Theme: Topical study on examples from scripture that illustrate the choice to obey or disobey.
Introduction: One of the major themes in the letter of James is this matter of “doing” what God has told us to do. (Review James 1:22-25; 2:8; 2:12 – Note that doing is connected with the Word of God. Now, James sums up everything that he has warned us about by giving us a challenging summary statement. He calls our attention to the fact that it is not enough to know the truth but that we must act on the truth in obedience. He says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” This is a clear warning against willful disobedience. King David in Psalm 19 prayed for deliverance from this type of sin. He prayed, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” The fact is that God did not make us like puppets. He gave us the gift of choice – of freewill to obey or disobey. The Old Testament is full of examples for our edification. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” I trust the O.T examples that we will consider today will help us to make the choice to obey instead of suffer the consequences of disobedience.
I. Cain & Able’s choices – Gen. 4:1-12
II. Joseph’s choice — Gen. 39:7-9
- Focus on God enabled him to choose good instead of evil (vs.9).
- But God was with him (vs.21).
- Sometimes obedience to God brings harsh consequences from man (vs.20).
III. Joshua’s choice – Joshua 24:14-15
IV. King Saul’s choice — I Samuel 15
- Self deception of Saul’s choice (vs.13, 20) Partial obedience is still disobedience
- Rebuke of Saul’s choice (vs.22-23).
- Partial repentance – He was still blaming others – he was the king and choose to disobey God (vs.24). If fear was a motive, it was sin to fear man rather than God.
V. Demas’ choice – 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica . . .” James 4:4
Conclusion: Avoid two errors in responding to a message like this about doing “good.”
For the Saved person: You cannot obey in your own strength – Saved by grace through faith – Live by grace through faith. We can only live out the command of James 4:17 by a dependence on the empowering grace of God in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself lived on this earth by the grace of God the Father. Acts 10:38 “ How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”
For the unsaved person: Doing good will not save you. Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us . . .”