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Products of New Birth

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Those who have experienced new birth by means of the word (gospel) must take off pre-Christian sinfulness and receive the implanted word (gospel) which will save you.

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James 1:18–21 ESV
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Pray
Mangrove Biome - is an extreme tidal zone where the world changes every six hours. It goes from a saltwater seascape to an exposed mudflat. They are like halfway points between land and sea. And truthfully there are some interesting plants and animals that live in these areas.Like the Mangrove tree. They have a sweet root system that is like a scaffold and the roots grow upward because it is the only way the tree is able to absorb oxygen. Vietnam has Mangroves, in fact, I was watching a nature show where I learned about the “Mudskipper” which is a fish that can walk or skip and it is the only fish that actually deals with being bit by mosquitoes.
Transition: see last week in the book of James we saw that he paused - like the water receded and the Mangrove roots could be seen and the “Mudskippers” were fighting off mosquitoes and he made a comment about the wisdom of our speech, listening and anger. And then this week in (v.21) it’s like the tide has come back in and James is continuing the argument he was making back in (v.18). So look with me there.
James 1:18 ESV
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Now, we looked at this verse in depth a few weeks ago so I don’t want to beat a dead horse but I want to remind us of the picture. In the same way your mom gave you birth, so God gave birth to you spiritually by the word. Like when your mom gave birth to you you weren’t giving her advice, you weren’t doing Lamaze or crawling out of the womb. You hadn’t researched the womb for other escape routes or even considered the possibility of what it would be like on the other side. So it was in your new birth.
God, out of his own will and purpose, brought you to life by the word of the gospel. That was three weeks ago. Then the tide set out and we were able to see the Mangrove root system last week. Right? Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger for the anger of a man does not produce an authentic Christlikeness that pleases God.
Transition: And now the tide rolls back in at the Mangrove Biome and we pick up James’ argument from (v.18) to (v.21). So God has brought you to spiritual life by His word now look at (v.21):
James 1:21 ESV
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
So, since you have new life in Christ by the Word of God, which has power, “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness.” What we see flowing out of our salvation experience is the command to rid ourselves of pre-Christian lifestyle.

Take Off

Look at those two words right after “therefore.” What do they say? Everyone say it together. Put away, which in the Greek is ἀποτίθημι (apotithemi) which more precisely means “take off”. Like this verb is used in when people laid down their coats to stone Stephen. So it’s figurative here. We use figurative language all the time. We say things like “he’s as bold as a lion” or “her voice is music to my ears” or “he’s as tall as a tower.” Here James is using imagery to paint a picture of what he’s trying to get across.
Mud Pit Glorieta 2015
Application: I remember clawing that mud dripping T-Shirt off my body and throwing it on the porch rail. And in much the same way when we experience the new birth - when we are born again - we take off “all filthiness”. What marked our life before our encounter with the living Jesus is filthy and has no business being apart of life now. We need to claw it off and not just throw it on some rail to be washed, but we need to rid ourselves of it. To “get saved” and keep on our filthy sin and rampant wickedness is offensive and detestable to God. It’s like if we were still wearing our muddy shirts. Nasty.
Take off all filthiness and rampant wickedness. The image James paints with rampant wickedness is the idea of surplus. Think of the rain we got a couple years ago. Think of the neighbors who had to put sandbags to keep water out of their house. Think of the Clark’s who dug a drainage system in their front yard. That’s surplus. So the evil and wickedness in this world that you must fight and take off is like “Whack-A-Mole”. You take out one mole another pops up. It’s the same with sin - it’s rampant. You take out slothfulness and pride pops up. You take out lying and gossip pops up. You take out not reading the bible and judgment pops up. So this battle with sin, as a new man or woman in Christ, is a conflict in which we will be engaged until we meet Jesus face-to-face.
Transition: So, you who’ve experienced new birth by God’s will through the powerful word of the gospel must “take off” like dirty clothes the sinful lifestyle you lived pre-Jesus. And…look at what else.
James 1:21 ESV
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Receive with Meekness the Implanted Word

