One Lawgiver and Judge

Scripture: James 4:12, Hebrews 4:15-16, Ecclesiastes 2:15-19
Date: 11/29/2014 
Lesson: 9
"God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?" NLT
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Hello, friends, we want to welcome you to Sabbath school study hour. My name is jëan ross, I'm one of the pastors at Granite Bay church. And if you've been following our program over the past few weeks, you'll notice that things look a little different today. The reason for that is pastor Doug Batchelor and myself are here in albuquerque, New Mexico and we're filming the landmarks of prophecy Bible series. And so, for the next few weeks, we're going to be taping our Sabbath School Study Hour right here, on location, in albuquerque.

I would also like to welcome our audience here, this is actually our afcoe students that are filling up the chairs here for our Sabbath School Study Hour. Afcoe is the Amazing Facts center of evangelism and we have students who have come from all over the place, not only in North America but even overseas, to be part of the training program that we have right here in albuquerque. And they've been helping with the evangelistic series and the outreach and so on, so thank you so much for being here. I'm looking forward to studying God's Word together. Now, what we'll be looking at today is from our lesson quarterly on the book of James.

So if you have your lesson quarterly, we're looking at lesson #9, for those of you joining us. If you don't have a lesson study - or a lesson quarterly - you can go to the Amazing Facts website and you can download today's lesson or you can visit the Granite Bay church website. We're on lesson #9 and the title for the lesson is 'the lawgiver and the judge.' So you can follow along with us by downloading that lesson. We also have a free offer that we'd like to let you know about. It is a book, written by joe crews, entitled, 'the surrender of self.

' And if you'd like to receive this free offer, just call our resource line. The number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #153. The book is called, again, 'the surrender of self.' That number one more time is 866-788-3966. Now as we mentioned just a few moments ago, our lesson today is 'the lawgiver and the judge.' The principle passage that we'll be studying together is James chapter 4 and we'll be looking from verse 11 all the way through to verse 17. We do have a memory verse for this week's study and that's James chapter 4, verse 12 and this is what it says, "there is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy.

Who are you to judge another?" Now, in this week's lesson, there are four main themes that are highlighted. The first theme is the difference between judgment and discernment. The Bible tells us not to judge, but what about determining right from wrong? So we're going to spend a few moments talking about that. The second theme that was highlighted in our study this week - the role of Jesus as both the lawgiver as well as the judge. The third theme that we'll be looking at is the difference between presumptuous planning for the future and wise planning for the future.

James has something to say about that. And then, fourthly, not only avoiding doing that which is evil, but purposely doing that which is good. So these are the four main themes that are highlighted in our study today. So we're going to begin by reading James chapter 4, and we'll start in verse 11. And we have David that'll be reading that verse for us today.

"Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of his brother and Judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and Judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of the law." Here we find James telling the members, 'don't gossip. Don't backbite. Don't judge one another.

' Now Jesus predicted that this problem of gossip will exist in the church right up till the very end of time. In Matthew chapter 24 we have Christ's special signs associated with the second coming of Christ. It's a special message for those living at the end of time and Jesus has a parable that illustrates an important point that I think we need to consider carefully today. So turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 24 and we're going to be looking at this parable that Jesus told, beginning in verse 45. So we're in Matthew chapter 24, and this is what Jesus had to say in verse 45.

Remember Matthew 24, it's signs of the second coming. It's a message, in particular, for us today. Jesus said, "who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?" So a couple of things to note: #1 you have a master. Who do you suppose that master is? That would be Jesus. And he has a household.

The household would represent the church. And there are servants who are to give food in due season. So the servants in this parable would represent the leaders in the church - the elders, the preachers, the teachers - and it's their job to give meat in due season. There is a present truth message that needs to go to the world for this time. So Jesus talks about these servants.

Let's look at verse 46, "blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing." Verse 47, "assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'my master is delaying his coming,'" - now is this man preaching this from the pulpit that Jesus isn't coming as soon as he said he would come? No, notice it says 'in his heart.' So here is a person who claims to be a believer in the coming of Jesus - he's an adventist - but he thinks to himself, you know, maybe Jesus isn't coming as soon as I once thought.' And he says in his heart, 'my Lord delays his coming.' Well, what's the result of somebody saying that to themselves? Verse 49, it says, "and begins to beat his fellow servants," - that is gossip and backbiting - and to eat and drink with the drunkards," - in Revelation chapter 17 there is a description of a woman, her name is Babylon, and she has a cup filled with intoxicating drink and all the nations are made drunk with her false doctrine or false teaching. So here is somebody who says, 'you know what? Maybe Jesus isn't coming as soon as we thought he was going to come.' He begins to backbite and gossip in the church and he begins to receive those false teachings or false doctrines of Babylon. Jesus goes on, in verse 50, "the master of that servant will come a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

" So Jesus has a special warning for us in the last days. He says, #1 - don't allow that fervency - that belief - that faith in the soon-coming of Jesus to wane in your hearts. #2 - Be careful. Don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of gossip and backbiting. And then be faithful to the truths of God's Word.

Be true to doctrinal purity. Don't drink in this false teaching from Babylon. So what James has to say in James chapter 4 is pertinent information for the time in which we are living today. The next part of the verse, "he who speaks evil of a brother and Judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and Judges the law." Now, to judge or to speak evil of a brother, is manifesting the opposite of the Spirit of the law. What is the Spirit of the law? the Spirit of the law is love.

