October 2018   
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James #17, chapter 4, verses 13-17
Authentic Faith
The Test of Doing God’s Will
James 4:13-17
I think it safe to believe that a person who has been saved will be committed to doing the will of God. In Mark 3, the mother of Jesus and some of his other kinfolk showed up one day and when someone told Jesus about it, He said, “The one who does the will of My Father, the same is My brother, sister, father and mother.” 
In other words, if you want to know who’s really in the family, then look for those who do God’s will because that is a demonstration of really being in the family.  It’s one of those proofs of authentic faith. And it’s the next test that James offers to his hearers. 
James 4:13-17   
I would venture to say that nothing is more characteristic of a Christian than a desire to do the will of God. It doesn't mean we always do it, but the desire is there. And when we fail to do it, there's a sense of shame.
So if you want to authenticate your faith, then ask yourself, “Do I desire to do God's will?”  When you read the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus instructs us to pray, “Your will be done”, do the words come easily or do you have to force yourself to say them? 
The answers to those questions are important because disregard for and disinterest in the will of God is the surest evidence of the presence of pride. If we have no interest in doing God’s will it is primarily because we are interested in doing our own will.  After all, I am the ruler of my life, I am the king of my own life and I will be sovereign in my own life.  I’ll call the shots and do what I want to do.  And that kind of arrogance is obviously a barrier to saving faith because, as we’ve seen, God’s grace is for the humble. 
And just as pride is the ugly sin behind conflict mentioned in the first part of the chapter, and just as pride is the ugly sin behind worldliness mentioned in the next part of the chapter, and just as pride is the ugly sin behind defaming slander, as we saw down through verse 12 in this chapter, so pride is the ugly sin behind a disregard for the will of God because pride says I will do what I will do and no one will intrude on my sovereignty.
Now remember, James is dealing with black and white issues that help us and others to verify and authenticate our relationship with God. And here he says those who do not do the will of God are proud, and therefore give no evidence of salvation. That is the issue at hand in this section.  
Now when administering the test of doing the will of God, he does it in a very pragmatic way. The
passage is built around the illustration of a businessman who thinks he can run his own life and through hem, James offers possible attitudes toward the will of God. 
In attitude number one we see 
  1. The Foolishness Of Ignoring God's Will
Verses 13-14
There are some people who just live absolutely ignoring God's will. They live as if God wasn't even around. He never crosses their mind.  His Word holds no meaning for them and they have no awareness at all when it comes to doing God’s will. 
We meet them in the form of this businessman who is the illustration in verses 13 and 14.  And when James begins to talk about them, he uses this rather abrupt call to attention “come now”.
That means "get this” or “listen up”.  In fact, it was a signal for attack in Old Testament prophetic style. "Let me have your attention!"  It is used again in chapter 5 verse 1 to address the rich and these are the only times that this particular greeting is used anywhere in the New Testament.
James is saying, “I want you to get this and I want you to get it good.”
And he is talking to those who are in the habit of, who have the lifestyle of ignoring God’s will.  And we know that by the little word “say”.  The word “say” means to say something out of reason or logic. So these are people who have reasoned this out and made deliberate choices based upon their logic. 
You’ve thought it through and decided on the best course of action and made your plans accordingly.  In this case, it is the language of a business man. 
They were saying "today or tomorrow, we'll go into such-and-such a city and continue there a year and do business or do trade and make money."
All of the decisions totally ignore God. There's no place for God in his planning. His agenda does not include God.
First of all, they choose
  • their own time.
It’s a hypothetical case, so he says "today or tomorrow", but it’s obvious, God’s will is not in the discussion. 
Secondly, they choose
  • their own location
We’ll go into such-and-such a city.
Thirdly, they choose 
  • their own time table
“We’ll stay there for a year”
And then they choose
  • their own operation
“buy and sell”.
So they choose their own time, their own location, their own time table, their own operation and even
  • their own objective
“make a profit” 
Now in and of itself, there is no sin in that kind of planning.  There is nothing ethically wrong or immoral with planning like that.  There is nothing wrong with making money or developing a strategy to do that.  In fact, any businessman worth his salt ought to have some kind of business plan in place. 
But the issue here is not what is said, but what is not said.  But what is not said does reveal the problem because there's no mention of God. There is no thought of God.
So what we have here is practical atheism.  This guy lives his life like millions of people today.  They live as if there is no God.  They foolishly ignore the will of God and plan their life and actions and decisions as if God did not exist. 
