James 1:15-27

James 1:15 (KJV)
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
The words “hath conceived” is a feminine verb in the singular form which shows that sin is a product of conception, which means once conception takes place the sin will go to term. This same word speaks of the act of arresting. (Mark 14:48 KJV) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? A person who is involved in sin is in a state of being held prisoner by that sin. A prisoner can only get out of prison if someone lets him out. Christ is the only one who can free someone from lust-based sinning. Once the conception of that sin has taken place, then this is the only time that a Christian can have an abortion, to wit, a spiritual abortion to kill that sin, or else that sin will kill them with physical death.
The words “when it is finished” (having been completed) is also a feminine verb which teaches us that sin, when brought to term, results in spiritual death. The finished course of sin is eternal damnation. This is why Christians must watch what they think since sin begins in the mind. They must always ponder what the end result of sin is, not the pleasures of it. A minister friend of mine once told me that he is afraid to play the lottery, simply because he is afraid he would win. Does it sound silly? Maybe, but he was concerned about his testimony and walk with the Lord. How could he counsel other people to stop sinning when he is living luxuriously from gambling winnings. Now does it sound silly?
James 1:16 (KJV)
Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Err - Misled
Small verse but mighty words. James is counseling these people that they should not be misled by the ease of sin and neglecting the consequences of it. Sin in a Christian’s life has far reaching effects. No on sins alone because every Christian touches another person’s life and once that life becomes tainted, that person loses integrity with others. (Num 32:23 KJV) But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. No matter how hard a person tries to hide their sin, eventually that sin desire seeps out and catches us. We are misled when we don’t think it could happen to us. Remember Jonah? He was disobedient to God and tried to avoid his responsibility in going to Nineveh. When he went on the ship to Tarshish, there was a great storm. Jonah’s disobedience caused the loss of much cargo and placed the sailors in danger on the sea. No one sins alone because we all affect someone else.
James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Good - Upright, benevolent, wholesome
Gift - Act of Giving
Perfect - Complete
Variableness- Variation (change)
James continues the thought from verse 16 which is kind of a transitional verse that goes from teaching about the lusts of man and how those lusts can be ignited by a temptation, if those lusts are not kept in check. In verse 16, James is making the declaration that the believer should not be misled in the area of God dealing with His children. We read in this verse that every “good gift” is from God the Father. The words “good gift” carry with them the meaning of the benevolent act of giving which characterizes God the Father.
The perfect Gift which God gives us is the gift of salvation. When we receive that salvation, it is complete with all the spiritual blessings and with all the sins forgiven us. This is what makes salvation complete. Satan is darkness but here God the Father is described as the Father of lights. (Isa 60:1-3 KJV) Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. {2} For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. {3} And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. God brings the light of salvation to His Elect in a world of sin and darkness.
It is interesting to note that this verse confirms the stable character of God. Some believe that God’s attitude has changed toward sin and the sinner from the Old Testament to the New. This is absolutely an erroneous belief.
(Mal 3:6 KJV) For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
(Heb 13:8 KJV) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
There seems to be an allusion to the sun, where we read about the “shadow of turning.” When the sun rises on one side of the world, it is absent on the other side. This is not so with God. His light shines even in the darkness. Darkness cannot displace light but light displaces darkness. God’s attitude toward sin and salvation is a constant and never varies.


James 1:18
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Firstfruits - they were regarded as the beginning of something greater to come.
Here we read that salvation is totally of God’s will and not of man’s will. (John 1:12-13 KJV) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. We are saved by means of hearing the Word of God and then the Holy Spirit applies that Word to the heart of the Elect and then there is salvation in the life of that individual. (Rom 10:17 KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The Christians were the firstfruits of salvation since their name was already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8 KJV) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Man never seeks God, it is always God who does the seeking and the saving.
The word “firstfruits” points to the fact that these were the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s work which will culminate in the resurrection of their bodies and complete deliverance from this sinful world. The word “creatures” carries with it the meaning of something which God has created. It is out of the Will of God that the Christian is created. We are actually re-created from the sinful people living in Satan’s kingdom to the new creation in Jesus Christ.
James 1:19
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
Since God is the one who does the saving and since the Christian is passive in the receiving of salvation, we are given three principles of living. First, we are to be swift to hear which basically means that we are to be ready and eager to her the teaching of the word of God. The word “hear” in this verse carries with it the meaning of “hearing with understanding.” It just doesn’t mean that you physically heard something but it means you heard and you understood or comprehended what was spoken. True communication never takes place unless the person who hears, understands! It also means that a Christian needs to be teachable. No Christian knows it all.
Then we are told to be slow to speak. This means that before we open our mouths, we better know what we are speaking of. Too many people open their mouth before they really have understanding of the situation at hand. (Prov 18:13 KJV) He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. This is why we are to hear with understanding, so if we have to verbally respond, it will be done in a proper manner. (Eccl 3:7 KJV) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; We need to know and be able to discern when we should speak and when we should be silent.
