There are three men mentioned in the New Testament named James. There is the apostle, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John; the second is an apostle, the son of Alphaeus; and the third is James, the brother of our Lord. James was the oldest brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55) and is commonly recognized as the writer of this epistle. He addresses his writings to the Jews who are scattered abroad. James was known as an unusually good man, and was surnamed "the Just" by his fellow men. He is said to have spent much time on his knees in prayer, and because of that they became calloused like the knees of camels. After Peter moved off the scene, James became the leader of the assembly at Jerusalem.
In chapter 1 faith and the trial of faith are again presented. It has often been said that one of the best tests of Christian maturity is tribulation. James tells us that a Christian should rejoice in the time of trials. You might ask how we can have joy in the midst of our troubles. James gives the answer in chapter 1, by showing the certainties the Christian has in the time of tribulation. In verses 1-12 James tells us that there is a purpose for all of these trials. We can be sure, in every situation and every trial that befalls us, that God does have a purpose for it. His main purpose is for the perfection of Christian character. God wants His children to be mature and able to face any situation. Trials produce patience, as we see in Romans 5:3, and patience produces indurance. The second thing we can be sure of during troubles is the goodness of God. Whatever trial or temptation may face us, we can be sure that God will be with us through these temptations, and will never give us a burden too heavy to bear. The third thing we can always be sure of in the time of temptation is the Word of God. The Word has the answers to all our problems. If we will read it and obey it, no matter what may befall us, we will come out the victors in every situation.
In chapter 2 James presents true Bible faith. James tells us that our faith is proven by love. He says if we have not faith then we will not practice the things of God, but if we have faith, then we are to live like it in our daily lives.
Christians are known by the fruits they bear. True Christians have love one for another, love for God, and love for their fellow men. James also says that our faith is proven by works. We must not confuse works and grace, and here James is not contradicting Paul; but he simply says that if a person has Christ living within his life he will produce works of righteousness. Ephesians 2:8,9 shows us very definitely that we are saved by grace and not of works. But here James is saying that if we are in fact saved by grace, and if we do in fact have our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, then show Him some works. The world judges Christian people by the works they produce, and a Christian's proof to the world of a genuine born-again experience is good works.
Chapter 4 makes it clear that there were carnal divisions and disputes among the believers to whom James was writing. There was a lack of true separation in their lives, and the devil was having his way in the lives of many. As Christians, we should realize there are several enemies we must face. The flesh is the enemy we have with us continually. The word "lusts" does not necessarily mean sensual passions. It simply means desires. There are desires that are at work in the members of the body that will excite the flesh and create problems. The flesh is human nature apart from God. This is why Romans 6 exhorts us to yield the members of our bodies to the Spirit.
The world is another enemy we must face constantly. As Christians, we must not love the world. When we do love the world after becoming Christians, we are committing spiritual adultery. God says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." When the believer becomes a friend to the world, he becomes at enmity with God. He grieves the Spirit within. It is sad the way many Christians live in and for the world. The devil is the greatest influence and enemy we must fight today. When a Christian lives for the world and the flesh, he becomes proud and this is where the devil goes to work. Pride is one of his best tools. God wants to give us more grace; Satan wants to give us more pride. The Christian must use the Word to resist the devil. James 4:7,8a says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." There is no way of living the Christian life apart from a surrendered life to the Spirit of God. It is important that every Christian examine his heart and be sure he is not living for the flesh or the world, and that the devil is not controlling his words and deeds. Life is so brief that we cannot afford to waste even one day. Surrender today to the Lord completely and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit, that you might be for Him what He would have you to be.
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