The Royal Law and Rejection; James 2:8
The natural reaction from the sin nature is to immediately react from the sin nature in terms of emotion. We give in to emotional control of the soul. We immediately focus on the fact that our feelings are hurt. Someone has said something or done something and it has hurt us and now we are reacting from the sin nature and it is our emotions that are in charge. We are now making decisions based on emotions and not based on doctrine. The first thing that happens is we focus on the fact that we are hurt. This is self-absorption. Instead of focusing on God who is our rock and our salvation, that He alone is our defence, "I will not be greatly moved," we are greatly moved. We react. This is the first arrogance skill which is self-absorption. We are focusing on the negative circumstances instead of on the God who is above and beyond and has taught us how to control negative circumstances.
At this point we have entered into sin nature control. Now we are out of fellowship, we are converting the outside pressure from the adversity of rejection into the inside pressure of stress in the soul. We are poised on the brink of self-fragmentation.
As the sin nature dominates we tend to react initially from the emotions in our souls. This brings in a whole host of emotional sins such as anger, hatred, fear, worry, anxiety. These work together as the emotional sins in conjunction with the arrogance complex of sins and one sin compounds another sin and before long we have moved from self-absorption to the next level of arrogance skills, self-justification. Now we think, well that was wrong for that person to treat me that way, I'm right, don't they understand me? Don't they realize I'm right? Or, why does that person treat me that way? Why are they just ignoring me? Why aren't they paying attention to me? I'm really important and need to be paid attention to. So the focus now is justification, trying to excuse our behaviour and justify ourselves so we feel better in light of this real or perceived rejection. A lot of problems in personal relationships are not simply the result of overt rejection but are the result of assumed rejection. We live in a day that is controlled by people who are hyper-sensitive and they take offence when no offence was intended, their feelings are hurt, and now they start the rejection dynamics. Self-absorption plus the emotional sins, then, leads to self-justification, and subjectivity increases. As subjectivity sets in and is compounded by self-justification we begin to distort our perception of reality. As we go through the process of justifying ourselves in the situation we no longer look at it objectively, we no longer look at ourselves objectively. Remember, we are not under the control of the Holy Spirit, we are not operating on doctrine, we are operating on subjective feelings and subjective impressions, and so no we are in full-blown subjectivity and we are not sure what the truth is anymore.
So we move from self-justification now into that third arrogance skill which is self-deception. We can no longer see ourselves or the relationship or the situation honestly. Now we are getting on the fast track to self-destruction. As we go through this cycle the more it increases. The more self-deceived we become the more self-absorbed we are. The more self-absorbed we are the more we seek to justify our feelings, our reaction, our thinking. The more we do that the more subjectivity sets in and the less we are able to see things honestly and we create a vicious cycle which culminates in the entire complex of mental attitude sins. As we give ourselves over to all of the mental attitude sins from revenge motivation, hatred, anger, fear, anxiety, this dominates the thinking of our souls and the end result is always going to be self-induced misery. The prescription for how to destroy the stability of your life, destroy your marriage, destroy your family, destroy your job is to become hypersensitive and start reacting every time you really are, or imagine that you are, being rejected. As the sin nature dominates we react initially from the emotion of the soul and then we build the three arrogance skills.
Rejection is very complex. On the one hand there is the person who is the rejector. In this case in James there is the rich man. He is the rejector, and on the other side we have the rejectee, the Jewish believers. If you are a believer and you are continually being oppressed or persecuted or ridiculed by someone who is not a believer, and they are in a position of power and prestige in your company, in your job, whatever it may be, the natural inclination is to try to prove to this individual that you are not what they think you are. You immediately try to resolve the problem though all sorts of different human viewpoint techniques and strategies which are motivated by your own sin nature. Now this is a case that is fairly simple. You have a rejector and a rejectee. But not all rejection scenarios are that simple.
For example, in a marriage situation this is very typical. One person become distracted by some situation in life. Maybe it is a job, maybe it is the husband or in many cases the wife is suddenly in a position where they have to work more hours than they did before. There is a lot of pressure at the work site and so they are not giving each other the attention at home that they had before because they have to give their attention for the time being to work. Sometimes this scenario takes place in the military with military wives when the husband has to go away for awhile and they don't like the fact that he is gone. Sometimes it happens when the wife has a baby and her attention is completely controlled by the baby, and now he feels left out. Nobody has rejected anybody in this scenario. There are the outside pressures of life that demand attention, that distract from the other person. But what happens is that one person becomes distracted and the other person feels rejected. There is no rejection taking place but the person feeling rejected doesn't have the maturity to realize what is going on and doesn't have enough doctrine to have objectivity in his soul, so this person now reacts. What we are dealing with here is not the overt circumstances but how we respond in our souls to these situations. The big problem is minus doctrine. Nobody is operating on doctrine, nobody has enough doctrine in their soul to look at the situation honestly and to head problems off at the beginning, so one thing leads to another and there is an internal collapse and fragmentation of the marriage. But that is preceded by an internal fragmentation of the soul by both the husband and the wife because they have been operating on mental attitude sins and overt sins in response to a real or perceived rejection. That is just one way in which rejection can lead to multiple sins and self-fragmentation.
