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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!
Have you ever met someone who appears like a very Christian person, but as you get to know them, things aren’t quite as they seem?
I’ve come across quite a few people like this. They love to preach to everyone else about Christianity, but then they talk behind other people’s backs, insulting everything they do. They expect everyone else to follow the commandments, but then turn around and break those very commandments themselves. The put others down for immoral behavior, yet they turn around and act in an immoral fashion.
These are the type of people who, through their actions, turn many people away from Christianity. People can see the hypocrisy in their actions, and many are disgusted with their behavior. They are referred quite commonly to the “holier than thou” group, and rightfully so. I refer to these people as false prophets, and Jesus speaks to this many times in the Bible.
“Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you than unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19-20
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15
“Thus by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!'” Matthew 7:20-23
“You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28
Remember that old saying, “actions speak louder than words?” Nowhere is it more important to remember this than in Christianity. True Christians will not only speak of Jesus and the Bible, but they will actually live the Word and follow the commandments. They will not make up excuses for their own immoral behavior or try to justify their non-Christian attitudes toward other people. They will serve others willingly and be accepting of all people, showing love to everyone around them while being truthful, addressing non-Christian behavior in a compassionate way.
If you come across a “false prophet”, remember that Jesus himself said “Do not be deceived”. The Bible also says to “guard your heart”, so be aware and protect yourself, asking God for a hedge of protection around you. And most importantly, know that this kind of behavior is not true Christianity. Also, know that there are many, many wonderful Christians that do live by the Word of God and truly believe it in their heart and soul. They show great love, mercy and compassion for others, and you can recognize them by their actions.
“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them: they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15: 13-14.
“If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” Matthew 19:17