Winning an Ugly Underwater War

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Book of James. Let me give you a little bit of background to, to James. We’ve studied it last week. We just started. So if you weren’t here, here here it is. James is Jesus’s brother. Now, if you wonder how that works in the family tree, Jesus came first. He had to because Mary was born of a virgin. Right? And so when you look in the New Testament, you find out that that Jesus we looked at verses last week, Jesus had multiple brothers and sisters. In fact, church history tells us that that James and then his brother Simon led the Jerusalem church after Jesus’s crucifixion. James eventually saw his martyrdom being thrown off of the Temple in Jerusalem, and then beat to death because that didn’t kill him. And then his brother Simon took over as as pastor. Um, James and Jude are two of Jesus’s brothers or half brothers, I should say that that wrote two books in our Bible. Those were men of few words, but wrote high impact, powerful when they said something. It was very short and to the point. In fact, when you study the book of James, over half of the verses are in the imperative form, meaning this is just what you do if you’re a believer. This is how it reflects in your life, which is important for us as a church, because during the summer we involve ourselves heavily in outreach. The team that’s coming this week to help us do ministry will be at the Lehi Roundup throughout the week, doing, uh, running a booth.

And then when they leave, we we do booths in the community in different forms of outreach as well. James is all about living bold, and the reason he writes his book is because he’s writing to a group of Jewish Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. And he’s saying to them, if you really want your faith to count for Jesus, persevere in the midst of trials. In fact, the first thing that we looked at together in the first 12 verses of the book of James focused on the idea of trials, how to stand strong for Christ, how to live for what really matters in this life, how to be bold for Jesus. And James is not about playing around. It’s to see the significance of who Christ is in your life and to do something about it. Faith. That produces life through Christ is never alone. Meaning, when Jesus comes into your life, you trust Him as Savior. He transforms your heart, and your heart should reflect his glory in this world. And James discusses in the imperative form what that means for us as believers. He starts with with trials, and then he moves quickly into temptations. And so if you were to categorically think about this in the first chapter, the the trials tend to be something that’s happened to us externally.

People persecute us because of our faith. You say you stand for Jesus and you’re looked at like you’re some sort of alien. But temptations are what take place from within. And James sets the outline for us. Between those trials and temptations he discussed last week our perspective on on trials and this week, how to overcome temptation. If you’re studying in your in James following along in chapter one and verse 12, when James begins the discussion on temptations, before I jump into the the thought of temptation, let me, let me give a backdrop to the perseverance it takes to endure that. When James says in verse 12, he begins to discuss the attitude and the mind of the believer that sets our focus on the right place to handle the temptations and trials that we endure. And so he says this blessed is a man who perseveres under trial. For once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him. What James is referring to in this passage is the rewarding of believers. When I was a young boy, four years old, I began the the life of sports, right? I mean, everyone’s got to play t ball at some point, and four years old was the perfect age for me. In fact, as a kid, if there was a sport, I think I played it, at least if it was offered.

And I remember the first time in t ball signed up and I didn’t know this at the time. I just wanted to play a sport. But at the end, at the end they give you trophies. And I didn’t realize how much I would just love that. Right? And so as a kid, I would take my trophies and I would sit on shelves in my room and I would polish them and look at them. And they were just they were just beautiful. But but something happened at at the age of six. I was so successful in winning the trophies that my shelf broke, wasn’t mounted very well, and it fell. And I picked up my trophies and I discovered something. To that point, I had thought six years old. My trophy was really made of gold. And the paint. I know it was paint at this point, but I would just appreciate it. I couldn’t believe someone would give me this golden, beautiful trophy to have and to hold. And then when it fell off of my shelf and it scraped, I quickly realized that that is just paint. I don’t care about this thing anymore. But when it’s talking about for us in heaven, the Lord’s talking about rewarding to the believers a trophy. In First Peter chapter three it says that does not fade. It is incorruptible. But when he talks about trophies and scripture, the tendency in the language is that he uses is one of crowns.

