2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
When I read this at first, it seems simple enough to understand. On second glance, I notice some words in the Old English that might be confusing, so I looked those up. Here is the same scripture with modern English wording inserted based on Strong’s definitions.
2 My brethren, count (consider) it all joy when ye (you all) fall into divers (various) temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying (testing) of your faith worketh patience (patient endurance).
4 But let patience (patient enduring) have her perfect (reached the intended end) work, that ye may be perfect and entire (complete), wanting nothing (leaving nothing behind).
In other words, be joyful even when you have fallen into various temptations with the understanding that the testing of your faith makes you stronger. Once you have endured until the end, you will be complete, lacking no good thing.
Is Temptation a Good Thing?
If we love Jesus, I don’t know if there is much greater suffering than to be sinful. I don’t mean to sound high and mighty or anything, but my sin is a kind of torment for me. It seems counter intuitive to say that I should consider it joy when I fall into temptation. Does this mean we make lite of our sin and just happily continue in it? I don’t think that is what James is saying at all.
The purpose for temptations is to establish us in the things of God. It is not that we should be joyous over sin, but that we should be comforted in knowing that all things are working out for our good, and the struggle with sin makes us strong—both in righteousness and in the faith.
It is interesting that James equates falling into temptations with a trying of the faith. Doesn’t faith mean we just believe in Jesus then we are saved no matter what we do?
What is the endurance then? Is it endurance to say, “well, I recited Romans 10:9, so I’m saved and there is nothing for me to worry about. God does not care about my sin because the grace of Jesus covers it?” Where is the suffering that works patience? This scripture is not about suffering in this world in a self-centered way. Many take this passage and conveniently leave out the first verse. They just say that “the trying of faith works patience.” That is true, but what does it mean in context? What faith are we trying? The one-time recital of Romans 10:9 out of context? No.
With Faith, Overcoming Sin is Possible
Faith in Jesus means something more than many are taught.
Faith in Jesus is power to overcome sin. It goes something like this: We know we are sinful. We hate our sin. We struggle in it and we know we need Jesus. We know that because of sin we will die. Jesus promises to forgive our sins if we repent. Stop. We are done now, right? WRONG.
Jesus also promises to HEAL us from sin. We cannot stop all sin on our own. However, with the Holy Spirit within us, we have the strength to overcome. That is, if we have faith.
If you have faith that Jesus will free you from sin, and you do not waiver in that faith and you really want to be made free, he will free you. It does not matter how deeply rooted the sin is, how large it is, how insurmountable.
His grace is sufficient!
Doesn’t grace mean we are forgiven? Yes, however, grace also teaches us.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (Titus 2:11-12)
Grace works in us. Grace leads us to overcoming the things we cannot. It is the “unmerited favor” of God towards us, bringing us up out of the sins and deceptions of this world that destroy us. We deserve destruction. We deserve to remain delusional and sinful. We deserve to die. For more on grace, take a look at:
We are “saved by grace through faith.” When our faith is tried and made strong, the grace of God works good things in us. It is important that we put our faith in the right thing. It is important that we put our faith in the right gospel. It is important that we put our faith in the right version of Jesus.
When our faith is lacking, we keep trying to overcome sin on our own. We are defeated. Then we either become hardened to the sin, start justifying or otherwise ignoring the sin—or—we patiently continue until our faith is made perfect.
Whosoever Shall Ask In Jesus Name…
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:23-24).
With even a grain of perfect faith, no thing is impossible when done in Jesus name—meaning—when done in accordance to the will of Jesus. We cannot simply ask for anything using the name of Jesus like some blank check. “In his name” means going along with what Jesus teaches and what his will means in that instant moment.
It could be the will of Jesus that we suffer from a certain sin for many years. This humbles us, works up our appetite for the kingdom, and gives us perspective that makes us more useful for the Lord’s purposes. When He deems right, we are granted faith. We ask. We receive. We are made free.
Therefore, we count it all joy. We know that all of this is working out for our good, even when we fall into temptations time and time again. One day, if we patiently endure, we will find the freedom we want. Our faith will grow, and so will our fruitfulness (righteousness, fruits of the Spirit, etc.).
We are to “add to our faith.” This is how we know we are the chosen of God and heirs of eternal life (2 Peter 1).
There will come a time when the work of Jesus in us is completed, and we will be lacking in no good thing! That is good news indeed!
Sin is Serious. We Must Not Neglect Our Salvation.
Knowing all of this, should we then rejoice over our sin and use bad teachings about the gospel and grace to keep us from the promises of the faith? God forbid. In so doing, we might find ourselves shut out of the kingdom, not welcomed into it.
The kingdom of heaven must reign within us first. If the kingdom of this world controls our life and we have no regard for our sin, that is not good. If you hate your sin, do not ignore it, justify yourself, or blame others. Admit your sin to Jesus and repent. Seek Jesus with all your might, and keep seeking him. Even if you fall into the same temptation hundreds of times, keep going. Keep praying for greater faith and keep asking Jesus to heal you.
When it is HIS time, HE will HEAL you from ALL sin. This is HIS work, not yours. When it is time, you will be asking in HIS NAME (according to his will), and it will be done for you. God works on HIS TIME, not ours. Trust His timing, believe in Jesus, and never give up on any sin—no matter how big or small—because such can keep us from eternal life. I don’t mean to sound like I’m yelling when using caps. In writing, I want to draw attention to the fact that our salvation is the work of the Lord, not ours, and all things pertaining to our salvation will happen when and how God wants.
Lord, have mercy on me! As I write this, I think of the judgment I judge, you know? I know that any single sin can ban me from eternal life and cause me to die. I know that faith in Jesus should mean something for my life, and I should not be living as sinfully as I do. Yet…I know all things work for my good. I know all things work according to the will and timing of the Father and not my own. I believe Jesus will free me from all sin and iniquity. I believe, help my unbelief!
Related Scriptures About Suffering, Patience, and Fruitfulness
- But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Peter 5:10).
- But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8: 15).
- And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matthew 24:10-13).
This article is part of a Bible Study series covering James. Visit the Articles page and go to the bottom for other studies. Please feel free to share any thoughts or questions. I hope to encourage discussion about the Bible. If this was helpful for you, please consider sharing with others. Subscribe if you’d like to receive future posts by email.