You remember the story - one day somebody came to Jesus and said, 'what is the greatest commandment in the law?' Do you remember that? And what did Jesus say? He said, 'actually, there are two. The first is to love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and the second is like unto it, you are to love your neighbor as you love yourself. 'Upon these two commandments,' Jesus said, 'hang all the law and the prophets.' So the ten commandments is built upon the principle of love. The first four commandments define for us our relationship with God. It reveals to us what it is to love God.

If we love God we won't have any other Gods before him and we won't worship idols and we won't take his name in vain and we'll remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. If we love our fellow man as we love ourself, we will honor our parents, we won't kill, we won't commit adultery, we won't steal, we won't bear false witness and we won't covet. So the Ten Commandments reveal to us what love is. It defines the kind of relationship God wants us to have with him and the kind of relationship he wants us to have with our fellow man. That's why Jesus said the two greatest commandments is summed up in 'love God and love your fellow man.

' So when someone is involved in gossip and backbiting, they're contrary to the principle that lies at the foundation of God's law - that of love. The Bible says 'love covers a multitude of sins.' If somebody genuinely cares for a fellow brother or sister in the church, they'll be doing everything they can to encourage that person in their Christian walk. They won't try to pull them down or create stories about that person, you understand? That's why James says if you're involved in this judging or this gossip, you're not keeping the law because you're undermining the Spirit of the law and that's what he's emphasizing. Now when you think about the ten commandments, written by God's finger on two tables of stone - notice, two tables of stone - anything significant about the number 2 in the Bible? Yes, the number 2 represents the law and the prophets. It represents a solid or trustworthy testimony.

The Scripture says, in the mouth of two or three witnesses, everything shall be established.' So God's law has two witnesses - two tables of stone. The first four commandments have to do with our relationship with God. The last six has to do with our relationship with our fellow man. Something else interesting: the first four commandments - you have the number 4 - in Bible symbols, the number 4 represents the whole earth. You've got the four points of the compass - north, south, east, and west.

God is the creator of all things and he's worthy of worship from all of his creation - from all mankind. We owe God our worship. The last six of the commandments have to do with our relationship with our fellow man. It's interesting, the number 6 - in the Bible the number 6 is man's number. Man was created on the sixth day of the week.

The Mark of the beast is 6-6-6. You've got the number 3, which is the Godhead. The Mark of the beast, 6-6-6, is man's attempt to usurp God's position. So the last six of the ten commandments have to do with our relationship to our fellow man, the principles of which are based upon love - love for God, love for our fellow man. Now the last part of verse 11 says, "but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

" In other words, if you don't recognize the Spirit of the law, you're not really keeping the law. Is it possible for a person to keep the letter of the law and not the Spirit of the law? Is it possible to keep the letter of the law and not the Spirit of the law? Yes, maybe, it depends on the commandment. For example, the commandment 'thou shalt not kill.' Is it possible for somebody to make sure that he or she doesn't murder anyone else? Yes, but Jesus says if you are angry with your brother without a cause you are guilty of what? Committing murder in your heart. So it is possible, in some cases, to keep the letter of the law and, yet, fail in keeping the Spirit of the law. Now that's probably true for the commandment 'thou shalt not kill,' 'thou shalt not commit adultery,' 'thou shalt not steal,' but there are some commandments that it's impossible to keep the letter of the commandment without also keeping the Spirit of the commandment.

And the one that stands out in my mind is, of course, the tenth commandment. What is the tenth commandment? 'Thou shalt not covet.' Well, how do you keep the letter of the law 'thou shalt not covet' without keeping the Spirit of the law 'thou shalt not covet?' You have to keep the Spirit of the law in order to keep the tenth commandment. Matter of fact, I don't think you can break any of the other commandments without first breaking the tenth commandment, right? You're not going to take something from somebody else unless you first covet it. And so that tenth commandment has to do with the heart. It has to do with the Spirit of the law - that spirit of love for our fellow man.

Now, of course, back in the time of Jesus, the Jewish leadership, they were very zealous for the letter of the law, but they neglected the Spirit of the law. A little bit of history as to how this came about, especially at the time of Christ. If you go back and think about your history of Israel, after Solomon died, rehoboam became the King in Israel. And the people came to make rehoboam king and they said to him, 'you know, your father was a hard king in some ways. He laid a heavy tax burden on us.

What are you going to do to lighten our load?' And rehoboam said, 'well, come back in a few days and I'll give you my answer.' He spoke to the counselors, the older men, that stood before his father and he said, 'what do you think I should tell the people?' And these older, wiser counselors said, 'well, be good to the people and they will serve you.' But then he spoke to the younger men that had grown up with him and he said, 'well, what do you think I should say?' And they said, 'you need to show the people who's boss.' So when the people came back, rehoboam said to the people, 'my father's thigh is going to be like my little finger. He beat you with whips, I'm going to beat you with the tails of scorpions.' Well, as a result of that, the Kingdom rebelled against rehoboam. The ten tribes of the north said, 'we don't want anything to do with the house of David any longer.' And so you have the ten tribes breaking away and you have the northern kingdom of Israel, where samaria became the capital. You have the southern kingdom, where Jerusalem is the capital. You have rehoboam is the King in the southern kingdom and you have jeroboam, who is the King in the northern kingdom.