And in a sense, it is the same problem we’ve seen before as they dethrone God and declare themselves to be in charge. Here is a person who will run his or her own life and ignore God.  
And the fatal flaw is presumption.  How do you know you can do it today or tomorrow? How do you know you can get to that city? How do you know that you can stay that long? How do you know you'll be able to do business? How do you know you're going to make money?
You don't know. But you plan as if you know everything.  You plan as if you were omniscient, omnipotent and invulnerable. That's presumption.
This is the lesson Jesus taught in Luke 12 when he told of the rich man who became so wealthy he had to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to hold the harvest. 
And he convinces himself he can take it easy and enjoy his riches and says to himself, “Eat, drink and be merry!”
But Jesus said he was a fool because he had no contingencies and that night he went to face the Lord in eternity.  There is no bigger fool than the man or a woman who does not plan for contingencies related to God. We don't know what the future holds. We have no idea.
Verse 14a
James says you lay out all this planning as if you were invincible, as if you were able to see into the future, presuming that all of this will come to pass with no thought for God at all, but you aren’t able to look into the future. 
First of all, planning without God is foolish because you’re
  •  Ignorant
The older I get, the more I am able to understand just how complex life is. Life is not simple. It is an infinite complexity of forces, events, people and circumstances.  And there are so many variables that are uncontrollable.  No wonder James says, “You have no idea what will happen tomorrow.”
You may have heard about the bricklayer who was asked to provide some additional details to the insurance company regarding an accident form he had filed.  He wrote:
“Dear Sir,
I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block 3 of the accident report form. I put "poor planning" as the cause of my accident. You asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I found that I had some bricks left over which, when weighed later were found to be slightly in excess of 500 lbs.
Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which was attached to the side of the building on the sixth floor. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the bricks.
You will note in Block 11 of the accident report form that I weigh 135 lbs. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.
In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding downward at an equally  impressive speed. This explained the fractured skull, minor abrasions and the broken collar bone, as listed in section 3 of the accident report form. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.
Fortunately by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of beginning to experience a great deal of pain.
At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Now devoid of the weight of the bricks, that barrel weighed approximately 50 lbs. I refer you again to my weight. As you can imagine, I began a rapid descent, down the side of the building.
In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth and several lacerations of my legs and lower body.
Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and fortunately only three vertebrae were cracked.
I am sorry to report, however, as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to move, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope and I lay there watching the empty barrel begin its journey back down onto me. This explains the two broken legs.  I hope this answers your inquiry.”
Listen:  you can’t even begin to guess what’s waiting for you just around the corner and if you did, it would scare you to death!  There is no way we can arrange the details and complexities of life in such a way that there are never any surprises.   
Suppose you take ten pennies and mark them from one to ten then drop them in your pocket and shake them around a couple of times.  What would you suppose are your chances of drawing them out in numeric order? 
You reach in, draw out one, then drop it back in.  Then draw out one, followed by two, then drop them back in and on the third time get one, then two then three, and so forth. 
Obviously, your chance of drawing out number one is one in ten. Your chance of drawing number one and two in succession is one in a hundred. Your chance of drawing number one, two, and three in succession is one in a thousand. Your chance of drawing one, two, three, four in succession is one in ten thousand, and so on until your chance of drawing number one through ten in succession would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance in ten billion.
Now if you can't deal with ten pennies in your pocket, what in the world makes you think you can control everything in your life when we are surrounded by infinite complexities that are far beyond your ability to control?
And yet there are some people in the world who run around acting like they are in charge! That is the foolishness of ignoring God's will.
And that’s just the negative side of it.  What they’re  ignoring is not just the existence of God's will, but the benefit and blessing of it. What a confidence it is to believe in a sovereign God who knows perfectly and with absolute accuracy every factor in the universe and who is controlling them all to His own purposes and wants to make you a part of those purposes.
It’s not just foolish to ignore the will of God from the viewpoint that you can't control it, but it is foolish to cancel out everything which can give your life meaning and blessing. 
So the first thing about ignoring God's will is that results in disaster because you're ignorant. Secondly, ignoring God’s will is dangerous because you’re 
  • fragile
verse 14b
What he's saying is you're so temporary.  It's coming to pass that you will die very soon. Life is so brief. Life is so short. And James is saying ignoring God's will is not only foolish because you are ignorant of the future, but it's foolish because you're so frail.
