Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, December 09, 2005

James 2:14ff : Background Information from James 1:14-15 (Post 6)

The more I read Post 5 in this series, the more I see the similarities in thought between James and the thread that I posted in Proverbs. The resemblance is powerful.

Did anyone have any trouble seeing the parallels?

The intimation I gave should be apparent to all:

Sin causes physical death


Righteous action saves the life, extends the life, preserves the life

Following the commands of God, being a doer of the Word (can I say yet: adding works to your faith?) will save a person from the deadly consequences of sin. James is talking about saving the life by obedience!

I wish to back up a bit and go over a couple of passages in James.

James 1:14-15

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Before I get into this verse, I want to ask a question. Does it not resemble the verses that we viewed from Proverbs from my last post?

“…the years of the wicked will be shortened” (Prov 10:27b)
“…he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death” (Prov 11:19b)
“…he who is careless of his ways will die” (Prov 19:16b)

Up to the point of 1:14, James has been talking about the trials/temptations (both English words translate the same Greek word “peirasmos” in James) of believers. The principles we gain, and the lead up to our considered verses:

1: Believers are to count it all joy (1:2) when they fall into trials/temptations because the successful overcoming of them has beneficial results (1:3) that grow us toward maturity (1:4).

2: God can be counted on when we go through these trials/temptations as long as we ask (1:5), but the asking needs to be without doubt (which precludes faith) (1:6, 7).

3: The poor brother should glory in his exaltation (which is both present in the trial/temptation itself: God gives us the privilege to be in trials/temptations, and in them we are the object of His loving and gracious concern; and prospective in the trial/temptation’s outcome: his maturity, and the blessing of the crown of life (see vs 12)) (1:9).

4. The Rich brother should glory in his personal trials/temptations as a form of humiliation (1:10). Trials can be used by God to remind the rich Christian of the transience of his own earthly life and how quickly all his material blessings can be lost (1:11).

5. Life will be richer, deeper, and fuller for those who, like Job (see James 5:11!!!), reach the end of their trials victoriously (1:12)

6. We should have an attitude of love for God through our trials and not one of blame toward Him for our being tempted by evil, for He does not tempt anyone with evil (1:13)

Now to our considered verses.

Lets quote them again:

James 1:14-15

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

God does not tempt anyone with evil (1:13)! The readers of James’ epistle should not sinfully charge God with responsibility for their temptations. Rather, the responsibility is their own. There is no temptation for us, in the final analysis, except when we respond to some seduction in an inward way and find the evil in some way desirable.

James now goes to trace the potentially deadly consequences into which man’s evil desires can lead him. The language he uses here is that of childbearing. When one is drawn away by his lust, this desire experiences a “conception” and subsequently gives birth to sin.

Desire is the mother of sin! The conception and birth of sin from desire occurs when lust is united with the human will, so that the birth of sin becomes the determination of the heart. But after the sin is brought to birth through desire, it grows (or, is repeated) and reaches maturity (in other words, when it is full-grown). Then sin in turn bears a child of its own – namely death (sin… brings forth [Greek “apokyo” = “gives birth to”] death).

Death is the grandchild of sinful lust or desire! Physical death is the cul-de-sac into which our lusts can lead us. James reaffirms this point in 5:20: “He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death”. As we have already seen repeatedly in the book of Proverbs, physical death is the ultimate end of sinful conduct.

Since James is talking to his regenerate Christian brothers (see Post 2 in my series, where I prove this), it is plain that even a born-again Christian can flirt with premature physical death by indulging his sinful lusts. This is an extremely serious consideration!

K.C. had asked about repentance. Here is one function of it. Immediate repentance from sin, that is, a turning from the error of our way (5:20), can cut the sin off before it is “full-grown” and thus save the sinning one from death.

