by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 64 December 16, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Spiritual adultery springs primarily from the spirit's obsessive envy.
Introduction:In the past weeks, we have spent our time considering the reality of the conflict that arises from the deep frustration of defeated desires. We noted that God is not interested in our living in such defeat or frustration, but that the problem rests solidly upon the problem of being committed to the wrong things. Last week we looked into James' question of his readers as to whether they did not know that the determination to pursue the world was to make themselves enemies of God as adulterers and adultresses.
This evening we are going to look into James' next question: Do you think the Scriptures speak vainly?
I. The Translational Problems...
A. The ambiguity of the matter of the subject of the verb.
1. Is the subject the antecedent "God" of verse 4, translated "He" as the understood subject of the verb?
2. Is the spirit the subject of the verb?
B. The ambiguity of the matter of the causative/non-causative sense of the secondary verb.
1. Did God cause His Spirit to dwell in us, or our spirit to dwell in us?
2. Or is James simply referring to the empowering spirit that dwells in us?
C. The fact that the text is not a quote, but a theological conclusion from Old Testament texts.
A. The word translated "envy"(KJV) or "jealously" (NASB) is never given a lexical definition in Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon or Moulton and Milligan that is other than an evil motivation.
1. The word is never used in the New Testament in a positive way...unless James is the exception.
2. Trench says that the word is never used in a positive sense.
B. The following verse interjects the sense that there is a powerful problem in verse 5 that requires the extension of more grace from God.
III. James' Point.
A. In verse 4 he asked if their behavior was rooted in ignorance.
B. In this verse he asks a follow-up question: OR do you think the Scripture speaks vainly...
1. Why does anyone think the Scriptures speak vainly? [Slowness of fulfillment; contradiction of appearances; etc.]
2. Do believers ever have a valid basis for such thinking?
C. The biblical witness regarding the spirit of man.
1. It is obsessed with jealousy.
2. This obsession drives us to be discontented.
3. The discontent drives us to conflict with one another.
4. The jealousy keeps God from being able to answer our prayers.