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Spicy Truths for a Bland Culture | Sunday Message (with Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 20, 2022 3:00 am

Spicy Truths for a Bland Culture | Sunday Message (with Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 20, 2022 3:00 am

The Bible tells us “faith without good deeds is useless” (James 2:20). We should not only be talk but action when it comes to our faith, and guest speaker Pastor Jonathan Laurie’s reminding us of that in this Sunday episode.

Notes

James is stating that merely saying you have faith does not mean you have it.

The sin of commission is knowing what is wrong and doing it anyway.

The sin of omission is knowing what is right and not doing it.

1. Dead Faith.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16

We are saved by grace through faith, not works.

But saving faith will have works.

2. Demonic Faith.

A faith that only stirs our hearts, stimulates our intellect, and does not bring forth a transformed life does not bear spiritual fruit—it is not a true faith.

3. Dynamic Faith.

Dynamic saving faith, to start with, is based on the Word of God.

“The whole person plays a part in true saving faith. The mind understands the truth; the heart desires the truth; and the will acts upon the truth. The men and women of faith named in Hebrews 11 were people of action: God spoke, and they obeyed.” —Warren Wiersbe

“Of what value is the grace I profess to receive if it does not dramatically change the way that I live. If it does not change the way that I live, it will never change my eternal destiny.” —C. H. Spurgeon

Scripture Referenced

Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV)

Matthew 7:18–23 (ESV)

Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)

James 2:18–20 (ESV)

Revelation 12:12 (ESV)

Romans 10:17 (ESV)

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Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.

If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. We are going to be continuing in our series, the book of James, and you can open up your Bibles to James chapter 2. We're going to be looking at the second half of this book.

So I'm going to open up there. James chapter 2. And church, I'm going to give you a forewarning right now. It's a spicy one, okay?

It's a spicy one. It's a spicy section of scripture that we're going to look at. James is pulling no punches here as he speaks to believers, as he speaks to the church. And we're going to be looking at one of the most well-known verses in the entire book of James today. For those of you who have not been with us for the last three messages, and you don't know who James is, and you don't know why we're studying this book, James is a book in the New Testament of our Bibles. There are 27 books in the New Testament. James is in the last third of them, and he is sandwiched right between the book of Hebrews and 1 Peter. Scholars agree that the author of the book of James is James.

How revelatory is that? But not just any James, it is the half brother of Jesus that scholars believe wrote this book. Could you imagine being the half brother of Jesus? How many of you grew up with a sibling that was just like the golden child? And they like everything they did, they succeeded in, they did well at, they didn't have to study, they didn't have to try in athletics.

Like everything just came naturally to them. And your entire life, you're just trying to live up to what their, you know, your parents' expectation of that older sibling. How many of you had one of those siblings in your life? Yeah, a couple of you.

Hey, we're better off because of it, right? But could you imagine being the half brother of Jesus? Like Mary, literally like, you know, why couldn't you be more like Jesus? I made you this bracelet. It's WWJD. I want you to look at that. Just ask yourself, is this something that your brother would do? Like that's a lot of pressure. That's a lot of pressure.

Talk about setting the bar high. What's interesting is we read that in the gospels that Jesus' family, his siblings did not believe in him. They didn't believe that he was the Messiah. They thought he was crazy.

In fact, we read that they actually sought to take him away because they thought that he was actually insane. Some of the miracles he was doing, they thought he was crazy. But after the resurrection of Jesus, we read about James. He has now put his faith in his brother because Jesus himself, the resurrected Christ, appeared to James and spoke to him. And James believed in his brother as the Messiah and put his faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

James became a devout, committed follower and a leader in the church in Jerusalem up until his death, which tradition tells us was at the hands of the same religious leaders that called for the death of Jesus. And as I read the book of James, I feel like I'm reading a text message from an older sibling, right? Direct, to the point, unapologetic.

You kind of feel bad about yourself afterwards. It's tough love, right? How many of you had the tough love older sibling that was like, hey, just so you know, you're an idiot and you're doing this wrong. It's like, wow.

