Lesson 4 For
Octuber 25th 2014.
BEING AND DOING.
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Four Quatter 2014
Being and Doing
Read for This Week's Study:
2 Pet. 1:4.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own
Jean Francois Gravelet, better known as
Great Blondin, became famous for walking across Niagara Falls on a
tightrope. In September of 1860, the Prince of Wales had witnessed
Blondin's crossing of the falls with an assistant on his back. After the
walk, Blondin turned to the British prince and offered to carry him
across the falls too. Although the prince had heard of the man's skills,
and had even just seen them in action, he was still not ready to
place his life in Blondin's hands.
The point is, of course, that hearing and seeing are not enough when
it comes to a relationship with God. We may be intellectually convinced
about the existence of God, the truth of the gospel, and the Second
Coming. We may have even seen for ourselves the reality of God's love
and care. Yet, even with all that, we may not really be ready to commit
ourselves fully into His hands, an action that would be revealed by our
works. This is precisely why James emphasizes the importance of being
doers, not just hearers, of the Word.
This week we'll look at what being a doer of the Word means for those
saved by grace.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 25.
Knowing Your Enemy
Someone once said this about his enemy:
I see him every day-when
I'm shaving. This is exactly what James wants us to recognize: our
greatest enemy is ourselves. Salvation begins by seeing who we really
are, not who we imagine ourselves to be.
James 1:23-24. Who is described here, and what is the basic problem?
While there is nothing wrong with looking our best, many people spend
a great deal of time and money to improve their appearance. But we need
to make sure that we don't deceive ourselves. James says we need to get
a better view of ourselves, no matter how much we might not like what we
69-75. How does the self-image of each of these two men compare with
the reality? What do their two different reactions to Jesus' words say
The rich young man thought he had been keeping the commandments.
Suddenly he was challenged to adhere to a different kind of obedience,
one that he had never anticipated, one that went much deeper than mere
outward compliance to rules and regulations. (See
Peter, like this young man, also had a distorted picture of himself.
Self-confidently he predicted that even if everyone else should stumble
and fall away, he would remain faithful--even if it cost him his life.
But neither realized how tightly sin held him in its grasp. Both were
self-deceived about their true spiritual state. Peter, however,
eventually was converted. As far as we know, the rich young ruler
It's always so easy to see the faults in others
but not in ourselves, right? Deep down, though, we probably are more
aware of our faults than we want to admit. Look deep into your own soul.
What does this view tell you about why you must have a Savior?
Being a Doer
James 1:22 again. The Greek says
to be doers of the Word. How
might the message have been different had James simply said,
James combines being and doing. He does not separate
them, nor does he make one more important than the other. They are like
two sides of the same coin, inseparable. We are to be doers.
Furthermore, the tense of the Greek word for be here refers to an
ongoing lifestyle of obedience, one that is expected of us now rather
than at some indefinite time in the future.
The point is, we are to become new people in the Lord, and as a
result of what we become, we do the things that God
commands us to. This is something quite different from us merely
following rules (which seems to have been the problem with the rich
young ruler, as we saw in yesterday's lesson).
Luke 6:27-38. What are some of the actions that we should be taking?
Love your enemies.
Give to everyone who asks of you.
Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful
36, NKJV). Sounds impossible, doesn't it? And it is, on our
own. Love like this does not come naturally to sinful human beings. That
is why Jesus goes on to talk about two different kinds of trees and the
fruit each produces (Luke
Galatians 5, Paul contrasts the works of the flesh
5:19-21) with the fruit of the Spirit
5:22-23). It is almost as if the more we focus on doing,
the worse we become; whereas, when we are being led by the Spirit,
yields a totally different outcome-the fruit of love and obedience.
Think about a time you did something simply
because it was required of you or because it was a rule you had to obey.
Contrast that to the time you did something similar because it was
something you wanted to do, something that flowed naturally out of you
because of Christ living in you. How does this contrast help us to
understand the point of today's lesson?
The Law of Freedom
James 1:25. What does he say about the role of the law?
James echoes the Psalms in calling God's law
19:7) and a way of freedom (Ps.
