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James; Do not be deceived

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posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 04:09 PM
In a previous thread, I was considering the first half-chapter of the New Testament letter of James;
James; Tested Faith
The main theme of that passage (vv1-12) is Faith, and the probability that Faith will be tested.
James tells us that the testing should be welcomed, because meeting the test successfully allows us to receive “the crown of life”, which has been promised to those who love God.

His next concern (v13) is to correct a possible misunderstanding of this promise.
We mustn’t jump to the conclusion that God himself is responsible for the testing.
James denies this possibility, a denial based on the principle of God’s holiness.
God cannot be touched with evil, cannot be associated with it, so he cannot be the source of this testing, any more than he can be tested by it himself.

Where, then, does it come from?
James is evidently a good observer of human psychology.
He says the testing is coming from the “desire” which we all find within us.
The desire is enticing us, and dragging us along, much like the shameless woman in Proverbs ch7.
Then desire “conceives” and gives birth to sin (continuing the “shameless woman” metaphor). Finally the end-result of sin is death.
This downward spiral (Desire-Sin-Death) is the reverse of the upward spiral (Testing-Steadfastness-Crown of Life) which occupied the first half of the chapter.

Then James tells us that we must not be deceived, because every good and perfect gift comes from above, from “the Father of lights” (vv16-17).
I want to examine these verses on their own, before fitting them into their place in this letter.

What is the “deception”, the wrong opinion, that James is warning us against?
On the face of it, since the true understanding is that ALL good gifts come from God, the “deception” ought to be the logical opposite;
“There are some good gifts which come from someone other than God”.
In fact that’s a workable interpretation, on the assumption that contemporaries were looking for favours to the heavenly bodies, the sun and the moon and the stars.
So James puts the heavenly bodies in their place, which is under the authority of God.
He does this by describing God as the “Father of lights”, meaning that he brought them into existence, and also as “without variation or shadow of change”.
The heavenly bodies, in contrast, are moving around ceaselessly, evidence of a changeability which marks them out as inferiors.
James might have been using these observations in his ordinary teaching, to encourage people to look to God alone as the source of every good gift.

We can find further levels of meaning in these verses when we place them in the context of this chapter.
In the first place, they follow on from an existing theme of “the generosity of God’s gifts”.
At the beginning of the letter, James is talking about the “various trials” which Faith will meet.
He then assures us that we’ll be able to receive Wisdom if we ask for it from God, “who gives to all men generously and without reproaching”.
The implication is that we should be asking for Wisdom because Wisdom will help us to cope with the testing.

In vv13-15,as already noticed, the warning about the prospect of “testing” was repeated and made more severe.
So it is very appropriate that James should now re-iterate the promise that God will provide for that need.
The “deceptive” opinion can be understood as the doubts entertained by the “double-minded” man in v6.
“Every good gift comes from God” can be given the emphasis that gifts CERTAINLY come from God.
It seems reasonable to assume that Wisdom, for facing the test, is the gift which is uppermost in the writer’s mind.
The observation that God has “no variation” can carry the further meaning that;
“God does not change; therefore he cannot change from giving good things to not giving them”.
In other words, he will be steadfast and faithful in his promised gifts, and will not withdraw them.
The doubtful man may be “driven and tossed by the wind”, but God will be stable.
Thus the effect of v 17 is to confirm what has already been said in v5.

At the same time, the words “Do not be deceived” are also following on from “Let no-one say…” in v13.
So the “deceptive” opinion can be understood as the belief that he warned us against in v13, that God is the source of testing, and v17 is now brought into the argument against that belief.
“Every good gift comes from God” can be given the emphasis that ONLY good gifts come from God.
“From above” contrasts with the fact that desire is “one’s own”, coming from within.
And the observation that God has “no variation” can carry the further meaning that;
“God does not change; therefore he cannot change from giving good things to giving bad things”.
In other words, he is not the source of temptation; just the source of the Wisdom that helps us to deal with it.
Thus the effect of v17 is to give the positive side of the negative statement in v13.

Do not be deceived, says James. It is God who supplies the good endowments and perfect gifts that help us maintain our Faith, while the hindrances are coming from elsewhere.

The remainder of the chapter is concerned with the best “endowment” of them all, namely “the word of truth”, but I must leave that for another occasion.

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 04:43 PM
While the message is of hope, the reality is "suffer, its for your own good."
I was raised christian, by a mother who was so unyielding in her 'faith' that she had a psychological break when I was 11. When I could, I read not the bible as my mom made me do each night but the mythologies, Plato, Aristotle, and others. This I did on my own, because for some reason, what we were told every Sunday didn't make much sense. Loving God hates gays, hates those who don't accept Christ, don't do this, don't do that. What about those who came before this Liberator who was the gate himself? Well, they were damned. Didn't matter how good or bad they were. Hate their luck, you know. Now I know that's not really the case, but keep in mind, when you ask a hate mongering idiot with a piece of paper on the wall saying he's a real live honest to goodness preacher, then you better take his word for it. Then my studies dug deeper, finding the Apocrypha. Suddenly, I found answers to those questions. Deeper still, the Forbidden Knowledge... the Demiurge, the true identity of Samael, who the serpent in the garden really was, according to the scrolls. If there is one thing a church hates for you to do is ask that dreaded question "WHY?" After the first ten minutes or so, you've exhausted their bag of tricks, their half baked lies, and with the one tool the TRUE MAKER gave us, our wonderful curiosity, the facade falls apart under reasonable eyes and we see that we need no building of wood or stone, the God Within Ourselves guides us to truth, and even though we might end up sacrificing our social ties and alienating our kin, we know what is real because we have awakened to the truth. Even Jesus said time again that we were sleeping, to wake up. Let those with eyes see, let those with ears hear.
As for my animosity for organized religion.... I hate any group that restricts individual thought, be it religious, social, or political. I will set myself against any such entity that does not allow people to become all they can be through growth, education, investigation, and reason. Just because a book was written a few hundred years ago says this or that, it doesn't mean it is absolute truth. If it were, we'd be living according to Aseop's Fables, the Legend of Gilgamesh, hell, even Grimm's Fairy Tales.

