September 10, 2023

James: Authentic Visible Faith

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: James 1:1– 5:20

Download the James Bible Journal Outline

Open your Bibles, if you would, to the book of James. You can tell by the front cover of the Bible journal, he just lays it down in the book of James. That's a portrait of some of the verses in there. James is quite an amazing book. It's about authentic visible faith, authentic visible faith. What is saving faith? What is saving faith? We all want to know the answer to that question. We all want to see: do we have, do we possess true saving faith? And James discusses this throughout the book. He says in James 2:14, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” So, James just lays it out there. Do you have the kind of faith that is saving faith? And I would put before you this morning, that is the most important question you'll ever have to answer in this life.

So, who does go to heaven? I think for most of us, we have a faith that we rely on, and we think about, and we work it out with fear and trembling, and yet we have sin in our lives. And when the sin continues, it starts to confuse us. “Why do I act like this if I don't want to act like this?” And we go through the Romans 7 pattern. You know, the sin I don't want to do I do, and when I want to put it off, it's right there with me. And I know we can all relate to that. But that causes us to think and maybe even to question the foundation of who we are. Am I truly living for God? Am I just fooling myself and living for myself? Is my faith real? How do I know if I've really given my life to the Lord? How do I know? Can you know? Have I received forgiveness for my sin, every single sin, every single thought, every careless word, every word spoken, everything? Am I forgiven for all of it? Or just some of it? Am I a true child of the living God? Am I fake? How do I know?

And the Bible is not silent on authentic faith, as you can imagine. James wrote an entire book about it. Look there, if you would, with me at James 1:1. Now James is not the apostle James. We see that apostle James was martyred, probably too early to be this James. So, this is most likely James, the brother of the Lord. They call him the half-brother, because he [Jesus] was born of the Holy Spirit. But this is the brother of Jude, the same Jude that wrote the book of Jude, brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was also leader of the church in Jerusalem. And we need to remember that James is a pastor. He has a church in the epicenter of the world.

Notice what he calls his brother, whom you and I call Christ the Lord, in James 1:1: “James, a servant of God [that's the word “slave,” that's “doulos”; that should be James, a slave of God] and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” That's how he now views himself. Some brothers treat their brothers like slaves. James says, “No, this is my Lord.” And he's writing “to the 12 tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.” So, these are the Jews who have become believers, and they are dispersed -- that is, they are scattered, due to various forms of persecution. This is probably from Acts 6, where we see Stephen, and Acts 7, where he is martyred. And it says, ”And there arose a great persecution among the Christians that day.” And then also in Acts 12, we find more persecution against the Christians, and they're running for their lives.

So, James is writing to these believers who have faith, and they have not acquiesced on their faith. Otherwise, they could just stay in Jerusalem. And you say, “Well, James stayed. Did he acquiesce?” No, he (by tradition) got his head chopped off about 20 years after writing this. So, he was forthright, but he was prominent, so it was a little bit harder to get to him. But he has great compassion on his flock, and on his brothers and sisters in Christ, who have had to spread out through the known world, just to save their lives. So that's this James. So, when you hear James bringing the thunder, just remember, he is a pastor who loves his sheep.

James is going to help us examine our faith. And you could divide James into about 13 series of tests of faith, or signs of real faith. Basically, every commentator has a different way of trying to outline the book of James. But I think the one that fits for our purposes this morning, as I try and explain the entire book to you, is the test of faith. So, we're going to cover basically three tests of faith this morning, so that you can know if your faith is authentic.

The first one (he just jumps right in) starts in James 1:2. This is the test of suffering, the test of suffering. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Now trials here, to “meet trials of various kinds,” this is like encountering a hazard. If you've ever lived in Chicago, it's like trying to drive on the roads there; or the Pennsylvania Turnpike, trying to get through cold weather states in the summer. There's just hazards everywhere. That's what this is like. It's being surrounded by trials, they just don't go away. This is not just a casual encounter (the English is kind of not as forthright here for us), but it's when you meet them of various kinds. They're in your world. They're in your face. You can't just cover your eyes, and they all go away.

Remember the context. They left their cities because of the trials. Most of us don't do that. I guess unless you live in California, and you maybe moved to Tennessee or something. Sorry, I love California -- you know, where the evil is great, the light shines brighter. I found so many faithful, wonderful believers there who just grew my faith. But it's like that. Or maybe like a lot of people moving to Texas. The problems you have in places like Tennessee and Texas is that everybody says they're Christians. But you don't know who are Christians, so you got to go back to the book of James.