Then we are also told to be slow to wrath. Slow to speak and slow to wrath go hand in hand. (Prov 10:19 KJV) In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. One of the things that exacerbate a situation is too many words spoken. Those word exchanges, if allowed to heat up, will be the cause of many misunderstandings and sinful splits in families, friendships, and churches. (Prov 14:29 KJV) He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. Anger can be abated if the entire situation is understood in the proper manner and not through angry eyes. Decisions made in anger now are reaped in tears later.
James 1:20
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
Man’s wrath and the righteousness of God simply do not work in concert. When people become angry, they are not fulfilling the law of God, instead they are breaking it. Angry people only stir up the ire of those around them and they add nothing to any situation. (Prov 15:18 KJV) A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. When Christians become venomous, they are not working out of the righteousness of God, but are going back into the flesh from which they were delivered. The outcome of rage is not to the glory of God, instead it gives place to the devil. (Eph 4:27 KJV) Neither give place to the devil. True righteousness is peaceful as many times self-righteousness is at the root of many arguments. (James 3:18 KJV) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
James 1:21 (KJV)
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Filthiness - Moral Uncleanness
Superfluity - Denotes an element of excess
Naughtiness - Depravity, evil
Engrafted - Combo of 2 words “in” & “grow or germinate”
Not only was James speaking of the wrath of man, he is now counseling the Christians to get their spiritual lives in order. The words “lay apart” is in the Aorist tense which means “having laid aside.” Since they have now laid aside all the moral uncleanness and the excess of sin that comes with the sinful lifestyle, they are now able to receive the word of God as it is engrafted into the life of each believer. We see from above that the word “engrafted’ carries with it the meaning of the word of God going inside of us and germinating. This can only happen to the believer as we read and understand the word of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Instead of the arrogance of sin ruling in the life of a believer, as it does in the unbeliever, we live our lives in meekness so we are able to understand the word of God which has the power to save souls.
James 1:22 (KJV)
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Doers - One who does as an author
Deceiving - Mislead
Here we are told the reason that the word is engrafted into the believer. It is for the purpose of being a doer of the Word. (Rom 2:13 KJV) (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. A few passages ago we looked at a Greek word which meant, “hearing with understanding.” The word in the James passage and the Romans passage is a word which describes a person who is just listening. These are the people who come to church every Sunday and hear the sermon physically but they do not have any understanding of what they are hearing. Hearing and not responding to the Scriptures causes self-deception because it makes a person feel like they are doing something when in essence they are doing nothing. Coming to church and hearing the gospel and doing nothing is self-deception because hearing creates a comfort zone but doing goes outside of that zone. Many are deceived into believing that they are saved just because they attend a church and this is a great deception. We will see in the next chapter that if a person is truly saved, then works will accompany the salvation. The dormant religious are never a true representation of Christianity.
James 1:23 (KJV)
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
Here is a comparison of a doer and a hearer. He is like someone who looks into the mirror, and sees all their characteristics along with the blemishes. They see their natural face. Basically, James is showing us here how futile it is to just hear the word of God and do nothing about it. The next verse shows the futility of that course of action.
James 1:24
For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
Notice that this man only looks in the mirror and doesn’t do anything to improve his looks. This is what a hearer is, they just hear and walk away with no intent to make any changes or improvements. Once he leaves the mirror, both the image in the mirror vanishes along with his own mental picture of what he was. This is what happens to those who only listen to the word of God. Once they leave the physical hearing of it, their thoughts turn to other things and the word of God is forgotten. Sometimes we Christians can be this way. If we are hearing some portion of Scripture being expounded which causes us to tremble, we will avoid listening to it and then try to forget it. However, the Word of God is much deeper than a simple mirror. It brings out the complexion of the soul. It shows our need for salvation and after we are saved, it cuts us to the heart to rid ourselves of what would hinder our spiritual growth. (Ezek 33:30-31 KJV) Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. {31} And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. We know what happened to Judah and Israel for their disobedience to the word of God. They did not escape and neither will the unbelievers who turn off the hearing of God’s Word by walking away from it.
James 1:25 (KJV)
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Looketh into - “Bend over or stoop down” to look at something intently.
Law of Liberty - 2 Cor 3:17 & Gal. 2:4
Continueth - To remain, tarry or abide
Not a forgetful hearer - On who does the work
Doer of the Work - Eph. 2:10
In this verse we see the complete opposite of a person who just looks in the mirror versus someone who gives an intent look. Those who give no consideration to the Gospel are those with the mirror but in this verse we see a completely different attitude toward the things of God. First in the verse we are seeing a person who desires to really inquire into the Word of God. The words “looketh into” have the meaning of someone stooping over to look. They are making an effort to see something much closer than if they were standing erect. Their desire is to look deeper into the law of liberty, which is the law of Christ.
