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James 1:9-15

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 19, 2019


The book of James is possibly one of the earliest things written in the New Testament.

It’s thought to have been written around AD 40-50

It was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus.

James’ father was Joseph, while Jesus’ father was God.

Though James didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection, James would eventually be recognized as the leader of the church in Jerusalem.

James was known in the early church as “James the Just” because of his great devotion to God and purity of life.

Ancient historian Eusebius describes James’ prayer life, that he…

was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people[1]

The book has a distinct flavor.

While the apostle Paul wrote mainly to Gentiles, James is writing to the Jews.

His teachings are going to be very practical (hence our “tools” pic) and will draw much from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as well as the book of Proverbs.

There is a structure to the book.

The first chapter is filled with short little statements that will be discussed in greater length in chapters 2-5

1:9-11 Rich and Poor

:9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,

glorykauchaomai – to glory (whether with reason or without); to glory on account of a thing; to glory in a thing.  NIV – “take pride”

present middle imperative

lowlytapeinos – not rising far from the ground; metaph. as a condition, lowly, of low degree; brought low with grief, depressed; lowly in spirit, humble

exaltationhupsos – height; of measurement; of place, heaven; metaph. rank, high station

:9 the lowly brother

In context, when you compare with verse 10, this is talking about those who are poor.

The poor person who trusts in Jesus has a reason to be happy.

:10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

the richplousios – wealthy, abounding in material resources; metaph. abounding, abundantly supplied; abounding (rich) in Christian virtues and eternal possessions

humiliation tapeinosis – lowness, low estate; metaph.; spiritual abasement, leading one to perceive and lament his (moral) littleness and guilt

floweranthos – a flower

the fieldchortos – the place where grass grows and animals graze; grass, herbage, hay, provender

he will pass awayparerchomai – to go past, pass by; metaph. to pass away, perish

future middle indicative

:10 the rich in his humiliation

The wealthy person also has a reason to be happy, if he should learn humility and trust in Jesus.

:11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

risenanatello – rise

aorist active indicative

burning heatkauson – burning heat; of the sun

it withersxeraino – to make dry, dry up, wither; to become dry, to be dry, be withered; of plants

aorist active indicative

floweranthos – a flower

fallsekpipto – to fall out of, to fall down from, to fall off

aorist active indicative

beautifuleuprepeia – goodly appearance, shapeliness, beauty, comeliness

appearanceprosopon – the face; the outward appearance of inanimate things

perishesapollumi – to destroy; to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed

aorist middle indicative

pursuitsporeia – a journey; a going, that is: purpose, pursuit, undertaking

fade awaymaraino – to extinguish (a flame, fire, light, etc.); to render arid, make to waste away, consume away, perish; to have a miserable end

future passive indicative

:11 the rich man also will fade away

We will be talking more about the issues of the rich and the poor later on in James’ letter, but the one simple lesson here is:


Focus on what lasts

James is using a common picture found in the Scripture, a picture that comes from living in the land of Israel, a nation with a climate very similar to California.
We say, “April showers bring May flowers”, and boy have we seen that this year.
We’ve had an abundance of rain, and an abundance of green grass and colorful flowers as a result.
Yet the further we get from the rains, the dryer it gets, and much of the grass and flowers have begun to wither.
Isaiah identifies the easily withered grass as a picture of men.
(Isaiah 40:6–8 NKJV) —6 The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
James reminds the wealthy person that they too are part of the picture of what withers.
Some people make the acquiring of wealth the sole aim of their life, trying to provide some kind of “security” for the future.
The problem is, nothing lasts.
Only two things in this room will go into eternity – God’s Word, and the people around you.
And of the people around you, only the ones who have come to trust in Jesus will make it into the good part of eternity – heaven.
A wealthy person has a handicap – they have to learn to trust Jesus instead of their money.
Paul wrote,

(1 Timothy 6:9 NKJV) But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

Jesus said,

(Luke 18:25 NKJV) For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

But it’s not impossible – if a wealthy person finds the humility of learning to trust Jesus instead of their bank account, they too will find true stability.
In the long run, it’s okay if you’re poor right now. 
Money doesn’t make it into eternity.
If you are a person who has trusted in Jesus, then you’re set for eternity.

