

The definition of sinful judgmentalism.

Let me define slander.  Slander is a false or defamatory statement which may damage another person’s reputation or name.  Slander is to speak with evil content and evil intent against another.  Slander seeks to cause others to have an unjust and unfavorable impression of another.

Synonyms of slander help us with this idea of speaking against another, malign, defamation, character assassination, give someone a bad name, smear, backbiting, backstabbing, and belittle. You see the sense of this.

Condemnatory.

This is the sin of being hypercritical, being inordinately critical. The idea is this is the sin of judgementalism, wrong judgment, but along the line of being condemnatory.

Lying and deceiving.

Certainly, lying against another person is forbidden. But so is false representation, that is to say leaving out any information that would be helpful to another person. Or giving true statements but designed to hurt.

Thomas Manton says this is done variously false by accusations, divulging secret evils, by increasing their faults, by not admitting their graces, by not hearing their explanation or excuse, by attributing sinister aims to them and so on.

Manton says, John the Baptist’s head (i.e., another Christian’s reputation) on a plate is a common dish at our meals!

Sinful judgmentalism is a sin of the tongue.

So, the warning is against the misuse of our speech, or our tongues, and the words we use. Christ has purchased us body and soul and every part of us we are to use for holy use and not evil use.

Directly, God is prohibiting evil speech. James has already touched on this.  We are to have holy speech seasoned with grace in order to bless and build up.  And not tearing down others with our words. (James 3:1-13)

Indirectly, God is also prohibiting writing evil words against others. This would include emails and texts! Oh, are we ever guilty of sinful words in a quick response in a text?

Sinful judgmentalism is a sin of the heart.

Jesus says on Matthew 12:33-37 and 15:17-20 that our words come from our heart. 

Slander comes from the heart of a person that does not consider others in a good light.  This is a heart problem.  In context, at best a sanctification problem.  At worst, a justification problem.

Sinful judgmentalism is a sin of unbelief and carnality.

We commit this sin out of unbelief. We do not practically believe what the Bible says about these things. 

Speaking evilly of others is a sin of our fallen flesh, it is carnal. 

Now let’s just suppose that we have a true Christian committing this sin. A true Christian has two natures, the old fallen fleshly carnal nature plus the new spiritual nature that the Holy Spirit gifted us with in our new birth.

The particular expression of our fallen flesh that produces our slander of others is our idolatry of self, or our pride. We tear others down out of self-seeking self-centered self-serving pride. We tear others down because we lust to build ourselves up.

King David says those that slander others in secret have haughty eyes and a proud heart. (Ps.101:5) Closely associated with pride is jealously, envy, hatred, strife, revenge and so on.

The expressions of sinful judgmentalism.

Let’s take a look at what parts of God’s law speaking evilly of others breaks.

Sinful judgmentalism bears false witness against our neighbor.

Directly, this sin is the breaking of the ninth commandment, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exod.20:16)

Let me give you how our catechism speaks to the 9th commandment. (WLC 144-145)

WSC 77  What is required in the ninth commandment?   The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man,(1) and of our own and our neighbor’s good name,(2) especially in witness-bearing.(3) (1) Zech. 8:16 (2) 3 John 12 (3) Prov. 14:5,25

WSC 78  What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?   The ninth commandment forbids whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbor’s good name.(1) (1) 1 Sam. 17:28; Lev. 19:16; Ps. 15:3

Sinful judgmentalism is a lack of love to neighbor.

Speaking evilly of anyone is a breaking of the second greatest commandment in the Bible, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mt.22:34-40) Speaking against another Christian is not loving.

Jesus says the mark of a true Believer in Jesus is that he or she loves other Christians. Remember Jesus says this. (Jn.13:35)

Sinful judgmentalism is an expression of hatred for our brother.

Speaking against another Christian is hateful. God hates it when professing Christians hate other professing Christians. Hatred is a form of heart murder. And God tells us that no murderer will inherit heaven.

Sinful judgmentalism is un-Christlike.

Slander is un-Christlike.

Philippians 2:3. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

Christ did not speak evilly of the brethren.  Jesus called Judas “friend” even as Judas was betraying Him. (Mt.26:50)

Sinful judgmentalism is imitation of Satan.

I am afraid many professing Christians will hear from the Risen Christ, depart from Me you slanderer of the brethren. And remember the Satan (diabolos) means the slanderer, the accuser of the brethren! You will know them by their fruits, even the fruits of their tongues.

Slander is devillike. The word Satan (satanos) means adversary. And the Greek word for devil (diabolos) means the slanderer, the accuser of the brethren!

Zechariah 3:1. Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.  2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”

Revelation 12:10   Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

Sinful judgmentalism judges God the Lawgiver!

James uses a close parallelism here. Speaks against a brother.   Speaks against the Law. Judges his brother.   Judges the Law.

IF you speak evilly of your brother behind his back, then you are setting aside the royal law of love to love your neighbor as yourself. (Jas.2:8, Lev.19:18, Mt.22:39, Tom.13:9, Gal.5:14)

If you sinfully judge others when God commands you not to, then you are setting aside the Law of God! (Mt.7:1-6) If you set aside the law of God, then you make yourself a judge of the Law. And if you do that, then you put yourself on the level of The Lawgiver!

Jesus says why do you call Me Lord and do not keep My commandments? Slandering others sets ourselves up as our own little “lord” over The Lord (that we profess)!

Sinful judgmentalism is thoughtlessness and self-deception.

You see what James is doing.  He is using logic.  Most slanderers do not realize that they are in fact utterly disobeying the Bible with their slander.

Often times we sin with our speech because we are thoughtless with our speech, we just say things without considering if they are good and true and necessary. In this way, it would be helpful to really apply what we say is the rule for our doctrine and out practice to our speech. It would be helpful before we spoke to apply the rule of the Bible to our intended words.

