James 1:19-27 (Week 2 – Faith in Action Series)
Jason White



James teaches us that there is an outworking of our salvation that will lead us to control our speech, help helpless people, and keep us from being influenced by the ways of the world.







Sermon Audio Transcript
This is week two of our summer message series where we're going verse by verse through the book of James together, we made it through the first eight teen verses last week. And if you were here, you remember that James taught us to count our trials, as pure joy, to count them as pure joy because God is at work in them. He's using them to persevere, or to develop perseverance in our lives. It's this idea that as we walk by faith, and as we walk in dependence upon Him and ask Him for wisdom, in the trials that we go through, we're going to experience the life of Christ in us and through us. And we'll realize that ultimately, he is our reward, not the better situations or circumstances, I mean, those can be good too. And he may bless us with those sometimes, but the real reward is Jesus Christ Himself and the abundant life that we have in Him. And so my hope is that if you've gone through a trial this week, or you've gone through trials this week, that you were able to go through them with this perspective that you were able to experience the abundant life that you have in him as you were clinging to him, asking him for wisdom. Today, as we get ready to pick up where we left off, I do want to just remind us of the very last thing that James said in the section that we looked at, because it really leans into what we're talking about today. And you'll kind of see that as we go along. But in chapter one, verse 18, the last verse that we looked at last week, James said he referring to God chose us to give or chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits, of all he created. In other words, James reminds us that if we've put our faith and trust in Jesus for salvation, we are not who we once were. The reference to the word of truth there, he's given us new birth through the word of truth as a reference to the gospel, the good news of Jesus. So when we, when we hear that good news, that Jesus substituted Himself on the cross for us and paid the penalty for our sins and extends that forgiveness to us in His very life to us and receive that gift of salvation through faith and our hearts are regenerated in that moment, we receive a new spiritual birth. And so we said last week that James is mainly kind of showing us the outworking of this new birth that he just talked about in verse 18, and how this new birth affects how we live, fix our speech and our behavior and our actions and all kinds of things as we're going to see today. And James just jumps right into those practical ways in this section and verse 19. Again, look at what he says, My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. When I was in, when I was in high school, when I was a junior in high school, I was playing doubles in the finals of a tennis tournament in Lancaster, Texas. I know where Lancaster is kind of in the Dallas area and my doubles partner was a senior I was a junior it was his last year at it. And so I felt that added pressure with it being his final year to have a good season. I mean, if things didn't end well, for me at least I had one more year to come back and try again. But it's was it for him, right. And so we're playing in the finals. This is the championship match. And we're playing some guys who are I mean, they're good players. But in all honesty, we were better than they were. We should have beaten them on this day. But I was not playing by best tennis that day. And we ended up losing the match. I am the one who hit the very last shot into the net. I felt like I'm the one who lost the whole thing for us. In in that moment. I was standing at the net and I turned around with the racket in my hand and I threw my racket as hard as I possibly could. all the way into the back fence. It hits the pole, it cracks in half and almost just kind of splinters right there. And I yield at the top of my lungs G D except I said the words loud as I possibly could was not my, one of my finer moments. Man, I felt sick at my stomach. As soon as the racket came out of my mouth, I mean, out of my hands and the words came out of my mouth, right racket out of my mouth and the words out of my hands. At least you're listening, right? I'm glad it's information here. But at the end, I just felt so sick at my stomach. I mean, I just knew that I shouldn't have done that in that moment. And what I ended up doing the rest of the afternoon, besides running around the track for it seemed like hours, because that's the first place that my coach sent me was just apologizing to, you know, my coach, and to my parents and my teammates to the rest of the parents who were there. But I gotta admit that even though God got my attention about my anger, and about my flippant use of vulgar words, in that moment, it didn't go away immediately. It didn't go away immediately, because I didn't really understand my identity. The reason I figured out that I got so angry so quickly in those moments, and did some of the things that I did was because I thought I was defined by those things, I was trying to validate my worth and my meaning and my importance in front of everybody who was watching through winning. And so when I lost, it wasn't just a game. This is my life that we're talking about. This is how I validate myself. It's what define me, it's how I justify who I am before others. And so I was quick to get angry, I was quick to speak out in these ways are quick to speak out and make excuses for why it is that I lost, so that I could convince everyone else around me that I wasn't that bad that