Sermon: The Character of Faith Part 1 (James 2:1-13)

The Character of Faith Pt. 1

James 2:1-13

James 2:1-13 (ESV)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. [2] For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, [3] and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” [4] have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [5] Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? [6] But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? [7] Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

[8] If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. [9] But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [10] For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. [11] For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. [12] So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. [13] For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

We lived in Southern Kentucky while attending Bible College. For the first year about all we did on Sundays was look for a church to attend. Week after week I would pray and week after week we would go.

-One thing that happened was for three weeks in a row heard the Gideon speech in three different churches– two of them by the same guy. No there is only so much a person can take. Too much of a good thing can even be…

-Another thing that happened (we can laugh now) was when we went to another church, the deacon walked up to me and instead of greeting us said, “Ya’ll aren’t from around here are you?” Ya’ll are Yankees right? I never really thought about it before.

-Then we finally settled into a church about 30 minutes away. We had attended for a short time.

Now, I worked at a pharmacy during our time at Bible College. The owner was always giving me pens and note pads that he had received from the drug reps that came in to sell the medicine to him. So we were all writing with various medical related pens. As we sat and listened to the sermon we were taking notes with our drug pens. Well, we were finally noticed. Nobody ever said much before but on that day we were noticed.

I guess the town was expecting a new doctor and when we were seen with our medical equipment 2 and 2 was put together and it was assumed that low and behold the doc had arrived. However, as soon as the service was over, a man about knocked us over greeting and shaking our hands.

Then came the rain on the parade and the pen that burst his bubble.

He asked if I was the new doctor in town. I answered that I wasn’t. When I continued to tell him that we were attending Bible College, he immediately turned and walked away. I guess a poor Bible College student wasn’t as important as the new doctor would have been.

We learned a lot about church life in those years…mostly how not to do things.

The Lord in His sovereignty kept us there at that church and we met some wonderful godly people. I tell you I was ready to leave.

I tell that story because it is a modern day picture of what James is teaching in chapter two of his epistle.

The heart of the Book of James is “Faith”. It shows that a true believer will be exercising his faith. Probably chapter two is the heart of this teaching.

1- Our Faith Must Center on Christ (vs. 1)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

Why does James make such a dogmatic statement as this?

A-God the Father shows no favoritism in regard to social classes-

Acts 10:34-35 (ESV)

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, [35] but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (cf. Romans 2:11; Galatians 3:28; 1Peter 1:17)

B-Jesus shows no favoritism according to social classes-

As believers we are to be imitators of our Lord.

Mark 12:14 (ESV)

And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”

James is telling us that we are to not hold fast to worldly vision and worldly judgments and at the same time while we are not making judgments based on worldly assessments we are to be holding fast in faith to Christ. We are not walking by sight.

Let go of all things that would ensnare your heart and by faith hold fast to Christ. We are to not hold the world and its values and judgments but we are to hold fast to Christ.

A pastor from the 1600’s Thomas Vincent had this to say:

If you ask me what this faith is that gives an interest in Christ, what it is to believe, I answer out of John 1:12 that it is to receive Christ: But to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Be persuaded, then, to receive Christ, and accept Him upon the terms of the Gospel. Receive and take hold of Christ by the hand of faith and, that you may do this:

(1) You must let go your hold of sin.

(2) You must let go your hold on the world.

(3) You must let go your hold of self.

Vincent’s assessment is an accurate picture of what James is saying.

C- Paul Teaches Us Not to Show Favoritism

Romans 12:1-6, 16 (ESV)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

[3] For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. [4] For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, [5] so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [6] Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;…

[16] Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited.

Making self asserting judgments based on outward appearances is not living in the realm of faith but it is living with both hands locked tight to the world and its values.

2- Our Faith in Christ Overcomes Social Distinctions (vss. 2-13)

A- There is no Place for Partiality in the Life of the Church (vss. 2-4)

[2] For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, [3] and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” [4] have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

The Holy Spirit working internally within individual believers and with the church will be working toward peace and unity with all that God has sovereignly placed together to make up the local body. No one sitting here today came by accident; God brought you here for His purposes. He is knitting us together as a unique creation. Bigelow Church is a living organism made up of those God chose to save and He is building us as a spiritual building placed in history with the rest of true believers that He has called out. We are being fitted to be placed into the multitude throughout all times that God has redeemed for His Son-The Universal Church.

B- There is no Place for Partiality in the Plan of God (vss. 5-7)

[5] Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? [6] But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? [7] Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

God chooses whom He wants to make up His church. Many times He chooses those who are not the wisest, richest, most talented to make up His special people.

1 Cor. 1:26-31 (ESV)

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. [30] He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. [31] Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

With these truths in mind we can see how great a sin it is to show favoritism. This is truly a sin that has more evil contained within than is seen on the surface. Favoritism is working against the very sovereignty of God. Everyone God sends has a gift to be used and perfected. It may be that very gift that is used to honor Christ in the church, is the same gift that is to be used in the world to come. The Church is the training grounds for the glory to come. When we show favoritism we are placing ourselves in judgment over the very work of God.

C- There is no Place for Partiality in the life of a Believer (vss. 8-13)

[8] If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. [9] But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [10] For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. [11] For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. [12] So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. [13] For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

To be slack in this area of favoritism is to be guilty be a transgressor of the whole law of God.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”

Why does James say that if we break one part we are guilty of all? We are accountable to all of it because we haven’t only sinned against the poor person we have judged but in fact we have passed judgment on the One who made the Law and called that very person out from among sinners, namely God. It’s not so much the specific evil deed but it’s the rebellion against God’s authority.

We’ve really told God He doesn’t know what He’s doing by sending that kind of person here to my church and I don’t think its right.

There is absolutely no place for that type of thinking in the life of a true believer. If it continues, you may be showing that you are not a believer at all. That’s James’ whole point. Our faith will guide our actions. Where there is true understanding there can be true faith. Where faith is lacking our Christ like behavior will be lacking in proportion.

In verses 12-13 James says our attitude should not be that of the judge but one who is about to be judged. We cannot pass judgment based on external appearances. When we do we’re setting ourselves up for a guilty verdict.

1- Our Faith Must Center in Christ (vs. 1)

2- Our Faith in Christ Overcomes Social Distinctions (vss. 2-13)

As we begin to trust God’s choices and His sovereignty we are beginning to be more and more conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

 

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