1:12-15 Temptation

:12 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.

:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation

The word for “blessed” (makarios) can also be translated “happy”.

There is something good, something special, something that will make you smile when you endure temptation.

enduresὑπομένω (hupomeno) – to remain “under”; to persevere.

It’s the idea to “keep going”, “not to quit”

The word for “temptation” (peirasmos) can either refer to a difficult time (a “trial”), or something that is tempting you to sin.

We saw the word translated “trial” back in:
(James 1:2 NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
I think the idea through our passage might be better handled by using the word “temptation”.
Even a difficult time can turn into a temptation to sin.

There is a special blessing for those who endure temptation.

blessedmakarios – blessed, happy

who endureshupomeno – to remain; to tarry behind; to remain i.e. abide, not recede or flee; to preserve: under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ; to endure, bear bravely and calmly: ill treatments

temptationpeirasmos – an experiment, attempt, trial, proving; the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy; an enticement to sin, temptation

frompeirazo – to test, to tempt

Forms of this word will be used throughout this passage:

(James 1:12–15 NKJV) —12 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. 13 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. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

This was also the word that was translated “trials” in:

(James 1:2 NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

:12 for when he has been approved

approvedδόκιμος  (dokimos) – accepted, tried and true, genuine

In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into molds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges.
Even after they were made, some people kept shaving the edges off to get more bang for their buck – maybe stretch the metal of 5 coins into 6.
Some money changers were men of integrity who only accepted and gave out genuine, true coins. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved”. (Donald Barnhouse)

Whether you are going through a difficult trial or temptation, how you respond will show how “genuine” you are.

has beenginomai – to become

aorist middle participle

adverbial, temporal

:12 he will receive the crown of life

he will receivelambano – to take, to receive

future middle indicative

the crown of life

“life” is a genitive of apposition (RWP) – life itself is the crown.

The way James phrases it, the crown is life itself.

Jesus said,

(Revelation 2:10 NKJV) Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The crown is eternal life, the resurrection from the dead.

promisedepaggello – to announce that one is about to do or furnish something; to promise (of one’s own accord) to engage voluntarily

loveagapao – to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly


No prize for quitting

Listen to me carefully.
The point is not to say that you must stop sinning if you want eternal life.
The point is that you must stay in the battle and endure.

Don’t quit your fight against sin.

Sometimes we just quit the race too soon.
Video:  Leader stops before finish
We might even think we’ve already won before the race is over.
Video:  Never celebrate too early

Please don’t tell me that you will never ever do that sin you struggle with.  Tell me you’re doing better, but don’t get cocky thinking you’re done.

Jesus said it several times (Mat. 10:22; 24:13; Mar. 13:13), and though He was talking about the difficult things ahead in the last days, the principle applies:
(Matthew 24:13 NKJV) But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
(Matthew 10:22 NKJV) And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
(Mark 13:13 NKJV) And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Solomon wrote,
(Proverbs 24:16 NKJV) For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
When we fall down, we just need to get up.
Video:  Chariots of Fire – Get up lad

You aren’t disqualified because you’ve fallen down.

You’re disqualified if you stay down.

Get back up.

:13 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.

when he is temptedpeirazo – test; to test one maliciously, entice to sin

present passive participle; adverbial/temporal

I am temptedpeirazo – test; to test one maliciously, entice to sin

present passive indicative

temptpeirazo – test; to test one maliciously, entice to sin

present active indicative

cannot be temptedapeirastos (“not” + “tempted”) – that can not be tempted by evil, not liable to temptation to sin

temptedpeirazo – to try whether a thing can be done; to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself; in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments; to try or test one’s faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin

let … saylego – to say, to speak

present active imperative, 3rd singular

:13 nor does He Himself tempt anyone

All the verbs translated “tempt” are in the present tense.