Now jeroboam was concerned because those in the northern kingdom were journeying down to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, and so he built two golden calves and he set them up in two cities in the northern kingdom and he told the people to come and worship at these golden calves. And he led the northern kingdom into apostasy - into idolatry - into worshiping these various deities surrounding the nation. And because of all of the sins - because of the violations of the people breaking God's commandments, different judgments came upon the nation until finally the assyrians came and conquered the northern kingdom and the jews were taken off into captivity. Now the southern kingdom, which followed in many of the sins of the northern kingdom, they reMained a little more faithful to God and, yet, they still also apostatized. So finally the Babylonians came about six hundred years before Christ, conquered Jerusalem and took many of the jews captive.

After the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, the jews came back and they rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. They realized that it was because of all of their sins and the transgression of God's commandments, that all of these bad things were happening to them. So they said, 'we need to keep God's commandments.' So in order to try and safeguard the principles of the law, they began to add all kinds of man-made traditions and customs. And, as time went on, their traditions became more important than the principles upon which those traditions were originally established. So much so, that one day, Jesus and his disciples were walking in the field on the Sabbath and the disciples were hungry.

They picked some of the grain and they rubbed it in their hands and they ate it. The Jewish leadership accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the Sabbath. Now, they didn't break the Sabbath, they were faithful to the principle of the Sabbath, but they had set aside some of the Jewish traditions. But the leadership had elevated their tradition above the commandment. Now what's so strange about this, in their zeal to try and maintain an outward appearance of obedience, they trampled, completely, upon the Spirit of obedience.

On the very Sabbath after accusing Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, the Jewish leadership got together to plot his death. You can see how they set aside the Spirit of the law in order to try and maintain their tradition. And Jesus, speaking of the Jewish leadership, he said, 'you have made the commandments of God of none effect by your traditions.' You know, sometimes we can fall into that same trap of setting aside the Spirit of the law in order to have an outward resemblance of obedience - to try and keep the letter of the law without keeping the spirit of the law. I'll give an example of how this can happen. A pastor, several years ago, was on his way to church on a Sabbath morning.

He was running late - he needed to get to church because he had to preach and teach. And as he's on his way, he looks over and there's a man standing on the side of the road. His car had broken down and so the hood of the car was open and the man was standing there trying to wave people down to help him. This was, of course, before the time of cell phones and it looked this man needed some help. So the pastor was driving along and he noticed that the man was dressed in some typical muslim dress and there were a number of muslims in the country.

And so the pastor thought to himself, 'you know what? I should probably stop and help him, but it's the Sabbath and I'm running late for church. Surely somebody else could take care of the man. After all, I have important things to do.' And so he kept driving. But his conscience was bothered by this. The Holy Spirit kept convicting him, 'you need to stop and turn around.

'Okay.' Finally he gave in and he stopped, he turned his car around, he drove back and turned around again and began to make his way and, sure enough, the man was still standing there waiting for somebody to stop and help. And so the pastor pulled in behind the man and got out of the car and said, 'it looks like you need some help.' Well the first thing that came out of this man's mouth - this muslim man - he said, 'are you a Christian?' Well that surprised the pastor and the pastor said, 'well, yes, I am a Christian.' And the man responded and he said - he looked up to heaven and he said, 'well, praise the Lord.' And the pastor said, 'well, what do you mean?' He said, 'just this past week I've been reading in the Bible and I've been convicted about Jesus and my car broke down this morning and so I prayed and I said, 'Jesus, if you really are The Son of God and you can hear my prayer, please send somebody to help me and let him be a Christian.' Well, the blood began to drain from the pastor's face as he thought to himself, 'oh, I almost drove right by. I allowed my religion to get in the way of me really manifesting a spirit of love and concern for others.' So, in our interaction with people we want to recognize the importance of manifesting the Spirit of the law - that love. Now if we're manifesting the right spirit, we're not going to have a problem with the letter of the law. You know, it's impossible to have the right spirit and then trample upon the letter.

It just doesn't work that way. You can't love someone and steal something that's theirs. It just doesn't work that way. So if we have the right spirit, we won't have to worry about, 'well, did I keep the letter of the law?' You will keep the letter of the law. But we need to make sure the Holy Spirit is working upon our hearts, manifesting the love of Jesus.

Well, I think we're ready for our next verse, James chapter 4 and verse 12. James chapter 4, verse 12. "There is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy. Who art thou that Judgest another?" Alright, here the Bible tells us, when it comes to spiritual matters, there is one judge and that judge is the lawgiver. God alone can judge the motives of the heart.

We can look at the outward appearance. We can look at the actions, but we don't know the motivation behind the action. Only God knows the heart. That's why he's the only one that can judge. Now, in the Scriptures, how many times do we have a record of God writing with his own hand? Let's think about it.

Starting in the old testament, what is the most well known passage of Scripture where God writes something. You find the Ten Commandments - you're talking about the ten commandments. You'll find that in Exodus chapter 20. So you have God writing his law. Where did God write the law? On two tables of stone, but that took place where? On the top of a mountain.

It's kind of interesting, in the Bible, mountains are a symbol of a kingdom. The foundation of God's kingdom in the whole universe is his law and the foundation of the law is the principle of love. So you find the Ten Commandments - God writing them with his own hand. When do you have a - when's the next time in Scripture that we have God writing with his own hand? That's right, it's in the story of Babylon. You can read about that in Daniel chapter 5, when balshazzar has this great big feast and then he brings in the golden vessels that have been consecrated to the worship of God from Jerusalem that had been taken in the Babylonian captivity and he began to drink wine from these golden vessels and he began to worship the various pagan deities there in Babylon.