How ridiculous to plan as if you were eternal, to plan as if you were almighty, to plan as if you were all wise and all knowing when you are nothing more than a wisp of smoke.
And James is saying there are some people who are foolish enough to ignore the will of God.  But that is not the true believers.  Authentic Christians don’t ignore God when they’re making plans.  They know they're ignorant and they realize they are fragile and they know they need God.
So the first wrong attitude toward God's will is that of ignoring it.  Look at the second one. It is
  1. The Arrogance of Denying God's Will
This sin is different from the first in that there are some who just ignore the will of God and ignorantly do their own thing.  But here we have those who intentionally and deliberately defy God’s will to do their own. 
They're not just practical atheists in that they live as if there is no God, they replace God with themselves.  While the first group leaves God out of their thinking, this group may consider it, but they don't think it's as important as their plans. Their plans are the most important.
And this may be the besetting sin of most Christians.  While it may not be characteristic of our nature to just blatantly disregard doing God’s will, we are still prone to bypass His will for our own.
Notice how James addresses this particular sin
Verse 16
Here we have the person who stands up, grabs everyone’s attention and brags about something he doesn’t have and can’t do.  This is the arrogance of the person who defies and denies the will of God and brags about his own accomplishments. 
Some of you may the famous poem of William Ernest Henley called "Invictus." In it we find the attitude of the man who knows there is a God but chooses to be God Himself.
"Out of the night that covers me,
black is the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever God may be
for my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
under the bludgeonings of chance
my head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
looms but the horror of the shade
and yet the menace of the years
finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate,
how charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."
That is defiance, isn't it? That's defying God. He gives testimony to knowing there is a God, to knowing Scripture, but defying that stands arrogantly before God and declares himself to be God.
Notice what he says at the end of verse 16, “ll such boasting is evil.” It’s evil because it is satanic.  Satan, the original sinner, decided he would replace God. And when you exalt your will over God's will, then you are never more like Satan himself than at that moment.  That's what God thinks of our arrogant boasting.
There's a third negative approach to the will of God and that is
  1. The Sin of Disobeying God’s Will
verse 17
Now verse 17 is one of the most familiar verses in the book of James, but I would daresay many have never seen it in its proper context.  The specific sin that is referenced there is the sin of disobeying God’s will.  
Here we have the person who knows there's a God, who affirms there's a God, who knows God has a will, who knows God's will is supreme and yet, disobeys it.
I would guess all of us have found ourselves in this category from time to time.  We know and believe in God, we know God is supreme, we know what His will is and we just flatly don't do it.
Now the mistake that is often made with this verse is applying it to some kind of sin of omission, not doing what you know you ought to do and that really is the essence of it. But implied here in not doing what you know you ought to do is the fact that you went ahead and did what you ought not to do.
Rarely can you isolate a sin of omission from a sin of commission. If you didn't do what you ought to have done then you most likely did what you ought not to have done.
And nine times out of ten if you do not do what you ought to do, you are doing what you ought not to do. So you can't just pull this verse out and isolate it to some sin of omission when it's really talking about all of life in terms of attitude toward the will of God and at issue is this attitude that says, “I know what You want and I know You're supreme, but I'm not going to do it.”
And by the way, knowing God’s will isn’t hard.  In fact, I can tell you right now what is God’s will for every person in this room or anywhere on the palnet for that matter. 
For instance, I can tell you that it is God's will for all men to be saved. 
That is First Timothy 2:4
God's will is that men be saved. And if you haven't come to Jesus Christ to receive salvation from Him, you haven't done God's will. You're disobedient and living in opposition and rebellion to what the Bible says is God's will.
Second, I know it is God’s will that those who are saved be spirit-filled. 
That is Ephesians 5:17 which says, "Do not be unwise, but wise, understanding what the will of the Lord is.  Do not be drunk with wine in which is excess but be filled with the Spirit."
God's will is that you be saved and God's will is that you be Spirit-filled. That's not too mysterious or hard to understand. 
Thirdly, it is God’s will that those who are saved and spirit filled be sanctified.
1 Thessalonians       says, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." And that means your purity because he goes on to describe sexual sin followed by a call for holiness. God's will is that you be saved, God's will is that you be Spirit-controlled, God's will is that you be sanctified.  That's God's will.
So if you look at your life and say, "I'm not saved," then you're flatly disobeying God's will. If you look at your life and say, "I'm not letting the Spirit of God control my life, I'm not obedient to His way and His will as it comes through the Word," then you're flatly disobeying God's will. If you're not living a pure life, then you're disobeying God's will.
