Liberty In The Seal; A Study In The Book Of James
June 1, 2005

C. R. Oliver

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June 1, 2012

Liberty In The Seal
A Study In The Book Of James

"Liberty in the seal" is the central theme of the book of James. Its author was one of the last of Jesus' inner circle to embrace Him, yet the first to write after His resurrection.

What James wrote and to whom he wrote is most significant. He wrote to those of his Jewish brethren who were forced to leave their precious Jerusalem because of persecution. His opening lines were "count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

James entered into their difficulties as a "brother of the seal" and laid before them how to live in their new found liberty in Christ.

Fresh from the upper room and himself sealed in the Spirit, he held wonderful credentials for dealing with this subject. Jerusalem would never be the same for him after the day of Pentecost. Up to that moment, the city was to him the central nerve center for all Israel (it was where Temple worship took place). After Pentecost, it was the city where God's Spirit fell on a group who were set free of that Temple; they were sent to a task of which Temple worshippers had no knowledge.

James was a part of the reeling, drunk-acting talkers whose voices reached the ears of foreigners and instantly they knew the difference between what was occurring on the Temple mount and what was happening in the streets.

James experienced the rush of 3,000 Temple folks as they instantly received the words of Sealed Simon. James was on the spot where 5,000 others joined their brethren through faith.

James sat with the elders and heard testimony from Philip on how Samaritans had been saved and sealed. He also heard the young zealot, Paul, whom the Jews could hardly fathom turning to Christ.

James' range of truth was broad (for he once was a strict adherer of Judaism). Many times he felt his half-brother grasp his "old wineskin theology" and pour out its contents. More than once, he must have winced at the teachings of Jesus which brought conflict of meaning and new definition to staid and traditional beliefs. He saw the religious group of his upbringing crucify his brother. He saw the pitiful compromises of the Temple leadership with the Roman government (4:4). He knew the slippery underbelly of corporate religion and its interpretation of scripture to fit its need.

James' soul cried out like Elijah against such man-legislated theosophy. He wept like the Old Testament prophets, whom he had memorized through rote, as he recognized the judgment about to take place.

James determined in the Spirit that these new converts exiled from Judaism would not rely partly upon their past traditions and partly upon their new beliefs. He determined in the Spirit to separate forever those who had any trappings left in them of ritual justification.

James determined to write a treatise which would strike the heart of the Messianic Jew and show that what had been received through the blood, the resurrection and the Spirit was not different from Old Testament teaching, but was the true teaching, written centuries before and misinterpreted for as long.

Clarity of this truth surrounded James, and he wanted it to surround the hearts of his brethren as well. He was unwilling to remain silent and allow the least of them to remain in darkness or quandary. They could not be brothers of the seal and do service to their Lord, viewing Christianity as an "add-on" faith. Jesus' teachings were not those of an adjunct rabbi, clarifying Judaistic tradition. When these disciples were sealed with the Spirit, they were ushered into the "law of liberty" and escorted away from "the yoke of legalism." Each of the new converts probably practiced Judaism on different levels. Most of them depended on their nationality in being sons of Abraham to carry them to God. Some simply "tipped their hat" to God and lived loose lives when compared to Simeon and Anna. Others had formulated a Pharisaical system which allowed them rank and social standing based on money and family history. Others had been priests and carried all the trappings of Temple work along with them. All their spiritual cases were full of images, definitions and teachings contrary to the truth of the gospel. Those cases had to be emptied. Each one of them would be required to read from a different dictionary and had to embrace their sealing at the most foundational level. James wanted to change their foundation from principle to practice, from tradition to truth.

James' loyalty was once to an impure and defiled religion; this was why he felt the necessity to teach, "pure and undefiled religion is…." Once, like thousands of others, he listened to Rabbis, Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and roaming Prophets and absorbed their teaching as absolute truth. When his Brother stood in conflict with them and taught with authority, his eyes were opened. Their mind-controlling trivia created a designated path in order to maintain religious and social control. All these tactics fell when Jesus laid the ax of truth to the root of error. The system contrived to define the most basic of truths into a catechism leading to spiritual death. James' task, after His Brother's ascension, was to continue His trek of truth.

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. James 1:18
(He cautioned) Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth… James 5:19
Religious systems have always begun by redefining "sin." James cut off even the modern excuses of blaming someone or something else for what was the clear responsibility of the sinner. One could not blame society, family, circumstances or hide behind the assurances arranged by religion, for James said, "Be not deceived, my beloved brethren (1:16). Three chapters later, he read from a different dictionary, "Therefore (based on all that has been said before), to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (4:17)."