And often slander is dressed up to look like a concern for truth or piety or some other good cause.  When in reality it is just the satisfaction of self-centered sin and pride.

And most back-biters do not realize that by their slander they are ‘playing’ God.  Which is a very dangerous business.

Think of it. When the word of God says one thing and we say another thing in affect we are saying that God’s Word comes up short.  That our thoughts on the matter are right and He is wrong!

Here is something to think about. Often times slander indicts the slanderer.

Often when we speak against others for some “sin” or fault of theirs we ourselves are guilty of the very thing we are slandering them of.  This is Paul’s argument in Romans 2:1-10) In other words, slanderers are often hypocrites or acting hypocritically.

The human heart is so prone to self-deception, even the heart of a true Believer. (Jer.17:9-10, Rom.7:15-16)

Sinful judgmentalism is dangerous and harmful.

James ends by alluding to the dangers and the harmfulness of slander and all forms of sinful judgmentalism.

You see, judging others and speaking evil of others greatly offends God. This sin is against God in Christ, ourselves, the other individual, and the church at large, and I would argue even the unbelieving world because we are giving them reasons to mock Christ and His holy religion. (Rom.2:17-29) 

In Committing this sin, we open ourselves up to God’s chastisement. We hurt ourselves.

By tearing down another individual Christian we also tear down the peace and unity of the Church.

Aside: we should be especially careful not to slander those in authority. I Tim.5:19, Jer.20:12, Ezek.33:30.  Men are apt to hate those that instruct them (correct them).  And since they occupy a place of authority their dishonor will be more harmful for others. 

James gives this applicatory soul-searching question.

James 4:12. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

Can “you” usurp God’s authority?!

Paul says this in Romans,

Romans 14:3. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Oh Beloved, we are all sinners saved by the grace of God in the Christ of God. How can sinners boast of anything? We deserve damnation for our sins. And God gave us salvation. How can we look down on and tear down anyone given the love and kindness and mercy and goodness that God has lavished on us in Jesus?

Oh Beloved, love God and love people – in thought, word, and deed. This pleases our Lord.

Amen

Study Questions.

  1. Do true Christians still continue to sin? If so, why? Is it loving to correct others when they sin? If so, is there a right or wrong way to do it? Defend your answers with Scripture. (James 4:1-12, Heb.12:1-12, Ps.119:71-75, 2 Tim.3:17, Rom.2:1-11, Mt.7:1-6)
  1. Define and describe righteous judgments, or proper or biblical judgments. (Jn.7:24, Gal.1:9, I Jn.4:1, I Thess.5:21, 2 Jn.9, 2 Thess.3:11, Rev.22:15)
  1. Define slander, you can use synonyms. How is speaking against other people a form of sinful or wrong judgementalism? (James 4:1-12, Mt.7:1-2, Prov.16:28, 20:19, Jer.9:4-5, Num.12:8, Ps.50:18-21, I Pt.2:1-3)
  1. We make our sins more heinous before God in four ways: by the person doing the sinning, by the person sinned against, by the type of sin, and by the occasion or time of the sin. Given this, in what ways is slandering a fellow Christian an aggravation of our sin? I.e. what is our relationship to God? What is their relationship to God? What is our relationship to each other? (WCF 151, James 4:11-12, WLC 151, I Cor.12:1-31, Jn.3:16, Eph.2:1-10)
  1. In what ways can we use our speech in an evil and unlawful way? Why is slander such a wrong use of our words? What is the relationship of our words to our heart? What do sinful critical words against others prove about our heart? (Jas.3:13, Jas.4:11-12, Mt. 12:33-37, 15:17-20)
  1. How does speaking against other people and other Christians in particular show that we do not believe the word of God? How does it show our remaining fleshliness or worldliness and especially our pride? What is pride? Why does God hate pride? (Mt.16:22-23, Mk.9:33-34, Ps.101:1-5, Prov.8:13, James 4:6, Isa.14:12-15, 2 Tim.3:1-5)
  1. In what ways does sinful speech against our fellow Believer and our fellow neighbor break the ninth commandment? (Exod.20:16, WLC 144-145, Zech. 8:16 (2) 3 John 12 (3) Prov. 14:5,25, 1 Sam. 17:28; Lev. 19:16; Ps. 15:3)
  1. In what ways is sinful speech against our fellow Believer and our fellow neighbor reveal a lack of love for them and a presence of non-love (hate) for them? What does God think about this? (Mt.22:34-40, Jn.13:35, I Jn.2:9-11, 3:14-15, 4:20, Lev.19:17, Prov.10:11, Prov.8:13, Ps.133:1)
  1. In what ways is sinful speech against our fellow Believer and our fellow neighbor un-Christlike and like Satan? How can you speak kindly to evil people in imitation of Jesus? When you speak against another Believer do you think that you are acting like the devil? Should you think that? (Phil.2:1-11, Mt.26:50, Zech.3:1-2, Rev.12:10)
  1. In what ways does sinful speech against our fellow Believer and our fellow neighbor judge God and judge the Law of God (as wrong)? (Jas.2:8, Lev.19:18, Mt.22:39, Tom.13:9, Gal.5:14, Mt.7:1-6)
  1. Why is sinful speech against our fellow Believer and our fellow neighbor dangerous? How does evil speech against others dishonor and harm God, Christ, the gospel, ourselves, those in the church, and those out of the church? (Ps.101:5, Mt.12:36, Hames 4:11-12, 2 Tim.3:1-5, Rom.1:30)
  1. How should we think and speak to and about others? As Believers in Jesus why should we only speak lovingly and kindly about others and not evilly? Think of your own salvation in Christ from your sins. (Jn.3:16, Col.1:13, 3:5-8, Rom.5:1-10, Eph.4:29-32, James 1:12, I Cor.6:9-11, I Pt.3:10, Mt.7:12, Mk.11:25, I Pt.2:12, Mt.6:14-15)

 

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JAMES 4:7-10. Study 17. Submitting to God https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/04/22/james-47-10-study-17-submitting-to-god/ Thu, 22 Apr 2021 18:54:51 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3220

The greeting.

