James is the English form of the Greek form of the Hebrew name Jacob. In his own language he would have been called Yakov [Jacob].
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
This message is to all of the twelve tribes and not just the Jews. It is also a message to all of Spiritual Israel.
1:2 My brethren, count it joy when you fall into various temptations [or trials], 1:3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith [belief and trust] worketh patience. 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect [endure and patiently grow and overcome so that we might attain to godly holiness] and entire [we are to be complete in internalizing the whole nature of God], wanting nothing. [lacking nothing in the keeping of the whole Word of God]
James encourages us to become perfect through the diligent keeping of the whole Word of God, and in patiently enduring the trials and temptations associated with zeal for keeping God’s Word, enduring the trials and temptations which Satan throws in our direction.
In overcoming sin and trials we develop patient perseverance in striving toward perfection in godliness; and eventually with the power of God’s Spirit we can overcome and achieve that perfection; not achieving through the strength of our flesh or our own efforts alone, but becoming godly through the power of God.
1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
James tells us that we need to ask for and then we must actively seek godly wisdom through diligent study and the application of God’s Word to every circumstance. When we sincerely repent and turn away from sinning, turning towards living by every Word of God; the sacrifice of Christ is applied to us, and we may then enter the presence of God the Father and ask that His Spirit of understanding and power be given to us.
1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering or diverging. For he that wavers or doubts is like a wave of the sea tossed with the wind and driven. 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”
If we do not believe God’s Word enough to diligently obey and seek to please him, do not think that we are going to receive anything from God. We must KNOW that God exists, and that God keeps his promises; and we must add to that knowledge the works of faith, loving and diligently keeping the whole Word of God and seeking God’s will and seeking to please him will all of our beings. Only then can we expect a positive answer to our petitions.
James 1:8 For a double-minded [doubting] man is unstable in all his ways.”
It is only by knowing that God exists and that God’s Word will not be broken, that we can believe and trust God enough to obey and please him. If we ask for something according to God’s will, Word and Promises, and doubt him and his promises so that we are not zealous and passionate to learn, and to keep the whole Word of God; if we do not seek to do God’s will and to please God in every way, we will not receive our requests.
We must learn to TRUST [which is Faith] God enough to do his will, before we can expect God to bless us.
1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted.
A person who has a low place in this life can rejoice knowing that he is called to become a king or a priest, or both king and priest in the kingdom of God. He has a high reward if he has faith in God, if he trusts and believes God and if he acts on that trust and belief and keeps the whole Word of God, doing God’s will.
1:10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he Shall pass away. 1:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth [like] the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
The rich man who gives up his physical riches for God’s sake and for the kingdom’s sake, should rejoice in that he is humbled now so that he will be made fit for the riches of eternal life; and he should know that physical things mean nothing because like the flowers they shall wither and pass away.
This applies not just to giving away wealth it also applies to those who lose their good jobs and must take inferior ones due to persecution. Often God tests us to see how much we love him and how much we willing to give for that pearl of great price.
1:12 Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tested, [if he passes the test] he shall receive a crown of life, which the Eternal has promised to them that love him [love him enough to follow him and to keep his Word].
If we love someone we will seek to please them and if we truly love God, we would never walk around saying, “Oh, I love the Lord” while not obeying him: What we would do, is to enthusiastically try to please Him by doing what He says.
1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
When we see some unlawful thing and we dwell on it and begin to desire it in our hearts and we let that desire grow and develop in us, eventually we are going to do it. When God sees something evil he does not dwell on it as if it were some desirable thing; he immediately rejects it as the loathsome filth it really is.
The key to overcoming temptation is that when we are tempted we must immediately reject it and not let the temptation take root within us.
We need to recognize the consequences of sin by thinking beyond the immediate pleasure; not dwelling on the temptation and wrongfully thinking that it is desirable!
1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, no changing, nor even a shadow of turning.”
God knows the way that is right and he sticks to it and there is not even a shadow not even the remotest possibility that He is going to turn away from the righteousness of his Word; which should be the case with all of us.
1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth [which is the whole Word of God], that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear [always be seeking to learn] slow to speak and slow to anger.
Anyone who is quick tempered is not in control of himself and he needs to learn to get control of himself, he needs to learn to listen, to think and to make sound judgments before proceeding.
1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
A man who cannot control his anger cannot do what is right in God’s sight and is easily led astray. Righteous anger is anger that is under control and governed by the law of righteousness which is the whole Word of God.
1:21 Therefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness [sinful shallowness], and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your lives.