It’s not talking about some future time.  It’s not talking about some time in the past.
This is all about what happens at the time you are being tempted.


Don’t blame God

When Adam ate the forbidden fruit and found himself having to explain his actions to God…
(Genesis 3:12 NKJV) Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

It sounds as if Adam might be blaming God for giving him the woman in the first place…

Sometimes we can fall into the subtle trap of thinking that God must have something to do with the temptation we’re experiencing.
We might think that He’s the one that put it there.
We might think that if He doesn’t want me to give in to the temptation, He can take it away … and when He doesn’t take it away we just give in.
That’s wrong.
Let’s make one thing clear.  There is no person in the universe farther from the concept of sin than God.
(1 John 1:5 NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

He did not put that temptation there.

There are three things that can be responsible for temptation:
The devil
The world
And me …

:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

:14 drawn away by his own desires and enticed

temptedpeirazo – test; to test one maliciously, entice to sin

present passive indicative

drawn away ἐξέλκω (exelko) – to drag away; taken in tow

Present passive participle
It wouldn’t hurt to think of this as a fish being caught on a hook and being dragged into a boat.
The form of this verb carries the idea of a continuous action, not just a one time occurrence.

enticed δελεάζω (deleazo) – to bait, catch by a bait

Present passive participle
It’s a fisherman’s term, coming from a root that means “to deceive”.
In hunting and fishing, game is lured from its hiding place


Recognize the lure

Video:  Bud Light – It’s all about the lure
I am not in the habit of showing beer commercials in church, but this one kind of makes my point, doesn’t it?
It’s one of those kinds of “lures” that appeal to our sin nature.
Yet James isn’t talking about getting drawn away by beer.  James says the actual problem is bigger than that.
his ownidios – pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self
desires ἐπιθυμία  (epithumia) – craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden
These aren’t someone else’s “desires”, but my own desires.  They belong to me.
We might simplify this as our own “sin nature”.
It’s my own sin nature that entices and drags me away.

(James 1:14 NLT) Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.

:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

:15 when desire has conceived

The language that James uses is literally “pregnant” with meaning.

desire epithumia – craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden

has conceivedsullambano – to seize; to conceive

aorist active participle

gives birth tikto – to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed); of a woman giving birth; metaph. to bear, bring forth

Both words are used in:
(Luke 1:31 NKJV) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
Present active indicative

full-grownapoteleo – to perfect, to bring quite to an end; accomplish. 

Another teleo word.
aorist passive participle
The ultimate result of sin is death.

brings forth apokueo – to bring forth; from the womb; give birth to; produce

present active indicative

If we don’t deal with lust, it will give birth to sin.

If we don’t deal with sin, then it too will grow to become “pregnant” and give birth to death.


I wish I could give you the absolute perfect message today that will solve all your personal sin issues, but I’m not sure that’s possible.

Dealing with sin in your life is going to be a lifelong struggle.
Let me share four things that might be helpful.


Lesson #1

Temptation isn’t wrong

It’s only after you’ve given in to the temptation that lust becomes sin.
Jesus Himself was tempted.  We have a record of Satan tempting Him before He even began His ministry:
(Matthew 4:3 NKJV) Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
And yet Jesus didn’t sin.
(Hebrews 4:15–16 NKJV) —15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Martin Luther said: “It’s not a wrong for a bird to fly over your head, just don’t let it build a nest in your hair”
See what trouble people get into when they let the bird build a nest…
Video:  Flirting – New Yorker – Dress for the moment
Billy Graham said: “The first look is free. It’s the second look that kills you.”
Watch what happened with David and Bathsheba:

Video:  David and Bathsheba – David sees Bathsheba

I like how the movie made a point of David taking his time watching and thinking about the temptation.

