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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

August 18, 2019

The Keys to Spiritual Success

August 11, 2019

Setting Oneself up for Failure

July 28, 2019

Setting Oneself up for Failure