Chapter 3: Brethren, Show No Partiality
In chapters 2 and 3, James expands on the Family vision—both warning the Laodiceans and commanding the Philadelphians to prove their love with deeds.
James 2:1 begins again with the words “My brethren.” Who is James addressing? God’s people—His Family.
“My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (James 2:1, rsv).
Sadly, this world is based on persons respecting persons. That partiality is the curse of mankind! It causes endless problems. People discriminate on the basis of wealth, privilege, sex, race, education, culture, talent—any number of things. I’m a good-looking person, and they’re ugly. I’ve got class, and they have none. I don’t like that person’s race.
Those problems are a direct result of a failure to understand God’s Family. God says the problems of the world will never be solved until we learn about family!
The Laodiceans are scattered, or exiled, from the God Family. James 2:1 flows from James 1:27—there should be no chapter break. The Laodiceans are spiritual orphans and widows. That part of God’s Family is confused and has fallen apart!
Understanding the Family of God clarifies everything!
If we become partial to certain Church members, that is a breakdown in God’s loving Family.
We must set an example for this hate-filled, divided world. In understanding God, we should show people how to unify the whole world as one man, with the mind of Christ!
We must not forget our goal to bring the whole world into God’s Family!
That is the only way this world will ever be unified.
The Laodiceans have done the opposite. They have joined the hopeless world that cannot solve its problems.
How can you be a slave to the Father and Son (James 1:1) and discriminate against one of God’s potential sons in the world? How could you discriminate against one of the firstfruits who is even now a son of the Father and a brother of Christ, the Lord of glory?
You won’t do that if you view God’s Family, or those who have that potential, as God does.
God’s Church must be different from the world. We must treat every person with the highest respect, not shutting anyone out of the Family of God. We even have to be careful to avoid favoring one minister over another.
Look at this spiritually—this is God’s Family! And those in the world are potential God Family members. Understanding the God Family clarifies it all. All humanity has that potential.
God’s people must be an example to the world of showing no partiality, and treating each member of Christ’s Body with honor. That way of life must begin within the Church, because God wants it to reach every corner of the world! “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Hold to the Head, Jesus Christ, and then reach out to all those within God’s Church, and then everyone in the world, as we have the opportunity.
Why are the Laodiceans considered “exiled brethren”? (James 1:1). Because they have lost the God Family understanding. They have abandoned God their Father and Christ their Husband and become spiritual orphans and widows (James 1:27).
Countless problems infected the Church because the Laodiceans did not internalize the Family lesson! The people started to become partial: I like this person, I don’t like that person. God thunders to them, Don’t you realize you’re breaking the law of love? God’s people above all should be cultivating and demonstrating God’s family love! A person simply cannot be partial toward God’s Family members and still have the faith of Jesus Christ! (James 2:1).
James admonishes us to “hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We must live by the same faith that Christ had and hold on to it!
Christ died for all mankind. You and I must build that faith in our lives. That is quite a challenge. But it also shows us what power resides in God’s saints. Look at what we can do with Christ’s faith in us! We have the very faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20).
All the money in this world could not buy one iota of that faith. Consider the mighty power given to the very elect!
What happens if a minister focuses too much on one Church member and neglects the others? Those who are neglected spiritually can begin to hate the one receiving all the attention! Consider, for example, the damage done to Jacob’s family because he favored Joseph so much. His brothers became bitter and contemptuous. The same principle applies in any family. Partiality creates family breakdown.
God wants His Church to “dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133)—to be of “one spirit” and “one mind,” “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 1:27; 2:2)—to “speak the same thing,” with “no divisions,” “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). He wants His people to be “as one man” (Ezra 3:1). That is truly deep Family unity!
James really emphasizes this truth. He is showing the Laodiceans how much they have lost, and how much they are going to have to recapture in order to make it into the eternal Family of God! They must get back to the Family understanding.
Probably within a decade, God’s people are going to be teaching the world about the Family of God! This world desperately needs that Family education. That is what God wants to give it most of all.