In fact, in this passage he uses the crown of life. In other passages he describes it in similar ways, but with different adjectives. Apparently there there are at least five of them. Imperishable crown, the crown of rejoice, and the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory, the crown of life. When you study these crowns, this is what I’m at liberty to feel, to say about these things. When when you read the word crown within these passages of Scripture, it’s actually in reference to a laurel wreath. It’s not necessarily a crown for your head. Maybe you’d be thinking in your mind, how am I going to get five crowns on this head, right? I mean, my mom always told me I had a big head when I was born, but but I don’t think I can fit five crowns. Well, when was talking about crowns, it’s laurel wreath. But when Paul’s describing these crowns, I don’t think he’s even talking about literal crowns necessarily. You do have a picture in revelation chapter four and verse four with the 24 elders casting a crown before Jesus and worship to him. But that description is only of the 24 elders. And so unless you can figure out how 24 elders are the church, then you have a hard time trying to figure out if whether or not we get a crown.

Let me tell you what I think really the crown is. And then we’ll we’ll decide whether or not we have a literal crown. But when you look at the description of the crowns that are discussed, all five of these talked in the Bible, they are qualities that Christ attributes to us because of our faith in him. Meaning. The reason that one crown is imperishable is because Jesus is imperishable. The only reason that heaven lasts for eternity is because Jesus lasts for eternity. The only thing that makes heaven good and the quality of being imperishable, is because Jesus is good and is imperishable. The only reason we find ourselves rejoicing isn’t because of what we’ve done, but because of what Christ has done for us. The righteousness which we receive from the Lord isn’t righteousness that we earn ourselves, but righteousness that’s attributed to us because of Jesus. The crown of glory comes to us because of what Jesus has done for us, and therefore it gives us life. And so we think about these crowns. Christ is pouring these things on to our lives, not because of anything that we have done, but because of what he has done on our behalf. And so when Paul talks about these crowns, I don’t necessarily look for a little literal crown being given to me. In heaven. I look for the ultimate crown that is Jesus. So when we talk about not going to hell but going to heaven, I think we misappropriate the whole point of what heaven is about.

Heaven isn’t heaven unless Jesus is there. The whole goal of heaven isn’t to get to heaven, but to be in the presence of Christ. And when Paul talks about this crown of life that’s given to us, he’s recognizing what Jesus has done for us as the ultimate goal and prize in life, this crown of of glory that’s imperishable rejoicing and righteousness that that offers us life. It is Jesus. And for that crown we live. And so when James talks about the ending of trials and the beginning of temptations, the reminder to us in this passage of Scripture is to recognize the joyous crown that we’ve been given because of what Christ has done for us. Unless Jesus is the crown of your eternity. Placing them on the shelf and looking at the gloriousness that he represents to you. We get sidetracked with the things of this world. The trials and temptations become what we live under and for. Rather than the glory that is to be given to us in Christ as we see him face to face. And it’s on the backdrop of recognizing the importance of that crown. James then talks about temptations. He says in chapter one in verse 13. Give me a click there. It says let no one say when he is tempted.

I’m being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James simply outlines for us this as believers, you are going to be tempted. Trials come from outside, but the temptation comes from within. And if you want to recognize where temptations come from, they do not originate with God. God tempts no one. God does not like sin. And therefore God doesn’t tempt you towards sin. In fact, the Bible goes a little further in describing for us temptation in Hebrews chapter four and verse 15, it says this for we do not have a high priest talking about Christ, who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. And what it recognizes within this verse for us is that, yes, all of us will be temptation. But temptation in and of itself is not a sin. Temptation really points out to us that we are human beings. Temptation then births forth sin, as it tells us in the following passages. Not out of our own desires. Meaning, when God created the world, the things that he made in it were good.

And the way that we make a temptation out of something is that when God creates something for good, we divorce it from God and use it for our own glory and worship and serve the idol rather than utilize it for God’s goodness and glory. God, I want to do it for my own being because I am Lord rather than for you. And you can do that with anything when it comes to temptation. When it comes to money. Money can be used for God’s glory and recognizing that you are the steward over it. Or when it comes to to sex, God created that in marriage for his glory. But we can use it for our own selfish desires. When it comes to position, God gives us position to display his glory, but we can use it for our own selfish ambition. God made creation for his glory, but we can go into this world and worship and serve creature rather than creator. And the way that temptation is born is when we take things that God has created for us to promote his glory and recognizing his goodness in this world. And we divorce it from that God, and we use it for our own good and glory, and worship and serve creature and us as creator, creator versus God, who is the creator. Temptation becomes the lure to sin. God’s desires for us to recognize the destruction of temptation. When temptation comes, temptation isn’t just an opportunity to sin.

