James Lesson 11

Walking the Walk of Faith

James 4:7-12

Opening Discussion:  Have you ever heard someone use the phrase, "The proof is in the pudding?"  This is a Scottish phrase, dating back to the sixteenth century, and it refers to a dish known as Haggis.  This so-called pudding is not some sweet, savory dessert; rather, it is made with a mixture of minced meat, suet, oatmeal, and seasoning.  Though it is a delicacy to the Scotts and others, I do not share that opinion.  One bite of this stiff sent me to coughing and heaving, while friends who were dining with us, enjoyed the dish.  So what does this have to do with the lesson?  In this passage, James gives us some dashboard indicators of what the authentic Christian life should look like.  Otherwise, he is saying to us, "The proof is in the living!"

Q1.  When you are driving, what dashboard indicators do you look at most often?  Name some dashboard indicators of our Christian walk, which others should be able to see in us.

Q2.  Think of a person of faith, who you believe is walking the walk.  What indicators, of their faith in the Lord, cause you to view this person as a true believer?

1.  Darren Hardy, a sales trainer, offers this tip for succeeding in sales, "You cannot convince somebody of something you are not convinced of yourself.  Before you communicate words to someone, be sure you connect your true emotion for what you're saying, and then say it with the full passion and enthusiasm of your heart and soul."  James is saying essentially the same thing here, "If you want to make a mark for Christ, be authentic!  Draw near to God in prayer, purify your hearts, and humble yourselves before the Lord."

2.  Here are some indicators of an authentic Christian:

a.  They have confessed Jesus Christ as their Savior and the Son of God.  (I John 4:15)

b.  Since continued, habitual sin is incompatible with their new nature, they are miserable when they sin.  Thus, they continually repent and ask forgiveness of the sins they have committed.  (II Cor. 7:9, 10; I John 3:9)

c.  They love and enjoy the fellowship of other Christians.  (Phil. 2:1, 2; I John 4:7; 5:1)

d.  They obey God's commandments. (I John 5:3; I Thess. 4:1, 2) 

e.  They read and study the Word of God.  (Rom. 10:17; 12:2; II Tim. 3:15-17; Mark 12:24)

f.  Their actions show that their hearts are pure.  Their motives and desires are for the good of the church and the edification of the saints.  (James 4:8; I Tim. 1:4, 5; I Peter 1:22)

3.  If we are committed to being an authentic Christian, James tells us what we should believe and how we should be living.  We should be living as follows:

a.  Live in submission to Christ and His will for our lives.  (James 4:7a)

(i)   Anything we accomplish should be to the glory of God, who made all of our accomplishments possible.

(ii)  We should find contentment, wherever God puts us and with whatever He gives us.  (Heb. 13:5; Phil. 4:11)

b.  Resist the devil and he will flee from us.  (James 4:7b)

(i)   Follow Jesus's example when He was tempted.  He answered Satan's temptations with scripture.  (Matt. 4:1-11)  So that we can do this, we must read and memorize scripture, especially those verses that pertain to our specific areas of vulnerability.

(ii) When we resist (or take a stand against) the devil, he will leave us, at least temporarily.  He never stops trying to tempt us or get us to stumble!

c.  Draw near to God.  (James 4:8)

(i)   Pursue an intimate relationship with God.  (Phil 3:10)

(ii)  The redeemed heart longs for communion with God.  (Psalm 84:2; 42:1, 2; 63:1, 2)

d.  Strive to live an ethically and morally pure life.  (James 4:8b)

(i)   Resist the temptation to sin.  Remember, it is not a sin to be tempted.  It only becomes a sin when you act upon your temptations.  As Jesus did in the Lord's Prayer, we should ask that we not be led into temptation.

(ii)  Our actions, words, thoughts, motives,a and desires should be pure and clean.

e.  We should be sorrowful and broken over our sins.  (James 4:9)

(i)   God forgives a broken and contrite heart.  (II Cor. 7:10)

(ii)  We should mourn over our sins, and ask God to forgive us.  (Luke 18:13, 14)

f.  Humble yourself before the Lord.  (James 4:10)  The word humble means "to make oneself low".

(i)   Realize that you are in the presence of the great I Am, the majestic and Holy God, and approach His throne with a reverent spirit.

(ii)  Note that scripture says to "humble yourselves".  God expects us to examine ourselves (our motives, our thoughts) and come before Him with a proper attitude, not with a nonchalant or disrespectful one.

g.  Do not judge others.  (James 4:11, 12)

(i)   We are not to use careless, derogatory, critical, or slanderous language when speaking about other people.  (Matt. 12:36, 37; II Cor. 12:20; Eph. 4:31)

(ii)  When we speak evil of other believers, we set ourselves up as their judge and we are condemning them.  Leave it to God to judge other people.  We have enough trouble keeping ourselves straight.  (Matt. 7:1, 2; Eccl. 12:14)

4.  During a trip to Mexico, we visited an area where silver was being mined.  We learned that it is virtually impossible to refine the impure ore to a point at which it becomes 100% pure silver.  This analogy came to mind as I read James's admonition for Christians to, "purify their hearts".  This reminds me of our need for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which will one day allow us to stand before the Lord on judgment day, and be declared 100% forgiven of our sins.  We will be seen as spiritually pure and clean in His sight, because of the atoning blood of Jesus.

Q3.  Discuss the need for purity in our lives, and why it is so difficult to remain pure, especially when confronted with all the evil in this world.  Recalling the advice that James gives us for confronting the devil in James 4:7 and 8, what specific things can we do in carrying out his advice?






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