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 04:49 PM
However, the actual topic of the thread is the meaning of this passage in the letter of James.

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 05:21 PM
Wonderful topic, however your biblical quotes refer to the reality that is two fold, opposite sides of one coin.

Evolution seeks to expand this limited understanding of reality so we can view reality with greater understanding and broader perspective so as not to be trapped by the never ending cycle of "good &evil", "light & dark", "pro and con" etc, etc, etc.

The challange is to find your way out of the the hampster wheel and this requires thinking for yourself instead of quoting passages from an age old text designed to take human miscreants and offer them a path toward something better.

Everything changes

Edit to add ok maybe I should have read the whole post....carry on.... good work!
edit on 30-7-2012 by twohawks because: snafu

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 05:24 PM
Nevertheless, as previously stated, the examination of that Biblical text is the topic of this thread.

edit on 30-7-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 05:48 PM
All things in this post are my views and shoudl be questioned:

Crown of Life is from my point of view the crown chakra that gives a person that have opened it the oneness with god gives the person the bliss that makes the person feel the love from above. It can be opened thru meditation/prayer/works and search within.

The "do not be decived" might be that you are supposed to question the book you are reading since it is a testing book from my point of view and people caught up in duality will only get more duality. From my point of view the bible do not 100% make sense since it is a book that helps separate the goats from the sheep. A hateful person who hates things that are different than him will find his own proff of his ideas and be trapped and build up his ego against the warning to do otherwise. A person of pure heart will find extreme doubt in his/her understanding because of the contridictions that lowers ego and increases need to get answer from god and not just the book. When the need is big enought and the student is ready the master appear.
edit on 30-7-2012 by apushforenlightment because: spellchecking

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 05:52 PM
The crown of life came up in a previous thread, and in this thread we are discussing the meaning of vv13-17 in the first chapter of the letter of James.

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 06:01 PM
reply to post by twohawks

Everything changes

Except for God whose name is Jesus

Read on

posted on Jul, 30 2012 @ 06:08 PM
reply to post by ACTS 2:38

Yes, indeed; that is the point of v17, of course (no variation or shadow of turning)
God is being depicted as the "unmoved Mover" of contemporary philosophy, the starting-point of all things.
Thank you for that contribution.

edit on 30-7-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 07:31 AM
Wow, actually LIVING your life and having goals, dreams, hopes, desire is something that is deadly? While being pushed around aimlessly without desire - or even enslaved or controlled - that is the true way of life?

They say the nonsense "You are a slave to Jesus or a slave to sin", no, I don't care to set out and sin, I am just being me, and it would be stupid to say "you are a slave of yourself" because I AM me.

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 07:47 AM
reply to post by arpgme

I'm sure James is thinking of the kind of "desire" which prompts murder, rape, theft.
Surely it's agreed that these are bad things?
The idea that these bad impulses come from "within" is in agreement with modern pyschology; and even from your point of view, it ought to be preferable to the idea that they come from evil spirits.

edit on 31-7-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 04:39 PM
reply to post by DISRAELI

He says the testing is coming from the “desire” which we all find within us.

When James says "desires" he really means evil desires.
Martin, in the Word commentary on James, says it is dependent on the Jewish-rabbinic discussion of the evil impulse, and refers to a couple previous books on the subject, including Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, by Davies, specifically in the chapter on The Flesh and Sin.
One of the quotes Davies gives to show the basic idea is from Ecclesiasticus

Sir 15:11
Say not thou, It is through the Lord that I fell away: for
thou oughtest not to do the things that he hateth.

Sir 15:12
Say not thou, He hath caused me to err: for he hath no need
of the sinful man.

Sir 15:13
The Lord hateth all abomination; and they that fear God love
it not.

Sir 15:14
He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the
hand of his counsel;

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 04:49 PM

Originally posted by jmdewey60
When James says "desires" he really means evil desires.

Yes, precisely what I was trying to tell another poster.
Perhaps you noticed that quibble.
Thank you for that contribution.

posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 05:22 PM
For information;
Following on from this, the next theme is "The Word of truth".
I had thought of taking in the remanider of the chapter in one attempt, but I'm beginning to think that this would be too unwieldy.
It will probably have to be divided between "Hearing the Word" and "Doing the Word".

posted on Dec, 18 2012 @ 12:35 PM
Now that the series on James is complete, an Index of the various threads can be found at this location;

James; Teacher of Faith and Wisdom

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