You can read the rest in 2Samuel 11-12

So learn to shift your gaze when something catches your eye.

It’s when I dwell on the temptation that I get into trouble.

Make choices on life’s path that take you away from temptation.

Lesson #2

Recognize the root

The real root of my sin problem isn’t that thing I’m tempted with.
vs. 14 said it was “his own lust”
The real root is me.
I think some of us have this notion that our sin nature is something we might be able to get rid of, like Peter Pan lost his “shadow”:
Video:  Peter Pan – Peter’s Shadow
Some churches act as if you can “cast out” these things from your life, but I’m sorry to say you can’t.
You’re stuck with your sin nature for the rest of your life.
Paul wrote,
(Romans 7:18 NLT) And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
Over the years I’ve found myself getting lazy in regards to this.
I would only concern myself with sin in my life once I had committed it.
I now realize that I need to be aware my very real weakness towards certain temptations.
I remind myself every morning that I have areas of my life where I am weak in, and I tell Jesus all about it.
Some people will tell me that this is wrong because I’m making a “negative confession” about myself.

I would reply that I’m just agreeing with what Paul said about himself.

Some people would say, “But aren’t we new creations in Christ and the old has passed away?”

I would reply that we may now have a new nature inside of us, but the old nature is still very much present.


Dead Reckoning

While we can’t get rid of it, we can learn to rethink what kind of power it has over us.
(Romans 6:11 NKJV) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s a present imperative – something I need to do continually, over and over again.
Even though my sin nature is still with me, I have to act as if it’s dead and powerless.

Lesson #3

Weed and Feed

Video:  Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed
Your heart is like a garden or a lawn.
You need to feed the good plants and weed out the bad.
Paul wrote,
(Galatians 6:7 NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

An old Eskimo proverb says: “There are two dogs fighting inside of you.  The one you feed is the one that wins.”

The two dogs are my flesh and my spirit.

If I sow to my flesh, or “feed” my flesh, then my flesh will grow strong and temptations turn into sins quite easily.

On the other hand, if I learn to starve my flesh, learn to cut out some of those things that make me think about sin, my flesh will grow weaker.

What does that look like?

Maybe I need to think about the kinds of things I feed my brain (TV, internet, etc)

Perhaps I should reevaluate the people I spend time with.

I also need to learn to “feed” the spiritual side of me.
Paul wrote,
(Galatians 5:16 NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

The word “walk” is a present imperative, carrying the idea of continually walking in the Spirit.

fulfillteleo – to perform, execute, complete, fulfil

The word is an aorist active subjunctive, but when combined with the double negative (οὐ μὴ), it forms an exceptionally strong phrase, like “never ever”.

The underlying Greek has the idea that if we will continually walk with a close connection to the Holy Spirit, then while we are doing this we will never fulfill the lusts that are in our flesh.

How do I “feed” the Spirit?

Reading the Bible.  Prayer.  Fellowship. Worship.

The reality is that this is something we need to cultivate, something that we want to learn to do more and more of – yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives.
For me, one step is to pray a simple prayer every day that Jesus would be strong in all the areas that I’m weak in.

Lesson #4


Because you’re human, the truth is you’re still going to sin, even if you do all these things right.
When you’ve already given in to the temptation and have sinned, there is a way back to spiritual health.
(1 John 1:9 NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Don’t run from God when you’ve sinned.

Run to God and admit what you’ve done.

I think there’s room for others to be made aware of the problems in my life as well.
(James 5:16 NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

[1] Eusebius of Caesaria. (1890). The Church History of Eusebius. In P. Schaff & H. Wace (Eds.), A. C. McGiffert (Trans.), Eusebius: Church History, Life of Constantine the Great, and Oration in Praise of Constantine (Vol. 1, p. 125). New York: Christian Literature Company.