Hopess: Being and Doing

You can view a discussion of the current lesson in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below. You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS Youtube channel.

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HopeSS: Enduring Temptation

You can view a discussion of the current lesson in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below. You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS Youtube channel.

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Authority and Power Over Temptation

One day at work many years ago, my boss crossed the line and really upset me. I felt I was being pressured beyond what I could endure. I was about to march into my boss’s office and spew out a series of un-Christlike words. Not that it is wrong to confront your boss when he is out of line, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and I was tempted to do it the wrong way. I just could not take it anymore! I remembered the promise Paul gave.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

Instead of simply claiming the promise, I sent up a prayer to God and told Him He was not holding to His end of the agreement, because I was beyond what I felt I could stand and overcome. I remember in that moment I felt a peace come over me, and my desire to march into my boss’ office with a string of unsanctified words was gone. God did hold to His agreement! Ever since then, every time I have been tempted, God has delivered me when I remembered and chose to claim this promise.

It is a misnomer that God will not give you more than you can handle. He will definitely give you more than you can handle, but He will never give you more than He can handle if you just let Him be the One to handle it.

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Luke 9:1 NLT

GoodSalt.com-prcas1476A semi truck comes barrelling down the highway but comes to a complete stop when the traffic officer puts up his hand. The truck has more power than the officer, but the officer has the authority. The state backs the officer’s authority, and the state with its military has more power than the semi truck. Likewise on our own we have no power to defeat the enemy. But authority over evil has been given to us, and all the power of heaven backs up our authority over evil. Just like the police officer has no power by himself to stop a semi truck, the state gives him the authority and the state has the power to enforce his authority over the semi truck. Likewise we have no power by ourselves to overcome temptation, but God gives us authority over evil and provides the power to overcome.

“He would sooner send every angel out of Heaven to protect his people, than leave one soul that trusts in him to be overcome by Satan.” -Great Controversy Page 560

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03: Enduring Temptation – Hit the Mark

For the last two weeks I have been engaged in a war of wills with a family of squirrels. Those cute little creatures always scampering about my yard had now become my opponents. Unbeknownst to me these creatures had taken up residence in my house.

temptation & squirrel My wife had suggested some time ago that there could be critters in the attic. I assured her that was not the case as I could see no evidence of that. But over time I too became convinced that something was scratching in the walls of our house.

I engaged a wildlife trapping company who came out for a week in an attempt to capture and relocate these uninvited guests.  That endeavor failed and I was back where I started – squirrels in my house.

After doing another visual inspection of my house I discovered a hole in my roof that the squirrels were using for their entry. I don’t know how I missed that hole all this time but now that I had discovered it I knew that my problem would be soon solved.

I got the hole repaired and even included some tin under the new tiles. Later that evening after the repair I watched as the trio of confused squirrels tried vainly to reenter the house. I must admit I took great satisfaction in knowing that I had removed these pests and that I could now focus on other things besides being consumed with removing the squirrels.

Sometime during the next day I looked up towards the repaired hole expecting to see the sad squirrels gazing longingly at their former abode. Instead, to my dismay, I saw a new hole beneath the one that had been repaired. They had found another point of weakness and had reentered the house. This was now war.

Gathering up some fresh supplies I waited for my opportunity. I had to wait until they went outside for their normal time of foraging. This made for a long day as I could hear them chewing away as they expanded their new entrance. It almost seemed as if they were taunting me. Who chews for hours?!

My patience paid off and I observed them outside frolicking in the leaves. I pounced and quickly climbed my ladder and blocked off their new entrance. All the while I was doing this I noticed the squirrels watching me. Their little eyes seemed sad but I was unsympathetic – they had to go.

As I climbed down from the ladder I begin to think how this week’s lesson on Enduring Temptation played out in real life through my encounter with the squirrels. It was a fitting example of the process of temptation.

My house, which I assumed was secure, was really not. There were points of weakness that the squirrels exploited. That alone reminded me of the text “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12. We can never feel we are beyond the power of temptation.

I also pondered the truth that a victory gained does not mean the battle is won. As the squirrels watched me block up their point of entry I knew that they would not cease in their attempts to reenter the house. Vigilance on my part was needed.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Today I’m having a tree removed that made it easy for the squirrels to gain access to my roof. This can’t stop them completely but it will certainly make their task harder. I saw the correlation in our fight against sin. We must remove, as far as possible, those avenues of entry that Satan exploits. That may be easier to say than to do, but it must be done.

