These small group studies of James contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
James 1:12-27 Inductive Bible Study
- Temptation is not from God (12-15)
- The one who endures will receive the crown of life (12)
- God does not tempt anyone (13)
- Temptation interacts with our own sinful flesh (14-15)
- Giver God
- Every good blessing (16-17)
- Salvation (18)
III. Set apart through the Word
- Humility (19)
- Anger (20)
- New Life (21)
- Personal application
- Take action (22)
- Foolishness of inaction (23-24)
- Source and Blessings of action (25)
- Tongue (26)
- True Religion (27)
- Verses 12-15
How is a person blessed who perseveres under trial?
What does it mean to persevere through/under trial?
What is the crown of life?
Why do you think James includes this tidbit on God and temptation here in the middle of his discussion on trials?
If temptation doesn’t come from God, where does it come from?
What is the whole process here?
How do think Satan might describe the steps/process of temptation to us?
Why is it important to know the truth about the results of giving in to temptation?
How does it help us to know that we ourselves are naturally evil and full of evil desires in our battle against temptation? (Protect against ourselves. Lord of the Rings example.)
So then what steps can we take to conquer temptation in our lives?
- All people will face trials and believers will probably face even more than average. It is not a question of if, but when. We can’t normally control the trials that we face, but we can decide how we respond to them. Believers are supposed to persevere. We are supposed to bear up under it. To understand what that means it might be helpful to look at the opposite. The opposite of persevere is “give up”. When believers (or professing believers) face trials they could just give up. They might do so for a number of reasons. Maybe they grow to doubt God’s goodness, His plan, or even His existence. Maybe they still believe in God, but their flesh wins and they give up because it is simply “too hard” and too painful to persevere. But if you give up, you won’t the prize. See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. To persevere means to emerge after the trial victorious having never compromised, having never lost the faith, and having maintained a positive and grateful attitude towards the Lord. This is a sign that the person’s faith is genuine. Trials act as a sifter to sift out false believers from the true ones. Those who truly belong to the Lord will heed the warnings in the Bible and endure victorious and receive the crown of life.
- What is this crown of life? Athletes at that time received a wreath placed on their head denoting their victory. The crown referred to here is probably symbolic. It denotes the believer’s ultimate reward, that prize that we strive for. The prize is eternal life. In fact, it is already guaranteed to those of us who believe. It has been promised, but we will finally receive it in full when we emerge from this life of trials victorious. It is a little bit like a house. I put a down payment on it and it is “mine”, but I still need to make monthly payments. Finally after many years I finish all the payments and the house is completely mine. The example is not perfect, but you can imagine that our response to trials is like making continued payments. It confirms our faith. But if we give up under trials it is like a person who stops making payments and the house is repossessed (no this doesn’t mean we can lose our salvation).
- James makes an important distinction between trials and temptations and also their source. He makes it clear that God is never responsible for tempting people. This would depict an evil character, but God is pure and holy, not evil. This could be used by people as an excuse when they give in to temptation. They might say, “God is tempting me” and blame God and justify their fall thinking there is no way out. But they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
- Temptation is only effective because it interacts with our lustful flesh. God cannot be tempted. Why? Because He has no evil or evil desires. We are tempted everyday because we are evil and have evil desires. Some things might be a temptation for one person but not another because their desires are different. For example if someone comes up to me and asks me to drink or smoke, it is not really a temptation to me because I don’t have this desire. Now for Moses it might beJTemptation is so powerful because our sinful nature WANTS to do it. Our sinful nature WANTS to give in. Lord of the Rings example. Why is it important for us to recognize this weakness? If we are prideful we will fall into sin. We have to humbly realize our own sinful flesh so that we can protect against it. What steps can we take to protect ourselves against ourselves? Fellowship. Get help from other believers. Avoid places or things we know will tempt us. Set standards for ourselves of things we will or won’t do to make clear lines. Pray immediately when we face a temptation. Fill our minds with the Bible. Be self-disciplined.
- What God says through James about temptation and the steps of it are very different from what Satan says. Satan might call temptation an opportunity for pleasure. He might say, “Each person can enjoy himself fully when he puts off the old-fashioned traditions and narrow-minded bigotry. He can engulf himself in pleasure if he just is open-minded enough to think freely and be independent of external restraints. The pleasure will be enhanced when you fully let go. The fun gives birth to pleasure, which gives birth to continuing bliss. When it is complete, you will be the happiest person alive.” But God says that temptation and our flesh together bring about sin and that sin brings about death. You can see the two opposing views in Genesis where God said they would die if they ate the fruit and Satan said, “You surely will not die.” Who was right? God. And He still is today. We need to understand the consequences of sin. Sin brings about misery, guilt, despair, bitterness, self-loathing, pain, and death. It looks tasty on the hook, but tastes sour in your mouth. Believe God and don’t fall for Satan’s trap.
- Verses 16-18
Satan wants to tell us that God is keeping us from something good, but what is the truth?
Is there anything good for us that God doesn’t want us to have?
How does recognizing the goodness of God’s character help us in our fight against temptation and also our desire to persevere under trials?
What does it mean the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow?
Who took the initiative to save us?
What does the phrase mean “first fruits among His creatures?”
