What is the Meaning of James 2.1-13 Part 1

“Discrimination Contradicts True Saving Faith” Are you saved if you discriminate?

James 2:1-4

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of James 2.1-13 Part 1

James 2. Researchers conducted an experiment with 15-month-old babies. They had the babies watch an adult with a collection of four small toys. That adult with those 4 toys shares them evenly with two other adult volunteers: 2 for you and 2 for you.

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And then they did the same thing, except this time that first adult shared them unevenly between the 2 other adults. 3 for you and only 1 for you.

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Now, if you were a 15 month old, which adult who shared the toys with the other 2 adults…which adults would you want to play with? The one who shared evenly or unevenly?

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When allowed to choose which adult the babies wanted to play with, 70% of them preferred the adult who had divided the toys evenly. 15 month olds preferred fairness.

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That’s nice until you bring in another issue, their selfish discrimination. What happens if the toys are distributed unevenly, but in favor of the race of the baby? In other words, what if the sharing adult gives more toys to the adult who is also of the same race as the baby?

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That 70% preference for the adult who shared fairly drops and the desire to play with the one who was unfair rises. The babies did not care so much if the adult who shared was unfair when the adult gave the toys to other who as the same race as the baby.

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I guess unfairness is bad, unless your group gets the good stuff. Racist babies. What does that show? Discrimination is deeply ingrained in you.

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This is discrimination against one group to show favoritism to another group.

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DEFINED What is discrimination? Favoritism, partiality, or being a respecter of persons. It’s selfishness. It’s the unfair favouring of one person or group at the expense of another.

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It’s the favoring of one person over another based on externals: like social class, wealth, clothing, race, or nationality, or whatever.

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But that’s the kind of thing that only goes on out in the world, right? No! This is going on in the church!

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There’s a whole philosophy of church planting based on discrimination. These church planters notice that people like to worship with people who are like them. And so they say we should target outreach and build churches attempting to reach similar parts of society. These church planters attempt to attract the baby boomers only or the young professionals only. The idea is that these people will have less of a difficult time coming to Christ if they know there are no social barriers they have to cross to do so.

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But think, why did Christ come? He came to call both Jew and Gentile. In Ephesians 2 Paul teaches that Christ has broken down walls of ethnic barriers when he caused the Mosaic law to cease to operate through His cross. No room for discrimination!

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And so if discrimination is done on purpose in the church assuming they don’t know they are violating the Scripture, how much is discrimination going on in the church and it happens subtly, and you don’t even know that you’re doing it.

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This is James 2:1-13. Our text this morning will be just the first 4 verses. But let’s read these 13 verses. James will have nothing to do with discrimination…

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James 2:1–13 1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? 8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

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God will have none of discrimination and favoritism in the church! James relates discrimination with true saving faith. Look, James relates discrimination with true saving faith.

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Verse 1, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism…Faith is at issue here. Can you really hold them both in your hand at the same time? You either understand one of the other.

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Verse 5…Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith. God’s choice in salvation is at issue here.

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And verse 8, if however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin

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Loving your neighbor is at issue. That’s a big one. Are you really saved if you don’t love those who even profess Christ? It’s questionable. You show discrimination against other believers… Even the world will look on and not know whether or not you are really his disciples. How do I know that? John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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And the clincher in this passage that shows us that James’ point is verse 13…we need to be merciful… But what if our lives do not demonstrate that we are merciful? That we don’t love even Christian people and discriminate against them… We don’t show mercy on others… Are we really saved?

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Verse 13… “Judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy.”

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If you are truly a Christian and you are saved and you are a child of God, your life will prove it. James is even been speaking to this throughout chapter 1. Throughout chapter 1, James has been writing about true Christian living…Let’s look at it again to see it…chapter 1 verse 2.

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Response to trials gives you an indication as to whether you’re saved…

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Verse 2, consider it all joy when you fall into various trials or difficulties…now, James 1:6. Here James speaks of the doubter in trials. This is not someone who has a momentary lapse of faith, but one who claims to be a Christian but whose life gives all indication of someone who is really not a Christian.