“All who name the name of Christ need to watch and pray and guard the avenues of the soul, for Satan is at work to corrupt and destroy if the least advantage is given him.” Ellen White, Adventist Home, pg 403

I could go on and on but just a short while ago I discovered a new point of entry these persistent critters had found to gain entry to my home. Time to renew the battle.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does the word “temptation” mean to you?
  • What does it mean to gain the victory over temptation?
  • It is said that being tempted is not sin. Does that mean if I have impure thoughts I am not sinning as long as I don’t act them out? Why yes or no?
  • What does it mean to control the tongue?
  • How serious of a sin is gossiping?
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: I will become less tempted the stronger my relationship with Christ grows. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the wisdom of the Psalmist. Thank God for His Word:

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalms 119:9-12

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

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04: Being and Doing – Thought Starters

[Thought Questions for Being and Doing October 21, 2014]

Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Image © Standard Publishing from GoodSalt.com

1. It’s not enough to be able to see and hear. Do you think it would be harder to follow Jesus if you were deaf? or blind? Didn’t have much intellectual understanding? Does a thorough knowledge of God and His plan of salvation earn you a place in His eternal kingdom? What did the apostle James say that Christians need to do to give them a firm and lasting relationship with God?

2. Your enemy. How much time do you spend every day in front of the mirror? What does James think of people who see themselves in the mirror and take no measures to correct what is wrong? Is there a spiritual mirror in your life to help you recognize your faults and your soul’s deepest needs? Both Peter and the rich young man looked at themselves in their own spiritual mirror. Why did Peter benefit from what he saw while, as far as we know, the rich man didn’t?

3. Be a doer. If your Christian experience consists of spending two or three hours in church every week, how would James sum up your spiritual development? (James 1:22). Is it possible to be a Christian without works? Isn’t attending church and following basic principles of Bible truth good enough? Starting with acts of service, think of some of the hundreds of tasks Christians shoulder with joy as they serve God in deed as well as word.

4. The law of freedom. What is the perfect law of liberty that James refers to in James 1:25? What is perfect about it? In what way is it free? What happens when we try to keep God’s law of love on our own? How does the rule of love affect our choice to work for God in this sin-depressed world? Can a person’s zeal to help others turn into an unfortunate grasp for recognition or success? How? How can this scenario be avoided?

5. Useful or useless? Are some people in this world useless? What about the millions of children dying of starvation? What contribution are they making to the world? What return on our investment would we receive if we spent millions of dollars on these children? Would they be able to repay the funds we invested in them? Should that matter? Why or why not? What does James think of people who care little but talk a lot? (James 1:26) How does James say we should spend our time?

6. Unlike the world. James earnestly wants all believers to keep themselves “unspotted” by the world (James 1:27). Does that mean moving to more isolated areas where the influence of the “world” is less? Or can a servant of God live “unspotted” in a major city? By our works on behalf of others in need can we demonstrate what Jesus is like? Do we spend as much energy as we should in this endeavor?

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Wednesday: Useful or Useless

Read James 1:26-27 and compare it to Matthew 25:35, Matt. 25:36, Matt.25:40 and Romans 12:9-18. In light of these passages, how would you define true Christianity?

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

If Jesus, James, and Paul emphasize anything, it is the importance of being a useful Christian. By lovingthe least of these (Matt. 25:40), by taking the time to visit those most easily overlooked, by showing hospitality-in all these practical ways and more-we reveal Jesus’ love and become the channel by which Jesus loves through us.

The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.-Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 470. Of course, as she goes on to explain, to live such a life, to exert such an influence, costs at every step effort, self-sacrifice, discipline.-Page 470. It does not come naturally or automatically. If our religion consists only in affirmations of belief and listening to sermons, it is largely useless.

James describes religion or religious in verses 26-27 with a word that suggests being unusually devout. Such an attitude has immediate, visible consequences, and people will notice the difference.

One obvious change will be our choice of words. Instead of using uninhibited remarks and harsh tones and gestures, we will become more sensitive to the effect our communication exerts on others. We will bridleour tongue so that it does not dash off ahead of us with all the violence and energy of an untamed horse.

