WHAT IS ‘GRACEFULLY’ REALLY
Well, we started a little series last week, called, ‘What is ‘Gracefully, Really” - and we’re going to continue on with it today. We’ve been reading verses in the book of James, with a couple of verses from other places thrown in. The motivation and goal is to learn truly what it means to LIVE GRACEFULLY. The book of James really gives insight into what GRACE REALLY IS AND, IF YOU DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND IT, YOU CAN’T REALLY LIVE YOUR LIFE, AS THE WORD TELLS US TO - GRACEFULLY.
Let me remind you that we talked about the definition of grace being, ‘undeserved favor’. We didn’t deserve grace but God, because of His great LOVE. gave us favor, which we did not deserve. Through many, many places in His Word, and most especially in the book of James, He makes it quite clear that we are to live like that in our lives - or “be like Him,” and “do what He does.”
I’m going to start in at verse 1:12 and read verse 1:13 with it. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’, for God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”
We’ve talked about trials - now we’re talking about TEMPTATION. Now - to just get down to the most simple way of understanding this, TEMPTATION is the desire to do or say something which is against the Word, which is hurtful, harmful, and against all that God would want you to do or say.
I wanted to read these two verses together because I have heard many people say that God puts the temptation there to teach you something. This verse is very clear that God does not tempt anyone. The temptation is coming from the evil one. He wants to mess things up for us.
Temptation comes in many forms and regarding many types of situations. We are all pretty much aware of how memories of past circumstances can come into your mind, and cause a desire for something that you liked a long time ago, before you were daily walking with the Lord, to stir up something within you. We won’t go into the details of that - but that is NOT FROM GOD. It is to take you away from being close to God. Then - we get tempted also in many, many other areas of life. People who have dealt with alcoholism and drugs are very much aware of those desires rising up - to the point that the desire gets stronger than the knowledge of the harm it does.
There’s temptation in just about every area of life. Many of them are about you, you, you - what your body likes, what your mind likes, and on and on. Then, there is temptation to be judgemental about others, why they do what they do - then gossiping about them to others. Now we wouldn’t call it gossip, but, if we are trying to let others know negative things about other people, it’s gossip. Now, I just just hear someone thinking, “Well, I don’t consider it gossip - it’s just sharing what this person is doing and saying - it’s what they’re doing that’s wrong. I’m just speaking the truth because they’re making mistakes.” Now - let me ask you a question. I don’t want you to answer it outloud - I just want you to think about it. How would you feel if someone you know, who knows some really personal things about you and your past - maybe way back - and is going around telling others about it? Wouldn’t it hurt you? GOD WANTS US TO TREAT OTHER PEOPLE THE WAY WE WANT PEOPLE TO TREAT US!!! GOD BROUGHT US INTO HIS FAMILY AND GAVE US UNDESESRVED FAVOR (GRACE). Now, let me ask you, when you received the Lord as your Savior and was water baptized, the preacher didn’t get up there and tell them everything you had done wrong in your life, did he? No - that’s not the way God wants things done. AND HE WANTS US TO DO THINGS THE WAY HE DOES THINGS. That’s living GRACEFULLY!
Now - continuing on about temptation, I’m reading verses - James 1:14 - 15 - “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” Now, let me explain this in as simple to understand way as possible. It talks about sin being conceived. First, comes the lust, or desire before sin is committed - because it has to be conceived first. So think about it this way. Babies don’t just occur in the womb, without conception taking place. So this is saying, that you must not allow the conception of sin to take place in you by keeping the desire, or lust, from being given into. You must take authority in the name of Jesus over your body and mind, and turn the other way. Therefore, sin will not be conceived.
This is showing us, brothers and sisters, how to have victory in this area of our Christian lives - and when we get a handle on it, we will be LIVING GRACEFULLY WITHOUT SO MUCH EFFORT.
