Do you know it’s a sin to be deceived? Sure, there is greater condemnation for those who do the deceiving, but the Bible commands us not to be deceived. James writes in James 1:16, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”
We are commanded not to be deceived. In context, James wants us to understand who God is, what He is like, and what He has done for us even in the midst of trials (James 1:2). The book of James is way more theological than some people give it credit for. I want to show you in today’s post 7 things James shows us about the God of our trials so that you won’t be deceived in the midst of them.
The Equality of God and Christ
James had a rich Jewish background. He grew up with Mary and Joseph as his parents. He understood that you do not take the Lord’s name in vain and that God will not share His glory with another. You don’t equate anything on the same level as God.
This information is critical in understanding the weightiness of James’s introduction. He begins his epistle by putting God and Christ on equal terms calling himself, “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
He puts God and Jesus on equal footing. This is more significant than one might initially realize. This reminds us that the God of our trials is Triune. And that the Father and the Son do not have different purposes for us, but one and the same, namely our conformity to Christ.
The Generosity of God
James knew God as the generous giver. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). James knew, like Paul, that since God had given us His own Son, how will He not graciously give us all things? This is why he says in verse 17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”
Every good gift is from God. Breath, air, water, sunrises, every good gift. But even more than that: Our very salvation is a gift of God: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18)
Not only the gift of Jesus and His death for our sins on the cross, but even our regeneration is a gift of God. Furthermore, to some extent, even trials are a gift in the sense that God is not finished with us. He has not abandoned us and He is using the difficult seasons in our life to strengthen our faith.
The Faithfulness of God
“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” (James 1:12). God always makes good on His promises.
And He promises the crown of life to those who love Him. James appeals to God’s faithfulness because He knows that He does not lie. He cannot be tempted with evil.
The Holiness of God
“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” (James 1:13).
God is holy in the sense that He is morally pure and unable to sin. James also calls Him “the Father of lights” in verse 17. God is holy in the sense that He is high above us and distinctly set apart. He is infinitely pure and morally upright. He does not look at things or act in the ways we do.
He is wholly other. He is holy, holy, holy.
The Goodness of God
God is the source of goodness. He gives good gifts because He Himself is good (cf. v.17). Everything good in your life you owe to God. You don’t have anything good in your life that you did not receive from God.
God is the fountain of benevolence. He is good and He does good. No one in the history of the world will ever be able to say that God is not good. No one will ever be able to say that God has not been good to them.
The Immutability of God
James says “there is no variation or shadow due to change” in God. He is immutable. Immutability simply means unchangeable. He is the Father of lights. That is, He is the creator of lights. He outshines lights. Lights don’t cast shadows on Him.
He is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His love, justice, holiness, grace, mercy, righteousness, and hatred of sin never changes.
In our trials, we don’t have to wonder if God has changed His mind about us. He hasn’t. Your circumstances do not change God.
We don’t have to fear if God is going to go back on His gospel promises. He won’t. We don’t have to worry about whether or not God will set all things right. He will. We don’t have to be anxious about the return of Jesus. He is coming back like He said, and He will vanquish all His foes.
There aren’t different “Gods” for different denominations. There aren’t different Gods for different countries. God is not a hypocrite. He is not two-faced. He is not political or shady.
Our triune God is perfect and unchanging.
For those who rest their faith in the finished work of Christ, this is wonderful news. For those who pretend or continue in open rebellion, this is terrifying news. God does not change.
And He will not compromise. Christianity is not “radically inclusive.” It is categorically exclusive. It’s only for those who deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. There is only One way and that door is Christ alone.
The Sovereignty of God
James talks about God’s will in our regeneration in v.18. “Of His own will” is emphatic in the text. In other words, God has free-will. He is not bound by time, space, or the inclinations of man or any creaturely desires. Our desires give birth to sin. God’s desires give birth to new life.
This text refers to when we were born again. The cause of our being born again is the will of God. God has not saved us out of obligation, but out of desire. He chose to save, otherwise, we would still be lost.
His will brought us forth to newness of life, not ours. The means by which God did this is the word of truth, which is the gospel. God brings about the new birth through the proclamation of the gospel. The word of truth is the good news of Christ’s obedient life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection.
Our only hope is the gospel of Christ.
In the midst of this discussion about trials, James reminds us of the gospel, the word of truth. And He reminds us of the goodness of God in not leaving us in our trespasses and sins but giving us new life and uniting us with Christ by faith alone. This is wonderful.
God has taken care of our greatest problem, our sin. Don’t you think He cares about the other trials we go through? He does. Our regeneration is one evidence that one day all things will be remade new. Our regeneration is the firstfruits of what is to come.
So, we are reminded through all this that even in our trials, God is for believers in Christ. God is for us. He is generous, faithful, holy, good, immutable, and sovereign. He is not tempting you to sin. He is fashioning you in the likeness of Christ.
So, Believers, let me exhort you to lift up your head and behold the God of your trials. This God is for you. He is not against you. I can’t answer all the questions you might have about “WHY”, but I can say this: God is not finished with you. And He has promised you the crown of life. Don’t quit. Don’t give in to sin. Help others on their journey through trials. Rest yourself again in the gospel.