In the first century, they fled, not because they were upset with policies, but to save their lives. So, what do trials have to do with authentic faith? What does testing produce, according to James 1:3? It produces something -- besides a migraine. It produces something; it produces steadfastness. One of the most beautiful characteristics of God in the Old Testament is his steadfast love. It what? It endures - forever. Yeah, you can talk if you want. All right. His steadfast love endures forever. Forever. You can't outrun it. You can't hide from it. If you show back up, it's there still. It's always there. When you meet God, you're going to be so overwhelmed by his love. When you stand face to face with Jesus (if you know Him as your Lord and Savior), you're going to be so overwhelmed by his love. It's like, “Wow, he meant what he said. It's still there.” It's incredible -- the same understanding, the same characteristic is that trials actually produce in us a steadfastness. Trials, testing.

But it's not just a steadfastness, to be resolute, by itself. Look in James 1:12. Being steadfast in a trial, what does it produce? James 1:12, says this: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him,” who love him. Enduring trials comes with blessings. James is very much paralleled with the Sermon on the Mount. They have so many parallels, over 20 parallels to look at. So, men, you've been studying the Sermon on the Mount. As you read the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 and Matthew 6, and then you read James, you're going to see those parallels, as you saturate yourself with the Word.

“To be blessed” is to receive favor from God, not a gigantic bank account, though he may bless you in that way. It can mean “happy,” but it's beyond that. We, by the way, shouldn't look down on happiness, because it's somehow not “joy.” But this happiness, here, comes from God. God promised these things to those who love him. You will receive a blessing, the favor of God – now -- “blessed is the man.” Not the man will be blessed later, after he dies. But now, right now, in this life, you'll be blessed. So, the trials that you endure give you this status of favor from God, at the minimum. There's a future blessing as well. The wonderful promise of the crown of life, eternal life with God. That is in the future of everyone with authentic faith.

Who are those with authentic faith? Well, those who love him. Where are your affections in life? Do your affections draw you to the Lord Jesus Christ? Where do your feet run when trials come? Do they run to the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you have this growing knowledge of God that you love him more and more? And yes, knowledge of God and love of God should both propel each other in a synergistic type of way. In trials and out of trials, real believers love God. They don't rebuke him for it. The book of Job is a wonderful example of that.

An additional part of the blessing of God, as you see in these verses, is that God gives us wisdom. As you see in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.” He's not going to run you down when you go and ask him for wisdom. He’s not gonna say, “Yeah, well, I was gonna give you some wisdom. But since last night, you totally failed. Asked me again tomorrow.” That's not how this works. He's always loving and always willing to give to us the wisdom to carry out his will in life, which is a kindness of God. It's a blessing of God. When trials come you ask God for wisdom. “How should I live?” “How should I endure through these things?” “How can I get through these things?” God promises wisdom, the knowledge that comes from God, to live for God. That could be a working definition of “wisdom.”

So, trials -- you persevere in them, you're blessed in them. You receive wisdom, and the crown of life awaits. And you say again, “Remind me how this shows authentic faith?” Well, do trials crush you? Are you more like a deflated balloon when the big trials come? Not that the trial’s not painful, but where does your countenance go? Does it want to draw nearer to God, as James will later talk about? Or does it want to say, “This just isn't the God for me?” Do you say, “This is not the life I asked for”? “God, your plan is not good enough for me.” Right? Or have you learned, by the wisdom of God, to be steadfast and immovable under great trials?

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, that they were “afflicted… but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” If you're still breathing, there's hope, if you're still kicking. Right? There's no “coffin conversions” with God. You can't convert after you get in the coffin, it's before. But if you're still breathing, there's hope in life. And Romans 6 says that this love from God, it's poured out in us, and it does not disappoint us. It actually gives us great hope to live life. The test of suffering is that authentic faith just doesn't give up. We press on for the glory of God.

Your light does shine brighter when it's dark out. It's not mixed with all the other confusing lights, as they call it “light pollution” in LA and big cities, where you can't see the stars. So, you have to label something else “pollution,” we might as well label light “pollution.” It's not that; it's just when there are no other lights, yours shines brightly. And we like to be around in the daytime. You walk out in the daytime, and you get that warm sunshine. It hits your face, and it just seems to invigorate your whole body. And the darkness, the night, it’s things that we seem to flee from. We have poetry written about this and songs written about this. And you look up to the sky at night, and you see the light.

