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James 4:11 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:59 mins 1 sec

Failing Tests; Public Lie; James 4:11


James 4:11 NASB "Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge {of it.}"


What has happened in this congregation was that they had completely forgotten about Jesus' mandate to love one another and so they were running each other down. They were involved in all sorts of verbal sins, sins of the tongue, gossip, slander. That is how they were responding to the tests that they were facing.


In life we go through all kinds of tests. The first kind of tests that we face is from our own sin nature. Every single person that is born from Adam on is born with a sin nature. Only Adam and Jesus Christ were born without sin natures. Adam was not born, he was created. When Adam sinned sin erected a barrier between him and God because Adam's righteousness was not good enough to measure up to God's perfect righteousness. So all of mankind's problems, all of the adversity, all of the suffering, all of the heartaches that the human race faces, is the result of Adam's choice to disobey God. Prior to salvation, the Scripture says, we are in bondage, we are slaves, to sin. We have no option but to sin no matter how good we are.


The inner motivation of the sin nature is the lust pattern. There are all types of lust: power lust, approbation lust, sexual lust, money lust, materialism lust, chemical lust, criminal lust; there are all patterns of lust that motivate us in various directions. The sin nature itself has an area of strength that produces human good. Human good is all those good deeds that we can produce on our own power and energy. The sin nature not only produces human good but it also has an area of weakness that produces personal sins. Personal sins come in three categories; mental attitude sins are among the worst. The sin nature is the source of temptation and testing for us. It is the sin nature continuously that offers us some bait to trap us into some sin, and it is our volition that decides whether or not we are going to succumb to that particular temptation. When we come under temptation or testing and there is that overt pressure on the soul, then it is easy to respond in some way from the sin nature.


This is exactly what is going on in the congregation James is addressing. They are responding from their lust pattern, specifically from their approbation lust, their lust for approval, and power lust as well because of the way that the church has divided up into antagonistic groups. And the way they are trying to solve the problems is through sins of the tongue. Each person wants to build themselves up by tearing other people down. You can never build yourself up by tearing other people down, yet it happens all the time. You can never elevate yourself at the expense of other people. All you will do is destroy yourself from the inside out.


So the first type of testing that we run into as believers is from our own sin nature. The second type of testing is what the Bible calls cosmic thinking. This is from the Greek word KOSMOS [kosmoj], normally translated "world" or "worldly," but what it really means is a system of thinking. It has to do with an orderly, systematic approach to something. Scripture teaches that it is Satan who is the god of the cosmos; this is his way of thinking. He has many different approaches, there are various religious groups, false religions, false philosophies; there are a multitude of ways that Satan to promote the lie. He is constantly trying to deceive mankind and to distract them from obedience to God and from God's plan of salvation. In 1 John 2:15 we are told: "Do not love the world." In James we have seen that the person who wants to be a friend with the world is an enemy of God. You cannot be a friend of the world and a friend of God.


From the moment we are born we begin to learn things. We are constantly from infancy looking at all the data, all the things that are going on around us, and we seek to organize these things into an explanation of reality—why things are the way they are, where did they come from? How did they get here? Why am I important?—and we begin to develop a whole series of ideas. This is like somebody who sits down at a table and they have a big box filled with a thousand pieces from a jigsaw puzzle. They don't have any idea what that puzzle is supposed to look like and, in fact, it is a very abstract puzzle so it is not easy to figure out what  the image is supposed to be. So all they can do at the beginning is guess at what that image is supposed to look like. They start digging for all the pieces that have straight edges and they start putting them together, but they don't have an idea of what the thing is supposed to look like as an end result. They are just generating that overall image from within themselves. That is how man is apart from God and apart from God's revelation. And we have a sin nature within us that has an affinity to this cosmic system that Satan has presented, and so this natural attraction causes us to just suck up into our soul all of these various ideas that are very attractive and pleasing and make life fun and acceptable for us. But it is just putting together parts with the pieces of the puzzle. Then one day we realize we are stuck, that life really has no meaning any more; we are looking at that jigsaw puzzle and there are big gaps. We look down and there are still 800 pieces lying loose and we can't go any further; we are stuck. We realize then that there has to be something more to give meaning to this puzzle or we are just lost. That is where modern man is. He has just given up philosophically in despair on finding meaning in life; he just can't do it. He cannot generate the overall meaning that defines that puzzle any more.


So he turns and begins to look. He turns to God and he makes it clear to him through somebody who explains the gospel to him, the Jesus Christ died on the cross for his sins, and Scripture says at that moment he is regenerated. Then God makes him a new creature in Christ and his responsibility at that point is to grow and mature as a believer. He is to desire the sincere milk of the Word. Why? "That you may grow thereby." So he begins to grow. But the problem with many Christians is that they are looking at this puzzle now and they know they have these gaps and these problems, and they think they are can reach over and grab a hundred or two hundred pieces of the puzzle and fit them in and everything will work out. But what Scripture says is that from the starting point in life they tried to solve problems and explain life and put everything together, and it was wrong because it was oriented to a) the world system, and b) it was dominated by their sin nature. So what he has to do as a believer if he is really going to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 12:1, 2) is to take to take everything, all the jigsaw puzzle pieces, off the table. He has to start over, and the starting point is the Word of God.