But it’s an opportunity to stand for the glory and goodness of God in the midst of the trials. God has given us all good things in this world, and determining whether or not we want to align it under his goodness is up to us. And when we separate it from that, temptation, births sin. When James talks about temptation in this passage of Scripture, he says in verse 14, but each one is tempted when he’s carried away and enticed by his own lust. Meaning he’s saying to us, when when we are tempted. All of us have weaknesses, and our weaknesses vary from from one another. But then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin. James James gives these two ideas, one of fishing and and one of childbearing. Ugly babies and underwater fish. That’s what he’s saying here. No baby is ugly, right? They’re all. They’re all born pretty. In verse 14, when he talks about the lure, he he says to us, it’s like this. When you go fishing, you want the stupid fish, right? Uh, or at least the fish that gives in to the type of lure that you have. Uh, I love to fish. I think I’ve fished probably everywhere in the United States and some outside of the United States. And one of the first things I’ve learned to do when I get to a particular place is I want to learn what fish bites, what lure, and how deep I need to drop that baby to get that fish that I want on that lure.

And when James talks about temptation, that’s what he says to us. He says to us, there is some weakness in your life that you are so good at justifying being Lord of your own life rather than God, that you will bite that hook. And to us. When the temptation comes. The lure looks so beautiful, right? But we never look at the hook underneath. And so he says in verse 15, though temptation looks beneficial to us. When temptation is conceived. And we partake. It brings forth death. Temptation is Satan’s appeal to the world that attracts the inner part of us as a man, to deny that God that we were created to worship. You know, as people, we were designed to worship something. It is impossible not to attribute worth towards something and live for something in this world. Whether it be a hobby or God you were designed to worship. To admire, reflect, and give praise to. And when it comes to temptation, the idea of that temptation is rather than give our worship to the one who created us, we give it to the things that he created to reflect his glory instead. And the advertising world. Have you ever noticed that when they come to deliver something to you on television, they play into one of the three temptations of man, right? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

If you want to be a good advertiser, do those things. Appeal to to the eyes, or appeal to the flesh to satisfy or appeal to the position where where you make someone feel that that a want is really a need, and when you feel like a want, then becomes a need, you can justify anything for your own purposes. Even the way that Adam did it in the Garden of Eden. When you think of, you think of Eve. When when Satan comes before her, he he says to her, Surely God didn’t say that, Eve. I just questioned the truth of the one who created you. Surely you can justify some other means to this other than what God has said to you. I can tell you when temptation comes, the the thing that we desire to think about is, is the pleasure being fulfilled and not the result of what that fulfillment will bring. I mean, there is temporal satisfaction in temptation. The Bible tells us sin is fun for a season. There is fun in sin. But on the back end of that, there is this hook that wants to rip your life apart. But for a moment you find yourself satisfied. Adam and Eve partake. And what happens? They justified the want as a need in pursuit it.

And when we we do that, when we see a want as a need, we can explain it away. So when God comes to the garden, the first thing Adam does is he says, well, God the woman, it was her fault, right? Had she not done that, then I would have never done what I what I did. So so it’s her fault or God, God, it’s your fault because you you gave her to me, right? And so obviously I’m not responsible. Or how about this? God, we we wanted to to have the knowledge of good and evil, which saying to you that we believe our version is better than what your version is. And that blows me away. You know, every culture does that with something related to God. If you go to the Middle East, those cultures are raised very well and understanding the justice and holiness of God. But when it comes to forgiveness and grace. Blows their mind. Our culture is the exact opposite. We understand the grace and goodness of God and His love. But when it comes to a holy God, well, that ain’t him. And so we rewrite. As if God has spoken His word for thousands of years, and all of a sudden there raises up this generation who finally knows better than all the other generations who’ve been obedient to God’s Word. When need becomes a want. And we can justify anything apart from God.

But God created all things for his glory. James in this passage of Scripture, recognizes that God has called us for so much more than living for those empty pleasures. Because in the end of those empty pleasures, though, those lures look satisfying. There is a hook waiting just to rip your life apart. And he says in verse 15, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. When the Bible talks about death, the first term that it tends to use in relation to that is our relationship to God. It is separated. It is dead. It is. It is non-existent. But in addition to that, there is sin that we partake of in this world that just destroys our bodies. It shortens our lives. And James is saying that God has called you to live in such a way in this world that Jesus is your trophy, and all pleasure and goodness is centered and focused on him, because true joy comes from that, and that lasts for eternity. Not the simplistic simplicity of sin that’s only satisfying for just a moment. If if you chase those dreams, you find yourself empty in the long run. In verse 16. Do not be deceived. But recognizing this as people, the Bible says that we are all sinners. And so when we talk about sin and temptation and the lure, we can say and raise our hands. That is me.