I was better than I was in that moment, because I needed them to believe that about me. But once I began to finally understand who it was that I was in Christ, my identity, all that I had in him that I wasn't defined by my successes and my failures in those moments, then I became a lot slower, to become angry. And I became a lot slower to speak in those moments. And of course, I'm using an example of how this played out in sports in my life. But the same is true in all of our lives. And whatever it is that we're doing, and find ourselves being quick to anger in and quick to speak in and not so quick to listen to others, which let's be honest, oftentimes, is when we are upset and angry with someone else in our relationships that we have with people, right, we get angry when we're in a disagreement or argument with someone because we're trying to justify ourselves about being right. I mean, you can't be quick to listen to their point of view, in those moments, you've got to speak, you've got to defend, you've got to put them in your place if you're going to be right, and make sure that they know that they are wrong. But once again, when you and I understand our true identity, when we understand who we are in Christ, and all that we have in Him, and we walk by faith that these things that are true, then we will become slower, to become angry, we're going to become slower to speak in those moments, we're going to become much more quick to listen to how, listen, our actions actually affected them in that moment, instead of having to use words to defend what wasn't so wrong with our actions in those moments.So this new birth, that James had just referenced one verse earlier, he says in application in practical ways, will affect our emotions and will affect our speech. And James is gonna have more to say about this a little bit later. And then several weeks to come, we'll continue to see. But it's not just speech. It affects a lot of other things as well, which James gets to next. Look at verse 21. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth, and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly, except the Word planted in you, which can save you is what the NIV says, what it literally says there and the NIV doesn't translate for some reason is save your souls. The Greek word Sookie is found there. And so when you look at that, and you think about what James is saying, there, you could get kind of confused real quick, because it seems like if you don't see that, and he's talking about salvation here and this says spiritual salvation that we experienced that if I get rid of all the moral filth and the evil, and I humbly accept the Word, then I'll be saved right But he's already talking first and foremost about the word being planted in you. And we don't see this right. But when we see that he says it can save your souls. When we talk about this kind of thing all the time around here, you begin to see a little bit more of what it is that he's talking about. Because we talk a lot about our Spiritual Anatomy, how we're made up of a spirit and a soul and a body, a Numa, a su K, which is your soul, and your Soma, which is your body. And of course, the place of the new birth that he just talked about in verse 18, is in our spirit, this spiritual union where the regeneration occurs in our lives. But there is this outworking of salvation. Right? So we experience the salvation at the core of who we are in that union with Him. But when we come to see is that salvation is much more than just making you into this new creation at the very core of your spiritual being. There's an outworking of that salvation that we experience in our soul, as well. That's why he says here to accept this new life planted in you as who you really are, and get rid of all the moral filth that doesn't match up with who you now are in Christ. When James says to get rid of all moral filth, the other thing that we miss here is that in the original anchor language, this is giving the image of removing clothes, right, removing old clothes and putting on new clothes. It's the idea that you've been made, remade into someone new and Christ. So James is saying, quit wearing your old clothes on the outside that don't match who you now are. On the end side, you've been made new. And a lot of times we're wearing old clothes, still. The old clothes, of course, are the sins and behaviors and speech and all the things the actions that we're involved in which are evil, that are sin that don't come from God. And so, of course, again, we see here, it's not just speech, but an outworking of your salvation that affects all of your emotions and behaviors and the choices that we make and the actions that it leads to. So James is saying, wear the clothes, metaphorically that match up with the new birth, who you are on the inside. Now, verse 22, James says, Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves, do what it says. So in other words, I mean, if we if we listen to Jesus's teaching, about what is sin in our lives, and is no longer a part of the new creation that we become in him, and we just continue to keep on those clothes and live like we once did, then we're deceiving ourselves, deceiving ourselves, because that wasn't the point. The point wasn't just to hear the teaching, and to understand it and know it intellectually. The point was, to live it out to accept it in our lives, and live it out in the power of the Spirit to do what it says is the Spirit empowers you to be able to do so. So as we allow and accept it humbly into our lives, then we're not going to be just hearers only, there's going to be this outworking of salvation into our souls and our bodies where we become doers of the word. First 23 James gives an example of what it's like