Greetings to you Beloved in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I trust that you are feeding on Christ daily as you read and meditate upon His word and as you approach His throne of grace in prayer. For us that Believe, we live desiring that we would decrease and He would increase. (Jn.3:30-35) 

The Scripture.

Well, to the end of dying to our self and living to Christ and for His glory we are going to study His word calling us to draw near to God. Please take out your Bible. We will read James 4:7-10. Hear the holy and perfect word of our holy and loving Lord designed to make us holy, read. (Jn.17:17, Rom.10:17, Jas.1:18) 

James 4:7. Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.  10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (see Luke 6:20-26)

The prayer.

Beloved this is a duty passage. And I would say that it is a spiritual duty passage. Therefore, we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us understand our duty and to enable us to do our duty as well. So, let’s go to the Lord, Who is Spirit and ask for His help, pray. (Jn.4:24, Ps.139:7, WCF 2.1-2)

The doctrine.

Today we are going to look at the duty of submitting to God. I want us to see the other exhortations in this section under the main exhortation of submitting to God.

The negative duty.

Now obviously the section before this one provides us with the context of our passage. Let me remind us of that. 

James 4:4. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 

In our previous study in James 4:4-6 we saw that God the Holy Spirit inspired James to correct erring Christians for their friendship with the world. That is what I would call our negative duty. That is a “do not do” passage. Do not make friends with the world. They were submitting to their sin, to their flesh, and to the unbelieving world.

And so, if we disobey this passage we would be committing the sin of commission, as opposed to the sin of omission. Commission is doing something God forbids, committing a breach against God’s law. (I Jn.3:4-8)

The Believer in Christ has been taken out from the power of the fallen world or the dominion of the fallen ‘god’ of this fallen world and out from spiritual union with the fallen unbelieving worldling. And by Spirit-wrought and gifted faith in Christ the Believer is now spiritually united to the Triune God and also to the Body of Christ the Church. (Col.1:13, Eph.2:1-9)

Listen to how the apostle Paul states this truth in Second Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 6:14. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

Therefore, we Christians as new creatures in Christ are forbidden by God to return to our former unbelieving thoughts and affections and actions. In short, Believers are not to act like unbelievers again. We are to be holy and perfect as God is holy and perfect. (2 Cor.5:17-21, Prov.26:11-13, 2 Pt.2:22, I Pt.1:14-15, I Pt.4:1-4)

The positive duty.

In our passage today, mainly I want to focus on our positive duty of living as friends of God rather than as friends of the world. (Jn.15:14-15, Jas.2:23)

To use the language of our passage, Believer are no longer to submit their thoughts and affections to the world, but we are to submit our entire being, our body and our soul to God, and to God alone.

So rather than drawing near to the world and to sin and thus to Satan, God calls us by His servant James to draw near to God. 

You remember that I have said at the outset of this study that the book of James is a duty book or a law book rather than a gospel letter. This is God’s word to those that have believed in God’s Christ. So, I would say that the book of James is a very practical book.

God is showing us both what our duty is, negatively and positively. And He also shows us how to do our duty. What an all-providing good God we have. (Gen.22:14) 

In my view the best commentary on the book of James is by the English Puritan Thomas Manton. (1620-1677) I highly recommending buying his work on this letter. He says this about our passage and others like it in the book of James, doctrine is but the drawing of the bow, application is the hitting of the mark. 

In other words, he is saying that God inspires James to apply the Scripture to us. Believe. Now obey. Be effectual hearers and doers of God’s word, rather than ineffectual hearers only. (James 1:22-25, Rom.2:13, Mt.7:14-29, Mt.25:31-46) Submitting to the revealed will of God is being an effectual doer of God’s word.

Submission to God’s government.

Let’s talk a little bit about submitting to God as an aspect of drawing near to God. Again, remember this is to help us from not submitting to the world and to sin. So, the way to help us from sinning against God is to believe and to obey God, especially in positive duties.

Let me see if I can use a practical example to show you what I mean before we unpack the idea of submission to God. The way to not be unfaithful to your wife is to love your wife. The way to refrain from the negative is to do the positive. 

Submission to God’s government as revealed in Scripture and Providence.

James concluded V.6. with an Old Testament quote from the Psalms, from Psalm 138:6.

James 4:6. But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”  (Ps.138:6, Prov.3:34)

Psalm 138:6. For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.

Now James continues that line of thinking.  We see he uses parallelism to emphasize his points.  V.7.  submitting oneself to God and then a similar idea in V.10. humbling oneself before God.

We are to submit to God’s Lordship over our lives as He reals it in two ways, in providence and in Scripture. What comes to pass in our lives we willingly and meekly and obediently submit to it. And God’s will as expressed in the Bible we are to believe it, love it, and obey it.

Submission defined.

Now, let’s define submission a little bit more. 

This word (hupo-ta-gay-te) means to put in subjection to, or to subordinate oneself, to obey, to be under the authority of, or take a subordinate place (1 Cor 14.34) So there is an inward element or disposition and then an outward expression of submission. This is how it would sound; I agree and love your authority over me, therefore I obey your rule for me in word and deed.

The notion is to take the place of an inferior.  This may seem self-evident; of course we are the inferior before God who is “The” Superior.  But we need to be reminded of this in God’s word, because even as true Believers our corrupt flesh hates to be inferior to anyone, sadly even to God, especially to God.