There is something in my life that is just a weakness that I continue to falter in, and I feel like a failure before God and and just participating in that. And James then turns to the idea of hope. He says this in verse 17 to us, knowing we live in a world full of temptation and faltering. This is every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above. So we’ve got to learn to use it as God has created it. Coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shifting or shifting shadow, and the exercise of his will, he brought us forth by the word of his truth that we would be a kind of first fruits among his creation. This you know, my beloved brethren. James says something significant to us in this passage of Scripture. You’ll notice in the way that he ends verse 16, and the way that he begins verse 19, he refers to us as the beloved. I mean, when it comes to temptation, yes, we struggle and temptation in itself isn’t a sin. Even Jesus was tempted. But the giving into the temptation is where sin is born. You talk in the idea of lust as it relates to men, pornographic viewing today is is horrific, especially when you study the statistics within the church and you can say to men, God, God created you as men to find an attraction to women.

But when you partake and indulge in the undressing of a lady in your mind, that’s when temptation births sin. But James says this. As your loved. I think in the midst of trials that you face in your life, you just need to hear that. When you feel worthless and failures. You need to hear that. And verse 16 and verse 19, James says this you are beloved. Meaning in the midst of that struggle. Jesus knows and Jesus already knows your failures, and he came anyway. And he loves you and he’s given his life for you. You are loved. Meaning when you fall away from God. It’s not about running from him in worthlessness, but but running to him, knowing that he is the ultimate prize in your life. You are loved, you are beloved in him. And so James says in verse 1718, every good thing is given from above, coming down from the father of lights and the Greek text it says this, this word coming down is in the present tense. So it’s saying, even in these moments, even in our failures, even in temptation, God continues to pour his goodness in your life, that you may stand for him and what is good and pure and lovely, and brings you joy. He’s the father of light. And there is no variation or shifting shadow. He is not going anywhere. He is here. For you pouring this on your life.

He brought us forth in the word of truth that we could be the first fruits. Every good thing in Christ comes to us through him. Understanding how much God loves you in the midst of temptation becomes important for us, or when temptation is conceived into sin. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. In Matthew four, Satan comes to Jesus and raised the question, if your father loves you, why are you hungry? The thing that Satan desired for Jesus to question. And his relationship to the father was his love, because he understood that love set the precedent to the obedience of Jesus, following after the father’s will while on earth. To understand that your position in Christ given to you not because of what you’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done. His love extended to you, not because of your worth, because of his worth upon you, that you aren’t working for your position in Christ, but rather from your position in Christ, gives you such a glorious outlook to any temptation and trial that you discover, knowing that he as your ultimate trophy in him. All things work for the goodness and glory to those who are called to his purpose. He is that crown. It starts with understanding your position. Moses passes the message on to the nation of Israel, and Deuteronomy six he preaches a message to the children of Israel.

Moses doesn’t get the opportunity to go into the Promised Land, so he he gives a sermon preparing the nation for what’s ahead. And he says in chapter six, do not forget the goodness of God. God has given you his position in him. We have the opportunity in verse 17 to look ahead of all the good things that Christ brings upon us. And in verse 18, look within to the divine nature that he has brought into us by the power of His Spirit. And to say this you are loved. Hebrews chapter two and verse 18 says, for since he himself was tempted in that which he has suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Jesus is near. In Jesus desires that you walk with him in the midst of this world. And so James ends with this thought, recognizing that we are living in Christ, that we have Christ with us, that we are loved in Christ, regardless of the temptation, as much as we want to justify it apart from the Lord recognizing that the lure brings us to destruction. James then in chapter one and verse 19, gives us the instruction to saturate our minds in the things of God, that we may pursue him in this life rather than justifying our own truth. To worship false idols, we look to what Christ offers us in him. And so he says in verse 19, but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness and humility, receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely merely hearers who delude themselves. James says to us, is this? To be empowered by the God who lives within you to receive what he desires to pour upon you begins with saturating your mind in the way of Christ. In verse 19 begins an explanation of preparing your heart from the Lord. It says, but everyone must be quick to speak. Excuse me. Quick to hear and slow to speak. The old Hebrew proverb says this God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason, so that we listen twice as much as we communicate. Yeah, I think one of the first rules of being a good disciple or a follower of Jesus is just a willingness to listen. Giving God the opportunity to pour into our hearts the thing that matters. You recognize if you spend your whole life swimming in a pool and all you see is lures. There has to come a time in your life where you can recognize what the real bait is. What’s the real food that saturates my life? And rather than give in to the lures, you find the nourishment that God has created you for.

