God Is Not Your Enemy
Rubel Shelly   -  


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Text for This Study: James 1:13-27

1. The subject shifts from “trials” (i.e., stresses, life challenges) to “temptations” (i.e., enticements to do evil) at verse 13. How do both work to undermine faith? Lead one to think “God has abandoned me” or “God has done this to me”? How is this attitude in itself a temptation to turn against God?

2. What is the assurance James gives about the nature of God (v.13) in this text? Why is this so critical to the argument of this section of the epistle?

3. Can you think of situations in which people sometimes blame God for their life predicament and then turn against God in anger? Have you ever witnessed this with someone you know?

4. Explain the desire → deception → disobedience → death progression outlined in verse 14. Why is the counsel of verses 19-21 so important to this sort of progression?

5. James maintains that God is the source of good things (i.e., “every perfect gift”) and not the cause of the negative things that come against human beings. Read Matthew 7:7-11 as biblical commentary on this idea. Do you see the humor of Jesus in this text? Do you get his point about how ridiculous it is to think that God would dispense harm to us?

James defines “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless” in terms of two key elements: holiness (i.e., moral purity) and compassion (i.e., care for the marginalized) at 1:27. The historical tendency of Christians seems to be that we embrace either the former to the point that we become unduly judgmental, harsh, and self-righteous or the latter to the degree that all distinctions between truth and error, moral and immoral are ignored so long as people are being kind and gracious. The appeal of this epistle is that we not be “unbalanced” in our approach to the Christian faith. This is a key point to watch for throughout the letter.