You look for light when you're in the darkness, do you not? And God may have put you in the darkness, in a tough trial or tough situation, so that you may see the light from God that reflects from your life. We should not be scared of it. We should thank God for it, and rest and trust in him. I mean, you've got issues, I've got issues, we all have issues, right? But authentic faith is a blessed life lived out by the wisdom of God. So, being steadfast in trials is evidence of authentic faith.

James is really this five-chapter, hard-hitting sermon from a pastor who just dearly loves his sheep. And with this next test, we'll gather in much of the letter, and this would be the second test -- we call it the verbal flame thrower test. You know what I mean. Just look on the cover, here, the fire’s coming out of us and setting other things on fire. You know I like to watch basketball and, at times, other sports. Tennis is going on now, if you like that. I just enjoy that. But, like me, you probably listen like, “Is this guy (or girl) real?” You know, when they make a basket, and, you know, do this [points to heart and gestures toward the sky] or they pray after their winning touchdown or something. Or they win the US Open and kneel down at their chair and pray, and then use the Lord's name in vain as they talk afterwards.

We're geared like that; we want to see is this person real or not? And a little bit we kind of go, “Well, I don't do that. Okay, well, maybe sometimes I do, but not on national television.” Right? Praise God, we're not on national television, and everything we're saying is broadcast to millions. But it used to anger me, when I'd watch this. How could they do that? How could they use their words to praise and bless God, and not even know what taking the Lord's name in vain sounds like? They just think it's part of their vocabulary. Like no one curses, “Santa Claus.” Why are you cursing God when you speak? But now it makes me sad, because we're all made in the image of God. And one day, we're all going to stand before God, and more than just apologizing to their mom when they say something bad on TV, and maybe their pastor if they have one.

This brings us to the test of speech. And James, he hits this all over the place, in this short, little, five chapters. And it's really convicting, because who can talk for very long without not quite saying things with this full round of grace, right? I mean, it happens, and James wants us to understand why it happens. And he links it to authentic faith. What we say reveals what we truly think. What we say reveals what we truly think and believe. “Oh, that just slipped out.” Of course, it did. You’ve been thinking about it for hours, and you finally let your defenses down and said what was really building inside of you for hours. James is saying that the label on the outside might say “fresh milk,” but if it's curdled, eventually the curdled milk is coming out.

Look at James 1:19. Notice how he lovingly says this. “Know this, my beloved brothers [my brothers and sisters in Christ, whom I love, know this]: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce [there’s that word “produce” again] the righteousness of God.” So, what does our faith produce? Well, in trials, it produces steadfastness. And here, our faith, if we let anger overtake us, does not produce the righteousness of God.

Many moons ago in the Midwest, I used to be on a deacon board. You know, the good old baptist deacon boards that are quasi-elders, and they just kind of, you know, they're the controlling force of the church, and the only elders are the paid pastors. And it was one of those things, and I was like 23, wondering “What in the world do you have me on there for?” And there was this guy on the deacon board, and he was older and kind of a short guy with lots of extra skin, and used to say whatever he was thinking, just one of those guys.

And I loved him to death, because there was no such thing as the “elephant in the room” with this guy, because he was always saying it. What you're all thinking, he's just saying, “Can we just deal with what's there?” Right? I love those guys. You don't have to wonder if they're coming atcha guns blazing, because the guns are always out. So, you don't have to wonder. And this was his favorite verse, “slow to speak.” He would actually, in meetings, put his hand over his mouth and say ”Slow to speak. Slow to speak.” And he would literally squeeze his face. You could just see the tension in his whole body as he wanted to say something, but he knew it wasn't going to come out right. That guy just blessed me to death. You see, what we say shows what's in our heart. It's a window to your heart. Okay? It's a window to your heart.

And James says this in building ways, and he kind of soft-sells it a little bit in James 1:26, but I guess this isn't really soft-selling it. You don't see this on the side of sneakers or, you know, football cleats. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.” Worthless. Fathers, do our children see our words as refreshing or harsh? Wives, do your husbands see your words as an ocean of encouragement? James is saying we have to consider the nature of our heart based on what we say. Right? And what we talk about when we get into arguments, or the Holy Spirit's convicting us, but our pride is overwhelming us, and we say, “Well, you don't know my heart.” James says if he doesn't bridle his tongue, he's deceived about his heart.

