James 4: You can’t have an each-way spirtual bet

May 9th, 2007

One of my friends once explained to me the “skin of your teeth” principle. The idea was that, if you believe in Jesus but don’t actually do anything in your life to show it, you still get into heaven by the skin of your teeth. The reasoning was that you can’t earn your way into heaven; the only way you can get there is by faith in Jesus; so all you have to do is believe and you’ve passed the entrance exam; nothing else matters. This means that you can live your life in just the same way as everyone else — say what they say, think what they think, treat people like they treat people — and it makes no difference in the end. I’m not sure that my friend was right…

The Letter from James — Chapter 4

4:1 Where do the conflicts and quarrels amongst you come from? Do they not come from hungers that are at war inside you? 4:2 You want something that you do not have. You kill and envy, but cannot get what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask. 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask inappropriately, to use what you get for your own pleasure. 4:4 You unfaithful people, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? Whoever chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

4:5 Do you think that the Scripture is meaningless when it says that the Spirit which God planted in us is very jealous? 4:6 But he gives more grace, so it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 4:7 Submit to God, but resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 4:8 Approach God, and he will approach you. Sinners, wash your hands. Indecisive people, purify your hearts. 4:9 Lament, grieve, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning, and your happiness to despair. 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and he will honour you.

4:11 Do not belittle each other, friends. Someone who belittles and judges a fellow believer, belittles and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are no longer someone who obeys it; you have become a judge. 4:12 God is the only lawgiver and judge, the only one who can save or destroy. Who are you to judge your neighbour?

4:13 Listen, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow let us go to a particular city, spend a year there, trade, and make a profit.” 4:14 You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a haze that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 4:15 Instead of what you say, you should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do these things.” 4:16 As it is, you talk arrogantly, and all such arrogance is evil. 4:17 Anyone who knows the right thing to do, but does not do it, is sinning.

Entry Filed under: Trust

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. choosethecross.com » Bel&hellip  |  January 29th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    […] a Christian merely because you have at one point in your life asked Jesus to save you? This is what James had to say about unfaithfulness in the fourth chapter of his letter: Where do the conflicts and quarrels amongst you come from? Do they not come from hungers that are […]

  • 2. fuzzy  |  October 1st, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
    1 John 2:4

    The skin of your teeth idea laid out is nothing but self-deception according to 1 John .

  • 3. Angella  |  March 8th, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    My idea of ‘by the skin of your teeth’ is those people who
    ‘Just made it into heaven’… like the thief on the cross with Jesus.
    I work at a place where there are dying people who repent before they die. God in his infinite mercy accept them (John 6:37).
    I believe they make it to heaven by the ‘skin of their teeth’

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