by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 70 February 3, 1999 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:James' final exhortation regarding the pursuit of lusts at others' expense has to do with the attempt to make oneself "look good" at another's expense.
Introduction:Last week we looked at James' call for serious repentance in the issue of pressing for the satisfaction of internal lusts at the expense of others. It goes without saying that the person who is unwilling to let go of his/her lusts will let such exhortation fly right through--in one ear and out another. There is no real hope for such a person unless the circumstances of God's dealings with him/her bring them to a clear understanding of the disaster they are bringing upon themselves and they actually come to the point that they are willing to stop pressing for their own will in the matters. However, there is another possible way of responding to James' instruction: grudgingly giving in--and then getting even by character assassination. This evening we are going to deal with that action-option as James brings it up.
I. The Difficulty of Determining James' Meaning.
A. Culturally created difficulties...
1. "Judge not lest ye be judged" in a relativistic setting...the "live and let live moral moron mentality".
2. Using the real failures of others as a blind to enable one to vent one's hatreds...the "junk yard dog mentality" (since he has no business in here, I can attack him with impunity).
B. Biblically created difficulties...
1. JESUS verbally castigated the hypocrites of His day without fault.
2. PAUL clearly denounced Demetrius the silversmith and Demas the fallen brother under the inspiration of the Spirit.
II. The Helpful Clarifiers of Meaning.
A. First, context...
1. James is clearly dealing with people who are heavily involved in bitter conflict with fellow believers.
a. This means that his words are addressed to people who are VERY willing to use words to wage war against those who are blocking their lust-fulfillment.
b. This also means that his words are addressed to people who will be tempted to attempt fleshly obedience and still get even.
2. Within the context, word choice...
a. The word translated "speak against" is used by Peter with a very clear meaning of "to slander" [1 Peter 2:12 & 3:16].
b. The word "law" refers to James' understanding of "liberty" and "love".
1) Liberty is of two kinds...FROM the divine covenant with the nation; and TO the ability of the Spirit/spirit.
2) Love was extended by Jesus to its outmost boundaries so that to hate any other human being is a failure under the law of liberty and love.
B. Second, biblical theology...
1. There ARE times to speak against another.
a. This is clearly true by example.
b. This is qualified by the intent behind the speech--someone's need under true benefit [what someone needs to know in order to be able to participate in life].
2. There are real limits to speaking against a brother...
a. When the brother's actions are not clearly a violation of Truth [ambiguity of the application of a principle--like female soloists in church].
b. When the brother's motives must be known in order to establish the illegitimacy of an action [Paul's teaching about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols--1 Corinthians 8:4-13 and 10:14-33].
c. When the brother's actions have created in us an axe to grind with him.