by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 36 May 13, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Our treatment of others will be an almost automatic extension of three more basic issues.
Introduction:Last week we did a brief overview of chapter 2 and then looked into verse 1 at some length. We focused upon the problem of "buying the ranch" [a metaphor for coming into the faith of Jesus Christ in all of its vastness and complexity]. The main problem is this: bringing our behavior, our confidences, and our loves, into harmony with the truths of the faith. The biblical solution is this: as we discover the various details of the terrain of the ranch, we are to make adjustments to our values, faith, and actions. These adjustments are supposed to spring out of a fundamental loyalty that was implanted at the point of regeneration, but which is constantly subject to apostasy. And we saw that our major point of contact with the ranch is the concept of Jesus Christ as our Lord and the Sovereign over Glory. In other words, we are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ without escape or relief, and we are subject to the sovereign principles of the dispensing of glory to men. We are to give glory to whom Jesus would give glory and we are to refrain from giving glory to whom Jesus would refrain from giving glory. This evening we are going to pursue these issues a bit further. We want to look at the clues in the text to see if we can find an answer to the "why" of believers' mistreatment of others.
I. The Problems of Theological Baggage.
A. These problems are introduced by the setting of James' instruction within the context of the synagogue.
1. The synagogue was the assembly place of these relatively new believers in Jesus as Messiah.
2. The synagogue was the central teaching place for religious instruction, and had been for many years.
3. Prior to these believers' "purchase of the ranch", they had been mistaught to an extreme degree in reference to the most basic truths of the issues of a relationship between God and man.
a. They had been taught a profound legalism.
b. Within that legalism, they had been taught that security was fundamentally based upon right performance.
c. Within that concept of conditional security, there had been a massive shift into materialistic idolatry.
1) No one has any real sense of security based upon performance.
2) Everyone will pursue security.
3) Most will resolve the problem by moving into the substitution of money for God and the theological adjustment of material prosperity as a sign of the blessing of God.
a) The problem of insecurity will be resolved by mountains of money.
b) The problem of theological insecurity will be resolved by the idea that money means divine pleasure.
B. These problems are the basic roots and delve into the fundamental issues of both love and faith and the consequent apostasy that occurs when either, or both, are skewed.
II. The Consequential Problems of Apostasy From the Faith.
A. As soon as God is abandoned, the old values and methods reappear.
1. The old values are fundamental and well known.
2. The old methods are as varied as the complexity of the human race.
B. As soon as the old values and methods reappear, the treatment of others degenerates into fundamental methods of flattery and humiliation.
C. As soon as the old returns, the problem of discernment is fundamentally reestablished: outward appearance becomes the only thing by which man can function--much to his dismay on many occasions. Consider the illustration us of the old farmer who looked like a bum, but had multiple millions in the bank and was despised by a teller so that he withdrew his millions and put them in another bank.