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James Chapter 1

Memory verses for this week:  Deu 4:31  (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.. 

Introduction:  We begin a new study this week on the book of James.   In the New Testament, there are four men identified with the name of James.   It is believed that the author of this book was most likely the half brother of Jesus Christ, since he possessed all of the qualities of the author. We find he was the one James referred to by his name alone in Galatians and Acts, and was apparently well known to the scattered believers.   James was a leader in the Jerusalem church, and grew up in Nazareth.  He moved to Capernaum when Jesus began His public ministry, but like the other half brothers of Christ, did not truly believe in Jesus as Lord until the end of Christ’s earthly ministry.  It is believed that the book of James was one of the earliest books written and was addressed to the 12 scattered tribes of Israel.

I.  Purpose of Testings

James 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

As mentioned in the introduction, James is the author of this book and he identifies himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He addresses the letter to the 12 tribes which are scattered abroad.  We know that 10 of the tribes (those making up the northern kingdom of Israel), were scattered before the Babylonian captivity.   The final two, Judah and Benjamin, were scattered after Christ’s death.

James 1:2  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

James 1:3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

James exhorts the brethren to count it all joy when they fall into temptations.   He goes on to explain why in verse 3, as those temptations try our faith and teach us patience.

The Believers Study Bible said this about the temptations we face.

In this chapter (vv. 2, 12–14) is found the classic example of the biblical distinction between “trial” and “temptation.” “Trials” in v. 2 comes from peirasmos (Gk.), which often means a “fiery trial” or a “proving,” tests which are for the purpose of building fortitude in the believer. The word translated “perfect” means the “end” or “completeness” of a process or thing. The trials are designed to bring about spiritual maturity and completeness in the believer (v. 3). In vv. 12–14, James makes it clear that God never takes the initiative in “tempting” men. The general biblical teaching on this distinction is that whereas God allows men to be tested, He cannot by His very nature test men with evil intent (v. 13). Clearly when men are tempted to do evil, it is the consequence of yielding to Satan’s enticements because of their own fallen sinful natures.  [1]

Rom 5:3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Rom 5:4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Rom 5:5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

James 1:4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

By nature, we are inclined to be impatient.  Even Christians sometimes rebel against the ways of God when those go contrary to their own desires.  As we grow in the grace of patience, we will stop our rebellion against the will of God.  And as God matures us, we will become Christians of strong moral character.  We have many examples of God maturing men in this manner.  Job is an excellent example of a man who was tried, and when tried, he was found faithful to God.

James 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

James 1:7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

James 1:8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

God gives us instructions as to what we should do if we lack wisdom.  We are to come to him and ask.   But when we ask, we are not to come with an attitude of “Oh well… I’m probably not going to get an answer to this prayer anyway.”  Rather, we should come EXPECTING to receive an answer.  All men need wisdom.  Perhaps the wisest man who ever lived was King David’s son, Solomon.   He showed wisdom early in his life when given the opportunity to receive whatever he desired, he chose for God to give him wisdom.

2 Chr 1:7  In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.

2 Chr 1:8  And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast showed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead.

2 Chr 1:9  Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.

2 Chr 1:10  Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?

2 Chr 1:11  And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king:

2 Chr 1:12  Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.


Prov 8:11  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.


Prov 9:8  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Prov 9:9  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Prov 9:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Verse 6 says we are to ask in faith not doubting.  The man or woman who prays and doubts is like the waves of the sea as it is tossed about.  Some one like that will never receive wisdom.   Because this person is unstable and lacks the faith God requires to acquire wisdom.  Verse 8 has a serious warning… a double minded man is unstable in ALL of his ways.  A man or woman like this can not be depended upon.   When I think of a double minded man, a politician comes to mind.   Many politicians seem to talk out of both sides of their mouth, saying one thing one time, and something else the other time.  They want to stay popular by being on the side with the higher mark in the polls.    A backslidden or carnal Christian may try to live for God some days, and live for the devil too.  But it won’t work.   We have to have a single mind dedicated to God to be blessed of the Lord.    I think it is wise to decide which side we are on, and stay there.  And it needs to be God’s side.   Margaret Thatcher, the great speaker from England, once said she did not like to sit on the fence leaning to both sides.  She said people on the fence don’t know  where the rocks come from, since they will be thrown at you from both sides.   That is pretty good logic when it comes to making up our minds and staying with our decision.  If you want to be on the right side, get on God’s side and stay.  


James 1:9  Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

James 1:10  But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

James 1:11  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

Verse 9 points out that we are happy when we are exalted.   And God one day will exalt many who are perceived to be of a low degree.   The man or woman who faithfully serves the Lord year after year in humble sincerity will one day receive for all the good they have done.  But there is a warning to those who may not think they need God, that they will be made low.  Just having money does not make us bad, but trusting in uncertain riches is a sure way to fail.  The rich man may seem to prosper, but all too soon, he has to die.  Verse 11 reminds us that life is much like the grass of the field.  The grass is green in early summer, but when the sun is hot and the weather dry, the grass fades away.    Our lives are short, and we need to live them for the Lord.  I read a while back a quote by Dr. Edward LeWinn.  He said “A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough.”   His point is that a life lived for the Lord, whether short or long, has lasting impact and a promise of greater riches one day from the Lord.  We are to put our treasure in heavenly things.

Mat 6:19  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Mat 6:20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Mat 6:21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  

James 1:12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

There are several crowns promised in the Word of God.  This verse says that if we endure temptation, we shall receive the crown of life.  What a blessing to know that God will bless us for being faithful to Him.

