Two weeks ago we started to look at how to overcome temptation, and were describing the difference between desire and sin. And we saw how without desire, Satan cannot tempt us. The lures he dangles would be utterly uninteresting. But here's the problem: desire is an essential component of our humanity. Jesus would not have been able to be tempted if he had not had natural desires. He experienced hunger, thirst, sleepiness. But Christ resisted all of Satan's temptations successfully because His desires were under the control of the Holy Spirit and directed to serve God. So we spent most of our time seeing how temptation works.
Today I want to back up and give an overview of some of the things James has already put in place that can help a person to redirect his desires and to overcome temptation. And I think the first two points under Roman numeral III are very important, so I am going to spend our entire time today on points A and B.
Practical steps for redirecting our desires and overcoming temptation
Develop a consistently Biblical worldview
We must discipline our minds to think differently about life (v. 2-3 "count…knowing"). Your emotional outlook (including the direction of your strong desires) is hugely affected by your worldview. (cf. Mark 7:14-23; John 2:13-17; Matt. 8:24-26; Mark 6:34; Hebrews 11; etc.) Am I a servant or the center of the universe (v. 1)? Are the things that happen to me for my good, or the result of chance chaos (v. 3)? Have I been blessed with everything I need for godliness or am I the victim of a cosmic shortchange (v. 4,17-18)? Is God generous with me, or stingy (v. 5,17-18)? Does my sense of well-being come only from accomplishments in this life, or do I have an eternal perspective (vv. 9-11)? When I fall into sin, am I a victim or a culprit (vv. 12-16)? Etc., etc. The Biblical worldview glorifies God, generates faith, gives stability, produces optimism and makes life feel worth living. Your perception of reality changes how you relate to God's providence. The more inconsistent your worldview is (being double minded – verse 6) the more vacillating your desires will be. The rest of James fills out this part of the equation.
I cannot overstate how important a consistent Biblical worldview is to resisting temptation, and to realigning our desires so that they cannot be taken captive to sin. If we are to have the joy that verse 2 talks about in the midst of trials, we must count something to be true (or as some translate it, we must consider something to be true). He is saying that what is processed in your mind affects you emotionally. Verse 3 says that the reason we can have joy is by knowing that the testing of your faith produces something. Your emotional outlook (including the direction of your strong desires) is hugely affected by your worldview – how you think. And in a few minutes I want to illustrate verse by verse how your worldview impacts the direction of your desires and whether you are even susceptible to certain temptations.
But since some of you may have never heard of the concept of a worldview, I want to spend at least a little bit of time examining what this word means. In your handout I have given a number of different definitions of worldview. And I think you will especially find the stuff on the second side to be helpful. But for the sermon, I am not going to go into all of that. I want to keep the definitions as simple as possible. Ed Murphy's is perhaps the simplest. He says that a worldview is "one's basic assumptions about reality."
Now the first definition by James Sire clarifies that you may not even realize that you have some of the assumptions. James Sire says, "A world view is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world."
Let me give you an example of an unconscious assumption. Some of you have mentioned to me that you have always assumed that you should raise your daughters in exactly the same way that you raise your sons. And when you saw that we treated our sons and daughters quite differently, it struck you as odd, and you asked us about that. Once we explained the Biblical reasons for why we raise them quite differently (as one example – why we pay for most of our daughter's things, but do not pay for most of our sons things), it raised the issues to a consciousness level. Whether you ended up agreeing or disagreeing, what you do with your children in these areas is now something that you are conscious of. When we first started changing our policies, our sons initially complained that it wasn't fair. They assumed (unconsciously) that boys and girls should be treated the same. But after discussing the reasons for the differences, it has made perfect sense to them and it has adjusted their whole worldview thinking. And I think they are thankful for it.
