James 5:12-20 - Responding Properly to Each Circumstance
A. Six Types of Swearing The Real Meaning of Oaths & Swearing
1. Swearing by oaths
a. Jesus was put upon His oath—Matthew 26:63 and Paul swore by taking and oath—2Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 1:20
b. A man’s word should be trustworthy that no oath is necessary.
c. His character should be his guarantee.
2. Habitual swearing—Unworthy of serious attention.
a. The unrighteous are said to have “mouths full of cursing and bitterness”—Romans 3:10-14
3. Hypocritical swearing
a. There are those who “bless God” in one breath and turn around and “curse men” the next breath
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:8-10 NKJV)
4. Silent wearing
a. This is secretly cursing others “within your heart.”
For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have cursed others. (Ecclesiastes 7:22 NKJV)
5. Evasive swearing—choosing words that seem less harsh—stupid, four eyes, bonehead
6. Ego swearing
a. This is swearing to boost your ego-your manliness—You feel cussing makes you more of a man
B. The Law Was Based On The Third Commandment
Exodus 20:7… Leviticus 19:12… Deuteronomy 23:23… Numbers 30:2
The law was much to narrow for man, so he decided to interpret it to his likening so he could swear & curse as much as he wanted. Not 2 Significant points:
1. God gave the law to men…
a. To keep man from dishonoring God by falsely calling upon His name or by cursing Him
b. To keep man from showing himself to be a liar & an unstable person
c. To keep man from treating others unjustly
2. The law was given to govern man from…
a. Lying and then swearing that one is telling the truth.
b. Making a false vow to God
c. Making a false vow to another person, promising something and not doing it.
d. Using God’s name in vain. So many use God’s name as a slang or curse word. Note—this person will stand especially guilty before God—Exodus 20:7
C. We Are Not To Swear By Any Oath
Scripture says that it is better not to vow that to vow and not pay
When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed--Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NKJV)
— Acts 5:1-11-A vow to God puts the man in debt to God. To break a vow is an act of lying to God
— A vow to man puts the man in debt to man—To break his vow is an act of injustice to man.
1. Do not swear by heaven, for it is God’s throne: the place where His Glory is manifested
a. To swear by heaven or to curse heaven is to swear by God and to curse God.
Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? (Isaiah 66:1 NKJV)
2. Do not swear by earth, for the earth is God’s footstool: the place He governs and looks over
The earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. (Psalms 24:1 NKJV)
3. Do not swear by any other oath, for all power belongs to God
a. Whatever power a man thinks he has, it can be taken away from him at any moment. Therefore he does not have the power to keep oaths.
D. Let Your “Yes” be “Yes”—Your “No” be “No” A Guarantee
1. Our word is to stand alone & be true—nothing more than, “Yes I will” or “No, I will not”
2. The way we live should be so honest & straight that no one would question our word
3. Swearing or cursing does not make a matter more believable but more suspicious
4. A person swears something because his or her character is questionable
a. Christians are to be the salt of the earth—Matthew 5:13
b. Christians are to let their yes be yes & their no be no & anything else is evil—Matthew 5;37
c. Christians speech is to be seasoned with grace & salt—Colossians 4:6
d. We are to have a life of good works, in doctrine showing integrity, sound speech that we may not be condemned, that our opponents may have nothing evil to say of us—Titus 2:7-8
E. Swearing By Profanity
1. Exodus 20:7—God Will Hold This Person Guiltless
a. This is from the Devil himself
1) Using God’s name in a profane way, or a way of a slang word, desensitizes us to the real awe in which we should stand of his name.
2) Do you ever here someone say, “devil damn it”?
II. Circ. #2: When You Are Suffering-Pray-When Cheerful-Sing Psalms—v.13
A. Is anyone among you suffering—Let him pray—v.13
1. No matter what circumstance come our way, we are to combat them by prayer not worry—Phil.4:6
2. We must seek God in times of suffering, allowing Him to work in our lives so we respond properly.
1Chronicles 16:11… Matt.7:7… Matt.26:41… Lk.18:1… Jn.16:24… Eph.6:18… 1Thess.5:17
B. Is Anyone Cheerful—Let Him Sing Psalms—v.13
1. When we are walking with the Lord
a. Being filled with the Spirit of God
b. Letting the Words of Christ dwell in us richly with all wisdom
c. Offering sacrifices of praise continually, which is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name
d. Because He has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light
The result will be…
“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
III. Circ. #3: When You Are Sick, Call For Prayer From Church Leaders—v.14-15
A. The Steps To Take—Four Facts Given In This Passage v.14
1. Is anyone among you sick?—v.14
a. There are those who are so sick they are unable to get out of bed or the hospital.
b. Those who are sick must trust in God knowing that God can heal them
c. This person is also a firm believer that prayer is number 1—This is why he calls for the Elders
2. Call for the elders of the Church & let them pray for you—v.14
Note: James did not say, “call for the faith healers”!
3. Pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord—v.14
a. Lit. “rubbing him with oil”—Could be a reference to ceremonial anointing—Lev.14:18
b. May be a reference to medical treatment
B. The Results The Prayer of Faith—v.15
It must be noted that God “can” heal if He chooses to or “not” heal if He chooses to.
Then what are the special characteristics of this case that James is describing?
The Person Is Sick Because of Sin—v.15b-16
1. The Greek says, “If he has been constantly sinning.”
2. Many are sick because of their sin—Mark 2:5…Jn.5:14; 9:2…1Cor.11:30
3. James has described a church member who is sick because he is being disciplined by God
4. Note: Not all sickness is do to sin
5. Disobedience can lead to sickness—This happened to David when he tried to hide his sin—Ps.32
6. Sin affects the whole church—Sin always has a way of growing & infecting others
7. There is healing, physical & spiritual when sin is dealt with—Proverbs 28:13
The Person Confesses His Sins—v.16
1. The early Church practiced church discipline
2. 1Corinthians 5:1-13—Paul told the believers at Corinth to dismiss the sinning member from the assembly until he repents from his sin and makes things right.
3. This is why we are told in verse 16 to confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another
The Person Is Healed By “the prayer of faith”—v.15
1. They are to pray in faith—praying & expecting God to heal the sick person
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind—James 1:6
2. What is the prayer of faith that heals the sick person?
a. Praying according to God’s will—1John 5:14-15
b. We don’t know if God is going to heal this person or take this person home to be with Him.
3. The Result—Examples of those who were healed by faith
a. Restored, saved, to make well—This is not a reference to salvation of the soul.
1) Matthew 9:21—For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well."
2) Mark 6:56—Wherever He entered into villages, cities, or in the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well
Note: Touching the hem of Jesus’ garment was used as the point of contact to release their faith
b. Sins forgiven—Cf. Mark 2:5
IV. Circ. #4: When You Have Sinned,
Confess Your Faults to One Another & Pray for One Another—v.16-18
Why Should We Confess Our Sin’s To One Another
1. To Pray For One Another
2. So we can restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…bearing one another’s burdens—Galatians 6:1-2
3. When the sin has been against someone else.
4. When we have misled or lied to someone
5. When we have offended or caused someone to stumble or sin
Prayer is a critical importance for this reason…
The Effective Fervent Prayer of a Righteous Man Avails Much—v.16
1. As already seen, a real prayer of faith heals a sick believer—v.15
2. And prayer that is really earnest is a prayer that works—v.16
a. The energetic, passionate prayers of godly men have the power to accomplish much-Num.11:2
A. The Dynamic Example of Elijah—v.17-18
1. He was a man with a nature just like ours
2. A human being who had passions and feelings just like us
3. A man who faced the same temptations and trials just like us
a. Yet Elijah earnestly prayed for it not to rain & it did not rain for 3 years and 6 months
b. Then he prayed again for it to rain and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit
The Point of this prayer: Earnest and Fervent prayer –Is Effective, it works—God hears and answers prayer.
V. Circ. #5: When One Is Backslidden, Seek Him—v.19-20
A. He Is To Be Sought
1. The believer wanders away from the truth—v.19
2. He walks in error—v.20
a. The verb err means “to wander”, “to go astray”—A gradual moving away from the truth
b. Truth means the Word of God—John 17:17
c. Unless the believer stays close to the truth he will start to drift away
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away—Hebrews 2:1
Illustration: “drifting away on the sand by just standing there, 10 minutes later you are 20 feet farther.”
Quote: “Keep your eye on the ball”—“Keep paying attention”
Application Give Attention to the Word of God—1Timohty 4:13-16
B. He Is To Be Converted
1. Converted—means to “to cause to return, to bring back
2. This is to be done in love—Speaking the truth in love—Eph. 4:15
a. Does a believer need to be converted or turned back to the truth? Yes, they do!
b. Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that you faith should not fail, and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren—Luke 22:32
APPLICATION DON’T MISS THIS!
1) God allowed this—Jesus did not pray that Satan would not sift Peter
2) Jesus did pray, “Father, do not let him lose his faith
3) Satan often attacks us in the area of our strengths, because, I am not relying on the Lord but relying on myself.
4) Jesus said to Peter, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night-Mt.26:31
5) Peter said, “Even if all are made to stumble, I will never be made to stumble-Mt.26:32
6) Jesus then predicted Peter’s denial—Mt 26:34
7) Peter then says, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny You!—Mt. 26:35
1 Corinthians 10:12—Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
C. The Result
1. His soul is saved from death
a. Death—the person saved here is a believer being won back to Christ: “the soul of the sinner [hamartolon] won back to Christ…It is the ultimate and final salvation here meant by the future—that is by the words “shall save
(Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol.6, p.67)
2. A multitude of sins are covered
a. Where there is truth, there is honest confession and cleansing from God—1 John 1:9
b. Once a believers soul has been saved, restored back to Christ, a multitude of sins becomes covered and forgiven by the blood of Christ
c. The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses a man from all sin!
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. (Psalms 32:1 NKJV)
"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)