119:45). But notice that the law in James cannot save us and
certainly cannot cleanse us. It shows us God's ideal, but it cannot make
us follow that ideal any more than seeing a world-class athlete perform
amazing feats could enable us to do the same. To follow that ideal, we
need the power of Christ in our lives.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18. What makes the difference between the law as
an instrument of death or as something that shows the way to freedom and
Even Paul affirms that
not the hearers of the law are just
in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified
2:13, NKJV). As he says, we can become doers only through the
work of the Spirit writing the law on our hearts. Only when we obey it
from the heart can the law be a law of freedom.
Thus, the problem is not with the law but with us. We forget who we
really are: sinners in constant need of a Savior. Outside of Christ we
hear only the law's condemnation. But in Christ we become new men and
Cor. 5:17) who are set free in Jesus (John
8:36). We hear Him speaking the law to us, that we
love one another, as I have loved you
15:12, NKJV). Through Christ, we experience the freedom of
God's sons and daughters who are saved by grace and who will not want to
slip back into the condemnation and bondage we had as transgressors. In
Christ, not only are we forgiven our sins, we now have a new life, one
in which we are able to render obedience to the law. We do so, however,
not in order to be saved but out of the freedom that comes from knowing
that we already are saved and therefore no longer stand condemned by the
Think about what it would be like, having the
natures we do, to try to keep the law well enough to be saved by it. How
would this make the law a means of bondage? How has Jesus freed us from
that bondage while, at the same time, commanding us to keep the law?
Useful or Useless?
James 1:26-27 and compare it to
Romans 12:9-18. In light of these passages, how would you define
If Jesus, James, and Paul emphasize anything, it is the importance of
being a useful Christian. By loving
the least of these
25:40), by taking the time to visit those most easily
overlooked, by showing hospitality-in all these practical ways and
more-we reveal Jesus' love and become the channel by which Jesus loves
The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and
lovable Christian.-Ellen G. White,
The Ministry of Healing, p. 470. Of
course, as she goes on to explain,
to live such a life, to exert such
an influence, costs at every step effort, self-sacrifice, discipline.-Page
470. It does not come naturally or automatically. If our religion
consists only in affirmations of belief and listening to sermons, it is
verses 26-27 with a word that suggests being unusually
devout. Such an attitude has immediate, visible consequences, and
people will notice the difference.
One obvious change will be our choice of words. Instead of using
uninhibited remarks and harsh tones and gestures, we will become more
sensitive to the effect our communication exerts on others. We will
bridle our tongue so that it does not dash off ahead of us with all
the violence and energy of an untamed horse.
James also singles out orphans and widows as those most needing our
love and care. From a worldly standpoint, it does not make sense to
focus our resources on those who can give nothing back to society. But
from God's viewpoint, it is precisely how we treat those who have been
cast off and rejected by the world that reveals which of us are Christ's
true followers: either by lending money to those who cannot pay us back;
inviting to dinner those who cannot reciprocate; or blessing and praying
for those who mistreat us (Luke
Matt. 5:44). As Paul points out, we are re-created in Christ
Jesus for good works (Eph.
How much of your own time and energy do you
spend helping those in need? What does your answer say to you about how
useful your faith really is?
Unlike the World
What does it mean to
unspotted from the world? (James
1:27, NKJV). How could that even be possible?
1 John 2:15-16;
2 Pet. 1:4.
Some people seem to think that if only they could move far enough
away from the world, they could avoid most of its temptations. Though
there's some truth to that, and we should try to avoid temptation as
much as possible (especially those temptations we find hardest to
resist), our problems and weaknesses do tend to follow us wherever we
go. The problem with sin isn't so much what is out there, though
that certainly plays a role, as much as it is what's in us, and
in our hearts. That's where the true battle is, and we will have to
fight that battle no matter where we live.
It is also an interesting phenomenon that solving some problems makes
those that remain seem more obvious. For example, cleaning one area of a
room makes any dirt nearby stand out even more. So also with the
the closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you
will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer, and your
imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to His perfect
nature.-Ellen G. White,
Steps to Christ, p. 64.
Let's not have Ellen G. White say here what she isn't saying. She
isn't saying that the closer we get to Jesus the faultier we actually
become. She continues:
The more our sense of need drives us to Him
and to the word of God, the more exalted views we shall have of His
character, and the more fully we shall reflect His image.-Steps
to Christ, p. 65.