And suddenly, a hand appeared and began to write on the wall, 'mene, mene, tekel, upharsin' - 'you've been weighed in the balances and you have been found wanting.' So the first time we see God writing, it's the law. The second time we see God writing, it is judgment for the violating of the law. The wages of sin is death and sin is the transgression of the law. So we see the law. If we break the law, we're under judgment, as demonstrated there in the experience of Babylon.

Okay, when is the third time that we see God writing? This is just so beautiful. It's Jesus. So the next time God writes is in the person of Jesus. And where does Jesus write? Remember the story? He writes on the ground, but where was Jesus when he wrote on the ground? He was in the midst of those who were accusing the woman that had been caught committing adultery and they had dragged her to Jesus. Remember that? And they dropped her at the feet of Jesus.

But where was Jesus at the time? They were in the temple. It's very interesting that Christ writes on the ground in the temple. We'll get to that in just a minute. And so, here they bring this woman and they accuse her of breaking the law and they drop her at the feet of Jesus. Jesus doesn't immediately respond, but he begins to write something down on the ground.

And as those Jewish leaders look over and they begin to see what Christ is writing, they begin to leave one by one. Jesus was probably writing down all of the sins that they're guilty of. And, finally, after all of her accusers leave, Jesus says, 'where are those who accuse you?' And she says, 'there are none, Lord.' Jesus said, 'neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.' So the first time we see God writing it's on the mountain. It's the law - the foundation of his government.

The next time we see God writing it is judgment for breaking his law. But the third time we see God writing it's in the person of Jesus and it's in the sanctuary. The lamb was sacrificed in the sanctuary - in the courtyard of the sanctuary. And that's probably most likely where Jesus was when he wrote these things. Jesus came to provide a way of escape.

We're all guilty of breaking God's law. We're all standing in judgment, but because of God's grace - because of God's mercy - Jesus came to be the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. And he gives us mercy. He gives us grace. Now we have one more time mentioned in Scripture where God writes.

Where's the last one? We've been studying through the book of Revelation. I'll give you a clue. Our afcoe class has been studying Revelation. It is in the book of Revelation and you find it in Revelation chapter 3. This is God writing and he's writing upon the redeemed.

God writes his name upon the forehead of the redeemed. He writes the name of the new Jerusalem upon the redeemed. That symbolizes everlasting life. So the four times God writes in Scripture, we see the law, we see the law being broken, we see judgment, but then we see mercy through the work of Jesus - his sacrifice - and then we see the promise of everlasting life where God writes his name upon the redeemed - those who are to be saved. So leave judging to God because we don't know the heart.

Only somebody who can read the heart can determine the motives. The Jewish leadership had a hard time with this and, you know, as Christians, we too often are quick to judge the motives of others. It's natural for us to try and compare ourselves amongst ourselves. We know we have shortcomings and sins and faults, but if we find somebody else in the church that seems to be doing worse than we are, it kind of makes us feel a little bit better. And then, sometimes we are tempted to highlight the faults of the other person.

James says don't do that don't judge. You don't know the heart. On another occasion, Jesus was in the town of capernaum and he had just started his galilean tour. He came back and he was in Peter's house and he was preaching and teaching to the people and there was a man who was paralyzed who was brought by his four friends to Jesus. Do you remember that story? And they couldn't get to Jesus because the crowd was standing around the house and the house was filled with people and so they went up onto the roof and, while Jesus was teaching and preaching there, suddenly the roof tiles began to move and Jesus stopped preaching and the people sitting close to Jesus kind of scooted back a little ways and everybody looked up and suddenly the man was lowered down on his mat, all the way down to where Jesus was.

And now everybody's looking to see what Jesus was to do. The paralyzed man's just looking up at Jesus. Jesus read the man's heart. Yes, the man wanted physical healing, but even more importantly he wanted spiritual healing. He recognized that his condition, to a large degree, was because of his own lifestyle, the things that he had been doing and he longed to be forgiven.

And there were some of the Jewish leadership that were there - some of the spies - and they were watching everything that Jesus was about to do. And Jesus, when he looked at the man and he said, 'son, be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven you.' So Jesus looked at the heart. Jesus knew what he really needed and said, 'your sins are forgiven you.' Now, of course, the scribes and the pharisees who were sitting there, they said one to another, 'this man blasphemes!' - Speaking of Jesus - 'for who can forgive sins but God?' Now, of course, Jesus could forgive sins because he is God. He is The Son of God.

But they refused to acknowledge that with reference to Christ. Jesus, knowing what was going on in their minds, said to them, 'what is easier to say, 'your sins are forgiven you' or to say, 'rise, take up your bed, and walk?' Now that's an interesting question. From a human perspective, when it comes to performing a miracle, we say, 'oh, we can't do that. I mean, that's impossible for us. We can't heal somebody who is sick.

You know, we can't calm a storm the way Jesus calmed the storm on the sea of Galilee. We can't feed 5,000 people with just a little boy's lunch. That's only something God can do.' But when it comes to forgiving someone, for the most part, depending upon what it is that they've done to us, for the most part we can forgive. Sometimes it's a lot harder to forgive, depending upon the situation, but from a human perspective we'd probably say, 'well, it's easier to forgive than, obviously, to perform a miracle.' But what about from God's perspective? How hard is it for God to perform a miracle? Is it difficult for him? How did God create the earth in the beginning? He just simply said - spoke - and it was. So for God, performing miracles - no big deal.