- James then goes on to describing God’s goodness. Why? Knowing God’s goodness is also a protection against sin. When Satan first tempted Eve he tried to make her doubt the goodness of God. He told her that God was keeping her from something good, something wonderful. She fell for it and the world fell into sin. The truth is that everything good comes from God. He has our good at heart. When he gives us commands and rules they are to help us, not harm us. See cross-references. Trusting in God and His goodness is a protection against the enticements of temptation. If two people come to you selling something. One of them is your good friend who you know will tell the truth. You know he cares for you and truly wants to help you. The other one is a famous scam artist. But his product sounds really good and he is a great salesman. Who will you believe? Well, this is the same.
III. Verses 19-27
Why should we be quick to hear and slow to speak? How can this protect us?
How does the “anger of man” differ from God’s anger?
In what way does it take humility to receive the Word?
How does a hearer only delude himself?
Explain the parable about the hearer.
How is the Bible like a mirror?
Do you think most church goers are hearers or doers? How about you? How can you tell if you are a doer or only a hearer?
Explain verse 27.
Why does looking out for orphans and windows portray pure religion?
- Christians are to be humble like Christ was. Part of humility is not thinking too highly of ourselves or our opinions. We should not think we are better than ourselves. Instead we must be willing to listen to others’ ideas. When they instruct us, we need to be willing to listen to their counsel. We can learn from them. Proverbs talks a lot about wise men and foolish men. Wise men listen to others while foolish men just want to share their opinion and show everyone how much they know. We must be teachable. It is often said that God created us with two ears, but only one mouth for a reason, and it makes sense. There is still a time and a place for talking, teaching, and sharing our opinions. But we should be slow to speak. That means we should take the time to think over what we say carefully. Do not be in a hurry because once you say it you can’t take it back. It is almost always a good idea when we want to share our opinion with others to take a moment and just think over it first. Is it edifying? Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Are we saying it in love? Is it gentle?
- Contrast the anger of man with the righteous anger of God.
- Here we once again learn the importance of humility. It takes humility to receive God’s Word too. We need to realize that we aren’t know it alls. Do not be offended if someone comes to you and shares with you from the Bible even if he tells you what you are doing is wrong and you need to repent. It is God talking through His word and He is just using a person as a messenger. Discuss about the people’s response to Jeremiah’s message. But as we will see in a minute receiving the word is not only listening quietly, but doing it.
- I think this is one of the most important principles in the Bible, being a doer, not only a hearer. Christianity is not about head knowledge. It is not about how many doctrines you know, how many verses you have memorized, how well you know the Greek or Hebrew, or how many times you have read the Bible. It is all about putting the principles that we learn in the Bible to practice. It is WORSE than worthless for us if we learn the Bible front to back and back to front, but don’t DO what it says. All that will do is bring God’s wrath and condemnation down on us even more than an average person would receive because we KNOW what we should do and yet purposefully ignore it. I can teach you every day of the week for 50 years and you can go to church every week and listen to the pastor and listen to sermons all day long, but if you don’t make the decision to follow it, it is WORSE than worthless. No other person can make you do what God says. That is your own decision. Keep discussing in detail.
- What comes out of the mouth is often an indicator of what is going on in a person’s heart. If a person has a loose and evil tongue, the likelihood is that their heart is like that too. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Religion is worthless if it doesn’t bring righteous action.
- Why does James describe pure religion as reaching out to orphans and widows? First, we know that love is the mark of believers. True love is love shown with no thought of return. We know that it is easy to “love” those who love us. People often “love” others when they think they can get something from them. Love in marriage is often like that. They vow to love each other until death do them part or until the other side stops satisfying them. That is not true love. But love shown to orphans and widows normally cannot be repaid. You will not gain anything from a worldly standpoint by showing compassion and mercy to this group of people. And that is why God is so pleased with this expression of love. See Matthew 25:34-40. The next thing he mentions is holy living. The Jews thought true religion was ceremonies, washing of hands, and external rituals. But it’s not. It is inward holiness that will be expressed outwardly in our actions.
Paraphrase and cross-references-
- Blessed is the person who perseveres in the face of trials. When he has passed the test the Lord will give him the crown of life promised to those who love Him. 1 Peter 5:10, 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (Athletics, crown that will last),
- God can’t be tempted and doesn’t tempt others. We can’t blame Him when we are tempted. 1 Cor 10:13. Genesis 3.
- The temptation comes from ourselves when we follow our lusts. Genesis 6:5,Proverbs 4:23,Mark 7:21-22.
- If we follow our lusts to their destination sin occurs. The result of this sin is death.
- Dear brethren, do not be deceived.
- Every good and perfect gift is given us from above by the Father of lights, who never changes.Matthew 7:11, Luke 6:38, John 1:4-5,9, 2 Cor 4:17-18,Psalms 34:10, Psalms 84:11
- God purposed in His will to bring us forth through the word of truth. We are the first fruits of His creatures. Eph 1:11-12
- Beloved brethren, you know this already. Everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, Pro 10:19, Pro 16:32
- No goodness can come from our anger. Eph 4:26
- Put aside all filthiness and all wickedness. But be humble to receive the word, which can save your souls. 2 Cor 5:17, Rom 12:2, Col 3:9-10
- Do the word of God, and don’t be like those who only hear it, and thus deceive themselves. Rom 2:13
- Those who hear the word and don’t do it is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror,
- and after he looks at himself and leaves he immediately forgets what kind of person he is.
- The one who looks deeply into the Scriptures and lives by it, not forgetting what he learns, but effectively applying it, this man will be blessed in everything. Psalms 1:1-3
- Religion is worthless unless we tame our tongue. Psalm 39:1, Luke 6:45
- True religion in God’s sight is to visit orphans and widows in need, and to be separate from the world. Mat 25:34-40