As we have seen in this illustration rejection is often a matter of individual perception of reality. The facts may be completely different but the feelings of rejection are based on subjective impressions and feelings and not based on objective reality. That is why rejection is one of the greatest pressures in life because in order to handle it correctly and not become self-destructive you must have objectivity and a certain level of spiritual maturity or when the people test of rejection comes along it will wipe you out. Remember the only source of true objectivity and maturity is Bible doctrine.
Reaction to rejection can include everything from being hurt, to bitterness, jealousy, vindictiveness, implacability, turning it inward in self-absorption and being filled with self-pity, and then all of this leads to the fragmentation of the spiritual life because now you are in operation carnality and can either respond through the area of weakness and personal sins or through the area of strength and human good. When you respond through the area of strength and human good then the waters really get muddied because on the outside everybody looks at the person who is in emotional reaction and operating on human good, and they look good, they seem to be doing everything right so they can't be the blameworthy party. Again we see how complex it becomes. Note: Being hurt by rejection is a very subtle form of arrogance; it is self-absorption. The rejected person often reacts with a certain self-righteous arrogance against authority. This can happen in any situation in life where there is a structure of authority. When the rejected believer reacts through being hurt or self-pity, through the sins of arrogance or the sins of the emotional complex, then what develops are flaws in the soul, like cracks. As these flaws continue to develop the outside pressure of adversity creates wider and wider cracks in the soul, eventually leading to fragmentation. This is where you get somebody who is extremely neurotic or even psychotic and their life begins to fall apart and then the only thing they can turn to in order to find stability is drugs. But rhe drugs are not an end in themselves, they simply make a person functional so that they can put their priorities back on rhe truth. But the trouble is, many people get on to drugs and they buy into the whole psychological framework that usually goes along with it, and the next thing you know they are just satisfied with solving the problems with pure human viewpoint strategies and techniques rather than utilizing the Word of God. What happens then is we begin to blame others. This is the function of arrogance when start attributing our own sins and failures to the other person who we perceive rejected us. We blame them for our failures; we slip into the victimisation mentality that is so dominant in our culture, and it is never our fault, it is always somebody else's fault. This, again, leads to fragmentation of the soul because we are operating on arrogant subjectivity and a completely false perception of reality.
We only have two basic options when we come under rejection, when we come under any test. We can have positive volition and we can apply doctrine, or we can have negative volition and try to solve the problem on our own terms. Positive volition is the application of the ten stress-busters; negative volition leads us right into the scenario which is operating on the arrogance skills.
Mechanics to show how complicated this can become and how a person can really mess their life up with sin nature control of the soul. Remember the sin nature is not the source of sin, the volition is. The sin nature tempts the mind with sin. The volition has to be engaged and chooses to sin. At that point we come under sin nature control. We can react with personal sin and go to the area of strength which is human good and operate on our own self-righteousness, and there is nothing harder to get past than a self-righteous believer. There is a deceptiveness to human good. At the very core of our nature is the motivator of the sin nature, and that is the lust pattern. There are various lusts and we can operate on them individually or in various combinations. There is approbation lust which is the desire for approval. Then there is power lust, sexual lust, social lust, chemical lust, crusader lust, inordinate ambition and inordinate competition, and pleasure lust. These lusts vary in strength and degree with various people and they always go in the direction of the trend in each individual's soul. You can trend toward asceticism and legalism, in which you will probably operate very well in the area of human good, they tend to go together. On the other hand, you can trend toward antinomianism, licentiousness and lasciviousness.
If you are reacting from your sin nature you are going to react from either the area of weakness or the area of strength. If you are operating from the area of weakness you are going to produce mental attitude sins of anger, hatred, bitterness, fear, worry, anxiety, jealousy, or any combination of these. That is how you are going to try to handle the problem. An unbeliever only has one option and that is the sin nature. But the believer has 6two options, either application of doctrine or sin nature control. If he takes sin nature control he is either going to try to solve the problem through personal sin or through human good. Or he may try to solve the problem through overt sins such as physical violence. If he operates from the other option, which is the area of strength, then he is going to try to resolve the problem through human good. Therefore he is going to use a lot of good deeds, major in morality. Whatever his solution is it is going to be the moral solution, the socially acceptable, and it will look good to everybody around because the last thing he wants is for somebody to judge him for having done it the wrong way, and he doesn't want to be rejected by anybody else so he is going to look good in the process. The area of strength produces human good solutions. These will involve a mix of establishment principles and human viewpoint thinking. That is where it gets fuzzy. Establishment principles or principles of morality God gave to the entire human race, believer and unbeliever alike, for the perpetuation, stability and protection of the human race. When you start mixing establishment principles with human viewpoint psychology there is always a mix: any system that seems to work or have a pragmatic value always has a certain amount of truth in it. Remember, it is not the 90% pure water that hurts, it is the 10% cyanide that is going to get you. Satan is a master at co0unterfeiting the truth, and what makes it such a good counterfeit is that it has a large amount of truth to make it credible and a small amount of error. It doesn't matter if the amount of error is 1% or 99% it is just as wrong and just as destructive to the spiritual life. So it doesn't matter how moral the solution is or how good it is, if it is flowing from the sin nature and the area of strength it eventually will be self-destructive and fragment the soul. It may make you functional. The goal in ministry is not to make people functional, it is to make people spiritually mature. When somebody makes their life functional on any basis other than the grace of God and His provision then they will be deceived into thinking that they are somebody and can make their life work, and find happiness apart from God. J. Adams said it well in a book he wrote on self-esteem: "I would rather have somebody stay and die, muddy, drunk in the street, than to give them an ounce of hope that they can solve their problems on anything other than exclusive dependence on God." That is what faith is all about; that is what doctrine is all about, that our life really can't work apart from God, so God designed that it wouldn't. God's design is that the only way to have stability and happiness in life is if we are completely, radically dependent upon God. When God's Word is more real; to us than our situation, than our experience—than our heartaches, rejection, suffering—that is when we are trusting God. And that is what the issue is. What is more important in your life, the Word of God or your experience?