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James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

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A doubter verse 8 is someone who is unstable in all his ways. Trials proved that in his life…unstable in all your ways…does that sound like someone who is the real deal? It’s questionable if he’s saved if all his ways are truly unstable.

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Your response to the word of God is an indication as to whether you are saved or not… are you quick to hear, verse 19? Are you slow to get angry when you are convicted of your sin by the word of God? Verse 22 have you proved yourself to be a doer of the word? Not someone who hears it and lives his own life, but one who also does the word of God? This is someone who is saved. Mere hearers of the word are not saved.

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What about the guy in verse 26 who thinks himself to be religious? Well, if he doesn’t reign in his own tongue all of his religious acts are worthless. The tongue demonstrates whether or not you are saved.

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In verse 27 someone who actively cares for those in distress and someone who is unstained by the world …these are signs you are a Christian…doing those things don’t make you a Christians, but they are signs that you may be a Christian …

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And being unstained by the world … worldliness, James 4 teaches, isn’t what you think …it’s quarrels, angry conflicts, pleasures that wage war, envy, wrong motive praying to spend things on my own pleasure…this is friendship with the world, James says, this is spiritual adultery… even angry conflicts.

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That’s why James exhorts us…prove yourselves to be doers of the word!

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Do you discriminate even among God’s children? I’d like to preach a 2 part message…. “Discrimination Contradicts True Saving Faith” Are you saved if you regularly show discrimination?

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First, however, and this is not a part of the text here, but I would like to point out first God does not discriminate. He is impartial. He is not a respecter of persons. He does not show favoritism. He doesn’t unfairly lift up some people because their wealth, race, or social status. I’m going to simply read these verses…you let them sink into your ears…We need to be like God in this…

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God’s impartiality.

2 Chronicles 19:7 “Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.”

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Yahweh has no part in partiality…or discrimination against people.

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Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God … even though that’s the case… He is one who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.

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Job 34:19 The mighty One, Elihu says … “shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, for they all are the work of His hands…” To God wealth and social status means nothing.

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Acts 10:34–35 After God used the Jew Peter to save the Gentile Cornelius… Peter says rightly … : “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”

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Paul concurs in …

Romans 2:10–11 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

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Colossians 3:25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

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God is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter to God this morning whether you are rich or poor. It doesn’t matter in God’s church whether you have high social status or low social status… a great job or no job, lots of education or no education. It does not matter if you are red or yellow black or white, they are all precious in his sight.

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It does not matter if you are from Mexico, Austraila, United States, Russia, Pakistan, Africa, or Japan…God is no respecter of persons.

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ILL: I read one sermon on James 2 that if a person in high office comes into your assembly you can treat him special. On this very passage, if a person in high office comes into your assembly you should especially treat him. No!

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This is the genius of the church. Out there in society there are people who have high standing either socially or because of their wealth. But in the church, all are to be treated equally. That’s the way God views us. We should treat each other equally. If the prime minister comes into our assembly, no matter who won the most recent election, he does not get a special seat here, conservative or liberal or NDP or whatever.

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The church is not a political organization. You can’t play politics in God’s church and receive higher status. If there are politics in the local church, James is saying here in James that you should begin to wonder if these people are really following Jesus or not.

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What if this kind of teaching would have been made back in the 17 and 1800’s in America when churches were segregated on purpose? Would people had been upset? No one race is higher or lower than another race, no matter what your history.

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So in our passage this morning, James simply states his main point in verse one and he gives an example in verses 2-4 and then in verses five all the way down to verse 13, he gives three reasons why discrimination is evil. But we’ll just focus this morning on his main point in verse 1 and his example in verses 2-4.

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“Discrimination Contradicts True Saving Faith” Are you saved if you discriminate?

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  1. Main Point: Do Not Show Discrimination (v.1)

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    James 2:1 1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

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    EXP:

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    In other words, don’t say you trust in Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory… Don’t hold that in the same hand as you would hold discrimination against other believers.