OK. But they were right. And they may have been a little abrasive in the way that they did it, but it was true.

And we're better off because of that. I had an older brother. Most of you know who's now with the Lord. And he was 11 years older than me. So he was more of like an uncle in some ways, especially as I was a kid. Then he was a brother, 11 years older. So I'm 10.

He's 21. Like, what do we have in common? And so he definitely was kind of a third parent in many ways. And so I feel like some of these statements, I'm like, man, this is like something or the way that my brother would say something. And so as we look at, again, the book of James, it's practical. It's practical.

It's black and white. It is literal. There is no really need for interpretation in many of the things that James is saying. You could read this book and get pretty much everything out of what I'm going to say to you in this sermon just by reading the text.

There's no opportunities for it. What do you think he meant by that? Gee, I wonder.

No, he's calling you a fool for not believing the way that you should. James has been called the proverbs of the New Testament because of its practicality, because of its clarity and its applicable instructions and spicy statements on the Christian life. How many of you like spicy food? Spicy food. I love spicy food.

I can hang with the best of them. I can put some pretty hot stuff on all my food. My whole family really likes spicy stuff. My brother Christopher exposed me to a deep affinity for Tabasco sauce.

Not any of the original, not or not any of the other ones, just like the original one, which is like vinegar, red pepper and salt. Just keep it real basic. He would keep one in his car, in his office, at friends houses.

He would keep one in a travel in his bag when he would travel. And I've taken this on as well. I love Tabasco sauce and pretty much everything. And as we look at this text, I really do feel like there are some spicy statements. There are some statements are like, oh, man, wow, that I wasn't expecting that, James. OK. And so I have titled my message today, Spicy Truths for a Bland Culture.

Spicy Truths for a Bland Culture. Yes, I'm serious. That is the message title. And so we're going to be looking together at James Chapter two, starting in verse 14. Let's read together. James starts off, What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that kind of faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, go in peace, be warmed and filled without giving to them the things needed for the body.

What good is that? And so also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Let's pause there. OK. I wonder what James meant by that. There's no sugar coating this here.

James is straight to the point. No dancing around the subject. He tells us bluntly, merely saying you have faith does not mean you have it. Just because you say you're something does not mean that you actually are. Wishing somebody well doesn't change their suffering.

Saying you're a Christian doesn't mean you are coming to church, doesn't mean that you're a Christian or that you're going to heaven. Oof. Big Brother James with the tough love here right away, pulling no punches, right? Well wishes without a response does absolutely nothing, he says.

And we would all agree on that, right? Well wishes without doing anything about it does absolutely nothing. Oh, thinking about you. Hope you're doing well. OK, great. That's nice. That's a nice sentiment, a nice token, I suppose.

James is saying that words without action is worthless. It'd be like running up on a car that just caught on fire and you run up on the car and the family is locked inside. Right.

And they can't get out. And it just so happens you're wearing a jacket that is flame retardant. And you have a fire extinguisher in your car and you go and you knock on the window and you're like, hey, man, your car's on fire.

Hope that works out for you. And then you go back to your car and drive off. That would be neglectful. And you could actually be charged for a crime on that. If you saw the Seinfeld episode about the Good Samaritan, you know what I'm talking about.

Horrible way to end the series. That is also called the sin of omission, the sin of omission, the sin of commission we're familiar with. It is knowing what is wrong and doing it anyway.

Right. We know this is wrong. We know we shouldn't do this.

We know that lying is wrong. We know that this is wrong, but we do it anyways because that is a sin of commission. A sin of omission is to know what is right, but not doing it. To know what we are supposed to do, but failing to do it. The Bible says, James actually says later in this book, James Chapter four, to him that knows to do good and does not do it to him. It is sin. And so if you know you need to do, you know what the Bible expects of you and you fail to do it or you rather neglect to do it. That is the sin of omission.

Notice that the illustration that James uses is not some person like, I can't believe this guy. You know, he has opportunities to go and and meet needs of people out in the community. And he he failed to go and and exercise his faith in this capacity because there is a person 10 miles away that was hurting. And he failed to go and find them.