Another example: three people are invited to listen to a preacher at Our Lady of Hill Chapel. The speaker's name is Aaron Kalkowski. Now, just with the little bit that I have given to you, you already have some assumptions about what is going on. It is almost guaranteed. When I gave the name Aaron, most of you assumed that the speaker was a male. You assumed that because of information that you have heard for years: #1 - that preachers should be men, and secondly, because the Biblical character Aaron was a man, you perhaps assumed that the name is a male name. Now I happen to know Aaron's that are female; but even so, my first assumption would be this is a male preacher. But in this case, it is not. Another assumption that you might have because of past experience is that the church is Roman Catholic, since Roman Catholic churches frequently are called Our Lady of something or other.
But there are other assumptions: the three people from three different denominational backgrounds go to the meeting. As soon as Aaron walks onto the stage, the conservative realizes his mistake and struggles with whether to walk out or sit through it. His worldview gives him emotional angst and motivates him to take action. The second person has never read the Bible, but has always had assumed that pastors were men because that is all that she has ever seen. This person also has a conflict of emotions, but not because of conscious assumptions as with the first person. These are unconscious assumptions about what is proper, but they make her uncomfortable as well. The third person doesn't know what all the fuss is about because she grew up in a Pentecostal church where women preachers was the norm. She had never even thought that it was an issue.
And people don't always realize why they believe what they do. Two people can look at a Confederate flag flying in front of a person's house and instantly assume quite different things. One person might assume that this family is racist, angry, red neck and unintelligent (because that is all that they have ever had associated with the Confederate flag in the news media). The other person might assume that the family is thoughtfully aware of the issues that separated the north and the south during the war of northern aggression, and that it represents southern hospitality, graciousness, free market economics, small government, etc. And both people may be wrong. How did they come to such different conclusions? They are looking at life and interpreting it through their own set of experiences.
Take a look at the third definition down. It says that "a worldview is a pair of glasses through which you look at life." You are interpreting it in light of what you have experienced. And it is important to realize that our worldview is affected by far more than merely academic studies. It is affected by hurts, desires, traumas, and pleasurable experiences, etc. It is often hard for a child who has been abused as a child to not have his or her attitudes towards others colored by those experiences.
If you look at the second side of the definitions page, at the very bottom, the sentence numbered 5. It says,
These assumptions are not limited to the cognitive [in other words, what we think]. They also include the affective (how we feel) and the evaluative (how we judge).
The word for count it in verse 2 is a word dealing with making judgments. The word knowing in verse 3 deals with the cognitive. And the word "greetings" in verse 1 (which literally means "rejoice") is a word that is directed to the emotions. All three affect our word view. I remember out in Ethiopia picking up a chamelion. Those are cool creatures. They look sort of like a lizard, but they move extremely slowly, and they change color to match their environment. So when they are in a green tree, they turn green, when you put them onto a speckled environment they turn speckled. As they crawl onto your hand off the tree, part of them changes to the color of your hand, and part to the color of the tree that their back legs are still on. I was fascinated with these creatures. But I remember one time picking one up, and my Ethiopian friends acted terrified like I was going to be struck down dead right there on the spot. And I told them not to worry about it - that it was harmless, but they wouldn't believe me. And I held it up to one of my friends so that he could see that it was perfectly harmless, and the guy fell on the ground whimpering in panic and started running away from me. I thought that was kind of strange, so I chased him for fun for a few feet, until I realize that he was dead serious. He thought he was going to die. His assumption was that this was not an ordinary creature, but was demonic. It was the superstitions that he had been brought up in.
So you can see that a worldview even leads to action. It may seem to us to be irrational action, but it is perfectly consistent with their worldview. You know - to a third generation welfare recipient it may seem irrational that you are sacrificing and scrimping and saving money for the future and not buying Tvs, new cars and other conveniences when we have the money to do so. They don't understand our worldview which includes deferred gratification, the moral imperative of laying up an inheritance for our kids, planning for our great grandchildren and a host of other networked beliefs that drive us to believe in an economics of the future, rather than an economics of the present. They think we are irrational. We think they are irrational. But it all flows out of worldview.
Look at definition #6. It says:
A world view (or vision of life) is a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. . . .
