James 1:16-18

James 1:16‑18  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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THERE is no small danger of error on the subject of man's nature as it is, and the new nature which the believer receives by grace. Mistakes abound to this day, as they ever have since very early days. How many speak of the original Adamic state as holy? It was merely one of innocence, which was lost at the fall irrecoverably. Through the word applied, by the Spirit in the faith of Christ we become partakers of a divine nature. It is not restoration to the primeval creature estate, but an incomparably better life in Christ the Son of God, the ground of fellowship with the Father and the Son, and of a holy walk with God. Christ Himself and alone was the manifestation of this eternal life on earth; and chosen witnesses were given to see and hear and come into the closest contact with Him, and enabled to bear witness by inspiration that we too might have fellowship with them. Never was there such intimacy, never such testing, never such scrutiny, that we might behold and know life eternal in every variety of circumstances, in the simplest as well as the most profound here below; and this is the life we have in Him.
But while we have in Christ an incomparably higher and sure standing, there is the effect of the fall in our old nature which abides for the present life with its lusts which. Adam innocent had not. It is not a change merely, but a new life never possessed before. The disciples were born of water and the Spirit; and what is so born is “spirit,” not flesh improved, changed, or annihilated. They were purged already because of the word which Christ had spoken to them before the gift of the Holy Ghost in power at Pentecost. The heart is purified by faith, yet there is a new life, life eternal, given in Christ; and there is progress and growth through the truth. But besides, we are in Christ, and freed from all condemnation, as we are purged by His blood from our sins once for all. Our being perfected in perpetuity (Heb. 10) is true of all Christians, as it is by His one offering in Whom and in which we believe. The notion of an attained state; where no lusts work for a few superior souls is a mere delusion; it is the real unholiness of denying sin in them and excusing evil because the will does not consent. The apostles Paul and John are no less opposed to the dream than James, though he is occupied with the process and result, rather than with its origin and spring as they.
“Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation nor shadow of turning. Having purposed he begot us by the word of truth, that we should be a certain first-fruits of his creatures” (ver. 16-16).
Men's thoughts being so far from the truth, as it is a subject altogether beyond his mind, we are the more bound to see that we be not misled, but subject to scripture. Here there is no obscurity, but all is light; for God is light, and His love has communicated all that we need to know. As man's nature is defiled and sinful, the God (Whom we know by faith and with Whom grace has given us the nearest relationship) is good. He cannot be tempted by evil and tempts none in this way. He is so absolutely good that our Lord laid down that none is good save one, God: not of course as Himself disclaiming it if owned as God, but refusing it from him who saw no more than humanity in Him.
But God is much more; He is the source of all good. He gives freely and fully to those who were evil and enemies. So we are here told that “every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” In Him is no darkness at all; in the world it is so dense that, though Christ His Son was here, the true Light, and shining in the darkness, the darkness comprehended it not: so much did moral darkness exceed the natural which is dispelled by natural light. It is humbling that man, with all his boasting, should be proved thus evil. But Christ solved the difficulty, the giver of a life in Himself risen from the dead, after being made sin to annul it righteously. Thus of His will or purpose (for nothing was more remote from man or more opposed to his will) did God beget us.
There is another consideration added, full of comfort. The greater the blessing, the more is the sorrow if it be exposed to loss or change. Now in our relationship with God we are assured that the goodness displayed suffers no diminution, nor eclipse. Even the greater light that rules the day, which men adored early and long, the bright orb of the sun to which they applied the epithet here predicated of our God, is liable to the variations of nature all day long, and is the salient example, in its apparent motions, of shadow that is cast by turning. But it is not so, as here declared, with the Father of lights, Whose unchangeableness is as perfect as His goodness, and His goodness to us who deserved nothing less, still in our weakness, and still in a world of evil.
But His purpose is to have the world governed righteously. This cannot be according to God till His Son, the Lord Jesus come forth to make good the kingdom, the world-kingdom in power and glory; as He has already vindicated His God and Father in obedience and suffering that He might save to the uttermost. Of this the Old Testament prophets have spoken amply, and the New Testament reiterates the truth in all plainness of speech, as it shows also the more distant and glorious vista, when all evil shall be done away and the new heavens and a new earth shall be, not in measure and pledge only, but in fullness. For government shall yield to everlasting righteousness dwelling in unbreakable peace, after all judgment is executed by Him to Whom it is given. Of this we are a certain first-fruits already, for we are begotten by the word of truth, and this nature is holy. But there is another which we ought never to ignore, and which, if not judged, breaks out into sins; so that, till we are changed at Christ's coming, we can only be called “a certain first-fruits.” We follow Christ's steps and ought to walk as He walked; but we shall be like Him when we see Him as He is.