We are to grow and learn and perfect ourselves by discarding error for the truth as we learn.
James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters [teachers, leaders], knowing that we [leaders and teachers] shall receive the greater condemnation [a more intense scrutiny].
This refers to wanting to be masters or teachers of this way. Don’t just jump up and decide you want to be a preacher or a teacher and that you want to teach the Word of God to others without carefully considering the fact that God will hold you responsible for what you teach.
Someday we will stand before God and he will hold us accountable and judge us on the basis of what we have told others and on the basis of whether we have pointed them toward God or whether we have deceived and misled people away from any zeal for the Word of God.
There are many who want to be elders and to teach, but what they really want is a personal following, they want to think of themselves as being a somebody. This is pride, when a true godly teacher must be humble and without carnal pride.
Anyone who studies the false traditions and then stands on them, or leads people away from a zeal for God into a zeal to follow some man, is going to be judged by God as a false prophet.
While someone who points all people toward God will be judged as a godly teacher and will have his reward. There is a very serious responsibility involved in being teachers, because of their influence on others.
Do not decide you can stand up and teach until you weigh the matter and consider the responsibilities that you are shouldering. This is very important and very vital.
It is good to teach the Word of God, but it is wrong to teach people error and lead them astray. Someone who wants to teach must be very, very, very careful to consider all of these things and the heavy burden of responsibility that we are taking on ourselves. We should not treat these things lightly and just go out and say anything we feel like saying.
Many such men teaching falsely have led many astray from the ways of God. The following is a warning to all, and a special warning to the teachers for a godly teacher will offend many; because the Word of God is a sharp two edged sword of TRUTH that cuts deeply against all sin; and we have all sinned.
The TRUTH will cut and offend ALL of us, unless we have the sincerely humble repentant attitude that is a gift of God. If we are filled with God’s Spirit of loving obedience to all of God’s Word, then we shall be delighted when we are shown our shortcomings and sins, so that we may correct ourselves and become right with our Beloved.
If we are offended by Biblical correction; sin and an unrepentant unconverted attitude is in us. We are in trouble and need to seek our God immediately and with all our hearts.
3:2 For in many things we [godly teachers] offend everyone. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
It is impossible to be godly teachers and avoid offending the ungodly; therefore we must choose to speak the truth and avoid offending God; there is NO “business model” outreach for a true servant of God!
3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole bodies. 3:4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great [so large], and are driven of fierce winds, yet when they are turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth [ in whatever the direction the pilot wants the ship to go].
Speaking ungodly things leads people into sin and brings damnation on both the false teacher and those who follow him.
3:5 Even so the tongue is a little thing, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindles. 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members [body parts], that it [which uncontrolled, can bring much destruction] defiles our whole bodies, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Our speech is tamed and brought under control by sincere repentance and the power of the Holy Spirit which is the power of a sound mind of self control.
3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, can be tamed, and has been tamed of mankind: 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; . . .
The wicked man lacks the ability to understand or speak the things of God and speaks all manner of carnal things in rebellion against the whole Word of God, but God can tame the tongues of men by converting the mind and heart:
James 3:8 . . . . it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 3:12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Can a vine bear figs? So can no fountain also yield salt water and fresh.
3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good [Let him reveal his wisdom by his godly conduct and words] conversation [words and conduct.] his works, with meekness and wisdom. 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 3:15 This [worldly] wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.”
A quick uncontrolled temper and bitter envying and strife are of Satan the devil.
3:16 for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil thing.
3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” [or deceit] 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them who make peace.”
Controlling the temper and angry words of the tongue, by keeping the whole Word of God brings peace with God.
We might ask, from whence comes strife and divisions in today’s Ekklesia? Is it not from our pride and lust to get our own way and to have the pre-eminence, as much as it has to do with doctrinal disagreement?