Now, these next three verses - James 1:16 - 17 - 18 - “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
These 3 little verses make it very clear that God only gives good and perfect gifts. He doesn’t put problems and awful situations, as well as TEMPTATIONS on our lives. There are people that preach the opposite of these verses - that God brings all the bad stuff on us to teach us. That goes against this Scripture. God has an enemy - his name is Satan - he hates God and all God’s followers. So look at it this way - IF IT’S GOOD AND PRODUCES FRUITFULNESS, IT’S FROM GOD - IF IT’S BAD AND BRINGS TROUBLE, PAIN, AND TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES, IT’S FROM THE DEVIL.
Therefore, recognizing and accepting and receiving with thanksgiving and praise the wonderful gifts which are from our FATHER, GOD, and rejecting by using our God-given authority over the evil things which are presented to us by our enemy, is a very important KEY to living a GRACEFUL LIFE. After awhile, it just becomes such a normal way of life for you, that the battle against it is easy and you find yourself praising the Lord for the victory over the evil one and his plans.
Now - here we go again - verses - James 1:19 - 20 - 21 - “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Boy oh Boy - ‘SWIFT TO HEAR AND SLOW TO SPEAK!!!! God’s really getting down to the nitty gritty on this isn’t He!!! Now, I have Andrew Wommack’s Living New Commentary - where he makes comments on verses in the Bible - and I really love it. I just couldn’t stop laughing about something he said about these verses. He said, “The Lord gave us two ears but only one mouth. We need to listen twice as much as we speak.” This is really a powerful three verses which really can change people’s lives. Often, we are hung by our tongue.
Now listen to this - what we say out of our mouths is very, very, very important. To be born again, one must say with their MOUTH what they believe in their heart that Jesus indeed took their sin to the cross and was raised from the dead, and that they want to receive Him as their Savior. What comes out of our mouths is very important.
I have discovered, through the years, that lots and lots of people really struggle with this - they just can’t really believe that what they say out of their mouths is having a big impact on their lives. BUT - these verses just really make it extremely clear that what comes out of our mouths is affecting our day-to-day lives. That’s why it’s so important to speak the Word of God outloud, claiming those promises, convincing our hearts of His love for us, and helping us through everything in life.
So - if we listen well - we will speak better. If we don’t speak ‘wrath’ out of our mouths, we will begin to have less of it in our lives. Now that can be in many forms. It’s not talking just about cussing and using profanity - it’s talking about harshness, anger, frustration, upset, and all the other things that bring discord into our lives. Did you get this part of that Scripture - “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Wowie - Wow - Wow!!!!
What we say out of our mouths has a huge impact on living life GRACEFULLY.
Now - let me make one thing clear. The Bible speaks in several places about a ‘GODLY ANGER’. The difference between a godly anger and sinful wrath is primarily selfishness. There are times in our lives when we are told to have a godly anger against evil.
These verses are very, very important. Many people live their lives wanting things to be different than they are but they talk, talk, talk negatively, harshly, angry, and on and on. They really are being hung by their tongue. I’m 86 years old and I’ve been a Christian for 73 years. I grew up in a home which was peaceful. My parents didn’t argue with one another - they loved one another and it was obvious to everybody. I never heard yelling, fighting, angry words, upset - I know that’s quite uncommon - but it’s the absolute truth. When I got married, my husband and I didn’t argue with one another either. I know that a lot of people just think that is impossible - but it really is the truth. When people are loving and caring toward one another ALL THE TIME - EVERY DAY - BY THEMSELVES AND AROUND OTHERS - it produces peace, joy, and a comfortable life for everyone.
Now I know that is not the case with a lot of people - BUT - it is the way the Bible says we are to live. Our own mouths are the root cause, often, of problems in our lives. Now, I’m not saying that my parents or my husband and I were perfect!!! We all make mistakes in our lives - but I am saying that living lives without hearing anger, wrath, meanness, harshness, and on and on all the time brings GRACEFULNESS into our lives.
I just want to say this. I have learned that I will not be speaking wrath out of my mouth unless I am feeling it or thinking it on the inside. Now, the only way that can be conquered is by taking the Scripture into my heart and thinking about people the way God thinks about people. HE THINKS ABOUT HUMAN BEINGS GRACEFULLY - IN OTHER WORDS, HE VIEWS THEM AND THINKS OF THEM WITH ‘UNDESERVED FAVOR’.
