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James 1:12 - Three Regulating Facts As We Endure Trials And Testings

We are going to concentrate on James 1:12, however, we are going to read verses 12-15. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Recently we considered James 1:5 where James gave us three reasons we can ask God for wisdom with faith, saying, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

  • God gives wisdom to all

  • God gives wisdom generously

  • God gives wisdom without reproach

  • Therefore wisdom will be given when asked in faith

We are prone to be faithless, doubters, double-minded and unstable. Therefore, we need biblical God-centered truths upon which our faith can be securely anchored. These biblical truths are found outside of ourselves, these are objective truths from the Word of God and not subjective truths from us, so we can have faith when we pray for wisdom that we will receive it from the LORD.

In verse 5 James grounded our faith in God and not in the fickleness of our dispositions or in our circumstances of life. James grounded our faith in God’s nature, His character, His wisdom, and His Word.

In a similar way, in James 1:12 we are given three facts (indicatives) that are intended to anchor our faith in God so that we can remain steadfast in the LORD while we experience trials. James uses three indicative verbs that are intended to strengthen our faith so we can endure, abide, remain, and not shrink back when adversity and suffering comes. Like James 1:5 these facts are also grounded in God’s nature, His character, His Word, and His wisdom and this causes our hearts overflow with love for God.

These factual statements are to be the ‘regulating principal’ for us while we remain steadfast in the LORD even in the face of difficult trials and life’s strongest storms. If we fail to keep these three ‘regulating principles’ in view the trials that we face can quickly become temptations and opportunities for you and I to sin and mis-represent God (13-15).

  • God intends to use these trials to prove and grow our faith.

  • Satan, however, intends to use these occasions as an opportunity to get us to sin. (Job 1-2)

No believer should assume that they cannot fall as so many others have during their trials. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul speaks about those whom God had delivered from Egypt. That generation had experienced so many blessings. They were delivered across the Red Sea, they were led by the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, God provided daily the manna from heaven, He provided quail for them to eat, and they drank water from a rock in the wilderness. Despite all these blessings they failed the tests and they often desired to return to Egypt. Therefore, Paul says to us in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

During the trials and testings of our faith we are to remain steadfast and to bear up under these things. We are to abide, to remain, to not shrink back, to not recede when trials come upon us like those who desired to return to Egypt; rather, we are to bear up underneath these trials and bravely and calmly endure them with faith as we look towards the Promised Land and to our inheritance there.

David is an example of this when he looked to the LORD when he was in great distress, saying, “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2)

We are not allow these trials and testings to become an opportunity to be tempted to sin against the LORD; rather, we are to trust God increasingly as we understand His nature, His character, and His Word (v.5). As this happens the trials we face will not be an opportunity to curse God and sin (Job 1:11, 2:5); instead, the trials will strengthen our faith and we will love the LORD and obey Him in all things (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2-3).

Let us look at the three ‘regulating principles’ that James gives to us in James 1:12.

  • Factual statement #1- “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial...

  • Factual statement #2- “...for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life…

  • Factual Statement #3- “...which God has promised to those who love him.

Factual statement #1- “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial

The first factual statement that James gives to us is that a faithful man who remains steadfast under trial is blessed. This blessedness speaks of a future blessing, but there is also a present blessing which enables the Christian to remain steadfast. Paul speaks of this in I Corinthians 10:12-13 when he says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

In these verses Paul gives us several things that are worth our attention. First, every temptation we face is ‘common to man’. This means that as difficult as the temptation is God regulates it and He is in control. If God did not do this we would be overwhelmed and crushed by it.

The trials we face are are ‘consistent with being human’. {The literal meaning of the word ἀνθρώπινος refers to being human.} Therefore, we can take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to be super-human to bear up under the trial. You don’t have to have the strength of an angel to survive the trial. Your temptation, as difficult as it may be, is common to man and fashioned by God to serve His purposes and it will end in our good. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Romans 8:28)

Secondly, Paul reminds us that God is not far off during these trials even if it seems to us that He is. The LORD faithfully oversees the temptation and He will not let us be tempted beyond our ability. In fact, the LORD ‘will also provide the way of escape’ through it. This is a good translation because the Greek has a definite article, τὴν, which means that God provides the only way of escape. There are not many ways to escape a trial. No, there is only one God-ordained way to escape a trial and that is to go through it with God’s wisdom (5) and grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Jesus shows us how to endure trials when He was tempted and Satan offered Him a way out of suffering. Jesus did not accept that offer to escape suffering, but He continued obediently towards the cross. Jesus took the only path that His Father had provided. Throughout all of this Jesus entrusted Himself to His Father’s care and obeyed His will (Matthew 4:8-10, 26:36-46; Hebrews 5:7).

Thirdly, Paul teaches us that the escape that God provides does not mean that we do not have to go through the trial. Jesus taught His disciples that they must pick up their cross and daily follow Him (Luke 9:23). Paul teaches that the escape that God provides is the ability to ‘endure it.

What is that one way that we are to take to escape the trial?

It is the path that goes through the trial as we look to Jesus who alone can daily bear us up. David speaks of this in Psalm 68:19-20, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

We learned from our study of Hebrews that we are to look at Christ when the author of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 12:1-3, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right had of the thone of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”.

The first word in James 1:12, ‘Blessed’, speaks of someone who is happy. It can also speak of the bestowal of blessings upon someone for their well-being. And it speaks of a person who is to be praised, spoken well of, or commended.

Trials are not pleasant or enjoyable. Yet, these trials are to be endured and we are to remain steadfast underneath them. When this is done in faith these trials provide us with an opportunity to experience happiness, a blessing, and they are used by God for our well-being.

