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Today, I am going to take a little break from Matthew and jump to the book of James. It is only a few pages long but it is full of direction on how we must be “doers” and not just “hearers”. I think we need to take a good hard look at this little section of the Bible today.
Again, I hear many evangelicals say that actions don’t matter – all that matters is grace, and that if we confess “Jesus is our Savior” with our mouths, that is enough to get into heaven. Now let me make this very clear – we DO need to accept Jesus as our Savior. We DO need grace to get into heaven. By all means! But the point I am trying to make is that actions are also important, and that the teaching that we are to get into heaven by grace alone….without any work on our part….is incorrect.
In my search for answers, I found James to be quite enlightening. Many people focus on the gospels which are so important, but if you go further into the New Testament- into the letters of Paul, John, James, etc., it really clarifies things. This is where it clarified for me that actions do in fact matter.
“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” James 1:22
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. But let’s keep going:
“But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who ACT – they will be blessed in their doing.” James 1:25
These passages clearly refute the beliefs of some evangelicals who say that our works on this earth don’t matter, and all that matters is grace. These passages also directly apply to those evangelical preachers who turn a blind eye to Trump’s immoral behavior. They are not “doing”…they are not standing up and saying that Trump’s behavior is unacceptable.
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” James 2:10-11
Let’s think about that for a moment. Some of the evangelicals and even other Christians constantly speak out against abortion. But these same people are quiet about Trump. Some even give Trump a “mulligan” for his adulterous affair with Stormy Daniels. Now, read the above passage again. Clearly James is telling us that this kind of behavior is wrong. We have to call out ALL sin, not just the sin that “fits” into our little box. You can’t pick and choose.
Going on, James clearly states that faith without works is dead:
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17
Then James makes a statement that should make everyone think long and hard. He states that even the demons believe that God is real….and they shudder:
“Even the demons believe – and shudder.” James 2:20
Then he goes on to reiterate that works are a part of accepting Jesus fully:
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” James 2:24-26
Now, as we read the next verse, let’s think about the evangelical preachers who are giving Trump a “mulligan” and who teach that we don’t have to act or to follow the Ten Commandments:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1
Kind of scary, huh?
Now think about the obvious hypocrisy that we are witnessing in some evangelicals today. Remember, they jumped all over Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, but now these same evangelicals are mysteriously quiet about Trump. Also, a recent poll showed that during the Clinton administration, the percentage of evangelicals that said that moral behavior of a President wasn’t important was in the 20s. Today, under Trump, that number is in the 70s. What happened? Is it hypocrisy, or do the rules change depending on whether you are a Republican or Democrat?
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of PARTIALITY or HYPOCRISY.” James 3:17
James is very clear. These teachings and behaviors of evangelicals who still support Trump are not in line with true Christianity. My hope is that they will read this, pray about it, and return to the only path that leads us to Jesus.
I implore preachers like Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins, Andrew Wommack and others to rethink what they are teaching and to call out Trump on his immoral behavior.
I will close with this:
“Anyone then who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it commits sin.” James 4:17
Have a wonderful weekend! God bless!
I received some troubling news last week after receiving the results of an MRI last week.
I have had three back surgeries since 2009 at the L5/S1 level. For those of you that don’t know the levels of the spine, this is in the lower back. “L” stands for lumbar, and “S” stands for sacral. This is a troublesome area of the spine for many people out there, and I was unlucky enough to be one of them. It all started with a herniated disc in 2009. My first two surgeries failed, and I ended up with two broken screws in my back – scary, I know! The third surgery was a “success” in that the bones fused successfully, but the pain never went away.
I deal with chronic pain. I am in some degree of pain every day. However, I try not to let it stop me. I have been told from the beginning that walking is the best thing I can do for my back, and I have tried to do this; however, I have become a little slack over the past few months. I have also been in physical therapy which seems to help, too.
About two months ago, a couple of toes in my right foot went numb. Around that same time, I began to have constant foot cramps which were quite painful and an increased level of pain in my lower back. My physical therapist worked with me twice a week, but the symptoms never improved. I even tried Gatorade and bananas as we thought there might be a possibility that I was dehydrated. However, that didn’t work either.
The MRI results showed that I now have degenerative disc disease in the two levels above my surgery sight. This wasn’t a complete surprise since I was repeatedly told by the doctors that the surgery puts more strain on the levels above it which could lead to future problems. Even so, I was quite depressed when I found this out, and for a day, I didn’t even feel like getting out of bed.
When I woke up the next morning, I was still quite depressed. I thought about things for a few minutes, and then I decided to pick up my Bible. I desperately needed something…anything…to lift my spirits. I have been reading 2 Corinthians, so I continued to read where I left off. Amazingly enough, , I read about Paul’s “thorn in his side”:
To keep me from becoming conceited…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9 (NIV)
I realized that God will not allow anything to happen to me that I won’t be able to handle without His grace! How wonderful! He was reminding me that all things happen for a reason, and I have to trust in Him. My soul felt lighter and happier knowing that God is right here with me as I walk through this storm. I also learned that whenever I feel down or discouraged, all I have to do is pick up the Holy Bible, and God will surely comfort me.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (NIV)