James also singles out orphans and widows as those most needing our love and care. From a worldly standpoint, it does not make sense to focus our resources on those who can give nothing back to society. But from God’s viewpoint, it is precisely how we treat those who have been cast off and rejected by the world that reveals which of us are Christ’s true followers: either by lending money to those who cannot pay us back; inviting to dinner those who cannot reciprocate; or blessing and praying for those who mistreat us (Luke 6:35, Lk. 14:12-14, Matt. 5:44). As Paul points out, we are re-created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10).

How much of your own time and energy do you spend helping those in need? What does your answer say to you about how useful your faith really is?

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04: Being and Doing – Lesson Plan

Key Thought: When we are saved by grace, we will be doers of God’s Word, because we have placed our faith in Him. He leads us to become new in the Spirit.

gless04-2014d[Lesson Plan for Being and Doing October 20, 2014]

1. Have a volunteer read James 1:22-24.

a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. What is the difference between believing the Word and doing it? Are we partial doers of the Word, or do we follow all its counsel?
c. Personal Application: Why is it easier to see the faults of others than those of our own? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Salvation is by grace, not by works. So our works have nothing to do with our salvation. That would be legalism.” How would you respond to your relative?

2. Have a volunteer read James 1:25.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. What does it mean to “look into” the perfect law of liberty and continue therein? How do we look into anything?
c. Personal Application: Is it easier to fall into sin when you are with someone, or when you are alone? Why is this? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “Why are the Ten Commandments called the “perfect law of liberty”? I thought the law led to bondage, not freedom.” How would you respond to your neighbor?

3. Have a volunteer read James 1:26,27.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. What does the tongue have to do with following a religious life? How are we to “bridle” our tongue?
c. Personal Application: How much of your own time and energy do you spend helping those in need? Share your thoughts..
d. Case Study: One of your friends states, “I’ve been a member of the church for a long time, and one thing I know is that most pastors and local church leaders aren’t big on visitation of the fatherless and widows.” How would you respond to your friend?

4. Have a volunteer read James 1:17.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. Why do people blame God for the bad things that happen in their lives? Even Christians say that God gives them bad things to test their faith.
Personal Application: What good and perfect gifts has God given to you? Share your thoughts.
b. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

Note: “Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.” MH p. 149.

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Tuesday: Law of Freedom

Read James 1:25. What does he say about the role of the law?

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

James echoes the Psalms in calling God’s law perfect (Ps. 19:7) and a way of freedom (Ps. 119:45). But notice that the law in James cannot save us and certainly cannot cleanse us. It shows us God’s ideal, but it cannot make us follow that ideal any more than seeing a world-class athlete perform amazing feats could enable us to do the same. To follow that ideal, we need the power of Christ in our lives.

Read Romans 8:2, 4 and 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. What makes the difference between the law as an instrument of death or as something that shows the way to freedom and life?

Even Paul affirms that not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified (Rom. 2:13, NKJV). As he says, we can become doers only through the work of the Spirit writing the law on our hearts. Only when we obey it from the heart can the law be a law of freedom.

Thus, the problem is not with the law but with us. We forget who we really are: sinners in constant need of a Savior. Outside of Christ we hear only the law’s condemnation. But in Christ we become new men and women (2 Cor. 5:17) who are set free in Jesus (John 8:36). We hear Him speaking the law to us, that we should love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12, NKJV). Through Christ, we experience the freedom of God’s sons and daughters who are saved by grace and who will not want to slip back into the condemnation and bondage we had as transgressors. In Christ, not only are we forgiven our sins, we now have a new life, one in which we are able to render obedience to the law. We do so, however, not in order to be saved but out of the freedom that comes from knowing that we already are saved and therefore no longer stand condemned by the law.

Think about what it would be like, having the natures we do, to try to keep the law well enough to be saved by it. How would this make the law a means of bondage? How has Jesus freed us from that bondage while, at the same time, commanding us to keep the law?

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Monday: Being a Doer

Read James 1:22 again. The Greek says to be doers of the Word. How might the message have been different had James simply said, Do the word?