How hard was it, however, for Jesus to say to that man, 'your sins are forgiven you.' Could Jesus just say, 'oh, that's alright. You sinned. No problem, don't worry about it. You broke God's law? That's okay, just try a little harder next time.' Could Jesus do that? No, for the wages of sin is death. The only way Jesus could extend forgiveness to that man was by Jesus taking that man's place, bearing his sins, and dying in his place on the cross.

So when Jesus said, 'what is easier to say, 'your sins are forgiven you' or to say 'rise, take up your bed, and walk?' In essence, Jesus was saying, 'do you understand what your forgiveness is costing God? Do you understand what this forgiveness is going to cost me?' It's not an easy thing just to provide that kind of forgiveness, it cost the life of The Son of God. And friends, when we realize that, when we realize what sin did to Jesus and how our sins break the heart of God, hopefully it will stop us in our tracks and get us to think twice. We shouldn't treat sin as carelessly as we do. 'Oh, God'll forgive me. Not a big deal.

' No, it is a big deal because it cost the very life of Christ. That's why Jesus is the only one who can judge, because Jesus is the only one who has paid the price for our sins. He's the one that is qualified to know the heart and to make those kinds of decisions. The next part of the verse, still looking at verse 12, "who is able to save and destroy." When it comes to spiritual matters, God is concerned about the heart. You have the story, in the old testament, of God saying to Samuel the prophet, 'it's time to anoint a new king in Israel.

' Saul had hardened his heart against the Holy Spirit and so God said, 'Samuel, take the anointing oil and go down to Bethlehem. Go to a man by the name of jesse. The new king is going to be one of his sons. And so Samuel arrived at the home of jesse and jesse brought out his sons - seven of them - they came and stood before Samuel and God says, 'not this one, not this one, not this' - went through all seven of them and everyone thought surely one of these young men would be the future king of Israel. But no, none of them were picked.

And finally Samuel said, 'do you have any other sons?' And jesse said, 'well, yeah, there's #8, but he's over there taking care of the sheep. We didn't even think to call him.' Samuel said, 'we're not even going to sit down until we get that young man here.' So quickly they sent a message to David and they said, 'come, come.' And David came and when Samuel saw David the Lord said, 'this is the one.' And then God taught an important lesson. God said to Samuel - and he says to us - he says, 'man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.' Therefore, we cannot judge because only God knows the motive. God knows the heart. Corinthians chapter 4, verse , "therefore, judge nothing before the time until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the heart.

" Jesus said it's out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. That which is important to God is the heart. What's the motive behind the action? You know, Judas looked just like one of the other disciples. The other disciples thought, 'you know, here's a true follower of Christ.' But nobody really knew his heart. I don't even think Judas really understood his heart.

Jesus knew his heart. The time will come, according to the Scriptures, when the hidden secrets of the heart will be made manifest. That's why God has allowed sin to continue as long as he has, allowing sin to reveal itself, to show all the universe what are the consequences of setting aside God's commandments. Alright, well let's take a look at our next verse, verse 13 - James chapter 4, verse 13. "Go to now, ye that say, 'today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain'" alright, thank you.

In this verse we see James changing gears. He's talked about judging and being careful when it comes to judging the motives of others because we can't do that, only got knows the heart. But now he's talking about planning in the future and we'll see a couple of things he brings to light here. In this verse, James is talking about Christians who neglect God in their future planning or in their lives. They're trying to serve both the world and trying to serve God at the same time.

Jesus said, in Matthew chapter 6, verse 24, "no one can serve" - how many masters? - "Two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and he will despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." So James is reminding us that we need to make a full and complete decision to serve Jesus and make him first and foremost in all of our dealings - even in our business dealings - make God first. The key to living a victorious Christian life is the surrender of self. Everything depends upon us surrendering our hearts and our lives to Jesus. In the book 'steps to Christ,' we have this statement on page 43: "the warfare against self is the greatest battle that is ever to be fought.

The healing of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle, but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness. So the greatest work that we, as Christians, need to do every day is surrender ourselves to Jesus. The apostle Paul says, 'I die daily.' It's a day by day kind of experience. You might be wondering, 'well surrendering ourselves to God. How exactly does that work? Again, in the book 'steps to Christ' we have this statement: "everything depends upon the right action of the will.

" Of course the will, that's the power of choice. God has given us all free will so we have the freedom to choose. It then goes on in the book - 'steps to Christ' - and says, 'you cannot change your heart. You cannot of yourself give to God its affections, but you can choose to serve him. He will then work in you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure.

" So every day we can give ourselves to Jesus. We can choose to be his. We can say, 'Lord, I'm yours. Please put your spirit within me. Work within me.

Change my heart. Bring me in harmony with the principle of your law - love for God, love for our fellow man - and as we, day by day, surrender ourselves to Jesus, Jesus will do a work within us to transform us and make us into the kind of people that he wants us to be. So in everything that we do - in our business transactions, working with other people, we want to always be humbly seeking God's leading in our lives, seeking to have the right spirit, being like Jesus in all of our interactions with others. Let's take a look at the next part of that verse - still in verse 13 - it says we're going to spend a year here and we're going to buy and we're going to sell and we're going to make a profit. Here is a group of people claiming to be Christians but they are relying upon their own strength to make wealth.

They're not putting God in their calculations. They're not trusting in him. In Proverbs chapter 27, verse 1, we read, "do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." Now James, here does not condemn wise planning for the future. Matter of fact, to be a good Christian, you want to plan wisely. God has given us resources, let's use them wisely for the furtherance of his kingdom.