What a failure. No, no. He's not saying we need to turn over every single rock and and preach the gospel to every single creature on the face of the earth. He's saying this person comes into contact with you. You have the means. You have the ability. You have the opportunity to help lead this person to Christ. Or you have the opportunity to help encourage this person or in this case, literally feed them and give them some warm clothes and you fail to do it. The situation presented itself to the person that James is using in this analogy. The person had the ability. They had the opportunity to help. They saw the need. They knew they had the means to fix that person's problem, nakedness and hunger, but they failed to do so. What James is showing here is that this person neglected to do the bare minimum for a follower of Christ. It's common human decency to help someone in need.

Right. And so for a so-called Christian to neglect from helping is the opposite of God's character. That's what we want. We want to be like God. We want to reflect the love, reflect the generosity, reflect the grace that we've been shown. Scripture tells us that we are blessed to be a blessing.

And so if we're failing to do that is failing to do the absolute minimum for a follower of Christ. Be warmed and filled. Right. Sending positive vibes your way.

What does that mean? How about saying, praying for you, but then not praying for the person. Worthless. If you're going to pray for the person. Amen. Hey, prayer changes things.

Absolutely. But if you say you're going to pray for the person and then you do not, that is a mega fail. That type of faith James tells us is a dead faith. He tells us it's a dead faith.

Words without action is worthless. Faith without works is dead. And in this passage together, we're going to see three types of faith that exists in the world today and in the walls of the church, only one of which has the power to save you. OK, so we just read about the first type of faith that James point to point to, and that is number one, a dead faith. Number one, a dead faith.

A dead faith, again, is a faith that brings no change, no fruit, no evidence of the Holy Spirit working inside. It's a person who can talk the talk, but not walk the walk. They may have the outward appearances.

They may have the visual markers down. Maybe they even talk the right way and they can even quote scripture. Wow.

Amazing. But if there is no change in the life of that person, it is a dead faith. A person with dead faith has an intellectual, cerebral experience. They understand grace. They understand the law. They understand that Jesus is the sacrifice for their sin.

He is the atonement. And they maybe even are able to articulate it, but it doesn't change who they are. They continue living. They continue sinning in the same way as before.

No evidence of a changed life. That is a dead faith. And James tells us here, it is not enough to save you. Now, maybe you're hearing me talk about this right now and you're reading this book with me and you're kind of skipping down a little bit. You're like, wow, he really gets to the point.

This is a spicy text. Like you said, Jonathan, you might protest and think to yourself or want to say to me, Jonathan, I'm pretty sure that I've read in other parts of the Bible that we get to heaven because of our faith. Right. Like, isn't there a whole book just all about that, where it's just all about faith and it's about grace and it's not about works?

Yes, you are exactly right. Jesus himself says in John three sixteen, what does he say? For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son so that whosoever believes, hello, believes is faith. Right. Whosoever believes shall not perish, but have ever lasting life. It's exactly true.

There it is. The apostle Paul also drives this sentiment home in Ephesians. He says in Ephesians two, eight to 10. For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God. Listen to this. Not a result of works so that no one may boast.

OK, so what's the deal here? James is saying faith without works is dead. Paul is saying that salvation is not a result of works. So is this like one of those contradictions that people talk about in the Bible?

Right. Oh, boy, what do we do? Listen, our job as Bible students, when we come across a passage of scripture that seems to have a disagreement or a contradiction, is to ignore it and never talk about it again. No, it's to rip that page out of your Bible and light it on fire. No, and it's not to pretend that we don't know what you're talking about. What? What?

No, no. This makes perfect sense. Listen, there's been many times I come across passages in scripture. I'm like, that seems like almost contradictory. What's the deal here? And as I dig down deeper, I always find, oh, that makes total sense. They're approaching it from this perspective. They're speaking to this audience.