So, if we're thinking about what we're saying, and these things come out, and yet we think we're still righteous, we're deceived according to James 1:26, and the person's religion is worthless. And these are the tame verses in James about the tongue. Turn to James 3. He stuffs the furnace with coal on this one. James 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” He amps it up a little bit -- you thought James 1 was hard to swallow. My dear brothers and sisters, we must consider the words of Holy Scripture. We must not think it's trite to speak in certain ways. We shouldn't consider the things that Jesus poured stripes on his back for as inconsequential.

Do you remember that verse that says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”? (Matthew 12:34) Yeah, I do too. And do you remember the context for it? Remember, Bible study -- rule number one, context is king. Right? Context is king. In fact, you'll probably get James 2 about faith wrong if you miss the context. We'll get to that in a minute. But the context here is Jesus talking to the Pharisees. And Jesus has just healed people. He's done these obvious miracles you just can't get around. And then he lays into the Pharisees with that phrase, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Let me read to you what Jesus says, because this isn't just an idea James has. Matthew 12:33-37: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! [right? Jesus is dialing it in here] How can you speak good, when you are evil? [so, he just flat out tells them they're evil] For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I mean, come on. How do you get around that? It's not teaching works salvation. It says “Believe in me and you'll have eternal life,” right, but “if you [what?] confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord.” (Romans 10:9) What that means is that Jesus is already Lord of your heart, of your life. And you confess it. Why? Because that's who you are. You're not scared to confess it. You're not scared to hide from people, to hide from who you really are. You confess it, that Jesus is Lord. Jesus literally condemns them for what they say. Right?

And then James 3:8 says, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” I mean, we know this. This is how we navigate social media, right? It's like, stick and move. You see this? “Oh, that's a good thing.” And then you follow a little bit, and then, “Oh, it went south.” And you go somewhere else, and you tend to navigate towards people who are encouraging. Right? Who say kind things. But here James says, “no human can tame the tongue.” Does he really mean that? Does he really mean that no human can tame the tongue? And this is not the time when you elbow your spouse and go, “See, I told you.” It's not that time. But this is the point. Without Christ, this is what we look like. Without authentic faith, this is what we look like.

And so, when we look like this, we can't just say, “Oops!” We need to see how the Bible describes our words. And do we live up to that, not so that we can earn our salvation, but so that we can see if our salvation is indeed authentic. James 3:9, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” It’s pretty clear, right? But here's the thing -- if there's no fuel, there's no fire. If there's no fuel, there's no fire. If there's no fire inside of you, none will come out. Right? Are we storing up blessings for people, so that when we see them, we bless them? Or are we storing up kindness for people, so that when we're around people, we just exude kindness to others?

So, he's trying to get us to see that what we say really does matter. And it's instructive for us. And how would this bless those who are running for their lives already, to know all these hard things about the tongue? Well, it tells them who the false wolves are who are trying to destroy them. It helps the true believers see who the unbelievers are. It helps them root out those with fake faith, who just claim to have faith, but do not live it out. That's what it helps them with. And just one last thing on this particular subject of what we say and how that's a window into our heart, James provides some really good clarity on what it's like to figure out arguments. Anybody ever have arguments with other people?

Okay, so James 4 is your friend. Look there, if you would, you know this verse. But 99% of the time, arguing does not get fixed by clarifying the facts. That's what we try and do most of the time, right? “No, no, no, you don't understand. If you would just listen to me, then we could solve this argument.” That's not how arguments get fixed, most of the time. Arguments get caused because of the facts, most of the time. Right? Look at James 4:1, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” Your passions war within you, not the other person who understands the situation incorrectly. But you and I have desires, and we're not getting those desires met, or we're receiving things from other people that we don't want. So, we desire kindness, but we're getting the fire. And so, it's like, “Why are you talking to me like that?” And then it turns into this argument. And all we're doing is trying to lay down the facts.

But here James says, “No, it's about your desires.” Is your desire for that other person to hold them up as holy before God? Or is it to win? Jesus could have won every single argument he ever was in with the Pharisees. With Pilate -- did he try and win an argument with Pilate -- were the stakes any higher for Jesus at some other point in his life? And he remained, what? Silent. Because the will of the Father was more prominent, more powerful, more desirable to him than winning the argument with Pilate about who he was and where he came from. About how innocent he was, and that he didn't deserve what was coming. He was more interested in seeing the will of the Father carried out in his life than winning the argument. His desires were pure.

