For one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin.
James 4 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts? 2 You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says to no purpose, “He jealously desires the Spirit whom He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
11 Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. The one who speaks against a brother or sister, or judges his brother or sister, 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. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you, judging your neighbor?
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin.
Many people today believe that God has softened His opinion of and His stance against immorality and unrighteousness. They believe that Jesus would tolerate, accept and embrace the immorality of today’s culture. Today’s text says: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says to no purpose, “He jealously desires the Spirit whom He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” John 3:16 says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. That God so loved the world does not mean that He embraced its sin. It was to redeem us from sin that Jesus embraced the cross. How could anyone possibly think that God or His Son would love or embrace the very thing that caused the suffering and sacrifice. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
The text says: Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. It does us no good to resist the devil without first submitting to God. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. God is the way out of temptation. We resist the devil by drawing near to God. In Psalm 37:4 it says: Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. It’s not that we get what we want, it is that we want what God wants for us. Our hearts are aligned with God’s heart when we delight in Him. If our heart is aligned with God, it is purified.
Today’s text ends saying: For one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin. We need to recognize that it is not only important that we abstain from immorality and unrighteousness, but it is also important for us to do what we know is the right thing to do. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” These two things then we must do because knowing what is right and not doing it is sin. It is vital that we recognize that we must first love God with our whole heart, soul and mind, before we can love others. 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. Our love for God is a response to His love for us. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The cross is the symbol of God’s love for us and it is only by knowing the depths of God’s love, demonstrated in Christ’s sacrifice for us, that we can truly love God with our whole heart, soul and mind. He spared nothing for us. If we truly love God, we will hold nothing back from Him. Only once we have loved God can we truly love others. We can then see them from His perspective, that Christ died for them too. If we truly love others as ourselves, then we will want them first and foremost to see and know the demonstration of God’s love for them. We will not tolerate, embrace or accept their sins as the world says we should. We will point them to the cross, the symbol of God’s love for them and the instrument of His redemption.
James 2:14-17 says: What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. It is important that we do what we can to meet the needs of others. That too is a demonstration of our love and God’s love. But first and foremost, in Mark 8:36 Jesus says: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus says: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” Everything that we and others need is ours in the kingdom of heaven. If we love others, then the kingdom of heaven should be our priority for them.
In Matthew 28:18-20m Jesus says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” For one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.
Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.