Submit yourself describes a voluntary act on the part of the Believer.  We place ourselves under the authority of someone else.  We willingly show that person respect and obedience.

Now the particular form of this verb is in the imperative and in the second person plural. That means this is a command, a “you all must” submit to God.

Let’s look at various venues in which we are to submit to God’s government over our lives.

Submission to God exemplified in His rulership in the family.

We are to submit to God’s rule over us in the family. For extra study on this look at the Westminster Larger Catechism on the 5th Commandment. (WLC 123-133) 

Luke uses the same Greek word when he describes Jesus submitting or obeying Mary and Joseph.

Luke 2:51   And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

Submission to God exemplified in His rulership in the state.

We see a similar idea with citizens and the state obeying governing authorities. This one is so hard for us, isn’t it?

Romans 13:1. Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Remember, by submitting to these civil rulers we are submitting to God, because He gave us the rulers and He has told us to obey them in His Scriptures. (I Pt.2:13)

Submission to God exemplified in His rulership in the church.

The church is the kingdom of Christ and the family of God upon the earth. And kingdoms and families have rule – His rule. Paul told Christians to obey their leaders in the church. (I Cor.16:16)

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Some other examples of God commanding us to submit to Him by submitting to those He placed over us are: The Bible tells younger people they should be submissive to older people, especially children to parents. (I Pt.5:5) Wives submit to husbands (Eph.5:22, Col.3:18, Titus 2:5, I Pt.3:1).  And also, servants submit to masters. (Titus 2:9, I Pt.2:18)

Submission to God is an answer to our prayers.

Also when we yield our will to God’s revealed will we are living out what we regularly pray, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Mt.6:10)

As an aside, is it honest for us to pray to God that we desire His will to be done in everything and then moan and groan against His will? Food for thought. 😊

Submission to God is an imitation of our Christ.

The best example of submission to the will of God is obviously Jesus Christ. The Son perfectly yields to the will of His Father. Christ always did the things that pleased His Father. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the will and the work the Father gave Him to accomplish. And think of the kind of work Christ submitted to – Calvary’s Cross and a lifetime of suffering and shame and opposition. (Isa.53) Oh, what an example Christ left for us to follow in His footsteps. 

Remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane Christ said, not My will Oh Father, but Thy will be done. (Mt.26:42, Lk.22:42) Christ came to do the will of His heavenly Father. (Heb.10:7-9).

Beloved, when we submit our wills, our lives to God’s will we are humbling ourselves, we are putting down our carnal pride, and we are imitating Christ. And this pleases and honors Him. And this helps us and others.

Submission to God is devotedness to God.

The idea is to be a God-centered Christian.  Make a willful break with self, and sin and the world and actively commit yourself into Gods hands, put yourself under God’s Lordship. By our submission to His government over us we truly express that our chief purpose in life is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. (WSC 1)

This is not forced submission we want to yield to God.

He is our Creator.

Why should we submit to God?  And why do we as Believers want to submit to Him. Because He is our Creator, and we are His creatures. 

Daniel 4:34. But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.  35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

He is our Savior.

And since God is our Father in Christ Jesus we are bound to obey Him. (Rom.8:28) In Christ God is our Father and we are His beloved children. In Christ, Jesus is our blessed Savior-Shepherd and we are His beloved lambs.

In Christ we know that God’s Lordship, His government over us is good.

And that means submitting to God when His government over our Life is difficult or painful, in various trials and so on. (I Cor.11:32, Heb.12:5-14, Rom.5:3-5, Heb.10:32-34, Jas.1:2) What is this but being conformed into the image of Christ Jesus.

Submission to God exemplified in opposing those that oppose Him.

He is our Lord.

Submitting to God and resisting the devil go hand and hand.  It is impossible to serve two masters or two Lords, we will love the one and hate the other.

James 4:7. Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

The idea is that we are to yield to God’s Lordship being aware that the devil and the devil led world are seeking us to yield to his and their (lower case “L”) lordship. 

Satan labors to make us unsubmissive to God in His revealed will, the Bible.

Therefore, James does not want us to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes against us. (2 Cor.2:11, Eph.6:11) The devil is a prowling lion seeking to devour us. (I Pt.5:9) This is why Jesus teaches us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, deliver us from evil or from the evil one. (Mt.6:13)

Some of Satan’s schemes against us, which we need to resist are his temptations for us to cater to self, self-expression, self-indulgence, self promotion, and the like.

And now James gives us God’s directions on how to deal with the devil and his temptations – positively submit to God.  And negatively resist him, fight back with the armor of God. (Eph.6:11-180, Mt.4:1-11)

We resist Satan and sin by faith. (I Jn.5:18, Eph.6:16, I Pt.5:8)

Then we are assured by God’s Word that the devil will flee from us.

The devil is not fleeing from our power or authority, but he is fleeing from divine authority, from God.  Christ, as our King, is ruling and defending us, and restraining and conquering all of His and our enemies. (WSC 26)

The basis of this victory then is the blood of the Lamb of God.  Christ has cast Satan down. (Col.2: 15) Christ will put Satan under His feet. (Rom.16:20)

Martin Luther once said, if we sing psalms and hymns or read Scripture, Satan will flee from us lest he scorch his wings.

Submission to God exemplified in drawing near to Him in the means of grace.

Draw near to God.

Let’s say a few things about drawing near to God. Or course we can only draw near to God the Father through God the Son our Mediator and our High Priest.

James 4:8. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Here too, we draw near to the Lord by faith. (Lam.3:57, Hos.12:6, Zech1:3, Mal.3:7)

Here are a few scriptures that speak to this.

Deuteronomy 4:7  For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? 

Hebrews 4:16  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The idea here is deliberately seeking God’s presence, deliberately cultivating God’s friendship.