There is always an answer. Our job as Bible students is to rightly divide the word of truth. Some teachers and Bible students might be inclined to think that one verse cancels out the other or to use Paul's words to cancel James's out or vice versa. Here is the truth. Are we saved by works? Are we saved by faith?

Here is the truth. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast. Absolutely 100 percent. Jonathan is saved by faith through grace, not by works.

No question. But saving faith will have works. True saving faith will have works. John Calvin, he said, it is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies will never be alone.

Let that sink in. It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies can never be alone. It is faith alone that saves, but faith that saves is never alone.

R. Kent Hughes, a Bible commentator, said there is no contradiction or disagreement between James and Paul here regarding faith, because Paul's teaching about faith and works focuses on the time before conversion and James's focus is after conversion. Jesus himself describes a faith which cannot save. In Matthew, Chapter seven, he says, a healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Thus, you will recognize them by their fruits. 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.

Oh, what was that? The one who does the will of my father who is in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, Lord, Lord, do we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you.

Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. So here, Jesus himself defining a type of faith that is unable to save, a faith which produces no spiritual fruit or at best, rotten spiritual fruit. Galatians five tells us what the fruits of the spirit are, right?

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness. Against such things, there is no law. And so if we say we are a Christian, but we lie and we cheat and we steal and we indulge in every temptation and every sin that comes across our perspective, across our vision. And we make no room for God to impact our social lives or our professional lives. We make no room for God to impact our spiritual lives.

We are only fooling ourselves, merely believing that there is a God in heaven and that his son Jesus lived 2000 years ago and died on a cross and rose again from the dead. And that that was what was needed to pay for your sin is not enough to save you. Having a mere understanding of that is not enough to save you. Being a Christian should affect everything you do and how you do it, your career, your family, your parenting, your singleness, your purity, your attitude towards finances, your voting, everything, absolutely everything.

It should be affected. James continues in verse 18 and he highlights another kind of faith for us. He says in verse 18, but someone will say, you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one.

Well, congratulations. You do well, James says. A little sarcasm there. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? That brings us to the second kind of faith that James points out for us. It is a demonic faith. It's a demonic faith.

It's the faith that demons have. First of all, I love James's argument with this imaginary objector here. Do you ever take a shower in the morning before work or you're driving home in your car after work and you got into an argument with a coworker and you continue having that conversation in your car with yourself? Well, he'd say that and I'd say this and then I say, you know, and you go into this whole thing. I feel like that's what James is letting us in on a little bit here is like, oh, you say I have works or you have works. I have faith. And Paul, you know, he just goes on and on. And James, he has this argument with this imaginary objector here and he brings up this person. Basically, this objector would have what we would call a live and let live mentality, right? Live and let live. Oh, you've got works.

I've got faith. You're mistaken, James. It's a matter of personality. It's a matter of chemical makeup, right?

It's personal preference. Hey, I like theology. And James, I like to talk about faith and God and my faith is lofty and it's deep, right? And it's theological. And I like to reveal the hidden mysteries of God. And James, you like the practical, right?

You like to teach and live it out in more of a public way. We're both Christians, but we have different emphasis. That's what James is basically saying. This person's argument may be right. He can already hear the arguments coming as he's writing this text.

And James cannot hang and he just explodes. And he says, you believe that God is one. Well, congratulations. You can number yourself along with the demons. By the way, the demons, they believe and tremble.

They have a fear of God. Do you? Do I need to spell it out for you? James says, you fool. I love that he calls him a fool. That's a total dis. That faith apart from works is useless. The sarcasm, the insult. That's like I love it.

It's the way I sometimes want to talk to people, but I won't because I will get in trouble. And so the first type of faith that we saw was a dead faith, right? A dead faith, a cerebral kind of faith that does not invade any area of our lives except for the intellect.

This type of faith does not save, James tells us. And then he continues and he directs us to what could be compared to the faith of demons, right? A demonic faith. The demons believe and tremble.

It comes as a shock to people. The demons have faith. They do. They have faith. What do they believe? For one thing, they believe in the existence of God.

