Study # 65
December 30, 1998
Harlingen, Texas

Thesis: God responds to man's condition according to how man responds to his condition. Introduction: We have been studying within the context of James' thesis that external conflict arises from internal conflicts. His picture of man is that he is full of conflicting lusts that set him against himself with the result that he sets himself against others in his frustration and anger. James points to twin problems as the roots of this inner frustration and outer conflict: one is ignorance of a fundamental issue of commitment (that one cannot have his cake and eat it too with God and the world); and the other is a scepticism toward the Word that allows a person to think that it's contents are not necessarily final truth. In pursuing the second of those roots, James pointedly says that the Old Testament Scriptures present a picture of man that can be summarized as "man as a spirit-being is an incurably greedy being who lusts in the direction of jealousy". Man's inner discontent is directly tied to his envy of those who have a "better" situation than his own. Now, this is not only an uncomplimentary picture of man; it is a despairingly negative picture. Man, when energized and directed by his own spirit, is a greedy and jealous complainer who vents his inner lust-conflicts by generating conflicts with others in order to attempt to satisfy his lusts. There are three ways by which men deal with this accusation: some deny it applies to them; others sink into despair because it makes them hopeless; and others turn to the God of grace who gives greater grace. This evening we are going to look into these responses as James highlights them in 4:6.