Fourthly, according to 1 Peter 2:13,  “it is the will of God that with well doing you put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. By submitting “yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake."
I know it is the will of God that I live a life of submission.
God's will is that you be saved. God's will is that you be Spirit-filled. God's will is that you be sanctified. God's will is that you be submissive. That’s pretty easy to understand, isn’t it?
And then 1 Peter also says in chapter 3 and verse 17, "For it is better if the will of God be so that you suffer."
And there I discover it is God’s will that I suffer for the cause of Christ. 
So ask yourself, am I doing God’s will or not? 
? Are you saved? Are you Spirit-controlled? Are you sanctified, living a pure life? Have you submitted to the ordinances of man for the testimony of Jesus Christ? Are you a model of virtue in submission? And are you willing to suffer for the cause of Christ?
 That's the revealed will of God and I would suggest it is a great starting place.  And yet I’ve met people all my life who whine about not knowing God’s will. “I wish I knew the will of God.  If only I only I could figure out God’s will for my life. . .”
Just start here! I know what it is!  Most of the time they’re more worried about where do I work, and where do we go to school, and who do I marry and what kind of job do I have and what should I do about this and should I move and do I need another car and what do I do about my boss?"
Just start here!  If you’ll get these five taken car eof, all the other stuff will take care of itself because you'll be in such flow of the will of God that those other issues will be taken over by the Spirit of God.
Now, here’s the deal:  I just made you accountable.  No longer can you say, “I don’t know God’s will”.  I just told it to you.  You saw it for yourself in black and white from the pages of God’s Word!
You are now responsible to obey and if you don't obey, it's sin. It's just outright rebellion against God and His Word and His will!
And if you want some commentary on how that works out, go read the book of Jonah!  Jonah knew God's will, it couldn't have been more clear. “Go to Ninevah and preach.” 
Instead, Jonah turned around and went the opposite direction and God made him pay. You cannot openly and flagrantly violate the will of God without consequence.
And yet James is telling us there were people in the church who were just ignoring the will of God as if there were no God at all. Others were giving God a nod, but doing what they wanted to and still others knew what to do and just didn’t do it.  And none of that is characteristic of a believer.
Instead, the response of a believer is found in verse 15 where we find the only positive response that is given and that is
  1.  The Blessing of Obeying God’s Will
verse 15
Here is the response that brings God’s blessing to our life:  we are to live and do what He tells us to do.  That's pretty practical stuff, isn't it? In fact, you can’t get more basic than this.  This is the instruction of Mary at the wedding feast in Cana:  “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”
And as a response to that, we could use what Jesus said in John 13:17 when He said, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them."
And James even gives us the proper response.  We don’t have to think about what we should say or how we should phrase it.  Instead of ignoring God or thinking you’re smarter than God or disobeying God, James says here’s how to respond.
Say:  "’If the Lord wills’, ‘If it is the desire of the Lord’, ‘If this is what the Lords wants me to do’, then I shall, first of all, live (that deals with the brevity of life), and I shall do (that deals with the circumstances of life) whatever it is He’s told me to do.”
What a simple way to live life, and yet we find it so difficult to do! We are so prone to argue or ignore God’s simple, clear-cut instructions.  But the message of James is learn to live your life with God at the center of your plans.
If you want to live life the way God intended us to live it, then we put God at the center of all our plans. The true believer is the one who seeks to know God’s will, then obey when God speaks.  And even though we fail in doing that sometimes, it will be characteristic of a true child of God, in fact, to desire to live a lifestyle of obedience and submission.   
In other words, we’ll not only do the right thing most of the time, we’ll want to do the right thing even when we do the wrong thing and we’ll know we’ve done the wrong thing and seek to make it right as soon as possible.  That's how we live.
Henry Ward Beecher, that great preacher of old, put it this way, he said imagine...imagine a man building a house. And the man building the house decides to build it by his own plan, rather than the plan of the architect. And so the man proceeds to build and the architect comes and proceeds to check and there's no relationship between the two. The result is absolute chaos. Henry Ward Beecher said, "So it is in building a life. God is the architect and a man would be an absolute fool if he decided to build it any way his whims dictated."
So James says, “Let’s take a little test.  How do you respond to the will of God?  Do you ignore it, do you substitute yours for it, do you openly disobey what you know is right, or do you live and do it?”
The answer will reveal a great deal about your relationship with God. 
Let’s pray. 
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