Series on James, I Woes,C The Product in Perseverance Text: 1:19-27, Title: Biblical Maturity -NEW

Introduction

James is writing to persecuted people. he focuses on the meaning of our trials. First he says in verses 1-11 we must have the right perspective. Then he says we must keep in mind the promise in verse 12. As we think about perseverance he tells us we must recognize that God has provided all that we need. If there is trouble it comes from within, not from outside of us. This sets the scene for this next text. The product of perseverance is a mature individual according to verse 4. But maturity does not come just because you are going through trouble. Christian maturity comes because we recognize our own sinful weakness in the midst of our trials and take refuge in the Lord. That means refuge in his Word. Notice that in verse 18 James has just reminded us that we are born anew through the Word of truth. The Word of God is the instrument of change not only in the beginning but through the whole process of maturing. So we turn to the Word and discover three attitudes which are required in an authentic and proper use of Scripture in the midst of the woes of this life. We need a silent submission, a studied seeking, and a sober service.

I Silent Submission

The problem in view here is talking so much that we do not listen to God speaking. There is a connection between talking too much and the anger of which James speaks as we read in verses 19-21, My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. For one thing people who talk too much tend to get involved in unedifying arguments. It is better to listen. But actually the problem is deeper than this. Generally talking first without listening means that what we say comes out of our sinful hearts. Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 15:17-19, Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. James is strong on the tongue, so strong in fact that after you have read this passage and the one in Chapter 3, you begin to have some sympathy with those monks who have taken a vow of silence. Suppose you are driving down the road and somebody pulls in front of you endangering your life, the lives of your family, and your property. If you don't listen first to the Word of God which you have stored up in your heart, what comes out of your mouth? Is it  "Father bless that driver", or is it, "Father forgive that driver" or is it, "Father i pray that this person may know you and may grow in grace so that they are more thoughtful." No it isn't because the first thing out of your mouth comes from your heart and it isn't good. In fact, I given you samples of what you probably won't say.  I don't think i can politely mention what you would say. This is James’ point. we need to listen to the voice of God, or in other words, the Word that we should have hidden in our heart. And then remain silent until we have absorbed the significance of that Word. i call this silent submission. James says “Humbly accept the word planted in you which can save you.” God has planted that word, and given you the capacity to grow by that word, but if you don't listen you won't grow.

II Studied Seeking

According to verses 22-25, not only must we listen but we must patiently carefully examine ourselves in the light of that Word, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. This is the only way change can come about. I call this studied seeking. The contrast is between somebody who takes a quick look in a mirror and promptly forgets what he saw and a man who looks intently studying and examining his reflection and remembers what he saw. This can be both a loathsome experience and a liberating experience.   

A  A Loathsome Experience

Do you remember when you were younger that you liked looking in a mirror. Have you ever heard parents say about their teen-age children that they can spend hours looking in the mirror. It's natural at a certain stage in life to be preoccupied with our appearance. Normally we grow out of that.  In fact when we get old its not so much fun to look in the mirror for we might not like what we see. James is not talking about the experience of youth here. The mirror gazing in which we admire our personal appearance. Its more like the experience you have when you're old and wrinkled and you don't like what you see.  Gazing intently in the Word of God exposes our sin, and convicts us of our transgressions and leads us to painful repentance. This is good, but it is not the whole story for James says a studied seeking in the Bible also leads us to

B  A Liberating Experience

The words I refer to are “looking into the perfect law that gives freedom.” He means the way to be truly free is to obey the Lord. It doesn't seem that way to our sinful natures. In fact it seems to our sinful natures like bondage and we view doing God's will as difficult and sometimes painful. That's why James says, and this is something we might readily miss, we must not only look in the Word but continue to do it. Obeying the Lord is liberty because the experience of the Christian is that God has written his law in our hearts. Jeremiah 31:31-33, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” That means that because we have been born again there is something in us that delights in doing the will of the Lord. If we follow this by saturating ourselves with the Word we will find true liberty, but if we continue to neglect the word, we will revert to our natural propensity which is to dislike doing what God says. This how we become doers of the word.

III A Sober Service

If we remain in the Word and do it, we will not deceive ourselves about true religion as defined here in verses 26 and 27, If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. True religion is not doctrine alone. A skeleton is most necessary to our bodies but who would settle for just a skeleton.The skeleton supports everything else but its useless without the sinews and flesh and organs. James reminds us again that we are to be listeners. You cannot talk a good religion. True religion involves two things. Helping others and separating yourself from ungodly lifestyles. In other words pure religion is in contact with the world, with human need, with problems and as a consequence brings help but also must remain pure in its contact. The reference to widows and orphans is not to be confined to this. It is a symbol it stands for all the good deeds we are to do. The Bible frequently mentions the care of widows and orphans in both the Old and New Testaments, it is a kind of test. The pharisees devoured widows houses. God holds this as a kind of standard of the genuineness of our obedience in society. do we care for the helpless?

Conclusion

And so we mature and endure if we listen to the Word, and if we diligently seek to apply it, and if we carry out God's will in our generation. Good doctrine is not enough; there must be obedience.