On to James 1:21-27
This part of the chapter deals with the signs that identify those who are living a life that is well pleasing to G-d.
v21: Therefore: This is a commandment, something we are told that we, as professing believers, need to do.
· Lay aside: To get rid of something. There are things in our lives that we need to get rid of as they do not contribute to a testimony that is pleasing to G-d.
· Filthiness: Those things which are in conflict with purity, holiness and righteousness.
· Overflow of wickedness: Wickedness or Evil (defined as “not living according to G-d’s will”) is not stagnant. When there is evil in our lives (things that are in conflict with G-d’s Word or truth) it begins to multiply. Evil has a significant influence. A little bit multiplies and becomes an excessive (overflowing) amount. Often what we are doing does not seem evil to us. Sin brings about a wrong perspective. It puts us in a spiritual blindness and therefore we don’t see things the way that G-d sees them.
· receive with meekness (humility) the implanted word: This is the key as to how we are able to set aside filth and evilness.
· Implanted word: We need to receive (not only agree with it but welcome it in) the word that takes root in our hearts, in our thought processes. An implanted word, also, does not remain stagnant. It too is fed, sustained and grows to the point where it produces fruit.
Note: What the word of G-d is teaching us here is that something is going to be active in our lives – if it is not the implanted Word it is going to evil and vice versa.
· Save: A word that has a broad application. In this context it may not be referring to only the forgiveness of sins. Saving also carries with it the connotation of healing, setting something in order and can also mean experiencing victory. In this context the word ‘save’ can be referring to the implanted words ability to heal our (the believers) souls.
v22: Be doers…not hearers only: Many people hear and learn, but they do not implement what they are being taught. The DOING of the Word brings about spiritual change in our lives. Those who hear but do not do (do not obey) are behaving in a rebellious way. They have heard the truth but refuse to implement it. Rebellion serves as an invitation to the enemy for demonic influence to begin to act in our lives. Our lives are also going to be changed but for the negative and not for the positive.
· Deceiving yourselves: Rebellion is likened to witchcraft. When we disobey G-d and say ‘No’ to what He has called us to do we are inviting deception into our lives and, therefore, deceiving ourselves. When we are deceived we are not going to be useful to G-d. We are not going to see things from His perspective. We will not be able to pray effectively and so will not learn what His
will is – we would not want to carry it out anyway. When we have been deceived (by our own doing or lack of doing) we behave as an enemy of G-d.
v23: Anyone: No one is excluded from this possibility.
· Observing: He/she takes notice of something. They have a degree of discernment (not necessarily spiritual discernment) and are able to distinguish between things.
· His natural face: He recognizes himself. He has seen the “good and bad” in his appearance.
v24: Immediately forgets: While the man was at the mirror he was able to see and discern, but as he stepped away from the influence of the mirror he immediately forgot what he had seen and had no ability to remember or discern it.
Note: The mirror, or influence of it, is likened to the Word that should have been implanted in our hearts. It had been visible, but because it was not implanted it did not have any lasting effect. This Scripture is revealing a principle to us – we need to hear, and, after hearing, serious stock should be taken of our own lives. We need to evaluate what fruit we are producing, as well as what type of testimony we are being to others.
v25: Perfect: As seen previously, this word ‘perfect’ has to do with the concept of that end or final destination. State of perfection or completion.
· Perfect law of liberty: Many people believe that when we are saved we are set free from everything and can do whatever we want to do. This is not the case. We are always a slave to (or serving) something or someone (set free from bondage to slave of Christ). When the children of Israel were set free from bondage they were liberated to go into the wilderness where they could worship G-d. Liberty gives us the ability, it changes us, to worship G-d. The liberty that G-d has given to us is a liberty, a freedom, to do what we couldn’t do in bondage to sin. When we are in bondage to sin we are confined by the power of sin and will manifest sinfulness in our lives. But, in Christ, there is now a spiritual law in play – a doctrine of liberty through the redemption of Yeshua. His blood puts us in a new spiritual condition where we have been set free, to do His will and to obey His purposes. This is that perfect law of liberty.
· Continues in it: The idea here is to stand in this law – meaning we need to live based upon this law of liberty. We have been set free, so now we can serve G-d.
Note: The perfect law of liberty changes us. When we live according to it, we are no longer forgetful hearers. We are given the ability to discern and grasp things – even away from the influence of the “mirror”. We are also given the ability to do the work we are required to do. What work? The workmanship of G-d, which is this: As we serve Him He changes us. Obedience brings about change.
· blessed in what he does: Obviously there is a framework for this – he is doing the work of G-d and as he serves G-d G-d’s going to bless him in all things that he is doing for the Kingdom purpose.
v26: Religious: Here, religion is spoken of as a good thing. The religion of Scripture is good. It is something that G-d wants us to be part of. However, we need to know that religion, Biblically, is not a man-made religion but needs to be Scripturally based.
· Bridle his tongue: A mature believer is able to control his tongue.
· Deceives his own heart: This is the second time James speaks of the heart (thoughts, inner man) being deceived.
· Useless: Worthless. It has no value. It does not produce anything.
v27: Note: The person in this verse is in contrast to the one spoken of in v26.
· Undefiled: Pure, genuine, nothing has changed it or corrupted it.
· Before G-d: Pure and undefiled religion is from G-d. This is the kind of religion that we are commanded to practice and are supposed to embrace.
· Visit: To help out.
· Orphans and widows: These are just an example of two of the more needy types of individuals in society. This help, however, is not limited to only them. They serve as an example of those who are in the midst of troubles, hardships, affliction and tribulation in this world. We are supposed to come in and assist them wherever possible. That’s what true religion commands us to do.
· Unspotted: Unblemished:
· Keep oneself Unspotted from the world: This reveals what the issue really is. We are either going to be worldly minded and living for our own plans and desires, or we are going to be Kingdom minded and living in a way that G-d’s plan, will and purposes are revealed.