But the problem is that we are continually bombarded with ideas, with rationales (justification for our sin), and we succumb to those all the time because they are very attractive and appealing to our sin nature. We are bombarded with all kinds of pleasures, not that pleasure is wrong in and of itself but it becomes the end result for us. All of these things are encapsulated in what the Bible calls worldliness. Worldliness has to do with how we think about the things that are going on around us. Are we thinking as God would have us think as defined by the Scriptures or are we thinking on the basis of the culture around us. 1 John 2:15 NASB "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." If you are a believer and are operating on cosmic thinking, you are out of fellowship and you are operating on your sin nature.


The lust of the flesh is a phrase that the Scripture uses to define the sin nature. This is that internal motivating factor in every one of us, the sin nature and the lust pattern of the sin nature. The cosmic system is external, it is the ideas around us and they appeal to the sin nature within us. The lust of the eyes refers to things that we see and desire. We see material things, pleasurable things, things that people are involved in and we say, I want that, and it becomes the motivation of our life so that all of our life is structured around the three dimensional things of this life as opposed to the spiritual goals and the spiritual priorities set by God the Father.


The next category of testing is crisis testing. We all go through various crises in life and it is how you handle those crises that is going to determine how you advance spiritually. You may go through a personal crisis but the test is that in the midst of that crisis is whether we are going to yield to the temptation to start running our life on the basis of emotion rather than on the basis of the doctrine that is in our soul, the principles of God's Word.


Crisis testing can also involve people, which is the next area of testing: people testing. People testing happens because we are continuously involved with other people. We are married to people, we are children of people, we work with people, and these people all have sin natures. Some days they are working on the worst parts of that sin nature and other days they are not. Sometimes these people have personalities that are abrasive to us, and yet we may be in circumstances where we have to work with them on a day-to-day basis.


The next category involves system testing. System testing is an organization composed of people under the command of other people functioning under a particular policy designed to fulfil an object. What that means is that there us a chain of command to follow. Maybe the policies run completely against our personal desires or wishes. We face all kinds of systems: legal systems, the laws of the land, economic systems, etc.


Thought testing. This is related to cosmic thinking, what is going on in our own thinking, what we allow our minds to dwell on. Romans 12:2 emphasizes the importance of thinking for the believer. We are not to be conformed to this world but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may demonstrate by your overt lifestyle what the will of God is. Notice the order: first you change your thinking, then you change your activity. It is a change from the inside out, it is not a legalistic change where you stop doing a lot of activities that somebody decides you shouldn't do. Ephesians 4:23 NASB "and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Again the emphasis is on what you think. Colossians 3:2 NASB "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." That is talking about the focus of your mind, to let the categories of your thinking be dominated by doctrine and not by earthly thinking.


Proverbs 24:10 NASB "If you are slack in the day of distress, Your strength is limited." What allows you to make it through that day of distress is Bible doctrine. If you do not have doctrine in your soul you may think you are successful at solving your problems but the end result is going to be fragmentation of the soul. The more we respond to the pressures of life, the outside adversity of life, through trying to solve problems our selves from our own resources and whatever techniques man comes up with, the more it creates subtle fissures and cracks in our soul. God takes us through certain circumstances and allows us to go through them in order to put us in that pressure to reveal whether or not we have these fissures in our soul or whether or not we are relying upon His Word and His principles to solve those problems. God has provided the perfect solution for us to handle every sin. He has provided a soul fortress. We enter that fortress by 1 John 1:9 and we are protected. Each of the bricks in the fortress represents a different doctrine, the different spiritual skills that the Scriptures describe for us to protect us in the midst of crisis. 


The problem with this congregation that James is addressing is that they have forgotten the soul fortress. They have forgotten all of these principles and are trying to solve their problems through sin nature control. One of their problems was that they were judging one another. Matthew 7:1 NASB "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. [2] For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." Jesus is addressing the disciples. Whenever you get involved in judging other people what you are doing is setting yourself above the law, that you have all the knowledge necessary to judge other people. So this is a sin in and of itself, to judge other people. Whenever you commit this sin of judging you are going to come under this triple compound divine discipline. Why is it triple discipline? First of all, you are committing a sin, judging. You are going to be disciplined for that sin. Secondly, you will be judged for the sin that you are accusing the other person of. It doesn't matter whether or not they have committed it, that is not the issue. The issue is, you are spreading it around so you will be judged for that. The third basis for judgment is by our standard of measure it will be measured out for us. So we will be judged first of all for the sin of judging; we are judged for the sin we are accusing that person of; the standard of our own judgment becomes the standard by which God judges us.


The doctrine of the public lie


1)  The public lie is the most malicious form of the sins of the tongue and it embodies all of them: gossip, maligning, judging, vilification, and revenge. The goal of the public lie is to spread true or false information, specifically to destroy them. (If it is true or false it is still gossip) In this context in James it is spreading information about other believers in order to build up one's own influence or ministry.

2)  The public lie is always motivated by mental attitude sins such as bitterness, jealousy, anger and hatred. Psalm 64:3 NASB "Who have sharpened their tongue like a sword. They aimed bitter speech {as} their arrow." Psalm 119:69 NASB "The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all {my} heart I will observe Your precepts." This is the attitude of the believer, no matter what happens. If you are the victim of gossip, of the public lie, than what is the solution? "With all {my} heart I will observe Your precepts." In other words, two wrongs don't make a right. If someone is running you down your solution is not to respond in kind, but to keep your mouth shut, put it in the hands of the Supreme Court of heaven, and move on.