[Let me just pause there for a moment. If you are convinced that the end of the world is around the corner, it will hugely affect what things you are willing to be involved in versus if you think that it is thousands of years away. The same is true of the pessimist who always thinks that he is going to die soon. So even our views of our future fits into worldview, and affect our actions. Going on…]
[T]his vision is a channel for the ultimate beliefs which give direction and meaning to life. It is the integrative framework by which order and disorder are judged, the standard by which reality is managed and pursued. It is the set of hinges on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns. For each adherent, a world view gives reasons and impetus for deciding what is true and what really matters in our experience. …In other words, a world view functions both descriptively and normatively. . . . A world view is both a sketch of and a blueprint for reality; it both describes what we see and stipulates what we should see.
I think that is a marvelous description of a worldview. And everyone has a worldview. Everyone. No one could function without a myriad of assumptions about reality. And our problem is that this internal network of assumptions is frequently an inconsistent jumble of things that we learned in school, Grandma's proverbs, the latest media opinions, a book we once read, a painful experience we once had that makes us shy away from anything similar, etc., etc. It's just an inconsistent jumble. And because our worldviews have not been systematically developed, they lead to the double mindedness that James talks about in verse 5-8 and again in chapter 4:1-7. One minute they will choose to operate from a Biblical worldview and the next minute from a humanistic one. Why? They have adopted two worldviews. You see, there are not only inconsistencies on a surface level, but there are inconsistencies that flow from two frameworks of thinking that Christians often adopt. We shake our heads at the Israelites in the bible who followed Yahweh in church and perhaps in war, and followed Baal for farming. Utterly inconsistent. But it is no different than Christians who operate from the bible on Sunday and operate by humanism Monday through Saturday. The reason our inconsistencies don't seem as bad is that we tend to be blind to them. We have a tendency to think that what we think is right. We need to challenge our worldviews and conform them to the image of Christ. And unless we do so, we will never mature as Christians. If you are lazy with your mind, you will remain immature in your emotions, your planning, your relationships, your reactions to providence and in all your daily living.
Now with that as a background, I think you will begin to see all kinds of things in this book that are designed to transform and change our worldview. I list a few examples in your outline. Verse 1 presents James as being simply a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. The outline asks, "am I a servant or am I the center of the universe?" Those are radically different worldview concepts. And the answer you live by (not just the one that you theoretically hold to), but the answer you live by affects your emotions, your reactions to others, your planning, etc. It's not just the welfare-ees who call me every week that act like the world is here to serve them. Wealthy people have that attitude. And that attitude has been reinforced into their lives from the time that they were little children. Now you probably won't hear them say that they are the center of the universe, because it is unconscious. It's been reinforced into their being in so many ways since they were babies. And some of you are teaching your children a worldview concept that is hostile to verse 1. Why do I say that? Because when the children are newborns they are pampered the moment they cry. They are fed the moment they ask. They are picked up the moment they scream. When they are toddlers, the parents do not teach the children to serve. And by the time they are teenagers, and you would think that these kids ought to be serving, you shouldn't be surprised if it is a battle. Service is not part of their worldview. Yes, they may read the Scripture that says we are servants, but the concept has not yet replaced their core values that drive them. And it's the core values that really are at the heart of worldview. When our children were two and three years old, we would have them do simple chores like fetching a diaper, giving a toy to a brother, etc. Now because we could get the diaper ten times faster by doing it ourselves, training them in servanthood could be frustrating. But we were thinking about how their worldview is being formed and would affect the way they lived in the future. Now we weren't consistent on that. I wish we had been a lot more consistent. Hopefully our children will be. But the point is, that many of us adults still have many worldview issues that we need to change if we are to mature.
Well, let's look at another example. Verse 3 says, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience… These outward trials are producing something good, which means what? – it means that they have a design; a purpose; they are not chance events. There is the cosmic personalism of God's hand in everything and there is meaning. And so the second question in point A asks, "Are the things that happen to me for my good, or the result of chance chaos?" Your answer to that question makes all the difference in the world as to whether you can take trials in stride or whether you fall apart. It's not enough to have the belief a surface belief. It must be a belief that grips you and drives you.