Godly righteousness is to turn away from the filthiness of sin and all uncleanness and worldliness; and to be zealous to learn and to keep the whole Word of God with meekness before God, because it is the only thing of lasting value and is able to save our lives.
1:22 be ye doers of the word, and not just hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
If a man hears God’s Word and says, “Oh, that’s great” and does not actually act on it and keep it, he is really deceiving himself. He is not so special after all; he just thinks he is.
It is he who lives by every Word of God and has the Works of Faith who is special in God’s eyes.
1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 1:24 For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man or person he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty…”
God’s law is a law which brings us liberty from bondage to Satan and sin. It delivers us from the chains of sin, from the burdens of slavery to sin.
1:25 But who so looketh unto the perfect law of liberty and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deeds. 1:26 If any man among you seems to be religious, and does not control his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
Those people who are always talking the good talk and then not walking the good walk have a vain and empty religion.
Those who erupt in uncontrolled anger have a serious spiritual problem.
1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
What does this mean? “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” it means to have empathy, to have concern, to love others, to care about them and to care about the condition they are in; and to act on that caring and do something about it and to try our best to help eliminate or alleviate the suffering of others. To be kindhearted and generous to those suffering or in need.
And second, “To keep unspotted from the world,” means to turn away from the sins of Satan’s world; and the only way to do that is to sincerely repent of those sins, to reject any compromise with the Word of God; and to passionately embrace God’s ways to live by every Word of God and to wholeheartedly seek to please God!
Then the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be applied to us, and we can enter into a relationship with God the Father who will give us His Spirit and empower us to keep His Word and Will, and empower us to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
This is a major, major, major problem in today’s spiritual Ekklesia: People respecting persons above their respect for the Word of God. That is, they do not hold everyone up to the standard of God’s Word.
They do not hold certain people up to the standard of God’s Word, making idols of them. Yet they will turn around and attempt to hold other people to their own ways even when their own ways are contrary to God’s Word. This makes them respecters of persons, rather than respecters of God; which is the sin of idolatry; it is the sin of allowing people to come between us and God.
There is also the great sin of respecting those who give more or who flatter us. Many have been ordained and promoted because they excelled at flattery, and many others because they gave more than other brethren.
2:2 For if there come into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there comes in also a poor man in vile raiment; 2:3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, “Sit thou here in a good place” and say to the poor, “Stand thou there, or sit here under my stool.” 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called?
2:8 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convicted of the law as transgressors.
2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
If we break any part of God’s Word we are guilty of breaking the whole law.
Being respecters of persons is wrong and respecting the rich over the poor is wrong. Respecting the poor over the rich is also wrong and respecting some man because he claims to be somebody is wrong.
We are not to study the Scriptures as interpreted or explained by this man or that man: We are to judge the words of all men, by the Holy Scriptures of Almighty God!
We are to study the Scriptures and when someone explains something, we are to test what he has said against the standard of the Scriptures.
We are not to test the Scriptures against some man’s view of them; we are to test that man’s view against what the scriptures actually say.
2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if you kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 2:12 So speak ye, and so do [according to the whole Word of God, for we shall all be judged by every Word of God], as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment.
If you show no mercy to others, no mercy will be shown to us by God in our own judgment. If we break the smallest law we are guilty of breaking the whole law itself.
If we cook a meal on God’s Sabbath, or have a barbecue etc; we will face the same judgment as the homosexual or murderer, if we do not repent for the wages of sin is death.
Faith and the Works of Faith
2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? 2:5 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 2:16 and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?
2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 2:18 Yea, a man may say, You hast faith, and I have works. Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
The demons believe God yet they will not obey God’s Word, therefore their belief brings them nothing but the sure knowledge of their coming judgment.
2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified [justified by his deeds] by works when he [obeyed God] had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought [worked with] with his works and by works was faith made perfect? 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 2:25 Likewise also was not Rehab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.
Yes, there is a spirit in our body, it is a spirit of man, a spirit in man; and without the body it doesn’t function, it doesn’t think, it is not conscious.
Our spirit must be plugged into the body and the spirit of man and the body work together. Just so faith must be plugged into works, and works into the faith; so that trust and belief result in the works of faith.
Faith without works cannot stand: If we have faith, if we believe God, we will do what God says; which is our works of faith.
We cannot do what God says if we do not believe [have faith that his Word is true] Him; anymore than the spirit can live without the body.
If we have faith and no works, our faith is meaningless: it is a waste of time. Believing without acting on that belief is a waste of time; it won’t get us anywhere.