But there is a difference between planning with the goal of doing God's will, versus planning with the goal of doing simply what I want to do. And that's what James is talking about. Here are people who are planning their future - irrespective of what God's plan might be for them, they're building their own plans. James says 'you can't do this. You don't know what tomorrow is going to bring.

' In Matthew chapter 6, verse 33, Jesus said, "but seek ye first the" - what? - "the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Now what does it mean to seek first the Kingdom of God? What is the Kingdom of God? Well, there's different parts to God's kingdom. We think of the Kingdom of glory. When we think of the Kingdom of glory we think of Jesus coming in the clouds of glory with all of the angels. We think about heaven. We think about the mansions that Jesus is preparing for those that love him.

But there is a second aspect to the Kingdom of God. We call that the Kingdom of grace. And that is the Spirit of God working in our hearts and lives even now. You see, anyone who has Jesus seated on the throne of their heart and mind, is a citizen of the Kingdom of grace. Jesus said, 'seek ye first the kingdom of God.

' In other words, make it your number one task - your number one priority every day to seek to put Jesus on the throne of your heart. In other words, surrender yourself to Christ. That's number one. Seek first his kingdom. Seek his will for your life and all these other things, Jesus said, will be added on.

But make Jesus number one. Seek him first. Now we see this principle illustrated in a very powerful way by two individuals that had an encounter with Jesus. One day, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' So here is a man who is feeling convicted that he's not right with God. He wants hope.

He wants to know that he has everlasting life. He's looking for assurance. He's looking for peace. So he comes to Jesus and he says, 'what must I do to be saved?' And Jesus says, 'well, what is written in the law?' And Jesus quotes part of the ten commandments. The young man says back to Jesus, 'all of these things I have done from my youth yet there is still something lacking.

So here is an individual who was very zealous in maintaining the letter of the law and yet he felt there was still something lacking in his life. You see, a simple external kind of Christian experience doesn't satisfy the heart. If anything, that leads to frustration. If our goal is simply to just keep the letter of the law and we're neglecting the Spirit of the law, we end up being miserable Christians and Christianity just becomes a list of dos and don'ts. And so this man felt that there was something missing in his life and he said, 'what is it that I still lack? Jesus then, addresses the Spirit of the law and he says, 'if you want to be perfect, go and sell all that you have.

Come and follow me and you will have treasures in heaven. Now, of course, this is an incredible offer that Jesus is giving to this man. He's asking him to come and be one of Christ's disciples - to spend time with Jesus every day - to listen to Jesus teach - to watch Jesus heal - to share in the ministry of Jesus in preaching the Gospel. What a wonderful opportunity. But the Bible record tells us that the man turned and left sorrowful for he had great possessions.

It was too much for him to surrender his wealth in order to have the Spirit of love within his heart. Then you have another wealthy individual that had an encounter with Jesus, zaccheus. Zaccheus was a tax collector and he heard that Jesus was coming to his town - to Jericho. And so he wanted to see Jesus. He had heard the teachings of Christ.

He had probably heard the teachings of John the baptist and had been convicted, because Jericho's not too far away from where John had been preaching and baptizing. And so now he hears Jesus is coming to town, so he wants to go see Jesus. Of course, there's a big crowd of people coming along with Jesus. Zaccheus, being a short man, can't see Jesus so he decides to climb up a tree. And he's sitting up in the tree dressed in his fine robe and Jesus comes walking down the street and suddenly Jesus stops and looks up and says, 'zaccheus, come down out of the tree.

Today I'm coming to your house to eat with you.' And immediately zaccheus just sort of jumps down out of that tree. He's so excited. Jesus is coming to his house. But as he gets down from the tree and he's starting to lead Jesus to his house, he probably hears the crowd murmuring saying, 'boy, he's a tax collector. Jesus is going to go eat at zaccheus' house? Why would Jesus want to go to his house?' And zaccheus, perhaps thinking, 'oh, Jesus might change his mind.

' He quickly says, 'Lord, half of what I have I'll give to the poor. And if I've taken anything falsely, I'll restore it four-fold.' Now, doubtless, zaccheus had taken things falsely. He was a tax collector and they were well known for stealing from the people. So if zaccheus gave half of everything that he had and then he restored four-fold that which he had taken falsely, zaccheus would become a very poor man. But he didn't care about his earthly possessions.

He had the opportunity to have Jesus come to his house and that meant everything to him. And Jesus said to zaccheus, 'today salvation has come to your home.' Zaccheus understood that the Spirit of love is worth more than anything else. So two examples in Scripture: the one willing to sacrifice everything for Jesus; the other choosing to hold onto earthly possessions. That's the point that James is emphasizing in this verse. As Christians, don't allow anything else to come in front of Jesus.

Jesus must be number one in our lives. Okay, I think we're ready to read verse 14 - James chapter 4, verse 14. "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Thank you. James continues to illustrate this point of planning for earthly gain without considering God's purpose and plan for our lives.

Jesus had quite a bit to say about this. He told a parable about a certain man who had a bumper crop one year and he had so much grain, he didn't know quite what to do with it. And so he said, 'I'm going to tear down my barns and I'm going to build bigger barns and I'm going to fill all of this grain, and I have enough grain to last me for several years, so I'm going to sit back, relax, and take it easy. And in the parable, Jesus says God spoke to him and said, 'you fool, this night your soul is required of you and what will happen to your riches? James is emphasizing that if God is not number one in our lives, everything that we gain really means nothing. And if you stop and think about it, our life, even if we gain the whole world, Jesus says, 'what will it profit a man though he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?' What good is that? Think of eternity in relationship to our life here on this earth.