The Rich Oppress
As James develops this theme, he returns to another major concept of his epistle (James 1:9-11)—one that applies directly to the Laodicean leaders.
“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:2-5).
God calls the poor of this world—the lowly of the lowly. God chooses the humble, or poor in spirit, to do His Work. Are there any other people who will serve God?
The Almighty God is not impressed by the mighty of this world. Until they bring God into their lives, they amount to nothing. Their talents and riches are chaff. Should God’s servants be impressed with and awed by very talented people? If we don’t evaluate with God’s mind and with the depth of His thinking, it is easy to become too impressed with things that truly do not matter.
God wants people who are rich in faith.
“[M]y beloved brethren,” James wrote in verse 5. Is he talking to the world? No! He is addressing the beloved, Spirit-begotten people in the Church of God.
Realize how up-to-date James really is. “But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court?” (verse 6, rsv). Here God begins to condemn “the rich.” We must look at these verses spiritually. David and Abraham were rich and totally served God. Here God is speaking to those people who put riches ahead of God. Then they become spiritual orphans and widows. They are no longer rich in faith. He is talking about the Laodicean leaders who are enriched with the physical goods of the Church of God as it was built under the guidance of Herbert W. Armstrong.
Who are these leaders who are dragging God’s firstfruits into court?
Why would God inspire this verse about the Laodiceans dragging His very elect into court—especially in the last hour?
It is also interesting that Elijah is mentioned in this book (James 5:17).
Thayer’s Lexicon refers to the word court in James 2:6 as “the place where judgment is given; the tribunal of a judge.” The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible defines court this way: “judicial contest or controversy, a lawsuit, … court of justice.”
I believe our six-year court battle with the wcg was the single most condemning event against the Laodiceans in this end time. Verse 6 is discussing a court tribunal just like our battle in the courts. The verb elkein (“drag” in rsv) means violence, whether physical or legal. It was certainly a violent legal struggle.
We were fighting for the revealed truth given to an end-time Elijah whom Christ sent to restore all things—that means all the foundational truth given to God’s Church in these latter days. That is what we were fighting for in court. We couldn’t even proclaim God’s warning to the world without it!
This was a master stroke by the devil himself to stop God’s Work, and virtually every Laodicean on Earth was cheering for Satan to win! Not one of those Laodicean churches offered to help us. They wanted us to lose.
But the same Christ who sent and worked through Elijah gave us the victory. The Laodiceans who fought against us or wanted to see us lose were fighting against Christ—hoping He would lose!
God is judging them today (1 Peter 4:17). Whether they realize it or not, they are being judged harshly by a much higher court!
These people are dying spiritually (2 Thessalonians 2:10). The court case was a living monument of their death throes! It will help 50 percent of them to repent in the Tribulation.
The court case was at the heart of what we were called to do. Otherwise, God would convert us with the rest of the world after Christ returns. But we are here now to proclaim God’s message to a dying world. If we finish this work, God will reward us by letting us help Him rule the world. If we fail to do God’s Work, we have no future with Him. So our court case deserves special attention in the book of James, written primarily for the time we are living in now.
1 Corinthians 6:1 asks, do you dare take one of your brothers in the Family of God before a court in this world? Well, the Laodiceans dared. That also shows their lack of understanding about the God Family. They committed violence against their brethren, and they dishonored their Father (Malachi 1:6). They dishonor their Father by dishonoring those who honor the Father in doing His Work!
The Laodiceans say they are “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). But their attitude toward the spiritual wealth given to us through Mr. Armstrong shows that they don’t know what true riches are! Any member of God’s Church who was thinking correctly would have helped us fight for the right to print that priceless material.
Many of the Laodiceans thought that if only we lost that court case, it would mean the end of the pcg. They acted as though the Supreme Court of heaven doesn’t exist. For that spiritual blindness, God condemns them!
“Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” (James 2:7).
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit puts a person “in danger of eternal damnation” (Mark 3:28-29). Mr. Armstrong’s writings, which we fought for, were created by the Holy Spirit.