Let me explain the difference. Just as James says that a faith without works is a dead faith, a belief that does not result in action is a dead belief. For example, you can claim that you believe in saving for retirement, but if you haven't saved anything seriously in the last ten years, I don't take it as a worldview belief. You can say that you believe Romans 8:28 is true, but if you grumble and murmur over God's difficult providences, your belief is not a worldview belief. You can say that you trust God's providence all you want, but if you get anxious, fearful or angry at the least turn of events, then I don't believe that you really trust God's providence. That's just an academic belief and not a belief that affects your will and emotions. And true faith affects the mind, the will, and the emotions, as we will see in the next point. These two points are essential to each other.
But let's look at another illustration of worldview in James. The way many Christians act, you would think that they believe that God has shortchanged them – that they don't have everything that they need for life and godliness. Yet verse 4 indicates that we can be complete, lacking nothing.
Verse 5 describes God as a generous God, and yet by our lack of faith to ask and receive from God, you would think that our worldview sees God as being stingy and a cosmic killjoy. Your answers to these questions will make all the difference in the world as to whether you feel satisfied in God or frustrated.
The next question asks, "Does my sense of well-being come only from accomplishments in this life, or do I have an eternal perspective?" Verses 9-11 make clear that whether you are poor or rich, if your sense of satisfaction is 100% tied to this life, you have missed out. But if you have an eternal perspective, it doesn't matter whether you are exalted in this life or humiliated, they all work together for eternity. Poverty will pass away. Riches will fade away. Your pursuits will be burned up. Nothing will last unless it is done for eternity. If that grips you, it will help you to handle either poverty or wealth in a godly way.
Last time we looked at the question of whether I am a victim of my circumstances or whether I am a culprit. Most psychology makes you a victim. The bible says that God so controls your environment that He always makes a way of escape that you may be able to bear it. If you say, "I couldn't help it," then you really don't believe that.
Every time we read the bible, we need to take every statement and challenge our presuppositions or assumptions from the bible. We need to conform that network of presuppositions and cast out the unbiblical and begin thinking God's thoughts after him. For James, worldview is probably the most key element in our maturity. He wants us to consider new things to be true. We must reckon true what God says to be true. And when the flesh argues with us, insist on the truths of Scripture by way of declarations and claims of Christ's sanctifying power.
Develop faith in all three of its dimensions (intellect, emotions, will)1
Since "faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," this means that the intellect, emotions and the will must be exercised in faith prior to "seeing" anything with the natural eye. We must strongly affirm our beliefs (see point A) when everyone affirms the opposite, and we must stop making any affirmations that undermine the intellectual side of faith (vv. 5,13, etc.). There will be times when we must strongly exercise the emotional dimension of faith (v. 1c, 2.9,12), and resist any emotional expressions that undermine faith (vv. 5,6,19-20,26). There will be times when we must step out in the obedience of faith (the will component of faith) even when the world thinks we are nuts (vv. 4,5,21-27). Faith is never passive (see Hebrews 11). We must actively stir up our minds, will and emotions to serve God. If any one of those three components is missing, we lose faith and become double minded. "The reason we see so little change is that instead of being adventurous we try to stay in our physical and emotional and intellectual comfort zones." (Edmiston) The rest of James fills out this part of the equation.
Lord willing, next week we will be able to whiz through the rest of the steps we need to take for maturity, but I have one more background point that needs to be made before we get there. Point B says, "Develop faith in all three of its dimensions (intellect, emotions, will)." Let's stop there for a moment. A lot of times people miss the boat on faith because they fail to realize that true repentance and true faith involve all three. A lot of times we think of belief as being only an intellectual affair. But in chapter 2 James says that the demons believe the right doctrines, but they do not put them into practice. And James conclusion is not that they have faith but no obedience. His conclusion is that they have a dead faith; a counterfeit faith; a sterile faith.