During a trial Satan will often come to us like he did to Adam and Eve and try to convince us that nothing good can result from the steadfastness of our faith. He will try to provoke our passions and desires to sin against the LORD. He will provoke us to bitterness against God and others. He will tempt us to be discontented with our situation and then He will convince us that there is a better option, a better path, a quicker solution to eliminate our suffering.

During such times we ought to pray the words of Psalm 77:1-2, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and He will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” Oh, how easy it is to seek temporary comforts, like Esau’s bowl of soup (Hebrews 12:16), than to have a soul that seeks the LORD and refuses all comforts apart from His will!

We ought to take the words, ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial’, literally. We are to remain steadfast under trial and not allow this testing to become an occasion to sin against God.

  • Blessed is the Christian who remains steadfast (2-5, 12) and does not allow this test to become a temptation (13-15) to sin against God.

  • Blessed is the Christian who bears up under the trial through faith by drawing close to their loving God (2-5, 12); rather than, allowing this test to be an opportunity to be angry with God, question God, or to accuse Him of things that are against His nature and character (13-15).” (Revelation 2:2-4- Heed the example of the Ephesian church who endured patiently and had not grown weary but they were abandoning their love for the LORD that they had at first.)

Factual statement #2- “...for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,…

James seems to convey that all of life is in some way a trial and a test for a believer when he writes, “...when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life”.

James has given us two reasons that we can endure trials with joy. First, we are being perfected, completed and made to lack nothing through them (1:5). Secondly, God has promised that those who remain steadfast under these trials will receive the crown of life and be commended by the LORD (Hebrews 11:39-12:11).

When a Christian encounters trials they will inevitably become tests which will reveal if we are living by faith according to godly wisdom or if they are faithless and live according to their own passions and desires.

The virtues that can be seen increasingly in the life of a believer are contrasted with those who lack faith and godly wisdom. The faithless person will not be able to bear up under trials with joy. Instead, these trials become an occasion for them to think wrongly about God and to sin against Him (1:5).

If the faithless person does not recognize these things and repent they will continue to mature in their worldly wisdom and in their sin. This is what James addresses in James 1:13-15 when he says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Consideration: Recently I visited with someone who has been told that he has a terminal illness. In the coming season of life his body will grow weaker as the day of his death approaches. Sadly, at this time this man does not see his need for salvation and he is not turning to Christ as he quickly approaches the Day of Judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, even as his body grows weaker from his sickness he will continue to grower stronger in sin. What a paradox! This man, like so many others, is dead in trespasses and sins. Only the LORD can overcome the strength and power of sin which if allowed to continue grows stronger and more mature in every heart. This sin blinds a person from seeing their great need for God’s help. Lord, help this man to repent before it is to late.

The Christian,on the other hand, has seen his need for salvation through Jesus Christ. Therefore, they humble themselves and become Christ’s servant and they pick up their cross daily and follow after Jesus. The life of a disciple is a hard life which is only made possible by the empowerment of the LORD (Matthew 19:26; Ephesians 1:19-20, 3:20; 2 Thess. 1:11). They are to remember the grace they have been given and the crown that has been promised to those who endure. This crown is undeserved and unearned. Like God’s wisdom (1:5) it is given to all generously and without reproach to anyone who will repent and believe upon Jesus Christ.

Factual Statement #3- “...which God has promised to those who love him.

When we go through trials it is easy to become hopeless. This is why at the end of this letter James reminds these believers that there are many faithful saints that have endured trials and received their crown. These saints displayed their love to the LORD through their faithful obedience to Him even as they experienced trials. James says in James 5:10-11, “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

If we want to faithfully endure trials we need to consider the prophets and the inspired words that they have written. We need to consider their example and imitate their faith (Hebrews 11). If we will do this we will not falsely conclude that when trials come they are happening because God is tempting us with evil (13-15). We can learn from their words and from their example that the LORD has a good purpose for these things and that the LORD is compassionate and merciful even during the greatest seasons of our suffering. Oh, how difficult it is to see these things apart from knowing God’s word and His Wisdom (1:5, 16-18).

James also encourages us in our verse. Three times in verse 12 the individual believer is addressed, “Blessed is the man (singular)...for when he (singular) has stood the test he (singular) will receive the crown of life…”.

Proverbs 14:10 is true when it says, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” James has revealed a mystery that these two things, bitterness and joy, can co-exist at the same time in the life of the believer. (Paul also in 2 Corinthians 8:2- “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”)

Perhaps one of the hardest things for a Christian to deal with as they experience trials is that we often feel so alone. During our trials we may cry out like David when he says, “Save, O God, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.” (Psalm 12:1) We may cry out like Elijah In 1 Kings 19:10 saying, “I am the only one left and this trial is going to kill me too!” (paraphrased) Oh, how comforting it must have been when the LORD responded to Elijah, “I have reserved seven thousand in Israel.” (v.18) These 7,000 people were not simply lucky. No, they were kept by the LORD.

In a similar way, James comforts every Christian who feels like they are all alone in their trial. James reminded us that we are not alone when he reminded us of the faithful saints, but he also reminds us when he speaks about all the faithful saints who will all receive the crown of life. James says, “...for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those (plural) who love Him.” None of us are alone. There are others and every Christian is being kept by the LORD and therefore there is a particular day when we will receive our crowns.

Like Peter, every Christian knows the bitter grief of having stumbled and fallen during a trial. Like Jesus did with Peter ,He also comes to each of us and restores us. He asks, “Do you love me?” Like Peter we say humbly and a bit sheepishly, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love you.” Jesus responds, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will become more and more my obedient servant who is willing to pick up your cross and lay down your life for my sake.” (Paraphrase)

Jesus who began this good work in us will bring it to completion. He keeps us and He will one day receive us into glory. Let us look to Him and receive grace from His Word.


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