So God gave you spiritual birth by the word, well that same word can’t be thrown out after salvation - no you must receive the word with meekness. We are to be humble receivers of the implanted word. See in most places in the NT when we read about putting off sin following that command we are told to put on virtue. But I love what James does here because he gets more basic and more fundamental. He knows what will cause virtuous behavior. He knows what will produce authentic Christlikeness. He knows what create Christian character. Humbly receiving God’s implanted word. Let me say something about being a humble receiver. That means this (hold up Bible) becomes a delight to be your authoritative guide for life. It means that you grow in loving God’s Word and obeying it. To receive God’s word with meekness means you see your deep need for it and that’s okay with you.
Now look we are not natural at this. As human’s our natural position is not one of “I love God’s Word.” No our appetite is spoiled because we’ve already had our fill of food from the world. We are like the kid who eats ice cream and candy and drinks soda pop and his mom wants him to eat dinner and he’s just completely full - he wants nothing to do with a home cooked steak. That’s our natural bend toward God’s Word we turn our nose to it. Your heart is packed with snap chat. It’s loaded with Netflix. It jammed stuffed with video games and their is no room for the pleasure of Christ in there. You don’t need advice. You don’t need some cosmic king or whatever. That’s why you need to see that a miracle had to take place in order for you to be a receiver. Verse 18 - new birth took place. Only Christians can humbly receive the implanted word. So humbly receive the implanted word. You are no longer filling your heart with the world. Fill it with the Word.
But how do we receive with meekness the implanted word?
I mean, if the word is implanted how can we receive it? Don’t we already have it?
I owe this next illustration and explanation of what it means to have the word implanted and need to receive it to John Piper.
Have you ever spoiled your appetite? Like you ate too much candy or too much sugar or had too much soda pop before a meal and you weren’t hungry? Anyone?
If you treat the word of God like your kidneys, you are making a big mistake. Your kidneys are implanted in you by your first birth. But you do not go on “receiving” your kidneys. They just sit there doing their work, and you rarely think about them. You certainly don’t “receive” them. They are already there — firmly implanted.
But James says, “Receive the implanted word.” It is already in you. And you should receive it. It is rooted and planted in you. It brought you life. It is there sustaining that life by feeding faith in Christ. But it is not there like kidneys. It is there like oxygen. It gives life and in giving life, it makes you breathe, and in breathing you receive oxygen. No one says: “I have oxygen; look how well it is working in me; it makes me alive; I don’t need to receive oxygen.”
Illustration: Mikey Pesqueda and Jacob Pruett candy story.
The implanted word of God and the external word of God are so united that we live by having it already implanted and we live by receiving it. It is at work in us, as Paul says. And the work it does in us is it makes us want to receive it. Receiving the external word replenishes the power of the implanted word, and the implanted word creates the hunger to receive the external word. And then to make us very serious about this process, James adds at the end of verse 21
Transition: so no, Mikey wasn’t getting ready to eat, but if I’d have asked him for some grub he would have turned his nose at me and moaned. He would have been too full for a real good meal. This is our state before (v.18 & 21). This is what your life was like before (v.18).
James 1:21 ESV
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Verse 18 reads:
What saves our souls? The implanted word which we receive. This is where it gets serious. See for the natural man, the person who has never tasted salvation in Christ, you can go your whole life and not need to breathe. But for the born again believer, the person who has experienced (v.18) “Being brought forth by the word of truth” well you may well hold your breath, but soon enough your body will long for air. Things in your body will begin to shut down in order to get you to fill those lungs with oxygen. And so it is for the Christian. You will read. It is your oxygen. So receive with meekness the implanted word.
James 1:18 ESV
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Application: Two practical ways. Read Scripture App - videos, reading plan, alerts, and Psalms to pray. Goal for the gospels. There are 89 chapters in the 4 gospels so goal to read them in four months. That will give you some miss days and some grace, but it will get you through the end of the year.
James 1:18 ESV
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
God, out of His own purpose and will, brings new birth by the gospel. This was the message three weeks ago. See but, before that point of conversion (that is a synonym of salvation) before the point of conversion in your life you were like Mikey.
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