“This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
This first sentence should read, “Know this, my beloved brethren…” Then it should read, “But let all believers keep on being…” This is the basic command of the Christian life. Once a person has received Christ as Savior, the next step is to find a pastor-teacher who is teaching accurate Bible doctrine and begin advancing to spiritual maturity.
The next phrase, “But let everyone” tells us that all believers are to be involved in the process of spiritual growth. The Greek word for everyone is “aner.” Normally the word used for mankind in Greek is “anthropos,” which is a general term. “Aner,” on the other hand, is a word used for a nobleman or nobility. The reason this is important to note is that before you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior you were “anthropos,” - just part of mankind. Upon faith in Christ you become “aner,” - nobility or Royal Family of God. You are no longer simply God’s “creation,” you are now God’s child and any child of God can understand the Bible when it is taught properly. The commands in these verses
1) “Know this” and 2) “Keep on being” encompass the whole structure of the Christian life, which is learning, thinking and applying Bible doctrine.
There are three factors of self-discipline necessary for a believer to learn doctrine. These factors operate only under the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit. The firstfactor is quick to hear - concentration. No one has ever learned one line of doctrine without listening. The second factor is slow to speak – control of when you speak. You can’t talk and learn at the same time. There are two kinds of talking, silent and the kind you audibly hear. Slow to speak refers to silence both in the soul and from the mouth while doctrinal teaching is being taught. Any public assembly calls for order and authority according to I Corinthians 14:40. The thirdfactor is the control of your mental attitude – control of your mental attitude sin. A believer cannot learn doctrine, when he is harboring any mental attitude sin. Anger was used by James to represent any mental attitude sin.
The Greek word for righteousness refers to just or fair dealings. It is a reference to divine production or producing the righteousness of Christ in your life. There are two types of production found in I Corinthians 3:11-15. Production done under the control of God the Holy Spirit is called gold, silver and precious stone. Production done under the control of the sin nature is called wood, hay and straw.
I Corinthians 3, says that all production will be evaluated by fire (a representation of the judgment by Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ). When the fire of judgment is applied to gold, silver and precious stone, it purifies them. When the same fire is applied to wood, hay and straw, it burns them up. Once again, we are talking about believers, not unbelievers. The good that we produce as believers is either divine good or human good.
Human good is not part of the plan of God for believers. When we attempt to replace divine good with human good we are missing the entire point of our spiritual life. There is nothing wrong with human good unless we substitute it for divine good. For example: The Bible says, “if a man thirst, give him a drink.” If we fulfill this mandate trying to gain a reward from God, then we have done it for the wrong reason (from the control of the sin nature) and it is wood, hay and straw (human good). If, on the other hand we do this because of the character of Jesus Christ residing in us (from the control of the Holy Spirit) then we have produced gold, silver and precious stones (divine good). (Matthew 10:42; Romans 12:20; II Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 6:1)
The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God means that the production of divine good will be blocked. Divine good can be produced only under the filling of the Holy Spirit and anger removes the filling of the Holy Spirit until acknowledged to God as sin. We are then commanded to move forward with the execution of the Christian Way of Life, which the Scripture calls “walking in the light.” (I John 1:5-10)
All believers are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit the moment they trust Christ as their Savior. After salvation, the believer is commanded to keep on being filled with the Spirit, which is temporary and is lost when the believer commits any sin. To be filled is to be controlled by or empowered by the Holy Spirit. We choose to allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives by allowing Him to control our thinking. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ.” (Philippians 2:5) This means we must have the Word of God stored in our souls. It is this doctrinal information that the Holy Spirit uses to guide our lives. Divine Viewpoint Thinking under the filling of the Holy Spirit produces divine good.
“Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
This verse tells us how to correct the problem of being out of fellowship due to mental attitude sinning. The word therefore should be translated “because of it,” - because of the information in the previous verse. Then we have the Greek word for putting aside, “apotithemi,” which is a compound word meaning to put off soiled garments. It is another way of saying, “get back into fellowship.” Confess your sins, examine yourself, lift up holy hands, make straight paths and take off those dirty clothes are all synonyms for getting back into fellowship. In other words, you can’t produce divine good when you are out of fellowship, so get back in fellowship.