The person in the OT that drew near to God particularly was the High Priest.  And because of the work of the True High Priest we draw near to God as a nation of priests.

We draw near to God in reading His word and hearing His word preached, and in prayer. (Ps.145:18, Isa.58:9)

Cleanse your hands and purify your heart.

In drawing near to our holy God in Christ we also want to be aware of the remaining sin in our lives. We want to sanctify God as we draw near to Him. We want to treat holy God as holy. (Lev.10:1-10)

James uses OT pictures, cleanse your hands sinners.

Exodus 30:20. when they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in smoke a fire sacrifice to the LORD.  21 “So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations.”

Psalm 24:3. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?  4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.

Notice he says, cleanse your hands meaning cleanse your sinful actions.  Obviously, this is a call to cleanse our hearts from the filth of sin.

He calls his audience sinners (Mt.9:10, Lk.7:37-39) and double-minded or undecided people.  This is people that waver between two opinions.   This is a person that says he loves God but also loves the world. (I Jn.2:15, I Cor.7:31)

James wants to shock the Believers out of the ugliness of living like an unbeliever. It is like saying, oh saint, why are you acting like a sinner?

The scripture speaks to erring Believers in a number of places like this.

1 Kings 18:21   Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.

Jeremiah 4:1  If you will return, O Israel,” declares the LORD, “Then you should return to Me. And if you will put away your detested things from My presence, And will not waver.

Mourn for your sins.

Part of our submission to God is holding His view on sin in general and our sins in particular. He hates sin. Because He is so holy. And so we are to hate sin and to put it to death.

For using the pictures of the OT, now James speaks much like an OT prophet calling the people to repent and mourn for their sin, to cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes, as it were.

James 4:9. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

God tells those Christians that have not submitted to Him and instead have submitted to the world to make themselves miserable! Imagine saying that in a sermon!

This word (alai-poe-ray-satay) is imperative active 2nd person plural. It means you all must be sorrowful, or lament.  Literally to wretch-oneself, to afflict oneself as to get a deep sense of one’s sin, to see one’s miserable condition.

True Christians are people that have turned from their sin to Jesus Christ. And we daily turn from our sins. (Rom.6:6, Gal.2:20, Gal.5:24, Gal.6:14)

The entire book of James and certainly this section is not a call for unbelievers to be saved, but a call for Christians to seek greater holiness. (Heb.12:14) Similar to Christ’s letter to the church at Laodiceans. (Rev.3:14-22)

Humble yourselves and wait for His exaltation of you.

Beloved, it is no grievous thing for us to humble ourselves before the Lord. He is so good, so kind, so loving. (Ps.149:4, Prov.3:34, Ezek.21:26, Mt.23:12, I Pt.5:6, Rom.12:3, Phil.2:3)

By faith, let’s keep ourselves unspotted from this evil world. Remember you are God’s blessed and holy son or daughter. You are the Bride of Christ. Don’t give your heart to the world. Give you heart wholly to Jesus. Submit your will to God’s will. His will is always best. Very soon God Himself will exalt us in Christ and with Christ.

Amen

Study Guide.

  1. Interact with 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. What does it mean to be separated from the world? What does it mean to be separated for God? (WCF 20.1, James 4:1-10, Num.16:21, 2 Thess.3:6, 2 Jn.1:10-11, Eph.5:11, I Cor.15:33, 2 Tim.3:5, I Pt.2:9, I Jn.2:15-17)
  1. How does God reveal Himself and His will to us in nature? By this what does God teach us about Himself and us by what comes to pass in life? How does God reveal Himself to us in Scripture? What does the Bible teach us? What is our rule or guide for life as Believers? (Ps.19:1-6, Mt.5:45, Acts 14:15-17, Rom.1:18-32, Ps.19:7-14, Jn.3:16, 2 Tim.3:14-17, WSC 2-3, 11, 20)
  1. What is the definition of submission? How does submission teach the realities of superiors and inferiors or subordinates in a relationship? Does our flesh like the idea of being an inferior? Why? Why not? Why is our submission especially tested and proved when we are confronted with something contrary to our will? What are some things the Bible teaches about submission to God’s will? (James 4:7-10, Ps.40:8, Ps.143:10, Mt.6:10, Mt.12:50, Jn.5:30, Jn.7:17, Acts 21:14, Rom.12:2, Eph.6:6, Heb.13:21, James 4:15, I Jn.2:17)
  1. Who are the superiors, inferiors, and equals in family relationships? Give some examples from the Bible where God governs family relationships? Give examples of submission to the government of God in our family life. (WLC 123-133, Gen.2:18-25, Exod.20:12, Lk.2:51, Mal.2:13-16, Eph.5:21-33, Eph.6:1-8, Prov.23:22, I Tim.5:4-8)
  1. Who instituted civil government? Who are the superiors and inferiors in civil government? How do we submit to God by submitting to those He placed over us in civil government? Are there limits to our submission to civil government? How did Jesus submit to civil government? How does this inform our duties? (Rom.13:1-7, I Pt.2:13, Lk.2:1-6, Mt.17:24-27, Mt.22:17-21, Lk.3:12-13, Exod.1:15-22, Dan.3:8-18, Acts 5:29, Jn.19:9-11, WCF 20.4, WCF 23.1-3, 30.1, 31.5)
  1. How does God govern those within His church? Ruled with what? By whom? What are some of our respective duties as regards to submission in His church? (2 Tim.3:14-17, I Cor.16:16, Heb.13:17, 1 Tim.3:1-13, Mt.28:18-20, Eph.4:11-13, I Pt.5:1-5, Eph.6:19, WLC 158-160)
  1. How does the submission to the government of God in all venues of our life as revealed in providence and scripture honor God? As our Creator? As our Savior? As our Lord. (Ps.19:1-14, Job 1:21, Job 19:25-27, Job 14:14, Jn.14:15-31, Lk.6:46-49)
  1. What does it mean to resist Satan? How does Satan and the unbelieving world tempt you to renounce submission to God? How do you resist obeying Satan and the world? (Gen.3:1-8, I Jn.5:18, Eph.6:16, I Pt.5:8, 2 Cor.2:11, I Cor.15:33, Rom.6:16, Rev.2:18-25, Eph.6:10-18, 2 Cor.10:5, 2 Cor.11:14)
  1. How do you drawn near to God? Do you need a mediator to draw near to God?  In what ways do Bible reading, praying, the sacraments, and public worship help you draw near to God? (James 4:8,  (Lam.3:57, Hos.12:6, Zech1:3, Mal.3:7, Dt.4:7, Heb.4:16, Ps.145:18, Isa.58:9, Lev.10:1-10)
  1. Describe how you would cleanse your hands and purify your heart and mourn for sin. What do these duties teach us about God? And about us as true Believers in Christ? (James 4:7-10, Exod.30:20-21, Ps.24:3-4, I Kg.18:21, Jer.4:1, Rom.6:6, Gal.2:20, Gal.5:24, Gal.6:14, Heb.12:14, Rev.3:14-22)

