by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 71 February 10, 1999 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:There is a significant evil involved in making plans that do not arise from submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Introduction:Last week we looked at the last part of James' treatment of the problem of hedonism. It had to do with the way disgruntled people use their tongues to get even with people who have blocked their plans. James pointedly commanded us to refrain from speaking slanderously of our fellow-believer.
The thought behind that exhortation--that believers would be subject to the temptation to speak slanderously of anyone who was involved in blocking their goals and the plans they had made to achieve them--leads naturally to the next thought-unit, for in it James challenges any plans that have not arisen out of prayerful submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
This evening we are going to consider James' exhortation to those whose relationship to Jesus Christ is focused around selfish objectives.
I. The Tensions Built Into the Difficulties of Addressing Man's Serious Twistedness (Depravity).
A. The Bible presents post-fall man as a creature who has been severely twisted into a seriously self-interested person.
1. Invariably, the unredeemed person is presented as self-seeking--so much so that even his vocabulary has been redefined with himself at its center.
a. "I love you" means "I value you for the way my wants are satisified by your actions".
b. "I need you" is seen as a statement of love instead of its idolatrous reality.
c. "Men of good moral character" generally refers to how adept people have become at the game of getting what they want by manipulation without getting caught at it.
2. Even the Gospel's attraction to this kind of man has two "self-interest" issues deeply imbeded within it...
a. The fear of eternal torment...
b. The promise of eternal life...
B. The Bible presents post-redemption man as a creature who, though redeemed, forgiven, justified, secured, and indwelt by God Himself, is STILL VERY SUBJECT to reverting to the issues of self-interest.
1. ALL of James' written material assumes that his "brethren" are probable (not possible) candidates of "grace-abuse".
2. Certain portions directly accuse his brethren of having already moved into the use of the grace-goodness of God for personal satisfaction as the primary objective.
C. The methodology of the Biblical message seems to acquiesce to the reality...
1. James, for instance, sets two self-interested theses before his readers as motivational for proper thought and conduct.
a. Consider all joy...
b. The judge stands at the door...
2. Paul clearly taught that judgment was a necessary part of human thinking if behavior was to be controlled.
II. James' Confrontation of the Motive Issues.
A. He pointedly declared that the "feel good" issues are NOT to be based upon the accomplishments we are able to accomplish.
B. There is only ONE valid basis for exulting--what the Lord has accomplished for us.
III. James' Declaration That ALL Planning Ought to Arise From the Lord's Pleasure.
A. It is presumption to make any plans that do not take the divine pleasure into account.
B. It is completely out of character for a bondservant to seek anything that his Master has not initiated.