And so he says in verse 19, you’ve got to prepare your heart for the opportunity to listen. And here, here’s what keeps you from listening anger. There isn’t a person in this room that’s good at listening when they’re angry. All that we care about is our point. And James says in this passage, your anger will not achieve what God desires. Anger towards people is wrong. Usually when we talk in terms of anger, it happens in relationships. Anger almost always manifests itself in relationships. I would say this this morning that when you talk about sin and when you talk about Satan, and when you talk about death, and there’s things that Jesus desires to defeat, it can make you angry. Those are good things to hate. I hate those things that separate me from God. I hate those things that are contrary to the holiness of God. But when it talks about relationships to people, hating one another is not a good idea. Because what God has called us to in this world is truth, in unity, to walk in hand in hand. So anytime there’s anger in a relationship, it’s opportunity for temptation. And when temptation is born, then from that comes sin. And when Paul wrote Ephesians chapter six, he said this very clearly to us. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. But against powers and principalities.

Our battle is not with one another. Our battle lies in what separates us from what Christ has called us to do together. Talk in terms of temptation and almost always rears itself in the form of relationships. And so he says in verse 20, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Let God carry the vengeance. Therefore put aside all filthiness, and all that remains of wickedness and humility. Receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls. Meaning when you come to God’s Word, recognize that it’s the glory, the crown of Christ that we are pursuing. It’s not that what we’ve done in the midst of sin, but what Jesus has done pursuing us. And so in humility we come to him and we just give him opportunity to pour into our minds the things of Christ that even tells us in in Romans chapter 12 and verse two, be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. When someone walks with Jesus. I find it impossible apart from his word. Being rooted and implanted in the Word of God gives us the opportunity to live. And so it says in verse 22, but prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. And then James goes on to give an example of hearers and doers. I think in American church today, a lot of us are educated beyond our obedience.

Yeah. I think when God says things, it’s really. It’s simple. It’s not easy because of temptation, but God. God has a way of making things simple. And when God writes things in His Word, the call to us is to do it. And so he gives this example in verse 23 of of an ugly person. It literally it says, for if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at himself natural face in the mirror. For once he has looked at himself. I think he’s describing a college student. For once he has looked at himself and gone away. He has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But once who? One who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty abides in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer. That man will be blessed if he does it. It’s like a guy who wakes up in the morning, looks at himself in the mirror, sees dirt all over his face, and then walks away. I’ve heard this passage used like this a few times. Someone explaining it. It’s like this. Dad writes a letter to his child and says, son or daughter, I want you to do this. Take out the trash on Sunday. I’ve got to go out of town for a couple of days and he leaves it on, on the on the table for the kid to see when he comes by.

And the kid grabs it. And so the kid grabs it and he looks at it and he reads it. He’s like, man, this is a great, well written letter from dad. I want to call my friends over and we’re going to read this. So they all get together and they start reading it. Such an enjoyable thing that they decide then to look at the original meaning of each letter contained, or each word contained in the letter, and they all begin to splice it according to its original languages. And and they explain it away. And so then when the father comes home, he says to them, did you see my letter? Yeah, I saw it, dad. It was great. It was the way that you talked about it from beginning to end, how your your words flowed together, you punctuality, it was just perfect. There was no grammatical mistakes. It said everything that you wanted us to understand clearly. We walked away knowing exactly what you wanted us to do. We even invited everyone in the neighborhood around to study it. We read it. We looked at the original meeting. I can spell every word on that page now. As a matter of fact, I can recite it from beginning to end. And then the dad says, well, did you do it? Oh, no! Do it! Never crossed my mind.

