Lesson 14 - Chapter 4:9-17

Lesson 14 - Chapter 4:9-17

Lesson for April 6, 2014

The Book of James

Chapter 4:9-17

Verse 9

“Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.”

As long as a believer stays in reversionism they are going to be miserable. Reversionism is the same as slavery because a reversionist no longer has spiritual freedom. He has placed himself under slavery to the details of life and is no longer pursuing the only thing that will make him truly happy – God’s Word. Reversionism is the status of perpetual self-induced misery. Once you get into reversionism you put yourself into slavery, and if you persist in this slavery every act of misery, tragedy, grief or self-pity should be a warning to get out of reversionism. A reversionist may enjoy a bit of laughter and happiness, but it soon turns to mourning and gloom without the doctrinal resources to handle the ups and downs of the reversionistic lifestyle.

Verse 10

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

Humble is the Greek word “tapeinoo,” which refers to a believer oriented to grace, positive toward Bible doctrine, submitting himself to the principle of discipleship as taught in the Word of God. Discipleship means a student under discipline, under authority, not someone running around “hustling for God.” The passive voice indicates that the believer has the mental attitude necessary to take in doctrine. He receives it from grace orientation and grace orientation comes from the intake of doctrine. The imperative mood is a command to persist in the daily intake of doctrine.

In the presence of the Lord means that all we do as believers is observed by God, so when we humble ourselves in the sight or presence of God and when He observes this humility in a believer He acts accordingly with promotion. The active voice means God does the promoting and the indicative mood is the reality of that promotion from God. The Lord promotes only advancing believers, where He can pour out maximum blessing because the advancing believer has the capacity for prosperity.

Verse 11

Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.”

Speak against is taken from two Greek words, “laleo” meaning to communicate and “kata” meaning down or against. Put the two words together and it comes to mean to slander, to defame or to speak against someone by maligning or by gossiping. This of course is a sign of reversionism. Reversionism is a constant series of mental attitude sins followed by sins of the tongue. This is what some people use in their frantic search for happiness. Some people are never happy unless they are downgrading, ridiculing, gossiping, maligning, using character assassination of those in their periphery. By maligning everyone else it is assumed that you are better than everyone else.

In this context the meaning of the Greek word for law is “nomos” referring to the law of freedom. The meaning of a word in the Bible is determined by its first usage in context, and the first usage of “nomos” in context takes us back to James 1:25 and 2:12. At the end of 2:12 we have the phrase “the law of liberty [freedom].” The law of freedom in James 2:12 is Bible doctrine providing capacity for freedom, capacity for life, and capacity for love.

A principle of the Christian life for an advancing believer is freedom: freedom to love God, freedom to serve God, freedom to appreciate life under God. This freedom is based on doctrine — James 1:25. Bible doctrine is the perfect law of freedom. Slander is maligning or judging the law of freedom.

Like mental attitude sins which sponsor sins of the tongue, these sins of the tongue are an attack upon the Christian life. When you malign and judge other people you are in effect attacking the principle of freedom inside God’s power system.

A doer of the law is a person living in God’s power system under the filling of the Holy Spirit. So, if you are not a doer of Bible doctrine (nomos), you are then a judge of Bible doctrine, which means a critic in Greek.

Verse 12

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One Who is able to save and destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”

God the Father is the Lawgiver and Judge which is a reference to the fact that He has provided Bible doctrine for the human race and He has turned over all judgment to Jesus Christ with regard to the doctrine and principles of the Word of God. All judgment of believers and unbelievers is based on principles of Bible doctrine. It is God Who provides deliverance through faith in Christ at salvation and deliverance in the Christian Way of Life through faith in Bible doctrine.

However, if a believer persists in reversionism they will not be delivered, but destroyed referring to the destruction of their spiritual life on earth or perhaps the sin unto death. In this context continuing in the maligning and slandering should be a red flag that you are in jeopardy of entering into a state of reversionism. If you are still alive and you are in reversionism, you can recover. The recovery is a process of study and application of Bible doctrine. The other concept here is that if you persist in ignoring these warnings then you face maximum discipline, the sin unto death.

Since there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, it should be obvious that we are not to set ourselves up as judges and usurp the authority of God. He gave the law (Bible doctrine) and He is the only One qualified or authorized to judge anyone by it. As mature believers, we judge only the message not the messenger. The Scriptures call it discernment and we are all to have it based on the Bible doctrine in our souls.

