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 It's Sin! - James 4:17

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PostSubject: It's Sin! - James 4:17   It's Sin! - James 4:17 EmptyFri Sep 12, 2008 8:52 am

It's Sin! - James 4:17
Written by LaRosa Johnson
Friday, September 12, 2008

Sin always induces intense conversation and usually leaves people with a myriad of emotions. After having spent four chapters discussing practical Christianity and the steps necessary to walk in the Spirit, James now hits the topic of sin head on with his final verse of chapter 4. This chapter was particularly in-depth in its discussion on sin, and it's only fitting that James would give us a summary statement at this point. Let's go to the Scriptures and see what James has to say as he closes chapter four.

Quote :
James 4:17 (NASB) - Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

We could go into a lot of detail with this verse, but we're going to give it its due diligence and continue forward. James' epistle is very practical and this verse is as practical as it gets. If you know what you're supposed to be doing and you don't do it, then you're sinning. With that being said, if there is one thing that the Bible is absolutely clear about, it's on the issue of sin. In the context of this study, we want to look at one important aspect of sin, and that is knowing what sin is. In Romans 7:7, Paul tells us that he would not have known what sin was if it weren't for the Law (God's Commandments). He goes on, in the same, to say that without the law he wouldn't have known about such sins as coveting without the Law telling him to not covet. What is the point that Paul is getting at? As long as he was ignorant of the Law, he did not have a full comprehension of what sin was; but, as soon as he knew, he was accountable for his actions from that point forward.

This is the heart at what James is getting at with this verse. He has just spent an entire chapter discussing their hedonistic ways, their slandering of one another, as well as their prideful boasting; and, in pointing out each of these, he also gave an applicable solution for how to walk in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Thus, James 4:17 hits home; they now what they're doing wrong and the steps needed to correct it. If they choose to walk in obedience, they will take James' advice and turn away from their carnal ways. If they choose to ignore his advice, knowing that it is right and from God, then they are in sin (or choosing to continue in sin). It's not just this chapter either, this statement encompasses everything that James has stated thus far in the letter from chapter 1 all the way up to this point, and going forward into the final chapter. He has given them instruction and it is now their choice to either walk in positive or negative volition towards the will of God. Even more, James 4:17 doesn't just apply to this epistle, but the entire breadth of Scripture.

What does this look like in practical terms? Let's look at some everyday examples and maybe things will become clear. Starting with the obvious, let's say that you're faced with a situation where you're tempted to commit fornication/adultery. What do you do? Well, you know that the Bible says that both fornication and adultery are a sin, so you must act accordingly. The right response would be to turn away from the temptation and choose to not sin; whereas it is sin to follow through with it, knowing that it's wrong. Let's make it a little more real. You know that downloading music illegally is against the law. What do you do? Do you choose to do the right thing and not do it or do you go ahead anyway thinking that nobody will know? If you fail to do the right thing, then it's sin. Now, let's back up for a second and look at a situation that isn't inherently sinful. Say you're watching a television show (wrestling for example) and there's nothing necessarily wrong with it; what do you do if your conscience starts nagging at you to turn the channel? If you ignore your conscience and continue to watch, that's a sin. The bottom line, if you know the right thing to do and you don't do it, that's a sin (whether the actual act itself is a sin or not).

Now, Paul said he only knew what sin was when confronted by the Law of God. What about those people who have never had an encounter with the Bible? Well, there's no excuse for them either; the Bible tells us that God's moral law is written on our hearts (Romans 2:15). We all have a God-given conscience that instinctively tells us right from wrong. Even without the Bible we know that it's wrong to lie, steal, and cheat. So, even when we fail to do the right in those circumstances it's sin because our conscience convicts us. What's more, this even has implications for the gospel; for those who have encountered the truth of Jesus Christ, if they choose to do the wrong thing & reject it, that's sin. Peter makes it clear in 2 Peter 2:21 when he says that it would've been better to have not known the truth than to have known it and then turn away from it.

Let us keep that in the forefront of our minds in all that we do. With every decision that we make, we are choosing to walk in obedience or disobedience; if we know the right thing to do, then we should make the conscious decision to do that right thing and remain in the will of God. If you walk away with nothing else from this study on James, this is the point that you want to get because it sums up so much of what he has stated thus far. The bottom line: if you know the right thing to do, then do it!

Until next time, continue to walk in His grace, making the right choices.

devotion courtesy of Trailblazin Ministries

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