Mark and James use the same Greek word for blaspheme. James says these people “blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called.” These rebels need to think deeply about this verse. In the court case, they were fighting against God the Father, who is the one and only God to ever call sons into His Family! In court, they were fighting their own Father who gave this majestic calling to them—the most supreme honor in this life by far.
Nobody knows these people like their Father does. And they blaspheme His worthy name.
It is no accident that this verse follows the one discussing a fight in court. The Laodiceans need to ponder deeply what happened in that court case. Some people are in danger of losing their eternal lives!
Nothing is more important than that.
People who fight against Christ and His Work are antichrists. They are fighting against the very revelation God gave them.
The Royal Law
“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8). That is talking about the Ten Commandments. Because it is the law of the majestic Father and Son, it is indeed a royal law!
This verse has a lot of depth. Most of the commentaries are dishonest when commenting on this verse—they can’t be sure which law James refers to, so they say this verse clearly refers to the last six of God’s Ten Commandments.
Christ described the Ten Commandments as, first, love toward God (the first four commandments) and, second, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”—which James quotes from His brother Christ (Matthew 22:36-40).
When this quote is used by other New Testament writers, they often spell out some or all of the last six commandments (see Matthew 19:16-19). It is clearly stated that you must keep these commandments to enter into eternal life!
Why is this so foundational and terribly important? The gospel is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, which administers the law of God.
When Christ returns, our job will be to help Him administer the royal law—the Ten Commandments—during the Millennium. This law is from the royal Father and Son, and we are to become the royal Bride of the Son.
Only God’s royal kings and priests understand just how royal and profound this law is. It is the royal law of God and His kings and priests—today and in the World Tomorrow.
People who produce the commentaries are supposed to be biblical experts. So when most of them say they don’t know which law is the royal law, that is abysmal ignorance! But it is really more than that. They just refuse to keep God’s law, and that is why we have all the problems in this world.
That royal law makes things work! It works for God and Christ—it works for people old and young—everybody!
Take the example of child rearing. This world doesn’t know how to handle children. People experiment and try things out, hoping to find something that will work—but it never does.
Why are the children in the pcg happy and well-behaved? Because we keep the royal law! That one fact alone should be enough to convict people who are diligently searching for the truth: They could look at our children, recognize that something was right there, and be led right back to the royal law. And to where would that lead them? From whom does that right instruction come? God the Father!
“But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:9-11). If you break one law, you are a transgressor of the law and guilty of all. You are a law breaker.
James is still discussing how evil it is to be a respecter of persons. If you don’t commit adultery, but you do kill, you still are a transgressor of the law.
However, if we look at these verses spiritually, we see that the Laodicean is guilty of both these sins when he is a respecter of persons.
You hate your brother when you are a respecter of persons, and that makes you guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-24).
The Laodicean lusts for another husband, other than Christ, when he is a respecter of persons—so he is guilty of adultery. This sin has become a way of life. They have broken their marriage vow to Christ.
Most so-called Christians say that Christ did away with the law. (Many of the Laodiceans have the same belief today.) But Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it—fill it to the full! (Matthew 5:17). The law becomes far more binding in the New Testament teaching.
These two problems of adultery and murder grow, causing the Laodiceans to sin on a massive scale.
God inspired Ezekiel to write a book for this end time. Ezekiel said if we didn’t proclaim God’s message, we would be guilty of Israel’s blood—guilty for their deaths (Ezekiel 33).
Now the Laodiceans have more respect for the world than they do for God and His very elect. They refuse to do God’s Work and thereby sin against people by the millions.
They must get back to God’s royal law of love. They must get back to delivering God’s revealed truth to Israel and the Gentiles.
Remember, 50 percent of those people are going to lose their eternal lives. The other 50 percent will finally repent in the Great Tribulation.
James is detailing what it will take for the Laodiceans to return to God. They must repent to be in God’s Kingdom.
Many of them will undoubtedly be reading and discussing our booklet on James while they are in the worst suffering ever on this planet.
We must get this message to our beloved Laodicean brethren!