All filthiness is the Greek word “ruparia” and is used for pollution. This pollution is anger, as we saw in the previous verse. It’s talking about pollution of the soul, your mental attitude. All that remains is the Greek word “perisuo” and means to overflow. Wickedness is “kakia” in Greek and means evil. So when we put them together we have, “because a believer with unconfessed mental attitude sin/sins cannot produce divine good, he/she should get back into fellowship and lay aside the pollution in his/her thinking and the overflow of evil in his/her mind.” And receive the Word is our next phrase. Receive is the Greek word “dechomai” and means to embrace. Its usage in Greek is a term for an intimate embrace, an embrace with love. So what James is saying is to embrace the Word of God, to love the Word of God and to have an intimate relationship with the Word. This phrase is in the imperative mood, which means that it is a command. Therefore, it is God’s will for each of us to embrace His Word.
The word humility is the Greek word “prautes” and is another word for grace in your soul. Humility means teachability and a respect for God and His Word. This is a reference to the grace function of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Then we have the word implanted. Implanted is the Greek word “enphutas” and means to plant somewhere.God’s Word is to be implanted in the mind of the believer, who has gotten back into fellowship, isolated and removed certain mental attitude sins, and is now embracing the Word of God under the grace function of the filling of God the Holy Spirit.
Which is able to save your souls is the last part of this verse. The Greek word for save is “sozo,” but it is not talking about eternal salvation, since James was writing to believers. It’s talking about the deliverance of your soul. So, it’s the implanted Word that has become a part of your thinking and can deliver you from any circumstance in life. This is not talking about a mere academic knowledge of God’s Word. This means that you have studied, learned and believed what the Word of God is teaching. You have learned it to the point that it has so become a part of your thinking that Divine Viewpoint Thinking is now your norm and standard, not Human Viewpoint Thinking. But it says it is able to deliver you, which is still only potential. You must allow your knowledge of Bible doctrine to deliver you by applying it under the filling of God the Holy Spirit.
So far we have, “Because a believer with unconfessed mental attitude sin/sins cannot produce divine good, you should get back into fellowship and lay aside the pollution in your thinking and the evil in your mind and embrace the implanted Word of God under the grace function of the control of God the Holy Spirit, which has the potential to deliver you from anything.”
“But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers, who delude themselves.”
Again, I want to emphasize that we have only a potential to this point. The ONLY way that the Word of God is going to be able to deliver you is if you APPLY IT! This is what is meant by being a doer of the Word and not a hearer only!
But prove yourselves doers are the Greek words “ginomai” plus “poietes” and mean to become a doer. Word is the Greek word “logos” and is a reference to the Word of God or divine viewpoint. A doer is an applier of the Word. If it goes no further than hearing, it is useless. Where does application take place? It takes place in your thinking.
The Greek word for hearers is “akroates” and it means to listen. The meaning should be clear, listening to God’s Word is NOT ENOUGH. The last phrase of this verse, “who delude themselves” means to defraud yourselves. The Greek word for delude is “paralogizomai” and it means to defraud or to self-deceive in one’s mind.
Our prototype Jesus Christ was an applier of Bible doctrine. As deity He never needed to learn anything because He had always known all things. (I Corinthians 2:16) But in His humanity, He was a human being who needed to learn doctrine in the same manner as we do. (Luke 2:46-52) Jesus continually used the doctrine that He had learned to sustain Himself throughout the trials and tribulations of life. When attacked by others, He applied the doctrine and principles of the Word of God to endure the adversity. He also applied the doctrine He had learned to combat the tests from Satan. And, He used the doctrine in His soul to teach others. (Matthew 4:1-11; John 5:16-39; 6:59-60; 7:16-24)
As believers, we are to follow Christ’s example of applying what we have learned. A believer who fails to go all the way with God’s Word, from study, to belief, to application is defrauding himself of the opportunity to have a victorious Christian life. If the Word of God is not changing your thoughts and actions, then you are not applying it properly.