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James 4:12 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:51 mins 11 secs

Sure, Certain Justice: Supreme Court of Heaven; James 4:12


The doctrine of the public lie (Cont.)


3)  The bitter soul is a contagious soul and pollutes others. Hebrews 12:15 NASB "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled."

4)  The worst form of the public lie takes place inside of the congregation, because people get distracted from doctrine. Paul became the object of the public lie in 2 Corinthians 8.

5)  Gossip, slander, the public lie, are all motivated by the lust pattern of the sin nature.

6)  A life based on the destruction of others is self-destructive. Isaiah 44:20 NASB "He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?'" The ashes are emptiness. What he feeds on is not nourishing, it is the opposite of doctrine. In self-deception or arrogance we can't solve our problems. The right hand characterizes me, my right hand is characterized by a lie, self-deception. This leads to being divorced from reality.

7)  The archetype is all of these sins of the tongue is the great slanderer himself, the devil. Whenever he speaks a lie he speaks from his own nature and he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Whenever we get involved in gossip and slander we are guilty of carrying out the same kind of activity that Satan does; it is the same pattern of behaviour.

8)  For Satan the public lie exists for two ultimate purposes: a) to discredit Bible doctrine and those who communicate Bible doctrine; b) to destroy the establishment leaders. That is, those who are communicating doctrine or in the realm of leadership in the nation.


The events in the book of Numbers take place approximately a year after the exodus and the congregation of the Israelites are more and more perturbed with Moses. The problem was that after they were delivered from slavery they didn't have the doctrine in their souls to give them a capacity for freedom. This is what happens with a lot of believers who never learn any doctrine after they are saved. Because they don't have any doctrine they can't apply anything. All they have heard is the gospel and they are freed from slavery to sin, according to Romans chapter six, but they still possess the sin nature. The only way we can keep from going back under the mastery of the sin nature is by applying doctrine. Moses was teaching the Israelites in the wilderness but they rejected it; they were on negative volition were more concerned with their personal comfort and personal security. (Principle: The more security you are given by the government, the less freedom you have to succeed) Along with rejection of doctrine they are rejecting Moses' authority. In Numbers chapter 16 we see the rebellion of Korah. There are a number of people involved here.


The followers of Korah were Levites who were not in the main line for the high priesthood and so there is jealousy at work, approbation lust, and the key movers in this rebellion are Dathan and Abiram. Numbers 16:3 NASB "They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?" They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?" We are all right, and you are wrong!  We see Moses' reaction [4] "When Moses heard {this,} he fell on his face;  [5] and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, "Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring {him} near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself." So there is the spread of the public lie, character assassination, slander of Moses, the division in the congregation, and how does Moses react? Does he respond in anger, jealousy, self-justification? No, he doesn't; he takes it to the Supreme Court of heaven: "It's not my issue, it is God's issue."

Numbers 16:6 NASB "Do this: take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company, [7] and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the LORD tomorrow; and the man whom the LORD chooses {shall be} the one who is holy. You have gone far enough, you sons of Levi!" What is going on here is that there is specific prescription about who is to come into the presence of the Lord and who is to burn incense in the presence of the Lord. Not just anybody can do this. The sons of Korah are operating on their own interpretation of Scripture at this point, they are disobedient to all of the prescriptions that God has given for obedience in the tabernacle. Moses is very wise in the way he handles this because he knows that if they go in there "offering strange fire" and violating the Mosaic law that God's holiness will deal with the situation.

Numbers 16:12 NASB "Then Moses sent a summons to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; but they said, 'We will not come up.'" They wouldn't come and talk to him. They knew that Moses' leadership would overwhelm them, they can't face him, they just want to hide behind the scenes and foment rebellion. This is what usually happens in some kind of conspiracy. [13] "Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us?" Notice how they twisted everything. In carnality the bad is called good and the good is called bad. [15] "Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, 'Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.'" Then we see the action of the Supreme Court of heaven in verse 20: "Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, [21] 'Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.'… [26] and he spoke to the congregation, saying, 'Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.' [27] So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out {and} stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones. [28] Moses said, "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. [29] If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, {then} the LORD has not sent me."