Christ, the Head of God’s Church, died for this world (John 3:16). The Laodiceans must also be willing to make the same sacrifice (Luke 14:26-27).
God’s very elect must also remember those scriptures.
God’s law is a law of liberty (James 2:12). When we keep it, it frees us from contention and strife. It frees us from having disorderly children and broken families. It is a law of love (1 John 5:3).
That law must dominate our thinking. Keeping it is our Family responsibility!
Next God gets very specific about His expectations of us if we are to keep that royal law of family love.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:14-17). In verse 15, God describes “a brother or sister … naked, and destitute of daily food.” Who does this apply to specifically?
To the Laodiceans, God says, “[T]hou … knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). They are naked and destitute of daily food—after all, they rejected the revelation Mr. Armstrong delivered, and completely lack the spiritual food God has given since his death.
Almost every person who comes into the pcg from a Laodicean church, says, “I was spiritually starving over there!” God simply does not feed His people unless they are in the inner court, where God dwells. He earnestly desires to feed them! If only they would respond to Christ’s knock, then He would come and sup with them (verse 20). Instead, they are destitute of daily food.
God expects His very elect to remember those brethren and to look after them! We must have food and clothing to give them. Of course, if we offer it and they reject it, that is their choice. But God warns us that if we forget or reject the Laodiceans, we are simply not thinking like God! This is His Family!
James is talking about the worst disaster God’s Church could face. These are brothers and sisters who became naked. They are part of God’s Family. They were clothed, but then they became naked. This catastrophe happened to the 12 tribes of Israel spiritually—virtually God’s whole Church.
This book is addressed to the Laodiceans. However, the book of James has some of the strongest meat in the Bible for God’s very elect!
Can we forget God’s Family? What happens if we don’t get James’s message to them? Then we have faith without works (James 2:14). Our faith is dead!
Our works are doing what we can to proclaim God’s message and finish this Work!
If we neglect the Laodiceans, then we don’t know God the Father and Jesus Christ. If we are their slaves, then we must love our Family the way the Father and Christ do!
We must reach out to the God Family—or we too have lost the Family vision. God is very specific about what we must do. We must do all we can to feed and clothe our brethren, or we only have dead faith—faith without works. If we have dead faith, then we too are Laodicean and in danger of eternal judgment.
Only we have been given the spiritual food and clothing they need. Only we can deliver it to them. If we have faith with works, we will do it!
This message becomes more urgent when we consider the time factor. James is undoubtedly the last major message to the Laodiceans in this last hour, and James is last hour revelation.
All of God’s last hour revelation has been directed to all of God’s people. But James is addressed specifically to the Laodiceans. That means it is a strong warning for them, and God will probably have some major correction just for them if they don’t heed James’s message. I would imagine it would be even more corrective than the court case. God is going to do all He can to draw their attention to His revelation from James.
We could be aware or unaware of how God corrects them. These are people whom God loves. He will do all He can to save them from the Great Tribulation and the lake of fire. God will even continue working with them in the Tribulation. (Malachi’s Message and James’s message will undoubtedly play a key role in their repentance in that horrendous trial.)
I am convinced that a sizeable number of Laodiceans will respond before the Tribulation and help us get this message out. We urgently need laborers to help us. Because of their knowledge, they should be easier to change into laborers for God.
Here is a major reason why James can reach many more of the Laodiceans than Malachi’s Message can: We can offer it to them on our television program.
We offer Malachi’s Message in much of what we write and on our website. However, this book is not offered on television. It would confuse much of our audience if they read it before reading Mystery of the Ages.
That is not the case with James. We have structured it so that we can offer it on television. That is one big reason why I believe James may be so effective with the Laodiceans.
Malachi’s Message was about the first hour of this work. James is about the last hour. Malachi’s Message introduced the Laodiceans to God’s Work. James shows them the conclusion to God’s Work, before the very elect are protected from the Great Tribulation.
James really brings this message home to us. God inspired James to write, if “one of you [individuals] say unto them [the Laodiceans], Depart … [and] give them not those things which are needful,” then our faith is dead!
