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Sabbath School Lessons on James
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 38 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 4: Being and Doing *
Introduction: How much advice do you get? It seems that I'm getting
advice from others all the time. Some is given without me asking for
it. Some I ask for and really want. Lots of advice comes my way just
in the day to day details of life. A few days ago, I was helping to
put together a toy car for my granddaughter that was big enough for
her to sit in. The manufacturer gave me advice about how to assemble
it, but I decided that some of the advice was wrong, and it turned
out I was right. On the other hand, when my phone GPS gives me advice
on driving directions, I take the advice very seriously. How we react
to advice reflects what we think about the source of the advice. That
is what our Bible study is about this week. Let's jump right in!
- Read James 1:22. I often hear or read advice that I think
is junk. Why does James say that merely listening is some
sort of deceit?
- Because I try not to be deceived, I don't accept junk
advice. What is James' point about the listeners?
(His point is that the advice is not junk. James
refers to "the word," which is a reference to the
Bible. The listeners don't believe the advice is
junk. However, they act like the advice is junk
because they do not follow it.)
- Where is the deceit in that? (Apparently, these
listeners are deceiving themselves. They claim
that the Bible is giving them good advice, but
then they fail to follow the advice. If they
fail to follow the advice they are deceived
into thinking they are good Christians.)
- Do you know people like that?
- Look again at James 1:22. What is the cure for this
deceit? (James tells us to do what the Bible tells us to
- Read James 1:23-24. Why do you look at your face in a
mirror? (I want to make sure that all is right.)
- How do you know if something is wrong? (You know how
you are supposed to look.)
- Why would you "look" into the law? (The law is "how
things are supposed to be" in your life. If you find
that your life is not how it is supposed to be, you
should change things - unless you are deceiving
- Consider again James 1:23-24. If someone told you that
they look in the mirror and immediately forget what they
look like, what would you think? (Something was seriously
wrong with the person. Not only should we generally know
what we look like (how can you forget?), but we look to
see if everything is right. Since we are looking for what
is wrong, how can we forget it?)
- Can you think of some other explanation for a person
who forgets - other than something is wrong with that
person's brain? (If you immediately forget, it might
be because you don't care whether anything is wrong.
If you don't care how you look, why would it be
important to remember?)
- What point is James trying to make? (If we look into
the law and see that our life is not what the law
suggests, but don't do anything about the problem, it
suggests that either we have something wrong with our
mind or we don't care.)
- Is there some other explanation you can give?
(We don't think the advice is any good. If we
think the Bible contains junk advice, how can
we claim to be Christians? This gets us back to
James' original point. If we think that the
Bible contains good advice and we don't follow
it, we are deceiving ourselves about being
- What if we think the Bible contains good advice
part of the time? In the introduction, I wrote
about the directions to assemble the toy car.
We followed most of the directions, but I knew
some of it was wrong. Is that an acceptable
approach to the Bible? (My attitude with the
assembly instructions was that I would accept
or reject any of the instructions. If we take
that approach to the Bible, then we are our own
god. We worship our own opinion, and have the
arrogance to think that we know more than our
- Read James 1:25. What freedom do you find by looking into
a mirror? (If I look into a mirror, and see that nothing
is wrong, it gives me the freedom that comes from having
confidence in my appearance. I don't have to worry that I
have something stuck in my teeth, or that my pants are
unzipped, or I have dirt on my shirt collar.)
- James writes that the law gives us freedom, rather
than the mirror giving us freedom. What does he mean
by that? (When we studied the series of lessons on
the law we determined that our Creator God loves us
and knows what is best for us. The reason for His law
is to tell us how to live to avoid harming ourselves.
The law reflects God's love for us. The law reflects
God's knowledge of how to avoid injury. That is
- Look again at James 1:25. Notice that James says that the
person continues to look into the law mirror, does not
forget what he sees, and acts on what he sees. What is the
result of that? (A blessed life.)
- Read James 1:17. Why does obedience to the law result
in a blessed life? (God gives us good gifts. The law
is one of those good gifts that makes our life
- What about the people to whom James is writing?
Aren't these people who have had to leave their homes
because of persecution? (Read James 1:12. James says
that if nothing else, the blessing will come with
eternal life. James 1:15 explains that the
alternative outcome is death.)
- Tongues and Orphans
- Read James 1:26. Is James' writing like the tongue of a
frog, always darting in some new direction? What does
speaking have to do with mirrors? (Read Proverbs 27:19 and
Matthew 12:34-37. Proverbs 27 tells us that just like a
mirror (in this case water) tells us what our face looks
like, so our heart reflects what we are like. Jesus adds
in Matthew 12:37 that our words so accurately reflect our
heart that our words are the basis for judgment. Thus, our
words are a mirror of our heart.)
- This raises a very serious practical question. James'
solution ( James 1:26)is to "keep a tight rein on
[your] tongue." Will that work? Isn't that like
trying to modify your mirror so you look better?
- What does James say is the state of a person whose
tongue reflects an evil heart? (That person is
deceived and his religion is worthless. This idea of
deceiving yourself is a familiar theme for James.
This makes me think that James is more likely saying
that your tongue should be a wake-up call that
something serious is wrong with your heart. I trust
he is not suggesting that merely holding your tongue
will change your heart.)
- Re-read James 1:19. What does James suggest about the
tongue here? (Think before you speak. Being more
deliberate with our speech is a good starting point
for keeping out of trouble and measuring our
- Read James 1:27. The religion that God accepts is to do
good works for the distressed and keep from being polluted
by the world? Hello, salvation by works! What do you think
James might mean other than we are saved by our good
works? (Assume that James is still on his theme of
mirrors. The law is a mirror by which we compare our life.
Our words are a mirror that reflect our heart. That would
mean helping those who cannot help us (widows and orphans)
is a mirror of our religious experience. Avoiding
practicing the values of the world is also a mirror of our
- Friend, if you accept the Bible as an authoritative guide
for life, how do you measure up on the mirror test? If
this is a wake-up call for you, why not ask the Holy
Spirit, right now, to begin the process of changing your
- Next week: Love and the Law.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.