We have already shown that it is possible for people to hold to contradictory viewpoints. In fact, we can have two frameworks of belief that we vascillate between like the double minded person in verse 6. Our works are a guide that tells us whether or not our faith is a living and productive faith. If a belief is not strong enough to capture the heart and to act upon, it is merely in the realm of opinion. And this point that we are looking at is designed to help take you from paralysis to power; from opinion to true faith.
One of my favorite stories on the subject of faith is the story of the tight rope artist, Blondin. Years ago he put on a huge exhibition of his art at Niagara Falls. He had stretched a line across the river and did his act right over the falls. He did a backward somersault at the middle of the Falls, went across on stilts, balanced a chair on two legs and sat on it, took a small stove to the half-way point, sat down, cooked himself an omelette and ate it. As a climax to a great performance, he placed the balancing rod in his mouth and pushed a specially made wheelbarrow to the audience. He asked them if they thought that he could take a person across in the wheelbarrow. Everyone gave their assent. One boy was cheering especially loudly. Pausing for a few moments he said, "Sonny, do you think I could push the wheelbarrow back again?"
"And, my boy, if you sat in it, do you think I could take you to the other side?"
"Good! Jump in and I will take you."
"No Sir!" There was no way he was going to climb into that wheelbarrow. He did not possess an active faith. And what I mean by that is that he believed Blondin could take someone else across, but did not have a faith that made any difference to his own life; it was not the kind of faith that would enable him to get into the wheelbarrow and entrust his life into Blondin's hands. We speak of that as bare assent. True faith assents to the truth of God's Word, has an emotional commitment to that truth, and steps into the wheelbarrow. OK? It's got all three elements.
If you look in your footnote for this point, I want to read that discussion. It says:
This is believing "with all your heart" (Acts 8:37). Both faith and repentance are defined as involving the intellect, will and emotions. Repentance involves the intellect in that we must agree with God's evaluation of our actions (Ps. 51:1-3; Rom. 3:23). It involves the emotions producing sufficient sorrow to turn from the sin (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Repentance also involves the will in that it is a forsaking of sin (Prov. 28:13; Is. 55:7; Luke 19:1-9). In the same way, faith requires understanding (Ps. 9:10; Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:1; etc.). It also requires the will since living faith always obeys (Heb. 11 [and by the way, that is an especially powerful passage on the obedience of faith – every example shows faith doing something. Anyway, going on]; James 2:14-26; Gal. 5:6). But faith involves the affections as well (Luke 8:13 [which says that they receive the word with joy]; Phil. 1:25 [which speaks of the "joy of faith"]; Heb. 10:22 [which speaks of the "full assurance of faith" that frees us from a troubled conscience]; Rom. 15:13) [which speaks of "joy and peace in believing." Skipping ahead two sentences:]… The bottom line is that the "whole heart" has neither repented nor believed if the mind, emotions and will are not involved.
Let me stop there for a moment. You can find Scriptures which speak of people having one of those dimensions, but not having saving faith. Luke 8:13 speaks of people receiving the word with joy, but falling away. James 2 speaks of demons believing that God exists, but hating Him. Peter obediently stepped out of the boat and walked on the water with all three dimensions of faith, but soon lost the emotional dimension of faith as he began to fear. And he started sinking. So what we are going to be talking about in this point is how to develop and maintain faith in all three dimensions.
Let's go back to point B. It says:
Since "faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," this means that the intellect, emotions and the will must be exercised in faith prior to "seeing" anything with the natural eye. [In other words, prior to having any evidence that either the mind, the emotions or the will can rest on. Going on:] We must strongly affirm our beliefs (see point A) when everyone affirms the opposite, and we must stop making any affirmations that undermine the intellectual side of faith (vv. 5, 13, etc.).
Let's stop there and amplify on what this means.
We have already seen that faith is an affirmation of something – an agreement with something said in the bible. And so Revelation 12:11 says that the saints overcame the devil by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony. Their words of testimony were part of the process of overcoming Satan. When Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, Christ made affirmations of faith from the Scripture to resist Satan. He stood on those affirmations. But what we frequently do is to make negative affirmations of why we can't do what God has called us to do, or why things are too bad in this world for us to make a difference. Each such negative affirmation is shooting faith out of the sky.