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

James combines being and doing. He does not separate them, nor does he make one more important than the other. They are like two sides of the same coin, inseparable. We are to be doers. Furthermore, the tense of the Greek word for be here refers to an ongoing lifestyle of obedience, one that is expected of us now rather than at some indefinite time in the future.

The point is, we are to become new people in the Lord, and as a result of what we become, we do the things that God commands us to. This is something quite different from us merely following rules (which seems to have been the problem with the rich young ruler, as we saw in yesterday’s lesson).

Read Luke 6:27-38. What are some of the actions that we should be taking?

Love your enemies. Give to everyone who asks of you. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful(Luke 6:27, Lk. 6:30, Lk. 6:36, NKJV). Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? And it is, on our own. Love like this does not come naturally to sinful human beings. That is why Jesus goes on to talk about two different kinds of trees and the fruit each produces (Luke 6:43-45).

Similarly, in Galatians 5, Paul contrasts the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). It is almost as if the more we focus on doing, the worse we become; whereas, when we are being led by the Spirit, yields a totally different outcome-the fruit of love and obedience.

Think about a time you did something simply because it was required of you or because it was a rule you had to obey. Contrast that to the time you did something similar because it was something you wanted to do, something that flowed naturally out of you because of Christ living in you. How does this contrast help us to understand the point of today’s lesson?

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Sunday: Knowing Your Enemy

Someone once said this about his enemy: I see him every day-when I’m shaving. This is exactly what James wants us to recognize: our greatest enemy is ourselves. Salvation begins by seeing who we really are, not who we imagine ourselves to be.

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Read James 1:23-24. Who is described here, and what is the basic problem?

While there is nothing wrong with looking our best, many people spend a great deal of time and money to improve their appearance. But we need to make sure that we don’t deceive ourselves. James says we need to get a better view of ourselves, no matter how much we might not like what we see.

Read Matthew 19:16-22, Matt. 26:33-35, Matt. 26:69-75. How does the self-image of each of these two men compare with the reality? What do their two different reactions to Jesus’ words say about them?

The rich young man thought he had been keeping the commandments. Suddenly he was challenged to adhere to a different kind of obedience, one that he had never anticipated, one that went much deeper than mere outward compliance to rules and regulations. (See Rom. 7:7.)

Peter, like this young man, also had a distorted picture of himself. Self-confidently he predicted that even if everyone else should stumble and fall away, he would remain faithful–even if it cost him his life. But neither realized how tightly sin held him in its grasp. Both were self-deceived about their true spiritual state. Peter, however, eventually was converted. As far as we know, the rich young ruler wasn’t.

It’s always so easy to see the faults in others but not in ourselves, right? Deep down, though, we probably are more aware of our faults that we want to admit. Look deep into your own soul. What does this view tell you about why you must have a Savior?

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Sabbath: Being and Doing

Read for This Week’s Study: James 1:23-24; Matt. 19:16-22Luke 6:27-38; Rom. 8:2-4; Rom. 12:9-18; 2 Pet. 1:4.

gless04-2014dMemory Text: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22).

Jean Francois Gravelet, better known as The Great Blondin, became famous for walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. In September of 1860, the Prince of Wales had witnessed Blondin’s crossing of the falls with an assistant on his back. After the walk, Blondin turned to the British prince and offered to carry him across the falls too. Although the prince had heard of the man’s skills, and had even just seen them in action, he was still not ready to place his life in Blondin’s hands.

The point is, of course, that hearing and seeing are not enough when it comes to a relationship with God. We may be intellectually convinced about the existence of God, the truth of the gospel, and the Second Coming. We may have even seen for ourselves the reality of God’s love and care. Yet, even with all that, we may not really be ready to commit ourselves fully into His hands, an action that would be revealed by our works. This is precisely why James emphasizes the importance of being doers, not just hearers, of the Word.

This week we’ll look at what being a doer of the Word means for those saved by grace.

*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 25.

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Inside Story: Heidy’s Hope, Part 2

Juan Caicedo Solis

The demons in Mirella struggled against the family members who took her to the Adventist church. During the struggle Mirella fainted. When the family tried to carry her limp body through the church door, they could feel a powerful force pushing them away. Inside the church the congregation prayed while deacons tried to pull the family into the church. Finally they managed to enter the church. They laid Mirella on the floor in the pastor’s office.