James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members [our fighting has its roots in the worldly lusts of our flesh]? 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Very many of our brethren and elders seek selfishly for our own pre-eminence or to have our own ways. Leaders seek a following for themselves, their idols of men, or corporate idols, or cherished false traditions; instead of teaching a true zeal to live by every Word of God. Too many being filled with pride, want the adulation of the brethren when we should be humbly serving our Maker and God our Father in heaven.
4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
We commit spiritual adultery against the Husband of our baptismal espousal, by seeking the friendship of the world with our worldly business model outreach and our desire for material things as we envy the “successful” wicked of this world.
4:4 Ye [spiritual] adulterers and adulteresses [disloyal to God], know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 4:6 But he giveth more grace [God is merciful to the sincerely repentant who obey him and keep his Word.]. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud [who think so much of themselves and their own ways that they turn their noses up at any zeal to live by every Word of God], but giveth grace unto the humble.
God forgives the sincerely repentant who tremble at his Word, and commit to go forward and sin no more.
Today the Ekklesia is full of spiritual adulterers who love worldliness and their idols of men, and have no zeal for the things of God.
To our great shame we brag about how we are friends with the worldly wicked. To say that we are friends with this king, and that prime minister, and this ruler, and those people; reveals that we value the friendship of the worldly more than we value the Word of God; for if we taught the truth of the whole Word of God we would not be seen as friends by the chiefs of the worldly.
It is wrong to compromise with the Word of God to try and be friends with the worldly and this wicked society. It is also wrong to conduct ourselves in a worldly manner, or to covet the pleasures of the worldly wicked, or to desire the friendship of the world’s wickedness.
We are to set an example of keeping God’s laws, of living God’s way and of overcoming this world and enduring; so that we can become righteous leaders and rulers in the future; and so that we can teach these wicked men the ways of God by being a LIGHT of godly example.
We are not to seek the friendship of wickedness by going to these people and mumbling some double-talk nonsense about; a strong hand from someplace is coming to save us from our troubles.
We are to stand up, to stand solidly on God’s Word and to lay it out, and tell it like it is, and tell them that they are doing wrong, loudly proclaiming that they should stop doing what is wrong and start doing what is right; which is the only real solution to their problems. And if they don’t stop doing what is wrong and start doing what is right; then God is going to intervene to correct their behavior to save them from themselves.
That is what should have been told to these people, not some smooth thing while seeking their friendship and then going to the brethren and lying, saying, “I’m such a great man because I’m a friend of all these great people.”
If you think the leaders of this world are so great, just stop for a moment and consider the mess this world is in. These so-called great leaders are responsible for that mess, they created the present conditions and situation by their sins, and by leading the rest of humanity into sin.
Oh yes, the rest of humanity would have sinned anyway, no doubt. But these leaders have a certain responsibility and they failed to fulfill it and they are far from being great men.
The great men in this world are nothing in the eyes of God. They are just simply nothing. It is the weak in worldliness that God has called; and He has called them because they are humble and they are meek, and they are willing to listen; and they are willing to sincerely repent and they are willing to live by every Word of God. And God will glorify and exalt them if they are faithful and overcome, by resurrecting them and making them kings and priests and causing them to inherit eternal life in His kingdom.
We should also go back here in verse one, “From whence come wars and fighting’s among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” Isn’t this why there are so many different groups in today’s Ekklesia? Because they are all led by different people who lust to become the leader, who lust to become the next apostle or somebody great; and who want a following after themselves and are not willing to cooperate with each other.
If they all put God’s Word first and they all worshiped God with a whole heart; they would be forgiving and they would be cooperative and there would be a lot less division than there is today.
Our human spirit envies, it lusts; and we are to overcome that evil spirit by the Spirit of God dwelling in us! We are NOT to give place to our natural lusts and envies, No not for a second.
4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Satan cannot stand before the power of God. Keep your baptismal commitment to follow the Lamb of God in all things; be zealous for the whole Word of God to learn and to keep and to teach it. Cleanse ourselves from all sin by our zeal to reject all error and embrace the truth and the Word of God with a wholehearted zeal.