Picture this. Here is the encampment of Israel out in the wilderness. Now everybody is to get away from the tents where Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their families dwell, and everybody starts backing away. What must their families have been thinking as these three men and all their families are standing there in front of their tents, waiting for the judgment of God? [31] "As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; [32] and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with {their} possessions. [33] So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. [35] Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense."

This is the action of the Supreme Court of Heaven, which leads us to James 4:12. Numbers is a transitional time on the history of Israel. Some of the things that happen there in the wilderness dealing with this generation are analogous to what happens in the church in Acts. This is not normal procedure. Many of the things that took place in the parting of the Red Sea, the deliverance of Israel, the manna, the water that came from the rock, were not normal things that took place in the course if Israel's history. There are basically two other periods in Israel's history that are marked by miracles. There are some later on in the prophets with Elijah and Elisha, but it is not normal. The same thing happened in the church age, and that is the problem with the charismatics. They want to make the things that happened in that transitional period of Acts normal, and it is not normal for us to pray that God would bring down fire on somebody who had offended you.

 James 4:12 NASB "There is {only} one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?"  We take it here that the phrase "is able to save" is related to salvation. This is the infinitive form of SOZO [swzw]; "and to destroy" is the infinitive form of APOLLUMI [a)pollumi] which means to destroy or to perish. It is the same word that is used in John 3:16. So this is speaking of the ultimate judgment in relation to someone's eternal destiny. Since God is the one who judges in relation to ultimate destiny, He is able to judge on all other issues in life. Then James says: "Who are you to judge your neighbour?"

The doctrine of the Supreme Court of heaven

1)  The Supreme Court of heaven is composed of all three persons of the Godhead.

2)  To understand the attributes of divine essence explains the operation of the Supreme Court of heaven. God is sovereign, which means He is the ultimate ruler of the universe, and this gives Him the right to judge all the creatures. His integrity is made up of His perfect righteousness, His absolute justice and His love. So when we look at His integrity God's absolute righteousness establishes the standard by which He judges and evaluates the action of mankind. Justice is the application of that standard and love is the motivation and the initiation of God's justice. His righteousness, justice and love work together in perfect harmony, there is divine integrity in the essence of God. Psalm 25:8 NASB "Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way." The emphasis is on the fact that He teaches sinners in the way. Psalm 34:8 NASB "O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" So whenever we are the objects of injustice then we are to take refuge in the character of God and in the Supreme Court of heaven. God is eternal and in His eternality God has always known all of the facts and has always known all the facts, so nothing surprises Him. He has provided everything we need to solve our problems and has already decided what the judgment will be on the guilty party. God is omnipotent and is able to execute the sentence that the Supreme Court of heaven pronounces. The only hindrance might be a believer who gets in the way by trying to solve his own problems through sin nature control of the soul. His omnipresence means that God is fully present in every place in the universe all the time. Thus the triune God is an eyewitness to every injustice, every crime, and all unfair treatment in our lives. He is veracity or absolute truth, therefore His decisions are true and right. He is immutable; He is the same today, yesterday and forever, and His decisions will not change because His standard doesn't change.

3)  In conclusion, divine justice is the operation of eternal God as the creator of all mankind and sovereign of the universe, and he is in control of human history. 

4)  The justice of God administers perfect divine laws and perfect divine decisions in perfect timing, and He always makes the penalty fit the crime. We may not ever see how God has executed justice on the person who has treated us unfairly.

5)  Therefore we are to approach the Supreme Court of heaven for redress of grievances when we are a victim of injustice, when we are an injured party in vilification, when we are the victim of some sort of crime; we are to take it to the Lord and not take it out into the street in terms of spreading gossip or in grumbling and complaining.

6)  Ultimately, final judgment is in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who has been delegated the ultimate responsibility for executing justice. John 5:22 NASB "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son. [27] and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is {the} Son of Man."