Sunday, July 19, 2015, 6:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fully Ready.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 3 (NASB).
Many Teachers (vv. 1-5a)
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
James wrote this to believers in Jesus Christ. There is a caution here that not many of us should become teachers, because God will judge us more strictly than he does those who are not teachers. On what premise is this caution made? We all stumble in many ways. Not one of us is perfect in what he says. So not one of us should enter into the gift of teaching lightly, or of our own flesh, but we must be called of God, and we must take this assignment with great seriousness of purpose, and must rely completely upon the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives to lead and to guide us into all truth. We must be students of the Word and ones who correctly handle the word of truth, though not one of us will do this with absolute perfection, either, because now we only know in part (See: 1 Co. 13:9-12).
Now this lack of perfection, though, is not to be used as an excuse for willful or continued sin against God. The Bible teaches us that if we say we have fellowship with God but we continue to conduct our lives according to what is sinful, then we are liars and we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1). It teaches us that if we conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of our flesh, we will live (Ro. 8). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). Daily we are to die to sin and self and follow (obey) Christ (Lu. 9:23-25). Yet we still live in flesh bodies, and so we are still subject to weakness, so we will not live in sinless perfection while we are still in these flesh bodies. Yet, one day Jesus Christ will return for his bride and we will be transformed into glorified bodies, and we will no longer be subject to the flesh and to temptation to sin. That will be awesome! I surely look forward to that day.
Also, this lack of perfection is not to be used as an excuse for willfully distorting the word of God. Many people become teachers who are not called of God but who are following after human flesh. Or, they may have been called of God, but have since wandered off to follow after what is not of God, but is of man, and is of the devil.
Full of Poison (vv. 5b-12)
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
Although we all stumble in many ways, and not one of us is perfect, that does not mean we “throw in the towel” (give up in defeat) and that we resign ourselves to a life of failure. Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins, not just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven, but he died to set us free from the control of Satan and sin over our lives, and to empower us to walk in his Spirit in godliness, and uprightness and in self-control. When we stumble, we humble ourselves before God, repent of our sin, pray for help, rely on the Spirit, trust in God’s love, put on the armor of God, and we resist Satan and flee temptation and we draw near to God in full assurance of faith. Though absolute sinless perfection might not be attainable while we live in these flesh bodies, maturity in Christ is, and so is holiness, godliness, and being conformed to the image of Christ, though all this is a process of sanctification in our lives of the Spirit of God as we continue to grow in him, throw off what hinders, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
So, although we may not be able to have absolute control over our tongues, we can daily bring them into submission to Christ and to his Word, and we can pray for help from the Spirit within us to reveal to us what is in our hearts, since out of the heart the mouth speaks. We can ask the Spirit to nudge us when we are about to say something unwise, and then we must stop, even in mid-sentence, and not say what the Spirit has nudged us about. If we have blurted out something we should not have, because we didn’t think, or because we were not relying on the Spirit, or because of something in our hearts left unresolved, we need to immediately confess our wrong, turn from our sin, and trust in the Holy Spirit within us to empower us to control our tongues, much like we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. If the Spirit reveals to us thoughts or attitudes which are sinful, which are stored up in our hearts, then we must repent of those, too, and trust in the Lord to purify us from all unrighteousness and to empower us to live holy lives pleasing to God. Yet, this means we must submit ourselves to Christ and to his Word.
Many people who call themselves teachers of the Word or ministers of the gospel are not living in submission to the cross of Christ, or to his Word, but are submitting themselves to following after human flesh and ultimately are under the control of Satan. Their tongues are full of deadly poison as they purposefully and willfully are teaching what is false and are leading many, many people astray. They do not have a consciousness of Almighty God in their lives, but are following after humanistic philosophy, and are even teaching and promoting distortions and manipulations of truth and/or what is clearly opposed to God and to his gospel of salvation, even to the extent now of teaching what is of other religions and religious practice which stands in stark opposition to God and his Word. Their teachings have spread throughout the church like a destructive fire or like gangrene. And, these teachings are defiling the body of Christ.
Some of this is fairly new to me, so I am just beginning to scratch the surface of the extent of these false teachings within the church. In the institutional church of today here in America we have now moved beyond just the matter of watering down the gospel in order to make it more pleasing to the flesh of humans. Now we are dealing with the fact that the church has largely adopted the teachings of other religions and the blending of pagan religious beliefs and practices in with Christianity, which is now paving the way for this one-world (of the beast, of the devil) religion. So many teachers of the faith who used to be on solid biblical ground have now wandered off to follow and to teach mysticism and mystic religious practices, some of which have their roots in Roman Catholic tradition. I am beginning to see more and more protestant evangelical preachers drawing on these Roman Catholic beliefs and practices, some of which have their roots in Middle Eastern religion. So, this calls for much discernment. We need to know the Word so that we recognize these deviations of truth and these subtle lies mixed in with truth so that we are not deceived.
Earthly Wisdom (vv. 13-18)
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
In this passage, James contrasted earthly wisdom with godly wisdom. This earthly wisdom is really not wisdom at all, but is unwise, worldly, sinful and of the devil. I have been reading much in the past few days about some of this earthly (of the devil) “wisdom” which has captivated much of today’s modern institutional church. It falls under different names, but they all lead the same direction. This is very self-focused and self-driven, and veers away from the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. So many preachers are involved in this and are leading their congregations astray. President Obama and the Pope are promoting it, as well as Rick Warren is a major voice in favor of it. Where it all leads is to a one-world religion which blends all faiths together into one.
What this means for us who are still following the teachings of Christ and those of the NT apostles is that we have been and are being pushed aside, rejected and persecuted by the church because we stand for what is right, and because we will not compromise our faith or convictions in order to mix with this sinful spiritually adulterous and/or apostate church. Yet, we must speak out, we must warn against what is false, and we must continue to proclaim what is truth, even though we know that we are destined to be hated, rejected, falsely accused, mistreated and perhaps even killed for our faith and testimonies for Christ Jesus and for his unadulterated gospel of salvation.
We don’t make peace through compromise with the ungodly, but we make peace by teaching truth, so that people who come to Christ may be at peace with God. True peace comes through humility, repentance, submission and transformation by the Spirit of God. It does not come through compromise of truth and via mystical religious practices. So, make sure you don’t go looking for peace through religious practices not of God and contrary to his Word, for only through the cross of Christ can we truly be at peace with God.
Fully Ready! / An Original Work / June 19, 2013
Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.
May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”
“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”