 

 

 

 

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GALATIANS 6:11-18. Sermon 27. Parting Words – Remember the Cross of Christ https://covenantpensacola.org/2021/03/29/galatians-611-18-sermon-27-parting-words-remember-the-cross-of-christ/ Mon, 29 Mar 2021 23:12:36 +0000 https://covenantpensacola.org/?p=3201

The greeting.

Greetings Beloved what a wonderful day to be alive. Another day to love and to serve Jesus Christ. Another day to experience the love of Christ in our soul. (Rom.5:5) This day, the Lord’s Day, is a picture of heaven, a life of worshiping God. I wonder when we arrive in heaven what the experience of Christ’s love will be then and there. I almost want to say, but I won’t because I am a Presbyterian and know better, I wonder what it will “feel” like? I bet it will feel nice. I bet we will be happy there. Won’t it be wonderful there. 😊

The Scripture.

Now this morning we have a passage designed by God the Holy Spirit to enflame our love to God and our love to our fellow man. Paul writes to us about the Cross of Christ, which is the expression of God’s love for sinners. (I Jn.4:7-13) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and that whosoever shall believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life. (Jn.3:16,36, Rom.8:1) 

Galatians 6:11. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

The prayer.

Christ Himself taught us as His disciples to pray and to come to God as our heavenly and holy and loving Father for everything that we need and desire. So let’s go to the Father now through the Son in reliance upon the Spirit, pray.

The meaning of the cross of Christ.

Before we begin to unpack our passage, I want us to see the governing truth that governs the apostle Paul. And that is the cross of Jesus Christ.

V.12, 14. When Paul says “the cross of Christ” he is referring to the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. He is referring to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the fundamental truth about the Good News of Jesus Christ is that He atones for the sins of sinners by His substitutionary death upon the Cross.

The good news of the cross is that Christ receives from God the wages of our sin – death. And we then receive from Christ what He merited – eternal life.

This is the Gospel that Paul has been so vigorously defending in this entire epistle against the legalist corrupters of the true gospel. You remember, the false teachers told the Galatians Christians that in order to be saved that they must believe in Jesus, plus they must be circumcised, and they must also keep the law of Moses. (Acts 15:1-5) Jesus plus, plus, plus, plus.

Oh Beloved, once you add anything to the merits of Christ you lose Christ. Once you start adding anything to the cross of Christ, the additions are never ending.

You see these false teachers, who were also false Christians told people to partly trust in the work of Jesus and then to partly trust in their own religious works.

Beloved, I hope if you have been with us in these past 27 sermons that if nothing else you have got that a false gospel of salvation is partly faith in the obedience of Jesus and partly your own obedience. Law plus gospel is law, which means damnation for the sinner.

Christ alone saves. He saves by paying for all of our sins and all of our righteousness alone. True Christianity is essentially what God does for us – Christ dies for us.

Beloved, there are many diverse truths in the Bible. But there is one main truth of holy Scripture and that is the good news of the cross of Christ. Christ pays for our sins by His blood. Believe upon the name of Christ and you will be saved.

Every other truth in the Bible is secondary and tertiary to the Gospel. Every other truth in the Bible is subordinate and somehow subservient to the Gospel, meaning they serve to promote the Gospel of salvation from sins.

Make sure in your Christian faith that you know the gospel of the Cross and that is the animating truth of your life.

Let’s see how this gospel of the cross or this gospel of our justification by faith alone in Christ alone governs this passage. Indeed, how it governs Paul. And how it affects others.

The importance of the cross of Christ.

We come now to the final section of the Galatian letter. And remember it is a letter, it is not a book per se. This is a personal letter from the apostle Paul to the churches in the region of Galatia. And when I say personal, I do not mean casual or informal and certainly not secular.

The apostle Paul writes in his official capacity as an apostle of Jesus Christ to churches in Christ.  I would say this, Paul as an apostle, which is an extraordinary church officer, is a public person. That is to say, as a minister of Christ and a minister of the word he always represents Christ, every where and every time. He must live upon the Cross and live to serve the Cross. Oh, who is sufficient for such things. No one. Oh, may Christ be our sufficiency.

This is a religious letter of religious instruction from a religious teacher to religious people.

Beloved, I realize not every Christian is called by God to be an official preacher or teacher of God’s word, such that they would have to be ready in season and out of season to represent the truth of Christ when asked. (Eph.4:11, James 3:1I Cor.12:1-31)

But as professing Believers we always represent Jesus Christ, in all places and in all times. And all Believers should be ready to give an account to everyone about our hope in Christ, in a truthful and winsome and loving way. (I Pt.3:15) You are Beloved Believer a solider of the Cross.