The pastor told Mirella’s family, “I do not have any powers to fight against the devil and his spirits. But I can call on the One who has defeated sin and the devil, Christ Jesus our Lord.” He urged the family to confess their sins and call on the power of God to overrule. Then the pastor knelt beside Mirella’s still form and prayed. He invited the holy angels of heaven to join in the battle for her soul. Then with a strong voice he commanded, “With the angel host beside me, and with Christ already the victor, I command you, Satan, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to get out of her!”

Mirella screamed loudly and began to speak, but the pastor repeated the command, “In the name of the Lord, get out of her!” The girl became quiet and lay on the floor, still unconscious. When Mirella opened her eyes, she stood up and rushed into the arms of a family member, clinging to his neck in fear. Heidy placed her hand on Mirella’s shoulder. “You are safe,” Heidy said. “Christ has freed you from the claws of Satan!”

The girls rejoiced in their newfound peace and made preparations for baptism. But the day before their baptism, Mirella began speaking in a strange voice, saying, “I hate Pastor Juan! I hate him!” The evil spirit had returned to try one last time to control Mirella. Someone asked the spirit why it hated Pastor Juan, and the spirit answered, “Tomorrow he will force me to leave this body, and I have no place to go!” With increasing anger the spirit said, “I will kill Heidy and Mirella before they are baptized!”

Then the spirit forced Mirella to grab a knife and try to cut her own wrists. Several people wrestled the knife away from Mirella while the others prayed. In the name of Jesus, the devil left her.

The next day at their baptism, Mirella testified that horrible monsters had held her so tightly that she could not break free. But when the people prayed in the name of Jesus, a stronger hand broke Satan’s grip and set her free. It was the hand of Jesus, the only one more powerful than the demons.

“Never leave the safety of Jesus,” Heidy told the congregation. “Jesus is the only one who can free you from the bonds of Satan.

Heidy Moreno lives in Cali, Colombia where she was a student at the time of this writing. Juan Caicedo Solis is a district pastor in Cali, Colombia.

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Friday: Further Study: Enduring Temptation

Further Study: Read about sin and the power to change in Ellen G. White, Repentance, Steps to Christ, pp. 23-36 and summarize the key points.

studymoreThe plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning.-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 311.

If you have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others. Talk of the love of Christ, tell of His goodness. Do every duty that presents itself. Carry the burden of souls upon your heart, and by every means in your power seek to save the lost. As you receive the Spirit of Christ-the Spirit of unselfish love and labor for others-you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely.-Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 67, 68.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Think more about the reality of the power of words. Why are they so powerful? How can language be easily manipulated? How often is how we say or write something just as important, or even more important, than whatwe say or write?
  2. Of all the gifts that you have been given from above, which is the greatest one, and why?
  3. Read over James 1:12-21. What is the essential message there? What hope and promises are there for us?
  4. Lust brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death. Why, with such high stakes before us, do we not have the victories that should be ours? What are the ways in which we rationalize sin, and why is that always a dangerous mind game to play?
  5. Read the last Ellen G. White statement found above. What crucial counsel is found there, especially for those who might be wavering in faith?
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Thursday: Saved by Receiving

Read James 1:21. What role does the word have in what James is saying?


Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

This verse concludes all that has been said so far about faith and salvation. It is an appeal to put away all impurity and separate ourselves from wickedness. The command put away (RSV) is used seven out of nine times in the New Testament for detaching oneself from the evil habits that have no place in a life submitted to Christ (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22, Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:8; Heb. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:1). It can also refer to the taking off of clothing (Acts 7:58), so that the taking off of our filthy rags of sin (compare Isa. 64:6) may also be implied. Indeed, the word filthiness (RSV) occurs in James for the filthy clothes of the poor in contrast to the sparkling clean clothing of the rich (James 2:2, NKJV). Like Jesus, James decries the human tendency to be so concerned with outward appearance, because God is concerned above all with the condition of our hearts.

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word filthy (ryparos) is used in only one passage: Zechariah 3:3-4, where Joshua, the high priest, represents sinful Israel. God takes away the high priest’s filthy garments and clothes him with a clean robe, symbolizing Israel’s forgiveness and cleansing.

