by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 41 June 17, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Being guilty of breaking the whole law does not mean that there are no relative consequences so that we think that we might as well "go for it".
Introduction:James' readers are operating under a powerful delusion. They think they are being faithful to Christ when the reality is that they are enslaved to the greedy lust for security through money. James has the very difficult task of bringing this to light so that they may repent unto life.
This evening we shall look into one of the approaches that he takes in order to attempt this.
I. The Marks of the Delusion.
A. Admiration for/envy of the obviously ungodly.
B. Preferential treatment of the obviously ungodly.
C. Self-deceiving/promoting perversion of the Word of God.
1. Which includes a "dumbing down" of the Word in terms of relative righteousness.
a. This hinges upon the notion that God is not a stickler regarding sin.
1) Which, in turn, leads to abuse of grace.
2) Which also leads to the self-delusion of spirituality.
b. This develops the notion that there are certain "key" sins we must confess.
2. Which includes the subtle promotion of self in the name of the Lord.
a. This hinges upon the lust for glory.
b. This develops into the notion that there are certain "key" behaviors that we must evidence.
II. James' Approach.
A. He challenges the admiration for the ungodly.
B. He exposes the absence of preference for the poor.
C. He deals with the rampant relativism of the perversion of the Word.
1. First, he posits an impossibility (3:2) for sake of his point.
2. Then he establishes the fact that God will not accept any tolerance for continuing sin.
a. The Law is a unity that is reducible to one command: love your neighbor as yourself.
1. This does not contradict the fact that Jesus quoted the greatest and next to greatest laws as though there were two.
a) God is the greatest neighbor.
b) Love for God includes love for the brother (1 John 4:20).
b. Each individual command came from the same Law-Giver, Who does not recognize any sin as acceptable.
III. Our Response.
A. One of the most typical is: "Well, I've blown it so badly that there is no recovery now."
1. This denies the core of the Gospel that Christ has done what is necessary for recovery.
2. This denies the core of sanctification which declares that as we confess, we are forgiven.
3. This results in more and more sins with more and more consequences.
B. The only biblical one is: continuous evaluation and genuine confession/restitution.