There is really no such thing as secular versus sacred for the true Believer. All of our life is religious for us that love the Lord. We are called by Christ to devote ourselves body and soul to Him as a living sacrifice. Whether we eat or drink, buy or sell, everything is to reflect to the honor of God in Christ, what we believe about God and the kind of life we live. (Col.3:23-24)

As a Believer in Jesus, I do not want you to think of any part of your life as insignificant. In fact, I want just the opposite. I want you to truly believe that every part of your life is a platform to serve Jesus Christ, every breath you take is an opportunity to glorify God. Even when you are down, even when you are so low you cannot see a way out, even then – we can shine for Christ. Even a groan to Christ brings Him glory.

As a Believer in Jesus the Bible says that you are a royal son our daughter of God, a holy people and priesthood unto God. (Rev.1:6, 5:10, Isa.61:6, I Pt.2:9, Exod.19:6) We have the life of Christ in us. (Gal.2:20) Our whole life is to be our sacrifice of thanksgiving. The hotter the furnace, the harder the trial, the blacker the days only makes the power of the Cross stronger in your life.

The enemies and the pain and the opposition only draw you closer to Christ. They make you renounce all your hope in self and in man – you fix your eyes on Calvary. Oh, the Blood. God did not spare His only Son. He gave Him for you. Surely weary Believer He will come to your aid in your hour of need. (2 Cor.12:7-11)

Don’t worry about getting any acknowledgement or glory from man whether believing or unbelieving man for your service, just love to serve because you love Christ. Christ knows. And that is our glory. (I Cor.15:58)

Now the last thing I want to say about Paul writing this letter is something that he says himself. Paul says he personally wrote this letter with his own hands. We know from other letters that Paul used a scribe, a common practice in the ancient world. He dictated the word of God to another fellow and that man then actually did the writing.

In the epistle to the Romans Paul’s scribe actually identifies himself.

Romans 16:22. I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.

Tertius means “third” in Latin. (Acts 20:4 – Secundus, Rom.16:23 – Quartus)

Paul says that he personally wrote this letter as evidenced by his large writing style. People often remark that Paul (probably) wrote with such large letters because he had an eye problem as he seems to allude to in Galatians 4:13-15.

But the idea is that the subject of the cross of Jesus is so intensely personal and so vitally important that he wants the Galatians to know this by his personally writing this letter.

What changed Pharisee Saul into the apostle Paul? Was it Paul’s own good works? Was it Paul’s own law-keeping? No. V.13. He says, the Pharisees, of which he was one, do not keep the law of God. They break the law of God. You cannot pay for you law breaking with law breaking for your righteousness. No mere man can keep the law of God the way God requires.

Paul in Philippians 3:1-14, says that he considers all works-righteousness or law-righteousness to be rubbish or dung next to the righteousness of Christ crucified. (I Cor.2:1, Rom.1:16-17, 10:1-17)

You see this is why natural man hates the Cross of Christ so much, because the Cross indicts all of man’s so called good works as nothing but shiny sins.

Listen to what he tells the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:17. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

And you remember as well, Paul opened by reminding these sinning Galatians that what changed them from being pagans worshiping false gods to children of the true God was the Gospel of the Cross. (Jn.1:10-13) And they have forgotten that. And they have been tricked by a false self-righteous gospel, which is not the gospel and not saving. (Gal.1:3-9)

The offense of the cross of Christ.

Thus far we have focused on what I would call the wonders or the mercies of Christ’s saving and atoning and reconciling sacrifice. The very first instant we truly believed in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins then we are forever joined to the Triune God of heaven and earth. (Col.1:13, Jn.3:17, Jn.10-13, Rom.5:1-10, Eph.2:1-10)

And now in Christ, God is our Father, Christ is our brother, and the Spirit is our comforter and counselor. And every blessing of God is yes and amen to us in Jesus! (WSC 32-38)

But Paul is quick to remind the Galatians and us that both the preaching of the Cross and the believing in the complete atoning sacrifice of Jesus comes with a very real and often times a very painful cost. We do not pay for our salvation. But we do in fact, bear a cost to follow Jesus in an anti-Christ world being deceived by Satan.

Even Jesus Christ tells those that hear Him preach His own Good News that they should count the cost before they come to Him. Christ says all that desire to follow Me must pick up their cross daily, deny themselves daily, and follow Him daily. Going where He leads.  (Lk.14:25-35)

The next thing I want us to see is the offense of the cross of Christ. Look at the language that God the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to use.

Galatians 6:12. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Galatians 6:17. From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.  

Christ was persecuted.

The Bible states clearly that Christ was hated and He was opposed. Jesus was rejected by both Jews and Gentiles. Christ was condemned to die by both Jews and Gentiles. Think of all the abuse Christ received, verbal, physical, and spiritual.

Now we have to ask, why? Why, what evil did Jesus Christ do that people would hate him so much to crucify Him?

Well, the answer is that Christ did no evil. Christ only did good. Christ is the second Person of the Holy Trinity. As such Christ cannot sin. He is spotless and without blemish. Jesus is altogether perfect and holy. Let me say that last word – and holy. That is our answer. That is why Christ was persecuted.

Lovers of Christ will be persecuted.

That is why all who preach Christ will be persecuted. This is why all who believe in the true Christ and labor to live holy for Christ will suffer. (Phil.1:21, Acts 14:22, 2 Tim.3:2, Jn.16:33) Natural man is unholy and hates holiness and loves sin. 

Jesus says, if they hated Me then they will hate you, those that truly love Me. (Jn.15:12-27)

Fallen man is evil.

The persecution of Christ and those who proclaim Christ reveals the true spiritual nature of fallen man. Unconverted people are evil and they hate the Light of Christ. And unconverted people are in the church and out of the church.