when we just listen to the Word, and we don't actually do what it says, And we deceive our selves. Look at his example, verse 23, anyone who listens to the word, but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his natural face in the mirror, and after looking at himself goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it, not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it, they will be blessed in what they do. Now, listen, I've read the book of James a number of times, it was one of my favorite books when I was even a young Christian and in high school and in college, but I gotta admit, I never really got that. That illustration, that example that he gives here, he's trying to give this example of what it's like when we don't listen to the word. And we're not being doers of the word. But But But what is looking in a mirror and forgetting what we look like have to do with listening to the Word and not doing it. And really didn't really make sense To me, and I didn't really understand what we okay, if we're supposed to look intently this perfect law, which is the mirror, then I mean, what how does that have to do with it too, I just I just never really understood it. One of the commentaries I read this week really, I thought summed this up well and brought out some new perspective in this. And I just want to read a few of the things that it said, said, what is seen in this mirror is described by James as his natural face, a more precise rendering of the phrase would be the face of his birth, or that language already, just from a few verses earlier. The mirror then he says, then reveals to its Christian, here's the true face of their new birth into God's family. It shows them what they truly are in Christ, and therefore how they ought to behave in keeping with the image of themselves. Thus, the believer who hears the word, but goes out and ignores what it has shown him is truly like a person who forgets what kind of man he is, listen to this, to be a mirror here of God's truth is to forget one's true identity as a born again, and justify a child of God, and then to go out and behave as though he is not.And that just helped me a lot. And then he gets into this, this perfect law of liberty is perfect law of freedom, that that is the spiritual mirror into which a believer looks when he hears the implanted word. Now, since the commands of this Christian law are in accord with his innermost nature, as a born again, person, they are not in any way a form of bondage, but rather a law of liberty, a law of freedom. So what the Christian learns, really learns from the word is to become in conduct, what he already is, by virtue of his regenerate nature. So when a person is doing something is a natural expression of his true nature, he is obviously enjoying the liberty of just being himself. Yes, that man so so, you know, I think the difference I see is that sometimes we approach the commands and the things that are said about the actions and behaviors and speech and, and all the stuff that we're supposed to kind of do. Right. And and when we see that, then then there's a lot of bondage sometimes in that, because what's what's missing is, we've forgotten who it is that we were, we're just kind of trying to either do them out of our own strength and our own power, we don't really know, they're part of who we are, or we looked at them. And we didn't know those. But then we quickly turned around which attention away from the mirror and who we were, and the world got a hold of us. And we're going Yeah, but that sounds a lot better. This sounds like a lot more freeing to me to be about these kinds of things and things that the world says real life is found in. But there's really no freedom in that. I mean, a lot of times, we think that the real fun and the real life is found in the things that God's telling us we're not supposed to do a lot of times, but when we really stop and think about those things, a lot of times, all those things that we're doing are things that we're, we're really doing to try to, to cope with the things that are going on in our lives or to, to justify ourselves in some way to form an identity around all of those things. And they can be a form of bondage in our lives. But when we see these, these commands, about behaviors, and actions, and all the stuff that we're to do, as expressions of who I already am, and what I've been made into man that's free. And of course, we're going to be blessed to walk in those ways and do those things, because that's who I've already been made it into. I'm going to experience the freedom, the blessing of getting to finally live who God created me to be. All those other ways is the false me, the fake me, the one image I'm trying to put in front of others, to bring me everything that I'm trying to get out of this life in the world and other people around me, rather than who God made me to be and who I am in Him. Not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says in the power of the Spirit. He gives us three very practical ways coming up in verse 26 of behaviors and actions and things that now line up with who you really are. Look at what he says in verse 26. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues. deceive themselves and the religion is worthless in vain Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. The first thing that James says these behaviors that line up with who we know are in Christ, very practical living, is that we're going to learn to keep a tight rein on our tongue. James has already talked about this, some I told you, he's going to come back to it. And he, he has here, we get the imagery of a bridle in a bit that's used to control a horse, of course, and you can use those to slow a horse down to stop a horse to steer it in different directions. And James is saying, as an outworking of our faith, that we'll learn to control our speech as the implanted word, the implanted Spirit leads and guides us to do so. So with that in mind, is there an area of speech that James is wanting to tighten the reins on in your life, today? See using this to get a hold of you and your turn your attention to the way that you've been talking to your spouse, maybe, or the way that you've been talking to your kids or your grandkids to get your attention about how you're always having to use your speech to defend yourself and to prove to other people that you are, right, is he trying to get your attention about the gossip that you've been spreading the lies that you've been telling, or even the vulgar language that you've been using, that doesn't line up now with who you are in Christ. And if he's bringing some of those things to mind, right now, this is what James wants to do with the power of the Holy Spirit, inspiring him to write these things to get our attention with these kinds of speech that don't line up that are inconsistent with who we now are in Christ to turn them back over to him to turn our attention on who we are, and to allow him to have control over our speech, to lead us in ways that will speak of love and COURAGING words to others and share truth and love and grace with other people to remove those old clothes, of language, and to put on the new clothes, the new language that he wants us to speak. The second practical thing that James mentions here is an outworking of our faith is to help orphans and widows to help helpless people. Right. I don't think that James just meant to help orphans and widows, he gives us specific examples. But what that means in the way we see this played out in Jesus's life and others is as an outworking of our faith is going to lead us to help helpless people. When I was reading this this week, it made me think of Todd and Amy block. You probably don't know who taught and Amy block are. But Todd and Amy block were a married couple who didn't know Jesus when they got married. And sometime in their 20s or early 30s. One of Amy's friends invites her to church, they go to church, they hear the Gospel for the first time what Jesus did on the cross for them, both of them on that day, say yes to Jesus, and they receive His forgiveness and he comes to dwell in their lives. And they experienced this new birth that James talked about earlier in verse 18. And with that new birth with that new heart that they now had, it did not take God very long, to begin to stir up affection in their hearts for helping helpless people, specifically in the area of adoption. That is they prayed about that and what that looked like practically in their lives, God eventually opened up the door and led them to adopt several children from third world countries and these kids lives were and are still being impacted in ways they never would have been if they hadn't been in a home with them and someone who is going to love them and care for them and provide for them and and point them to the hope that they can find in Jesus. But God wasn't done with them. He continued to still work in their hearts to help even more people and before long they Since Tim calling them to Guatemala to start an orphanage called the Village of Hope. And what they do is they care for orphans by providing schooling for them. They provide life skills and training to be able to help them get a job once they graduate from their program. But they even have families. Like as these younger kids are growing up, they put a mom, and they put a dad in a unit, a little housing unit. And they put an orphan in with them so that they actually grow up with family. And they have someone that's a mom and a dad taking care of them in the family unit and structure. It's a really cool ministry, a really great missions organization, Ihave the privilege of going there several years ago as a part of a short term missions trip and see it firsthand. And it's incredible the things that Jesus is doing in and through them to touch the lives of these kids and impact them in their ways. One of the ways that really impacted me and it touched my heart was a kind of a new branch of the Village of Hope it's not new anymore. It was kind of at the time, their daughter, Addison, who was an adult and married, but was continuing to serve in the Village of Hope, started a new branch called into his arms. And what it is, is basically palliative end of life care for baby orphans, they realized that there were a lot of times that some babies in Guatemala were being born. And these babies may have terminal illnesses, and the parents don't want them. They don't even want to take them home and care for them. And so they just leave the hospital and the babies would kind of get tossed into a room and just left there to die on their own. And by themselves in Addison said that is not okay. And so they began to open up their own home, and they began to take some of these babies into their home, knowing that they were going to die. But they did so to love them as they were dying, to speak truth into their lives, to hold them and care for them, to sing over them to pray for them to just nurture them, as the Lord called them into his arms. Such a humbling thing to see when I was there. And I got really emotional just thinking about it. But then I'm thinking how, how do they deal with that, you know, to get emotionally attached to knowing that this child is dying in this moment. But this is the kind of thing that the Lord led them to do to the heart. It was born out of this heart that he had given them to help helpless people. And it's a heart that all of us have. Now it got manifested in this practical way for