Real religion leads a person to
hunger and thirst for a deeper
5:6). Jesus spent adequate time alone with His heavenly
Father in order to know His will. Yet, He never shut Himself off from
people. He went to where the people were. His
food was reaching
out to the needy, breaking down barriers of prejudice, and sharing the
good news of eternal life (John
Despite the fact that Jesus and the earliest Christians had a diet
and lifestyle quite different from the Gentile world around them, these
practices never kept them from sharing their faith. They went
everywhere, and the gospel spread throughout the empire and became
firmly planted, even in centers of corruption and wickedness such as
Ellen G. White,
The Test of Discipleship,
59-63, in Steps to Christ.
The law is God's great moral looking glass. Man is to compare his
words, his spirit, his actions with the Word of God.-Ellen G. White
The SDA Bible Commentary, vol.
7, p. 935.
"Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith
only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us
to render obedience.
As Jesus was in human nature, so God means His followers to be. In
His strength we are to live the life of purity and nobility which the
Saviour lived.-Ellen G. White,
Our Father Cares, p. 69.
- Though we have been told it would be to our advantage to
move away (if possible) from worldly places, why is that not the
ultimate answer to the problems of sin and temptation? How far
would we have to go in order to be away from any kind of
temptation at all? What is the only answer for sin and
temptation, regardless of where we live?
- Police were trying to place electronic eavesdropping devices
in an office where they suspected criminals were working. The
only problem: vicious Dobermans surrounded the compound. So, the
police, each night, would feed the dogs hamburgers. At first
they would toss about five or six between the bars. Before long,
the dogs were not only eating the burgers out of the officers'
hands, but they were licking the officers' hands when done.
Thus, with the guard dogs tamed, the police were able to
infiltrate and plant the devices. What lesson can we take from
this story about how we, if we are not careful, can let our own
- Think more about this idea of being a doer of the
Word as opposed to just believing the Word. What is, in the end,
the real difference between the two?
- What do you say to those who claim that because of the grace
of Christ, they are free from the law? What do they often really
mean by that, and how would you answer them?
Angels on Main Street, Part 1
Medellín is a large city in the heart of Colombia. While the city has
a reputation as the drug capital of the world, it is also known for its
beauty, and its citizens are known for their hard work and love of
Colombia Adventist University (Corporacion Universitaria Adventista,
UNAC) is located in Medellín. Founded in 1937 as Industrial College
Coloveno, it became Colombo-Venezuelan Institute in 1950 and Colombia
Adventist University in 1981. UNAC offers undergraduate through doctoral
For many years UNAC students have worked in the neighborhoods of
Medellín searching for people who want to learn about God. One
neighborhood, known for its violence and poverty, was an especially
difficult area, but after knocking on many doors, the young people found
several residents who wanted to study the Bible. They arranged to hold
meetings in the home of a church member who lived in the area.
Each Sabbath the students met with the people and studied the Bible
together. Within a few months several people in the Bible study group
requested baptism. What joy the young people felt as they saw the fruits
of their labors.
Often, after attending the evening meetings, the students had to walk
several blocks to catch a bus back to school. If it was late, the
students had to walk all the way back to school. The streets, which
seemed safe during daylight hours, were full of dangers at night.
One night Mery and Rocio came to the evening worship service. After
the meeting they found that they did not have a ride back to the school.
They would have to walk several blocks through the dangerous, poorly lit
streets. Some people from the church offered to walk with them partway,
and the girls gratefully accepted their offer.
As the group walked along, they passed open doors of dimly lit
taverns. In the smoky light that filtered out, they could see unshaven
men drinking and playing tavern games. Their coarse language and crude
laughter sent chills down Rocio's spine. She shivered as she recalled
reports of girls her age who had been attacked or murdered in dark
alleys such as those she and her friends were passing.
The little group walked faster, hoping to escape the sounds and
smells of this part of town, hardly speaking as they walked quickly
through the dim light. They passed men and women standing in the shadows
of tall buildings. Sometimes the only hint that a person was there was
the smell of a cigarette or alcohol.
Soon they reached the street where their companions lived. Rocio and
Mery thanked them for walking with them. The girls tried to smile,
hoping that their fear would not show. Then they turned and quickly
continued their journey.
Ismael Serrano is a pastor in Apartadó,