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Anger: A Proud Response to God's Will

January 13, 2019 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: James

Topic: Anger & Pride Verse: James 1:19–1:21

“Anger: A Proud Response to God’s Will”

James 1:19-21

Theme: In order to know growth in the will of God, we must be willing to hear the Word of God with humility.


I. The Attitude toward the Will of God - v. 19

A. We must be Teachable - “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear …”

  • We find in our awareness of the role that the Word of God has in our lives, that our spiritual lives have been produced through the agency of God’s Word - cp. v. 18.
  • All of us who have been born again know the power and essential role that God’s Word must play in our lives.
  • In light of what “[we] know …” it is necessary that our attitude toward God’s Word, be received with the deference it is due - cp. v. 21.
  • This begins with the attitude of being teachable - willing to “hear” - “… everyone must be quick to hear.”
  • The idea of “hear” [ἀκούω] conveys that quality of humility that causes a person “to listen," to be “attentive” and interested in what is being said.
  • James states that our discipline of “listening” needs to be some we are “quick” [ταχς] to do - that is, focused effort so as to reduce the time needed.
  • He is saying that believer must give themselves eagerly to opportunities to hear the Word of God - to seize every opportunity they can to find exposure to God’s Word. 

B. We Must be Thoughtful - “… slow to speak …” 

  • This second attitude conveys the notion that we need to give adequate time for the truth of God’s Word to sink in before we respond to it.
  • If we fail to take our time to be thoughtful about what God has said in His Word, we will fail to allow it to adequately inform us.
  • We often desire to have our own thoughts expressed instead of being willing to listening; in reality, many of us have so little self-discipline that instead of listening, we are already thinking about how we are going to respond.
  • We can do this to God’s Word as well - providing self-defense for the violations or contradictions to God’s Word that our lives represent; we think of rationalisms, justifications, explanations, excuses, or reasons that the Word is excessive or unrealistic.

C. We Must Be Tempered - “… and slow to anger;”

  • In fact, often we react to the will of God expressed in His Word with “anger.”
  • This “anger” [ὀργήν] is not the outburst of wrath, but is the simmering, seething resentments that when unchecked will produce the outbursts.
  • When our personal opinions are confronted, our wishes are contradicted, our pleasures are denied, we can become angry - cp. James 4:1-2
  • We resent those who tell us the truth if we are not eager to hear and submit ourselves to the truth - cp. Galatians 4:16
  • An example of this is when Jesus was preaching in Nazareth and their hostility became so intense that they sought to kill him.

II. The Antagonism toward the Will of God - v. 20

A. The Reaction to Truth

  • When a person reacts to the truth of the Word of God will anger, he is not teachable at all.
  • The rebellion against the Word of God is a rebellion against the will of God as well.
  • In fact, often anger is just this - a reaction to the will of God when it crosses what a person believes that they deserve or what they desire.
  • When such is the case, the “righteousness of God” is not “achieved” [ἐργάζομαι] - or accomplished.

B. The Righteousness through Truth  

  • What does “achieve the righteousness of God” is the submissive spirit as the Word of God is received with humility and meekness.
  • It is through this that we are transformed.

III. The Acceptance of the Will of God - v. 21

A. The Repudiation of Oneself  

  • We are told that it is necessary to be “putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness …”
  • This is what characterizes the person who is willing to listen and be slow to speak - a person who desires to change.
  • The word “filthiness” [ῥυπαρίαν] - is closely related to a moral state of defilement or vulgarity and is a term that describes “ear wax” - fittingly describing what reduces our ability to “hear” the Word.
  • All that impedes our ability to hear is to be “put aside” - cp. Ephesians 4:22-24; Hebrews 12:1; 1 Peter 2:1-2

B. The Reception of the Word

  • When we do, we are free “… in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
  • “humility” [πραΰτητι] - is the word for gentleness or meekness - or that which is opposite of anger; it is the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance.
  • The phrase “the word implanted” describes the willingness to allow the Word of God to be planted in soil that is fertile - a heart that is truly teachable.
  • The benefit of this is that the Word “is able to save your souls” - 
  1. Initially through regeneration - saving us from the penalty of sin
  2. Constantly through sanctification - saving us from the power of sin
  3. Ultimately through glorification - saving us from the presence of sin

More in James

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Fulfilling the Royal Law part 2

March 17, 2019

Fulfilling the Royal Law part1

March 10, 2019

Ungodly Distinctions