And we see this in how we conduct ourselves and how we talk with others. Authentic faith puts the will of God first. We use our words to be gracious to others, and we lay aside the verbal flamethrower. “Oh, I got them. I got them. They're coming in close. I got a 20-foot range with this thing. They are going to be burnt.” Right? And you're just stacking up all your arguments. And you're just ready to unload on somebody who's made in the image of God. See, we don't own our words. God does. I've been bought with a price. An authentic faith shows that I use my words for God's glory, not my own.

That moves us to another test of authentic faith. And I would call this one “authentic faith works.” Authentic faith works. And all of you who love to have theological debates, you're going to be unsatisfied. Because I am not going to go there for the next five hours on explaining this whole thing. We're going to go into summary mode. Turn to James 2:14. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” See, that's where we started the sermon. It was that verse -- can that faith save anyone? “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, it is dead.”

James explains the outcome of authentic faith. He explains what authentic faith looks like, the outcome, the visible portion of that which is already accomplished. It is first and foremost active. It's not a concept. It's a way of life. It's how we live. We live by faith, right? It's not just something we acquiesce to, mentally. And he hits that in James 2:19 where he says, “You believe that God is one; you do well [that's good]. But even the demons believe -- and shudder.!” Right? So, we don't want to have what James -- not me, don't get mad at me -- what James says is like demon faith, to his brothers and sisters who are persecuted. Right? He wants them to be sure of their faith.

A person who doesn't live for Jesus is not his child. His faith is no better than demons, who believe all the truth, better and more accurately than you and I do, but do not follow Jesus. And they just have demon faith. Over and over again in Scripture, the demons acknowledge the truths about God. They do. You see this over and over and over again. They say, “We know who you are, the Holy One of God. Have you come to torture us, to torment us?” And then they asked him, they beg him, “Don't send us into the abyss, just send us into the pigs.” (Luke 8:28-33) Right? They didn't want to roam through waterless places with no rest.

There wasn't a contest about who Jesus was. They didn't have a debate or an argument about who Jesus was. They knew accurately who Jesus was, and is still today, but they just didn't want any of his program. They didn't want to follow him. And for you and I (fallen angels don't have redemption through Christ's blood), but for you and I, what do we want? Do we just want to live however, because we agree with God, and we agree with the truth, and we read our Bible, and we pray? But James says faith is active, and faith is visible. Look in James 2:21. He gives us this example of visible faith. And this is confusing for many. Martin Luther did not like the book of James at all. I think he totally got it wrong. I think he did not understand the thrust of the book of James.

But look in James 2:21. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’ -- and he was called a friend of God.” James is saying Abraham's works are the fruit of the righteousness he already had. And I'm going to prove that to you 100% today, very quickly. His belief is what gave him the declaration that he was counted as righteous. Right? “Without righteousness, no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) So, he needed this righteousness, and his works made his faith visible.

Now, we need to think about Genesis for a little bit. Even though Abraham did not have a son, God told him this in Genesis 15:5-6: “And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and the number of the stars, if you're able to number them.” Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ And he believed, Yahweh, the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Now, let me ask you a question. And I think the answer to this question will clear this passage up for us. When did Jesus ask him that? When did he ask him that? Was it before he offered up Isaac or after? When was Abraham declared righteous? Was it before the whole scenario with Isaac or after? Before. Isaac wasn't even born yet. Right? Isaac wasn't even born yet. It was before.

And this will blow your mind. If you look into Jewish encyclopedias, their Jewish commentaries, they have Isaac at somewhere between ages 22 and 37 when this all happened, not some little kid who you could overpower and put on the altar. That's what they think. He wasn't like this little child when his father took him off to tie him up and sacrifice him. After he was considered righteous, God promised a son to Abraham when he was 99 and Sarah was ”past the age of giving birth.” There is no question. Okay? 90-plus, long after Genesis 15 in his declaration of righteousness by faith. The point is that authentic faith results in obedience, which Abraham showed, even many years later. See, he believed that God would provide for him a son from himself. Right? And that through this son all the nations would be blessed. And this came about many years later.

James uses his actions decades later, to show that his faith was completed. In other words, he continued to believe all that time until the result of his faith actually happened. So, the justification here is not positional in salvation; he already had the righteousness accredited to him. It is a verification of what he already believed. The justification James talks about verifies his faith. It does not positionally justify his faith, as though now he had it some decades later.

Can someone see our faith? That's what he's getting at, here. It's easy to see Abraham's faith. He also talks about Rahab; it’s easy to see her faith by what she did. Can someone see your faith in action? Is it active? Is it visible? Do we have to look really, really, really hard? Or like the sun at noon, you just look at it, “Well, there it is.” Right? It's out there. You see, this is a blessing from James to continue to focus his beloved sheep towards true godliness, towards true faith.

