Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What God Produces in Your Life

For the last couple of days we have been looking at James 1:13-18. In this passage, James gives instructions on how to respond to temptation. In verses 13-14 we saw the need to understand the process of temptation. Today we’re looking at the need to understand the character of God. James says in 1:16-18, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

God does not cause us to sin. To prove that point, James teaches us that the things that proceed from God are good and perfect (vv.16-17). He begins by telling his readers “Do not be deceived” (v.16). This word in Greek gives us our English word “planet.” It refers to something that wonders. James is saying here, “do not stray” in your thinking. The gifts that come from God are beneficial (v.17a). “Every good gift.” The word “good” (agathe) “describes the giving as useful and beneficial in its effects. The word “gift” (dosis) refers “to the act of giving.” The things that come from God are “beneficial in its effects” and “perfect.” That’s why God is not to be blamed when we’re tempted. “Every perfect gift” comes from Him. The word “perfect” (teleion) “marks the gift as ‘complete’ and lacking nothing to meet the needs of the recipient. The word “gift” is not agathe but dorema and it refers to “that which is given, the gift.” These beneficial and complete gifts proceed from heaven. They “come down from the Father” (v.17c). “Comes down” (katabainon, pres.act.part.) means “it keeps coming down” (Wiersbe). “God does not give occasionally, He gives constantly” (Hiebert) because they come from “the Father of Lights.” The “Father of Lights” was an ancient Jewish title referring to God as the Creator. The word “lights” (phota) refers to light given to the heavenly bodies. It describes God as being the creator of the heavenly bodies. The word “variation” (parallage), “denotes a change from an established course or pattern. It is referring to the heavenly bodies mentioned in the term ‘lights’. God’s gifts are established. They do not change. They are perfect.

James does not stop here, he continues by stating that God does not cause us to sin, He gives new spiritual life (v.18). “Of His own will He brought us forth.” In other words, by His will He saved us (v.18a). Our salvation resulted from the grace of the giver not the desire of the receiver. He says, “He brought us forth. ” This is the same as in verse 15. Sin brings forth death but God brings forth new spiritual life. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” In verses 4-5 he says, ““But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” In verse 10 he continues, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Peter tells us that He did this by His Word. 1 Peter 1:23 says, “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

The gifts that come from God are beneficial and complete—they keep coming down from above, from the Creator. When we are tempted we are not to blame God because He is untemptable by sin. We are to blame ourselves. God does not bring forth sin, He brings forth new spiritual life. Verse 18b says that He saves us for a purpose: “that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” The words “first fruits” has its setting in the OT Levitical system. The Jewish readers would be reminded of that first portion of the harvest, which belonged to God” (Lev.10-11).

So what is James saying to us in this passage? Your understanding of who’s the blame for temptation, how temptation operates, and the character of God will give you the ability to overcome temptation. To state it another way: your use of what you know energized by the Power of the Spirit will pave the way for victory over temptation. As we close, let me sum up what we have studied in 4 practical steps for overcoming temptation: Feed on the Word daily so that your mind will be filled with the truth; Refuse anything that conflicts with the truth or causes you to compromise; Quote Scripture when you’re tempted (eg., Rom.6); and call on God (Jas.1:5; 1 Cor.10:13). My prayer is that you will live this way today!

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