(2 Cor 3:17 KJV) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
(Gal 2:4 KJV) And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
The law of liberty is the gospel of salvation because once a person becomes saved, they are now freed from the demands of the law required for salvation. This is because all those laws were fulfilled in Christ at Calvary on behalf of His Elect. Then not only does this person look intently into the law of liberty, they will continue in that law. We are to abide in Christ and that is because we cannot lose our salvation. (John 15:5-6 KJV) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. {6} If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. Those who abide in Christ are those who are saved. In fact, it is only the real Christian that will look intently into the word of God.
When these believers hear the word, they take that word and implant that word, and that word, rooted in their life, will compel them to be a doer of the work. The forgetful hearer are those who are unsaved and have no desire to do anything for the Lord on a true scale. Unbelievers may feed the hungry or clean up highways under the umbrella of the church name but it is only the true believer that will go beyond. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. When a person involves themselves in the work of the Lord, they are blessed indeed. That word “blessed” carries with it the meaning of happy. There are so many Christians who are serving on mission fields and as tough as it gets at times, they will never abandon the work. They are happy serving the King of Kings and are privy to blessings that others are not. This is why we are commanded to be a doer of the Word and not just hearers. Hearers are never blessed and will never experience the intimacy God’s children have with Him while working in the ministry.
James 1:26 (KJV)
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
Religious - Ceremonious in worship
Bridleth - curb - An unbridled or uncontrolled tongue does not present the truth of the regenerated inner man.
Religion - A person’s outward testimony of an inward transformation (saved) or reformation (unsaved)
Vain - “Useless, idle, empty or worthless”
Now James switches his theme to one that will be more prevalent later on. He speaks of the curbing of the tongue. There were those among these Christians, as there are among us today, who presented themselves as being very pious people. However, their tongue was not curbed and obviously were shooting off their mouth. Their actions of doing this betrayed their piety. They may have thought they were saved because of them acting religious, but unsaved religious people do not have the ability to control their tongue. Churches are full of religious gossipers. (Prov 18:8 KJV) The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. James is saying that these religious gossipers have a religion of vanity. Their mouth betrays their lack of salvation. The difference between the saved mouth and religious mouth is seen in the following verse. (Prov 10:31 KJV) The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. (Prov 12:19 KJV) The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Religion is an outward manifestation without transformation on the inside. This is why any type of religion is vain. The true Christian has the ability to keep their mouth shut when needed since we are given the wisdom, through the Holy Spirit, to know when to speak. (Prov 15:2 KJV) The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. (Prov 15:4 KJV) A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. Sometimes the most outwardly religious person can be the most devastating gossiper.
James 1:27 (KJV)
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Pure - Without mixture
Undefiled - Unsoiled
Affliction - Tribulation (oppression or distress)
In the previous verse we saw what false religion can produce. In this verse, true religion is brought into focus. First of all, the Scripture calls it pure and this means there is nothing mixed with it. One of the most dangerous things that can ever be mixed is Christianity and Churchianity. When these two are mixed, you have the admixture of religion. The true religion that God speaks of here is the regenerate person where salvation has taken place. The Christian is both pure and undefiled before God the Father. This is because true salvation is the total removal of all sin of the believer. (Col 2:13-14 KJV) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; {14} Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Then in keeping with the idea that true Christians are doers of the Word and not just hearers. The true Christians will be visiting people to bring the Gospel. On the surface, it looks like we are to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction. Now this is not saying that these people have preference over others in our desire to see people become saved. We can visit anybody we want and bring the Gospel to them. Here we are to first visit the fatherless. Notice that only the term “father” is being used. This then is not suggesting that we visit orphans but is pointing to something much deeper.
(Psa 68:4-5 KJV) Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. {5} A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. What James has in view is to bring the Gospel to people and if they become saved, then they will have God as their Father too. Unbelievers do not have God as their heavenly Father as the Christians does. James is desiring that if we are doers of the word, the primary function of the Believer is to bring the Gospel to the four corners of the world which includes the physically fatherless and widows. (Mark 16:15 KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. It is the same as the widows. A widow has no husband. When a person become saved they are then the bride of Christ which means they have a husband who will never die. They are no longer widows but are married.
It is interesting that the term widow is used. In Scripture a widow is allowed to be married again, in contrast to the divorced person. When an unsaved person is born, they are basically married to the law (Rom. 7:4 below) because they lived under the law, according to the law, transgressed the law, obeyed the law, etc. (1 Tim 1:9 KJV) Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, The law was and is tied to every unbeliever. If they remain unsaved for the rest of their life, they will be judged by the law. (John 5:45 KJV) Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
When a person becomes saved, they are now dead to the law, which means they have been widowed from the law and now are tied to the law of faith and of Christ. We are remarried to Grace by the Lord Jesus Christ where we can never be divorced. Notice Romans 7:4 saying that we are married to another which means that we are already married, which was to the law, but now to Christ.
(Gal 2:19 KJV) For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
(Rom 7:4 KJV) Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.