James and the Cycle of Life and Salvation
See the cycle of death that sin creates. LUST gives birth to SIN which gives birth to DEATH.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15 NET)
Why does this matter?
- Our irrepressible talent for self-deception leads us to blame others for our own choices.
- The Deceiver deceives. The Enemy kills, steals, destroys. That’s what he does.
- We KNOW this, but we let our unspiritual desires lead us astray, and we BLAME God for it.
Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters. All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:16-18 NET)
The cycle of death comes from our own choice to partner with the Enemy.
The cycle of life comes from the Father of Lights (a Jewish euphemism for God as Creator), who is different from his creation in that whereas light comes and goes… the Sun and Moon and stars leave and come back… The FATHER of Lights never fades.
There is a conflict behind the scenes. Job 1 gives us the briefest of glimpses of a conflict between the satan and the Living God. The satan does not believe that the love of God is enough for Job. God’s plan, in a nutshell, is to glorify Himself by proving to all Creation that His Love IS powerful enough to overwhelm anything and everything that sets itself up against the One who IS Love.
Notice the last line of the James quote above…
- By his sovereign plan — because of His purpose to set the cosmos to rights by Love alone
- He gave us birth through the message of truth — what does sin give birth to? What does God give birth to?
- and how does He do it? By the “message of truth,” which is the NEWS that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ and Lord of all Creation (Romans 1:2-5)
- WHY? Why has He given us this Life in Christ?
- that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created — the firstfruits are the FIRST part of the harvest, that were by faith DEVOTED to God because His people love and trust Him to bring to completion the work he has begun!
Those who belong to Jesus — who have been given life from above — are being set on display before the world as a preview (thanks, Bryan Dill, for this metaphor!) of what is in store for the whole creation! What He began in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus continues to take root in us, for the sake of the whole creation, and will be consummated when He returns. In the meantime, we who share in the life of Jesus have a calling, a responsibility, a blessed opportunity!
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls. But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out – he will be blessed in what he does. If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:19-27 NET)