No question. They believe in the existence of God. They are neither atheists nor agnostics. There is not a demon in the universe that is an atheist. Now, certainly they have their influence on people who have become atheists and so forth.

And they're definitely exercising their spiritual tools to to hurt a person and pull them away from God. But there is not an atheist or excuse me, there's not a demon in the universe that would be an atheist. Demons also believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. Without question, whenever they met Jesus, when he was on Earth, they bore witness to the fact that Jesus was the son of God.

And there was coming a day that they would be judged by him and thrown into the lake of fire. Demons also believe in the second coming. They believe in the resurrection of Jesus. They believe in the virgin birth. Truly, they would be able to quote the Apostles Creed and tell you all of those things. Yes, I believe in all of those things.

But guess what? One of the motivators of the devil to do so much damage is his own belief that his time is limited because of the return of Jesus to our planet. In Revelation 12, we read, Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them. But woe to you, earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath because he knows his time is short. Demons believe in theology.

They have probably better theology than some of us do. And so what is James getting at here? What is James getting at?

Well, do we need to spell out the obvious? Demons are not saved. Demons are not saved. And so James is showing us that a faith that stirs only our hearts, a faith that stirs only and stimulates only our intellect and does not bring forth a transformed life, does not bear spiritual fruit, is not a true faith, is a dead faith. Faith without works is dead, James tells us.

Faith without works is dead. This is some heavy stuff, right? You guys with me on this? It's challenging. It's, you know, kind of like looking in a mirror. We talked about that a couple of weeks ago. It's like, man, this this is tough. We're seeing maybe something here that we struggle with. And if the Lord is revealing that to your heart, allow him to reveal that to you today.

Faith without works is dead, James tells us. I'm married. Obviously, my wife's in the front row. I didn't just gesture to some random woman. And we'll be married for 13 years this April.

And we're very excited about that. And I wrote this part of my message with an intention about doing this one chore, but I'm going to read it anyways. My wife's going to know exactly what I'm talking about here. If I tell my wife that I love her and she asks me to do a task around the house and I procrastinate and she asks me to do it again and again. And I keep telling her I love her and I'll get to it, but I'm too busy because I'm binge watching Breaking Bad for the third time. And I never get around to actually doing that task.

Hanging up the mirror. See, I intended to do it. See, here we have an example.

Do I really love my wife? I do. Don't worry. I'll get around to it. All right.

I get around to it. But if I never get around to it, this is not showing her love. This is not bringing on one of her priorities and making it a priority for me.

Is it? That's not love. That's not showing love. Showing love would be, hey, I'm going to make time for this. I am going to do this.

Even though I'm busy, even though I've got other stuff going on, I will make it happen. Now, let's say someone is married and it's discovered that the husband has been having an extramarital affair and they're caught dead to rights. Right. Oh, the text messages, the undeniable evidence, the surveillance cameras outside the home, the whole deal.

It's undeniable. Now, if the husband begs for forgiveness and he cries and he cries and he feels so bad and he talks about the stress happening at work or whatever, and that he'll go to counseling and he'll do what it takes to restore the marriage. And so she goes the extra mile and she forgives him.

Then let's say it comes out that the husband never stopped this relationship and all the tears and all the counseling and all the breakthrough conversations didn't produce anything. Was any of that emotion worth anything? No, that emotion was worthless.

It was, in fact, deceptive. What matters is action. What matters is obedience. What matters is a changed life.

Emotion means nothing if there is not tangible change attached to it. And that is what James is getting at in this section. Three times, James tells us in our text today that faith without the correlating behavior, faith without works, faith without action is a dead faith. Verses 17, 20 and 26. The third and final kind of faith that we will look at together starts in verse 20. Let's read together.

