“Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of Him to whom you belong?”
When we focus our attention upon the teaching that James gives us regarding the life that we are called to as people of real faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we are confronted with his convicting teaching on the true nature of faith and unbelief. James centres that teaching upon a word that we find in the second chapter and the fourth verse. It is a word translated as distinction, or better as doubt. It describes an inner conflict between trust and distrust of God. Such an attitude comes to know what God’s will is yet it distrusts Him, so it goes off in its own way.
When Jonathan Edwards wrote his masterful Religious Affections he began with a clear definition of what real faith looked like. He put it in these terms, “True faith mostly depends upon having the emotions of God, loving the things He loves.” As Edwards writes this it seems as if he has these verses in James 2 in mind. Real faith finds itself loving the things that God loves, and hating those things which He hates. This means that the believer finds themselves increasingly living in agreement with the Scriptures. This must be especially true in the area of where we put our affections. It is hard to see how a Christian can fail to love those things that our God loves in Christ. It is equally hard to understand how we can love those things that God hates. This is the essence of sin, in which we find ourselves being unbiblical in our affections.
Jay Adams in his The Christian Counsellor’s Commentary on Hebrews, James, 1 &2 Peter, and Jude calls us to Biblical living with the following advice to counsellors.
“Then James did one more thing – without which it would be very difficult to allow matters to stand as they are. He showed the counselee how he may discern his own motives. When James quotes Leviticus 19:18, he gives the biblical basis for examining motives. He points out the biblical standard by which they must examine their motives. He makes it clear that sin is determined, and one is convicted of sin, by the Bible. It is utterly essential to make all determinations of sin by comparing the act (word, attitude) with the biblical injunction that relates to it. You must never allow the counselee to turn to extrabiblical lists that others have drawn up and added to the Scriptural Standard. This is the essence of pharisaical legalism. He must be warned against it. In addition, you must deflect his thinking from experience, feeling, tradition or anything else other than explicit biblical teaching.”
James points us back to the teaching of Scripture in order to define the evidence we rely upon for assurance of faith. A true believer loves sacrificially in the way that the Word of God calls us to do. We love those things that God loves. We determine the reality of our salvation by these Biblical means. There is no other way for us to live but in obedience to the Word of God. Those who claim to love Jesus must live in obedience to His commandments.