4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
4:9 Be afflicted [fast], and mourn, and weep [in sincere wholehearted repentance]: let your laughter be turned to mourning [over our wicked sins, seeking the forgiveness of our God for our many spiritual adulteries and idolatry], and your joy [Turn back from joying in the pleasures of sin, for they will bring our destruction; and mourn over them seeking the mercy of our Mighty Saviour.] to heaviness.
4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
The following is not about forbidding to condemn sin, it is about spreading false rumors, knowingly making false accusations and judging others by our own ideas; instead of judging all things by the standard of the whole Word of God.
4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother [with false statements], and judgeth his brother [judging by our own ways], speaketh evil [sets himself up over God’s Word by exalting his own ways above God’s Word] of the law, and judgeth the law [exalts his own words over God’s Word]: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
We are not to judge by our own ways, traditions or standards, exalting ourselves and our own traditions above the Word of God, instead we are to exalt the whole Word of God and to prove [judge] by the just standards of the whole Word of God. as the scripture commands (1 Thes 5:21).
James does not mean that we should tolerate sin and not speak out against evil doers. He does mean that we should not falsely condemn those who are zealous to keep the Word of God and who are faithful to God, judging them by the false traditions of men, or simply telling falsehoods about them. There are many calling themselves God’s people who condemn the zealously faithful to God, because they themselves are NOT faithful to keep the Word of God and they want to follow idols of men and false traditions.
Many fear those who are zealous to keep the Word of God, because they fear losing the personal followings they crave! They see zeal to obey God as a threat to their own control and supposed personal authority.
This, because they are not zealous for God themselves, and they want to lead people away from any zeal for God and lead people to follow themselves and their own false ways. Those who desire to exalt themselves [using God’s name to do so] are evil men just as Jesus, Jude and others have warned would come into the Ekklesia in the last days.
We MUST reveal the evil and call the perpetrators to repentance, in love. That is not speaking evil of them, it is speaking the truth in the hope that the warning will lead to true repentance and the saving of the person.
If any condemn others for any zeal for the Word of God; they are attacking the Law and Word of God!
4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Our lives are not guaranteed to last until tomorrow, therefore always be close to God.
Go today, ye that say, tomorrow or today we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even as a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
To keep a proper focus on the transitory nature of our physical lives; it is better to say; “I hope to,” or “I plan to” or “if God wills” rather than “I will do this or that”. By the same token we should live our lives in godliness as if we will die and be judged by our Creator before the next day.
We speak of the tribulation and the resurrection since at least the days of Christ, and how many have died since then? They have all gone to their judgment and perhaps so will some of us before the final 3 1/2 years.
4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
Do not boast in physical wealth and possession, or friendships with worldliness. Do not boast in numbers of attendees, buildings, etc; but work hard so that the Shining Light of godliness may burn brightly in us for all the world to see!
4:16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
If we have the opportunity to do good or we know that something is the right thing to do and we don’t do it, that is a sin. And if we see sin and do not rebuke it, we have approved that sin by our silence.
Now, when I say that we should not judge one another, I am saying we should not judge and condemn persons; but we should definitely stand on God’s Word and we should condemn sin, for God condemns all sin.
We should not rebuke worldly individuals in an “in your face” confrontational offensive manner but we can offer them wise advice; and we should proclaim the truth to the general public holding nothing back.
If a person in the spiritual Ekklesia is committing such and such a sin, we should go to them and say, “You are doing such and such a thing which is contrary to God’s Word: It would be wise for you to consider the matter and stop doing this.”
We should go to our brother with such things, as we are instructed by Jesus Christ in Matthew 18. And if a person will not hear the matter then it’s on his own head. But we don’t condemn the person, we condemn the actions that the person is taking, we condemn the sin that he is committing.
We are to teach the righteousness of God [which is the keeping of the whole Word of God] to all peoples beginning with the Ekklesia; and we are to rebuke all sin:
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.