Do you want to be shown, you foolish person? I just want to throw that verse in there again because I like reading it. That faith apart from works is useless was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by his works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way. For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. The third kind of faith that James points us to is a dynamic faith, a dynamic faith. Number three, dynamic saving faith to start with always begins with the word of God. Romans 10 17 says faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of God. And James points to Abraham and Rahab as examples of dynamic saving faith since both of them received the message of God's will. Excuse me, received the message of God's will through his word and responded to it. You see dead faith it touches only the intellect, right, touches only the mind. Demonic faith involves both the mind and the emotion but dynamic faith involves all three and involves the will. Warren Wiersbe put it this way, he said the whole person plays a part in true saving faith. The mind understands the truth, the heart desires the truth and the will acts upon the truth. The men and women of faith named in Hebrews 11 were people of action, God spoke and they obeyed.

How good is that? What a good summary. Faith leads to action. True faith will lead to action. True saving faith, genuine faith, not replica faith, not the faith of demons. True faith will lead to action. A faith that is alive. You know that your faith is alive when it manifests itself in spiritual fruit. The fruit of obedience, the obedience to God's word and his will for your life. Abraham, after hearing God tell him that he wants him to go and sacrifice his firstborn son Isaac. The son that he had been praying for forever and wanted and finally now he had this son. God's now telling him to go and sacrifice him on the altar. What a wild concept, how crazy is that? Abraham could have just chalked it up to from God as oh that was a mistake, God didn't mean that.

That was some indigestion, that was a bad falafel I ate. He was mistaken, how much easier would it have been for Abraham to just chalk it up to that. To just ignore it. But both Rahab and Abraham had faith and their dynamic faith pressed them towards obedience and pressed them towards action. The only way you can evaluate the truth of my claim that I am saved is to see if I live it out in my life. By their fruits you shall know them Jesus says right in Matthew 7. People cannot see our hearts. They can't see what our motives are. They can't see what our intentions are. All they can see are our works. And that is why Jesus said, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.

But we need to also balance this. It does not work to somehow earn the grace of God nor do we involve ourselves in religious practices to somehow appease God or merit his blessing. To do this is to have a works based salvation.

C.H. Spurgeon put it really well when he said, of what value is the grace I profess to receive if it does not dramatically change the way that I live. If it does not change the way that I live it will never change my eternal destiny. Your faith is not impacting your day to day living.

How is it going to impact your eternity? My goal with this message is to not discourage you or to frighten you but to exhort you to ask yourself the question with a sober mind. Do I practice what I say I believe? Do I live out the faith that I claim to have?

Listen, this is not a question you should ask one time in your life. This is a question you should ask yourself throughout your entire Christian walk. Do I live out the faith that I say that I have? Now we have all heard stories of hypocrisy in the church, leaders living double lives, people embezzling money, doing terrible things.

Guess what? The church is made up of broken people and it's terrible that these things happen when that takes place. One of the most common reasons for people leaving the church today and kids abandoning their faith and deconstructing their faith after being raised in a Christian home is hypocrisy. It's hypocrisy. It's people living a double life, being exposed to these so-called Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips but then go out and deny him by the way they live.

This is so hard. The way things are going in our culture, there is no room for a Christian who says they are a Christian, a person who says they are a Christian but then denies it by the way they live. You could call that person a decaf Christian, right? My dad, I think, coined that a decaf Christian. It's like a person who goes to Starbucks and orders a non-fat, decaf, soy, sugar-free, whatever latte.

And it's like, what in the world is the point of that? Go to 31 Flavors and just get a milkshake, right? For me, I'm like, give me espresso, straight espresso.

I want it straight to the point. Give me black coffee. Look, if I want a hot chocolate, I'll order a hot chocolate.

I like a hot chocolate but don't tell me that you're drinking coffee like a grown up and you're mixing all that stuff with it together, right? Come on. We all know the deal. There is no room for decaf Christians in the world today, right? There's no room for that. There's no room for someone who claims to be something but has no effect. If you claim to have faith but it has not affected and impacted the way that you live and think and act, James closes the chapter with these words for you. For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. Guys, this is a heavy passage of scripture. It's one that I've read time and time again and it sobered me. It's challenged me.