If we think of our life as just, sort of, a dot on a line - our , 80, 90 years - whatever it might be - on a dot of time, on a line of time. How long is eternity? So let's say we take a line and we draw it from here and we go up to the ceiling. Our earthly life is just a little speck on that line. That line represents eternity. But then where does that line end? It doesn't end at the roof or the ceiling, it just keeps going, right? Because eternity has no end.

So it keeps going past the clouds. Our life is a dot on the line. It keeps going past the clouds. Of course, it doesn't end at the clouds because eternity has no end so it goes past the moon. And then it just keeps going past, I don't know, the universe.

And I don't know what's on the other side of the universe - more space - it just keeps going. It has no end. So compare our lives here on this earth. Even if we live 500 years or, like those living before the flood, 900 years, like methuselah, 969 years, what is that in comparison to eternity? Even if we have nothing on this earth, if we have Jesus, we have everything, amen? The devil sometimes will blind us with earthly treasure and these selfish thoughts that, 'you know what? If I could just have a little bit more I'll be happy.' But we've got to look at things from the perspective of eternity. Look at things from God's perspective.

Yes, God is concerned about our physical needs now, but oh, God is so much more concerned about our eternal need. Obviously God wants us to be with him forever. So we need to look at things from God's perspective. Our life here on this earth is just very short. James says it's like a vapor or a mist or a breath.

Job chapter 8, verse 9, "for we were born yesterday, and know nothing, because our days on earth are a shadow.' He says. Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, verse , the wise man says, "let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is man's all." At the end of the day, the most important thing is knowing God. It is having the love of Jesus in our hearts. It is keeping God's commandments.

That's the most important thing. Let's not trade just some earthly treasure for eternal treasure, because that's what God really wants to give us. Let's take a look at our next verse, James chapter 4, verse 15 - James 4, verse 15. "Instead, you ought to say, 'if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'" Thank you. Here James emphasizes having a spirit of submission to God's will, not planning our lives simply around those things that we want to do.

And, quite often, God's will is different from our will. We need to recognize that. Isaiah chapter 55, verses 8 and , God says, "for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Sometimes, as Christians, we don't understand why God allows certain things to happen to us. And so when we go through those trying experiences - when we pray and it seems as though God doesn't answer our prayer - that the devil comes with those seeds of doubt to plant in our mind - 'maybe God doesn't really love you' or 'maybe you're not good enough.

God's not going to listen to you.' We don't want to give heed to satan's temptations and satan's doubts. Keep trusting in Jesus even if you can't see exactly why things are happening the way they are. God is looking at us with this eternal perspective. Could you imagine the questions that Joseph had when he stood up for what was right in potiphar's house and ended up being thrown into prison. Don't you think he spent some nights in prayer saying, 'Lord, why did you allow this to happen to me? Here I stood up for the right and now I'm in prison.

' And, by the way, Joseph's time in prison wasn't just a couple of months. And you can also read in the Psalms that he didn't have the deluxe suite in prison. But it speaks about his feet being in the stocks and being beaten. So it wasn't easy on Joseph and yet his faith endured. Little could he have imagined what God really was preparing Joseph for and the great work that God had in store for him.

Think of Daniel and his three friends taken from their home in Jerusalem. They also wondered, 'Lord, why did you allow this to happen? This doesn't make sense to us.' But they kept trusting in God and look at the mighty things God was able to do with them. So it is with us. If you don't see God's hand leading in your life, keep trusting in his heart of love, amen? God is concerned about us and he wants to save us. I remember hearing a story about a father and son during the second world war.

They were in london and it was at night and the bombs were falling upon the city and the building where they were taking shelter suffered a hit from one of these bombs and it caught on fire. And so The Father grabbed his little boy and they ran out of the burning building and they were looking for a place of safety and close by there was a blown-out building - just the basement was left. The Father said 'this is better than nothing.' So he ran over to where the building was and he jumped down and then he turned back and his son was standing on the side and he looked up and he said, 'son, jump. I'll catch you.' But the little boy, with the noise and the smoke and the fire - the little boy was afraid. And he looked down into the darkness but he couldn't see his father down there.

And so, with fear, he cried out and said, 'but daddy, I can't see you. How can I jump? I can't see you.' But as his father looked up, he could see his son standing with the silhouette because of the fire - the building in the background - and his father said, 'son, it doesn't matter that you can't see me. I can see you. Jump. I can see you.

' Friends, so often in our lives God says to us, 'you just trust me. You might not be able to see me, but I can see you.' I know what's going on. I've got a plan. Keep trusting in me.' And that's the point James is trying to emphasize here. As Christians, let's trust in Jesus.

Let's not trust ourselves to our own wisdom, but place everything before God. We have another verse we want to read, James chapter 4 and verse 16. "But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil." Here James says fostering a spirit of pride or boastfulness is really the root of all sin. In Isaiah chapter 14, verse 13, speaking of the fall of lucifer, "for you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;'" - by the way, the stars there represent the angels - "'I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most high.'" That spirit of boastfulness is really the root of all sin. And James recognized that that spirit of selfishness was present in the church even in his day and that spirit of selfishness can be found in the church today.

We need to be aware of that in our own lives - that spirit of selfishness keeps coming up and we've got to keep surrendering ourselves to Jesus. As Paul says, I die daily. We have to crucify that selfish spirit every day. And more specifically, to the church of laodicea, Jesus says - to the church of today, 'you think you're rich, increased of goods, and that you have need of nothing, but you do not know that you're wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked." So the church, looking from the outside, looks pretty good. She's increased with goods.

