Book of James – Bible Study – Part 5

Part 5 – What is the Key to Responding to Trials?

This is part 5 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of James .

Compiled and written by Norma Becker – a true woman of God and God’s word.

*The Index, with links, to all 15 parts is at the bottom of each page.

What is the Key to Responding to Trials?

James 1:20-27

The key to responding to trials and resisting temptation is found in one’s reaction to God’s Word. James starts out by making it clear that what he has to say is important. The NIV says, ‘take note of this.’ To receive the Word you must be ready to listen. It also demands that you don’t talk too much. In a discussion about what the Word says, which is usually an argument, the one who is listening rather than lambasting is the one who is slow to anger. Why does he say this?

“For anger doesn’t produce the righteous life that God desires” (verse 20).

In further preparation for the reception of the Word, as the Living Bible says we have to ‘get rid of all that is wrong in your life, both inside and outside. Then we can humbly and meekly receive the truth.’

Putting it into Practice

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).

Now he goes on to discuss putting the Word into practice. It is not enough merely to ‘listen to the word’ or by the same token, merely ‘to read it.’ Those who only listen to a lot of preaching and read a lot of Christian books deceive themselves. The deception comes from thinking they have done all that is necessary when actually listening to the Word is only the beginning. God isn’t looking for activists who do their thing without information, or is He looking for those who are informed and do nothing. There must be a balance. First we must be hearers and then we must be doers. Romans 2:13 is the only other place in the New Testament where hearers and doers are mentioned.

Use God’s “Spiritual Mirror”

“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (Romans 2:13).

Then he goes on to use a mirror as an example of God’s Word. It illustrates that God’s spiritual mirror shows us the kind of people we are. The forgetful hearer is the person who takes in scripture, looks at it, but once he leaves the setting, he forgets what God has said. His life is unaffected. In contrast, the effectual doer looks at the mirror intently and does not forget but does what he hears.

The Word is called the perfect law of liberty and the perfect law that gives freedom. The perfect law is the moral and ethical teaching of Christianity, which is based on the Old Testament moral law, as embodied in the Ten Commandments but brought to completion or perfection by Jesus Christ. In contrast to the sinner, who is a slave to sin, obeying the moral law gives the Christian the wonderful freedom to be what he was created for. In John 8:31-32 Jesus said,

“Hold to my teaching, then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In looking back over verse 18-25, what is the key word that is repeated the most?

Ultimately the key both to responding to trials and resisting temptation is to be found in one’s reaction to God’s word.

Verse 18 – receiving the Word

Verse 22 – responding to the Word

Verse 23-25 – realizing that the Word is essential to spiritual growth.

We must accept God’s Word, act on it and abide by it.

Rein in That Tongue!

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:26-27).

Being eager to receive the Word and responding to what it says must be coupled with a new approach to life. The Living Bible says,

“Anyone who says he is a Christian but doesn’t control his sharp tongue is just fooling himself, and his religion isn’t worth much.”

Being a Christian or being religious is referring to the outward acts – going to church, fasting, giving to charity, public praying – these acts are useless if there is no control on the tongue. The verse isn’t specific, but what are some of the ways that the tongue can reveal that our religion is worthless? Cutting criticism of others, uncleanness, dishonesty….

Orphans and Widows

Do you think James 1:27 is a total description of religion? Is this all we have to do? What do you think this verse is illustrating. What does it mean? Looking after orphans and widows refers to our conduct; keeping oneself from being polluted refers to our character. God wants us to have the kind of religion that exerts a positive influence on our life. He doesn’t give us a definition of religion but insists that genuine religion is life changing. It expresses itself in love to others and holiness before God.

Part 6
: Those with True Religion Should Serve.


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Index of James Bible Study

Part 1 Who is James?
Part 2 When and to Whom Was James Written?
Part 3 How to Welcome Trials with an Attitude of Joy?
Part 4 What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
Part 5 What is the Key to Responding to Trials?
Part 6 Those with True Religion Should Serve
Part 7 Expression of the Character and Will of God Himself
Part 8 Spiritual Maturity
Part 9 Spiritual Maturity continued…
Part 10 What Causes Fights and Quarrels Among You?
Part 11  Is This How We Are To Be?
Part 12 What About My Plans?
Part 13 Let God be the Judge
Part 14 The Power of Prayer & Praise
Part 15 Summary and last part

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