It's convicted me and made me want to further live out the faith that I know that I have and allow it to affect every area in my life. And so in closing today, if you have felt the Lord speak to your heart and you see there has been a discrepancy between the way that you live and the way you want to live, that there is a discrepancy between the way you live and the way that God has called you to live as revealed to us here in our text today, you don't like what you see because you see sin when you look in the spiritual mirror. You see shortcomings. You see things that don't look like Jesus.

Listen, before you surrender your case as hopeless, take an honest look at the men and women in scripture that God has used despite their own shortcomings. Abraham, he was the founder of Israel, the father of the Jewish people, and he was tagged a friend of God. But before that, he was an idolater worshipping false idols, worshipping false gods, and God used him in a powerful way. Joseph, he had a prison record. He was prideful. He was bragging to his brothers.

But you know what? He later became the prime minister of Egypt. Moses was a murderer and he later delivered the Jewish people from the slavery of Pharaoh. David, he committed adultery and murder and directly disobeyed God, but we know him today as what? The man after God's own heart. Rahab, she was a hooker, she was a prostitute, she was a call girl in the streets of Jericho, but she believed God's word and she obeyed it and she wound up listed in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith and in the family lineage of Jesus. Peter openly denied the Lord three times only to be restored and made the leader of the first century church.

And you know how that happens? You know how this all takes place is because of Hebrews 4.15. It says, this high priest of ours understands our weakness, for he faced all the same testings that we do and yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. You don't like what you see in the mirror?

Join the club. That's part of being a Christian. Day by day the Lord is working on us. This is the process of sanctification from the moment we first believe to the last breath that we have in our lungs.

The process of sanctification will take place. He is creating us. He is forming us. He is he is sending us and polishing us to look more and more like his son Jesus. How magnificent is grace. How sweet are the promises of God. How precious is God's love and how broad is God's mercy. How refreshing is the Lord. And so if you're stuck in the failures of your past today, run to Jesus. He offers his mercy and grace when we need it most. What is to keep you from running into his palace with boldness today? He opens that door to us all. Amen.

Would you stand with me? Heavenly Father, we know that all of us in this room in varying capacities, there have been times in our lives that we've neglected to obey the commands in scripture that we know are for us. We failed to be the man that you've called us to be. We have failed to be the woman you have called us to be. We have failed to be the Christian you have commanded us to be. There have been moments where we failed to live out our faith. There have been moments where we missed opportunities and blew our chance and procrastinated or just outright disobeyed. God, we ask that you would forgive us and that you would re-sensitize us again, your church, to hear your voice in our lives, to hear your promptings, to hear your will for us as we study scripture in our private time. As we have opportunities to share our faith, Lord, make it so obvious and clear to us that this is from you.

This is an opportunity you want us to step into. We've become passive. We've believed multiple times that we are the exceptions to the rule. This doesn't include me.

I can live this way. And, Lord, we have outright disobeyed. God, would you forgive us? We want your will for our lives. We want to lead ourselves well. We want to lead our families well. We want to influence the people in our lives, our friends, our relatives, our neighbors, our co-workers. Lord, would you help us to do that?

We want to honor you with our conduct and the way we live our lives. Fill us with your Holy Spirit now. And while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying, there may be some here today that have not yet put their faith in Jesus. And they recognize that their lives are not living up to what God has expected, which is perfection.

Well, friend, good news. You don't have to be perfect. You just need to know the one who is, and that is Jesus Christ.

And so if you'd like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and put your faith in Him and live out this faith and let it affect every aspect of your life, listen, here's what's amazing. You can't fix your marriage. You can't fix your parents. You can't fix the mistakes you've made on your own.

But Jesus can, and His Holy Spirit can. And so if you'd like to receive that free gift of salvation, if you'd like to put your faith in Christ today and begin to live that out, I would invite you to just pray this prayer wherever you are. Pray this and mean it in your heart. Dear God, I know I'm a sinner, but I know that your son Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross for my sin. And so I turn from my sin from this moment forward and I turn to you and I make you the Lord of my life. I want to follow you with my mind, my emotions and my actions. Would you help me to align my life with your will for me? In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-20 11:11:42 / 2022-11-20 11:27:15 / 16

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