by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 14 December 3, 1997 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:James' fundamental interest in his warning is that of the relationship between God and His child.
A. Faith is fundamentally God-focused. It has a simultaneous focus on the root (divine commitment: by word or essence) and the objective (what God wants to accomplish: life for someone) and the means (how God wills to accomplish His objective).
B. In James 1, the issue of faith is being able to discover the wisdom of God for the current circumstance and its demands upon my decision-making so that sin does not result.
This Current Study:
I. The Limits Upon James' Words in Verse Seven.
A. At first glance, he seems to be saying that God won't answer improper prayer.
B. However, that understanding of his words is in contradiction with other biblical teaching.
1. Compare 2 Kings 20 with 2 Kings 32:24 and following.
2. Note Psalm 106.15.
3. Note also that sometimes men want, for false reasons, what God wants for legitimate ones as in Judges 14:4.
C. Therefore, we must seek a different understanding of James' words.
1. The context of the words is critical.
2. The context has to do with only ONE basic issue: the relational harmony of the believer with God and how to sustain it without barriers...i.e., how to resist temptation.
a. The underlying issue is God's commitment to life for His beloved child.
b. The complicating issues are...
1) The child's lack of understanding of the BASIC issue of life: relational harmony with the Author of Life.
a. The ignorant child thinks that there cannot be life in the presence of conflict at any creation level.
b. The ignorant child thinks that there can be life in the presence of conflict at the eternal level.
2) The child's lack of faith in God as the Capable Giver of Life.
3) The child's willingness to believe the lie that the choices to succumb to the illusory promises of the Liar will result in life.
3. The warning only addresses the issue of the context: there will be NO progress in LIFE through harmony with its AUTHOR if there is no faith in the AUTHOR and His insistence upon doing no sin. God will not answer the prayer for wisdom if it is not going to be exercised.