|Vol. IV Number 36||September 10, 2000|
The Christian Church has wrestled with temptation and sin throughout the ages, even from the very beginning. A close reading of the epistles will show you that there were just as many problems in the church as there are today.
The epistles were written to the ministers of the various churches in the cities which had a church. Each of the epistles were written with the problems of a specific church as the recipient. These are actual letters to the pastors of the churches or group of churches. These were to be read to the congregation.
Paul wrote to the churches in what is today Turkey, Greece, and Italy. James wrote to the Hebrew Christians, and Peter wrote to the churches in Turkey and Asia Minor. John and Jude wrote to all of the churches. Whereas Paul wrote to specific individuals and churches, and John wrote to all of the churches, all of the epistles are directed to the same problems in the church today. In any organization you will find various depths of sin in existence. Some may be out on the surface while others may be well hidden from all but the Lord. Today you will see same things that the apostles wrote about in every church.
Yesterday I was reading James 4, and I thought about all of the various churches that I have seen and realize just how perceptive James was about basic human nature. You will find arguments, back biting, and contention in any church today. James saw it in the churches around him and he knew that people will fight every little thing.
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
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.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, 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.
5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
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:
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.
15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
James saw that all of the contention and strife were actually destroying the church. He knew that there were some who were attempting to bring idolatry, and Jewish customs into the church. Some were arguing about circumcision, and following the Law, while others were saying that grace covers all. The apostles through the leading of the Lord Jesus created a balance where the Christian who knowingly lives in sin is not a Christian, and the grace of the Lord does not cover willful sin. Also the apostles saw the rise of gnostism which taught that Jesus did not come in the flesh, but was only here in spirit. (It goes a lot deeper than this and may be a complete study in the future)
This same strife continues today in the church. Denominations are fighting against each other claiming that they are the only ones that have the truth. There is strife in the local church as well.
James was admonishing his audience to stop the fighting and bickering and humble themselves before the Lord. He was tired of all of the fighting and the rise of sin that was going on in the churches. Like some today take grace to mean a license to sin, just like there were in the apostles day. The temptation to sin seems greater today, but that is not true. There may be different avenues today, but the sin is still the same with the same tempter.
So as James concludes this chapter, ``Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin,'' is good admonition for us today.
3014 E Street Philadelphia, PA 19134 Church Office Phone: (215) 634-3637 Published by: Rev. LeRoy D. Cressy (215) 535-4037
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Copyright © 2000 LeRoy D. Cressy
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