This scene is very different from the popular Christian image we sometimes see of Jesus putting a clean white robe over the sinner’s dingy, soiled garments. Who would do this in real life? Nobody puts clean clothes over dirty ones. Likewise in Zechariah, the filthy garments are removed before the clean robe is put on. This doesn’t mean that we must be without sin before we can be clothed in Christ’s righteousness. If that were true, who could be saved? It also doesn’t mean that we cannot be saved or return to Jesus if we fall back into sin.

Instead, it means that we must completely surrender to Him, choosing to die daily to our old sinful ways and allow Him to create us into His image. Christ’s perfect robe of righteousness will then cover us.

Read again James 1:21. How deeply are you seeking to apply what it says here to your life? What does it mean toengraft the Word into your heart, and how can you do it?

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03: Enduring Temptation – Thought Starters

Introduction. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12. What does our love for God have to do with victory over temptation? Will we be tempted even if we love God supremely? Will we be lost if we do not withstand all of the trials of being tempted?

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

[Thought questions for Enduring Temptation October 14, 2014]

1. The source of temptation. Do you believe that Satan and his evil angels created sin to distract us from our work of eliminating evil? Or do you believe that sin was never actively created but just happened? Can you remember ever being tempted to the extent that you couldn’t resist? Or thought that you couldn’t? Do you think that God allows us to be tempted to see if we can resist or not? What is the relationship between temptation and sin? What is the most striking difference between the two?

2. When lust conceives. How was it possible for Satan’s thoughts to become Eve’s? What emotions does the thought of Eve’s turning away from God to obey Satan bring to you? Didn’t God create her to live free from all thoughts not originating with Him? Where does sin always begin? What is the birthing process of sin? How could Eve, from her position in a sin-free paradise, harbor the thoughts that would lead mankind to live and suffer in a stormy world racked by sin? How can we, thousands of years later, persist in wanting to see things “our” way instead of God’s?

3. Every good and perfect gift. What has modern mythology done with the character of Jesus as the great gift giver? In what ways do modern-day Christians, even Seventh-day Adventists, often deal with Jesus as a supernatural Santa Claus? What is the most awesome gift God offers His children? Does God want each of us to obtain that gift? If it is God’s all-consuming will to save all of us through eternity, why doesn’t He just do that? What would be the consequences?

4. Slow to speak. Write down the times in the past few days when you spoke too quickly or without thinking. What were the consequences? What happens when thoughtless speech takes over? Have you ever been a victim of your own desire to set the record straight and tell it like it is–as you see it? How can you and I learn to stop and think, to pray and give our thoughts to Jesus when we’re tempted to spill out our thoughts?

5. Saved by Receiving. James 1:19-20 gives us almost everything we need know about getting angry. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” What is the “wrath of man” that opposes God’s will? Shouldn’t we get angry when others say things that are plain wrong according to Scripture? How can you and I step aside and let the power of the gentle Jesus working in us do the job of revealing Christ to others?

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Wednesday: Slow to Speak

Read James 1:19-20. What important point is he making there?

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

God’s Word is powerful. But so are human words. How often have we spoken words that later we wish we could take back? Unfortunately, just being aware of how hurtful wrong words can be, and how destructive anger is, does little to help us get ourselves under control. Left to our own devices, we can never really change. That is why we need to listen more to God and let Him work in us.

When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, Be still, and know that I am God.-Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 58.

By contrast, problems arise when we stop listening to God and to each other. Whether in the home, at work, or in the church, arguments ensue when listening stops. When that happens, talking begins to accelerate and anger builds. This slippery slope of sinful communication, like the uncontrolled inward desires of James 1:14-15, can never produce the righteousness of God.

That is why James juxtaposes God’s righteousness with human wrath. As long as we rely on what bubbles up naturally from our sinful nature, the creative power of God’s Word is blocked and our own unhelpful or even hurtful words arise instead. No wonder that right after talking about all that our Father of lights does for us by the gift of a new life, James tells us to be careful with what we say.

What do the following passages teach about words? Prov. 15:1, Isa. 50:4, Eph. 4:29, Eph. 5:4, Col. 4:6.

Think about the last time someone devastated you with his or her words. The depth of emotion you felt should show you just how powerful words can be, either for good or bad. What can you do to help keep your words under control? Why is it so important to think before you speak?

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