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Faith: Just Do It James 1:19-27

24-06-2018

Introduction…

James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Right now, you are in church. You’re about to listen to the word. In a little while, you’re going to leave this place and go out “into the world.” Are you going to do what the word says? Or are you going to deceive yourself? Are you going to merely listen to the word, or are you going to actually do what it says? On Monday, when you go to work, or to school, are you going to do what it says? In your relationships with family, friends and co-workers are you going to do what it says? When you go home from church today, are you going to do what the word says?

I think James must have felt like the preacher in the video sometimes. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mcXtontujA) Actually, I think Jesus probably felt that way many times during his earthly ministry. I think God probably feels that way a lot with all of us! What are we doing? We’re making him look bad!

Last week, we began our summer-long look at James. We touched on a couple things that are relevant to today’s message as well. First, remember, James was writing to primarily Jewish Christians. They were familiar with living a “holy” lifestyle, a godly lifestyle. The lifestyle conversion from Judaism to Christianity would not be as radical as the lifestyle change of many Gentiles to Christianity. So, as James is writing to them, he does not need to remind them of the immorality of many things that Jews consider immoral. James doesn’t need to address sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, etc. like Paul had to because James was writing to people whose moral background, whose moral framework was pretty much the same as that of Christianity.

The error many Jewish Christians in the first century would be in danger of falling into was that they believed they were on good terms with God merely by being Jewish. Their identity as “the Chosen People” of God could lead them to a false sense of eternal security, a false sense of righteousness with God. Religious ceremony, like going to the Temple for festivals, reading the Law (the Old Testament), going to synagogue, etc. might lead them to think that they were “ok” spiritually speaking. This is one of the things James addresses in his letter.

Another idea I want to draw on from last week, to remind you of this morning, is the idea of “wisdom.” In James 1:5, he says that if anybody lacks wisdom they can ask God. We talked about the fact that there is a whole category of writing called “wisdom literature,” which includes books like Proverbs. Wisdom is about living a godly life. Wisdom is about how to walk with God closely.

Where we left off last week, the last verse of that section, was verse 18: He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. There are two ideas in that we need to keep in mind as we approach our text today. First, the “word of truth” comes up in our passage today, “do not merely listen to the word.” Notice that it is through this word that God has given us new birth, or new life in Christ. Second, notice James is writing to those who have new life in Christ! He is writing to Christians, to believers. He is not writing to non-Christians, trying to win them to faith. He is writing to those who have faith, who have committed to Jesus.

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