This is piercing correction for all of God’s people—especially the pcg.
Many of us have relatives and friends in the Laodicean churches—even mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Surely we have agonized over their spiritual condition.
We, of all people, should step out in living faith and the deepest love to feed and clothe our “beloved brethren.”
God is getting to the heart of what God Family means!
James asks, “where is the profit” if we don’t feed and clothe them spiritually? And the answer is, there is no profit spiritually!
Where does that leave you and me? God is judging us by how dedicated we are to this Work!
Do we have faith with works? Or is our faith dead? This is specifically to the very elect, and our eternal lives and an awesome reward are at stake!
We must show God faith with works.
Consider the urgency in this warning: We are living in the last hour! The Laodiceans are receiving their last major warning! And if you are a member of God’s Family, you must do your part to deliver it. We need laborers in this Work.
The Friend of God
“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). We show our faith by our works. Faith is a lot more than just believing in God. Faith with works means we believe God and do what He commands.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (verses 19-21). The demons believe in God and tremble. But they don’t believe God and they still refuse to do faithful works. They rejected God’s government and refused to administer it on Earth.
Now they face the blackest future you can imagine. This is dangerous knowledge. God holds us accountable for what we know.
We know that God didn’t require Abraham to actually kill his son—but in his mind it was as good as done.
Abraham waited 25 years for this promised son. He was an old man when Isaac was born. And it is easy for an old man to almost worship a young son.
Abraham was ready to sacrifice him for God. What a shocking test for any person. This was not a mere act of obedience. It may have been an unparalleled act of faith by a created man! This is an example of Abraham’s works—the kind of works that bring faith alive!
After this act of faith, God knew that Abraham would withhold nothing from Him.
What an example! Abraham is the father of the faithful (Romans 4:11). God wants us to look to his example, and realize how far he was willing to go in obeying God. Look at how richly God blessed him for his faith. The message is, if we build that level of faith-filled obedience in our lives, God will bless us accordingly.
“Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:22-23).
Abraham didn’t just believe in the existence of God, His sacrifice or His saving work—he “believed God.” This is where the whole “Christian” world is deceived. Abraham believed every word of God. He believed all of God’s many promises. He did precisely what God said to do.
This living faith was imputed to him as righteousness. Only this living faith makes us God’s friends.
The Laodiceans would rather be the friends of this world. They have a dead faith.
Here is a second strong example of living faith: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” (verses 24-25). Rahab risked her life to save these messengers of Israel. At this point, she had repented of her sins and believed what the God of Israel said. Rahab’s works showed her living faith. She backed and supported the work of Israel.
Today we are doing the Work of spiritual Israel. We show our faith by our works—in declaring the message of James to the Laodiceans. We also show our faith by proclaiming God’s message to the world.
Does God still view Rahab as a harlot? He only gives her that label within this context in order to teach a lesson! In His mind, she is right up there with Abraham—a friend of God! What a marvelous example.
This Gentile harlot repented of her sins and became God’s friend!
Some say they can’t deal with certain individuals in the Church because of past sins. That is nothing but self-righteousness.
In the Kingdom of God, when Rahab is exalted to the heights, no one will be whispering about her being a harlot! We all make mistakes. When we do so, it is our responsibility to bury them and grow in character—and to become the friends of God!
The Laodiceans have become adulterous (James 4:4). Spiritually speaking, they are the worst kind of harlots! But God is still trying to woo them back to Himself. If they repent, they, too, will be God’s friends.
How God wants us to be His friends! That is a truly special honor and distinction. Imagine such wicked sinners being allowed to become God’s friends!
We cannot write anyone off whom God has begotten and called to be part of that Family relationship. He loves us all equally! We need that same level of love toward each other.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).
Abraham and Rahab believed God and proved it by their works. They showed their faith by their works. They acted on their faith by doing exactly what God said. God’s Work became their work. This is how we bring our faith alive!