She feels as though she doesn't need anything. Jesus says, 'when I look at your heart you're miserable, poor, blind, naked.' Jesus says, 'I counsel of you, buy of me gold, refined in the fire.' What is the most precious thing that a Christian can have? What does that gold represent? What is it that we need? I'll give you a clue. What is the Spirit of the law, what's the foundation of the law? It is love. Gold refined in the fire is faith and love. The apostle Paul says, "and now abidest faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.

' The love of Jesus in our hearts. Jesus says you think you're doing good but you're lacking my love in your heart. 'I counsel of you, buy of me gold refined in the fire, that you might be rich.' - Spiritually rich. And white raiment - what does the white raiment represent that Jesus wants to give to the church? It's the righteousness of Christ. Now Christ's righteousness isn't just a cloak to cover our sins, but think of it as a cure to cleanse us from sin.

Because when we receive the righteousness of Jesus, we have the Spirit of God working in us to transform us into the kind of people that God wants us to be. So Jesus says, 'let me give you love. Let me put my love in your heart. Let me give you my righteousness' - that's that robe. And then thirdly Jesus says, 'and anoint your eyes with eye salve.

' What do you suppose that ointment for the eye is? Spiritual discernment or the Holy Spirit. So, today, as individuals, we need more of the love of Jesus in our hearts. We need the righteousness of Jesus in our lives and we need the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual discernment. Now the question is how do we have that faith and love? How do we get that righteousness? How do we get spiritual discernment? Jesus answers that question in Revelation chapter 3 when he says, 'behold I stand at the door and' - what? 'Knock. Whoever hears my voice and opens the door' - Jesus says - 'I will come into him and I will' - do what? What does Jesus want to do with us? - 'I want to dine with you - I want to eat with you.

' Now, when you get invited to somebody's home, especially back in Bible times, one of the articles of food that you could be almost guaranteed to eat for dinner would be what? Bread. Bread was sort of the staple. And in the Bible, what does bread often represent? It represents the Word of God. Jesus says, 'I want to come in and I want to open up my word.' If we want to have the love of Jesus in our hearts, it comes by spending time with Jesus in His Word. There is power in the word.

If we want the righteousness of Christ in our hearts and in our lives, it comes by spending time in the word of Jesus. If we want spiritual discernment, it comes by spending time with Jesus - eating the living bread. That's what Christ is offering to us as individuals. That's what we need as a church - more of the love of Jesus in our hearts and in our lives. Well, let's look at our final verse, verse 17 - James chapter 4, verse 17.

"Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Here James reminds us that to simply be a hearer of the word and not a doer of the word is not going to help. He goes on to tell us that even the devils believe and tremble but that doesn't help them. So we need to be more than just hearers of the word, we need to be doers of the word. Jesus said, everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And when the winds came and the rains and the storm, the house stood firm for it was founded upon the rock.

' All of us are building. Whether we recognize it or not, we're all building something. What are we building? We're building character. And our characters are going to be tested with trials and difficulties. If we're building character upon the rock Jesus Christ, through feasting upon the living bread, when those trials and disappointments come our way, when our faith is tested, we will endure because we are founded upon Jesus.

But if we're simply building our Christian experience on the shifting sands of our feelings, when trials and difficulties come our way, we're going to collapse and great will be the fall of it. We want to be founded upon the rock - founded upon Jesus. And then, no matter what happens in life, if we are founded upon Jesus, our faith will endure. You know, in Revelation chapter , verse 12, we have a characteristic of God's people at the end of time. Revelation 14:12 says, "here is the patience of the saints" - the word there 'patience' can also be translated as 'endurance.

' "Here is the patience of the saints. Here are those who" - do what? - "Keep the commandments of God" - meaning they keep the law and the Spirit - "they keep the commandments of God and" - what else do they have? - "The faith of Jesus." What is the faith of Jesus? The faith of Jesus is full surrender or full submission to the will of God. It's what Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane: 'father, not my will be done, but thy will be done.' God's people need to have that full surrender to Christ, trusting in him completely, allowing him to do the work within our hearts and lives that only he can do. So the essence of Christianity is surrendering self - surrendering all to Jesus. You know, the good news is that God has given every single one of us the ability to choose to surrender ourselves to him.

Sometimes we make it all complicated. It's not that complicated. We can choose him, today, to be faithful. We can choose to trust in him today and that's where it begins. Well, friends, it looks like we're out of time.

I want to thank our afcoe students for being our audience and also those of you who are joining us for our Sabbath school study hour, thank you for being a part of our study. Just a reminder, we do have a free offer. It goes along with the lesson, it's called 'the surrender of self.' We'd be happy to send this to you, all you'll need to do is just call our resource line. The number there is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #153, a little book called 'the surrender of self' and we'll be happy to send that to you. Well, friends, let's close with a word of prayer.

Dear Father, we thank you for the Scriptures. We thank you for a Savior who can save to the uttermost those who come to God through him. And father, we don't want to allow our lives to become so enrapt with the thing of this earth that we lose that eternal perspective. Teach us to trust in you. Teach us to surrender ourselves to you not just once a day, but every moment of every day.

And give us of that love - that gold refined in the fire - and that righteousness of Christ and that eye salve - that spiritual discernment - so that we can be the kind of people that you want us to be. Thank you for the opportunity to study together. Bless those who are watching. And we ask this all in Jesus' name, amen. Until we meet again, God bless.

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