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May 15, 2016

"THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY"

TEXT: James 1: 18-27
READING:
 Psalm 19: 1-14

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SUBJ: Looking unto Jesus and the Gospel as the means to being both a hearer and doer of the Word of God as compared to looking to that which makes no lasting impression on us.

AIM: That we might be doers of the Word indeed and not hearers only.

INTR: James is a most difficult book only because James is so exacting in the demand for a life that confirms belief in the truth.
1. James here is not the Apostle since he was killed much earlier by Herod Agrippa much earlier. That leaves either James the Son of Alpheus or James the brother of Jesus.
2. Martin Luther was critical of the book in that he thought the second chapter was in conflict with the doctrine of justification by faith. Closer study indicates quite the contrary.
3. The difficulty lies with us and our tendency to recoil at the demand for a life of responsiveness to faith and true commitment to the Gospel principles of Christ.

THESIS: While we delightfully acknowledge the greatness and the sovereignty of God, we are given the means of self-examination along with the ability to submit to the divine mandates and encouragements and so to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

I. Salvation and fruitfulness (v. 18-21)
1. The will of God wins out in every case, but we are not to presume upon His grace.
1) The fact that we are begotten of God presents the necessity of the New Birth.
2) The instrumentality of the Word of truth and the power of the Holy Spirit produces a life that is consistent with the whole of the divine revelation as to who and what we are.
3) The “wherefore” places here tells us of the necessity that we be in tune with this fact in
4) Becoming responsive to the Word and resistant to the things of the flesh.
2. Yet another “wherefore” brings us to give specific attention to the our actions in the world and reactions to the world:
1) Compare: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1
2) AND 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 2:1-3.
3. Particular attention is drawn to the “the engrafted Word”
1) That that which is received as a matter of heart and
2) The active component in salvation continued!!

II. Hearing and doing (vv. 22-25)
1. We have all heard the old saying “all talk and no action” and realize that this is a fleshly tendency in all in certain areas of life.
2. Nowhere is it (hearing and not doing) more noticeable than where there is a profession of faith that is not followed by a consistent life.
1) This is sensed by saved and unsaved alike and identifies hypocrisy.
2) In one truly who is truly born again, it produces a disconnect in his faith and a sense of separation from the Lord – salvation is in the Lord, is The Lord and in it the Lord is pursued!
3. So it is the objective of the writer to correct in the sense of bringing the believer to a profitable standing in the Lord for his own good and God’s glory – to deliver him from deception!
4. The illustration is a powerful one indeed:
1) Consider our interactions with our own mirrors and the dependence on them for vanity.
2) But, in the matter of the any lasting impression, the image seen is soon forgotten, either good or not so good.
3) How like us that is in that we are often impressed with the importance of the lessons that come from preaching, reading, witness or even in reading the Bible. (We must ask ourselves the most important question – did it make a difference in me?
4) In particular we should consider the effect of messages and meditations on the cross and the subsequent life of the cross!
5. Looking in to the “Perfect Law of Liberty”
1) In looking to the Gospel (we do not discount the fact that the Law exposes us all as guilty) we certainly see ourselves being represented by Christ our Lord before the Just and Holy Father and so enduring that wrath.
2) We further see that in the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, we have been set free and are at liberty to praise, worship and serve Him and we may freely love even as He has loved us.
3) Implied here is that we will be continually looking – not just a casual glance from time to time.
6. Such a person is “blessed” or happy in his deed (doing).

III. Pure religion (vv. 26-27)
1. Temperance is an element of the fruit of the Spirit and control of the tongue is most difficult (the third chapter is devoted to the problem).
2. Pure religion will be identified by action and not mere claim and is produced by continually looking into that “perfect law of liberty.”
1) To visit those in need with a view to help and
2) To keep ourselves unspotted from the world!!