Living for Jesus is not a burden. It's a privilege. It's a joyful, blessed privilege. James talks about the blessings over and over and over again. And I want to show you that as well, lest you think James is just all kind of “don't be a flamethrower,” and then he just lays it on everyone. Right? Look in James 4. And I want to show you quickly; these are also the blessings that come to people with true authentic faith. Beginning in James 4:5. I want to show you five blessings from God, that all true believers have. James 4:5: “Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the Spirit that he has made the dwell in us?’” The Holy Spirit that you have in you, as a believer, God made to dwell in you. And yes, I think this should be a capital “S” there in the ESV. I think this is referencing the Holy Spirit in us. That's a blessing from God. That's blessing number one -- Holy Spirit living, Holy Spirit living.

The second blessing is in James 4:6. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” And we think “Wow, well, we should just be humble.” But this is a verse that says that God is looking for you to have grace-filled living. He gives more grace. You've got saving grace, but you live humbly with God, and He's going to give you grace upon grace. He is going to give you even more to live the way you should. That's a blessing from God. It's just a wonderful gift. So Holy Spirit living, grace-filled living.

The third blessing, just in James 4, is God-protected living. James 4:7 - “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Now this is not your license to talk to the devil. Don't do that. Even Michael the Archangel pronounced judgment and said, “God rebuke you.” (Jude 9) If anyone could go toe-to-toe with Satan, it was the Archangel. Right? But he said, “God rebuke you.” So don't use this verse to go talking to Satan and telling him to do things; he doesn't have to listen to you. Look up the seven sons of Sceva in Scripture and see what happened to them. (Acts 19:11-20) “Paul, I know, but who are you?” and they got overpowered and had to run off. You can read the details, right? So, this is not, like, engage with the mightiest angel ever. Okay? This is: resist the devil, like the Lord Jesus did through his temptations. Right?

Use Scripture to obey God, and he will flee from you. When you resist, you are in God's will, doing what God has asked you to do, and the blessing (promise from God) is that the devil will what? Flee. That's not in your power to do, but it is part of God's plan to bring about in your life. God-protected living, that's the third one.

The fourth one is one we all love. It's in this incredibly hard-hitting book: relational living in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” That's a promise for those with authentic faith -- drawing near to God, drawing near to God. Who doesn't want to be close to the one they love? Remember James 1, God gives these blessings “to those who love him.” So, who doesn't want to be close to the ones that we love? Right? So, draw near to the One you love, dear Christian. Draw near to him, pray to him, spend time thinking about him.

You know, as we are doing these Bible summaries and these overviews, there's only one more long book (that's Revelation) to go. But as you are preparing for next week, saturate yourself with the Bible, with the Word, with the sermon that's coming up, 1 Peter. Saturate in it. It allows you to know how to draw near to God. So that's the fourth blessing from God -- that's relational living.

And the last one is in James 4:10. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” You know, when you're in a trial, you need someone else to lift you up. And so, we live humbly before God. And he is the one who will exalt you, not lavish you with prideful praise, but sustain you as you live in a meek way, like Moses, as you think about how to call yourself a “slave of God,” like James does, like Paul does. To consider the words of Jesus as better than our own and our own plan, like Peter does, to hold on to the promises of God for decades, like Abraham does, and to not acquiesce to the pressures of life, but to draw nearer to God, and live humbly before God, and let him shower you with these blessings. Let him exalt you and lift you up and sustain you. James is a book that invites us to live an obvious Christian life, that our faith may be seen for all and give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let's pray. Lord God, we all need your strength. We all need your encouragement, Lord, in the Word. We all need to be upheld by you, and exalted, Lord, by you, to be sustained and lifted up as we humbly live for you. Father, I pray that if there's someone here who failed all these tests, that they would give their life to you right now, that they would ask for forgiveness, that they would turn from their sin to you, the living God. Father, we just praise you for promising to have your favor. We praise you, Lord God, for promising these blessings to us.

And Lord, we ask that when we encounter sin in our lives that you would help us to ask for forgiveness, and to turn from that sin, and to be refreshed, and to forgive others when they sin against us. Lord, we ask you to help us live lives of authentic faith for your glory. Let's just take a moment now, while we have time, just pray to God and ask him to help us live with authentic faith. Lord God, we pray that you would help us to draw near to you today for your glory. In your precious Holy Name, Amen.