God is telling us that apart from God giving man grace to believe, Man hates God. Unconverted men left to themselves hates Christ Jesus. And I mean the real Christ of the Bible. Not the myriads of false Christ’s conjured up by false Christians.

Beloved there are many false Christs in the world. There are many false gospels of Christ in the world. Test every spirit against the word of God. Test every Christ against the Christ of the Word.

Any so-called Christ that appeals to the fallen flesh and is contrary to the Bible is a false Christ. A Christ that winks at sin is a false Christ.

A Christ that admits all into heaven regardless of saving faith is a false Christ. A Christ that takes a place among a multitude of other paths and saviors is a false Christ. And men dead in their sins love their false Christs and hate the true Christ.

A Christ that says He pays for part of your sins and you pay for the other part by your good works is a false Christ. The flesh loves to play lord of their life.

Listen to this. Here is what God says about Man. And this is why they persecute the preachers of Holy Christ.

Romans 3:9. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

Christ is holy.

You see it is the divinity of Christ and the holiness of Christ that prompted unholy men to hate Him.

Christ is Sin-Bearer.

Christ went around and told people that they must repent of their sins and believe in Him as their Sin-Atoner, as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

Christ is God.

Christ said before Abraham was I AM. Christ said that He is Immanuel God with us.

John 14:6. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Haters of Christ refuse to suffer for Christ.

Notice what Paul says about these false teachers of their false gospel. They preached a false gospel because they did not want to be persecuted for preaching the Cross and the Blood of Christ alone.

False teachers of false gospels are false Christians. They are “Christians” in name only. They are not born again. They are spiritual dead. And not spiritually alive. As such they are not joined to the true Christ. They do not know the true Christ. They have no power. They have no love to Jesus. They are in the flesh and of the flesh. (2 Tim.3:1-13)

Their false Jesus is only for their carnal honor – call me Reverend, call me holy such and so. They preach a false Christ for the material gain, power, prestige, wealth.

They can see that preachers of the true Gospel are hated, even put to death. They want no part of pain and shame. They want no part of cross-bearing for Jesus. They serve mammon. Self is their god. God is not their God.

And so they sell their false form of Christianity that appeals to the flesh. So they can have their heaven on earth. And give people a religion after their own imagination.

The carnal man wants religious rites, religious ceremonies, holy toys and trinkets. Carnal man wants a religion of eternals. Get circumcised. Get baptized. Wear this. Eat that. Oh Beloved, true Christianity is not found in the externals. True Christianity is found in the heart. As Paul says in V.18 grace be with your spirit.

V.15. Natural man hates spiritual Christianity. Natural man brags about the externals of their false religion. God seeks worshipers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

It is a mark of an insincere preacher or under-shepherd that he is unwilling to undergo hardship in his ministry of Christ’s gospel. They are man-pleasers. And not God fearers.

There is a reason beloved, most men that go to seminary never make it into a pulpit. There is a reason beloved that most men that make it into a pulpit are gone within seven years. A tiny fraction of men that start out preaching Christ crucified will retire at the end of their life still proclaiming the Good News of Jesus.

And this is not just for the preacher. All who trust only in the cross of Christ will suffer persecution. All.

Bible preaching and Bible believing is not safe, nor is it popular. Law preaching is hated. Gospel preaching is hated.

These Christians are afraid of the cross. So they preach and teach and believe easy things. Things that the people want to hear. Nice moral stories. Social and cultural lessons. Hints to be happier and healthier in this life. They make up the form of religion that pleases the people. Everyone stays nice and comfortable. Yet, Christ is dishonored. And people are unsaved.

In one way beloved, they are correct. If you tell people religious things that appeals to their flesh, they will like you and say good things about you. What a nice person. So smart. But this is not what they said of Christ. Of Christ they said He was a tool of the devil!

Luke 6:22. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

What different treatment Jesus received by people outside of the visible household of faith and inside the visible household of faith. How were the apostles of Christ treated by Jews and Gentiles? Paul says, they were treated as the off scouring of the earth! (I Cor.4)

We are not saying that faithful preachers and faithful Christians ought to court persecution. No. That is not even normal or sane. No one hated his own body.

Paul tells pastor Timothy this.

2 Timothy 1:7. or God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

The blessings of the cross of Christ.

Unbelievers do not want to pay the cost to follow Christ. But what they do not understand is that there is an eternal cost of not following Christ. And the pain and the shame of not believing and living for Jesus in the eternal estate far outweighs the little suffering we share with Jesus in this life. They will lose their eternal souls for a few days of friendship with the world.

The glory that awaits us makes the opposition we bear for Jesus pale in comparison with what awaits us when we see the Crucified and Risen One. But we do not have to wait until we get to heaven to start enjoying heaven.

We can live on God in Christ here and now. We can enjoy the privileges Christ purchased by His blood here and now. Look at what Paul says lovers of Christ and those cleansed from our sins by His blood enjoy here and now.  This is what I am calling the blessings of the Cross. (WCF 21.1)

Death to the world.

By His Cross we are crucified to this world. New creatures in Christ have been rescued from the fallen god of the fallen world. The Cross breaks the bondage of Satan over us. Christ has set us free from the dominion of the devil. We are no longer under his unholy power. (Isa.61:1-2, Jn.8:36, Col.1:13, Eph.2:1-3, 2 Cor.4:4)

Being born again to Jesus the power of the world has been broken over us. We have been translated from darkness into the light. We are no longer enslaved by the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. (1 John 2:16)

Grace, peace, and mercy with God.

V.16-18. Because of the cross we have newness of life with God. The cross of Jesus is our greatest treasure. We are new creatures by His blood. The old has been taken away. The new has come. Amazing GRACE.

Amen

 

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