What James is saying in this passage. So we have the ability to fool ourselves in that way. That we can walk away understanding God’s Word clearly within our lives, but we don’t live it as if it has the power to transform. We can say things like Jesus is our joy and Jesus is our strength, and Jesus is my everything, and he is my crown. But never live that way. James concludes this passage by just saying to us in the final two verses, let’s just have a test. Well, let’s let’s see if you live the word rather rather than just read the word. And so he says in verse 26, if anyone thinks himself to be religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. I don’t know why, but every time I read that verse I just say Facebook. If anyone thinks himself to be religious and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart. This man’s religion is worthless. Do you know what your your words communicate? Your words communicate where the focus of your heart really lies. Meaning I don’t want to get too pounding on this, but if you come to church on Sunday. But your words don’t acknowledge Jesus on Monday. You’re fooling yourself. Your words reflect your heart. And when your words communicate negativity and rip things apart and cause disunity among relationships that God has called you not to fight against and but fight against principalities and powers, it’s reflecting what’s happening in the heart.

Can I tell you that the solution to that this morning is not try harder. But rather give your life over to Christ. What it’s ultimately pointing to us is that we’re not in line with Jesus being our Lord. But when we are in line with Jesus as our Lord, Jesus then pours his life into our lives and transforms our heart from the inside out. A good way to recognize whether or not you’ve fooled yourself in the way that you’re pursuing your relationship with Jesus is just to pay attention to the words you say. Does it speak truth? Now the truth comes at a cost. But does it speak truth? And when it speaks truth, when we’re talking about relationships within the body of Christ or in your own family, is it desiring to unite you in the cause of Christ? Or are you creating division over words that cut deep in someone’s heart? Verse 27, he says this but pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this to visit orphans, orphans, and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. I should probably clarify you and say here at church, when we talk about religion, when we deny religion, we deny religion of the world and religion of the world, says says this by what you do, you then put God in a place where he he is forced to do what you command him to do.

Meaning you obey these rules and then God is obligated to do what what he has promised because you have been obedient to these rules. God. God is in your hand and you manipulate God because of your obedience and religion. And what relationship is about is not the manipulation of God, but to recognize that God has already pursued us in relationship and that we in though we are sinful, we don’t earn his favor. He has given it to us and we come to him. Enjoy the relationship for which he has created us. It’s not about religious manipulation, but enjoying relationship to God. But when James is talking about religion in this passage of Scripture, he’s talking about the word literally means outward practice or the service of God. And some passages of Scripture. Colossians 218. This word religion is actually translated worship. This outward display of the worth of God in your life. Only made possible because of relationship. And James is looking at religious people and he’s saying, you think you think you live religion, right? Well, let me tell you really what godly religion would look like, okay? It’s pure and it’s undefiled. It’s not based on what you do. It has not your flavor in it. Because when it does, you will fall short.

But it’s pure and undefiled because of what Christ has done, and this is what it reflects in the sight of our God and Father. Is this to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Meaning, when you do things religiously, the reason that you do things religiously is to earn favor from God. But when you talk about serving widows and orphans, you’re talking about serving people that have nothing to give back to you. So the motivation of your heart has nothing to do with what you might get in return. But everything out of the joy because of what Christ has done for you. So James in this passage uses widows and orphans. I would say in our lives the motivation is what we check. Are you doing things out of obligation to manipulate God, to have to give you something? Do you do things only because on the back end you get something in return. I want status, right? Or I want money on this. What James is saying to those who really love Jesus. See their satisfaction so much in Christ that their motivation isn’t about what they’re getting back. Their motivation is all about recognizing the goodness and glory of God in everything that they do. Even so much so that you go to the ones who have nothing to give in return. And you just love because of the love that Christ has poured into your life.

And this morning we’re thinking of this thought. We think about temptations. It has the ability to get us off track from what God has called us to in this world when we indulge in those temptations, having separated them from the one who has created them, ultimately for his glory to begin with. We take something of the goodness of God and use it for our own glory and worship. That temptation then births sin and it brings death. And that is something separate from what the experience of God and relationship to him is all about. But what God has called us to is something far more glorious in this life. Having a crown of life represented in in Christ and he in the midst of your temptation, loves you. And regardless of how broken you may feel, he he desires to pour his goodness upon you. If you, in humility, would just. Just close your mouth and open your ears and get next to him reading his word rather than looking at the lures of temptation. Look at the feeding that Christ desires to do in you and through you. And as he transforms your life, the impact that you make on this world is not one of religion and status, but one of relationship to God and to one another, giving all that we are for him and blessing the world because of it. And this is how. To recognize above and beyond in all things, that Jesus alone is the crown of life.