As James surveyed the landscape of religious "mis-doctrine," his book became an open declaration of war on the System and its promoters.
If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless… (His experience in seeing the rabid remarks of the High Priest at his Brother's trial was enough for him [3:1-12].)
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (Temple compromise and partiality [James 2:1-10] based on contrived righteousness was impossible for him to contain!) James 1:26-27
James viciously attacked the cliché of choice among Jews, "We be sons of Abraham." He saw his Brother attack this argument with, "Before Abraham was, I AM."

James went one step further by linking Abraham and Rahab.
Likewise (as Abraham was justified in offering Isaac), was not Rahab the harlot ALSO justified by works … James 2:25
In the cast of John the Baptist, James tore open the heart of the System and diagnosed its disease as "lying against the truth." He explained its so-called wisdom:
This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. (He was in attendance when Pharisees and Sadducees fought one another as Jesus exposed their false doctrine.) James 3:16
To James, every prayer he had heard offered in the Temple was prayed amiss. Every petition he could recall was based on the flesh and its pleasures. They looked to him like unrepentant misanthropes.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss… Adulterers and Adulteresses…do you think the Scripture says (speaks) in vain… James 4:3, 4, 5
Because wealth and power controlled the religious scene of James' day, his stealth grew strong in his closing remarks.
There is one Lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy, Who are you to judge another?... Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming (which are sealed) upon you! James 4:12 & 5:1
James then entertained sermon material seldom used by modern pulpiteers (such texts are bad for the offering). (Systems form a track of teaching and preaching which in essence is mind control. If a congregant enters the "program" his/her indoctrination will be something akin to "herd psychology." Examination of sermonic materials and bookstore literature from modern pulpits will uncover a very narrow range of subject matter which excludes the "whole counsel of God [Acts 20:27]." Normally, messages are based on the continuity of the ministry either in doctrine or contribution.)[1]

Charitable and religious giving, to James, was tied to where the money originated and the kind of enterprise from which it was garnered. To him, there was no slight of hand religious ceremony by which evil was changed to good by the "end justifying the means."
Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. James 5:4
Summarily and throughout James' teaching, he interpreted the Law of Liberty in Christ as being the opposite of all his fellows have been exposed to in their religious life.

His seal in the Spirit allowed him to capsulate this "freedom" as being empowerment to carry out the Christian life.
The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously. But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:5, 6, 7, 8
Twice in sequential chapters he addressed the "Law of Liberty," as the rule for all who walk in the Spirit.
But he who looks into the perfect "Law of Liberty" and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25
So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the Law of Liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13
James incorporated, in his judgment against the System, an opposing view, one that was characterized as being from above.
But the wisdom (revelation through the seal) which is from above is first PURE, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy, and good fruits without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18
The Law of Liberty was what Jesus exhibited wherever He went on earth. Total freedom was allowed Him in the Spirit. His teachings were irresistible; His arguments irrefutable; His ministry irreproachable; His authority irradicable. James knew Jesus stood near to guard over His kingdom and to continue His ministry as He ordained it.
Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand… Behold the Judge is standing at the door! James 5:8, 9
Body ministry and public ministry were to be based on persevering in Jesus' modus operandi. James reached into the Old Testament to prove his words, considering the prophets who endured and Job who reached "the end intended (5:11)." He cited Elijah as his example of prayer and encouraged his readers to pray prayers of faith and minister to the sick. James challenged them to be active in their work: anointing with oil, fervently praying and singing. They were to practice the remission of sins and be transparent to their brethren. They were to watch over one another and stay clear of the error by which the Temple and its participants had succumbed.

It takes little effort to realize what concerned James in his exposure of the religious system of his day is exactly where the church and ministry efforts are today. He preached a separation from the disease ridden congregation and a return to truth. Without rehearsing the material of this chapter, it is tantamount to allow the Spirit to make application to the modern reader.

James' legacy, in being one of the first writers in the New Testament was his ability to reduce to five chapters the flagrant differences between true believers and brainwashed Temple adherents.

Author's Note: James' place in this chronology follows Acts and allows the reader to see the force of change that was taking place around these early men and women. Jerusalem would never be the same for them, neither would spiritual matters. Each day brought renewed awareness of the differences. The entry of the Gentiles caused James to stand and deliver a treatise against Judaizers, and it forever sealed the future course of the church. No one could continue to "dabble" in religion while Jesus demanded commitment to the seal.

[1] Prosperity and success messages coupled with trivia comprise the fare of fools.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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