J. Vernon McGee said this about enduring temptation.

Testing is one of God’s methods of developing us in the Christian faith. This is the way He is going to enable us to grow and develop patience in our lives down here, but He also has something in mind for the future—“the crown of life.”

Testing of any kind, but especially if it is a severe calamity or tragedy, has a tendency to produce a miasma of pessimism and hopelessness. I do not blame the man whose wife was ill with Parkinson’s disease for feeling like he did. I do not blame him for asking, “Why?” But the child of God can have the confidence that God is doing it for a very definite reason and that He has a purpose in it all.

However, the man of the world will sink beneath the waves of adversity. Life, even at its best, makes him pessimistic. How many pessimists are there today? How many cynics? How many are there who are filled with bitterness, although they have everything? We are seeing an epidemic of suicides among teenagers, and thousands of other young people are dropping out of society today. Why? It is because they have no goal in life. One of the more sensible news commentators made this remark: “Back during the depression people had a will to live and there were very few suicides, but today when everything has been given to them they want to die.”

When faith is tested and surrounded by darkness, when the waves are rolling high and all seems lost, the child of God knows that this is not the end. It may be gloom now, but it will be glory later on. As the psalmist said, “… weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). James says here, “He shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”  [2]

II. Temptation to do Evil is Not of God

James 1:13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

James 1:14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

In the first verses of this chapter, James spoke of temptation in regards to testing or undergoing a trial.  Now he speaks of the temptation of the flesh to sin.   God does not tempt men to sin.   Back in the garden of Eden, when the first person was tempted, Eve yielded to temptation because it was her choice.  It says that every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.

Gen 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Gen 3:7  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

The lusts of the flesh are not of God.   They are failures on our part when we fail and sin against a Holy and Righteous God.

1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

1 John 2:17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.


James 1:15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:16  Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Notice the pattern… What lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin and death.  But James wanted them to understand, and not make those errors.   King David recognized that when he sinned, it was against a Holy God, and against Him only.   But David had a desire to know God’s Word that he might not sin.

Psa 51:2  Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Psa 51:3  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Psa 51:4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.


Psa 119:10  With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Psa 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against                       thee.

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:18  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

We need to remember where the good things come from.   Verse 17 tells us that EVERY good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above.  It is God who gives us the good things in life.  This week, I told my wife that people who don’t follow the plan of God for the family have no idea the damage they do both to themselves, and their children and grandchildren.   The love I have for my newest granddaughter (who turned 2 ½ months old last week as I prepare this lesson in mid December of 2001), is such a blessing from God.  I can hold her, and we seem to be able to communicate as she smiles and looks into my eyes.  It may only be oohs and aahs right now, but she knows that this grandpa loves her.  Monday, Denise and I will be married for 30 years.   Oh how many blessings I have experienced through these years.  And if I had not honored God with my life, not stuck out the bad times in my marriage, not only would I be missing this blessing of my granddaughter right now,  but I would not be there to help take care of her.  And I promise you that all the children out there need love.  I’m afraid there is a great lack of love in far too many children today, and families are paying a price for not doing things God’s way.    We need to remember that all these great things are not something to be taken for granted, but they are given to us by God.   Even salvation itself is a gift of God.  Verse 18 says of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


James 1:19  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

James 1:20  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

James 1:21  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Verse 19 is one of those we need to memorize and take it to heart.  We all should be SWIFT to hear, SLOW to speak, and SLOW to wrath.   If you are like me, you want to speak up first.  My personality is a lot like Peter’s was.   I want to speak and let my position be made known.  But sometimes a quick word does not show wisdom, but shows our lack of it.   God wants us to be humble people who are not easily provoked.  But when it comes to God’s Word, we should take it in totally and immediately.  Our lives should be based off of ‘Thus saith the Lord.”   Psychology books will fail you.  God’s Word has endured the test of time, and it will still be here in eternity future.   It is solid, and very much what we need to live happy and contented lives.   Verse 20 warns that wrath does not glorify God.  We are to lay aside wrath and all the negative things of sin, and receive God’s Word with meekness.

III.  Doers of the Word are Blessed

James 1:22  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:23  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

James 1:24  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

James 1:25  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

One of the old Nike commercials used to say “Just do it.”   Well, that may or may not be true, depends on what you are talking about.  But when it comes to God’s Word, we need to be doing it.   To simply hear it is not enough.   He likens doing that to a man looking in a mirror and then walking away.   A reflection means little, but true acts of righteousness, God will reward.  The doer of the Word is the one who will be blessed.   That old saying that “Hell is a road paved with good intentions” might be true.  Many intend to do something… they have good intentions.  But they put it off.  One small deed done is greater than a thousand good thoughts with no action.

Mat 10:40  He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Mat 10:41  He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

Mat 10:42  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

IV.  Test of True Religion

James 1:26  If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

 Since the events of September 11th, I think the world has been made aware that there are lots of religions out in the world.  There is a true religion, and then there are literally dozens of false religions.  It says here that true religion is always in obedience to the Word of God.  It is a religion after the true God.  And this true God we speak of is not some mystical higher being, but He is the Almighty God Jehovah, the one declared in the pages of God’s Word.  The same God that Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac worshipped.   False religion is a religion after man.  It is disobedient to the teachings of God’s Word.   Verse 26 says the unbridled tongue is an indication of a false religion.   True religion is revealed in verse 27… to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.  Living Godly lives that are righteous and glorifying to our ultimate example, Jesus Christ.


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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