Sin, when it is mature, gives birth to physical death! We only need to think about this for a few moments before images and instances come rushing to our mind. Sexual immorality can contract HIV for the person so indulging. Drugs can cause overdose. Speed kills. Anger, when full-grown, can lead to death. If you think about it, can’t you picture and conceive that physical death can be the result of full-grown sin in each example that you consider? I can’t imagine a single sin, that taken to its maturity, could not be envisioned to cause premature physical death.

How does this relate to our study of James 2:14ff? James states that being doers of the word and adding works to our faith can save us from the deadly consequences of sin; can save our lives! This is a salvation by works, and not by grace through faith (as discussed in Post 3). In the next 2 posts, we will be considering James 1:21-22 and James 5:19-20, as preparation to our continued study of James 2:14ff. This post and the next two are setting up vital background information to James’ concept of salvation in James 2:14ff.

Your comments are sincerely welcome, as your questions and objections.



Blogger Matthew Celestine said...

Good thoughts.

I borrowed Douglas Moo's commentary on James from the university library. Have you read that?

God Bless

December 10, 2005 3:09 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Another great article. I would like to ask; given these statements:

5:20: “He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death”


Immediate repentance from sin, that is, a turning from the error of our way (5:20),

how would you define "turn"?

December 10, 2005 10:04 AM  
Blogger Ron said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog! You are having some deep discussions here, many of which I am probably unworthy of making a contribution. Both you and Matt have valid points in your arguments. Yet, it seems that Paul admonished us to strive for the unity of the faith. How can we use the blogs to achieve that goal? Maybe the seed lies with you and Kc!

December 10, 2005 9:08 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Good post. Sinful choices bring pain and death. Lack of works will cause us shame at the Bema. I'm following so far ...

December 12, 2005 6:32 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...


I haven't read it. Zane Hodges states about Moo's commentary:

Replaces Tasker's volume in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. Brief, compentent, but a bit behid the curve on structural analysis.
Many smart people fail to grasp James' brilliant structural composition, but rather state that there is no real comprehensive and correlating structure within the book. They instead state that it is basically a mish-mosh of ideas that do not flow from a central and all-encompassing theme.


I define repentance as a turning from sin unto a turning unto acts of righteousness. I take John the Baptist's explanation of it, whereas, the crooked become straight, the high brought low, the low brought high, and the rough made smooth.


Thank you again for visiting my blog. Paul admonishes us to strive for the unity of the faith, but we are to contend for it as well. There are many people out there preaching false gospels, and false doctrines who overturn whole households, whose mouths must be stopped. (See Titus 1:11)

Titus 1:9
9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Titus 1:13
Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith

I am very passionate about the Bible and the gospel. Matthew Weymeyer had every opportunity to present a biblical argument for his position. He chose instead to present a fallacious argument saying I must be wrong because 1)my position doesn't have as much support in the commentary tradition as his does, and 2)that many Bibles interpretatively take his position. This is not a valid argument.

The fact of the matter is that John MacArthur, J.I. Packer, and many other Reformed authors explictly state that the gospel I preach is a false gospel. I passionately believe that a message that conditions eternal life on the sinner's commitment, surrender, repentance, faithful perseverance, and works is a heretical and false gospel that falls under the curse of God in Gal 1:8,9.

Thank you all for reading and commenting on my blog. It means more to me than you know that you all take the time to read my blog and respond.


December 12, 2005 10:27 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...


I think that you are getting it! Thank you for your continued support of this blog site.


December 12, 2005 10:28 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Moo's commentary is terrific. I have both Hodges and Moo and in my opinion, Moo offers an overall better explanation of the book.

Just an observation. James 1:15 needs to be read in connection with 1:18. These verses both use the "conception/birth" metaphor. So they need to be understood as contrasting thoughts. Full-grown sin gives birth to death. The Father chose to give us birth through the word of truth.

Most commentators, even Hodges, recognize that v. 18 clearly refers to new birth which results in eternal life. This means that v. 15 makes the most sense if it's referring to death of a spiritual sort.

December 12, 2005 11:34 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Hi brother, I appreciated your comments on Doulogos's blog regarding the faithful servant in Luke.

