Skilled Living Requires Biblical Theology

The Book of James provides solid advise, principals that each of us can apply. There is a critical truth informing all of this good advise: God’s Total Sovereignty. As much as he is calling us to act out our faith, he is also making it clear God is in charge, of everything, no matter how we ‘feel’ about that.

Our modern information & technology based culture creates the illusion that we have some amount of control of our world. But the situation is the same as when James wrote this letter: God alone is in control. Through networks, education and possessions we can build our own deception that makes us think we can control our circumstances… until a loved one suddenly dies or a child gets sick or a terrible accident happens, then the reality of our lack of control is painfully pointed out.

What James is advising us to do is to live our lives in deference to HIS actual control, realizing we will have to answer for whether or not we have honored HIS lordship. In recognizing the truth of God’s total control we think rightly about God based on the Scriptures, this is Biblical Theology. With that scripture based view of God’s sovereignty we can then live skillfully here in God’s world.

In today’s passage James gives us a couple of examples of how we act like we are in control and how God truly is in control; over today & eternity.

Ch 4:11-17

11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

  • How ‘family’ should talk about and to each other
  • Judgement is not for us, obedience is our role
  • Any judgement we have is meaningless since we have no power to enact it

13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.

  • This is an illustration of the previous point about God’s complete sovereignty
  • Jame’s point: We think we have some control of our lives but we have ZERO
  • He is pointing out how little significance we have
  • Biblical Theology: Our ‘free will’ is totally subject to God’s ‘Sovereign Will’
  • Man-Centric Theology: My brains, talent, and experience impact my life
  • Either everything is God given & determined or it isn’t: what does the Bible say?

15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. 17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

  • The Scripture teaches God’s will is what determines everything
  • Biblical Theology: we do what HE wills, not what we will
  • Believing that you are in charge is not just wrong it is evil…
  • If you know something is wrong and evil and you do it is is SIN
  • It is right in front of us: God is totally in control, to erode His sovereignty is SIN!

Ch. 5:1-6

1 Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire.

  • The definition of rich people needs some context; Ruling Elite / Those in Power
  • Being a part of the accumulation of wealth & power bring eternal consequences
  • The temporal nature of what we can amass rots our souls

This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. 4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

  • What you spend you life doing testifies for or against you when God judges
  • The connection of power to corruption and oppression
  • God is aware of people who accumulate wealth by taking advantage of others

5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.

  • A life spent satisfying self is the opposite of loving God
  • Valuing things over people is the opposite of how Jesus’ church lives
  • How we treat people says something about who we think God is

Application Questions:

What are some situations where you judge others motives?

If you realize your ‘right’ to judge others comes your pride, how is that overcome?

How much control of your life do you believe you have and why do you have it?

In what ways are you aware of materialism coming between you and God?

What are you spending your years on earth satisfying; your desires or God’s?