Now, brothers and sisters, you can’t do that in your own ability - you need to spiritually reach in to that new born-again spirit of yours - the same way that you receive His love, His peace, His healing, and on and on - and receive HIS POWER TO THINK ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND THINGS WHICH ARE TRYING TO GET YOU AGITATED WITH ‘UNDERSERVED FAVOR’ OR ‘GRACE’ - THE WAY GOD DOES!!! When you do that, you begin to think about the people, and the situation, the way God does! Therefore, the WORDS WHICH ARE COMING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH ARE LOVING AND KIND, AND FULL OF FAITH.
See - we have in our born again spirits all the power and strength we need to walk like Jesus walked on this earth. WE JUST HAVE TO ACCESS IT! It’s not about just putting on a good and proper look on the outside - it’s about TRUE UNDESERVED FAVOR COMING FROM THE INSIDE OF YOU - AND THAT’S LIVING GRACEFULLY.
I want to tell you a funny story. I said that my husband and I didn’t argue with one another. We got married in 1959. We did everything together. We were just so much in love. We were constantly just enjoying one another and trying to do any and every thing FOR one another. This was after we’d been married a few months and before we had children. We were in our car and we were driving along. As he had often done, he asked me where I would like to eat dinner. I said, as I often did, “Oh I don’t care, honey, wherever you choose will be okay for me.” He pulled the car over to the side of the street, where he could park, and brought the car to a halt, and turned off the motor. I looked at him with a big “What?” on my face. He turned toward me and looked me in the eye and said, “We’re not moving from this spot until you make a decision where YOU want to go for dinner. You always give the choice to me and this time, YOU are going to choose.” I looked at him and started to get upset with him for putting me on the spot that way - then I realized that he was just being kind to me - and we both started laughing. We sat there for a bit and I CHOSE A RESTAURANT. That was the closest thing to an argument we had.
Next we’re going to tackle these verses - James 1:22 - 25 - “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
By the way, when it calls the Word, “THE PERFCT LAW OF LIBERTY,” it is specifically referring to the New Covenant and to all the liberty brought to us through the atonement of Christ. What a marvelous blessing to be accepted by GRACE into the family of God and to have a relationship with the TRIUNE DEITY!
Well - this talks about two types of hearers of the Word. The first one listens to the Word but, the way I like to think of it is - it comes in one ear and goes out the other! He listens because he is supposed to - but the way the verse puts it, he is just deceiving himself. Actually, the Word is not taking root in him, and his life is, therefore, not being transformed. He is just deceiving himself - saying on the inside - “Well, I listened to the Word! I did what I’m supposed to do!”
When it is talking about looking into the mirror, it is saying essentially this! When we look in the mirror, we can see what we need to fix on our physical bodies, our hair, faces, teeth, and on and on. We all usually do that. We are to look into God’s Word to see what our spiritual person looks like. When we read verses like the ones we are reading, we can see where we’re missing the mark, where we need to pray more, where we need to follow more deeply the way God thinks and does things.
Unfortunately, so many Christians are just reading the Word because it’s on their list of things to do. In other words, THEY’RE NOT REALLY LOOKING INTO THE SPIRITUAL MIRROR AND GETTING A GOOD LOOK AT THEIR SPIRITUAL IMAGE! THEY JUST GO ON THEIR WAY, THE SAME AS THEY WERE BEFORE.
God wants us to take in His Word and let IT show us how He wants us to love, talk, walk, act, live, help, give, forgive, and……. as we do that, we are looking into His mirror - and He reveals to us where we need to make changes in our lives. When I look in the physical mirror, I can sure see where I need to fix my hair, and on and on. THEN, WHEN I LOOK IN HIS MIRROR, HIS WORD, I CAN SEE WHERE CHANGES NEED TO TAKE PLACE. I PONDER ON THAT. THEN I TALK TO MY BEST FRIEND - THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE - AND I TELL HIM THAT I WANT TO REACH INTO ALL THOSE GIFTS THAT HE GAVE ME IN MY NEW SPIRIT, AND MAKE CHANGES IN MY THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS. In other words, what I am doing, is operating in the ‘undeserved favor’ that He gave to me so that I can live my life toward others with ‘undeserved favor’ toward everyone else - no matter what!!!!