The very elect are God’s ambassadors on Earth. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we represent and speak on behalf of the brilliant, magnificent God of Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 1! So God wants to teach us to speak like Him.
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater [condemnation]” (James 3:1, rsv). Don’t try to jockey to become a minister today. We will all receive that office in the Kingdom of God anyway.
In Hebrews 5:12, Paul shows that we are all training today for positions as teachers. God’s true Church is a teachers’ college. We are going to teach the whole world. Members must know how to rule the tongue.
The Laodiceans who don’t repent until the Tribulation will not have headquarters positions in the Kingdom of God because they are not prepared to teach on that level! They haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity to get themselves ready for that office.
“For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also” (James 3:2, rsv). We all make mistakes, but mistakes should not be our way of life.
If each one of us is able to bridle the whole body, then Christ can rule over the entire spiritual body.
“Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth” (verses 3-4). A whole ship can be guided through waves and storms with a little rudder. Our tongue expresses what is in our mind—and if we can just control our tongues, we actually guide our whole being and demonstrate a great deal of character.
A metal bit is put in a horse’s mouth to guide it. Each one of us must have a spiritual “bit” in our mouth.
“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (verses 5-6). Hell comes from the Greek word gehenna, and refers to the lake of fire!
Who is James talking to when speaking of gehenna fire? He is talking about begotten sons of God, the firstfruits whom God has called in this age—whose eternal lives are at stake!
The expression “whole body,” in addition to speaking of our whole being, also applies to the whole Church of God—specifically what has happened in the Laodicean Church.
Where is the tongue, and all the wrong teaching it is expressing, leading the Laodiceans? “Course of nature” would be better translated “course of
You won’t find a stronger warning in all the Bible. This is such dangerous knowledge.
Just by the use of our tongue, we can talk ourselves right into gehenna fire! Half of the Laodiceans are prophesied to do just that. This could not be more serious, more sobering, or more sad.
The Laodicean tongue has changed the course of God’s whole spiritual creation today! Their tongues set the Body of Christ on fire! Over 95 percent of the spiritual Body was defiled—it became a world of iniquity. That is why God had to start all over and raise up the ruins (Amos 9:11).
When Lucifer rebelled against God, he set the universe on fire! He thought he had a better plan than God, and lost everything—as did all the angels who followed him. That is quite a fire! Satan is now the father of liars, doomed to an eternal nightmare.
Why is it so important that we learn to tame our tongues? Because we are preparing to teach every person who has ever lived. We need the mind of Christ to direct everything we say. Jesus Christ continually spoke uplifting words while He was here on Earth. With His mind in us, we can do the same!
We must control our tongue, because we are destined to control the universe.
Each of us must learn to exercise wisdom in this area. We must learn to say things that will encourage people and lift them up. When we fail to do that, we can easily beat people down.
A parent can change the nature of creation in his own family, or alter the whole direction of his child’s life, just by the words he speaks to that child. Once your communication begins turning negative, that cycle becomes destructive very quickly. We must repent, and watch our tongue! Christ holds each one of us accountable for every word we utter!
Because man doesn’t control his tongue, he has turned this world into tohu and bohu. It is ruled by deceitful and desperately wicked human hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).
James teaches us about the tongue as no book in the Bible does. The tongue should express the thoughts of Christ’s mind (Philippians 2:5). But good or bad, the tongue expresses what is on the mind.
“For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:7-8). Our tongue is full of lethal poison, and no man can tame it! Only God can.
In Revelation 3:9, God condemns those in the “synagogue of Satan” because they lie. We heard the Laodicean leaders spew their poisonous lies, using their tongues with deft deceit. For years they denied even making changes—as they calculatingly defiled the doctrines of God! They set the Church on fire as they talked, and talked, and talked—committing a world of evil!
These verses apply to God’s Philadelphians even more. Notice: “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (James 3:9).
James emphasizes the fact that we are made in the likeness of God. That is a towering truth! The animals don’t look like God. You look like God! And you were also created with a mind that the animals don’t have—in order to develop the mind, or image, of God! You have a much higher potential than any animal which can’t be given the love or wisdom of God!