Verse 13

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

Every believer who finishes building an edification complex has mastery of the details of life. But when he loses through reversionism the edification complex and his mastery of the details of life are replaced by slavery to the details of life. Today or tomorrow introduces to us a reversionistic believer occupied with making money to the exclusion of everything else. In other words, he is preoccupied with making money instead of taking in doctrine. A spiritually mature believer wakes up in the morning and says, “I am still here, I’m going to get all the doctrine I can.” That is the difference in attitude and motivation. Today or tomorrow presents the beginning of a wrong attitude. Instead of each day in the life of a believer being another day in which God has graced him out and he is going to get more doctrine, we find instead the reversionistic believer looking at each day from the standpoint of his slavery to the details of life. He is a slave to the details of life and he is frustrated because he lacks money with which to acquire things.

The location of where God wants you to be is based on the intake of doctrine which God the Holy Spirit uses to guide you to where He wants you to be and not to where you think the opportunity is to make more money. You have capacity for life, capacity for love, capacity for freedom. The phrase, we will buy and sell for a year, is used as an analogy of a believer who is unstable and seeking only material possessions.

It is all right to make money, but this analogy is not about a legitimate money-maker, this is a reversionist looking to get rich. So the reversionist enters into selfish planning which totally excludes God and His Word. Once a man becomes a believer making money is a legitimate function and quite necessary. Being a believer does not hinder people from making a profit. Everyone, believer or unbeliever, under divine establishment has a right to legitimate profit. However, to a believer making money is secondary to the erection of the edification complex and entrance into the sphere of spiritual maturity. A mature believer does not depend on money or wealth for his security or his happiness but possesses them on the permanent foundation of Bible doctrine. Therefore he can enjoy them.

Verse 14

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

Still talking about the reversionist, James tells us that a person in reversionism does not consider the fact that life is short and the only thing that has lasting value is his attitude toward God and the Bible doctrine in his soul. Every believer’s job is to advance to spiritual maturity and glorify Jesus Christ. James compares our lives to a vapor which is visible only for a moment and then disappears. This is the case with our lives on earth. We are citizens of Heaven and the time spent here on earth is nothing compared to all eternity. What James is teaching is living our Christian lives in light of eternity and storing up for ourselves treasures in Heaven not on earth.

Verse 15

“Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.”

Verse 15 is a reference to the sovereignty of God the Father related to His decrees. It refers to eternity past when God the Father set up a plan for your life. In eternity past God knew every need we would ever have and He provided for it in grace. He provided for us in grace before we existed. A mature believer understands the pertinent doctrines which are involved at this point. A reversionist on the other hand does not consider God’s will when planning his life. Instead, he relies on his own ability and intelligence to go where he can acquire the most material possessions. And, it is arrogance to ignore the will of God as a believer. His plan for your life is infinitely greater than yours!

The will of God is always related to the plan of God and is never outside of the plan of God. It is the will of God for members of the human race to believe in Jesus Christ. That is God’s primary will for the human race. The will of God for the believer is declared in terms of personal love for God, love of self and impersonal love for others. The basic principle of divine guidance is based on the fact that man possesses volition of the soul and/or free will. The soul has self-consciousness. Self-consciousness means that you are aware of your own existence and you know something about yourself. In a believer’s soul we have volition, the whole reason for the believer existing — to demonstrate that under conditions of his volition he can choose for the plan of God and the grace of God as over against the plan of Satan. This is one thing in man’s soul that he has in common with angels.

For your life there is the directive will of God; this is where you should be as much of the time as possible. The permissive will of God is, for example, the believer out of fellowship. He is still alive but not under the sin unto death; he is in reversionism. Then there is the overruling will of God where He protects and He hinders us from being harmed.

Verse 16-17

“But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

Boasting in your arrogance is the revesionistic believer bragging about what he is going to accomplish or has accomplished that is outside the will of God for his life. All of our boasting is to be about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished and will accomplish for us as we live inside God’s power system. Any other form of boasting is evil because it excludes God and His will.

The one who knows the right thing to do is a believer who formerly had advanced in the Christian Way of Life but has slid into reversionism. This believer rejected doctrine and has moved in a direction that is contrary to what God’s will for him happens to be. The point is that any believer, regardless of spiritual status is susceptible to losing his focus on God and His Word and being distracted by the details of life to the point of falling into reversionism. Thus the importance of the daily intake and application of Bible doctrine, keeping short accounts when we sin, staying focused on our role in the Angelic Conflict and to glorify our Savior Jesus Christ.