The Single Eye
A Study on James
James–faith, endurance, temptation, sin, wisdom, works, the tongue, heavenly treasures and prayers. These are words and concepts that depict the book of James. James, a bond servant of God, writes to the twelve tribes that are dispersed abroad.
One of the most read verses from this book is James 1:2–“consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials.” When it feels so bad, how can we be joyful? Because we see through to the positive from the negative. If God truly determines all and if trials are for our education and the testing of our faith then He means it for good. And if God means it for good, then we can be joyful in it. We are not here to have some pleasant comfortable life, but to learn to be sons and co-heirs of God’s universe–an awesome responsibility–not some small task. For us to be in charge of His universe we need to be trained and experienced.
“Knowing that the testing of your
faith produces endurance and let
endurance have its perfect result that
you may be perfect and complete
lacking in nothing (James 1:3-4).
I am sure the men at Westpoint know this or any other individual or battalion going into war to fight a battle. To win and beat the enemy, whoever it may be, one must be prepared to fight. No war has ever been won without much preparation and training. Spiritual battles are the same. We are fighting a war not with flesh and blood, but against the world forces of this darkness (Eph. 6:12).
To understand the task that God has given us we must have wisdom. How do we get wisdom? James tells us, “But if any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (1:5). What is wisdom and why is it so important to have? Let us turn to Proverbs, written by Solomon, who was one of wisest and wealthiest men on the face of the earth, to find out why we ask for wisdom.
“Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you
to deliver you from the way of evil”
“Keep sound wisdom and discretion…
Then you will walk in your
way and securely. And your foot
will not stumble” (3:21-23).
Wisdom, knowledge and understanding–it is these three things that Solomon says to ask for, because they will deliver us and keep our paths straight. If these are from God and will keep our eyes turned toward Him, then how do we obtain them? James tells us to ask in faith without doubting. Jesus also tells us the same in the gospel according to Mark (11:22-24). He tells us that all things we ask for, if we believe and do not doubt, then they will be granted to us.
Believing and not doubting is a very important concept. The doubts can kill us every time. Jesus reproved the disciples for their doubting on several occasions, and would comment by saying “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” In Yes I Am Norman Grubb makes the point that not doubting in our hearts is different from feelings in our soul: “Don’t allow mental soul-doubts, which we surely have, to disturb our fixed, inner word of faith” (page 179). Faith is believing that what you have requested has been heard and granted and in God’s eyes, it’s a done deal and all you need to say is “thank you” “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). There are different levels of faith, but for requests in His name, if you ask and take it on faith that it has been heard, then it will be given to you (John 16:23-24). And anyway, God knows your needs before you ask.
The next topic James discusses is temptation–a waterloo for most Christians who think they have a dual nature inside of them always in conflict. But the most interesting thing that James says is “let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’ for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone” So the big question is–who does the tempting? If God is all in all, then how does it all fit together? How can something be that is not of Him? This is where Satan, God’s convenient agent, enters the picture. Satan is the negative side of God that God said “no” to at the beginning of time; Satan merely expresses what God cannot be.
James says, “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust and once lust has conceived it gives birth to sin and when sin is accomplished it brings forth death” (1:14-15). The scripture tells us that the wages of sin is death. So how does Satan and our own lusts fit together? We are tempted by Satan to fulfill some human desire that pulls us toward wanting something of the world and flesh, where we operated from prior to being born again. At birth and until the time of conversion, Satan was manifested through our soul and body–we expressed his nature. We never had a nature of our own. Our desires and wants were Satan’s desires and wants (Romans 8:44). Now our desire is God’s desire and we express His nature. When we are tempted, Satan attempts to deceive us and make us believe that we are just ourselves and to want something we should not want, whether it be coveting things that are not ours, immoral sexual relations or carrying on hate and resentment toward others. It is a place that feels familiar and comfort-able to want what the flesh and the world have to offer. Many of us operated from that old Satanic nature for a number of years.
But the important point is to recognize that temptation in itself is not sin. Norman Grubb discusses this in detail in Yes I Am. Christ was tempted on all points, the scriptures say, and He did not sin. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Satan tempted Him by saying if you really are the Son of God then do such and such. Satan wanted to pull Him off center and cause Him to doubt who He really was and to want what the world had to offer, from such small material things as bread, to all that He could see. Satan does the same with us: he wants us to stop believing who we really are, that we are one with God in spirit, and to believe we are just our-selves desiring the desires of the flesh. But when we desired the things of the flesh, it was Satan in us doing the desiring. He tries to deceive us into thinking it is just us desiring such things. But we are no longer run and controlled by him, and the pull to want what the flesh desires–if only a pull–is not sin. And wisdom will assist us in making the right choices and walking a straight and narrow path.
But if we do doubt for a moment who is running our lives, then ‘lust is conceived and gives birth to sin.’ Only when we choose the temptation to have what we should not have, do we sin. What we desired and chose may appear attractive, but it has a deadly bite, and sin always has consequences: it brings forth death. These consequences are part of God’s mercy, because if there were no consequences, we would continue to do it.
So let us review and see once again that temptation, in and of itself, is not some evil thing. Norman Grubb says in Yes I Am, “Temptations are pulls back to walk again in darkness.” But we are no longer the children of darkness or wrath, but children of light. If we see ourselves for who we are–Jesus Christ in our human form-the temptations are opportunities for God to manifest Himself through our human bodies. What appears weak is strong; what appears fearful is courageous. It is an opportunity for the light to swallow up the darkness. We are no longer controlled by Satan, but by God. It is His strength that will keep us if we only believe what He promises. We do this by faith and do not doubt. God intends us to have all the temptations that cross our paths to produce endurance and to perfect us so that we will be lacking in nothing and can manage His universe. Without training we are useless to Him. So we now can look at temptation with a different outlook and through us the Holy Spirit can resist temptation and then we can count it all Joy!
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 11 No 2
- God’s Obsession
- Isaiah 45:5-8
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Thoughts on Abraham
- The Single Eye
- The Letter to the Romans
- My Story
- Questions & Answers
- The Key To Everything
- God’s Promises
- The Mailbox
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- Tape Talk
- Words to Live By