them to start an orphanage and to do things like this. But again, you if you're a born again, Child of God, share this same heart to help helpless people. So who is it that Jesus is leading you to help today? And will you trust him with that, and allow him to use you to help helpless people, this is what Jesus does in and through us. The third thing that James mentions here is an outworking of our faith is keeping ourselves from becoming polluted by the world. It can certainly be, even though God regenerates our hearts and gives us a new heart, we can again look in that mirror, and then leave and forget who it is that we are and who God's made us into and focus on the world. And it's what gets our attention to bring us life and to act out in different ways. And a lot of the values that we see in culture can easily creep into our own lives. I sometimes wonder today if we're being discipled more by our phones, and Fox and CNN news than we are through God's Word through turning our attention, our souls in our bodies and minds inward, focused on Jesus in us and through us. So certainly would be wise for us to look at those things and to ask the question, How am I being influenced by the things of this world that don't line up with what Scripture values what God values and hand those things over to him as well? Now, that certainly doesn't mean that Jesus is calling us to live isolated from other people and to live in a bubble there are many who take it too far. And now all of a sudden, we just need to, you know, keep ourselves from the entire world and being polluted by Every one out there. And if we just step out into the culture or into these little different things, then then it's just going to infect us and pollute us in all these ways. But we know that Jesus didn't stay isolated in a bubble. He and the disciples walked into and began to share tables with people who were very influenced by culture, who were walking in very worldly ways. And maybe they were mindful about the ways that could impact them. But it didn't keep them from going to them, none, the less. And so again, if Jesus gives us this heart to help people, then we keep an eye out for how the world is influencing us as we go, though, into the world. Where Jesus is going to use this to help people, especially those who don't know, Jesus, and of course, they're going to be acting in worldly ways if they don't know Jesus. So once again, as we look at all of the ways that James is getting super practical here about the outworking of our faith, and how this plays out in our lives. What is Jesus saying to you? Through all of this? I mean, if you've said yes to Jesus, what is he saying to you today about your speech? What is he saying to you about helping helpless people? What is he saying to you about the ways you're being influenced by the world over and above, who you've become in Christ now. And if you've never said yes to Jesus, and we've been talking about this new birth, that you can experience and now finally begin to live out who God created you to be, would you take a step of faith and receive His forgiveness in this new life that he wants to give you? I hope that you will, I'm gonna give you a chance to do that right now in this moment was bow and let's pray. Jesus, thank you for going to the cross, for dying for our sins. God, thank you for rising him from the dead and defeating the power of sin and death forever. Thank you for extending that forgiveness in new life to us, by Your grace, was a gift. We got there, a lot of us who are here today. And we've said yes to you, we've received that gift. And what you brought us here today to do was to get our attention about maybe our speech, or anger, things that are inconsistent with who you are in Christ, to be able to bring those things before you and to ask you to change those to be consistent with who we now are. Made, maybe for some of us, you brought us here to show us how you want to use us to help helpless people, and we make ourselves available to you and say, may we just be the instruments in your hand that you're using to help helpless people and to make impact on them and point them to Christ in the hope they can find in him the same hope that we've found. God for some of us, you brought us here today to reveal to us the ways we're being influenced and discipled by our our phones, or by Fox and CNN, or all these other things that are out in the world. bring ourselves to you and lay those things before you as well and just pray, would you turn our attention to your word, the truth that's found there, the new creation that we've become in Christ? Would you influence us as we keep our eyes fixed on you, Jesus, in your ways. And God finally, there might be some who are here today or watching online in this moment. And you brought them here just for this moment to allow them to be able to see the forgiveness that they're missing out on the new birth that they could receive in Christ finally, being able to live out who you created them to be in their longing to have their sins forgiven to experience that new life that we're talking about. And, and if that's you, I invite you to just pray a simple prayer of faith in this moment. You could just say this in the quietness of your heart, Dear God, I recognize that there's sin in my life and that that sin separates me from you. But thank you for loving me. Jesus, thank You for dying for me. Right now, in this moment, I put my faith and trust in You, Jesus, to be my Lord and Savior. Please forgive me. Come dwell in me. Give me new life would you be my guide? Would you be my strength? Would you change me from the inside out? Thank you for loving me. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for rescuing me and bringing me life. Jesus name amen