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    How could you hold those two things in the same hand? They don’t go together.

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    James describes Jesus here as our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Or you can also understand it this way, which I do, do not hold your faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with discrimination. He’s the Lord of glory, how could you do that?

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    Turn over to 1 Ti. 5

    No discrimination! Paul commands Timothy with a very solemn charge. With great weight does he command Timothy. Paul has just detailed all of the great commands that we’ve been reading lately in 1 Timothy… About women’s roles, about our relationship to the government…he’ll go on in to chapter 3 to discuss the qualifications of elders and deacons, chapter 4 the coming apostasy and the pastor’s responsibility to preach the word, honoring widows, …and now, chapter 5….the public rebuking of continually sinning elders…

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    1 Timothy 5:20–21 Those elders who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.

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    Not even elders get special privileges. No one is above God’s law; this is Christ’s church.

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    Turn over to 3rd John… John has the same thoughts on this. Here is someone who was discriminating in the church…

3 John verses 9–11 9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. 10 For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

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Diotrephes loves to be first among the people in the church. John’s response: No! Call attention to his deeds, rebuke him for not receiving brethren, and rebuke him for putting out from the church those who would receive brethren. He does evil, he hasn’t seen God. He doesn’t understand; He can’t be a true disciple of Christ.

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Receive the brethren. And so in Diotrophes’ case the saying of Jesus will come true, “the first will be last.”

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James asks similarly now…Can you really be holding faith in the Lord of glory in the same hand as your actions of discrimination?

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Now, let’s let James give us his example…

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  1. Example of Discrimination vv.2-4
    1. Example vv.2-3

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James 2:2–3 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring [or perhaps with a whole finger full of rings] and dressed in fine clothes [these are gleaming white clothes…in Revelation 15:6 this word fine clothes describes clothes that angels wear…so this guy is something…], and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”

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So, here’s the story. The church service is about to begin. The pianist is playing the “you better come sit down before we start without you” hymn and everyone looks so happy as they come in to find their seats…everyone is here…

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And then suddenly, at the back of the sanctuary, in walks an impressive looking man. Dark tan, gleaming white suit of clothes on…he’s wealthy, and everyone knows it…he walks in and everyone’s head turns…the pastor at the pulpit even does a double take and all heads then become glued at the back entrance…

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Tall dark and handsome, gleaming clothes, gold finger…and a fawning usher comes to his side… “sir, would you please sit here in this special place…” Thinking the whole time…boy, I sure hope this guy is saved! God could sure use him!

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But at the same time that this impressive man walks into the sanctuary, nobody noticed the poor man who sneaks in through the doors on the other side. He’s a poor man who has dirty clothing, James says.

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And the fawning usher finishes showing preferential treatment to the rich man and now turns to the poor man with the shabby clothing and says, “Ah, you stand over there…or maybe better … So that no one notices you and so that we don’t have a bad testimony, why don’t you just sit here under my footstool.”

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James indicates that this kind of thing was going on…Verse 6, “You have dishonored the poor man.” Seems like that was what was going on, they were really doing this kind of thing.

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TRANS: What’s the conclusion to this? Verse 4…

  1. Conclusion v.4
    1. Discrimination demonstrates doubt in God (v.4).
    2. Discrimination makes you a judge, an evil one at that! (v.4)

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James 2:4 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

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What’s the conclusion to this? First, verse 4, discrimination demonstrates your divided heart toward God. Are you saved?

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Where do we see that in the text? First part of verse 4 again…have you not made distinctions among yourselves?

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You say, “I don’t get it? I don’t see it. How does discriminating or this making of distinctions show that I might have a divided heart toward God?

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Get this now: that word to make distinctions is the same word in chapter 1 verse six translated doubting.

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Let’s go back there to James 1:6. James 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

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And we said again that this word doubting doesn’t refer to a momentary lapse of trusting in God. This refers to someone’s lifestyle. They are clearly suspicious of God. Their life testifies that they are living somewhat for the world and somewhat for the Lord. And their life is unstable in all of its ways and it makes you wonder if they are saved or not.