You explained the matter of reward at the Bema seat of Christ; Corinthians tell us that our works shall be tested as by fire and the one who's works are burned shall suffer loss.

Would you care to comment on "suffers loss", would you consider this simply the loss of things you had mentioned, or is something else implied?

December 12, 2005 1:28 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim, wow. Thank you for your encouraging comment.

"Suffers loss" may not have the import of being tragically severe as I believe it to be.

This loss is eternal. The loss forfeits the intimate relationship of co-ruling, co-reigning with Christ in His kingdom. It forfeits being one of the special "Metachoi" or Partakers of these special and merited positions.

The abundant entrance, the glories for the Overcomer, the honors of persevering in one's confession of Christ, the position of being in the intimate fellowship of the band of Servant Kings who recline with Jesus at HIS table.

If you think about each of these things (and there are more), and seriously consider them, you will see what the import of this loss in the Christian's eternity will be. They will suffer shame at the Bema of Christ. They will be cut in two by the Word of God. They will experience deep remorse.

Think about the implications of one's set eternity based upon their stewardship here and now as the difference between merely ENTERING the kingdom, or having the SUPERLATIVE experience of inheriting it. Sure, those entering the kingdom will have an eternity of purpose and joy. But it will pale in comparison to what is being prepared for those who are ready at Christ's coming, who have been faithful in stewardship, who are watchful, and who have overcome, persevering in faithful obedience and confession.

Thank you for your comments. If I can be of any more assistance in this subject, please let me know. My email address is on my profile page, and I can be reached there if you would rather.

Your brother in Christ,


December 12, 2005 2:11 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


the reason I started with verse 2 in James leading up to verse 15, is that verse 15 is part of the context of one's being in trials and TEMPTATIONS. In the context, it has EVERYTHING to do with the EXPERIENTIAL and TEMPORAL temptations that lead to temporal and and experiential sin, which leads to temporal and experiential death.

This is the line of thought of James.

Verses 17 and 18 are a continued explanation that God does not tempt anyone to sin.

Far be it from Him to do that! He does not tempt anyone to sin. Far from that, every good and perfect Gift comes from Him, an example of which is our regeneration!

You are failing to follow James thoughts from 1:2-18. He is talking to regenerate people concerning temporal trials and temptations, relating to them how one is tempted and sins, showing that the responsibility lies in them and NOT God, for God tempts no one with sin. On the contrary, He gives GOOD gifts, of which, one of them is the regenerate nature that all James' readers have (see post 1 in my series).


Sin merits eternal death at its first occurence. It does not take sin to be mature, full-grown to merit eternal death! James later says whoever keeps the law and stumbles at one point is guilty of all. One sin alone is enough to commit one to condemnation and eternal death.

James point is not that! He is saying that FULL-GROWN sin produces physical death! Sin, when it has reached its MATURITY produces death.

Paul states, that by reason of one man's sin, Adam, even before the experiential acting out of our sin, we deserved eternal death.

James says that the extended sinning of the regenerate person, when it is mature and full-grown, will produce physical death.

Why does it take that long to finally merit eternal death?

Are you saying that I don't merit eternal death until my sins have reached maturity?


December 12, 2005 2:24 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Death is the grandchild of sinful lust or desire! Physical death is the cul-de-sac into which our lusts can lead us.

This type of bracing Jewish wisdom is the context of the early, early church whithin which James wrote. We need it in our day where evangelicals who are certain of Heaven tend to think they're above the Biblical admonitions.

I can’t imagine a single sin, that taken to its maturity, could not be envisioned to cause premature physical death.


Great work here, Antonio!



December 13, 2005 12:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I can’t imagine a single sin, that taken to its maturity, could not be envisioned to cause premature physical death.

I meant to show your Antonio's observation more clearly with italics!...

December 13, 2005 12:38 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Here's a comment for you, Antonio:
Where is the next post?

December 14, 2005 11:55 AM  

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