James 1:17-27 - Taking a long, hard look in the mirror

Updated: Jul 23

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Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.


You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.


But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing.


If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


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This is the Epistle selection to be read aloud on the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 17], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will be preceded by one of two pairs of Old Testament and Psalm readings, the first of which is a love song of Solomon, which metaphorically sings about a soul’s adoration of Yahweh. The other option is from Deuteronomy, when Moses addressed the people about watching how they acted, as those chosen by Yahweh as His brides. All will accompany a Gospel selection from Mark, where some Pharisees challenged Jesus about his disciples eating grain without washing their hands, at which point Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, telling them, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.”


I wrote deeply about this reading selection, delving into the meanings of the words written by James, because all of the Epistles are written in the divine language of Yahweh. None of the letters offer the opinion of one soul, as all are souls that are Yahweh elohim, acting as His messengers, speaking what Yahweh tells them to write, and what specific language to write. The depth of that explanation is difficult for many to easily grasp [matching last Sunday’s Gospel message, when the followers of Jesus said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”]. While I fully stand behind what I wrote in 2018 (the last time this reading selection came up in the lectionary cycle), and I welcome all to examine what I wrote then, I will now take a different view [a whole-view perspective], based on this Epistle being chosen to accompany the other readings for this Sunday. Please read the 2018 commentary by clicking on this link.


Due to the Old Testament readings being a love song written by Solomon and Moses reminding the Israelites to always [a statement about eternal souls, not temporal bodies of flesh] remember the laws of Yahweh, the truth of both talks about the necessity of a soul to marry Yahweh. The bride adores the bridegroom, just as the soul finds deep love for the One God. The people of Israel were called so because each of their souls reflected “He [Who] Retains God.” A soul retains Yahweh by holy matrimony, so the Spirit possesses the soul, as Husband and wife.


This is always the truth of the Epistles, no matter who the auteur de jour is, which says each was a soul married to Yahweh, so each wrote what their Holy Husband directed them (lovingly) to write. One must understand that his having taken a position of complete subservience was what drove James to write this letter. It was his soul being filled with the Spirit of Yahweh that led his hands to write the truth in words.


In verse seventeen, the “gift” [“dōrēma”] is the presence of the Spirit. It is that presence that brings the light of truth, to which no “shadow” [“aposkiasma”] can be cast. Verse eighteen then confirms this as the “word of truth” [“logo alētheias”], where James and the other Saints were the “first fruits” [“aparchēn”] of common souls being married to Yahweh, for the purpose of letting other common souls know the marriage proposal was extended to them too.


When James wrote the key to “righteousness” [“dikaiosynēn”] means the ability to control one’s “anger” [“orgēn”], the only way that control becomes humanly possible is from divine powers within one’s soul. The body of flesh is connected to the sensory perceptions of the emotions, so “anger” is an automatic emotional response. The only way one tempers the urges of the flesh is from being divinely possessed. That possession is what Jesus called “the Advocate,” which is the Spirit of truth that makes it possible for his soul to then be joined with one’s soul. This emotional control system cannot be taught [like escaping life through Zen meditation]. It only comes from being reborn as Jesus, with his soul overriding one’s brain.


When James wrote, “Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls,” that is like Moses telling the Israelites, “Don’t forget all the laws I taught you.” That becomes more easily said and much harder to do. The only way to “rid yourselves” [“apothemenoi”] of anything is to stop being controlled by one’s own soul [the meaning of a “self”]. To eliminate that control over one’s body of flesh, one either has to physically die [and leave the body completely] or metaphorically die of self-ego [and step aside to a greater power of possession]. That can only come from submitting one’s soul to Yahweh and letting Yahweh impregnate one’s soul with that of His Son. That divine possession does indeed “rid yourselves” of all weaknesses that follow emotional outbursts.


James then wrote, “If any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.” This was directed to Jews, none of whom knew what the deeper meaning “of the word” [“logou”] was, much less know how to always do what the word said do; and, that is still a perfect fit capture of Christians today. It is easy to “hear the word” and do nothing, especially when priests these days are saying, “Do nothing, because Jesus loves you the way your sinful ass is.”

When you look into the mirror, do you see yourself as a king [self-worship], or do you see your soul wearing the face of God, through submission of your self to His Will?


Recognizing one is a sinner is the meaning of “those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves.” Again, a “self” is a “soul,” so sinners know their souls cannot abide by any laws written down in a book and preached about by sinners who disguise themselves [that soul word again] as pious. Thus, when all the looking at one’s soul is over [lasting about as long as an Episcopal service lasts], they walk out the door and “immediately forget what they were like.”


Can you say, “Nothing changes”?


James made that statement [divinely inspired] because change is the only way to look at your soul and not forget about your soul being too weak to stop sinning.


That change is hinted at when James then wrote, “those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing.” The use of “perfect law” [or “law perfect,” from “nomon teleion”] reflects back on verse seventeen’s use of “gift perfect” [“dōrēma teleion”], where the only one “perfect” is Yahweh. The “perfect law” is that written on the walls of one’s heart [a “heart” equals a “soul”], which can only come from divine marriage. When Yahweh’s Spirit moves into one’s flesh, he nails a copy of the wedding vows inside one’s heart, so one never forgets the promises of love. One never forgets because the Spirit is the loving overseer of one’s flesh.


The major focus of this reading selection comes when James then wrote, “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” That not only defined the waywardness of Judaism two thousand years ago, but it hits the nail on the head as to the theft of true Christianity by the Roman Emperor, who then made himself a pope. The ordinances and dogma of “religions” [“thrēskeia”] becomes an external distraction from the inner Spirit. For all whose souls have yet to marry Yahweh it is this distraction that becomes competition against the holy matrimony one’s soul is proposed to come to. It is the false teachings of the “religious” [“thrēskos”] that makes those teachings “worthless” [“mataios”]. The meaning of “mataios” is “vain, unreal, ineffectual, unproductive, and useless,” but more importantly “godless.” Without one’s soul married to Yahweh, there can be no true acts that are deemed “religious.”


As the Epistle reading selected to be read aloud on the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry to Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson here is to realize where one’s soul is. One needs to take a long, hard look inside, where the mirror of truth exposes the state of one’s soul within. The lesson is to ask oneself [one’s soul], “Am I a church-goer simply because some sinful priest tells me Jesus loves me, even though I am too sinful to ever get to heaven; but the priest never tells me to change and never tells me how to change”?


The season of Pentecost is ALL ABOUT MINISTRY and ministry can only come from a soul marrying Yahweh and becoming the flesh into which is resurrected Jesus, causing the Son of man to be reborn. It has always been the right of a soul to choose whether or not it will be a sinner or a saint. To stand alone in a world, which is the only place where sin can freely exist, means one will be influenced to be a sinner. One is powerless to stop the wiles of Satan, when one stands alone. When there are no longer any priests who are perfectly religious, then the people will be led to become sinners. The purpose of this reading today is to realize the system is the flaw and take matters into one’s own hands. Open your heart and receive the Spirit of marriage to Yahweh. Become His Son again in the flesh. Go forth and preach the perfect truth, so others will be led by that light.