Now in terms of positive affirmations of Scripture and negative affirmations of doubt, let me clarify something because that terminology has been abused. We are not talking about the "name it and claim it" theology that says that your faith creates reality. Our faith can't create one blessed thing. Faith only lays hold of God's Word. God's Word describes reality, and faith simply aligns itself with that reality and brings into history what is already in the realm of the invisible. So affirming our belief that God will give us wisdom is Biblical and will be brought from the unseen into history. But naming your pink cadilac and affirming every day that you will get it will not get you a pink cadilac. God has not promised to give you all your desires.
Nor are we talking about the positive thinking found in many multi-level marketing schemes that makes people believe that they will hit a certain level if they affirm that they are capable and strive for it.
Nor are we talking about the self-esteem movement that refuses to see the reality of how bad we are in ourselves. Self-esteem counselors tell their patients to daily affirm, "I am good. I am a worth while human. I'm OK. You're OK. I am loveable," and other nonsense. Faith does not ignore the miserable reality of what is in here and what is out there. But neither is it driven by what we are or by our circumstances. Faith is driven by the promises of a God who cannot lie; by the blessings already purchased for us in Christ Jesus and in our bank account; by the power of His presence. That's what faith is driven by, and that is what we need to verbally affirm by the word of our testimony.
And so Romans 10:6 rules out negative affirmations, and says, But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart" and then he gives three negative affirmations of what looks impossible to do. He says, "Don't say that. Don't say that. It may look impossible, but if God has promised it, you can bank on it." Verse 8: But what does it say? What does faith affirm? Here's what it affirms: That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. There's an affirmation of faith. "I believe God when He says that Christ's righteousness is sufficient for me, and I refuse to doubt. I refuse to say that it is crazy or that it is impossible. I confess with my mouth the promise of the Scriptures."
In Genesis 17 Abraham is rebuked for responding to God with a negative affirmation when God said that he was going to have a child. It says, And Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child? And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before You"! That negative affirmation made Abraham's faith falter. Sarah is rebuked for a negative affirmation in the next chapter. Let me give you some other examples of negative affirmations.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 Do not say,
"Why were the former days better than these?"
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
When you long for the good old days you are killing the faith needed to make things better today. Faith believes that of the increase of Christ's kingdom and of peace there will be no end.
Isaiah 8:12 "Do not say, 'A conspiracy,'
Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,
Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.
He is saying that if you start mouthing the negativism of the world and you will start losing faith. But when you affirm the truth of what will be because God has said it will be, it encourages your faith.
Ten of the twelve spies who went into the land of Canaan destroyed the faith of the people with their negative affirmations. Caleb and Joshua made positive affirmations that by God's grace they could do the impossible because God had commanded it and promised it.
Jeremiah 1:7 But the LORD said to me:
"Do not say, 'I am a youth,'
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
It didn't matter that Jeremiah was a youth. When he used his weakness as a declaration of why he couldn't do what God wanted him to do, he was shooting down faith. Instead he should have said, "God strength is made perfect in my weakness." When Satan tempts you to think, "I can't do that" affirm the opposite. Say, "Get behind me Satan. I will not call God a liar, and God's Word has said, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Here are some typical negative affirmations that are destructive to faith – that shoot faith right out of the sky: "I can't!" "No one has ever done that before." "It'll never work." "Everyone is against me." When your heart gives that statement you need to tell yourself, "No. I'm not going to believe that lie, and it is a lie because Romans says, If God is for me, who can be against me. Here's another negative affirmation: "When it rains it pours." That is a slander against God's good providence. And there are many Murphy's laws that are equally a slander against God's good providence – like "if you drop a buttered piece of bread, it will land on the buttered side." That's a very negative perspective on life – and one which I have unfortunately shared for many years. Here's another one: "I have done everything that I could." "I've tried that, but it didn't work." "I'm just one of those people who has to [and then comes the excuse]" "That's impossible." "We don't have the money to do that." Counter those negative affirmations with affirmations of faith in God's Word. And I think those affirmations usually should be said out loud. It reinforces it strongly to the heart.