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Now, the next time James uses that same word doubting is in chapter 2:4. Back in James 2:4….James writes that when you discriminate… “have you not made distinctions among yourselves…That word distinctions is translated “doubt” back in chapter 1 verse 6. So here, it could literally be translated, “have you not made doubts in yourselves?” Doubts about what? Doubts about whether or not they are truly holding the faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory!

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When you discriminate, do you not cast doubt as to whether or not you’re a true disciple of Jesus Christ?

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APP: And this is one reason, for example, why I don’t know who gives what money in this church. If so, I could be tempted to prefer some over others. The high rollers don’t get special treatment. Only the male members other than me know who gives what in this church. We must not give any room of this in our hearts.

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Let’s just say it folks, “Discrimination demonstrates your wavering life in God.” Are you saved or are you not? This is worldliness!! Worldliness here isn’t a lot of other things that we typically think of as worldliness. Discrimination is worldliness, it casts doubt as to whether or not you’re saved.

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We love our hot topic issues, but how are you doing with people from other nationalities? What about First Nations folks? How are you doing with Muslims? Are you really the judge on them? No…

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God is the judge. How do I know that? Because verse 4 indicates this…

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James 2:4 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and [have you not] become judges with evil motives?

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You’ve become the judge? No…”man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Let God be the judge and He judges no one on the basis of external, outward appearance.

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If you discriminate in the church based on race, wealth, clothing, or social status, James is saying, “You are making doubts in yourselves when you make those distinctions and how could you really be holding onto faith in Christ, the glorious Lord of all and do that.

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It simply doesn’t line up.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of James 2.1-13 Part 1

[lift it up!!]

He is the Lord of glory. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus left his glorious throne above and while on earth showed us His Heavenly Father. He is the incarnation of the glory of God, the exact representation of God. He is all glorious. All the glory is His … He gets all the glory… All the honor and glory and praise in the end will go to Jesus Christ the Judge of all the earth … he is so much higher so much more glorious so high above all of us puny little pieces of dust on this slightly larger piece of dust called earth and his glory reigns high above….

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And could we, like little ants, … make distinctions among ourselves, and show favoritism to some and discriminating against others based on wealth, nationality, or social status?

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ILL: I don’t know about you, but when I look at ants they all look the same! How foolish it would be for ants to discriminate against each other. How much more foolish for us!

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How could discrimination possibly make any sense in light of who Jesus is and what He came to do? Do you really know Him and so have you really died to yourself because what He’s done for you?

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ARG.: Examples…:

[glory!!!! and smile!]

  • God owns all the wealth in the world and if you’ve called upon Christ to save you and have taken up your cross, you’re an heir of the kingdom. [confused!] And you show favoritism toward the rich and discriminate against that nationality, really? Do you understand Christ’s cross work, resurrection, and your future inheritance, if you’re saved?
  • God has the highest station in the universe. His status is not equaled anywhere. And you, if you are saved, you are a joint heir with Christ. And you will live and reign with Christ. You will reign with him! And now you discriminate against those of lower status in this life…do you really understand the gospel and what it means?
  • Daniel 7 says Jesus came so that he might redeem people out of every tribe and tongue and nation. And in the book of Revelation we see people out of every tribe and tongue and nation praising God.

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Revelation 7:9 9 After these things John looks, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

Revelation 19:5 5 And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” No discrimination! God is no respecter of persons…every nation.

This is the mission of Jesus to call out a people for the sake of his name out of every tribe tongue people and nation. And do you discriminate against people who are from a different nation than you? Do you really understand the mission of God in the earth through Jesus Christ to call these people out for the sake of his own name for all of eternity that he might have them in His kingdom? Do you understand that this was for you too, or if you do discriminate, are you really holding onto faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory?

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Be careful, dear flock, not to discriminate.

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We’re not done with this topic, we’ll pick it up here next week…let’s turn to 396. “Boasting excluded, pride I abase.”

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Go to James Main Page

Go To New Testament Books

Go To BibleTrove Home Page

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