Several weeks ago, we talked about all the fruit of the spirit that it talks about in Galatians 5:22 - 23. It says this, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Now, I tell you, a long time ago, when I first began to learn this, I had never heard anyone teach that these things were already in my born-again spirit. When I began to get ahold of the fact that when I was born again, all this fruit was in my new spirit. All I had to do was access it. Before this time, I had been doing like everybody else I knew, just trying as hard as possible to be nice and kind and on and on. THAT’S TRYING FROM YOUR SOUL AND YOUR FLESH! AND IT ENDED UP BEING “TRYING TO LOOK LIKE IT ON THE OUTSIDE BUT IT WASN’T REALLY ON THE INSIDE - IN MY MIND, WILL, AND EMOTIONS.”
When I learned that God had already put all these wonderful things in my BORN AGAIN SPIRIT - I JUST HAD TO TALK TO THE LORD AND ACCESS THEM. GUESS WHAT? IT REALLY WORKED!!!!! Now, “Accessing Them,” is not complicated. It all works the same way that we all got saved. We said with our mouth and believed in our heart - that’s faith. Again, I’d like to quote Hebrews 11:1 - “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I love, love, love that verse. I’ve learned so much from it. I’m just going to remind you of something I’ve said before. Faith is real - it is substance - it brings the things that are in the spiritual world which are not seen, into the physical world. Now, hope is also involved. Hope and imagination are closely related. If you can’t imagine it, you’re really not hoping for it and faith doesn’t have anything to give substance to.
SO-O-O-O-O-O - in as simple way as possible to understand this - you have to BELIEVE THE WORD OF GOD - THAT GOD REALLY DID MEAN WHAT HE SAID - AND, THEREFORE, YOU CAN SIMPLY TELL HIM THAT YOU KNOW THAT HIS FRUIT (THOSE WONDERFUL THINGS LIKE PEACE AND JOY AND ALL THE REST ARE ALREADY IN YOUR SPIRIT - AND THEN JUST IMAGINE YOURSELF REACHING INTO YOUR SPIRIT AND ACCESSING THEM. YOU BELIEVE IT - YOU SPEAK IT OUR OF YOUR MOUTH - YOU RECEIVE IT!
You talk about experiencing the GRACEFULNESS OF GOD in your life!!!!!!!!
The last two verses in James 1 are verses 26-27 - “If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Christianity is really not a religion like the other religions of the world. I think that’s the reason James said, “Pure and undefiled religion,” referring to Christianity - the belief in and worship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God - the Creator of the Universe. Religion is man’s attempt to worship God but Christianity is God approaching man through Jesus, the Son, the 2nd Person of the Triune God. Religion focuses on outward actions but Christianity focuses on the heart. It mentions visiting the orphans and widows, I believe, as a picture of loving and helping the ones who are left alone in this world. I really believe it is just giving an example of what our attitude is to be to everyone who is in need.
So - this first chapter of James is giving a down-to-earth picture of what living a life of gracefulness is really all about. God doesn’t want we Christians to just go through our lives here on the earth with trying to put on a good show on the outside - but on the inside, we’re still upset, frustrated, angry, hurt, mad, and on and on. He wants HIS GRACEFULNESS, THE WAY HE LIVED HERE ON THE EARTH, TO BE THE WAY WE LIVE. He has put the ability to do that in our new born-again spirits, and He has given us, in the Word of God, the TRUTH - the knowledge about it and how to do it. It is really the only way we can live our lives the way He desires for us to. But it’s not just for Him - it’s because living GRACEFULLY IS THE BEST WAY FOR US TO SPEND THE REST OF OUR TIME HERE ON THIS EARTH. TO LIVE FREE FROM WRATH, ANGER, FRUSTRATION, AND, INSTEAD, TO LIVE EVERY DAY IN LOVE, KINDNESS, JOY, PEACE, AND ALL OF THE REST OF THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT, WILL PRODUCE THE LIFE HE HAS PLANNED FOR US.
THAT’S LIVING GRACEFULLY!
Scriptures for this lesson