Continuing to read under point B:
"There will be times when we must strongly exercise the emotional dimension of faith (v. 1c, 2.9,12), and resist any emotional expressions that undermine faith (vv. 5,6,19-20,26)."
OK? Let's amplify on that. Verses 9-11 say, Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation… He may have plenty to be pessimistic and disheartened with, but he needs to look on the bright side of life. In Christ he has been exalted. He has an equal status with the rich in the church. Verse 10but the rich in his humiliation… The rich man is supposed to glory in that he has been brought down to an equal status with this poor man in the church and in Christ, because that has adjusted his whole thinking of what lasts and what passes away. His perspective helps him to glory. And there are times when we need to count it all joy (v. 2), we need to glory (v. 9), we need to refuse to be sad (v. 12) when our flesh wants us to do the opposite. We want to brood on why we have been given such a bum deal, but by faith we shake ourselves up and say, "No. this is something good. I will not brood." And there are various ways to force your emotions to line up with faith. The Biblical affirmations that we talked about earlier – if they are made out loud with vehemence or with loudness, will automatically engage your emotions to align with faith. Expectation can do the same thing. When I have gotten into a car accident, or had a flat tire, my emotion's tendancy is to get disheartened and upset. But I refuse. I remind myself that this could not have happened unless it was for a good purpose (Romans 8:28), and I start thanking the Lord for this Christmas present, and telling Him that I look forward to finding out what's in the package when it gets unwrapped. But we must wrestle with our emotions and force them to line up with the affirmations of faith. And sometimes it may involve getting angry with ourselves and tromping back and forth while we affirm the Scriptures out loud. This is what made Luther so great. The movie didn't bring it out so much, but he engaged his emotions in faith by doing exactly that.
Point B talks about the last step. It says,
"There will be times when we must step out in the obedience of faith (the will component of faith) even when the world thinks we are nuts (vv. 4,5,21-27)."
The world will think you are nuts to exercise patience in the situation of verse 4, or to boldly tackle a problem you are responsible for in verse 5 when you lack wisdom. But we have already dealt with the obedience of faith – stepping out in faith to do what the Word clearly says we must do, so I will hasten on.
Point B continues:
"Faith is never passive (see Hebrews 11). We must actively stir up our minds, will and emotions to serve God. If any one of those three components is missing, we lose faith and become double minded. "The reason we see so little change is that instead of being adventurous we try to stay in our physical and emotional and intellectual comfort zones" (Edmiston). The rest of James fills out this part of the equation."
We are going to end there today. But I would encourage you to take seriously the systematic development of a Biblical worldview and to not be satisfied with a mental assent to truth. Develop faith in God's Word, emotional commitment to God's Word and the obedience of faith. Amen.
This is believing "with all your heart" (Acts 8:37). Both faith and repentance are defined as involving the intellect, will, and emotions. Repentance involves the intellect in that we must agree with God's evaluation of our actions (Ps. 51:1-3; Rom. 3:23. It involves the emotions producing sufficient sorrow to turn from the sin (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Repentance also involves the will in that it is a forsaking of sin (Prov. 28:13; Is. 55:7; Luke 19:1-9). In the same way, faith requires understanding (Ps. 9:10; Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:1; etc.). It also requires the will since living faith always obeys (Heb. 11; James 2:14-26; Gal. 5:6). But faith involves the affections as well (Luke 8:13; Phil. 1:25; Heb. 10:22; Rom. 15:13; contrast the enmity in Rom. 8:7 with love in Gal. 5:6. In some passages, love is almost a synonym for belief: Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 2:9; 2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; 2:5). The bottom line is that the "whole heart" has neither repented nor believed if the mind, emotions and will are not involved. An illustration of lack of faith and full faith can be seen in the symbols of Orpah and Ruth. Orpah is only half-hearted. But Ruth says, "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me" (Ruth 1:16-17). ↩