But to achieve that potential, you must learn to control your tongue. That takes the character and mind of Christ. The more you get that mind in you, the greater the wonders you can achieve in working with people. As you overcome your human nature, you can be a force for the good!
“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (verse 10). The Laodiceans bless God, but don’t talk like Him! They love to praise God and “love Jesus”—but at the same time, they commit cruel and hateful acts, and do violence to God’s truth! That is like bitter and sweet water coming from the same fountain, and God will have none of that!
We are ambassadors for Christ. We speak for Him.
Do you talk like God? Do you talk like the Bible? Is your speech grounded in God’s Word?
“Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (verses 11-12). God demands that we speak the truth. How incongruous would it be to receive bitter and sweet water from the same fountain.
Water is a type of God’s Holy Spirit. We must let God’s Holy Spirit produce pure thoughts in our minds—not contradictory thoughts of confusion.
This is the world’s only hope. We are God’s ambassadors who must speak for God.
A fig tree doesn’t produce olive berries. The human mind was created to produce godly fruits. This world is about to be filled with tongues that speak like God. Any other language will be destroyed with the people who speak it.
Wisdom From Above
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (verse 13). As we already covered in James 1:5, wisdom is a great need in God’s Church.
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:14-15). The whole Laodicean apostasy lies against the truth. Each of the Laodiceans could prove that is true.
Where do they get that “wisdom”? They get it from this Earth. Devilish wisdom comes from the devil.
True wisdom is a gift from God.
It takes wisdom to know what to do when God denies you something you earnestly desire, or how to navigate our fiery trials, for example.
Many people fail to counsel before making heavy decisions. In my ministry, I have seen many people make huge, terrible decisions that have hurt them badly—because of a lack of wisdom. I have seen Church members lose good jobs that they needed. I’ve seen people make a bad decision about who to marry, which affects them the rest of their life. I have seen members make the wrong statement to a school teacher, or commit mistakes in home schooling. I have seen members mishandle themselves in dealing with medical authorities. All because of a lack of wisdom!
James has the best definition of wisdom in the Bible! He lists seven items here that are outgrowths of godly wisdom: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (verses 17-18).
God’s wisdom is first pure, which means it is free from earthly, sensual, diabolical thoughts or motives. Nathanael, for example, was a man “in whom is no guile” (John 1:47); he had no evil motives running through his mind. Vincent’s Word Studies says the word pure in James 3:17 is “[f]irst—not numerically, but sequentially. The others are outgrowths of this primary quality.” First of all, we must have a pure motive. When we are being led by God’s Spirit, we are not calculating—trying to take advantage of the other person or to get something from them. We must be pure, and simply give as our heavenly Father gives! How could a marriage ever fail if both the husband and the wife wanted to give 100 percent? That is wisdom!
If we speak words of wisdom, we bring joy and encouragement. Our tongue produces spiritual honey.
God’s wisdom is also peaceable, which means that it makes peace with others, especially within the family. It is gentle, meaning forbearing—not demanding, and not looking down on others. It is “easy to be entreated” or persuaded. It is happy to give in if the other person is right. It is “full of mercy and good fruits” toward the misery of others—desiring to relieve them.
God’s wisdom is also without partiality. It is not swayed by self-interest, worldly honor or the fear of man. If Jacob, who favored Joseph over his other sons, had had this quality, the tragic problems wouldn’t have existed between Joseph and his brothers, and it would have changed the course of Israel’s history!
The wisdom from above is also “without hypocrisy”—what you see is what you get. It doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. It requires wisdom to present yourself as someone who is trying to grow and improve, yet who never tries to come across as someone you are not.
“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (verse 18). The fruit of this righteousness will produce peace wherever we go.
If any of you lack wisdom, go to God, and He will give it to you!
Study this passage and really learn what God’s wisdom will do in your life. If you understand it, you will be praying for more of that wisdom every day! As times get more difficult and we begin to face more persecution, we of all people need a continually replenished supply of “the wisdom that is from above.”