All reactions from the sin nature, then, are going to be motivated by the lust pattern, either toward human good or personal sin. In the pathology of response to rejection we need to see and understand how evil and destructive the sin nature is. One of the ways that victim psychology has infiltrated Christianity is through the so-called deliverance ministry, i.e. it is not really your problem, you have a demon (spirit of anger, bitterness, etc.), so you need deliverance! They take the word "spirit" to refer to an individual creature, and angel or a demon. But the word PNEUMA [pneuma], the Greek for spirit, can refer to an angel, the human spirit, to Holy Spirit, and an attitude or a mindset. So when the Scripture talks about a spirit of bitterness it is not talking about a demon, it is not identifying a demon who is responsible for producing bitterness in people. That is absurd. It is talking about an attitude, a mindset, a sin of bitterness. So what happens in these so-called deliverance ministries is that it is not your fault, it is the devil's fault. So there are hundreds of thousands of Christians running around "casting out demons" because they don't recognize the inherent evil of their own sin nature. It is their sin nature that is the problem and the only solution is the filling of the Holy Spirit, learning doctrine and applying it in their situation. So we must come back to focusing on personal responsibility.
The situation in our passage in James is that there is a rejection going on and the response is going to be motivated by approbation lust. They want the approval of the rich guy, they want to please him, they want to get out from under this negative reaction and persecution and oppression. They want acceptance, so they are going to show partiality to him. They are going to try to butter him up. They have lost all objectivity of the situation. This is why grace orientation must precede the development of impersonal love. Grace orientation involves a number of factors other than just learning what grace is. We are basically nothing and we have to have an honest view of ourselves that everything good is from God and everything evil is from our sin nature. The only way we are ever going to start having an honest view of ourselves and any level of objectivity is to start looking at our lives as God looks at us. That is where objectivity begins, so we begin to have a little objectivity as a result of grace orientation. Furthermore, grace orientation then promotes humility. We have to realize that it is up to God and not up to us and our efforts. So grace orientation then develops humility and as a result it also promotes teachability. Both of these are related to authority orientation towards God. We have to conform to His will and His standards. As we develop humility, teachability and authority orientation another thing that is developed in grace orientation is a relaxed mental attitude. A relaxed mental attitude is evidenced by a lack of mental attitude sins. You have to get all of these in place before you can start advancing in impersonal love.
Impersonal love emphasizes a sort of passive side of this which is an absence of mental attitude sins. In the Old Testament this royal law was not called the royal law. It was designed for all members of Israel, believer and unbeliever alike. But they couldn't apply it consistently and deeply. In the New Testament it is reiterated as part of the royal law and is mandated for every believer. It can only be applied and only fulfilled under the filling of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love—impersonal love. You can't manufacture it on your own. In the New Testament we find that there is more to impersonal love than the negative, the passive side, the absence of mental attitude sins; but there is an overt engagement in doing what is good for the person who rejects you. There is an aggressiveness to impersonal love. Impersonal love for all mankind is an advanced problem-solving device and in order to be applied it must be preceded by several stages of grace orientation. Love is a thinking concept, not an emoting concept. So as soon as a rejection scenario begins we have to stop and ask ourselves what we are to do. How do we respond? We have to start thinking and to stop emoting because the issue in the Christian life is thought, not emotion. The ten stress-busters are all spiritual skills.
Here we have a scenario where a person is operating on approbation lust and so they are seeking the approval of this individual. Rather than reacting, letting their approbation lust drive to personal sin towards the person, their approbation lust is driving them toward human good. They are going to be nice to him, kill him with kindness, put him in the place of honor, treat him with respect; but it is all human good, it is fraudulent, it is not going to solve the problem.
All of this explains the complexities of the sin nature, but you don't have to go through some kind of tortured self-analysis in order to solve the problem. All you need to be aware of is that you have certain tendencies, and the solution for the believer is first of all to recognize and admit the sin. Once you have reacted and are under sin nature control then you can't solve the problem at all and it is just going to compound into stress until you deal with it through confession. So the first solution is confession, and then move on through learning and applying doctrine. Then in the process of learning doctrine you have to make doctrine the vital part of your soul.